Saturday, September 29, 2012

Romney's Gaffe


As far as I can find out, here is the full text of Mitt Romney’s remarks about the 47% that have caused such a furor.

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them.And they will vote for this president no matter what…. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to is convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not."
Even though his remarks were off the cuff, let’s analyze them almost sentence by sentence. In the first place, no one can quibble with the observation that 47% of the people will vote for President Obama no matter what. That statement is very accurate.
However, he went wrong when he confused the 47% diehard Obama supporters with the 47% of the population that pays no income tax. A large percentage of diehard Democrats are not only taxpayers but also considerably wealthy. The tip of the Democrat iceberg is made up of wealthy plutocrats like George Soros and George Clooney. Right beneath them are a whole host of entertainers or commentators like the women who appear on “The View”. Beneath that elite group is a substantial lesser aristocracy of aging baby boomers who have made it in America. You only had to look closely as the cameras scanned the delegates in the background at the Democrat convention, to see the same fine clothing and jewelry that were evident at the Republican convention.
I know many of these people even though I find it hard to understand their politics. I live in Connecticut’s Fairfield County, one of the most well to do counties in the country. Parts of it are staunchly Republican but it will be very hard for Romney to carry the County and almost impossible for him to carry Connecticut, one of the most reliable blue states.
On the other hand many of the 47% who pay no federal income tax, do pay state and local income taxes, as well as considerable real estate taxes here in Connecticut. I believe that a large percentage of these people, many of whom are Senior citizens, vote Republican year after year. 
Although his off the cuff message was garbled Romney was correct to point out that there are many people who have become so dependent on government largess, that they can indeed be called victims. Take my neighboring town of Bridgeport, for example. It has been dominated by a Democrat political machine ever since I moved to Connecticut almost 50 years ago. Today it is one of the poorest cities in the state. The schools are in chaos, the murder rate is shocking, and even though taxes are high, the city has not been able to cover the cost of its own schools for years.
Despite poor conditions in cities like Bridgeport, its citizens will most certainly continue to vote Democrat. That is why Romney saw that there would be no point for him to try and gain their votes. When he said that it was not his “job” to be concerned about the dependent class, he was merely stating the obvious. He believed that nothing he could do to gain such traditional Democratic votes. He saw that he must concentrate on the so-called independents.
Even though I support Romney, I believe that he and other Republican politicians are wrong to write off the people who have been victimized by years of Democrat failed schemes and policies—people who have been victimized by party machines that enrich the few local politicians at the expense of the many. Why try to eke out a narrow victory when you can demonstrate to people the inadequacies of the policies of the past. Why write off states like New York and California where the poor labor under years of Democrat misrule?
I know people in Bridgeport who are trying to get out of the dependent class. It’s true that many live in subsidized housing and qualify for Medicaid and are also going to school on subsidized loans. But many go to school to get a better life for them and their children. Mitt Romney has succeeded at practically everything he has ever attempted. He was correct to argue that lower taxes mean little to the poor, but poorly performing schools, unsafe neighborhoods, and record high unemployment rates do matter to that section of the 47%. 

Romney's message could be simple. "We are the United States of America, not the Divided States of America. President Obama has been one of the most divisive Presidents in history. He has tried to divide the country in so many ways. He has pitted class against class and race against race. He has pitted Washington and the Federal government against the States of the Union. He has attacked and demonized anyone who has dared to oppose him. We are all in this together. My job is to get elected but once elected my job will be to once again unite this country and be President of all the people." ###

Sunday, September 16, 2012

UCONN Basketball Madness

Susan Herbst: Uconn President

The recent retirement of Jim Calhoun, the almost legendary basketball coach at the University of Connecticut, creates a small window of opportunity for the administration of the University to bring the athletic department under some measure of control. Athletic departments at big time universities all over the country practically run the institutions they purport to serve. Head coaches build up sacrosanct empires that cannot be challenged. They receive enormous compensation packages that far outstrip even those of university Presidents.

 Any pretense that big-time basketball and football programs are for the benefit of the students is long gone. It is questionable whether these programs even benefit the so-called student athletes. How many of the semi-professional gunslingers that schools like UCONN recruit ever make the fame and fortune of the NBA? For every Ray Allen or Richard Hamilton there are thousands who never even graduate. 
UCONN is under sanctions this year for poor student performance but what about last year’s NCAA champs, Kentucky, whose team was specifically recruited to win a championship and then predictably move on to the NBA. What was their combined GPA?

In addition to the retirement of Calhoun there are many other factors that combine to make this a unique moment. Susan Herbst, the University President, is a newcomer and despite obligatory laudatory remarks about the UCONN program, she does not have a long-standing history of support. Moreover, the Big East conference is in a state of flux and with the loss of some major programs seems on the verge of collapse. The recently announced departure of Notre Dame will not help.

The team itself is in shambles. Two of last year’s starters have already left for the NBA. Three other stalwarts have left for other programs because UCONN is banned from playing in the 2013 NCAA tournament. Former UCONN great Kevin Ollie has only been given an interim contract to guide the team through what will probable be its worst year in memory. Who will he be able to recruit?

If Susan Herbst does not bring the athletic program under control this year, she or her successors will probably never have another opportunity. Her first step should be to only allow athletic scholarships to graduates of Connecticut high schools. One of the tragedies of the Calhoun era is that so few fine athletes from Connecticut have ever had a chance to play for UCONN. Every year the newspapers print lists of Connecticut All-Stars from schools like Hillhouse, Harding, and Norwalk but most of them have never even been approached by UCONN recruiters. If out of state or even foreign athletes want to come to UCONN, let them pay their own way just like other students.

Inevitably, this de-emphasis will eventually lead UCONN to leave the Big East and seek a less powerful conference. This is not such a bad idea. A bowl game appearance two years ago caused the school to lose over $10 million in ticket fees. Notre Dame is a private school and can do whatever it wants with its money but it will have to fork over $50 million dollars to exit its new league. Don’t tell me that its potential revenues will be much greater. That’s not the point. When the ACC signs a 3.5 billion contract with ESPN we are talking big business and not college athletics.

Susan Herbst needs to step up to the plate. Instead of telling Kevin Ollie that he is just going to be a sacrificial lamb while UCONN hunts for a big-time coach who will build a Calhoun type program, she could tell him to recruit a team of local athletes who will be prepared to play and graduate from the University. It can be done.

Years ago I knew a very successful high school coach whose players all graduated and most of whom went on to play and study in good colleges. From the first day of every school year, even before the basketball season had begun, he insisted that his players attend class and keep up their grades. He stayed on top of their progress and if the grades weren’t there, they didn’t play. His concern paid off. The students achieved and also played. His teams were very successful. They were just as successful as their cross town rival whose players came from the same socio-economic background but who rarely managed to go to college. Their basketball careers were over and they had no future.###

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What Eastwood Should Have Said

Polling after the end of the Republican National Convention seems to indicate that the Romney campaign did receive a substantial boost. After trailing President Obama by two percentage points before the Convention, the Romney Ryan ticket has jumped ahead 48 to 44 with corresponding advances in the all important swing states.

In many ways the Convention was a huge success. It was not just a question of speeches or words. From the top of the ticket on down the Republican party is flashing an intelligent, competent, young and energetic look. No one can say anymore that the party resembles a collection of old fuddie duddies or ignorant extremists.

Gone was Senator McCain and daffy Sarah Palin. Gone were the remnants of the Bush administration. True, Condoleeza Rice was there and featured in prime time, but she is such an attractive, intelligent woman that even without her extremely well delivered speech, she still is a tremendous asset to the GOP. Contrast her delivery to the wooden teleprompter speeches of President Obama, and no one can say that the Republican party lacks intelligence and self confidence.

Speaking of intelligence and self confidence Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan gave one of the best speeches I have ever heard. It was not just the surgical demolition of the failed promises and policies of the Obama administration or the brilliant reference to jobless college students living at home  with fading Obama posters on the wall, but it was also the obvious energy, determination and intelligence of this very attractive young politician. His final words about getting the country going again were practically drowned out by a tremendous ovation. They should be shown repeatedly in Republican ads.

The only mis-step at the convention came on the last day when Clint Eastwood, a true American icon, gave a meandering presentation that embarrassed him more than the party. He came across as a doddering old fool. It was so bad that I had to turn it off half way through.

What could he have been thinking of? I’d like to take a stab about what he should have said.

“I’m here tonight because I am one of the few conservatives in Hollywood. Frankly, I’m also here because my film roles as a hard-as-nails, plain speaking tough guy like the ‘Man with No Name,’ or ‘Dirty Harry’ have given me a celebrity beyond imagination. 
However, I’m sure many of you here have far better conservative credentials than I have. Moreover, I am not really a tough guy, or at least I’m not any tougher than most of you. I’m an actor and that’s the role I’ve played in so many films, some good, some bad, and some truly ugly. 
For most of my life I’ve been a private citizen just like you. I live in Carmel, California, one of he nicest communities in the entire country. For a couple of years I served as mayor of the town and learned just how tough it was to handle even that small responsibility. I don’t think I could even begin to handle the tremendous responsibility that we ask the President of the United States to bear. I’ve produced and directed films about war but I don’t think that I would have the strength or courage to tell young men or women to risk their lives in a foreign war.
We do not need an actor in the White House. We do not need someone who is playing a role, no matter how attractive or tough he or she appears. We certainly do not need actors advising the President. We need real people. 
For President we need a person with knowledge, experience, and proven competence. We need a person who has had to make tough decisions both in the private and the public sector. We need a person with a record of success but also a person who has had his share of failures.  We need a person who knows what it is to take the blows, learn from them, and then get back up again, even more determined. 
That’s why tonight I support Mitt Romney for President of the United States.” ###