Monday, November 5, 2012

Kickoff Time for the 2016 Elections

It’s all over but the shouts of joy or despair, the air of resignation or elation, the couldabeen, shouldabeen cries of missed opportunities, the atta-boy, way to go hurrahs of “yes, our country has been saved from (you pick it) socialism or 19th century-style robber baronhood.” 

Hard to believe that, barring a hanging chad-like controversy, we will settle into the 2016 presidential election cycle in less than 36 hours. I know, you just can’t wait. Who’d have thought there was an actual silver lining to gender neutral Hurricane Sandy (like the Saturday Night Live character Pat, who’s to say Sandy was a female or male hurricane), when it knocked the campaigns off front pages and TV screens for days, giving the nation respite from the shallow, often offensive tones of the candidates and their surrogates. 

As anyone who has read my blogs knows, I’m hoping for an Obama victory. No need to review why. But there’s still time to point out some interesting and perhaps fun thoughts about the election.

For instance, I wonder why so many Republicans deny the reality of evolution when they’ve witnessed it in warp speed before their very eyes. During his years-long run for the White House, Mitt Romney has evolved from a moderate to a conservative to an extreme conservative to a moderate (at least in his eyes). It’s not so much survival-of-the-fittest as survival-of-the-whatever-it-takes-to-win. We’ll see Tuesday if the public swallows his brand of political posturing.

From the Republican party and presidential debates, Romney came across as a silver-tongued salesman. Rapid fire delivery of purported facts. No countenance of disagreement. Aggressive to the point of disrespect. A manner more suited to the manor than to the general public. It was a type of behavior I’ve seen before, in captains of industry. Even in public companies, they broached no dissent. Shareholders at annual meetings who questioned their authority were barely tolerated. Shareholders could submit resolutions and get to vote on the election of corporate directors, but the tally was usually stacked in favor of management. For Romney to win he would have successfully convinced enough voters that he knows best. 

I found an insight into his character in a story that didn’t get as much play as I would have suspected, given its human interest nature. The Associated Press reported that after the second debate, the town hall debate where Obama woke up from his first debate coma and attacked Romney’s misrepresentations, Romney's son Tagg was tempted to "take a swing" at the president for criticizing his father. Tagg made that admission in a radio interview. He apologized for his thoughts. Forty-two-year-olds don’t make those kind of statements if they haven’t been brought up in an environment where the powerful are not meant to be challenged. 

During one of his campaign stops last month, Romney predicted stock markets would likely rise if he wins. "There will be a great deal of optimism about the future of this country," he said. "We'll see capital come back and we'll see—without actually doing anything—we'll actually get a boost in the economy," he said. "If the president gets re-elected, I don't know what will happen. I can­, I can never predict what the markets will do."

What does he think has been happening to the stock market over the last four years? Here are the facts: On Election Day 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 9,625. On the next three Election Days under Obama, the DJIA went up to 9,771, then 11,189, then 12,170. As Americans troop to the polls Tuesday, the DJIA is at 13,113, a 36.2% increase under Obama. Compare that to what happened under George W. Bush’s presidency. The day he got elected, the DJIA was 10,952. Eight years later it was 9,625, a 12.1% decrease. For all their bellyaching about Obama wanting to increase taxes on their oversized earnings, Wall Streeters have done quite nicely under our “socialist” president.

It’s apparent that once more the country will be divided in politics and philosophy. So why not adapt an idea from Britain and separate the country in two, much the same way Ireland was divided as was the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan? Actually, the idea of two entities precedes British action. The Confederacy thought it up first. You’d have the Republic of Red States stretching across the South, Midwest, and Plains states separating the two sections of the Republic of Blue States in the Northeast and West Coast—having two parts is like the original Pakistan, the eastern section is now independent and known as Bangladesh. (For the moment, let’s not concern ourselves where Florida, Illinois and perhaps Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota fall.) Let’s remember that Texas governor Rick Perry thought his state might want to secede from the Union. This idea just elaborates on that birdbrain notion.

The Red States would have lots of natural resources, lots of agriculture, lots of nuclear rocket silos, lots of tornadoes and drought, lots of Bible belters. Lots of people working with their hands and big machines. Blue States would have lots of earthquakes and shore erosion. Lots of lawyers, bankers, geeks, surfers, media stars, fashionistas. Lots of people dedicated to making money from  intellectual capital, with no guarantee their ideas are anything more than schemes to make money out of thin air. 

I don’t have all the details worked out, but it’s worth keeping in mind as we start the next presidential selection process on Wednesday. Assuming Romney loses, the GOP will undergo an internal contest of values. It will either veer further right or return to a more moderate, just right of center, position. If it does the latter, NJ governor Chris Christie has a shot at the nomination. He’d have to fight off Jeb Bush. If it swings further right, Christie would either have to alter his stances or Congressman Paul Ryan would have an inside track, along with Senators Marco Rubio and Jim Dement. 

On the Democratic side, the battle for the nomination will be between Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden and Andrew Cuomo. Those are easy predictions. My real crystal ball forecast is the vice presidential pick—Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, NJ, or Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts. 

That’s it for now. Go vote. Pray. Cross your fingers. Light candles. Vote again (just kidding). Pray some more (not kidding).

Fair, of Should I Say, Storm Warning: Anyone, anywhere in the market for a new or used vehicle in the next half year or so better check where and when that car was manufactured and serviced. With so many cars swamped by Hurricane Sandy, lots of autos and trucks will be bought as replacements. But if you’ve ever wondered what happens to the cars and trucks salvaged from the deluge, even those that were on dealers’ lots, listen up—they are often “repaired” and many times shipped to other parts of the country to be sold to unsuspecting customers. 

That’s where CarFax or other services that can trace a car’s provenance come in handy. Trust me, you don’t want to buy a car or truck with an engine that was under water. For a new car, it’s probably a good idea to buy one built after November 1. It also would be a good idea for any new or used vehicle purchase to get the dealer to give you a sworn statement that it has not gone through Hurricane Sandy.

Tragic Bookends: New York mayor Michael Bloomberg moved into city hall months after the devastation of September 11. He will be leaving office at the end of 2013 while the Big Apple is still in the midst of recovering from the big bite Hurricane Sandy took from it.