Monday, January 30, 2012

Who’s the new Republican presidential candidate waiting in the wings?

The see-saw is doing its thing. Newt is up. Newt is down. Newt is down and Romney is up. Romney is up and Newt is down. Is the see-saw making you sea-sick yet?

The odds are good that it’s nauseating some Republicans, too. My condolences to them. Or maybe not, since what they seem to want to do most is dismantle the economy and the safety net that keeps most older Americans (and many of the younger ones) from freezing to death on the streets. And to lower taxes on the rich even if the rest of us have to pay for it with smaller soup rations on the bread line.

Still, one senses that the Republicans finally sense that they’re not going to beat Obama. Not with Gingrich. Not with Romney. And not with the passel of other candidates who either threw themselves in front of the bus, got thrown there by Republican primary voters, or who simply got sucked under the bus by the vacuum in rational thinking that surrounded them. (Think Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann, for example.)

This morning the New York Times ran an article saying that former Florida governor Jeb Bush is withholding his endorsement from Romney. Cranky old cynics like me immediately start wondering if Jeb is planning for a draft Jeb rally after Newt and Willard (aka Mitt) badmouth each other into a stall at the Republican convention.

Chris Christie, who also says he’s not a candidate, is also possibly a candidate.

Mitch Daniels, the Indiana senator who gave the world’s most boring speech to “rebut” President Obama? Possible candidate.

But I’m going to go with a long shot bet here, and nominate New York’s impresario of self-dealing, Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Never mind that the billionaire “Mayor Mike” who can spend triple digit millions on a local political campaign the way you and I might drop $3.50 for a latte at Starbucks sabotaged the two-term mayoral limit and is now serving his third term.

Never mind that he keeps standing by his police commissioner, Michael Kelly, a character who looks like Popeye in a business suit. There have been outrageous excuses to shoo away Occupy Wall Street protestors in Zucotti Park. There’s the commissioner’s son, who now stands accused of rape and whose case has to be investigated by people outside the NYPD. There have been numerous instances police misbehavior such as this one, which resulted in … err, ah, umm … an “investigation” which has been creeping along at what some might consider a snail’s pace, despite the fact that police miscreants were caught on video pepper spraying their victims. What's to investigate for three months?

Never mind the outrageous Kathy Black scandal, in which the mayor appointed a crony with zero – that’s zero – educational experience to run one of the world’s largest public school systems. Fortunately, she self-destructed by mocking angry parents at a public meeting.

None of this matters. The mayor can only be mayor so long – even if he had to pay what most of us would consider a fortune to blow up the law that limited his term. What Bloomberg wants, Bloomberg buys. And I wouldn’t be amazed to see him try to buy the Republican presidential nomination.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Laundry, serendipity, New York – and two very talented musicians

Every so often I bulldoze this blog out of the political diatribe and social injustice business to discuss something more agreeable. Today I’d like to discuss laundry and magnificent music.

I live in a Manhattan apartment building. Once a week, grumbling about what a tedious pain in the neck it is, I drag my laundry down to the laundromat in my basement to wash, dry, fold … I’m sure you know the drill. But a couple of weeks ago, through a serendipitous accident, something wonderful happened in the laundry room.

On a bulletin board usually reserved for offers of baby sitting, house cleaning, and dog walking, somebody had posted a few concert tickets with an invitation to take them. They were to a Friday night performance by something called the Duo Sitkovetsky. Since I wasn’t doing anything that Friday night, I helped myself to a ticket.

I showed up t the appropriate auditorium in Carnegie Hall (there are several of them) and waited to see what would happen.

What happened was magical.

Alexander Sitkovestsky, a violinist, and Wu Qian, a pianist, performed works by Schumann, Prokoviev, Desyatnikov, and Grieg, worthy of the main concert hall – except that the main concert hall is too big for the intimate music of a two people.

I should warn you before I go any further that I am not a music critic, nor am I musically educated. When I read some music reviews, my brain hurts. Classical music criticism, in particular, has its own language, with which I am even less conversant than wiring diagrams for superhetrodyne radios. 

Some phrases (used in reviews of other artists) leave me scratching my head or gnashing my teeth: “deeply eloquent virtuosity,” “…the lines are sleek and urgent…” and “…balances unflinching control, fluid bowing and sure-fire intonation with extraordinary depth of vision.”

So what can I tell you about the Duo Sitkovestsky? I can say that there was something unique and beautiful about the way Wu Qian’s piano and Alexander Sitkovstsky’s violin harmonized with such chocolatey perfection, at least to my ear, that the music seemed to come from a single instrument.

I can tell you that (with one exception, which I’ll come to) the music was so delicious I almost felt that I could eat it. To have done so, were it possible, would have been like slowly munching a filet mignon, or a perfect piece of ... well, I've already mentioned chocolate. Cheese cake also comes to mind.

The advantage of attending a concert rather than simply listening to a recording of one is that the audience sometimes gets a visual treat, too. Sitkovestsky didn’t merely play his violin. He sometimes leaned into it, eyeing its bridge like a cat stalking a mouse. To continue the metaphor, sometimes, he seemed to be pouncing on the mouse. At other times, playing with it, letting it run for a few inches, then catching it and pulling it back to him.

By contrast, at least from where I sat, Qian’s performance seemed to emanate a kind of cool sense of control and timing. If Alexander was the cat, Qian was the cat’s human, calmly enjoying and putting out musical playthings for the pet to pounce on ande conquor.

If I have one cavil, it was the choice of one piece, called Wie der Alt Leiermann for Violin and Piano, written by a contemporary Russian composer, Leonid Desyatnikov. The fact that my musical taste never progressed much beyond the first half of the 20th Century may have something to do with this, but the piece brought to mind a story about Lenin attending a performance of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

At the end of the concert, Lenin was brought backstage and introduced to Stravinsky. “Very nice, Comrade Igor,” said Lenin, glaring with a hint of annoyance at the composer and giving him a fishy handshake. “Next time, give me some music the workers can whistle to.”

Sorry, gang, although I never liked Lenin, I’m with him on this one.

All the same, everything else I heard was so magnificent that I wanted to feast on more. I wrote to Diane Saldick, Duo Sitkovestsky’s representative in North America, in part to ask her where in the United States they would be performing next.

“They will not be appearing in the USA in the coming months,” she replied.

Too bad. They deserve to be heard more by American audiences.

Diane Saldick also let me know that Qian and Alexander met at the Yehudi Menuhin School in London “when they were very young” – which couldn’t have been too long ago, since they’re both still in their twenties. They recently married.

And that’s my New York story for the day, except to say, “What a city!” Where else in the world can you go to a cellar to put your underwear in a washing machine, and end up listening, live for the first time, to a chamber music concert in Carnegie Hall, by two brilliant young musicians? 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Newt Gingrich's press bashing only highlights his hypocrisy

"Every person in here knows personal pain. Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary, a significant question in a presidential campaign, is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine."
That was Newt the other night, responding to one of his two ex-wives' just-announced allegations that he wanted an open marriage so he could carry on his affair with the woman who is his present wife.

I'd give more credence to his tantrum if he hadn't pursued Bill Clinton's impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky affair. Yes, I agree there's a technical difference. Clinton lied under oath, in a trumped-up hearing engineered to bring maximum attention to his dalliance with Lewinsky. Newt, on the other hand, is only lying to the American public. But what does that tell us about how he'll perform as president?

Gingrich also claims that the networks turned down offers for some of Newt's friends to go before the cameras and testify that he didn't ask for an open marriage.

How could they possibly know? Were they in the Gingrich bedroom when the conversation took place? And if so, does that mean that Newt was also having threesomes?

Yeah, I just got snarky. But Gingrich is a  a serial philanderer and, I suspect, a serial liar who wants to be the next President of the United States.

That's why inquiring minds want to know.

Note: Cartoon by Baldinger under a creative commons license. No endorsement of my cranky views by Baldinger is intended or implied.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Outraged by the Washington corruptocracy? You'd better read this.

At the time of the Anthony Weiner scandal, business magazine columnist, blogger and direct marketing guru Denny Hatch got fed up more than most of us with the way things work in Washington. He wrote the piece that follows, which  I suspect he fleetingly intended for his blog, Denny Hatch's Business Common Sense. (He didn't say that. I infer that.)

Once he got it out of his system, he decided his justifiable fury wasn't right for what he calls his marketing crowd. But he has kindly permitted me to print it here. And that is something I do with cranky pleasure. I do not agree with absolutely everything Denny has to say. Nevertheless, his gist is horrifyingly on target.  Read it and see for yourself. (Fair warning: you may retch at what goes on in Washington.)

The Great Congressional Payola
Anthony Weiner: Casualty of a Crazed, Schizoid Lifestyle
By Denny Hatch
Anthony Weiner’s Judgment
The scandal raises issues that transcend one man's personal indulgence.
In one of the most unbearable news conferences ever seen, Congressman Weiner admitted his week of lies about his lewd online relationships, apologized to all and sundry, but said he will not resign. We'll leave the last point to his constituents, but Mr. Weiner's ambitions to be mayor of New York City are finished and his credibility in national politics after this is next to nothing. . .
     Anthony Weiner now joins a disturbing list of elected officials in our time who've lost any sense of self-discipline. If there are others out there wandering in the confused ethers that trapped Anthony Weiner, we have a request: Get out now. Spare the rest of us.
  The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2011

Anthony Weiner was best congressional catnip of 2011.

The problem starts with all members of Congress having one single, overarching personal agenda: Get re-elected.

No matter what members of the House and Senate believe in their deep heart’s core, all speeches, votes, interviews, town meetings, confirmation hearings and individual encounters with the media, industry leaders, lobbyists, foreign envoys, voters and members of the executive branch—all must be seen through this prism of desperation for re-election.

Why is nothing is getting done in terms of the deficit, national debt, health care, Middle East wars, Pentagon spending, global warming/environment, and jobs creation?

All 435 house members and 100 senators are terrified of double-crossing the 140 top benefactors—from ActBLue ($52,443,515) and AFSCE ($45,237,515) to Bear Stearns ($3,374,125) and Club for Growth ($1,535,979)—who spread a total of $1.97 billion throughout Congress from 1989-2010.

Follow the Money
“The ideal employee,” said children’s book publisher Franklin Watts, “is one who feels overworked and underpaid.”

Underpaid? Congresspersons are far richer than the electorate.

A few in congress are very, very, very rich. Among them:

Member                                                   Avg. Net Worth
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)         $303,575,011
Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA)         $293,454,761
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)         $238,812,296
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)         $174,385,102
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CA)          $160,909,068
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)         $160,302,011
Rep. Vernan Buchanan (R-FL)         $148,373,160
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)         $137,611,043
Sen. James E. Risch (R-ID)         $109,034,052
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)         $  98,832,010
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)         $  58,436,537

However, many members of Congress are woefully underpaid and living in financial hell. Base salary is $174,000 per year plus health care, up to 64 round trips home, retirement benefits and a $3000 tax credit on D.C. living quarters.

To Jane and Joe Lunchbucket, this is a lot of money. But for the majority of members—those beyond Virginia and Maryland—it means maintaining a second residence in Washington—the eighth most expensive city in the America. A decent wardrobe is essential. Those members with alimony and a kid in college at $20,000 per semester are gasping for air. Hence the parade of members caught in such no-nos as bribes, money laundering, illegal financial gifts, free plane rides and junkets, and funneling campaign money into personal accounts. Among the recent perpetrators (in alphabetical order):

Barbara-Rose Collins – Randy (Duke) Cunningham – Tom DeLay – Walter Fauntroy - Newt Gingrich – Carroll Hubbard - William J. Jefferson – Buzz Lukens - Nicholas Marvroules - Bob Ney – Carl C. Perkins - Charlie Rangel – Dan Rostenkowski - Rick Renzi - Ted Stevens – Robert Torricelli – Jim Trafficant – William R. Tucker

Last January, CBS News reported that to save money while in Washington, D.C., one-fifth of the House freshmen planned to sleep in their offices. Others that are living away from home share the squalor of dorm-like facilities. From The New York Times, May 30, 1994:

For Representatives Sam Gejdenson of Connecticut, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, George Miller of California and Charles E. Schumer of Brooklyn, Washington life is not all beer and roses. It's more like beer and frozen soy burgers, stale tortilla chips, lost laundry, monthly trips to Price Club and weekly commutes to their districts and families back home.

Sam cooks, Dick cleans, George collects the rent and Chuck raids the refrigerator. Weeknights, they shoot the breeze in their underwear in the Capitol Hill town house where two of them sleep in unkempt beds in the living room like so many superannuated frat boys, and check to see if anyone they know turns up on "Nightline."

In order to economize on food and drink, many in Congress likely mooch at every public and private buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner to which they can wangle an invitation. At Washington events—with spouses hundreds of miles away and where loneliness and hormones kick in—it’s easy to go from focusing on laws to focusing on attractive singles on the prowl. Hence the plethora of serial infidelities and sex scandals by members that have included (in alphabetical order):

Bob Barr – Larry Craig – John Ensign - Mark Foley – Newt Gingrich – Gary Hart - Henry Hyde – Chris Lee - Bob Livingston – Eric Massa – Jack Ryan – David Vitter – Anthony Weiner             

When members of Congress do return to their districts—where spouses likely must have a job to help meet expenses—they are vilified at town meetings, besieged by jobless constituents whose homes are being foreclosed and are scared to death of having to pay for Obamacare or losing Medicare. This hostile environment is hardly conducive to savoring the comforts of home and conjugal bliss.

Forced to Buy Their Jobs
Imagine not only working for a living, but also having to repurchase your job for millions of dollars every two or six years.

The current average cost of a congressional campaign is $1.3 million. This means the average member of the House must raise $9,000 a week every week during the two-year election cycle in order to stay in office. Once re-elected, the manic scramble for campaign cash starts all over again. This is made complicated by the House Ethics Manual that states:

House rooms and offices are not to be used for events that are campaign or political in nature, such as a meeting on campaign strategy, or a reception for campaign contributors.

With the average senate race costing $7.5 million, each senator must raise $24,000 a week during the six-year cycle. A filthy rich opponent can up the ante exponentially. For example, in the 2010 California senatorial race, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina spent $21.5 million, forcing her opponent (and winner) Barbara Boxer to raise and spend $29.5 million. 

A senator that needs $29.5 million for a campaign must raise $94,550 a week, every week during the six-year election cycle.

In other words that crucial part of a legislator’s career—campaign strategy, fundraising or talking to contributors—can only be conducted away from the office and out of the building. This means if an urgent call comes in from a top benefactor, the legislator must scurry outside and call back on a cell phone.

The Great Congressional Payola
Payola: The paying of cash or gifts for radio play, and is a combination of the words “pay” and “victrola”, which stands for LP record player.
—Erika Cox
  “Rewind the Fifties”

Payola was a huge scandal that broke in the late 1950s. Record companies bribed radio disc jockeys to play their latest releases over the airwaves causing them to move up the Billboard charts and generate sales. In 1975, United States Attorneys in New York, Newark, Philadelphia and Los Angeles issued 19 indictments—six of them against record company presidents—alleging income tax evasion, fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property.

Now illegal in the entertainment industry, Payola is a way of life in Congress.

Congressional Payola: How It Works
One of the many 800-pound gorillas breaking the financial back of the country is Medicare Part D—prescriptions drugs for seniors. According to Reason’s Nick Gillespie, Medicare Part D will cost taxpayers $62 billion this year.

Unlike the Veterans Administration, which saves an average of 40% on drugs by negotiating for lower costs with the pharmaceutical companies, the Medicare program is forced to pay the full retail rack rate.

If Medicare obtained the same drug prices as the VA, it would save a total of $24.8 billion per year.

This is not a Democratic or Republican or Independent issue. It’s the right thing to do for America—save $billions a year and help trim the deficit.

Since Part D was passed, a small group of senators and representatives routinely introduce a bill enabling Medicare to negotiate with the drug companies.  On January 25, 2011 S. 44: The Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2011 was introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and co-sponsored by Mark Begich (D-AK), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

According to, not one of these folks received significant—if any—campaign contributions from the Pharmaceutical Industry.

If passed by the senate and the house, the bill would represent a loss to pharmaceutical companies of billions of dollars a year. After being logged in, it was sent to the Senate Finance Committee for action.

The members of that committee received campaign and private PAC contributions of $5,822,782 from the Health Professionals Industry and $3,656,494 from Big Pharma for a grand boondoggle of $9,473,276.

What are the chances of a bill reaching the floor of the Senate that would allow Medicare to negotiate prices with the Pharmaceutical Industry?

Zero. Zip. Nada.

“I seen my opportunities and I took ‘em,” said Tammany Hall politician George Washington Plunkitt ((1842–1924).

“An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought,” said Lincoln’s Secretary of War Simon Cameron (1799-1889).

Anthony Weiner—just the latest of a long line of congressional miscreants
Suddenly, in this bizarre and surreal existence that members of Congress endure, Rep. Anthony Weiner went off the rails. The media played his siren song on its 24/7 Mobius loop. The friends, colleagues and punditorcacy wrung their hands, shook their heads in disbelief and called for his ouster. Only his constituents wanted him to stay; according to a poll, Weiner garnered a 56% approval rating.

The congressman initiated an aggressive cover up by lying to the media, lying to the public and lying to his colleagues in Congress. Caught in the lies, he tried a “mea culpa” press conference and stonewalling, but the pressure from all sides was too great. He held another press conference and resigned.

“And of course I want to express my gratitude to my family,” he said in closing. “To my mother and father who instilled in me the values that have carried me thus far. . .”

Hustler publisher Larry Flynt shared Weiner’s values and promptly offered him a job at $209,000 plus medical benefits and moving expenses to Los Angeles.

Welcome to Congress, the most do-nothing, duplicitous, dyspeptic and dishonest political culture in the free world.

Takeaways to Consider
*The ideal employee is one that feels overworked and underpaid.”
—Franklin Watts

* Who are the real constituents of Congress? Are they the voters and taxpayers? Or are they the 140 top “heavy hitters”—from ActBLue ($52,443,515) and AFSCE ($45,237,515) to Bear Stearns ($3,374,125) and Club for Growth ($1,535,979)—who spent a total of $1.97 billion buying off Congress from 1989-2010?

* Should not members of Congress be paid a decent wage—say $1 million a year—so they can afford to move their families to D.C? They could also have a life after politics were they to vote for what’s right (rather than what’s profitable) and lose their seats in the process.

* Should not members of Congress be given a free place to live in D.C. just like the president and vice-president?

* “I seen my opportunities and I took ‘em.”
—George Washington Plunkitt ((1842–1924)
  New York Tammany Hall politician

* “An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.”
—Simon Cameron (1799-1889)
  Secretary of War, 1861-1862

* Every time the media cover a member of Congress speaking out or voting on an issue, the related cash gifts to his or her campaign committee should be included in the story as a balance.

* "The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money."

Related Websites

Denny Hatch is founder and creator of the monthly blog, launched in 2005. A writer, designer and consultant in the field of direct marketing, he is the author of six books on marketing and three novels. Living and working in Philadelphia, Denny can be reached at or

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to tell if Chief Justice Roberts (and Mitt Romney) are correct when they say a corporation is a person

You can  blame a good part the present disgusting state of political affairs on the five- member majority of the Roberts Supreme Court who, in the Citizens United Case, declared that corporations are people

They opened the floodgates of corporate “free speech money” that in some of the primaries (and guaranteed in the coming Presidential election) drown out any voice that isn’t as rich as America’s richest corporations.

Now Willard (“Mitt”) Romney has joined the chorus, declaring in Iowa, “Corporations are people, my friend.” Well, anyway, it’s looking as if the corporations are Romney's friends.

But are corporations really people? Here’s a simple three-step test you can perform with the corporation nearest you:

  1. Stand the corporation up against a wall.
  2. Blindfold it and offer it a cigarette.
  3. Shoot it through the heart. 
If it falls down, bleeds and dies, it’s a corporation. If it doesn’t, it isn’t.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lower court judge overrules higher court, saying the government can secretly check out who you’re writing to, and who writes to you

This is weird on several counts.

• In Federal Appeals Court, Twitter is appealing an order from U.S. prosecutors to turn over account information belonging to a member of the Icelandic parliament, a dutch activist and a computer security researcher. Their awful “crime?” They once supported WikiLeaks publicly on Twitter.

• So the prosecutors took their case to a lower court – where U.S. District Court Judge  Liam O’Grady ruled that whether the case is under appeal or not, Twitter has to turn over the information. “Litigation of these issues has already denied the government lawful access to potential evidence for more than a year,” said the judge, according to an article in

• Of course, if Twitter turns over the information, the case before the Federal Appeals Court asking that Twitter not be compelled to do so becomes meaningless. And there goes the litigation.

• The case, in which people are investigated for having an opinion on a matter, and a lower court judge jumps in and snatches a case away from a higher court, is being pressed by the Obama administration’s attorney general. So much for Obama’s civil rights credentials. The only person I can imagine doing worse in the White House would be a Republican. Almost any Republican.

Worst of all, if this ruling by a single judge stands, it means that the government can decide, in secret, to in effect hack all your electronic accounts and find out out what you read, to whom you’re writing, and who those people are associated with. And the government doesn’t like what you’re reading or writing, you become, in effect, "a person of interest."

The government has also been pressuring Twitter to shut down the accounts of people and organizations it doesn’t like. As one person quoted in the article said, “If the U.S. were to pressure Twitter to censor tweets by organizations it opposes, even those on the terrorist lists, it would join the ranks of countries like India, Azerbaijan, Syria, Uzbekistan, all of which have censored online speech in th name of ‘national security.”

When the president’s people act like an arm of the Assad government, and judges decide cases by thumbing their noses at higher courts, we’re all screwed. (Note to the G-man reading this post: screw you, too.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Iowa Straw Poll, murky political muck, and the magical “Mushiness Index”

So, uh, according to all the news, George Romney won the Iowa straw poll by eight – count ‘em folks, eight! – votes.

Meanwhile, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are yapping at his heels. Newt Gingrich is grumbling (justifiably) that Romney is a liar who, if you’ll pardon my own awful metaphor, is stabbing him in the back with clubs. Or clubbing him over the head with stilettos. Something like that. And Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry seem about to crawl back into the murky caves from which they emerged and call it a day. Oh wait a second. After crawling into his gave to rethink his candidacy, Perry crawled out again, to lose again another day.

What’s it all mean?

It don’t mean a thing – and not only because all those candidates ain't got that swing.

To explain the mucky murk:
the old “Mushiness Index”

Back in the 1980s, there used to be a polling and market research company called Yankelovich, Skelly and White. It had since disappeared, although it first metastasized into two separate rival companies that are still doing business, one called Yankelovich; the other called DYG, which claimed to have the real Yankelovich as a co-founder. But I’m getting off track here.

A now-deceased woman at Yankelovich, Skelly and White named Florence Skelly invented something called the “Mushiness Index.” This purported to measure not the things or people that individuals like you and me are for, but how intensely we are (or aren’t) for them.

For example? Ask me if I prefer ice cream or chocolate cake and I’ll tell you ice cream. But my preference is really rather “mushy.” At any time I might change my mind, and go for the chocolate cake if I’m in the mood. Or next Wednesday, mindful of my diet, I might say to hell with both the ice cream and the cake and go for jello. Although I've picked a dessert at your request, my preference is anything but firm.

I have a deep, abiding suspicion, that every last candidate in the Iowa Republican Straw Polls, including the one who just shot her own candidacy in the head, has a following that is largely mushy to the point of being downright squishy. Sort of like stepping into eight inches of mud with shoes that only go two inches up your ankles.

Yes, the voters went for Romney over Santorum by something like a mushy 1.0008 to 1 – on Tuesday of this week, at any rate. Next week things might go just the opposite way. Or, as we’ve seen, the votes might instead go to Ron Paul, or Newt Gingrich, or Rick Perry if he doesn't change his mind about running again, or John Huntsman or, for that matter, the man in the moon. Or the troll under the bridge.

Are Democrats "mushy" too?

All this would be good news for the Democrats, if not for the fact that I suspect we Democrats, at least some of us, are furiously mushy ourselves.

President Obama made the mistake of playing diplomat to a bunch of Republican barbarians, preferring “consensus,” or some damn thing like it, to victory. As a result, Republicans walked all over his face. Obama compromised away the public option, leaving forced purchase of commercial health insurance as the key means of covering Americans for health expenses, rather than chancingf “Medicare for all.” Or at least for all who wanted it. The Republicans loved – trust me, loved – the opportunity that this compromise gave them to generate political hysteria. Obama next compromised away environmental safeguards when he opened the gulf to offshore drilling – just in time for the BP disaster.

It goes on. Budget compromises. Limiting how much he really should have demanded to kick start the economy. Laying Social Security and Medicare on the table for negotiations that never happened anyway. And other gross insults to the base who once supported the president.

As we’ve seen, the one time Obama stood firm – on the two month payroll tax-relief and unemployment insurance extension for the middle class – the Republicans folded as quickly as you'd fold a poker hand containing a pair of jokers.

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama learned too late. That’s assuming he learned anything

These days I’m getting bombarded by increasingly desperate-sounding e-mails threatening “deadlines” to cough up three bucks for Obama. Sorry pal, I ain’t coughing. Not even a paltry three bucks. And neither are thousands of other once-devoted Democrats, judging from the frantic tone of the e-mails.

Yes, there is a moral 

The moral is, don’t betray your own base, or they’ll give you as much support as a lump of jello will give a highway bridge.

Does that mean I want any Republican to win? Nope. But neither do I want to go out of my way to support Obama any more, after he betrayed my Democratic ideals and some of the policies he ran on.

So call me mushy, but as far as I’m concerned, Mr. Obama, you’re on your own.  Speaking of which, I’ll have the Boston cream pie. Nope, come to think of it, maybe the banana fudge ice cream. Well, if you don’t have any more banana fudge, do you have any rice pudding? No? 

Well then, is Hillary still around?