Mitt Romney’s Tax Returns

It took some comments on the New York Times article about Mitt Romney’s tax returns to bring me out of retirement from posting on this blog. I want to provide brief responses to a few of the comments that capture much of the general sentiment of those commenting on that particular article (I cherry pick comments but I’m only focusing on comments with many other reader “recommendations”).

The current highest reader-rated comment is this: “Anyone who sees nothing wrong with the fact that somebody who makes $20 million/year pays less than 14% in taxes, while someone who makes $40K/year pays over 20% is insane. Do not over-think it. It’s absurd and unjust on its face.”

There are many similar comments. For example: “this MITT guy earns 21mil & pays 15% in taxes [sic]. Joe the knuckle head plumber earns 50K and pays 28% in taxes”

What’s wrong with the comment(s)? First, it’s telling that this is the highest rated comment on the article; that tells you something about NYT readers and their biases (just like this post reveals some of my biases). Second, it never helps your cause to insult those with whom you disagree. Third, someone making $40K is not paying over 20% in income taxes (that’s all we’re talking about here – not other kinds of taxes; that’s all we can talk about because the article is about Mitt Romney’s income tax return). With the current tax code, a single person (I calculated as a single in order to try to increase the potential tax burden the most and to reduce credits or deductions or exemptions) earning $40,000 a year has a pre-deduction and credit federal income tax burden of $6030. Aha! That’s a higher rate than Mitt Romney pays (it’s 15%). However, that is a pre-deduction/credit tax amount. The standard deduction for a single person with no dependents and no other conditions that might change that deduction is $5,950. Using that deduction without any itemization (no other items resulting in a higher deduction), a single person making $40,000 a year would owe $4,106 in federal income taxes (estimated using the IRS estimated tax site). That is a 10.3% effective tax rate, which is lower than Mitt Romney’s. At no point was the tax rate ever over 20%, like that particular commenter stated. Further, it is certainly possible but not likely that my hypothetical $40,000 a year earner would have no other credits or deductions. In reality, most people earning $40,000 a year pay a lower income tax rate than 10% (from a WSJ article: “The average income-tax rate for the middle slice of households—those making between $34,300 and $50,000—was 3.3% for 2007.”;  {that article isn’t that great; if you want a better WSJ article to read, read this one}). There’s not much more to say in response to the comment on the NYT article.

This next comment (also very highly rated) captures what a number of people stated (the context is that Ann Romney paid around $20,000 last year for “domestic help”):

“There is NO WAY that family only spent $20,000 for domestic help. No family making that kind of income pays so little for domestic help unless they are doing something illegal. Just one house-keeper alone should make more than $20,000 if they were to pay her the legally required over-time, etc. Something is very wrong here.”

This comment and the others like it are assuming that those are wages for 4 people working full-time (and even overtime!) during the year (“if they were to pay her the legally required over-time…“) instead of the reasonable assumption that 4 different people were paid to help around the house(s) when needed. Maybe the “domestic help” (commenter’s words, not mine) only worked 1 hour each and each was paid $5000 for that hour. That’s much more likely than 4 people working overtime for a total of $20,000 in a year. The logic of the comment is seriously flawed. Not only that but the Romneys paid Social Security, Medicare, and other taxes on that $20,000 paid as Household Employment Taxes (see page 38 of the tax return).

Another highly rated comment (just a bit of it): “Like many of the wealthy, Romney paid no Medicare taxes.” Also, this one: “According to his 1040 Obama IS working — he has a number greater than $0 on the line for wages. It’s Mitt Romney who isn’t working — his wage line says $0.”

Actually, Mitt Romney earned $500,000 in speaking fees. Those fees are taxed at self-employment rates, which means at least $500,000 of his income was taxed at a high income tax bracket (with probably a lower effective rate due to deductions). It also means he paid Medicare and Social Security taxes (plus whatever else) on $500,000 (or at least paid higher taxes on that portion of his income). The first of those two comments was not only a red herring (it doesn’t have anything to do with income taxes), it was wrong. The second is wrong as well. If you throw out a red herring you might as well bring up the fact that in 2010, Mitt Romney paid $226,000 in real estate taxes. That’s money going to governments. In 2009 the Romneys paid $750,000 in state and local taxes (page 137 of the return). Stating that has as much (or more) relevance to federal income taxes on a tax return as does talking about Medicare taxes.

Another well-liked comment:

“This man is part of the international elite of super wealth, whether Wall Street tycoons, oil Sheiks, South American land holders or Chinese and Indian industrialists…. And then there is the business of Mormonism and giving as much to his religious as the public coffers. Why does our system of law allow a tax deductible contribution of this size – and to the Mormon Council of Elders, a shadowy private equity giant connected to Goldman Sachs (basically a Mormon bank).”

Notice the logical fallacy of guilt by association. Also note the blatant anti-Mormon bigotry full of completely false information (“Mormon Council of Elders, a shadowy private equity giant connected to Goldman Sachs (basically a Mormon bank)”). I’m sorry, but that is a ridiculous statement. The whole comment is an expression of ignorance or even outright deceit.

Another comment: “Will the moderator at the next debate please question Romney whether it’s fair that he pays a far lower ta [sic] rate on his income than many middle class Americans?”

Actually, the effective average tax rate for middle class Americans is 8%. Mitt Romney, even with mainly investment income, is paying nearly double that rate.

Another one: “Romney is the symbol of what is wrong in America today. His vast income derives from the destruction of companies, jobs, benefits and pensions in order to generate fees for Bain.”

Bain invested in around 100 companies during Romney’s time there (and most of the companies were either just starting or on the verge of collapse – they were not generally healthy companies; Bain took on risky investments). Around 80 of those had very positive results with less than 10 mainly negative results (and this is only if you include what happened to companies up to 7 years after Bain’s involvement, which means that some of the negative results came during the 2000-2002 recession). That’s quite a remarkable record given the risky business investments. So much for destroying companies and jobs!

Here’s the comment that brought me out of retirement (and it had a lot of other people recommending it, which is pretty sad): “Mitt Romney pays less in taxes than I do. And probably less than almost all the population. But no worries. We’re good sheep. Nothing to see here. Moving along.”

Let me restate that: “I pay more than $3,000,000 in taxes in a year. Almost all the population pays more than that. We just do what we’re told though.” Is that statement true? I doubt it. What the person meant to write is about tax rates, not taxes. Even so, the statement is still wrong. Mitt Romney’s effective tax rate (again, which is what that individual really meant to write, not just taxes) is higher than 80% of tax-paying Americans’ effective rates (additionally, 47% have no income tax burden). So no, Mitt Romney does not pay “less than almost all the population.” Mitt Romney pays much more.

Okay, one last one: “Oh, I get it. You made the money all by yourself. And who paid for the police so you wouldn’t be robbed? And who paid for the transportation system that allowed your goods to flow to and from your place of business.”

Actually, Mitt Romney paid a lot of that. He paid over $700,000 in local and state taxes, including a lot of property taxes. Those go to support the police and the transportation system. He pays sales tax. In any case, we all talk about how we do our jobs or “I earned this” or “I did that”; that doesn’t mean we necessarily ignore the contributions of others.

What we can learn from many of these comments is that there is room for improvement in the critical thinking department. We all could improve in that department; I know I certainly can! But what happens is that some people let their hatred or intense dislike of others cloud their judgments. We allow our biases and assumptions interfere with logical, critical thinking. All people do it to one extent or another. I’m not arguing that we all need to be coldly logical all the time but we could certainly use a boost in critical thinking skills and stop spreading falsehoods.

We Elected the Wrong President

We elected the wrong president. What is almost as bad is that Republicans nominated the wrong person to run against Pres. Obama. What led to our electing the wrong president?

After eight years of Pres. Bush, the country was fed up with Republicans, the economy (although we had some really good years during Pres. Bush’s presidency), and the wars. Not all of us were fed up with Pres. Bush but most people were. Of course, many people never gave him a chance or the benefit of the doubt because of the controversies Democrats created over the 2000 election. I was not a fan of Pres. Bush’s fiscal policies in general but the treatment of him by much of the media and many liberals was inexcusable. The media should be able to and should criticize presidents but the relentless barrage on Pres. Bush and his administration was almost without precedent and bordered on unethical. Pres. Bush also had the misfortune to have his tenure come during the maturation of the internet and rise of social media. The vitriol exploded and the administration did not know how to deal with it (or did not want to waste time dealing with it, unlike the present administration). Part of it was the fact that Pres. Bush was not a “good politician” (that’s not a criticism); he was successful in politics but was not a politician like Pres. Clinton or Pres. Obama. After eight years, our country wanted change.

This is where Pres. Obama came in. In 2006 Congress changed from a Republican majority to a Democrat majority. This was the beginning of the overall governmental change. For a time Sen. Clinton had the lead in the Democrat race for nomination. She had years of experience in Washington and had many connections. However, she was a “Clinton” and had her own history of scandals as well as those of her husband. She did not stand a chance once the media got behind and helped create the juggernaut that was Obama. He was young, cool, polished, intelligent, and media-savvy. As a community organizer he knew how to set up grassroots campaigns and raise funds in small amounts from many people. He was also African-American, which rather than hurting him, helped him tremendously. He had the African-American vote locked up and sealed. Overall, African-Americans compose about 13% of the U.S. population. Obama had virtually all of the African-American vote. Pres. Obama, smartly, ran his campaign on the promise of “Change you can believe in!” He was the person ostensibly from outside Washington who would re-create Washington, giving it an extreme makeover and more metrosexual appeal. Obama was to be a new JFK with the beautiful wife, cute kids, and polished rhetoric. Maybe he could build Camelot anew within the marbled pillars of the White House. He, to some of his followers, is a savior who not only cures cancer with a sympathetic look but also plays a decent game of basketball and looks good without a shirt on. Obama received the Democrat nomination also in part because the economy became of larger concern than the War Against Terror and the war in Iraq at a pivotal moment last year. Sen. Clinton suffered because of this and Sen. Obama benefited.

A similar thing happened in the Republican primary, although for different reasons. Mitt Romney was running 2nd to John McCain but in reality the race was close. However, Mike Huckabee proved to be more than a stinging gnat for Mitt Romney. Mike Huckabee pulled many of Christian conservatives away from Romney because they, in part, were already reticent about supporting a Mormon. Mormons, according to many Evangelicals, are the worst kind of cult; the worst thing to happen to Christianity since the feeding of early Christians to lions by the Romans. Mormons had the audacity to believe in and practice plural marriages in the 1800s, a practice many Westerners just cannot seem to stomach. Of course, Evangelicals do not seem to remember that many of their Biblical prophets practiced polygamy as has most of the world throughout most of history. In any case, Mormons are not well-liked among many fundamental Christian groups (or most other religions for that matter). Romney, in addition to losing supporters to Huckabee, also had the misfortune of the war in Iraq becoming the major issue within the Republican Party for a short while. The main focus on the economy did not come until after Romney withdrew and really not until after McCain was nominated. The war was McCain’s strong point while the economy was (and is) Romney’s.

More than a year ago I stated that Mitt Romney is “the man for the economic crisis in America.” We did not realize at the time how bad the economy really was becoming. That was unfortunate. Had the economy remained the major issue, Mitt Romney would have received the Republican nomination. He has proven business acumen, rescuing troubled businesses over and over (including the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics). While experience can sometimes be over-rated, Mitt Romney’s economic experience is not over-rated and cannot be over-stated. He would have been a president who would not have to rely completely on advisers to understand and establish economic policies. He could have worked even with a Democrat-controlled Congress, just as he did as governor of Massachusetts, to get sound fiscal policies passed (although the Legislature in Massachusetts did not like many of Romney’s fiscal policies, which were too conservative for them).

Instead of Romney we are left with a spend-happy Pres. Obama and a Congress that is even more spend-happy. The stimulus and bailout packages might help in the short-term, should the money actually ever be released, but they set a precedent for future spending and debt. We purchase short-term and ephemeral gains at the expense of the livelihood of our children and their children. Even with the so-called stimulus package, we face unemployment rates that rival Europe’s (at least Europe’s in a good economic climate). As many European nations move away from socialist economic policy, America moves towards it. Even China has largely moved away from a socialist economy. We should let the market run itself without too much government intervention. I’m not idealistic enough to believe that a purely capitalist nation without government intervention is the best way but less governmental intervention and meddling is usually better.

While I think Pres. Obama is a good person trying the best he knows how to do, I do not believe he is the right person for the job. We elected the wrong person. Instead of Obama, we should have elected Mitt Romney. Fortunately we might have that opportunity in 2012. My only worry is that the economy will have recovered by then and many of us will believe that just because the symptoms are gone, the illness is gone. However, just like antibiotics, we need to extend the treatment long after the symptoms are gone in order to get rid of the disease. I believe that Obama’s fiscal policies contribute to the disease instead of curing it. Maybe Obama can cure cancer but he cannot fix the economy; Congress cannot fix it either. Only the economy can fix the economy. Governments can help the economy but they cannot repair it; they can, however, make it worse by meddling. Again, this does not mean governments should leave economies completely untouched but our government should worry first about plugging the gaping holes in its bank accounts before it tries to do anything with the broader economy. We need fiscal responsibility, not this wanton spending our government is doing.

Mitt Romney was ready to answer the call to service but we rejected him. Hopefully we will not make the same mistake again in 2012 when we will need him more than ever to help clean up the mess the current administration and Congress are making.

All politics, all the time – Romney, Cantor say market turmoil mostly to blame for 2008 loss « – from CNN.com

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive – Romney, Cantor say market turmoil mostly to blame for 2008 loss « – Blogs from CNN.com.

Whenever I feel like punishing myself I read comments on CNN.com political stories. They are seriously that bad. I don’t mind intelligent commentary from liberals or conservatives or whomever but there are so few logical, balanced, and intelligent comments that it is painful for me to read, which is why I rarely do. On this particular story, not more than 10% of the comments are from conservative posters. That is the norm for CNN.com stories. Why are only about 10% of comments from conservatives?

I posted a comment a number of hours ago, well before some of the most recent comments. Is my comment on the site? Nope. Hmm, maybe I didn’t submit it correctly. Maybe my 15 year experience with the world wide web does not give me enough skills to successfully interact with websites and successfully submit my comments. That’s probably why my comment went missing.

Or, maybe my comment was too inflammatory. I guess when I set up a straw man and ad hominem attack like the following it is to be expected that my comment would not be posted: “Isn’t it funny that so many liberals comment so frequently on CNN.com stories. Maybe it’s because they are all living off welfare and aren’t doing anything more useful than comment on online news stories while conservatives are out working or at church (since it is Sunday) or otherwise being productive.” Okay, I really did not post that. I didn’t even think of it until just now as I was trying to come up with some completely off-the-wall, ridiculous, and stupid comment for my somewhat sarcastic post.

So what terrible comment did I really post? I replied to the many people who said things like, “This just goes to show that this Dying Old Party has not got a clue” or ” It was because of the Bush Economics [sic] that the economy fell apart”. Mainly I replied to the people who posted scathing, hateful comments that insulted Mitt Romney (and Republicans in general) as well as who said that he was just trying to deny any Republican responsibility (e.g., “The arrogance of this party [Republicans] is revolting. Still not willing to own up to any thing, truly pathetic [sic]”).

This is roughly what I said (I’m expanding on my comment here on my blog). Romney was not denying Republican responsibility. He said, “Republicans and Democrats have been playing this game, passing the hot the [sic] potato, spending money like there was no tomorrow.” All he did was include Democrats in his criticism yet so many people think he’s trying to push the blame onto anybody but Republicans or Pres. Bush (“speaking” of Pres. Bush, here’s a wonderful, hateful ad hominem comment on the story: “The Republicans still don’t get it…They picked a drunk sot, hooker chasing, coke sniffing, moron, loud mouth, scum bag, out of Texas in 2000…”; I guess it could have been worse!).

Romney was simply criticizing the constant fiscal irresponsibility of Washington. Democrats are to blame as well as Republicans. Democrats have had control of Congress since 2006. Congress have the authority to actually pass budgets; they have to work with the executive branch but Congress “pays the bills” (technically, we pay the bills, or actually the Chinese and the rest of the world who loan us the money, but that’s beside the point).

Further, the causes of the economic crisis started in the 1990s (actually, they started a long time ago when we as a people started individually being more fiscally irresponsible, which I believe started en masse some time after WWII). Some people decry the Republicans for not providing enough oversight of Wall Street (hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? Not that more regulations are the best idea.) while forgetting that many Republicans (including Pres. Bush) pushed for oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2004 and Democrats refused to vote for that oversight (to be fair – so did some Republicans). Further, in general, Democrats weren’t exactly clamoring for any sort of financial markets oversight. In fact, it was mainly Democrats (including Clinton) in the 90s who pushed (successfully) to force lenders to carry more risky debt by offering mortgages to historically unqualified borrowers (again, Republicans are partially to blame for this too). If you want a cause of the financial crisis, that’s certainly a big part of it.

Romney did criticize Republicans but he also criticized Democrats. He criticized all wasteful spending, regardless of who authorized it. Pres. Bush was a big spender (actually, Congress was the big spender, Pres. Bush just asked them to spend a lot of money; however, Pres. Bush’s spending is “small potatoes” to Pres. Obama’s spending). Unlike what many people believe, Pres. Obama is not spending money (again, it’s really Congress spending the money) to clean up Pres. Bush’s mess – that’s a naive and ludicrous argument; it’s like saying Pres. Bush physically caused Hurricane Katrina (there are people who believe that!) and Pres. Obama has to clean up New Orleans because of Pres. Bush’s hurricane. Republicans in general did not even cause the financial crisis. We (citizens of the United States) all did – all of us who were irresponsible with our money, from the top down and the bottom up! We speculated on speculations of real estate or oil or whatever else we could. We let the government’s size grow out of control and few even tried to stop it; certainly most Democrats didn’t.

That’s basically what I posted (it was much briefer on CNN.com). Yet, my comment did not make it through moderation; however, hateful anti-Mormon comments (e.g., “Romney still does not get it! No one will vote for him a cult member aka MORMON.” [note: that is a direct quote]) and otherwise inane or bigoted comments did. Like I said, I only read CNN.com political comments when I want to punish myself.

McCain Loses Maine – Win for Romney

February 2nd is not only Groundhog Day, it is also the date of Maine’s caucuses for the republicans. These caucuses are completely overshadowed by Super Tuesday but still very important. There are still a few municipalities that will hold caucuses tomorrow and even later but right now it looks as if Romney will win all 18 caucus delegates (of course, how they actually will be divided up won’t be decided until May). That gives him 92 delegates to McCain’s 97 going in to Super Tuesday. It’s a virtually tied race right now. Romney’s overwhelming support in Maine (>50% to McCain’s 20%) shows that many people see through McCain’s self-applied label as a “true conservative.” He’s not a true conservative, he’s a moderate; his recent disingenuous ad shows him with Reagan and other conservative leaders. McCain is the only one who’s been flip-flopping. Romney flipped a couple times but McCain goes back and forth in his views. He says one thing while his hands do something else. At one point McCain stood for something but now he comes across as a bitter old man looking for his handout.

Why is McCain the front-runner? The media generally supports him (what the main papers have said about McCain {and the Democratic candidates} simply shows their heavy liberal bias. The NYT editors said that they really like the Democrats and reluctantly supported McCain as the least offensive (i.e., most liberal) Republican candidate. The LA Times also endorsed him – “McCain opposes abortion and rejects the right of gays and lesbians to marry — two positions we reject. He supports the war in Iraq, whereas we see this nation’s interests better served by a prompt and orderly withdrawal of U.S. forces.” Source.), so he receives mass exposure for virtually no cost. He also ran against Pres. Bush in the 2000 primaries and with Pres. Bush’s less-than-ideal approval rating (which, incidentally is largely driven by media), McCain looks like a Republican who is not like Pres. Bush; after all, they were opponents 8 years ago. Again, the main reason that John McCain is the Republican front-runner is because the media declare him so. Huckabee being the race also hurts Romney. Huckabee has substantial support but it is from a very limited slice of the Republican party (in Maine he only received 6% of the vote). Bigotry against Mormonism also hurts Romney.

Prejudice in the Primaries

Orson Scott Card, one of the best contemporary writers, frequently writes articles about his views on politics and other issues. On January 13, 2008 he published an article called Prejudice in the Primaries. He outlines how religious and racial prejudices are affecting the primaries. People vote against Romney because he is LDS (polls in early January showed 25% of people saying outright that they would not vote for a Mormon) and conversely some people vote for McCain because he’s not openly religious. People also vote against Obama because he’s black. I agree with him that racial and religious bigotry is likely affecting the primaries more than we care to think.

Amy Sullivan’s old but still very salient article Mitt Romney’s Evangelical Problem is a wonderful exposé on the problem that Mitt Romney faces. Just as there is no room for racism in our country there is no room for religism.

Reaction to Florida’s Primaries

Well, Giuliani’s big gamble did not work. He spent all his efforts in Florida and some of the Super Tuesday states only to have his early poll lead chiseled away by McCain and Romney. I’d be highly surprised if he did not drop out of the race by the end of the week. While I previously posted about how I didn’t feel that I could trust him, after researching his stances on issues, I learned to at least respect him more. I still disagree with him on issues but I think that he had good ideas for economic policies and would have done well in the international scene.

Huckabee did not do well in Florida. He got some of the evangelical vote but overall did poorly. I’m glad that members of the Republican Party see through him (well, a lot of us do). His one-liners and quips revealed that there is not a lot of substance to his platform. I heard him make a comment after the Florida results were in that his supporters should make sure they all go out and vote and that they should keep people who are not going to vote for him in their driveways. I know it was said tongue-in-cheek but that was not one of the more brilliant things that he’s said. He plans on staying in the race for some unknown reason. He’ll do fairly well in the South but nowhere else. He certainly would not compete well against any of the Democratic candidates in a general election. It’s time for him to drop out of the race. Maybe he thinks he’ll have a come-back but the cynical part of me also thinks that he might just stay in the race because he takes votes away from Mitt Romney. That is probably not true but I can’t deny the possibility that anti-Mormon bigotry is playing such a large role. Anyone who thinks that the LDS Church would suddenly control Washington should Romney win does not know LDS theology. Anyway, Huckabee also could be staying in to try and be in a position to be chosen as a running mate.

McCain had a big win in Florida. He jumped into 1st place in the delegate count; he’s ahead of Romney by about 20 delegates now, which is not a lot but he is polling ahead of Romney in California. Also, with Giuliani’s endorsement, he will take up a majority of Giuliani supporters. I have a lot of respect for McCain and for his even-mindedness and “gut.” I think he’ll do well against any of the Democratic candidates should he receive the Republican nomination. I do not like the personal attacks he made against Romney though. Romney started the negative campaigning but it was always negative about candidates’ actual past performance and their stances on issues. McCain started the personal attacks on Romney though (Huckabee was involved as well). McCain was the first to use language that questioned Romney’s character or his integrity (for example, “if you wrestle with a pig you only get dirty” referring to Romney as the pig. That statement was way below the belt. Romney is by far the most squeaky-clean of the candidates). He was also the main candidate who called Romney a “flip-flopper,” which is completely untrue. Romney has changed stances on issues (although they were mostly when he was still governor or even before then) but to “flip-flop” you have to repeatedly change back and forth. Romney has “flipped” on some issues but that’s it. McCain has done the same and should not be pointing fingers. Of course, many people involved in the mainstream media also can’t resist trying to paint Romney as a “flip-flopper.” It’s disingenuous at best and slander or libel at worst. Campaigns tend to be ugly, unfortunately, but there’s no room for outright lies. Granted, Romney shouldn’t be calling McCain’s policies “the liberal Democrat way” but that certainly is more accurate (McCain is moderate and thus has a lot of policies that are “liberal”) than calling Romney a flip-flopper.

Now to Mitt Romney. He’s still in the race. He had strong support in Florida – not as good as would have liked – but he came in a solid second. He also solidly won the conservative vote. McCain won the majority of liberal and moderate Republican votes but Romney won the conservative majority. Romney will do well in a number of states on Super Tuesday. He has Utah in the bag. I think he’ll do well in the other Rocky Mountain states, the Midwest, and in the Northeast. It looks like McCain will win California and Arizona, although this win in Florida will certainly give him momentum. McCain will be tough to beat. Whats hard to understand though is why the conservatives in the Republican Party (who are a majority) aren’t widely supporting the one candidate who espouses the range of conservative values – Mitt Romney. I also don’t get why so many more people think that McCain is more likable than Romney. McCain is likable but I don’t think he’s any where near as likable as Romney. Of course, I’m biased but I also try not to be swayed by media’s portrayal of candidates, which in Romney’s case is generally negative.

The Democratic contest was just for show. Clinton was the overwhelming winner but her win was symbolic. Hopefully Democrats see through her and stop voting for her. She has had too many scandals in the past and has been involved in too many underhanded maneuvers to be completely trusted. I think that people support her in part because they are nostalgic for her husband. I don’t think that that many people are really all that nostalgic for Bill Clinton as they are for the 90s. The 90s was relatively peaceful and prosperous. People associate that with Pres. Clinton and Hillary gets to bask in the reflected glory. Bill Clinton gets all this credit for the prosperity of the 90s when it really was not his doing. If people give him credit for the prosperity of the 90s they also have to give him credit for the recession that started in 2000 and continued for a couple years into Pres. Bush’s presidency. Economic forces are bigger than the Presidency. So, I think that people like Hillary because they think that she would be another Bill Clinton. It’s a misguided nostalgia. I think that Obama has so much more to offer than Clinton does. Democratic voters need to see that. Of course, part of me wants to see Clinton nominated because I think she’d be easy to beat. That’s not what I really feel though because I think the best candidate should be nominated and for me that’s Barack Obama.

The GOP Race: The Game of Political Risk

By Daniel Kay

With a new primary calendar this year, which includes contests that are moved up and more condensed, the road to the White House is much more complex. Some have compared the race to a chess match that is taking place across the country. The analogy is poor because in chess there are only two players while the GOP race has 6 active players. The contest is more comparable to Risk than chess. Every player claims territories and countries and each takes turns to choose their battles and form alliances in an attempt to win and gain the reinforcements that follow a victory. Each candidate has their own strategy, some better than the others:

Giuliani: The Hide in Australia (Florida) Strategy
Giuliani realized that he was going to lose in Iowa, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada and South Carolina pulled out and moved all his resources to Florida. This is comparable to a strategy I had when a child where I would hide in Australia while the other players wiped each other off the board; I had all my resources stockpiled ready to strike Asia when the others were to weak to stop me. I would then go on to win the game. Of course when you are playing others that are good at the game this never works because the other players don’t forget about you and keep the pressure on to make sure you do not get too strong. This has been the case for Giuliani. He has had to spend all his resources simply to stay tied with Romney and McCain in Florida.

Huckabee/McCain: The Unspoken Alliance of North America (Iowa) and Europe (New Hampshire)
Before Iowa, Romney was the guy with the huge armies that everyone else ganged up on because if they didn’t the game will not last much longer. Huckabee and McCain did a tag team, defeating Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively. This is like the duo who make an unspoken alliance to secure North America and Europe, respectively. The problem is that strategically they still have to fortify against each other and neither is a strategic launch pad to make a mass invasion. Likewise, they will have to take each other out of the game before they can effectively set themselves up for a strategic position to win Super Tuesday. Currently the game is at the point where McCain and Huckabee have to fight it out in South Carolina (Greenland) to stay in the game. South Carolina is the end of an alliance and the end of the holder of either North America or Europe from the game.

Romney: South America (Michigan) and Most Territories Strategy (Wyoming, Nevada)
I was once bet in a game of Risk by my brother-in-law who was able move around the board in such a way that when his run came around again he still had the most territories and invariably received more reinforcements early in the game. He was later able to conquer more countries and win the game over my strategy which was to go after countries first.
Romney has won Wyoming and Michigan. Wyoming can be seen as winning the territory of North Africa before moving into to take South America (Michigan). Now he has moved his armies back to the West to take Nevada (another chunk of Africa).

Thompson: Take Potshots on Everyone Until You Get a Trade-in Strategy
Thompson is really only a fifth wheel at this stage. He is like my friend Jack who liked to mettle with whoever he could get the most riled-up. That was usually me. While he should be playing the game to help the person he would like to win, it seemed that he just took his anger out on everyone. Thompson is stuck in Asia somewhere where he is able to use his army’s on everyone.

Romney’s Power Play
Romney has the most control over who wins South Carolina. He made a big move in the game by skipping the contest; if Huckabee wins, it will be a decisive strategic victory. Here is why:

If McCain wins in SC, that will make for a close race in Florida and Super Tuesday between Romney, Giuliani, and McCain because Huckabee will be out of the game. If Huckabee is removed from the game they will vote for whoever is competing with Romney, in Florida that will be either McCain or Giuliani. If the frontrunner against Romney is McCain, McCain’s support will come form foreign policy conservatives and the anti-Mormon vote but if that frontrunner should become Giuliani, Giuliani’s support will come from fiscal Conservatives, plus the anti-Mormon vote.

If Huckabee wins, that will be a good thing for Romney. Romney has probably asked like I have, “why not have the anti-Mormon voting bloc tied to the candidate whose base is the anti-Mormon voting bloc: Huckabee?” So in Florida if Huckabee is in play, after slowing the McCain train, the anti-Mormon vote will go with Huckabee regardless of how close he is to the frontrunners in the polls and give Romney a clear advantage in Florida and on Super Tuesday. Effectively, a Huckabee win in SC will tie-up the anti-Mormon vote to a candidate that is not viable nationally.

The person who benefited the most from a Romney pullout in SC was Huckabee; it was probably enough to hand him the gold tomorrow. The Romney ads that will run through tomorrow in SC are nothing more than an attempt to stay ahead of Thompson and ensure that he is forced out of the game. Skipping SC was a power play for Romney, especially if Huckabee wins, and he will be in good position to take Florida and Super Tuesday should this play out.

Romney: Michigan Primary Winner

By Daniel Kay

Romney’s home court advantage proved to be a valuable “firewall” in his GOP bid for the nomination. Though the media gave him little credit for the win or national hype, the win was decisive, gaining support from every GOP demographic. Surprisingly, he won more votes from evangelicals than even Huckabee. Importantly, Romney won 24 of the 30 delegates in Michigan. This brings his delegate count to 54; that is, 39 delegates more than McCain and 32 more than Huckabee. While McCain, and Huckabee fight it out for 1st and 2nd in South Carolina to win a portion of the 24 delegates up for grabs there, Romney is focusing on Nevada to widen an already wide lead over his opponents in the state which has 34 delegates. While Romney will miss out on the hype in South Carolina, he will win the most delegates over the weekend. I am sure it will be reminiscent of McCain’s only win (New Hampshire) where he won 7 whole delegates and received national acclaim while Romney won Wyoming and gained 8 delegates – both unreported by the media.

The question is which strategy will impact Super Tuesday, McCain’s hype or Romney’s consistently strong showing state-to-state and ability to win delegates? Should Romney have tried to battle it out in South Carolina where he could potentially win some hype but could also lose momentum, or was he right to skip SC and go to Nevada where there are more delegates but less hype? If there is any logic to this race I think he did the right thing, winning delegates should matter more than winning hype. After Saturday, Florida will have a chance to decide. Where South Carolina once was viewed as the gateway to the GOP nomination, Florida may be so this year with 57 winner-take-all delegates before the Super Duper Tuesday. Already Romney is playing down his chances in SC, predicting even fourth is possible, even though he is statistically tied for second with Huckabee in an opinion poll released today. A big win in Nevada for Romney and a big win in SC for McCain will set a very nice stage in Florida for the first winner-take-all delegates contest. There is a four way tie in Florida currently but we will soon see if the hype pays off for McCain or if the consistency of Romney will win the day.

Media Manipulations

By Daniel Kay

I’ve had my fill of media spin this election season. CBS, AP, and even Fox News have lost a lot of credibility in my eyes. It is outrageous what they are doing to this election. Today a reporter from the AP interrupted, insulted, and even laughed at Romney during a press meeting. When did reporters become paid hecklers? Leading up to Iowa and New Hampshire you could not find a positive word about Romney in the news. Then after his 1st place finish in Wyoming there was no news at all on the win. Who do they think they are kidding? They take great pains to take everything Romney says out of context and put it in the most negative light. I too lost heart after the media misrepresented Romney’s comment about his father being a civil rights activist that was a leading political leader who, like millions across the country marched with Martin Luther King Jr. While everyone could not be arm and arm standing next to King, that does not make their march any less meaningful: they all marched with that great leader. One thing is clear, the liberal media is afraid of Romney. It is sickening how they think that they should have the power over who the GOP nominee should be. Good for Romney for sticking it to this AP guy. The liberal media is not going to sway my vote. I used to trust the “mainstream media” but after the past few months, I can see there is no objectivity to their work. Most make endorsements for one candidate over another and twist the fact to suit their ends.

I think most news agencies will do whatever it takes to make the GOP contest go to convention, to make the next big news event. That would explain why the media did not have a thing negative to say about Romney between New Hampshire and Michigan. Now they are trying to make Thompson look good and saying, “Oh yeah, he has a chance.” Giuliani will be next I am sure. I keep hearing reports say, “Wouldn’t it be great if the GOP contest went to convention. That would be a reporter’s dream come true.” No surprise, many reporters’ dreams are the same as the Democrats. The longer this GOP contest goes on the better for the Democrats. It is time for the GOP to realize that Huckabee is “Huckabust,” Thomson is getting none, Giuliani is not on the money, and Paul’s supporters are off the wall. McCain and Romney need a clear one-on-one battle without his tag team partner, or should I say Vice President, Huckabee getting in the way and the other “also-rans” giving false hope to and conning money and votes out of their supporters. Be not deceived, it is and has been a two man show for several weeks: Romney vs. McCain. The question is does the liberal media support McCain and if so, why? Some may argue that they do, and it is because he is socially liberal for a GOP candidate (he does seem to get the most media endorsements); others say it is because McCain has less chance of generating GOP grass roots support and enthusiasm from core Republicans which typically gets them to the polls to beat the Democratic candidate in November (this seems unlikely as many Republicans will vote against a Democrat no matter who the GOP candidate is). I am not sure if the media favors McCain but it is clear they do not favor Romney.

Who Will the Michigan Democrats Vote for in the GOP Primary?

It seems odd that Democrats should have the opportunity to play a key role in who wins Michigan’s GOP primacy and potentially the GOP nomination. However, Democrats may never have a better chance. Because Democrats can vote in the Michigan GOP primary and there is no real Democrat race, there is high incentive for Democrats to cast their voice in the GOP contest. The question is which GOP candidate will the Democrats choose?

McCain
If they vote for McCain they will be voting for the candidate which polls show has the best chance of beating Hillary or Obama in November. Voting for McCain will also add momentum to his nomination which is at the verge of critical mass already. Both these options should deter Democrats from voting for McCain assuming they want the Democrats to have the best chance of winning in November and they want to prevent the GOP from identifying their candidate quickly. Nonetheless, McCain is leading the GOP for support from Independent and Democrats in opinion polls. Perhaps many Democrats in Michigan are trying to setup a win-win situation for November: If their candidate loses, at least McCain is more liberal (i.e., moderate) than most of the GOP candidates and will be more palatable as president for them.

Romney
If they vote for Romney they will vote for the main candidate that has one of the least chance of beating Hillary and Obama in November according to current opinion polls. Voting for Romney will also create a three man race which will draw-out the GOP contest, increase tension within GOP party lines and decrease the odds of a strong unified GOP to contest with in November. A few Democrat strategists have advocated this tactic; I would expect at least some Democrats to make this move and vote Romney.

Huckabee
The only reason that a Democrat in Michigan would vote for Huckabee is because Huckabee, like Democrats, is a populist and perhaps they think Huckabee would be a palatable consolation prize if their Democratic candidate loses in November. I find this unlikely as most realize that a populist GOP president is much less likely to have the ability (due to GOP opposition and greater difficulty working across the isles) to fulfill his populist promises as a Democratic president who has most populists on his/her side of the isle.

Thompson/Giuliani/Paul/Hunter
Will these guys ever quit? The writing is on the wall, but I guess they need to spend the money they raised. Regardless, there is no reason for Democrats to vote for them in Michigan there aren’t enough Democrats that will vote in the GOP race to raise them from single digits to compete with the front-runners.

Romney has never had a better chance to win a big contest. Michigan is his birth state, he leads McCain 2-1 among GOP voters there and the questionable politics of the Democrats should be on his side.