Democracy Soup

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Archive for November 2011

Should U.S. resort to technocrats to solve economic crisis?

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Paul Krugman for president?

Okay, so our non prime minister democratic setup doesn’t allow us to flip a leader for a technocrat to get the United States out of our economic crisis.

Paul Krugman for prime minister?

Watching Greece and Italy, two countries even worse off than the United States, switch from elected prime ministers to economists running the show has to make us a little jealous since something could actually get done in those countries.

Meanwhile, back in the USA, we have a Super Congress that has until tomorrow to make cuts to the deficit before super-imposed cuts take place … maybe. Yawn.

Watching Mario Monti replace Silvio Berlusconi as prime minister made us a little hungry for what Italy is doing, usually reserved for spaghetti, bruschetta, and biscotti. Putting the focus on the economy as a priority in a country that is in deep economic peril.

Meanwhile, we have a Congress that hasn’t passed one jobs bill in the almost year that the Republicans have run the House. A gentle reminder: legislation starts in the House; no matter what a president does, unless the House passes legislation, nothing can get done.

The MSM doesn’t step in to ask why we have no jobs bill. The lack of jobs bill is difficult even for late night comedians, since joking about nothing is a lot harder to do than joking about something. Unless Nietzsche gets his own talk show, we are in trouble.

Democratic politicians would love to pass a jobs bill, but are even more helpless than usual. And so we wait.

The oddity within the prime minister situation is that once you elect a party, as long as that party stays in control, the prime minister isn’t really for the people to decide. When Margaret Thatcher stepped down in Great Britain, John Major wasn’t initially elected. John Turner and Kim Campbell are two Canadian examples of people who have served as prime minister without being elected to the post.

The Italian people didn’t elect Mario Monti to be prime minister. They could respond to their MPs if they didn’t like the selection. Americans are different: they want accountability, for decision to be made by elected officials (with the exception of the 2000 presidential race).

Sure, the Super Congress wasn’t elected, but the people within the Super Congress were elected. And the automatic cuts, if they go through, were decided by people who were elected to do the work they are currently avoiding.

We elect representatives to get things done after the economic collapse of the fall of 2008. They try and do what they can, though they are thwarted from making major changes. And then the American public elect people that they know won’t get things done, and to be fair, they have kept those promises. But we still have these problems that are getting worse. As unfair as this might sound, you could get a significant majority of Americans who would want Paul Krugman to be the new prime minister of the United States.

One major reason why the governments of Greece and Italy wanted to switch prime ministers is that they didn’t want the responsibilities of tying a political party to austerity measures. Politicians in the United States may agree on cutting deficits, but they disagree on what to cut and what to tax. And only one political party in the U.S. wants to do something about the lack of jobs.

Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the other Founding Fathers would be mortified about the idea of an unelected prime minister making significant economic changes. But they would also wonder why Congress is not doing the job they were elected to do.

Though mainstream America thought very little about Occupy Wall Street and its cousins around the country and the world, all these people were trying to get our elected officials to do was listen to the people who can’t afford to give the donations the politicians need to be elected, and pay less attention to the corporations/people that do give them the money. If elected officials were doing their jobs and following the will of the American people, we would see far fewer tents, and we wouldn’t even have to consider getting outside help.

These economic problems need to be solved. The question to the White House and Congress is are we going to do it the traditional way or do we need outside solutions.


Fighting back against concealed-carry laws

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On my trip to Minnesota, nobody warned me that I was entering a concealed-carry state. True, my last trip to the 10,000 Lakes state was a long time ago. But I had no idea of the law until I started seeing signs that fit a pattern.

This was the first sign that I saw — Minneapolis Farmers Market on Lyndale:

Minneapolis Farmers Market on Lyndale
My honest thought was “Okay, duh. That’s a good idea.”

Turns out that if you have a permit, you can carry a concealed weapon anywhere (schools and eventually churches excepted). And in order to avoid having guns in your establishment, you must post a sign.

The most extreme of those signs was in front of the Supreme Court room in the state Capitol in St. Paul.

State Supreme Court justices having to rely on people observing a sign that is off to the side. Hopefully, state Supreme Court Associate Justice Alan Page can tackle the gunman before anybody gets hurt (Page is a former NFL defensive tackle with the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears).

Now, in Wisconsin, a state I visit way more often than Minnesota, you can bring a gun into the state Capitol in Madison. But you still can’t bring a camera. You wouldn’t be reading this column without a camera. Might skip the Capitol on my next visit to Madison.

If enough buildings have these signs, then the law is profoundly silly. Then again, what are the chances of too many signs outside Minneapolis or St. Paul? And would a sign prevent someone who wanted to do damage that would be armed?

Society would be better off if establishments had to post signs to ALLOW guns in their buildings. Put the impetus on those businesses.

Here are some of the other places of business that are smart enough not to want to have guns in their establishments.

— Baseball team

— Strip clubs

— The famous Guthrie Theater

and, of course, the Mall of America.

pictures taken by me

Written by democracysoup

November 18, 2011 at 7:27 am

Dems know their presidential candidate is Barack Obama, now have to answer ‘why’ instead of ‘who’

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We previewed the 2012 GOP race in last week’s column, but we didn’t want President Barack Obama to feel left out, so this week’s column is devoted to his re-election run.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden will be the Democratic Party nominees for president and vice president for 2012. That’s it. Be safe driving home. Bye.

Yes, Obama and Biden will be the nominees from the Democratic Party. The convention won’t take long to make that clear. The drama lies in the direction the president will take in the re-election campaign: what will Obama run on.

Health care reform! Well, wait, most Americans don’t have health-care reform. Maybe not 99%, but most. Ironically, most of the teabaggers might like health care reform but a lot of them don’t have it, so they complain, but not for the same reasons liberals complain.

Job growth! Obviously, this isn’t going well. Obama and the House Dems did take baby steps to help in the first 2 years, but with the GOP in charge of the House, what little help was coming has almost ground to a halt. Difficult to reject or pass a jobs bill when the GOP-led House hasn’t passed a jobs bill in almost a year, and has already announced a shorter working year for 2012. Among Dems, Nancy Pelosi is held in higher regard on jobs than the president because of the rather cool legislation passed by the then-Dem controlled House, but Republican and Democratic politicians in the Senate denied or watered-down many of those improvements. But Pelosi isn’t running for president; Obama is.

Wall Street and banking reform! The Dodd-Frank bill passed (watered-down), Elizabeth Warren kicked butt before running for her own seat in Congress, the old Ted Kennedy Senate seat currently being held by teabagger hero Scott Brown. And banks had to be more forthcoming about fees, the backlash of which we saw with Bank of America pushing an odious $5 debit card fee after major banks begged consumers to use debit cards. Some help, but not as much as Wall Street and the banks received.

The stereotype is that Dems do well in domestic policy and the GOP does well in foreign policy, but Obama has scored some points outside the United States. The death of Osama bin Laden tops the list as well as the plan to get out of Iraq on time. We are still in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay is still open for business; even the Canadians got out of Afghanistan (rule of thumb: if Canada doesn’t get into a war, you shouldn’t be there, e.g., Iraq, Vietnam).

Obama should get some credit for the democratic (small d) uprisings in the Middle East, though the American press is reluctant to help out Obama on that point.

“Obama in 2012: Could have been worse.”

We have seen with Greece and Italy that many world factors have contributed to the world wide economic crisis. But while the United States is no longer #1 in many categories, when the American economy fails, the world suffers as a direct result. And Obama has had a difficult road to climb to get the U.S. economy even back to “decent.”

President Obama hasn’t really understood that the Republicans aren’t the only enemies he has. The unprecedented behavior by U.S. corporations to stockpile cash instead of employing Americans. The obnoxious borderline-illegal behavior from banks over foreclosures and reluctance to help out with loans to small businesses that have every likelihood of paying them back. The antagonism from Wall Street after coming to their defense with bailouts. If Republicans were Obama’s only problem.

Obama hasn’t helped with his need for compromise that would have made him a fine president in a by-gone era; the other side doesn’t want to play with you, Mr. President, and again, this isn’t just Republicans who aren’t playing.

Americans want hope and optimism, even if it is completely fake. Running against Herman Cain, Rick Perry, or Michele Bachmann can mean saying things will be worse under them than you, President Obama. But fighting that fight won’t sway the moderates that went for you in 2008. And in running against Mitt Romney, you won’t be able to make that argument because unlike most of the GOP field, moderates can imagine a President Romney.

“Obama in 2012: You liked him four years ago.”

In 2008, the GOP field was headed by a cantankerous 72-year-old who quit his campaign and whose major decision was picking Sarah Palin for the ticket. Obama’s hopes shouldn’t rest on the GOP doing something similar in 2012, even if Republicans pull a repeat.

We are seeing signs of Obama being tougher on Republicans just in time for the 2012 election cycle. But in an administration that still employs Wall Street friend Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary, those that voted for Obama aren’t seeing the person they voted for in 2008. True, they read things into Obama that he didn’t promise; those aren’t his fault, but they do belie Obama’s reality. Mr. President, your supporters want you to fight for what they believe in for our society.

Democratic voters might be relieved to know who the 2012 nominee is, but they have several months to ask “why.” Why hasn’t Obama done more to help those in bad economic terms? Why hasn’t Obama fought back against the Republicans, et al.? Why isn’t Obama tougher on Wall Street and the banks? Why don’t we have more jobs?

Like the Republican voters that we profiled last week, you have time to figure this out, but not as much time as you think.

GOP embraces ‘Anybody but Romney’; will they stay outside the box when primary season starts?

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While we know the 2012 presidential race started a long time ago, here at Democracy Soup, we decided also long ago to not seriously cover the race until a year before the election. Even that seems too early, but you can’t bury your head in the sand forever. Times change.

“But you missed Michele Bachmann! And what about Rick Perry? Does Herman Cain have a shot!?”

My friend and very talented political writer Jeff and I had a conversation this summer about the 2012 GOP presidential race. His theory is that Mitt Romney will be the nominee since the GOP follows the tradition of the person-in-waiting (e.g., John McCain). If the Dems had worked this way, John Edwards would have been the 2008 presidential nominee. Romney’s ascension theory also works since the GOP primaries are winner-take-all, with two or more far-right conservatives running, they would split that vote and Romney would take home those states with less than 50%. (McCain did too.)

This is good news for Romney since he can’t seem to poll higher than 25% on the GOP side. That 25% could be enough for him to win the nomination.

My theory is that the GOP needs something different, wanting to shake things up for 2012. Look at the huge desire to draw new blood into the ring: Rick Perry, Chris Christie, and Sarah Palin. Only Perry of the three jumped into the fray. Though, if Palin could figure out how to get elected without campaigning, she will jump in for 2012. If anybody can, Sarah Palin can.

Herman Cain has been doing well in the polls, until they figure out his positions and he started talking and the sexual harassment allegations and the illegal campaign funding allegations. Then again, Michele Bachmann was also a flavor of the month.

One of these people is going to be the GOP nominee in 2012 and that person will get at least 35% of the general election vote: Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and whomever else I have left off the list. Or it will be someone else.

The Republican electorate either wants to date around and then “marry” Romney, or they want to keep dating as long as possible and pick the hot person at the last possible moment, like electoral musical chairs. Either way, Romney isn’t their favorite flavor.

Jeff and I have nothing riding on this other than pride in covering politics, but we are curious to see who’s right, but more importantly, which way the GOP will go in 2012.

Republicans are virtually allergic to confrontations among each other, whether they are still following Ronald Reagan’s commandment against speaking ill of a fellow Republican or they desperately want things to be smooth. This is why the GOP likes quick, painless races.

Dems have to be laughing a bit that they get a cycle to not have to sweat this out. Some Democratic people are still exhausted from Obama/Clinton in 2008. The Keystone State will never forget the 6 weeks leading up to the 2008 Pennsylvania primary.

No primary race ever went that intense or long, and the GOP won’t raise the bar in 2012.

Incumbency is a decided advantage, and striking in a presidential cycle when the other party has an incumbent is rather difficult. You’re seen as a sacrificial lamb if the other party is doing well, and perceived to have an uphill battle even if things aren’t going well in the White House.

Despite what the pundits think, Barack Obama isn’t that bad off. That is, unless his base actually doesn’t come out a year from now. Liberals certainly thought Bill Clinton sold them out, but Clinton looks like Dennis Kucinich compared to Obama.

Back to the GOP side, the quest for them is to ask “Which candidate is best to beat Barack Obama?”

I stand by my prediction that the race won’t be as smooth as Romney and others think it will be. I still think Bachmann can make a push forward — no candidate is as passionate as she has been. I still has this thought in my head that Sarah Palin will still be involved somehow in a “my country needs me” approach. But as Herman Cain would point out, “I don’t have the facts to back this up.”

No, I have no idea who will win, but I still think the GOP will go, to borrow phrase, rogue.

The GOP electorate wants raw, far right meat: Romney isn’t that candidate. Who will it be? Stay tuned.

Rick Perry is latest conservative politician to be outwitted by Canadian satirists

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First Rob Ford freaks out over a Canadian TV satire program. Then Rick Perry quotes a satire column in the Globe and Mail and presents it as fact. Canadian satirists are hot right now.

The Texas governor and presidential candidate quotes a story sent by his son on reflections of Occupy Toronto, which is still going on. The conservative media then takes off on what Perry said without doing, as Perry should have done, the necessary vetting.

For much more on this story, we check in once again with

And the regular Friday column this week will check in with Perry and the rest of the Republican nominees as we present the unofficial Democracy Soup 2012 GOP presidential preview. Has been a lot of fun so far, and if we keep getting candidates who don’t understand satire, we are in for a busy writing season.

Earlier coverage: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford ‘wins’ Worst Person in the World

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford ‘wins’ Worst Person in the World

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Since we do cover politics at Democracy Soup, we had to cover the backlash of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s freakout from dealing with a comedic actress from CBC’s “This Hour Has 22 Minutes.”

Ford has a thick body yet a thin skin — how does that work — and sadly it was no surprise that he overreacted. Yelling at the police dispatcher, the alleged profanity and anti-female word — all of that and more earned Ford the honor of Keith Olbermann’s Worst Person in the World on Countdown on Current TV.

“This Hour Has 22 Minutes” has gone after U.S. politicians such as Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell.

Even if you agree with some of what Ford has done in office, he doesn’t earn too many style points, even before this incident.

For more details, check out the details from our sister blog,