In the race for the Republican Presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary this past Saturday becoming the third candidate to win a primary contest in as many states. Rick Santorum in Iowa, Mitt Romney in New Hampshire and now Gingrich.

In the past, a candidate’s success in the primaries depended on momentum carried over from previous victories. This time around that momentum seems to be fueled by the media, proving that in the age of the super PAC, media still matters more than money.

If Mitt Romney had run away with the first three states as was predicted, the contest would still be far from over. In fact Romney would only have about 43 delegates out of the 1144 required to win the presidential nomination.

However, the television news media has a steep interest in keeping the contest interesting and therefore close. So as it turns out, Gingrich now leads Romney 23-19 with Santorum having 13 and libertarian Ron Paul having 3.

I have never been high on conspiracy theories, but it’s hard not to see the special interests at play this election cycle. The major news networks such as Fox News, CNN and MSNBC have a couple reasons to keep the playing field equal as long as it can.

The tighter and lengthier the race becomes, the more the networks will benefit from high ratings on debates and primary coverage. In addition, a close contest will force candidates and their corporate super PACs to spend a fortune advertising on their networks and subsidiary stations.

The Big Three
In the United States, the most popular program on television this year aside from football is the primary coverage. Even before the primaries began, a single debate in December brought in more than 7.6 million viewers. I don’t believe the American people are seeing one of the most unpredictable elections in history by accident, I believe it is by design.

In the lead up to the primaries, we saw Romney, Gingrich, Bachmann, Paul, Perry and Cain all lead in the polls at different times. Every time a candidate would reach the summit of the polling mountain, the media was there to shove them off the top. In Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann’s case, they slid all the way down to their base.

Three weeks into the actual primary season and that same trend continues. A couple of days before Iowa, Romney had a comfortable lead, but Santorum’s poll numbers went up a couple digits (he was the only candidate not being picked on in the media). For 48 hours the news networks couldn’t stop talking about Santorum’s small gain, which over the course of two days turned into large gains and an eventual victory (albeit two weeks after the vote).

After the Iowa vote, the media cast Santorum aside, after all he had no chance of winning New Hampshire with such a small number of evangelicals in the state. Romney won the state easily and at the time thought he had won Iowa as well. Romney was riding high and had a big lead going into South Carolina until those pesky news networks hit again.

Gingrich with 3rd wife Callista

In South Carolina, the story curved quickly from Romney winning New Hampshire to Romney losing Iowa and soon the real story wasn’t Romney at all. A little while after Newt received praise from a good debate showing, NBC aired an interview that would have buried most candidates; A discussion with Gingrich’s second wife about his infidelity and other failings as a husband.

The next day, the airwaves (Fox News in particular) were filled with pundits coming to Gingrich’s defense. People who slammed him in the past were now defending him as a “changed man.” Sure enough, Gingrich rode that newly found admiration to an upset victory over Romney.

From what I’ve seen thus far, it isn’t the corporations, the money and the policies or even the candidates pulling the strings, it’s the big news giants capitalizing on America’s love affair with reality TV. This race for the Republican Presidential nomination will carry on well into the spring and you can bet the news media will be there not just to cover the story, but to change it as well.

Follow Quiet Mike on Twitter and Facebook

The winter of 2012 is still less than a month old and if you had turned on a television since the New Year, you’d have found two seemingly different stories being covered on the news networks. The first being the Republican Primaries that got underway a couple weeks ago, the other would be Iran.

In the past, I would have said that sabre rattling and a looming American election went together like peas and carrots. From the invasion of Iraq, to the liberation of Kuwait, from the invasion of Grenada and beyond, war has played an important part in American politics since the onset of the Cold War.

Is there a difference this time around? That would depend on who you ask; Barack Obama favors bleeding them dry, preferring sanctions over military action, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney would bomb them back to the Stone Age and it would appear Ron Paul wouldn’t do a thing even if Iran attacked Canada.

With all the War the United States has waged in the last decade I would think all but the biggest hawks are weary of never ending conflict, Iran though might be the exception. Other than the USSR, the United States has had no greater enemy over the last thirty-three years and, of course, the USSR is no longer a problem.

Iran/US relations started weakening quickly after the people of Iran overthrew the Shah, a “King” the United States helped to install. It deteriorated completely less than a year after the Iranian (Islamic) revolution when a group of students took hostages at the US embassy. The students accused the embassy’s personnel of being CIA spies who wanted to overthrow the Islamic Republic just as they did to democratically elected Mosaddegh in the 50s. Ayatollah Khomeini backed the students 100%.

The rise of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979

Relations haven’t changed much since those days; aside from the Iran-Iraq war of the eighties both countries have all but ignored each other… until 2002. In President George Bush’s State of the Union Address that year he labelled Iran, Iraq and North Korea part of an Axis of Evil. The following year Bush invaded Iraq as he deemed it to be the greatest threat of the three.

After this threat backed up by the use of force, North Korea quickly developed nuclear weapon capabilities as a deterrent to what they saw as American aggression, Iran I would imagine is trying to do the same thing. While some people say that Iran’s military might is a threat to Israel as well as its neighbours, Iran’s military budget is only 2% compared to that of the United States. A nuclear weapon is therefore its only defense; even so Iranian officials still claim its nuclear program to be strictly for energy and medical purposes (an argument most of the west, including myself, does not believe).

Assassinated Nuclear Scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan

In the past few weeks, Obama has introduced harsh new sanctions that aim to cripple the Iranian economy and its oil exports; we’ve seen another assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist and continued tough language coming from western countries. Tehran in the same time span has begun to enrich uranium in an underground bunker, threatened briefly to close the Strait of Hormuz and sentenced an Iranian-American citizen to death on espionage charges.

I am by no means a supporter of Iran or their cause; in fact I despise any country that uses religion to guide its policies, democratic or otherwise. I worry though, when a man gets backed into a corner and has nothing left to lose, this man won’t necessarily give up and die. Desperate times call for desperate measures and autocratic regimes never give up so easily. Iran just might be lured into starting a war it had no intention of fighting.

So, I’m still left with an unanswered question: Is Barack Obama’s sudden tougher stance on Iran just to help his re-election aspirations or is the Iranian threat a clear and present danger? Perhaps it’s just good timing? I’ll leave the answer to you and time will tell. One thing is certain however, if war breaks out not much good will come of it.

Follow Quiet Mike on Facebook and Twitter

When a candidate is running for political office, whether it’s for a seat in the House of Representatives, the Senate or the White House itself, the winner  isn’t  dictated by their campaign or their policies; technically it’s not even the amount of money they raise. The overwhelming factor these days seems to be the price tag that is attached to their soul.

Politics in Washington has become so corrupt and immoral that it is now more important to be bought by the most corporations and special interests as possible, rather than having your own beliefs. Take Mitt “Flip-Flopper” Romney for instance; does anyone realize he might be constantly changing his mind because he keeps on receiving checks from special interest groups on both sides of the issue?

Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, House Speaker Rep. John Boehner and former presidential contender Sen. John McCain all expressed a belief in human-caused climate change. Newt Gingrich even made a “We Can Solve It” climate change commercial with rival Nancy Pelosi. So what happened? Did they all get simultaneously struck in the head with the same stupid stick? Maybe, but the more plausible reason is they were all bought by major U.S. oil conglomerate Koch Industries.

While Koch Industries has lobbied aggressively against climate-change policy for years, Americans for Prosperity, A Tea Party Super PAC founded by David and Charles Koch launched an all-fronts campaign using advertising & social media, aimed at electing lawmakers who will ensure that the oil industry won’t have to worry about any green regulations or environmental initiatives.

David and Charles Koch

Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, said proudly that “if you buy into green energy or you play footsie on this issue, you do so at your political peril.” Republicans for their part are eating this shit up; it’s much easier to cash a check than to fight for what you actually believe.

On another front, it is well known that the Republican Party is not only owned by big oil, but it’s also owned by and large by the big banks. Last year the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created and set up by Elizabeth Warren. According to its website, the purpose of the CFPB is to be “a cop on the beat to enforce the laws on credit cards, mortgages, student loans, prepaid cards, and other kinds of financial products and services.” In other words, the Wall Street Police.

However, since opening its doors this past July, the Bureau has been without a director. Senate Republicans filibustered President Obama’s nominee Richard Cordray recently and say they will block any nominee unless a board of bank regulators is empowered to veto decisions the consumer bureau makes. Republicans don’t seem to realize that the Bureau is already established and it was established  with, in fact, a board of regulators who can veto rules proposed by the bureau.

When the CFPB was created, it sailed through Congress and the Senate no problem, but now that it is election season and Republicans must do what their big bank and business masters tell them to do, blocking Cordray as the director is the only card they have left to show their allegiance.

My two favorite hobbies are music and politics. When we see an artist or musician peddling their art form on a television commercial for a few extra bucks we label them as sellouts. Rightfully so, especially if it goes against what they sing and preach, but thankfully there are but a few. Imagine then how I feel when I see every single politician out there being influenced to make important decisions based not on what he or she believes, but on who is flipping the bills, that my friends is the true definition of sellout.

It’s free market politics at its worst, there is no law you can’t get around, no rule that can’t be legally bent and not many politicians that can’t be bought. If you want to make friends or influence people in Washington you had better bring your checkbook.

Follow Quiet Mike on Twitter  and Facebook

[like url=http://www.facebook.com/quietmichael action=like layout=standard]

It feels like the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination changes more than I change my socks. Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain  have all seen their campaign through the driver’s seat. But with the Cain Train derailing over the past couple of weeks, polls show yet another leader of the pack who slowly came from the back of the bunch; Newt Gingrich.

The Grinch (pronounced Ging-rich) has a load of experience to bring to Washington. He was a Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives from 1979 to 1999 and Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999 (second in the  United States presidential line of succession). Unfortunately what Newt has in experience he lacks in character and ethics, a fact not yet realized by the republican voting public.

If the Herman Cain train ran off the rails because of allegations of harassment and infidelity, then what are voters going to think of Gingrich’s past? He has been married three times. During his first marriage he had an affair with Marianne Ginther and supposedly asked his first wife for a divorce while she was recuperating from cancer surgery. Soon after, Gingrich married Ginther only to cheat on her as well. While Gingrich was Speaker of the House and trying to impeach then President Clinton for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, Gingrich himself was cheating on his second wife with Callista Bisek. Bisek is now wife number three.

The Wives of Newt

During his time as Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich was a lightning rod for controversy. In his four year term, Eighty-four ethics charges were filed against him including violating federal tax laws and providing false information. He is also largely responsible for the longest government shut-down in U.S. history. Clinton’s emphasis on Medicare,  education and the  environment spawned the Gingrich led Republicans to amend the budget bill that would   have  limited appeals by death-row inmates, made it more difficult to issue health, safety and environmental regulations, and would have committed the president to a balanced budget for the remainder of his term (sound familiar?).

Clinton later balanced the budget anyway. As it turns out, Gingrich felt shunned by Clinton for not discussing the budget on a transnational flight and said that was the reason they offered Clinton something he couldn’t work with.

As far as Gingrich’s policies are concerned, I didn’t call him the Grinch for nothing. Despite his other poor decisions as Speaker of the House, Newt is best known for being the man who brought Welfare Reform to the U.S. in the mid-nineties, at a time when the economy was booming.

While reducing the federal government’s responsibilities, the new law  placed time limits on welfare assistance and replaced the  “Aid to Families with Dependent Children”  program. It also included stricter conditions for receiving food stamps, reductions in immigrant welfare assistance, and recipient work requirements. All these new restrictions are wreaking havoc in today’s sluggish economy. People who had little now have next to nothing.

Child Labor, a great 21st century idea

Gingrich’s policies don’t differ all that much from the other conservatives in the presidential field, but aside from Bachmann no one has shown more disdain for the county’s poor than Newt Gingrich. He has said in the past that child labor laws were “stupid” and suggested the other day that schools should fire their janitors and replace them with poor kids that attend the school. Going into more detail he said “What if they became assistant janitors and their jobs were to mop the floor and clean the bathroom?” Last time I checked, reading books was slightly more important to a child than bringing home the bacon.

Obviously, by all accounts Gingrich’s time at the top should be as long as the ones that preceded him… and once again I’ll have someone new to dissect and pick on.

Follow Quiet Mike on Twitter & Facebook

[like url=http://www.facebook.com/quietmichael action=like layout=standard]

With Barack Obama having what most Americans call “success” in regards to foreign policy, it’s no wonder the Republican candidates for president have largely ignored this important aspect of presidential responsibility. This changed, at least a little, this past Saturday night when CBS co-sponsored a debate on foreign policy.

America still being the world’s only superpower, I find it vaguely important to know where the potential leaders of the free world stand on international issues. It turns out CBS felt the same way, the television network cut out the last half hour of the debate in favor of a NCIS rerun.

Only a few of the Republican candidates have practical international experience and it showed. While there were no “oops” moments or other traditional Republican gaffes in the eyes of the media, it seemed that the stage was filled with five or six little George W. Bush impersonators.

Bush was one of the worst presidents in history when it came to American foreign policy (or domestic policy for that matter); a truth that still lingers in the minds of most American voters. Yet, the majority of candidates on Saturday called for military strikes on Iran and a return of waterboarding. Why they would intentionally try and go down that same road of failure is beyond my understanding.

Cain thinks waterboarding is just dandy

Herman Cain, one of the front running candidates, said he did “not agree with torture, period,” but instead supported “enhanced interrogation,” which of course includes waterboarding. Both Representative Michele Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry agreed with Cain. Only Representative Ron Paul and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman challenged the logic and legality of the cruel tactic.

On the subject of Iran, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said “this is of course President Obama’s greatest failing from a foreign standpoint.” While none of the candidates were calling for an all-out invasion, a couple of them, most notably former Pennsylvania Rep. Rick Santorum who has taken the strongest stance on Iran, proposed that the U.S. support an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, an action that would inevitably lead to all-out war. Without proof that the Iranians are developing weapons with their nuclear program, attacking them would be the equivalent of attacking Iraq because of their WMDs. We all know how that went.

Most of these Republican Candidates have the inept ability not to learn from history, even recent history. As these debates roll on into the election year, it is becoming more and more clear that the world would still be a safer place without a Republican in office.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it – George Santayana

Follow Quiet Mike on Facebook & Twitter

[like url=http://www.facebook.com/quietmichael action=like layout=standard]

It’s the first weekend of November 2011; we’ve been talking about the Republican presidential race for the past six months and we still have a full year to go before the real deal. Anyone sick and tired of it all already? For three years we’ve witnessed the do little Democrats and the do nothing Republicans fight it out in the Senate and House as if the election was tomorrow. I can only assume this year; with unlimited ammunition being donated from corporations and two vocal, but leaderless grassroots organizations… there will be blood!

Let’s start off with the Republican presidential nomination. You have the Texas Executioner (Rick Perry), the womanizing pizza man (Herman Cain), the flip-flopping Mormon (Mitt Romney), Mr. don’t Google me (Rick Santorum), the anti-gay dragon-lady (Michele Bachmann), the technocrat (Jon Huntsman) and of course the token libertarian (Ron Paul).  The front running Republicans might sound like they belong at some kind of WWE event, but no, they’re running for president of the United States.  You also have  Newt,  Buddy  and a few other candidates, but no one really cares about them, so screw ’em.

Worthy of the WWE?

My early prediction is that the Mitt comes out on top. He won’t win because he seems to be the sanest of the bunch, he won’t even win because he’s the most electable. He is going to win because he has mastered what every politician should learn early on, and that’s the ability to change stances, to flip-flop on policy. No other republican candidate can do this effectively as their opinions are tied to their right-wing Christian beliefs, Mitt Romney would rather hide from his religious cult… I mean Mormonism.

So sometime next year we’ll be left with Mitt “flip-flopping” Romney, the Republican nominee to face off against the Kenyan born, gay lovin’ Black Muslim Communist better known as President Barack Obama. What happens between these two patriots is anyone’s guess as it depends on who they cater to most.

After the American Supreme Court sided with Citizens United a couple years back, it was made clear that corporate influence in this election (and the many to follow) will be more dominant than ever. Both sides could raise billions, but these actions will clearly favor Romney. The Mitt will have the support of the Tea Baggers whether Romney caters to them or not, because none of them will vote for the “socialist” Obama. On the other hand, if Barack Obama tries to satisfy the 99% of the Occupy Wall Street movement (as he should), but at the same time takes in millions of corporate donations from the 1%, it could all backfire on him.

It's all about the money, honey

Romney has a few other things going for him, the first being the acts of certain Republican state governors in historically “blue states” who are trying to change the state  Electoral College rules that would favor a Republican candidate in a close race. Romney also has the desolate shape of the economy going for him; no President has ever won re-election with the unemployment rate above 9%.

The odds might seem like they’re stacked against the current President, but that’s what they said back when he ran for the Democratic nomination. He still has passion, vision and the ability to speak in complete sentences. Obama could still conceivably win with a high unemployment rate; most Americans are sick of war, most still have the Bush/Cheney hangover and many of the 99% crowd will vote for Obama regardless of donations simply because he is the lesser of two evils.

If you were a anticipating a prediction on the outcome of the election on my part, I have to say that I’ve been following politics too long to know that the political sails of any nation can shift in a heartbeat. No one can say for sure what kind of impact the Corporations, the 99% movement or the Tea Party movement will have on this election, it seems the sails have gone into uncharted waters. I will predict this however: no matter how the election is fought and won, it won’t be on actual policy issues, issues are an American political afterthought.

Follow Quiet Mike on Facebook or Twitter

[like url=http://www.facebook.com/quietmichael action=like layout=standard]