Election 2012, time to think clearly

Opinion: Ken Trainor

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By Ken Trainor

Staff writer

Big election coming up. If it isn't obvious to you yet who to vote for, here are some numbers to think about:

10% vs. 90% — Mitt Romney and the Republican Party represent the 10 percent, the ones who benefited almost exclusively from 32 years of increasing economic inequality. Barack Obama represents the bottom 90 percent. If you don't belong to the top 10 percent, the Republican Party doesn't care about you, except to try to bamboozle you into voting for them. If you do, you're voting against your own interests. Not smart.

3 — The three biggest job creators of the last 60 years were a) the interstate highway program in the 1950s, b) the space program in the 1960s and '70s, and c) the Internet in the 1990s. Where did all three originate? The federal government. The free market needs government much more than its promoters care to admit.

66% — The share of jobs created under Democratic presidents since 1961, according to an item in Investment News last month. In 23 years under Democratic presidents, 42 million jobs were created. In 28 years under Republican presidents, 24 million jobs were created. The source, by the way, is Bloomberg News, hardly a liberal publication.

28 to 12 — Recurring ratio of White House dominance by one party throughout American history in 40-year segments.

1968-2008: 28-12, Republicans

1928-1968: 28-12, Democrats (thanks to the Great Depression)

1888-1928: 28-12, Republicans

1848-1888: 24-16, Republicans/Whigs

Before that, the traditional parties weren't so clear-cut. In the last 164 years, therefore, we've had Republican presidents (if you count their Whig predecessors) for 92 years. We've had Democratic presidents for 72 years (counting Obama's term). Pretty lopsided. That means Republicans have named the lion's share of Supreme Court justices throughout American history. Since the Supreme Court is now effectively running our country, that's important.

5-4 — The Supreme Court split, conservatives dominating. Whoever wins this election will likely name at least one new justice. If the Republican candidate wins, since none of the conservative justices are likely to retire, the majority would be 6-3. (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a member of the court minority, seems the only justice who might retire in the next four years.) The conservative majority has already thrown our election process up for grabs by making it easier for the wealthy to buy the outcome, thanks to the court's Citizens United ruling. They nearly killed the central provision of the Affordable Health Care Act. It's truly frightening to think what they would do with a 6-3 majority.

60 — The number of votes needed to get anything done in Congress because of the abuse of the filibuster by the Republican Party. So nothing gets done, which is becoming more and more dangerous, given the shakiness of the world economy. Bi-partisanship no longer exists and paralysis is not a viable governing philosophy. One party, therefore, needs a "governing majority," which means more than 60 votes in the Senate. We know what the Republicans will do if they get it — Cut taxes, cut government regulation and cut social programs. That put us on the brink of a Depression in 2008, and they promise to keep right on doing it.

What would the Democrats do with a governing majority? What should have been happening all along: Creating an intelligent and humane partnership between government and the free market, with each side serving as an effective check and balance on the inefficiencies of one and the excesses of the other, something the Democrats have always done better than the Republicans because the Democrats actually believe in government.

The Democrats, unfortunately, are diverse. They don't vote as a uniform bloc like the Soviet-style Republicans. So they need more than 60 senators (plus a majority of the House) to accomplish anything. The Democrats may be unproven (2009-2010 wasn't enough time for a fair assessment), but the Republicans are all too proven — as extreme obstructionists who have held the economy hostage with their refusal to compromise.

$25 — A second term for Barack Obama is our only chance for a viable future. Obama is authentic (as opposed to the completely inauthentic Mitt Romney). He's smart, has the courage of his convictions and has his priorities straight. He's done a remarkable job as president under extremely difficult circumstances. He and his party pulled us back from the cliff, saved the auto industry, single-handedly launched an economic recovery (with no help from the Republicans or the financial industry), and gave us health care reform. But to get re-elected, a lot of Americans need to start making $25 donations (or more) to offset the millionaires pouring money into Romney's coffers in order to buy this election. Even if you're not sure who to vote for, you should be donating to Obama. Romney doesn't need your money. He's got the 1 percent on his side.

If the choice still isn't clear to you, the last time we had a two-term Democratic president, the government ran a budget surplus and we enjoyed an economic boom unlike any in the last half-century. The last time we had a Republican president for two terms, terrorists blew up two of our largest buildings, one of our major cities drowned, we ran up the largest deficit in history and we very nearly ended up in a Depression.

We have only two parties to choose from. One doesn't believe in government. They've said so. When they were in charge, they proved it.

And anyone thinking of rewarding them with their vote isn't thinking very clearly.

4 — Number of months till the election.

Email: ktrainor@wjinc.com

Reader Comments

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Posted: July 13th, 2012 11:10 PM

Fellow posters- please take the time-less than 10 minutes- to review this video - an eye opener. Please google yuribezmenovliveleak. Go to Yuri Bezmenov - The Former KGB Agent Explains What's Been Happening. There are various other Yuri videos. I can' say enjoy.

paul from oak park  

Posted: July 12th, 2012 9:59 PM

Didn't we use to own a street sweeping machine? Anyone seen it?

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: July 12th, 2012 4:31 PM

You are probably right Tom. It has been about 20 years since I have read the Smith opinion. I am in pretty good company, though, in having found the opinion objectionable. Groups like the ACLU, the Christian Legal Society, and the American Jewish Congress came together to have the RFRA proposed, which passed the house unanimously and the Senate by a vote of 97-3. That, of course, does not necessarily mean the opinion was wrong as a matter of constitutional jurisprudence. But if one is a textualist, as Scalia has purported to be, I think it is worth noting that the First Amendment provides that "Congress shall make no law ... prohibiting the free exercise of [religion][.]" The words "intentionally" or "with the purpose of suppressing a religious practice" are not there. The motives of the legislature were irrelevant to the burden that the law in Smith placed on the Native American's religious practice. As to the free exercise clause being used as a loophole to condone otherwise criminal conduct, I'm not sure that would be so. If the government can show that it has a compelling interest in criminally proscribing the conduct at issue and that it has chosen the least restrictive means of advancing that interest, the law will pass muster. The law in the Smith case arguably would not have passed that test. But if a purported religion was engaging in ritual sacrifice, it would not be entitled to an exemption from anti-homicide laws.

Tom from River Forest  

Posted: July 12th, 2012 3:44 PM

Dan - The only way that Smith could have come out differently would be to overrule a boatload of earlier cases. All of free exercise cases lead to the holding in Smith. Also, if they ruled any other way, the free exercise clause could become a huge loophole that would condone a boat load of otherwise criminal conduct. Sad to say but Scalia was right.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: July 12th, 2012 3:09 PM

I agree with you Tom about the Smith case. Indeed, in that case the generally applicable law burdened the equivalent of communion for a Native American religion. Under the logic of Scalia's opinion, a state could constitutionally pass a law prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol with no religious exemptions -- meaning that Catholics and other churches using wine at communion could be prohibited from doing so. (One wonders how Scalia would have ruled had those been the facts before the Court.) Frankly, I disagree with Scalia's opinion and believe it was an "activist" opinion that elevated government interest over religious freedom because of Scalia's bias against the minority religion. And in fact Congress responded to the Smith decision by enacting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which provided that even generally applicable laws that burdened religious freedom should be subjected to "strict scrutiny." The Court later held that the RFRA could not be applied to the states, but could be applied to federal laws. So I suppose one could argue that the requirement that religiously-affiliated schools and hospitals (not churches) provide insurance to their employees that covers contraception violates the RFRA (but not the Free Exercise Clause as currently construed). And perhaps that matter will be sorted out in the courts. But Obama was trying to thread the needle between accommodating religious beliefs (exempting churches) and giving employees of church-affiliated institutions (many of whom are not adherents of the Church) access to contraception. You can disagree with how he threaded the needle, but to say he is "trampling" on religious freedom is gross hyperbole.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: July 12th, 2012 2:34 PM

Also Ray, can you be more specific than "national media" and the "Mexican AG"? I would like to actually check those sources. I'm sure hundreds if not thousands of people have been killed in the Mexican drug wars using guns that were imported from the United States. But that is a completely different question than whether all of those deaths can be attribubted to malfeasance by AFT agents.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: July 12th, 2012 2:31 PM

But Ray, if you did not have a biased perspective, you would not be drawing conclusions before you have all of the facts. So far, there is some pretty reliable journalism indicating that the ATF agents didn't do anything wrong. You don't have to conclude that the Fortune journalist is correct, but you should at least be willing to reserve judgment until you know more about it. Doesn't the fact that the Issa Committee has not conducted any real investigation of the facts on the ground cause you to smell a rat? Whether executive privilege has properly been invoked is a legitimate question, but the Court has recognized that there are circumstances in which executive privilege may properly be invoked, and it may very well be that disclosure of certain documents would reveal sensitive information that has nothing to do with the so-called gun-walking matter. Or it could be that Holder/Obama are just playing politics. Or it could be that the documents disclose that Obama and Holder ordered the ATF to let guns walk into to Mexico so that members of the drug cartels could kill Americans with them, and then the America public would demand tougher gun laws. (Is that what you think?) We just don't know. But until you more evidence that the ATF actually did something wrong, you might want to hold your horses.

Tom from River Forest  

Posted: July 11th, 2012 2:38 PM

Dad I will ask you again to read the case that I cited. The majority opinion written by Scalia holds that religious groups may not avoid generally applicable laws based on the free exercise clause. He said to permit that would lead to anarchy. As for the rest of your post, you just don't understand executive orders. They have the force of law if so delegated. As for Obama's please give me a quote or something from him because I don't ever remember him talking about religion and the ACA ever


Posted: July 11th, 2012 1:44 PM

Tom, you sound like that Wednesday Journal hack writer who is always bagging on the Catholic Church. Fact is, Obama, in one of his myriad recharacterizations, lied outright about the impact of the ACA on religion. And when religious groups, protected by the First Amendment, complained, he then tried to do by executive order what can only be done by law. The man is full of it. I'll now wait for you to explain to me why his deceit is justified because Bush was a lying jerk.


Posted: July 11th, 2012 12:20 PM

Obama's America 2016 - Love Him -Hate Him. - You Don't Know Him. 2016themovie.com. To be released this summer - sure to be banned in OP.

Tom from River Forest  

Posted: July 11th, 2012 11:42 AM

Seriously - yet more imagined truths from the right. When did Obama ever talk about religion and the ACA? oh that's right, never. As for the supposed religious liberty, please read Smith v. Employment Division, 494 U.S. 872 (1990). The free exercise" of religion does not allow a person to use a religious motivation as a reason not to obey such generally applicable laws. "To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land."

Seriously? from Oak Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2012 11:29 AM

Obama also promised to protect religious freedom in his health care reform Act. The reality: another inauthentic pledge. Regardless of your religious views, you should be concerned that he is requiring religious institutions to violate their beliefs. Religious institutions don't want to ban birth control, they just don't want to dispense it. They should have the same freedom of choice as anyone else. People are free to obtain it elsewhere.

Seriously? from Oak Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2012 11:24 AM

Authentic? Did you come to the conclusion at the beginning, with Obama's promise to stand for change, and his subsequent endorsement of Stroger, or was it when he pledged to take special interests out of the election and use public funds for his campaign...but didn't? Or was it when he, the constitutional scholar, presented Obamacare as both constitutional and NOT a tax, ignoring that the ONLY way it was constitutionally viable was to recognize that it was a tax? Obama is not authentic!

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: July 10th, 2012 10:05 PM

Everything in Washington is political - on both sides of the argument. The 300 deaths has been reported in the national media and by the Mexican AG. No one, except you and a few others, are denying the events happened or that it was a dumb program. The annoying thing is the refusal to answer a legal demand for documents by Holder and his group. If everything is as innocent, as you seem to believe, why hide anything. Sensitive material can be reviewed in closed session, as it has been many times before. Holder has offered to provide summaries of the requested documents, but not the original documents - I smell a rat! There has to be something that Obama and Holder do not want the American voter to see. What can it be???

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: July 10th, 2012 5:37 PM

Have you considered the possiblity that the contempt vote was a partisan witch hunt? Eban's investigation gives some credence to that possibility. As does the fact that the Issa commission has not conducted a genuine investigation of the evidence that is at its disposal. That's very curious given your point that lives have been lost. Btw, what is the source for your claim that hundreds of lives have been lost as a result of ATF malfeasance?

Ray Simpson from Oak park  

Posted: July 10th, 2012 3:38 PM

Daniel - O.K. I read it and it presents a reasonable explanation. The stated case still fails to justify contempt of congress and executive privilege. There is something more than just inept agents. There are still those 300 dead people who deserve better. The US AG owes us more than just fighting photo ID laws in all of the states with Republican governors. He also needs to square this minority voter suppression position with the New Black Panther white voter intimidation case he dismissed. Holder is a political hack in a department where justice is supposed to be blind to all but the facts.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: July 10th, 2012 1:40 PM

Well, Ray, it is not MY explanation nor MY claim. I don't have any personal knowledge of what happened any more than you do. I am referring to an investigative report that appears to be credible, and that, to my knowledge, has not been refuted by other investigative journalists or, for that matter, by Issa's committee. In fact, to my understanding, Issa's committee has not really conducted a meaningful investigation, and has not even interviewed or subpoenaed the people who were actually involved, i.e., the people Katherine Eban interviewed. Eban might be wrong, but it is intellectual dishonesty to not even consider it. Why don't you go ahead and read Eban's piece, and then provide some analysis as to why you think her conclusions are wrong, if you do.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: July 10th, 2012 12:34 PM

Daniel - Your explanation would make sense were it not for a contempt of congress charge and an invocation of executive privilege. I am sure that if it were as simple as you claim there would be no need to withhold any communications from congressional oversight. Someone is hiding something and hundreds of victims families deserve an explanation. Nixon discovered that the coverup is worse than the crime and no one died at the Watergate.

Daniel Hurtado  

Posted: July 10th, 2012 11:35 AM

Ray Simpson, I recommend to you an article by Katherine Eban in the June 27, 2012 issue of Fortune. Eban concludes after doing some exhaustive investigation that there was not a deliberate plan to run guns to the drug cartels. Rather, federal agents did not arrest suspected gun runners (people who had purhased multiple weapons from gun dealers in Arizona) because they were told by prosecutors that they had no legal basis for arresting the suspected gun runners because their purchases did not violate any laws. That's a rough summary of a lengthy article. And you are free to disagree with it. But you ought to at least give it due consideration if you are going to participate in public debate about subject matter.


Posted: July 10th, 2012 10:37 AM

Ken, you clearly don't work for a living. Obama is a poor choice if you are in the 51% who actually pay taxes. He's anti-business, and his tax policy is the exact opposite of what the country needs at this time. Further, his Health Reform will impose additional taxes on individuals and it will not contain costs. The guy has had 3.5 years to make things better, and they aren't. Thinking that 4 more years will do the trick, is fallacious.

Ray Simpson from Oak park  

Posted: July 10th, 2012 9:10 AM

300 - 2 300 Mexican citizens and 2 border agents dead as a result of "Fast and Furious" the disastrous program that I believe was designed to get the assault weapons ban back on the table. I also believe that covertly sending semi-automatic weapons into a foreign country is an act of war and our government should come clean about who knew what, when and why. Could the revelations and proof of this be an October surprise?

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 8:16 AM

Gail M - The rocks in this column are between Ken's ears. His blatant partisan views are never tempered by rational thought much less actual facts. I am confident to know that my vote will cancel at least one of his!

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 8:06 AM

95/ 4 Ken, add this one to your list 95% of blacks voted for President Obama and the majority of them will drink the koolaid again. The unemployment rate in the black community is 4% higher than it was when he was inaugurated. The recovery among this constituency is non-existent.


Posted: July 9th, 2012 7:39 AM

Democrats good, Republicans bad.


Posted: July 8th, 2012 11:16 PM

Some of you willingly chose to remain misinformed, naive & ignorant of facts. Useful idiots who refuse to learn from history & are willing & doomed to repeat it. I wouldn't call that a sign of one being highly educated or intelligent, More like the result of liberal brainwashing that discourages one from critical thinking whereby you can decipher fact from conspiracy.

121 Days Until The National Nightmare Is Over  

Posted: July 8th, 2012 7:44 PM

Hey Kenny, Frankenstein just called. He wants his brain back.

Gail Moran from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 8th, 2012 7:40 PM

Too bad all the conspiracy theorists are out tonight. Unbelievable that in our highly educated community some are showing their ignorance of the facts. Go figure.

Gail Moran from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 8th, 2012 7:34 PM

Ken rocks on this one!

sdlfkjs from oak park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 1:45 PM

Next time, just type "Democrats good, Republicans bad". That will save us from wasting time reading the piece, thinking it might actually contain an original thought, instead of the usual hyper-partisan talking points.


Posted: July 5th, 2012 1:02 PM

R French. - single argument for Romney - Obama - is that cogent enough for you. It's really quite clear - common sense. In the end it all comes down to two things - freedom or tyranny - that's what this election is reduced to unfortunately.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 12:59 PM

Eric Holder are shielding something so awful that they would create a constitutional crisis rather than admitting what happened. Show us the facts that clear the WH and Justice. There are no pro Romney comments because Ken was telling us why we have no choice other than Obama and backing it up with political drivel. Romney is better off staying out of this cat fight.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 12:53 PM

Roger - if "fast and Furious" never happened, why do we have a contempt of congress charge and a claim of executive privilege? I am sure that the documents congress wants would clear this whole thing up. We would also not have to explain 2 American and 300 Mexican deaths.President Obama and


Posted: July 5th, 2012 12:19 PM

@R. French. From your article: "As political pressure has mounted, ATF and Justice Department officials have reversed themselves. After initially supporting Group VII agents and denying the allegations, they have since agreed that the ATF purposefully chose not to interdict guns it lawfully could have seized. Holder testified in December that "the use of this misguided tactic is inexcusable, and it must never happen again." Translated: either a lie or cover-up by Holder? Continue investigation.

Roger French from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 11:59 AM

btw. not a single cogent argument for Romney here...why not?

Roger French from Oak Park  

Posted: July 5th, 2012 11:57 AM

re Fast& fur; sorry, it never happened...http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2012/06/27/fast-and-furious-truth/ ... now tell me that Fortune is a socialist rag

Dutch Elm  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 4:08 PM

Ken, you forgot a couple of numbers: 0 - Probablility that Obama will do anything to improve the economy in a second term. 100% - Probablility that Mr. Obama will become a centimillionaire AFTER being in office - just like Clinton and Gore.


Posted: July 4th, 2012 12:55 PM

I rarely read KT's columns. Nice guy and good writer, but his soapbox rants are a bit redundant. They also see EVERYTHING thru a black/white lens. He ignores the imperfections of his idols. Obama raised tons of money from Wall St. and millionaires in 2008 and is doing the same this time. Can I add "billionaires?" George Soros? What about his Hollywood friends? In the meantime, economy is poor because he directed Pelosi/Reid and their filibuster-proof majorities toward healthcare - not jobs. Dumb

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 12:28 PM

"Even if you're not sure who to vote for, you should be donating to Obama."

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 12:07 PM

Another thought - Is soliciting campaign contributions by a WJ employee legal? Many of your advertisers do not agree with your partisan drivel and making pleas for political contributions should be paid advertising and reported as such.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: July 4th, 2012 8:25 AM

Gee Ken - you forgot "Fast and Furious" a program first started under Bush. Oh wait - The program under w43 was a coordinated effort between US and Mexican governments who shut it down after 2 guns disappeared, Your guy, our only choice in your opinion, sent illegal weapons into a foreign nation, without state department involvement. If I were the president of Mexico I would be screaming that we committed an act of WAR against his country. Could that be what Eric Holder is trying so hard to conceal? This administration is clueless about jobs, fiscal policy and foreign relations, more important, they fail to see their failures and just blame others. Real leaders see solutions first, corrective action second and blame way down the list. As I watch President Obama I feel that he is totally unaware of the mess he has created and that he has earned the lions share of blame. This country cannot survive a second term for your guy. Our option is a guy less charming, pragmatic and a hard nose business man who will do what needs to be done for our country. We have tried a narcissist for the last 3 1/2 years and it has been a total failure! I HOPE for a CHANGE in November!

NOPE 2012 from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 5:08 PM

Wow...there is so much nonsense & regurgitated DNC talking points here that a reply isn't even needed by the opposition. All I'll do is laugh, let Ken sit here & stew,, & know that this left wing drivel is nicely contained in our town along with its "uniform-bloc Soviet-style" OP Democrats. Sorry, Ken, you don't compromise with bad ideas.

Bill Dring from Oak Park  

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 3:52 PM

Ken Thank you for an accurate, thoughtful and honest analysis. These things have to be clearly described. Bill Dring


Posted: July 3rd, 2012 11:32 AM

Sorry, Ken, as much as I would like to blame all of the nation's woes on George W. Bush, you can't fault that administration on two disasters. The failure to prevent the 9-11-01 attacks was due to a systematic problem within the US law enforcement and intelligence services that had gone on for years. Katrina can hardly be blamed on Bush. The levee failure also developed over time, with previous administrations and Bush not making the investments in needed improvements. Bush's responses though?

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