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 "shadowstats.com"?  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.

(Cross-posted)

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.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Day of Reckoning

Add this to NJ Governor Chris Christie's "greatest hits" clips.




Well, they probably won't be coming to Pennsylvania, but the basic idea is sound.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quote of the Day: Information Management

Jim Geraghty on the WaPo's whitewashing of the Etheridge incident:
This is not even bias anymore; this is information management, designed to ensure those who pick up the print version of the Post never encounter what the blogosphere is buzzing about.

My two cents about the incident is that the guy may have been an idiot, but that doesn't give a Congressman license to manhandle people.  And yes, it is newsworthy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The A-Team: Nostagic Fun

In these increasingly frequent remakes of campy 70s and 80s shows, the writers need to decide how serious or how parodic to make the new edition. On the more serious end you find Battlestar Galctica. On the other end we find Land of the Lost or Dukes of Hazzard. The A-Team tried to strike a balance somewhere near the original, which is to say not entirely serious, but not really a parody either. For the most part it was just a fun walk down memory lane.

Bradley Cooper as Faceman was the best cast character, followed by Liam Neeson's slightly dry rendition of Hannibal. The other two iconic parts were impossible to cast. Quinton Jackson's B. A. Baracus was passable, but nobody can fill Mr. T's shoes.  I do have to give Jackson credit for trying, and he may have a post-UFC semi-retirement in B-grade action flicks in his future.  Sharlto Copley (District 9) captures Murdoch's insanity pretty well, but his South African accent bleeds through.  My fears about Jessica Biel being a distraction were overblown.

I really want to quibble with things like the Budweiser product placement in Iraq -- I'm pretty sure alcohol isn't allowed in US military facilities in Iraq -- but it's hard to get too upset about realism when we see the guys trying to fly a tank later.  They may have overdone the Michael Bay-esque explosions near the end, but overall it was just a pleasantly shticky picture.

If you enjoyed "The A-Team" on TV way back when, check it out.  And maybe watch for a sequel.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Just 51% of the Stimulus Has Been Paid Out

Can we call this a failure yet?

Screen capped from Recovery.gov --

(163+109+130) / 787 = 51.08%

The whole point of a stimulus is to actually spend the money.  I go back on my previous analysis that the US Government became the biggest "cash hoarder" on the planet by borrowing the money, locking up that resource then not spending it.  In the name of Keynes, they committed the greatest Keynesian sin of all.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Intertubes Roundup: I did not have relations with Nikki Haley

(1) Just for the record, I did not have inappropriate relations with Nikki Haley. This guy, however, claims he did. For what that's worth.

(2) Why haven't we privatized the state liquor stores yet? No, really -- why not?

(3) Edmund Burke in 20 minutes. (Podcast)

(4) Yet another Obamacare premise falls -- the promised $700 billion in savings from Medicare waste is a bunch of BS. Repeal it.

(5) Just Nuke It? Or not.

(6) David Gergen has a blog. Or so his PR person informed me.

(7) Chris Christie's not that popular, though support for his policies is hanging in there. Sort of the opposite of Obama, and I'm not quite sure what to make of that.

(8) Matt Lewis interviews Rush Limbaugh's biographer.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

It took the oil leak to see the incompetence?

My meager faith in humanity is degraded further.

I haven't said anything about Obama and the oil leak because I'm not sure there's anything he could have done differently.  But his recent press conference raised more questions than it answered.

Obama:

But make no mistake: BP is operating at our direction. Every key decision and action they take must be approved by us in advance. I've designated Admiral Thad Allen -- who has nearly four decades of experience responding to such disasters -- as the National Incident Commander, and if he orders BP to do something to respond to this disaster, they are legally bound to do it. So, for example, when they said they would drill one relief well to stem this leak we demanded a backup and ordered them to drill two. And they are in the process of drilling two.

Obama also took blame/credit for the containment and cleanup of spilled oil.

The criticism, mostly from the left, has been interesting.  There have been panicked shrieks for the government to get more involved, "take over", even "nationalize" the effort.  Obama thinks he's defending himself from criticism of inaction, but really he's setting himself up for criticisms of incompetence. Does he really mean to say that the government has been intimately involved from the get-go?  Really?

Again, I don't know if there's anything in particular that Obama could have done differently.  Such allegations may come out in the future, but right now there's not much to go on, particularly for a non-engineer commentator like myself.

But it's interesting to me to see the amazing faith some have in the government's capacity to make the situation better.  If only The One would take over, maybe the oil would recede!

Did people not see the incompetence in the stimulus?  Still barely more than half-spent, we have media reports that the money is running out, and official calls from the likes of Larry Summers for some additional mini-stimulus.  Fifty years hence, I imagine the Obama stimulus will be looked at as the worst possible reaction to the financial crisis, having exacerbated an already horrible situation.  Future generations will think we had lost our collective minds for passing that stinker.

Did people not see the incompetence with the health care bill, which in addition to its purposeful missteps accidentally de-authorized Congress' own health benefits?

Did people not see the incompetence of government with various foreign affairs blunders such as the "reset"/"overcharge" button, the botched reaction to the Honduran non-coup, and dawdling on the Afghan surge? The hopelessly misguided financial regulation bill?  "The system worked?"  Gitmo's continued existence?  The plan to try KSM in NYC in a civilian trial?

No, it takes an event where Obama has little to no actual control in order for certain people to see incompetence.