Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

"The March of the Kings" ("La March Des Rois")

Thursday, December 23, 2010

START and DADT: The politics of meh

New-START and DADT are two recently passed policies that are not especially praiseworthy, yet not worth getting too bothered about.

START was negotiated incompetently. It forces us to reduce our areas of strength to rough parity with the Russian arsenal without forcing the Russians to make comparable sacrifice in their areas of strength. (Never mind the concerns about missile defense technology.)  If this were a Cold War era treaty there would be a fringe of people calling for Obama’s impeachment over this. But the Cold War is over, and New START leaves both parties with a sufficient nuclear deterrent. The world will not end because of START, no matter how bad it was.

Neither will the world end with the demise of “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell”. It is not unreasonable to think that open integration of gay soldiers will create problems of readiness and unit cohesion, though these concerns are surely exaggerated. Some critics of the new policy think this will be a difficult policy to implement in a time of war, but oddly enough, it might be easier to implement during war than during peace. It’s a lot easier to overlook interpersonal differences when there are bad guys shooting at you and when the gay soldier next to you just saved your life. Nevertheless, the policy will create friction within units, and I expect there will be some high-profile news stories of beat-downs and abuse.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Palin couldn't have done this

Regarding any potential Presidential ambitions, Palin's early resignation as Alaska's Governor was probably a bad move. But it was a move for more effective governance in Alaska.

WaPo -- "State of Alaska to sue over polar bear protection":
Alaska officials filed notice Tuesday that the state would sue the federal government over a decision to designate a swath of the Arctic as critical habitat for polar bears faced with the effects of climate change.

Palin couldn't have gotten away with such a move. It would have immediately been excoriated as cynical political posturing, and --even worse-- a proudly ignorant case of global warming "denier"-ism.

But Parnell can do it.  And that's good for Alaska.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Adam Smith's Revenge in China?

Tom Friedman, call your office.

"There are empty cities."

And this is coming from a guy who was an Obama supporter, not some wild-eyed right winger.

Construction = 60+% of Chinese GDP
Exports = ~5% of GDP
" real estate market..."
"...Adam Smith's gonna get his revenge..."

Thursday, December 09, 2010

How Did Obama Campaign?

We've heard for about two years now that Obama had campaigned in 2008 as a centrist.  So why is it now that the left is in a tizzy over supposedly broken promises, threatening a primary challenge? 

Gitmo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Single-payer health care, DADT, taxes...

So did Obama campaign on a lefty wet-dream list of promises?  Or did he, as the media has so dutifully reported, campaign as a centrist? 

It can't be both.

I think you know where I stand on that one.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Real Problem With Joe Scarborough

I can forgive most of Scarborough's individual political heresies. For instance, I disagree with his stance on the war in Afghanistan in particular and military spending in general, but in that respect I can't say that he's in uncharted territory for a conservative worthy of the moniker. The problem is that if Joe doesn't take the orthodox position, nobody else on that channel is going to. And if you're going to play the role of the token conservative, it would be nice if the orthodox Republican positions got a little more respect a little more frequently.

Joe will gripe about the troops being in Afghanistan then look across the table at Pat Buchanan (a “conservative” who thinks WWII wasn't really necessary) for support. To those in the audience whose only exposure to conservative thought is “Morning Joe”, Scarborough represents the entire universe of rational conservatism. And if a good ol' Southern boy like Joe from the “Redneck Riviera” doesn't think the GOP has it right, by golly they must be out of their gourds!

Yes, Joe, we get it.  You were in the class of 1995.  You were there, man.  But I don't care if you have the Contract with America tattooed on your posterior, the great Joe Scarborough is not the One True Arbiter of conservatism.

Maybe my problem is as much MSNBC corporately as it is with Scarborough, but somebody ought to be around to make the orthodox Republican case now and again on Scarborough's show, even (-or perhaps especially) if Scarborough doesn't agree.  (And no, Pat Buchanan doesn't count.)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Kerry on MTP - Dumb as a Box of Rocks

Seeing John Kerry's performance on Meet the Press today, every American should give thanks to the LORD that Kerry was not elected President.  His forceful assertions of preposterous things makes me question why Kerry continues to be viewed as smart, and others like Dubya and Palin are viewed as rubes. 

Let me be clear: John Kerry is as dumb as a box of rocks.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Roundup: Casey Challengers, Coburn, DeMint, Dems, AEI

(1) Potential challengers to Bobby Casey are starting to come out of the woodwork. Lilik has the scoop on what some are calling a "Ron Johnson"-like challenger, John Moran. I would not normally pay a lot of attention to a geographically challenged candidate who is not a career pol, but the comparison to the uber-high-quality candidate Johnson caught my eye. If the primary field becomes crowded (as it did in the 2010 Lt. Gov. primary), and if we get both Gerlach and Dent in the mix, a high quality central-PA candidate might just have a chance. (Also, don't dismiss State Sen Jake Corman just yet. He is definitely taking a hard look at this, and he has the potential to raise a ton of coin.)

(2) Senator Coburn's sobering remarks to the debt commission:

(3) Jim DeMint seems not to understand strategy, pledges not to oppose Senate GOP incumbents.

(4) What if Dr. Seuss drew Star Wars?

(5) Quote of the Day is from Tim Carney:
Which is more amazing: That liberals are willing to hike taxes on small business during 9.8% unemployment? Or the passion they feel for it?
(6) Check out the AEI debate between Rep. Paul Ryan and NYT-er David Brooks. I think Brooks' point about rejecting the dichotomy between sort of a Rand-ian laissez-faire and Euro-socialism is worth pondering, but I'm not buying his assessment that the Obama-crats aren't Euro-socialists, and apparently the audience didn't buy it either.

(7) You might think it's funny, but it's snot: Mucus affects your sense of smell.

(Cross-posted at PAWatercooler)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I'm always nervous when they change products I use

"Now with Richer Chamomile Flavor!"

But... it was always just 100% chamomile... Huh?

Sorry for the horrible cell phone photography, but the only ingredient listed on both the new and old packages is chamomile.

We shall see about the "richer chamomile flavor".

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Bircher Zombie Apocalypse

It's back. The John Birch Society, that is, and it is attempting to infect the Tea Party.

By all logic, the JBS should be dead.  They were bonkers, they were exposed, they were purged, and they were forgotten.  And yet, the contagion spreads.

This re-animated corpse is impossible to reason with.  It might be one thing if they disavowed their insane conspiracy theories, but they haven't.  They continue to engage in revisionist history about the Buckley-Welch purge, they still cling to Welch's theory of President Eisenhower as a Communist abettor, they entertain other crackpot ideas such as the "North American Union" conspiracy theory (PDF), and they promote the distinctly unconstitutional idea of state nullification of federal law (Word DOC). 

The bigger problem with the Birchers (and other conspiracy theorists such as the Birthers and the Fed Plunge Protection Team folks), is not only the communicability of their troublesome ideas, but that their existence undermines serious criticism of government policy, institutions, and wayward politicians.

The Tea Party movement suffers enough handicaps and impediments. If the JBS manages to blight the Tea Party it could very quickly be the undoing of the movement.

Somebody put this shambling relic out of its misery before it does any more damage to Conservatism.  And for heaven's sake, don't let them go to CPAC again.

Brief thoughts on Wikileaks

Is it just me, or is the administration's response to this State Dept-centric leak surpass its response to military leaks?  Does an attack on State hit a little closer to home?

At least we --presumably it was we, anyhow-- bothered to launch a DDOS attack against wikileaks' servers, which is more than we did before -- nothing.

Why is Assange still drawing breath?

The leakers in the government and the military have by any reasonable definition committed treason.  Can we start calling it treason, at least rhetorically, to emphasize the seriousness of the betrayals?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Congressional Health Benefits Are Not Hypocritical

Somehow, the Left got it in their minds that anti-single-payer & anti-Obamacare Congressmen accepting the health benefit that comes with their new jobs is hypocritical by virtue of it being government-run healthcare.  This misses the point by a mile.

The distinction is between government as an employer and government as a general overseer and manager of everything under the sun.  It is not improper for government-as-employer to offer health benefits.  (At least not any more improper than it is for any other employer.)

What these Congressmen oppose is the creation of (1) a government monopoly/socialization of health care, and/or (2) heavy-handed federal control and regulation such that health care may as well be fully socialized (e.g. Obamacare).

These Congressmen are opposed to a systemic government health care regime, not merely the compensation of government employees.

Frankly, this distinction is so obvious that those criticizing Republicans on this matter must be feigning ignorance.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Newsweek's Fatal Conceit

The Presidency is a big job. Back in 9th grade, my curmudgeonly civics teacher once enumerated and explained each Constitutional responsibility of the President, and after each one boomed, “Let's give him another job! The man has nothing else to do!”, then proceeded to describe the next Presidential duty. The list was pretty weighty.

So yes, the “modern Presidency” is a multitasking nightmare even under the best of circumstances. But the latest Newsweek cover and accompanying story betray a severe beating with the clue-stick that fell just short of imparting some crucial knowledge and insight.

The problem, Newsweek seems to have discerned, is that the President has too many things to worry about. Their graphic of ShivObama The Destroyer juggles war and peace (at least those are traditional areas of Presidential responsibility, shared with the Congress), an economy portrayed by a fistful of dollars, the housing market, medicine, and literally the whole world.

Let me go out on a limb here and say the President probably shouldn't be responsible for the entire world. Let's drop housing and medicine while we're at it. Purists will debate the extent of the Executive's role in the economy, but surely it can be said that the Executive has overreached in this realm as well.

It's almost as though Newsweek has stumbled upon the Fatal Conceit, that one man, or a relatively small number of men, cannot plan everything. And yet, they still fall short on the solution.

So close, Newsweek:

It’s hard to imagine how the office could sizably shrink, allowing the president to return to a more aloof, strategic role. Academics in Eisenhower’s day imagined two presidential figures, one for serious decision making and one relegated to the office’s ceremonial duties. Modern scholars see other solutions within the Constitution. “Presidents ought to give more thought to their cabinet choices, and then give them a little more deference,” says Marc Landy, a professor of political science at Boston College. The simplest experiment could involve reducing the West Wing staff, thus relying more—by necessity—on outside agencies.

(Wait, I thought Obama's problem was aloofness. Never mind, I guess.)

It's difficult to see how a ceremonial President would really free up enough time for the executive President to take care of the medicine, housing, energy, trade, etc., up to and including the whole world.

As to the dilution of executive power into the cabinet, anyone with the most cursory knowledge of Constitutional history must be aware of why we have a unitary executive. Consider the words of James Wilson, Founding Father, Constitutional signatory, and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court:

The next good quality that I remark is, that the executive authority is one. By this means we obtain very important advantages. We may discover from history, from reason, and from experience, the security which this furnishes. The executive power is better to be trusted when it has no screen. Sir, we have a responsibility in the person of our President; he cannot act improperly, and hide either his negligence or inattention; he cannot roll upon any other person the weight of his criminality; no appointment can take place without his nomination; and he is responsible for every nomination he makes. We secure vigor. We well know what numerous executives are. We know there is neither vigor, decision, nor responsibility, in them. Add to all this, that officer is placed high, and is possessed of power far from being contemptible; yet not a single privilege is annexed to his character; far from being above the laws, he is amenable to them in his private character as a citizen, and in his public character by impeachment.

The only real solution is for the Presidency to do less, which seems to be the only option Newsweek and the Left have discarded.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Caddell and Schoen must have smoked some bad granola

Caddell and Schoen must have smoked some bad granola before suggesting that Obama not run for re-election.  There are two fundamental problems with this idea; firstly, Obama would never do that, and secondly, it wouldn’t accomplish what Caddell and Schoen think it would.

Obama doesn’t understand why Democrats got pummeled in November.  He seems to think it’s (1) a function of the economic environment, and (2) not accomplishing transformational change fast enough.  As to the first, that is surely a factor, but it is a factor that he and the Congress exacerbated with their agenda of, well, transformational change.  Obama’s excuse of insufficient change is ridiculous because, in the words of NR’s Victor Davis Hanson, “It’s as if Bush had explained his nosedive in the polls by his failure to invade Syria and Iran or expand Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.”

Obama does have reason to be confused.  Despite ongoing insistence that Obama campaigned as a moderate, anybody with the sense to consider his positions knew he was campaigning more or less openly as a small-s socialist of the vaguely euro-Fabian variety.  He favored wealth redistribution through a negative tax rate.  He professed a philosophy of raising certain taxes for purposes of “fairness” even when it was stipulated that raising that tax would bring in less money to the government. On his 2008 campaign website he proposed banning “scab” employees, which, in conjunction with his support for EFCA/”Card Check”, would give unions a stranglehold over capital.  As a candidate, he supported the Global Poverty Act, a massive trillion dollar international redistribution scheme.  Even before the total collapse of the auto industry, Obama was promoting dirigiste re-tooling loans to the Big Three.  And this is without examining the shady characters from his past, or relying on offhanded remarks to plumbers -- these are merely some of the items he actually campaigned on.

So Obama campaigned as a socialist (- again, small “s”), was elected, and proceeded to govern as a socialist in keeping with his campaign promises.  Surely the electorate knew what it was voting for, no?  And yet, the people grumbled.  It should then come as no surprise that Obama doesn’t “get it”, and from Obama’s recent media appearances it is fairly clear that this is still the case.

Schoen & Caddell:
If the president goes down the reelection road, we are guaranteed two years of political gridlock at a time when we can ill afford it. But by explicitly saying he will be a one-term president, Obama can deliver on his central campaign promise of 2008, draining the poison from our culture of polarization and ending the resentment and division that have eroded our national identity and common purpose.

This is a little too messianic for my tastes.  If only the President would sacrifice himself, the Republic could be saved!

S & C
Obama can restore the promise of the election by forging a government of national unity, welcoming business leaders, Republicans and independents into the fold. But if he is to bring Democrats and Republicans together, the president cannot be seen as an advocate of a particular party, but as somebody who stands above politics, seeking to forge consensus.

If the guy still thinks he’s right, and doesn’t understand why (or even that) the electorate rejected his policies, he’s not going to be eager to compromise on ideological matters.  Moreover, certain big issues are ones where compromise is fundamentally impossible, where completely opposite plans cannot be reconciled.

And if he still thinks he’s right, and still thinks that the voters want his particular variety of change, he’s not going to step aside in order to travel this path.  Caddell’s and Schoen’s plan will die in its crib from the twin ailments of unworkability and unlikeliness.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Robinson's Tortured Logic on Torture

The Morning Joe crew was rehashing the GWB interview and started talking about waterboarding. Without much apparent appreciation for his own hypocrisy, Eugene Robinson said of Dubya's use of waterboarding, "I don't think that's forgivable", but when pressed said he'd use torture to save the life of his own child in a ticking time bomb scenario.

Waterboarding for me, but not for thee. "Unforgivable" indeed.

Scarborough then asked the rhetorical question of why waterboarding was more morally objectionable than drone strikes with significant collateral damage.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Victory's Thousand Fathers

 John F. Kennedy, 1961:
Victory has a thousand fathers; defeat is an orphan.

An old high school classmate of mine who happens to be a Democratic campaign staffer called me late on election night.  Among other things he said, he wanted to congratulate me on the Republican victories - with the caveat that they'd be winning a lot of those back in two years.

I appreciated the call, and had a good conversation with my friend, but I was a little discombobulated by the congratulations -- as if I had anything to do with the victories.  President Kennedy may have been lamenting the Bay of Pigs fiasco in the quote above, but this time Republicans are dealing with the more positive side of the coin.  Everybody seems to have contributed to the GOP victory.

In this election, I was mostly a spectator, akin to a sports fan whose team just won a big game.  In common parlance, "we" won, but in reality, "the guys we root for" won.

But elections are different from athletic contests.  Exogenous events have a meaningful impact on electoral outcomes.  Political campaigns necessarily rely on interplay with their fans/audience for their success, whereas a sports team needs to perform well in its narrow skill set, and should ignore the audience during game play.

Yet we act as though campaigns are sports teams, and a lot of folks are cashing their victory bonus checks and trying on their metaphorical championship rings.  Did the exact same Republican consultants who were supposedly blameless for the 2006 and 2008 catastrophes suddenly become geniuses? Nah.

Frankly, I was a little underwhelmed by Republican performances.  By some Cook-PVI inspired logic, all we really did was get back to the equilibrium political position in the country.  The fact that we didn't do better than we did speaks poorly of our party infrastructure and campaign capabilities.

Was there every any real doubt that Republicans would take the House?  It should have been obvious before the first poll was taken (and certainly well before the media caught on) that this would be a big swing year.  What do we have to show for it? Well, we managed not to trip over our own feet too much and picked up the House.  The swing was huge, but we were starting from the nadir of the 06-08 losses.


To extend the broken sports metaphor, it goes all the way back to "pre-season".  How many seats did we leave on the table due to poor candidate recruitment and poor candidate quality?  How many losses (or narrow wins) were the result of ignoring fundamentals?  How many seats did we lose because of petty intraparty squabbles and tribalistic behavior?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Ignore late polls and the stock market

Polls: Weekend polls are notoriously unreliable.  The sample is biased against people who have social lives on Friday and Saturday nights.  Sunday night might be considered a little better, but this time we're talking about Halloween.  Any poll conducted after Thursday night is to be ignored.

Stocks: The market has known for weeks now that the GOP will win the House and will probably fall at least one or two short in the Senate.  This is baked into the cake.  If this electoral outcome happens, no movement in stocks, either to the plus or minus, can be viewed as indicative of market approval or disapproval of the outcome.  If the DJIA goes up, I don't want to see Republicans gloating.  If it goes down, I don't want to see Dems doing the same.

The only caveat to this is if something unexpected happens.  If the GOP takes the Senate, or has an extraordinary showing the House that removes the likes of Barney Frank et al., then I might expect a modest pop in the stock market.  Likewise, if said wave election does not occur, then I would expect a sell-off of massive proportions.

In other news, my PA-related election predictions are up at the 'Cooler, and I put the California Senate race in the Hope for Change category.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Senate Picks: 8 or 9 GOP pick-ups

 Bold = Republican pick-up.

AK - Miller (R)-- Even if Murky wins this, it's still sort of an "R". The Dem is polling 3rd.
AR - Boozman (R)
CA - Boxer (D)
CO - Buck (R) -- Possible ultra surprise, watch for Tanc in the gub race.
CT - Blumenthal (D)
FL - Rubio (R)
IL - Kirk (R) -- This is a close one, but I can't see how people can vote for a guy who is literally a Mob banker.
IN - Coates (R)
KY - Paul (R)
LA - Vitter (R)
NV - Angle (R)
NH - Ayotte (R)
ND - Hoeven (R)
OH - Portman (R)
PA - Toomey (R)
UT - Lee (R)
WA - Murray (D) --One of the tightest races in the country.
WV - Manchin (D) -- I'm guessing the MinWage thing sealed that one.
WI - Johnson (R) -- Colossal upset, Johnson consistently polling over 50%.

On the optimistic side, Washington is closest to an additional Republican upset, thus it is the "or 9" in my "8 or 9". Generally speaking the bias this year should be towards Republican upsets, but this is an extremely Democratic state and Rossi has a history of having elections stolen from him.  But if there was to be an upset, this would be the one to look for.

This would leave the Senate 51 Dems to 49 GOP, or optimistically, 50/50 plus Joe Biden for Dem control.

At one point I could have seen California and West Virginia going our way, but I don't think those are in the cards any more.

Also, I think Vitter breaks 50% and avoids a run-off.
Of the races I expect Republicans to win, I am most concerned about Illinois, Colorado, and somewhat concerned about Pennsylvania.

From what I can tell, FiveThirtyEight has made the exact same individual predictions, but the simulation model produces a 52D to 48R Senate.  I understand where that's coming from, but I disagree.  No worse than 51-49.

So yes, Christine O'Donnell fans, there's a good chance you blew this one for us.  Thanks bunches.

 (Oops!  Did I do that?)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How to Counter Fair Tax Questions - watch Rand Paul

Talking about the "Fair Tax" plan is playing with fire.  Any candidate who expresses the slightest interest in the plan is immediately slammed with negative ads claiming he would put a 23% sales tax on top of every purchase.

I don't think the Fair Tax plan works, but if you're bound and determined to talk about it, then you'd better be able to nail your opponent's mischaracterization of it:

(start time = 12:30)

I'm against the Fair Tax substantively and politically, but Rand Paul is still poised to win despite the backlash on this issue, so he must be doing something right.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Crazy yet quiet - my negligent blogging

The election news is increasingly frantic, yet there is much less to actually report. This is the period in the election cycle where the cake has basically been baked, and we’re just trying to figure out what sort of icing it will have. Crap icing, or PCP-laced icing?

For the record, I’m predicting a vanilla-iced cake. Republicans control the House, and Democrats narrowly control the Senate. Don’t ask me for specific numbers right now, I haven’t looked at it that closely. I won’t be making a specific House prediction, though I will probably at some point look at the Senate races and the US House races in Pennsylvania.

But generally speaking, I haven’t blogged much recently because there hasn’t been much to write about. The news is increasingly poll-driven and less substance-driven. A poll is not a news story, at least most of the time.

I was going to say that I was viewing this election stoically and fatalistically (as I often do at this point in the cycle), but it’s more accurate to say that I’m bored with it. I’m peeved at some of the mistakes I see being made, and yet they continue to be made regardless of the warnings sounded by myself and others.

I continue to see people fundamentally misunderstand the swing voter and the swing district. In one PA House district I’ve been obsessed with for about five years (the 12th), the NRCC is running yet another ad linking the Democrat to Nancy Pelosi. The voters in this particular district have a history of not responding to this type of ad despite Pelosi’s strong negatives there.

Guess what, guys: it hasn’t worked before, and it probably won’t move any numbers this time either. It’s called empiricism.

Here’s the TV ad formula that everybody should have been running all cycle: [Congressman X] voted for [policy Y], and that hurt [jobs and/or voters’ wallets].  Throw in some fancy graphics and ominous music, and voila: instant TV spot.  The more campaigns and campaign committees stray from this formula, the worse they will do. The sooner campaigns stop getting into petit wars over who is more (non-specifically) “extreme”, the better they will do.  (I'm looking at you, Toomey camp.)

Of course, we’ll still win a ton of races, so all the idiot consultants will still come out looking like geniuses. Victory has a thousand fathers; defeat is an orphan.  Those marginal losses in tough districts will be chalked up to the fact that they were tough districts.  Nobody will examine real causes for these losses.

But it’s out of my hands, and I’ve said most of this before, so all I can do is embrace fatalism.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Why Sean Bielat is important - Financial Attrition

Could he win?  Maybe.  From a national perspective, however, that's not as important as one might think.  It is just as important for Bielat to make Barney Frank spend all of his money trying to defend himself.

Way back in 2008 I wrote about my theory of Financial Attrition:

Entrenched incumbents almost never lose, barring the occasional "dead woman or live boy" scandal. Such Untouchables have large campaign war chests at their disposal, have first dibs at party and caucus money, and often represent safe districts. The unlikelihood of their defeat acts as a deterrent force against any potential challengers, or, if some fool does step in, the challenger's party lifts nary a finger in assistance.

What do these unchallenged incumbents do with their money? They give some of it away to help candidates elsewhere. By helping push their marginal fellow partisans over the finish line they accumulate favors for future battles.

Oppositely, what does an incumbent do when he as a challenger? He empties his coffers! Electoral history is littered with the corpses of challengers who were outspent 3-to-1 yet were only defeated by a few percentage points. 

When we find ourselves with uniquely qualified challengers such as Sean Bielat giving some old warhorse like Barney Frank a run for his money, we should understand that Bielat's use of funding will be extremely efficient at denying other Democrats around the country their precious funding.  One dollar given to Bielat destroys several Democrat dollars as they scramble to play defense.

Who is being occupied?

Video of more socialist idiots at the One Nation rally from AFP:

is justified
when people
are occupied.

Who among those marching morons is "occupied"???  Talk about being totally divorced from reality...

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The False Moral Equivalency of the OneNation Rally

It seems from my scan of traditional media sources that the established narrative of the OneNation rally is one of moral and political equivalence to Tea Party rallies and Glenn Beck's "Restore Honor" event. Some of the dino-media point out that the OneNation rally was somewhat less well attended than conservative events, and there is some de minimis mention of some of the more radical elements, but generally speaking nobody is addressing the widespread radicalism displayed at Saturday's rally.

(Yes Katrina, but not in the way you think)

Now, to conservatives, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and the rest are bad enough.  But some really nasty folks were there, and they were not particularly shy about their vile ideology.  The media double standard was in full effect -- one or two borderline signs (that in some instances were planted) at Tea Party rallies speak volumes about the inherent hatred and bigotry of every Tea Partier, but OneNation's open embrace of the Communist Party USA, a number of Democratic Socialist organizations, the International Socialist Organization, and other like-minded groups is to be downplayed as much as possible.

(The soundtrack, however appropriate, was obviously not a part of the rally.  I was going to apologize for the music, but they are in fact actual communists, so... if the shoe fits...)

Did you catch this frame in the video? (h/t Sean M. at DPUD)

I'm not sure if that's the Marx version, or the Bauer version, or possibly some other, but it really doesn't matter.  If there was anything remotely this offensive at the Tea Party rallies we'd all know about it.  But here it is, proudly displayed at the OneNation rally, and nobody seems to care.  Where's the outrage?

Of course, virtually every media outlet is comparing this weekend's rally to the Tea Party and Beck rallies.  But The Washington Post only mentions the New York City Democratic Socialists of America near the end of its write-upThe New York Times only reveals the presence of the CPUSA through the voice of Glenn Beck -- again, near the end of its article

I could go on at length about the nutcases who were out in force that day, but others have done a better job at that.  My point is that these wackos were there, with their idiocy boldly on display, and no mainstream reporters thought this was worth mentioning.  And yet, we get endless hand-wringing about the supposed racism and extremism of the Tea Party, which strives to police its own idiots and send them packing.

So yes, Katrina vanden Heuvel, there was a test of the media's fairness and judgment.  It failed that test.  The Left showed its true radical colors this weekend, and the major news media didn't bother to report it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gold regulation in Obamacare

As Nancy Pelosi foretold, we continue to find out what's in Obamacare.  And it ain't good.

Thomas Sowell has discovered that Obamacare regulates gold sales.  Is this some kind of Austin Powers "smelting accident" joke that the Congressional staffers were pulling on us?

I can make a case that gold isn't a great asset, although owning gold has certainly been the right thing to do recently.  At best, gold is a store of value.  It's not a growth asset.  There's a reason it's called the "barbarous relic"; we go to great efforts to dig this yellow metal out of the ground, process it into bars and coins, and then re-bury it in vaults around the world.  Sure, some of it is made into jewelry, and there are a few industrial applications, but mostly it just gets dug up out of one hole and put back into another.

One should only own gold if one thinks there is zero real economic growth in equity earnings underneath the inflation-boosted nominal growth.  If there is any real growth at all, one should own stocks instead of gold. 

Of course I could be wrong.  And that's why Congress shouldn't regulate gold sales, particularly in a health care bill.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More of this please --> Ron Johnson

How can Republicans win in hostile territory?  Candidate quality:

It has very little to do with being a "moderate", and just about everything to do with the ability to convey a message.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Roundup: Reapportionment, Katy Perry, Coffee Party, Biz Bill, Borgish Jewelry

(1) PA is set to lose one Congressional seat in the upcoming reapportionment.  I'm just surprised it wasn't more than one.

(2) Ace wrote an absolutely spot-on critique of Katy Perry's over-sexualization of tween girls.  Simply put, there's a difference between adult-themed music made for adults, and adult-themed music made for little girls.

(3) Coffee Party is a bust.  Didn't all the major newspapers tell us the Coffee Party was the next big thing, capable of countering the Tea Party?

(4) Remember that small business bill Obama was so high on?  Yeah, it's really not all that popular among business or bankers.  Which really only makes sense -- why tax business with one hand and redistribute with the other?  Just cut out the middle man.

(5) Apparently the fine line between high fashion and Borg is being blurred:

Friday, September 24, 2010

A South Park Flashback to November 2008

Kyle: "No, that's not true, Ike. The economy could easily stabilize with Obama's plan."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

GOP Civil War Delayed, Not Averted

NR scribe Jonah Goldberg thinks tales of the GOP Civil War have been greatly exaggerated.  His main argument is that everybody seems to be gravitating to the Tea Party side, and you can't have a civil war with only one side.  I beg to differ on the grounds that peculiar circumstances have allowed us to stave off some of the most heated battles of our looming intraparty combat.  Also, the electoral assumptions underlying each wing of the party are both wrong and incompatible with each other, and this incompatibility is destined to reemerge in the future.

It seems fate has intervened in strange ways to delay our squabbles.  When RINOs quit the Republican party, even the most amorally strategic among the party establishment can hardly support traitorous individuals.  Before Arlen Specter fled the GOP, the party leadership was once again gearing up to defeat Pat Toomey.  The battle would have been absolutely epic.  Pennsylvania might have gone Democrat for a generation as the GOP would have destroyed itself.  Even for some time after Specter defected, “the establishment” was reluctant to accept Toomey as their candidate.  RNC committeeman Bob Asher (a popular bogeyman for many base voters) commissioned a poll showing moderate former Governor Tom Ridge performing better than Toomey in a general election.  Party leadership was openly and frantically looking for a candidate “who can win”, with the obvious implication that Toomey couldn't.  It wasn't until the Ridge scenario failed to unfold that Ye Olde Establishment started softening their tone on Toomey.  Now, Toomey looks like a lock for the Senate seat, but rest assured that there is still quite a bit of bad blood in the party.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Watching the world wake up from History

Twenty years ago this month, musical group Jesus Jones released "Right Here Right Now" as a single.  The song was written amidst the rapid de-sovietization of Eastern Europe and as a response to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Now nobody under the age of 19 has lived contemporaneously with the Soviet Union, and the song is used to sell Toyotas.

(You can listen to it here. YouTube embedding has been disabled by the record company.)

The world woke up from History.  May we never fall asleep again.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Not Spock

The traditional media often complains that Obama is too cool, too cerebral, too Spock-like.

Balderdash.  He can show emotion when he's in his environment.  And by "his environment", I mean an old-fashioned labor rally where class rhetoric is thrown around like a Frisbee on a college campus. He's still a community organizer at heart, and always will be.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Gibbs, Hayes, and Economic Uncertainty

In the twitter war between The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes and White House spox Robert Gibbs, Gibbs cited this USA Today article to support his case for the President's small biz bill that's currently being held up.

However, I don't think it quite makes the case Gibbs thinks it does.  In fact, it makes the opposite case if you look at it right [Bold added for emphasis]:

Kaur's is among about 1,000 other small businesses that "have their bank papers all done and will be funded in the days — moments — after the bill passes," says U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills.

In Kaur's case, she's concerned that the property seller is going to get antsy as she waits out the political decision-makers. "I keep asking my seller if he can give me a couple more weeks," she says.

Many other businesses have paused expansion as they wait for the outcome of the bill, says Bob Coleman, publisher of the Coleman Report, which provides information on small-business lending.

Some businesses can save thousands of dollars on the waived loan-fee provision alone, and they are thinking, " 'I might as well hold off and save the money,' " he says.

What I'm seeing here is that there are a lot of deals that are going to be done anyway, and folks are (rationally) waiting to see if they can stick their hand in the government cookie jar.  Meanwhile, Rome burns.

I'm not usually one to trot out the uncertainty line, as I think precious few people understand it, but this is a prime example of uncertainty killing jobs.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Boredom, Message Discipline, and the GZ Mosque

There's a lot of finger pointing on the right about the danger of getting off our economic message and being distracted by this Ground Zero Mosque situation. 

It's the bloggers.  Or the professionals.  Or Sean Hannity. 


I think the first cause of this distraction is sheer boredom with the onslaught of bad -- nay, "unexpectedly" bad -- economic news.  I mean, we've won the economic debate, right?  How much more can we talk about the massive failure of the Democrats' economic agenda?  The porkulus.  Cash for Clunkers.  Trade.  Public sector unions.  The stagnation.  The malaise.  Paul Krugman's acute need for professional mental heath care.

It's going beyond boredom -- it's depressing.  (Pass the bourbon, please.  Knob Creek, if you have it.)

The second, though I think lesser, contributing factor is the high-school debate factor, the desire to be right at all times.  Even as I write here about the irrelevancy of the GZM issue, I'm fighting back the urge to lay out my opinion, to criticize the hypocrisy of folks like Howard Dean for thinking the GZM shouldn't be built while simultaneously accusing Republicans of religious incitement...

But I know that's not a voting issue.  ~10% unemployment is a voting issue -- THE voting issue.

I'm just so sick of thinking about it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

No Take Backs - A Language Gripe

I've got to complain about a very common, bipartisan phrase: "take back".  As in, "We're going to take back the Senate."  Democrats used it in 2006, and Republicans are using it now, but it's really a repugnant verbal construction.

"Take back", specifically the "back" part, implies a restoration of some rightful order or position.  But there's no such animal in American politics.  No party has a standing claim on any particular body of government.  There's nothing to take back.  There are only offices and bodies to win control of.

Moreover, it sounds bad to the public, especially those who are not of the same party as one who speaks this phrase.  So anytime a Republican says we're going to take back the House, they're probably turning off a number of attentive independents, to say nothing of the Democrats to which they might appeal.

It is especially dangerous for Republicans to use this expression in the current environment, when the Democratic talking point is precisely that we would be going "back" to the previous order.

No take backs.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Stupid Dem Talking Points

In these two cases, Democrats have taken what are genuinely debatable policy positions and have insisted on patently false and ridiculous talking points in order to make their cases.  Not that I'm in the business of giving the other side debating tips, but they'd actually be better off if they dropped these:

(1) - "Raising taxes to the Clinton-era level won't harm growth"  --  Well of course it will.  Look, there's a reasonable debate to be had about taxation and the national debt, but it's rather silly to think that raising taxes -- in whatever form that might take -- won't impact economic behavior.  This is ECON-101, folks.  You can make the case that it will work out in the end, or that it's justified in some sense, but you can't make the case that it won't impact growth.  So just stop that.

(2) - "Extending unemployment insurance is a great stimulus because the money gets spent quickly" -- This one really takes the cake.  Nancy Pelosi was lambasted when she said this a few weeks ago, and rightly so.  And yet, I keep hearing that logic come up again and again on TV.  Let me re-phrase the point -- they are saying that paying people not to work is good for the economy.  Now, as a moral matter of throwing people a welfare lifeline when they don't have a lot of good options, extending unemployment is an honestly debatable point.  But it ain't stimulus, it's welfare.  And furthermore, this whole exercise is a demonstration of why Keynesian economics is insufficient, and shows the religious zeal with which a lot of Democrats cling to a broken theory.  They would rather accept an obviously ridiculous conclusion drawn from a theory than admit that the theory is wrong.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pawlenty reading the stage directions on the class issue

I've made no attempt to hide the fact that Tim Pawlenty is my early favorite for President in 2012, but this statement gives me pause.

Weekly Standard:

But in the end, Pawlenty said, there won't be much difference between GOP presidential candidates on the issues. He said it's important to have a presidential candidate who doesn't live up to the stereotype that Republicans are "all CEOs" who "play polo on the weekends." Pawlenty made the case that his background as the son of a truck driver who worked his way through college helps him reach out to working class voters, who are turned off by "country club elitists."

"In the end, there’s going to be five, ten, twelve candidates standing on the stage who, at least for now, all look kind of the same... And they’re going to say about the same thing" on the issues, he said. "But the real question’s going to be, as to tone and face and credibility, who is best situated to open the door to people that are not yet Republicans? To say, we understand what you’re going through and we can make a connection with you in ways that have some credibility?"

The thing is, there's quite a bit of truth to this assessment.  It's part of the reason I think Pawlenty has a decent shot at the Presidency.  However, I really don't think a candidate should be saying those things in quite that way.

Reading this reminded me of a recent National Review piece written by Rob Long that appeared in the July 5th issue.  It begins:
Rule One of great acting is, Do not read the stage directions.

You don’t, for instance, wrap up Hamlet’s big Act Two soliloquy — “ . . . the play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King” — and then say “Exit.”

Years ago, during the George H. W. Bush administration, public-opinion surveys began to register a troubling trend for a president campaigning for reelection: More and more people felt that Bush just didn’t care about people’s suffering during the (fairly shallow) recession of the early 1990s.

You’ve got to send them the message that you care, they told him. So, dutifully, in his next big public outing, he tried to send the message to the voters that he cared. He wound up a boilerplate stump speech by declaring, with as much passion as he could muster, “Message: I care!”

No, no, Mr. President, you could imagine his advisers saying. The “message” part is for us, it’s an internal thing. You’re supposed to give them the message that you care. By showing that you care.

There's a fine line here.  Be cautious, Governor Pawlenty.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Breitbart - Mote vs Beam (and some Frum)

Breitbart screwed up.  A bit.  But quite a few of his detractors are just as guilty as they claim Breitbart is.

Matthew 7:3 (KJV)
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Breitbart's initial video showed two things. (1) It showed Shirley Sherrod recounting an incident where she acted in a racist manner.  (2) It showed her NAACP audience reacting positively to Sherrod's recounting of her event.

What the video did not show was the rest of the story, the redemption of Shirley Sherrod.

Breitbart's claim that the story was never really about Sherrod doesn't wash.  It was always first and foremost about the woman speaking in the video and her confession of racially motivated (in)action.  The audience reaction was always secondary.

But I'm bothered by the claims that the video was "heavily edited".  It wasn't.  It was taken out of context,  but it wasn't heavily edited.  Sherrod spoke those words -- a firsthand (and presumably true) account of her previous behavior.  It was about 1:40 of Sherrod's uninterrupted narrative.  Anybody -- like for instance, the NAACP, or Tim Vilsak, or the Obama White House -- could have (and did) come to the conclusion that Ms. Sherrod was describing something morally repulsive when she "didn't give him the full force of what [she] could do". 

Blogger "Political Math":

Purported conservative David Frum says Andrew Breitbart is the Right's Dan Rather.  I don't think Frum's analysis works.

(1) Dan Rather had a fake document.  Breitbart has genuine source material.
(2) After Rather's document was outed as a fake, Rather continued to stand by it.  Breitbart has changed his angle on the source material, even if he has done so without quite owning up to his original error.
(3) Dan Rather worked for an ostensibly "straight" major media outlet, who for some time continued to allow him enough rope to hang his career with.  Breitbart runs a few websites with a plainly-stated conservative perspective.
(4) Rather continues to work in "straight" journalism (albeit in a more limited manner), and contra Frum, has not been drummed out of the biz.  He continues to land guest spots on mainstream programming, where he is still treated like a straight journalist.
(5) Dan Rather had a long history of offering propaganda as straight news.  Breitbart's reporting has been pretty darned good, if a little bombastic, and seeks to counter the nonsense coming from much of the traditional media.

But back to the motes and the beams -- already falsified reports of racist Tea Party misbehavior directed towards members of the Congressional Black Caucus still get cited as gospel truth.  Infiltrators and "Mobys" with racist signs get reported as genuine examples of conservative racism.  An uncomfortable phrase used by a black writer ("magical negro") gets tacked to a Rush Limbaugh when Limbaugh picks up the ball and runs with it.  A network purposely crops the photo of a black man carrying a gun at a protest in order to promote a narrative about racist white folks carrying guns at protests.

For these sins and several others, we're still waiting for our apologies, Lefties. 

The word "racist" has been thrown at conservatives so much it's become a free-standing punch line in conservative circles.  Dislike Obamacare? Racist.  Think the stimulus was counterproductive?  Obviously racist.  Don't care for arugula?  Blatant racism.  Those stubbornly high unemployment figures.  Also racist.

The dismissal of the Black Panther case?  Not at all racially motivated.  "Wise Latina" jurists.  Innocuous.  Jumping to conclusions about cops acting stupidly? Without any prejudice whatsoever.

I can't pretend that Andrew Breitbart is without fault here, but the reaction from the left and the Frum-ish Toady-Right is absurd.  The White House saw the same video Breitbart did and came to the same (wrong) conclusion.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Potent Quotables: Under-capitalized

I don't think Katrina VanDen Heuvel understands what it means for banks to be under-capitalized.

Under-capitalization, as it is typically understood, is about ratios, not absolute values.  If a bank has too many loans on its balance sheet versus reserves, it is undercapitalized.

As an alternate interpretation, Katrina might have meant that community banks aren't big enough, which is sort of a silly statement.

What she probably means is that she thinks hedge funds are too big.  That's entirely unrelated to how much capital community banks have. She has made the typical mistake of comparing one thing to another and imagining some inequity that somebody (i.e. government) needs to correct through state force.


In other news, I have discovered Matt Lewis' list of influential liberals on Twitter and will be using it as blog fodder.

Friday, July 16, 2010

ACU Scores Not Currently Informative

The pundits are up in arms.  How could Congressman Bob Inglis, with a lifetime ACU score of 93+, possibly lose his primary?  (And by 42 points no less!) How could Senator Bennett, with a life ACU of 83+, have been sunk at the Utah GOP convention?  What are these crazy tea-baggers thinking?

The ACU score is sometimes a useful yard stick.  I've used it myself to guesstimate which Congressional districts might be up for grabs, and to see how far a Republican can go in the moderate-to-liberal direction before he or she makes serious waves among the Republican base.  (Broadly speaking, 60's is squishy but generally tolerable, 50-ish is the danger zone, and anything below 50 means serious heartburn of the Specter and Chafee variety.)

But fundamentally, the ACU score is based on a flawed model, and we should be careful not to misapply ACU scores.  Politics is not uni-dimensional.  It's not bi-dimensional.  It is not even entirely rational from a technical perspective, so any model relying on simple distributions is going to fail from time to time.

This is one of those times.

Let's look at Inglis.  Since losing, Inglis has thrown a temper tantrum against tea partiers, accusing them of racism and demagoguery, and going on Chris Matthews' show as a stooge so Matthews could beat up on conservatives.  If this is any indication of how he behaved before the election, then his constituents were right to give him the boot.  Inglis voted to ban standard incandescent light bulbs -- hardly a conservative sentiment, and an issue that literally reaches into every home in America and tells people how to live.  He voted for TARP, and against a troop surge in Iraq.  (Both of those latter issues are debatable on the merits, but one can see where Inglis has transgressed the party line.)  And he ran a decidedly negative campaign, which certainly didn't improve his image.  In short, Inglis went DC-native, so to speak.

Now, by National Journal's reckoning, Inglis is a 76% Republican, which is still pretty Republican by most standards.  But it isn't 93. 

And really, that's not even the point.  The point is that the ideological distribution curve has broken down in a serious way.  Voters, base voters and swing voters, are heavily discounting ideological considerations in favor of candidates who say appealing things about how to address the nation's problems. What people normally think of as "conservative" and "liberal" carries much less weight than it has in previous years.

When politicians lose touch with what the electorate wants, they get axed.  That has almost nothing to do with ideology.

So when I see proclamations of everlasting doom because the Republicans nominated some "tea party candidates" here and there, I've got to take that with a grain of salt.  Strike that -- a huge, industrial sized salt-lick.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rove faces reality. Finally.

Karl Rove has finally discovered and admitted his "biggest mistake", which was "failing to refute charges that Bush lied us into war".

Tell me something I didn't know, Karl. Everybody with a pulse knew this.  It was painful to watch the White House briefings every day as nobody (and particularly not Scott McClellan) ever bothered to counter the narrative.  It was simply maddening.  How could you not have seen that you were being destroyed in the media every single day without ever lifting a finger to defend yourselves?

Does this mean Rove is going back on his previous assessment of 2006, that it had to do with scandal more than Iraq?  At what point did Rove have this epiphany?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Potent Quotables: Erskine disses Obamacare

Erskine Bowles on the impact of Obamacare on the long term fiscal situation:

It didn’t do a lot to address cost factors in health care. So we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Erskine Bowles, former White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, speaking about the new health law, which was signed into law by Obama this past spring after a nearly year-long fight in Congress.

Bowles, speaking at an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that even with the passage of Obama’s legislation, health care costs are still going to “really eat us alive” unless dramatic changes are made. The commission will submit recommendations on how to fix America’s long term fiscal problems to Congress in December.

Now they tell us.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Trololo redux

Trololo is the perfect Soviet song -- it has no content.

It's been some time since the "Trololo" video started going viral, but for some reason I was drawn back to it recently.

When I first saw this some months ago, I was of course jarred by the strange aesthetics, both dated and foreign, and the stiffness of the singer's physical presence.

But it is sort of a catchy melody, and the guy does have a good voice. So for whatever reason I watched it again recently, and rather enjoyed it.

And then it occurred to me that this makes an interesting statement about what life was like in the Soviet Union. The song has no lyrics. Nothing to censor. Nothing counter-revolutionary. Nothing to fear. Just a pleasant ditty, performed with a nervous and sterile rigidity.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Steele should resign

I liked Michael Steele.  I really did.  But that was then, and this is now.

Commentators like Rush Limbaugh are correct in saying that if Steele were a Democrat, he’d have been afforded some indeterminate number of rhetorical mulligans for his all-too-frequent idiotic remarks.  Sorta like the walking gaffe-machine Joe “Big F’ing Deal” Biden, visitor of Indian-accented convenience stores, who for some reason gets to be one heartbeat away from the Presidency without giving anybody in the media too much heartburn.  Or Obama, who visited all 57 states during the primary elections, and wants to “spread the wealth around”.  Or the late Ted Kennedy’s “Osama Obama” remark (which somehow bizarrely got blamed on Rush Limbaugh) – or that time he killed that lady.  Or Murtha.  Or Kanjorski.  And in those cases (and others), we’re talking about people in actual positions of elective power.  Steele, on the other hand, has no power over anybody save RNC employees, and has only the money that private donors afford him. 

So the attention being placed on Steele is disproportionate to his actual influence on events.  Fair enough.

But I hold Republicans to a higher standard.  I think that’s the whole idea behind thinking one political party is better than another.  If we routinely overlook remarks by Steele, or Trent Lott’s comment about Strom Thurmond, etc., we lose the moral standing to criticize Democrats.  I don’t want to play a hypocritical game of “they did it (too)”.  I want clarity and certitude.  Politics is not a sport, with team loyalty determined by chance and ephemera.  Words and character matter.

As to the actual content of Steele’s remarks, I am appalled at the support he is getting from the likes of Ann Coulter, who previously would not have been caught dead supporting any aspect of  Ron Paul’s foreign policy.  The war in Afghanistan was no more “Obama’s war” than Iraq was “Bush’s war”.  Both wars initially received broadly bipartisan support, and I believe Afghanistan continues to enjoy the support of at least most Republicans.  Obama was not even yet a Senator when the US invaded Afghanistan.  Afghanistan is even less Obama’s war than Iraq was Bush’s.

So in crucial respects, Steele’s comments were flat wrong.  Moreover, they echo the idiotic rhetoric that came from the Left during the Bush years, making them sound all the more nakedly politicized and disingenuous.

Questions about whether we ought to be in Afghanistan – whether we should have gone in the first place, whether it’s still worth it to be there – do represent a legitimate point of view (one with which I vehemently disagree), but Steele is not in a policy making position.  As a party leader he ought to stay clear of policy debates, particularly when he strays from the consensus Republican position.

And of course, Steele has made a number of asinine comments, the most ridiculous of which was the idea that he has been treated harshly for his gaffes because he was black. 

I can only offer a partial rebuttal of Cynthia Tucker’s recent accusation made on ABC’s This Week that Steele was an affirmative action chairman.  It is hardly worth denying that Steele’s race was a plus for his candidacy, but two things must be said about that. 

Firstly, the controversy surrounding rival Katon Dawson’s previous membership in a racially exclusive country club surely weighed heavily on the minds of the RNC membership when the contest narrowed to the last run-off.  How could Republicans elect a person with such a history (unknowing or not) over somebody who would not have been allowed to join Dawson’s country club because of the color of his skin?  Dawson, regardless of his merits, should have disqualified himself early on.  Perhaps Saul Anuzis might have been elected.

Secondly, it’s not as though Steele was without his own qualifications.  He had been Maryland’s elected Lt. Governor.  He had run a law practice.  And he had been chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.  In short, he had more executive experience than Barack Obama.  Steele wasn’t plucked from obscurity because he gave a good speech once or twice and happened to be black – he had come up through the GOP farm system and paid a lot of dues along the way.

But he hasn’t done the job he was elected to do, and worse yet, he makes excuses for his own incompetence.  Steele’s continued presence at the RNC is bad for the RNC.  For that reason, if for no other, he should resign.

Quote of the Day: 1099

 What crippling bureaucracy?

"For example, if a self-employed individual makes numerous small purchases from an office supply store during a calendar year that total at least $600, the individual must issue a Form 1099 to the vendor and the IRS showing the exact amount of total purchases."

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Quote of the Day: Not a Good Trade

Larry Kudlow:
In a watershed study, former Treasury economists Gary and Aldona Robbins argued a few years ago that tax cuts aimed at capital and business produced the biggest economic benefits. For example, for every tax-cut dollar on capital gains, $10.61 of new GDP is created. For every dollar of accelerated business-investment tax write-offs, $9 of new GDP is created. And for every dollar of corporate tax cuts, $2.76 of new GDP is created.

This bang-for-the-buck analysis contrasts sharply with estimates for increased government spending. According to the White House, every dollar of new government spending creates about $1.50 of new GDP — much weaker than the effects of business tax cuts. And the White House analysis looks like a stretch. The IMF has a model that says every additional dollar of government spending creates only $0.70 of new GDP. So you have to borrow a buck to get 70 cents back. Not a good trade.

Monday, July 05, 2010

More Perot Stuff - Cotton Eye Joe

Where did they come from, where did they go?

Some random-ish findings about Perot voters...

Here's a better graph of the ideological distributions of 1992 Presidential voters:
You can see the right skew of the Bushies, the left skew/hump of the Clinton voters, and the Perot voters are pretty much right down the center, lining up almost perfectly with the electorate at large.

Where did they come from?  The sample size was small for this cross, but basically they were 2-to-1 Bush over Dukakis in 1988:

But, contrary to popular legend that Perot cost papa-Bush the election, Perot voters were very much of the "wrong track" persuasion, and wouldn't have voted for Bush anyway:

Where did they go?  The crosses were extremely small for 1996 voters in the ANES who recalled voting for Perot in 1992, but generally speaking they dispersed relatively evenly between Clinton and Dole in 1996, and of course some voted for that old coot Perot again.

(All data from the 1992 and 1996 ANES, weighted to reflect actual Presidential outcomes in those elections.)

Friday, July 02, 2010

Tea Partiers are not Perot-istas

Despite what Ben Domenech, Ed Gillespie, or anyone else says, the Tea Party is not H. Ross Perot: The Sequel.

It's a tempting thought, but an incorrect one, as WaPo's Dan Balz explored back in April.

Balz cites a lot of figures, but really the argument can really be boiled down to ideology, and it's an open-and-shut case on that front.  I went back to the ANES-1992 study* and compared the ideological distribution of the voting population with the Perotistas, and found that they were startlingly similar. 

(* - I selected only those respondents who had voted in the 1992 Presidential election, and weighted the Presidential vote variable to reflect the actual result.)

Ideology Perot Voters All Voters
1.45 1.88
Liberal 7.25 9.81
15.94 13.42
Moderate 34.78 34.59
25.36 22.2
Conservative 14.49 15.53
0.72 2.58

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

T-Paw: Had Enough?

Though he's still off the radar of most major polls, I continue to like Tim Pawlenty's style and substance, and think he has a real shot at the Republican nomination in 2012.

In the recent outpouring of GOP love for Mitch Daniels, several pundits revealed a desire for a wonky, slighly boring executive.  Daniels may be the bland but competent technocrat of some conservatives' dreams, but he showed a startling political incompetency with the announcement of a "truce" on social issues.  And frankly, "bland but competent technocrat" doesn't sell -- just ask Mitt Romney.

It's not that Republican candidates should emphasize social issues.  That is certainly not the case.  But neither is it the case that they should run away from them.  ("Conservative with a moderate voice".) The "truce" was très gauche because it allowed the likes of Mike Huckabee to inflame the social base, and because it is literally impossible to declare a one-sided truce when ongoing public policy decisions must be made on social issues -- social issues don't just go away because other issues are more pressing.

Pawlenty shares a lot of Daniels' qualities, but leaves a more refined and less somniferous political impression.  Given Pawlenty's well-polished appeal to the middle class voter, ability to defuse loaded political language, and his electoral success in territory typically hostile to conservatives, I think he's somebody to watch.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Fed needs to start publishing M3 again

The Fed stopped publishing M3 in 2006 because they said it wasn't worth the effort it takes to assemble the data, and that it didn't add significantly more information than M2.

This chart would tend to suggest otherwise.

That chart also suggests that the gold bugs are getting ahead of themselves.  If the M3 growth is really negative (i.e. shrinking), then inflation is not imminent.  Of course, if M3 is really shrinking, then the prospects for meaningful economic growth in the near future are pretty suspect too.

Are we to believe a website called ""?  The Fed needs to put out some reliable information on this monetary measure for public use.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Didn't I just say that? Bring it on home.

Pollster Neil Newhouse on the "Wal-Mart Mom" demo:

To appeal to the voting bloc, Newhouse said, parties must show how issues will affect Americans directly and shy away from talk of deficits and government spending.

You’ve got to personalize the issues rather than talk about the federal budget in Washington,” he said.

In the wake of one of the worst recessions in decades, most of the Wal-Mart Moms said that the economy is the most important issue. According to the study, two-thirds of those polled said that they were dissatisfied with their own financial situation, and almost half admitted that they felt anxious about falling out of their present social class.

I think I pretty much covered that ground on Monday:
As if it needed reiteration, the issue is jobs.  Given the failure of the Obama economic message in key districts, and voter focus on national issues, the question is less about whether to nationalize districts like PA-12, but how.   Why does it matter that Mark Critz won’t vote to repeal Obamacare?  Because it hurts job creation.  Why does it matter that Nancy Pelosi controls the legislative agenda?  Because everything she passes is detrimental to jobs.  Why are earmarks bad?  Because $2 million per earmark-job is too much money and hurts private sector job creation.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Local or national in #PA12 ?

Unfortunately, the debate around PA-12 seems to center around the failure of “nationalizing” the election.  This failure occurred in part because Mark Critz was able to portray himself as a moderate on issues like guns, life, and health care, and in part because Critz was able to convince voters that he would model his economic plan after the late John Murtha’s porky earmarks.

In light of the seeming failure of a 1994-esque nationalization strategy, the advice from some corners seems to be to focus on local issues.  This addresses the problem too narrowly.  The problem is that this is a federal office, and for the most part the only “local” issues revolve around earmark spending for “jobs”.  A Republican candidate can not run in a district like PA-12 without selling the message that Congress is hurting job creation, and by challenging the premise that pork spending leads to sustainable jobs.

As if it needed reiteration, the issue is jobs.  Given the failure of the Obama economic message in key districts, and voter focus on national issues, the question is less about whether to nationalize districts like PA-12, but how.   Why does it matter that Mark Critz won’t vote to repeal Obamacare?  Because it hurts job creation.  Why does it matter that Nancy Pelosi controls the legislative agenda?  Because everything she passes is detrimental to jobs.  Why are earmarks bad?  Because $2 million per earmark-job is too much money and hurts private sector job creation.

This is in contrast to the bad sort of nationalization.  Bad nationalization leads to fighting for the soul of the Republican party in a swing district general election.  Bad nationalization is running as a Tea Partier with a flawed Tea Party message rather than adapting the Tea Party issues to a broader language and focus.

For years, underdog candidates campaigned against John Murtha on ethical issues, his closeness to unpopular national Democratic figures like Pelosi, and idiotic remarks Murtha made about the US Marines involved in the Haditha incident.  None of it ever worked.  Murtha had Federal money for “jobs”.  Murtha even called his constituents a bunch of rednecks to no ill effect.  (How’s that for a local issue?)

Why should these tactics start working all of a sudden, now that Murtha has shuffled off this mortal coil?  Even the flawed PPP poll taken shortly before the special election showed that the Pelosi negatives were not rubbing off on Critz.

I’ve heard political consultants say “if you’re explaining, you’re losing”.  Well, we’re not doing any explaining, and we’re losing, so best we figure out how to explain things in simple language and well chosen narratives.

The Republican messages and policies on jobs are national.  There’s no escaping this essential fact.  They need to be translated into local language.  Doing so requires challenging the premise that pork spending is a long term winner, and if there’s any cycle in which to promote that message, it’s this one.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Intertubes Roundup: Unions, Kagan, Capital Twittercution

(1) The UAW wants to "pound" Toyota. Because apparently they don't want any cars to be made in America, regardless of where the company is domiciled.

(2) Why aren't foreign ships helping with the Gulf cleanup?  The Obama administration's servitude to unions:
Had Obama instead waived the Jones Act via executive order — as did Pres. George W. Bush three days after Hurricane Katrina — that S.O.S. would have summoned a global armada of mercy. Who knows how many fishing, shrimping, and seafood-processing jobs this would have saved? Instead, thousands of Gulf Coast workers will endure a long march from dormant docks to bustling unemployment lines.
“If there is the need for any type of waiver, that would obviously be granted,” White House spokesman  Robert Gibbs promised  on June 10. “But, we’ve not had that problem thus far in the Gulf.”

Problem? What problem?

(3) Despite his vendetta with public sector unions, Chris Christie's approval numbers are hanging in there... barely.

(4) Kagan compared the NRA to the Klan?  Looks like it.  As the second Obama SCOTUS nominee, Kagan's not getting the scrutiny that Sotomayor got despite the presence of plenty of objectionable material.

(5) Hey, I'm for capital punishment, but this is inappropriate: execution decision announced on Twitter. (h/t)

(6) Original Tea Partier -- Palin didn't not inhale:
 Palin has admitted to smoking when it was legal for personal use in Alaska, saying she "can't...say that I never inhaled." The state recriminalized the drug in 2006.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Confirming my blog naming decision

This sort of political ad would probably do well in my part of Pennsylvania.