ONE TICKET: Two Empty Suits

Since Mitt Romney emerged as the frontrunner, the Republicans have been marching toward an election likely to be decided more by ideology than by the hard economic issues facing We the People.  They have now locked on that course by the choice of Rep. Paul Ryan to complete their ticket.

It is now the ticket of the Two Empty Suits.

Mitt was always the perfect fit for it, in light of his wholesale reversal of ideals he stood for as governor of Massachusetts. Missing now from one pant leg is his lost stand for full freedom for women, i.e., pro choice. Gone from the other pant leg is his support of health care for all, the plan he got enacted in Massachusetts.

One empty sleeve is his abandonment of equal rights for gays. The other empty sleeve is his mostly missing tax returns, which could tell us whether there were years in which his income ran eight or more figures but he did or didn’t he pay any income tax. His promise that he’ll release one more tax return by October 15, barely two weeks before the election, is an empty bow to conservatives who believe the voters are entitled to see all his returns, from his fattest years with Bain Equity, in which he cashed out struggling companies and cut jobs by the thousands, to net his millions.

His suit coat makes a handy hiding place for all those missing returns. The picture is completed by a flip-flop pinned to the bottom of each flapping pant leg.

Congressman Ryan is an empty suit of a different weave. His career is void of real-world experience.  From his college days, he only game has been politics. He was a cofounder of the GOP Young Guns, and by 28 he had been elected to the Congressional seat he has held for 14 years.

Since the only life he has known is the life of privilege, it seems natural that as Chair of the House Budget Committee he would fashion a highly partisan federal budget that shreds the safety nets for the under-privileged, while it lines the pockets of the One Percent, yet fails to shrink either the chronic deficits or the national debt. It deepens the drift toward oligarchy that started with President Reagan’s promise of “trickle down” prosperity. Democracy works in the long run only from “trickle up,” the will of a majority who understand that freedom isn’t handed down, but must be earned by honest labor.

What has been growing steadily, and unabated, from trickle-down is the Vulture Culture, in which human rights are seen less and less as natural rights but as limits increasingly defined by the corporate power at play in globalized markets. Multinational corporations are no longer bound by national bodies of law, or by our Constitution. They live increasingly by rules of their own making, because they have the wealth to hire as much legal counsel as they need to paralyze any court and to live by their own rules. In his devotion to privilege, Ryan stands with the Vulture Culture.

Ryan typifies the ideologues who expect the world to live by their principles, however inconsistent they are with the Constitution and its bent upon justice. Without equal protection, under the rule of law, neither justice nor the rule of law can be perfected. He paints with the same paint and the same brush as his constant soul mate, Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri. This pair leaves the non-zealots of the Republican Party red-faced over women’s rights. Neither the mental nor physical health of an impregnated women counts for as much as the pretended personhood of the fertilized egg.

With Ryan and Akin, the caveman lives on, borne on the belief  held since the stone age that when a woman says no she really means yes. Thus, rape is never rape, because it comes down to the word of a woman. Women simply cannot be trusted where there is any question of pregnancy. Men must have the last word, because that’s the way the world has always worked. So where’s it gotten us: a world that knows less real security and more crime and corruption that it has ever had before.  With natural rights meaning less and less every day. With the enslavement and exploitation of women, the flesh trade is still growing globally.

And, nature itself threatened more and more by overpopulation and commercial exploitation. The Environmental Protection Agency is consistently frustrated in its mission and mandate by federal courts dominated by the right-wing jurists elevated to federal benches by Presidents Reagan and Bush I and Bush II, jurists who confuse corporations with people. Corporations exist by law solely for money.  Money is not people.

At a time when the USA is struggling grimly to meet the increasingly competitive world in the three Rs, which are more than ever the key to economic and technological security, the GOP gives us a ticket of the two Rs. Is this a bad joke? Depends on what the ticket of Two Empty Suits can prove it November.

If the Empty Suits should win, the Vulture Culture is certain to keep growing, and the middle class will be shrinking more. In such flourishing oligarchy, the rule of law and the promise of equal protection will mean less and less.

– Frank Mensel, September 2012


A century ago, in the incomparable 1912 campaign for the White House – former President Roosevelt, sitting President Taft, and President-to-be Wilson in pitched battle – they made a contribution to history that falls heavily on the 21st century. They got the economic message RIGHT.

The message was as plain as the earth itself: Wealth is like manure. Keep it in piles, and its value is lost. Spread it, and it grows many good things.

It can be traced to the inspiration of steel-magnate-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and his timeless essay, “The Gospel of Wealth.” The responsibility and power of capitalism to regenerate itself, to nurture the consumer economics and middle classes on which it feeds, was never captured more insightfully, nor in fewer worlds, than when he said, “The man who dies rich, dies disgraced.”

So where are these messages in the campaign of 2012? Surely they are lost on the One Percent, with a few exceptions. They want no part of the wealth sharing of fairer taxes. Shamelessly,  they are bent upon killing all estates taxes, to enable their offspring to live in the careless opulence they’re accustomed to, denuding the earth as they go.

And, how about today’s economists, will the profession ever outgrow its fame as “the dismal science?”  Or put to rest President Truman’s wish for “a one-armed economist?” When will the left hand and the right hand grasp reality together, thus finding a firm stand?

American economics and politics have become so interlaced today by corporate power that the ideals of Carnegie and trust-busting Teddy are easily ignored. They’ve been replaced by class warfare, in which the well-heeled media too easily pretend the rich are not at fault. Class warfare is always rooted in wealth, because it’s a blame game that only money can win. It’s a smokescreen for the huge carbon footprints that wealth and the corporate world are making.

No less ironic has been the inability of the Obama White House to grow hay in such fertile ground. Is this White House too much staffed in Ivy League elitists and their meandering economists?

The President could seize the high ground on reelection simply by steadily reminding the One Percent that capitalism only grows when it spreads wealth more than it concentrates it. Our enormous national debt is our reward for living the game the other way around in the three decades since the Reagan White House raised the false hope that all ships would rise with the “trickle down” from  accelerated spending bound to come from greater concentration of wealth. It didn’t, and won’t. Trickle down is so fundamentally unAmerican. Democracy lives from the bottom up, not the top down.

On class warfare, the One Percent “protesteth too much,” yet they cannot escape responsibility for it. Sadly, the media have taken it too lightly, but the president can’t afford to. With job markets and the middle class stalled, and hope shrinking, “trickle down” could not be deader. It’s the President’s job to finish burying it. It’s the message the Ninety-nine Percent have been pining for. They’d not only grasp it, they’d run with it, and run hard.

– Frank Mensel, September 2012


My Favorite Republican

My favorite Republican, my dear spouse, is now swimming in disgust with her Party. She expresses it with such tenderness! “Today’s GOP is run by idiots, and the rest are fools for letting the idiots have their way.” So declares Bonny Franke, Ph. D.

She has no use for the Republican leadership in Congress and its avowed first priority of making the black man in the White House a one-term president. The leader of the Republican minority in the Senate, “Mitch McConnell is an idiot, leading other idiots,” she says.

She has the same high opinion of the TeaPartiers in the House. “Their ignorance has brought the Congress the lowest productivity and the least respect of any Congress since poll-taking began,” she notes.

Her disgust applies equally to the GOP presidential ticket. “Romney and his team are tripping on ignorance.” She has never been respectful of his Latter-day Saints Church, because of its “deep history in polygamy and the enslavement of women,” she says. Romney makes her even less friendly toward it. “Do the qualifications for its Priesthood make exceptions for members who can’t tell the truth?” she asks.

She sees his ignorance conspicuous in his ambivalence about women. “Isn’t he the descendant of polygamists?” She can’t believe any red-blooded American woman could find reasons to vote for Romney since he has chosen expedience over principle in his about-face on the pro-choice stance he held as governor. “He can’t be trusted to care about women’s health. His pledge to kill Planned Parenthood would set the cause of responsible motherhood back at least half a century,” she adds.

“Women must have the last and sole word on pregnancy, if we’re to expect them to be caring mothers,” she concludes.

Dr. Bonny further contends that a party whose written platform in this century has left expectant mothers no option on protecting their own mental and physical health, that can’t deliver women “equal protection” in full under the rule of law, has no business holding national office.

She feels the same disgust for Romney’s insistence that President Obama has dropped the work requirement from welfare. Every responsible analyst has found Romney flatly wrong in this claim.

She sees the Romney negatives mirrored in his choice of Rep, Paul Ryan as his running mate.  “He’s even less a champion of women than Romney,” she says. “His ongoing team-play with Rep. Todd Akin on bills that would leave women with no choices at all showcases the depth of their ignorance,” she says. “They want to qualify and quantify rape. They don”t get. Rape is rape. Period. Never less, but often more, in the extreme violence and death that result.”

Romney deserves a running mate who is now handcuffed for the duration to Akin has his inane views on rape. “They’ve always walked in the same legislative tracks, Ryan and Akin.” They show us so clearly why “the Republicans have become the Party of ignorance and idiots. They are such self-absorbed egotists.”

Thank you, Bonny Franke, Ph.D.

Frank Mensel — September 2012