The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The "Atruthful" Obama?

Tom Bowler's blog, “Libertarian Leanings,” has a new post, dated today, called “The ‘Atruthful’ Obama,” with some accurate things to say about our current President. It begins:

Amoral is defined this way:

1. not involving questions of right or wrong; without moral quality; neither moral nor immoral.

2. having no moral standards, restraints, or principles; unaware of or indifferent to questions of right or wrong: a completely amoral person.

Substitute the words "truthful" and "untruthful" for "moral" and "immoral" in the definitions above, and you get a pretty good feel for Barack Obama's politics. For Obama, truth is completely irrelevant.

Benghazi is a good example. Five days after the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at the consulate in Libya, Obama ordered his UN ambassador Susan Rice to go out to all the Sunday news shows to blame their deaths on a Youtube video that was supposedly so insulting that it sparked rioting throughout the middle east. It was such an unlikely story, but it was one that fit in with Obama's image. His presidency by itself was supposed to cast a new and attractive light on America for the Muslim world to see. The planned terrorist attack destroyed that narrative. Benghazi was a protest.

Later on President Obama himself went to the UN where he repeated his protest story in a speech to the General Assembly. Then weeks later during a presidential debate against Mitt Romney he contradicted all that. To Romney's obvious bafflement, Obama said that he had called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror the day after it happened. Almost everybody was caught be surprise, except the debate moderator. In what looked to have been a beautifully choreographed move, Candy Crowley jumped into the debate to declare that, yes, it was true. She had specifically looked into it and she could confidently support what the president said. Time to move on to our next debate topic. Sorry, we really don't have time for more questions on this. Obama would not have to face questions on where the protest story came from.

Remarkably, Barack Obama went on to win the election. In the midst of the most dire economic circumstances we've experienced in the last half century, Obama managed to beat out the guy who made a fortune rescuing companies from their own dire economic circumstances and putting them back on their feet. If ever there was a man equipped to deal with the hardships facing our country, it was Mitt Romney. Yet the atruthful Obama beat Romney, the turnaround artist.

He did it without offering any kind of a plan to deal with the worst unemloyment in 30 years, or any plan to deal with the rest of our economic problems. After running trillion dollar deficits for four straight years, boosting the national debt from $10.6 trillion to more than $16 trillion, he managed to sucker just enough people into believing he would fix everything by taxes on 2% of American taxpayers. Arithmetic anyone?

Obama said what he had to say, himself and through surrogates.

He said that Romney and the Republicans were waging war on women because they didn't believe the Catholic Church should be forced, against Church doctrine, to pay for women's birth control. He said that Romney got rich destroying companies, not rescuing them. He said Romney was a felon, that he misrepresented his position on corporate filings to the SEC. He said Romeny was responsible for a woman's cancer death. Her husband lost his job when the company Romney rescued went under, long after the rescue and long after Romney's involvement. The woman died six years later.

No matter that there was no truth to any of it. Barack Obama said whatever would defeat Mitt Romney. And that's where we are now. America's rescue has been put on indefinite hold. Obama won.

In place of any expectation of economic growth we have a "fiscal cliff" before us. A confrontation between Obama and Republicans over spending and taxes looms. It was contrived by Obama because he thinks that any confrontation with Republicans is one that he will win it. He might. Obama will say whatever he has to say to do it. He said so.

There is more. Read it yourself.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Two Cabinet nominations

As soon as the Senate can confirm them, two new occupants will take over the two most important Cabinet positions: Seretaries of State and Defense. It would appear that President Obama originally thought that any African-American woman named Rice would be a shoo-in for Secretary of State. But Susan Rice, though one might think qualified — she has been Ambassador to the United Nations — is no Condoleezza. And her conduct in the face of the killing of our Ambassador and several others in Benghazi was so disgraceful that she was led to realize her chances were hopeless, and she begged off before her name was formally submitted to the Senate. The proposed nominee is John Kerry, the Massachusetts Senator and Presidential candidate of the Democrats in 2004. Although, to me, it seems like an overly partisan choice, Kerry seems to be popular among his fellow Senators and looks likely to be confirmed. Apparently the other Senators seem to think he will represent us well before the world. (And among Republicans, the chance that the resulting vacancy will be filled by Scott Brown seems a plus.)
The other position, Secretary of Defense, is more problematic. A former Senator, Chuck Hagel, is President Obama's choice. As a Republican, this even looks as though the President is making an attempt to reach out to the GOP. The problem is that Hagel, though a moderate on domestic affairs, has a record on foreign policy that shows him as quite hostile to Israel — some call him anti-Semitic, though at least one posting I saw says that calling him by that adjective goes farther than is justified. It does not matter whether Hagel is a true anti-Semite; he will not be confirmed, since the Senate is more sensitive to Israel policy than President Obama is. It is obvious that the President will have to come up with another name.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Republicans and racial equality

I have seen a lot of online postings of columns from two Boston newspapers, the Herald and the Globe. The Herald is, apparently, the conservative paper in Boston, the Globe, which is owned by The New York Times, is very liberal. So it surprised me to see a post online of a column in the Globe by Jeff Jacoby, entitled A party that doesn't think with its skin. The gist of the article is to point out that the Republican Party, often criticized as racist by its opponents, is the one that is actually walking the walk on racial equality, as demonstrated by Gov. Nikki Haley's appointment of Tim Scott to the Senate. I would like to quote this column:

South Carolina's conservative Republican governor, Nikki Haley, is the daughter of Sikh immigrants from Punjab. US Representative Tim Scott of Charleston, a Tea Party hero who was raised in poverty by a divorced single mother, is South Carolina's first black Republican lawmaker in more than a century. To anyone who shares the ideals that animate modern conservatism — limited government, economic liberty, color-blind equality — it stands to reason that Haley and Scott are conservatives. And their Republican affiliation should surprise no one familiar with the GOP's long history as the party of minority civil rights.

But many people aren't familiar with that history. So relentlessly have liberal propagandists played the race card over the years that virtually anything conservatives or Republicans do — from opposing Obamacare to tweaking the president's fondness for golf — somehow gets twisted into proof of racial malice. So when Haley announced last week that she would appoint Scott to the US Senate seat being vacated by Jim DeMint, who is leaving to take a job at the Heritage Foundation, I indulged in a bit of preemptive snark.

“An Indian-American governor appoints an African-American to the US Senate,” I posted on Twitter. “Man, that lily-white GOP racism never ends, does it?”

On being sworn in, Scott will become the Senate's only sitting black member and the first from the South since the 1880s. Indeed he'll be just the seventh black senator in the nation's history; three of the others, including Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, were also Republican. Haley, meanwhile, is one of only two Indian-Americans ever elected governor (the other is Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, a fellow Republican). For anyone who esteems racial and ethnic diversity, this has to be a good-news story. Could even the most determined racial McCarthyists find reasons to decry Scott's appointment?

Of course they could.

“Tokens. That's all they are,” one Twitter user promptly replied to my tweet. Remarked another: “The man's race may be inconvenient for the Repubs, but he's a teabagger like them so they'll ignore it.” Twitter users elsewhere smeared Scott as an “Uncle Tom” and a “house Negro.”

In fairness, on Twitter anyone can pop off about anything. What about more serious venues?

Well, the NAACP — which used to be a serious organization — promptly let it be known that while it was glad to see “more integration” in Congress, it disliked Scott's “record of opposition to civil rights protection and advancing those real issues of concern of the … African-American community.” Does the NAACP really believe that Johnson opposes black civil rights? A ludicrous canard. Then again, so was its absurd resolution two years ago denouncing the Tea Party movement as a platform for “anti-Semites, racists and bigots.”

Writing Wednesday in The New York Times, University of Pennsylvania political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. was in a similar froth, slamming Scott because he doesn't think with his skin. “His politics, like those of the archconservative Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, are utterly at odds with the preferences of most black Americans.” Scott has no legitimate connection to “mainstream black politics,” Reed scoffed. He's just another “cynical token” — one more black Republican elected to Congress from a majority-white district.

It's an old story by now, this venomous lashing-out at blacks and other minorities who embrace conservative or Republican values. It especially infuriates the Democratic left to see the enthusiasm black conservatives inspire among Republicans. Far from celebrating the fact that minorities can demonstrate appeal across the political spectrum, the left whips out the race card. The rise of black Republican leaders, they say, is just a thin disguise for GOP racism. Yet if Republicans oppose a black Democratic leader, they call that racism too.

Perhaps historical guilt feelings explain this reflexive racial demagoguery. For a very long time the Democratic Party was a bulwark of American racism — it was the party that defended slavery; that fought the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments; that founded the Ku Klux Klan; that enacted Jim Crow segregation; that opposed anti-lynching laws. Could it be the psychological weight of such a record that leads so many Democrats and their allies today to promiscuously impute racism to their political opponents? Above all, to their black political opponents?

“I'm a black Republican,” Scott says serenely. “Some people think of that as zany — that a black person would be a conservative. But to me what is zany is any person — black, white, red, brown or yellow — not being a conservative.” If the accusation is that he doesn't think with his skin, Scott seems happy to plead guilty as charged.

I like this columnist. I'm just surprised that the Globe carries him.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Perhaps a compromise is possible

Well, Speaker John Boehner has indicated he is willing to accept a raise in tax rates on people with income over a million dollars. And President Barack Obama has raised his $250,000 figure to $400,000. There is still a gap there, and other aspects that are also going to be problems, but each side has given a little.

Perhaps by Dec. 31, a compromise will be achieved. I hope so. There is still a week and a half to go.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Newtown and abortion clinics - connected?

Amazingly, Gregory Kane has managed to take the Newtown killings and use them as a basis for a column about abortion. His column in yesterday's Washington Examiner was entitled “Culprit is society that devalues human life” and among the ridiculous analogies he made (addressed to President Obama, if you need to know who the “you” was supposed to mean) was:

On Friday, a gunman walked into the Connecticut elementary school and methodically, fatally shot 20 children and six adults.

He has been identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who apparently killed himself after the shootings. Now imagine the following hypothetical situation:

Lanza isn't 20, but a 30-something surgeon who, five to 10 years ago, sucked those same 20 children down a tube while they were still in the womb.

Would we be talking about the slaughter of 20 innocent children? Or would Lanza receive praises from you and others like you for being an avid supporter of women's reproductive rights?

How anyone can consider the little bit of tissue inside a uterus of a pregnant woman — which, I concede, has the potential of becoming a human being — as the equivalent of a real living 6-year-old boy or girl is beyond my comprehension. People get over a miscarriage, which is, after all, the death of just such a bit of tissue in a uterus, in a way the parents of the Newtown children will never get over their children's deaths.

But Kane has to make such stupid analogies as an excuse for his anti-abortionism.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

More on guns

The point was made today by someone on Meet the Press that one's opinion on guns is not so much dependent on your partisan affiliation as on where you are from. The speaker pointed out that he was from Wyoming, and opinions are quite different from those of an easterner. And in fact this is true -- Rudy Giuliani is no less a Republican than some of the strongest NRA-types, while the west elects pro-gun Democrats.

So how can we ever attain a consensus?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Obama's "revenge tax"

There is a blogger who calls himself "Publius" — because that was the pseudonym adopted by the three authors of the Federalist Papers, I assume — who has finally explained, in terms I can understand, President Obama's insistence on raising tax rates, even though it would hardly make a dent in the deficit. And it is so clearly correct that I would like simply to repeat it here.

I was having trouble understanding why President Obama has been clinging so fiercely to his demands to raise the top marginal tax rate to the Bill Clinton-era 39.6%. By most accounts — especially his own — Obama is a very intelligent man, and surrounds himself with very intelligent people. Surely these intelligentsia must know that raising the marginal tax rate 4.6% on those earning over $250,000 per year will do virtually nothing to erase the national debt or close the deficit, do nothing to ease the plight of the rapidly growing number of poor Americans, and do nothing to help Obama’s miserable economy — in fact it may make his miserable economy even worse.

So the question I was having trouble answering is this: if Obama and his minions know these simple, self-evident truths, why are they so hell bent on such a tax hike?

Obama claims that he has a mandate for the tax increase; it was a campaign pledge, and therefore he must meet it. But as I recall, he also made campaign pledges in 2008 to close Guantanamo Bay, to fix the economy with a huge stimulus, and pledged in 2009 to cut the deficit in half in his first four years — broken pledges all. Since these, and so many of Obama’s other prior pledges have been broken, honoring a campaign pledge cannot be the true reason for clinging to his tax hike. Moreover, pushing legislation forward because it was a campaign pledge merely begs the question: why was it a campaign pledge?

Offered here are some possible reasons why.

A primary reason for Obama's insistence on raising taxes is this: a bully bullies because he can. Obama and the intelligentsia know that if Obama stands pat on raising tax rates — and Republicans balk — he can simply blame a Republican House for going over the cliff, which is much more proximate and much more plausible than blaming Bush.

And if the Republicans balk, Obama can appear heroic by insisting in January 2013 that the House reduce tax rates on the middle class, while maintaining the higher tax rates then in place for the top bracket. Or, as has recently been proposed, Treasury Secretary Geitner might give the middle class a temporary tax break until new tax legislation is passed; a bit of a gamble if the tax rate that gets passed is higher than the temporary tax rate, as it would stick the middle class with an unwelcome tax bill in April.

Sticking it to Republicans is but a part of a bigger Obama agenda — revenge. In the hours before the 2012 election, Obama urged his followers, saying, “voting is the best revenge.” How unifying. Obama’s revenge includes slapping higher taxes on America’s most productive wage earners. Obama’s tax hike is consistent with his liberal belief that those who have succeeded have not had to play by the same same rules as those as those who have failed, have taken unfair advantage of the disadvantaged, and have gained unearned success at the expense of the unsuccessful. Such perceived unfairness must be avenged, and taxing the rich is, for those who voted for it and the president that urges it, the best revenge. For this reason, I refer to Obama’s fiscal cliff tax hike as the “Revenge Tax.”

Revenge is akin spiking the football, or rubbing salt in the wound, or issuing the middle finger salute. But revenge, like a winning vote, is temporary; it satisfies for a season only. Obama hopes to change America forever. There is thus an even bigger reason for his Revenge Tax than simple revenge.

And raising revenue, at least with his Revenge Tax alone, is not that bigger reason. Speaker Boehner has already offered $800 billion in new revenues by reducing or eliminating tax breaks — i.e., loopholes — for upper-income people. But this is a “non-starter” for Obama. Again, the question must be, why? And the answer must be that the Revenge Tax is not just about raising revenue.

I believe Obama’s refusal to accept revenue by closing tax loopholes as a proxy for the Revenge Tax, and his insistence on that tax is for this reason: closing tax loopholes is a one-time event. Raising taxes, however, can — and often does — beget raising more taxes.

Increasing the marginal rate to 39.6% won’t do any good. Everyone knows this. Thus, we can expect that once Obama gets his 39.6% tax rate, we will soon hear that it wasn’t enough, that to meet the country’s growing needs, we must make the evil rich pay still more. Perhaps $250,000 of income for the top tax bracket will be lowered to $200,000 or $175,000. This is especially more likely as the “soft bigotry of lowered expectations” takes hold. The definition of “rich” will slide down the curve, as Obama’s broken economy makes more and more people poor and fewer and fewer people rich.

Ergo, the real reason Obama clings to raising the tax rates is to set the stage for repeated, increasing, expansive tax increases, until America’s tax rates approach those of Obama’s Utopian society — Europe. Obama yearns for Europe’s unaffordable healthcare, the so-called universal healthcare system, and I believe also yearns for Europe’s lofty tax rates. Here is what America may look like in the years ahead, if Obama gets his Revenge Tax, and in the process opens the door to giving America a Euro-tax makeover:

Top Marginal Tax Rates


The question, therefore, isn’t so much whether America will go over the fiscal cliff, but whether by avoiding that cliff, America will open the floodgates to European style taxation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What's bad -- and good -- about Obamacare

Last night I attended a meeting of an organization with which I have been involved for over 25 years — one, in fact, that I helped to start. It has nothing to do with health care, but after the end of the meeting I got into a political discussion with the one perrson who is actually an employee of the organization, a woman who, in the course of the discussion, said that it was good that President Obama manipulated the Congress through parliamentary tricks in order to pass Obamacare after Scott Brown was specifically elected on a promise to prevent it — because she liked Obamacare.

At this point, we started discusssing Obamacare. Now in fact, I never said what I actually approved of in Obamacare; the only thing I was discussing was what was bad, and we had to leave the building so I never finished the discussion. But I would like to complete it here (and I intend to tell her to look at it!)

My main opposition to Obamacare as it was finally passed is to the mandatory features. I think it is a good thing to make it easier fo people to get health insurance — the facts that insurance companies cannot deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, and that they have to keep children on parents' policies longer, are good. But instead of requiring people to have coverage and fining them if they do not, what should have been done is perhaps to subsidize its purchase (the insurance exchanges might well be a good thing if they are implemented correctly), and such things as to allow purchase of plans across state lines. It might even be that it should be detached from the employer contribution way it is mostly financed, so that you do not lose coverage when you leave a job, whether voluntarily or involuntarily.

The thing I cannot accept is that you are not permitted to decide, on your own, whether you want coverage, and even what kind of coverage you can get. When it was decided that you must have health insurance, it was also decided that a Government official would decide what kind of coverage you need. If a single male wants to buy a policy that does not cover the costs of childbirth, he cannot. It's not just its requrements on the employer side — the requirement to cover contraception that Catholic institutions are protesting — the insured person has no freedom to determine the best policy for his own needs.

If it were up to me, a plan that would have made more sense would have been to require insurance companies to cover everyone who applied (no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, as in the actual Obamacare plan), but arrange things that all employers paid the money they now put up for health insurance into a pool similar to the one they pay for unemployment insurance, and use this money to subsidize health insurance so that policies become affordable by people who cannot afford to buy it now. If a person does not want to buy health insurance, he should be able to self-insure. If he wants to buy a policy with no coverage for conditions he expects never to need, let him. The insurance companies, in turn, need to be able to price policies like life insurance policies, based on actuarial considerations, so that younger people who do not need as much medical care can get their insurance more cheaply. The fear has been spread that the young will opt out and leave the insurance companies with only the older and sicker people, raising their costs. If young people are required to pay less, however, they will be encouraged to join. Younger people do buy life insurance, so this idea works.

The other thing people have clamed would be a problem is that if you ban denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, but allow people to start coverage at any time instead of requiring it at the beginning, they will first buy insurance when they are sick. The cure for that is to make it like the Medicare drug plan — if you can enroll but you don't, then when you do enroll it costs more than it otherwise would. That seems to work in the Medicare case — it would seem to work here as well.

Those are my thoughts.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Charlie Crist, Democrat?

It seems that former Republican Governor Charlie Crist of Florida has now become a Democrat. Given that he supported President Obama's re-election this year, I suppose this is not a big surprise. And I don't really know Crist well enough to say that he's made a mistake; perhaps he is actually closer to the Democrats on important issues than he is to the Republicans.

But it is troubling to see moderates leaving the Republicans and joining the Democrats. Perhaps it is a reaction to the fact that a right-wing extremism is becoming more dominant in the GOP. But it does not recognize the left-wing extremism that has come to dominate the Democratic Party.

I actually see people claiming that President Obama is a “moderate.” It is actually clear that he is no more a moderate than his opposite numbers in the GOP, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. His gyrations to put pro-union members on the National Labor Relations Board when he saw the Senate would not confirm them, his positions on such issues as the current “fiscal cliff” and the “Obamacare” disaster — all these make this clear. And it is not just President Obama. Both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leaders in the two houses of Congress, have staked out far-left positions. When Arlen Specter, who had almost lost a primary to a right-wing opponent in 2004, decided that he could not stay in the GOP because it was likely to defeat him in 2010 and nominate the same right-wing candidate that he had barely defeated six years earlier, he found out that the Democratic primary voters were no more inclined to support a moderate. He lost the Democratic primary, by a much larger margin than he had won the GOP primary in 2004.

Moderates who leave the GOP for the Democrats will, I'm afraid, find that their new party is no more congenial to them, or to the idea of moderation, than the GOP. They are more likely to pull the GOP toward moderation if they stay than to pull the Democrats toward moderation, since they will not have the status of anything but “newcomer” in the Domocratic Party.

I hate to see you go, Gov. Crist, but it was your decision to make, and I am not so sure ypu won't regret in in the long run.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

More on the "fiscal cliff" controversy

I recently had an exchange of e-mails with my brother, who is politically somewhat more conservative than myself, though we are closer to each other in our views than either of us is to those our parents held. Some interesting points were made, which I will make public here. First, after I referred him to my post:

Actually, I read similar ideas to yours recently, soak the really, really rich, but leave the really rich alone. Well said on neither side being willing to compromise, when you wrote it, but there is breaking news. Joe Biden, the Clown Prince of Buffoonery, was quoted yesterday as saying that it doesn't have to be exactly 37 percent for the top bracket, it could be less, it's just the principle that the rich have to pay more.

To which my response was:

I suspect that some compromise like this will be attained in the end. What we really don't know is what is going on behind closed doors in secret negotiations, where Boehner's lieutenants and Obama's can make deals that neither can endorse in public because of the socialistic elements in the Administration and the TEA Party contingent within the House GOP.

He continued:

The Republicans were willing to compromise by expanding revenue, 800 billion worth, but that wasn't enough for the Dems, and is too much for the TEA Party.

What we have here are two opposed sides ON PRINCIPLE. (Old Yiddish saying: "Corrupt officials can be bribed into doing the right thing, but men of principle are much more expensive.")

To the Socialists, the high-earners are anathema. They contradict the very foundation of Marxism: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. They get paid more than (the Marxists think that) they need.

To the Republicans, high-earners provide the life-blood and impetus of life's flows, without their spark of energy, the society would fail and wither. Everyone else (and that includes you and me) are hangers on, who should just shut up and follow, unless we want to become entrepreneurs and get some skin in the game. This is best represented by the works of Ayn Rand.

I had to agree with his comment that “[w]hat we have here are two opposed sides ON PRINCIPLE.” But my main point is that:

All that you say is true. BUT, sometimes it is necessary to make some concessions even from one's principles. The socialistic Democrats control the White House and (except for the filibuster rule) the Senate. The Republicans control the House. Nothing can be done at all unless all three can find agreement — the Madisonian principle enshrined in the Constitution. If neither one gives an inch, a result occurs that neither side wants to happen — it's like Prisoner's Dilemma: you have to make what seems to be the worse choice, or the net result is the worst possible alternative.

I'm willing to say as much publicly, and so this post.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The blame is shared

Most of the time, I have been siding with the Republicans in their opposition to President Barack Obama's ideas. And in fact I still think that the President must be faulted in these “fiscal cliff” negotiations for his absolute refusal to make the slightest move toward a compromise. But the Republicans are not doing so well in this exchange either. I don't see much willingness to compromise on their part, and I have to give credit to at least one Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, for actually putting forth an idea: Accept that some of the highest-income taxpayers will have to see a tax rate increase — that's what any compromise must be between Obama's “raise the rates on all over $250,000” plan and the GOP's “raise no rates on anybody” plan. But set the barrier higher. Sen. Schumer proposed $1,000,000, and perhaps a GOP counterproposal would move towards that point; but setting it still higher, say $2,500,000. But I don't see anyone on the GOP side making proposals like this.

If nobody on either side is willing to move toward the other, we will surely go over the cliff. And except for Sen. Schumer, I see nobody moving an inch.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Angus Jones, Gregory Kane, and "values"

Before getting into the main point of this post, let me say that, although I used to watch a good deal of television, and mostly situation comedies, I do not have time to devote to watching the “tube,” and have never seen a single episode of “Two and a Half Men,” so this is not a comment on whether that show is “filth” or not, as its teen-aged co-star, Angus Jones, recently claimed. This post is not about the show, but addresses both Jones' comments and the column, appearing in yesterday's Washington Examiner, in which columnist Gregory Kane strongly defended Jones.

First of all, I have no problem with either Jones or Kane's right to express their opinions. But in Jones' case, it seems to me that if he really thinks as he says he does, and feels that the show, which has been the cause of his earning millions of dollars, is such “filth,” he should take all that money and (assuming the producers are not going to accept its return) donate it to charity, so he can live the life of a typical boy of his age. But he seems happy to keep his money.

In Kane's case, my point is somewhat different. It seems that Kane thinks Jones was unfairly criticized because he stood up for his religious values. Well, just as Kane has the right of freedom of speech, under our First Amendment, so do the more secular, and even atheistic, people he denounces. Kane seems to feel that in this country, people who favor “Christian values” (or “religious values” in general, as he manages to include Muslim minister Louis Farrakhan among those he singles out for praise) are being silenced in this country, while those advocating their contrary are given open free rein. I just see that everyone is able to speak out on both sides. Kane asked why Jones had to apologize — I think Jones' apology, as hypocritical as it might be, was because he realized he might be out a lot of money, not because secular forces were exerting pressure on him! (Kane also takes the media to task for not proofreading their headlines. That's the sort of thing I admit I might do, as I am a compulsive corrector of spelling/grammatical errors. But I've seen errors in the Examiner, too, so that is not really fair of him.)

So to recapitulate, I condemn neither Jones nor Kane for expressing themselves. But I think they both need to acknowledge the opposite side's right to express itself as well, and Jones, in particular, is ill-poised to condemn the people who have given him an amount of money that most teenagers (or even adults) would find beyond their dreams.

Friday, November 30, 2012

And he still won't give an inch

It looks as though President Barack Obama is still unable to compromise on the issues involved in the “fiscal cliff” — he has just made a proposal to Congress that says, in effect, “Take it or leave it: my way or the highway.” Of course, the plan won't get out of committee in the House. But he'll try to blame the Republicans — and a lot of the American people will fall for his charges, I'm afraid.

If only John McCain were in the White House.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The post-mortems are simply wrong!

There are a number of people writing comments about the recently-concluded election. Some say Mitt Romney lost becuse he did not go conservative enough, or because he did not reach out to moderates. Some say Romney lost because he failed to get his message across, or because the economy had started to improve, or because of comments like “47%” (as though Obama didn't say “You didn't build that!”) None of these are correct. Mitt Romney lost (and anyone on the GOP ticket except Herman Cain would have, and even Cain might have because he might have been painted as an “Uncle Tom”) for one reason, and one reason only: He was a white man, running against an African-American. There was no way the GOP could counter this obstacle. And though another blogger with whom I generally agree says he cannot characterize this attitude of the African-American voters as “racist” (he is African-American, though well to the right of the typical member of his race) I have to say, as politically incorrect as it is, that I cannot characterize it in any other way.

Mitt Romney got almost 60% of the white vote — more than most recent GOP candidates. But the African-American population is 12.6% of the total. And it went 93% for Obama. John Kerry got 88 percent in 2004. Most Democrats get a lot less than 93%. If African-Americans go back to their normal split — and they will in 2016, since Obama cannot run again, unless the Democrats nominate someone like Cory Booker or Deval Patrick — the 2016 GOP nominee will easily win, as long as he does as well among white voters as Romney did in 2012. The GOP does not need to do anything to improve its chances in 2016. Romney did as well as any white American could have.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

When will Barack Obama learn what "compromise" means?

For a brief moment, it looked as though President Barack Obama might have achieved a compromise with Speaker of the House John Boehner and the Republicans. He had hinted that he might approve a plan that would increase revenues from the well-to-do, without necessarily raising tax rates. But it is now clear that this will not be. He now says that he has a mandate from this election to raise those rates. And of course this means no compromise is in the works.

It looks as though the “fiscal cliff” is in the offing. Obama has no concept of what a compromise is. To him it means he calls the shots, and everyone else accepts his ideas, no matter how repugnant they may be.

It's going to be a long two years (or four, depending on the 2014 elections).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Comments on this election

Tom Bowler has a blog he calls “Libertarian Leanings,” with which I am often in agreement. And he wrote a post dated November 8, called “Four More Years,” which bears some repetition.

To say that I'm surprised by the outcome of the election is an understatement. I thought Romney would win, and win big, but look how wrong I was. We get another four of Barack Obama.

It's really quite disheartening. Call it a missed opportunity. For all of his faults Mitt Romney is a smart and talented executive. A Romney presidency would undoubtedly have meant explosive economic growth, and might also have gotten us long way toward putting our nation's finances on a sound footing. We have that debt crisis facing us. We need economic growth.

Obama doesn't. In his second term Barack Obama has once again inherited the mess left by George W. Bush. We'll be hearing about that mess for another four years. Obama's victory speech confirms it: The continuing economic stagnation is in no way connected to Barack Obama's policies. Just look at his prescription.

But that doesn't mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote. America's never been about what can be done for us; it's about what can be done by us together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. (Cheers, applause.) That's the principle we were founded on.

This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on Earth, the belief that our destiny is shared — (cheers, applause) — that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations, so that the freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights, and among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great. (Cheers, applause.)

I am hopeful tonight because I have seen this spirit at work in America. I've seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbors and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job.

In his only mention [of] liberty[,] Obama instructs us that our arguments are “a mark of our liberty.” We might have thought that liberty is what draws people to our shores. No. They are drawn by “the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth.” It is our strength, he tells us.

He says nothing about the freedom to strive for a better life for ourselves and our families. Instead, we must share. You business owners, sacrifice. You workers, expect less. Take that pay cut so that fellow part-timers can share in the ever shrinking wages. There's just not going to be enough to go around, and you'd better get used to it.

While a Romney presidency promised to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit, in Obama's world entrepreneur is just another job, a government job. The best and brightest will find their way to prosperity in striving to be middlemen, standing between citizens and their entitlements, doling them out according to prescribed formulas of fairness. That is the true strength of Obama's America.

While I might have disagreed with Bowler's expectation that “Romney would win, and win big,” (I figured it would be close, but I thought Romney could pull it out) I certainly agree with most of what he said in this post. But one thing I will not join in is a chorus of columns and blog posts saying what the writer thinks the GOP must do in subsequent elections to come up with a winning candidate. For example, Byron York's column in Friday's Washington Examiner is titled “In 2016, GOP needs a candidate voters believe in.” Frankly, I don't know what it takes to win an election in this country. I simply cannot imagine why anyone at all would vote for a Barack Obama against either a John McCain or a Mitt Romney — and yet, majorities of the people have done so. And because of that, I just give up on trying to figure out what it takes to win an election.

Of course, I can probably point to racism as the real reason that Obama could win both elections: not a racism of whites against African-Americans, as the absence of that was proved by the fact that Obama got millions of whites' votes, but a racism of African-Americans against whites, in that the African-American population refused to vote for a white candidate running against one of their own, no matter how unqualified he was or how terribly he has handled the Presidency. Obama got 95% of the African-American vote in 2008, and 93% this year. If Obama had simply gotten the normal proportion of the African-American vote that Democrats get — and that is still an overwhelming majority! — Mitt Romney would be getting ready to move into the White House.

And that is perhaps the best hope for 2016. Without an African-American at the top of the ticket, the African-American vote will break Democratic by more like its usual proportion, and a Republican can win then. The problem is that Barack Obama will have had his shot at ruining this country's economy already, and that may be irreversible.

Friday, November 09, 2012

2016 choice?

I just noticed a post by Sophie Quinton on the National Journal site. It was dated November 6, 2012 and entitled “Top 10 Republican Presidential Contenders for 2016.” and #1 on the list is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

If he wants to run, I'm for him. No questions. I've already said a lot about why I like him.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The next two years (at least)

For the next two years, I see the most gridlocked government one could imagine in Washington. A Barack Obama just given four more years in the White House will submit bill after bill of legislation inspired by Karl Marx, and while Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will dutifully attempt to get the bills through the House of Representatives, she will not have the votes. In most cases, they will receive a total of zero votes from the GOP side, since Obama has no intention of compromising in a meaningful way. His idea of a compromise, as shown in the last four years, is "you adopt my program." Since the Republicans will still control the House, none of Obama's bills will pass, but the bills the House passes, if they get through the Senate at all, will be vetoed by President Obama. And since the Republicans do not have a 2/3 majority in the House, and do not even control the Senate, there will not be enough votes to override a veto. The only legislation that will go through will be relatively uncontroversial stuff like naming a post officde after a deceased congressman.

If any new developments occur at all, they will come out of the Supreme Court. It will rule on some gay rights cases, and very likely on other cases that nobody can foresee at present. It may even kill some parts of Obamacare, though the program itself has been ruled constitutional. But the future of the Court's decisions will also be affected by Court retirements. And President Obama may be able to put another Elena Kagan on the Court, since the Senate will be Democratic and the House has no role in ratifying appointments.

It is going to be two more years of skirmishing between a far-left President Obama and a Tea Party-influenced GOP controlled House of Representatives. And our system has survived (see the last two years of Harry Truman's first term). So it will survive again. But I can't expect anything great to come out of the next two years.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

It's over -- and it doesn't look good

Last night, I went to bed when it became clear that we were going to have to wait a while before the results from Ohio came in. And it didn't look good: Barack Obama had already won Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states that had looked within reach for Mitt Romney. I woke this morning to see Obama with 303 votes, Romney 206, and Florida's 29 too close to call. Two states that Obama won in 2008, Indiana and North Carolina, went to Romney, but otherwise every state (except that we can't be sure about Florida) went the same way as four years ago. The result, of course, is four more years of one of the worst presidents ever. But the American people have spoken. I don't like what they said, but so be it.

The Senate will be Democratic — even more so than it is now; three seats appear to have been added to the Democrats' majority. The House will remain heavily Republican, so John Boehner will remain Speaker. Given that President Obama seems unable to forge consensus-building ideas for legislation, this sets the stage for renewed gridlock in the government. But “Obamacare” will take full effect, killing hope of an improvement of the employment picture, though the recession will gradually end (as it would no matter who was president).

Mitt Romney's name will be added to the list of people I wish had been elected President, along with Bob Dole and John McCain. I can only congratulate him for a good fight.

The only shining light in this election is that Maryland became the first state to put in same-sex marriage with voter approval — although not all the results are in. And even there, a question that was also on the ballot — in-state tuition for illegal aliens — did better. why people who have no legal right to be in the country should get such privileges is beyond me — but it is clear that the Hispanics got their vote out.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

President Obama can do something right.

When Barack Obama was elected President, I promised that when he did something right, I would acknowledge it. And I have to admit that regarding Hurricane Sandy, if even Governor Chris Christie says Obama is doing something right, he must be. We know that Gov. Christie is a strong supporter of Mitt Romney's election, and this is, therefore, not a political thing.

Of course, if the President does one or two things right (I'll grant that getting rid of Osama Bin Laden was another) and dozens of things wrong (from Solyndra to the stimulus that didn't stimulate) this doesn't mean he deserves re-election. But at least the people of the stricken area can take comfort that in this case, the President is doing his job the way it is supposed to be done.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The left still doesn't get it!

Michael Tomasky writes for The Daily Beast, and his egregiously pro-Obama point of view is about as extreme as they come. And a column he wrote dated Monday entitled “Get It Done, Mr. President!” (also appearing in Newsweek really shows how deceived the pro-Obama left really is. They formed an image of Mitt Romney that they just can't shake, despite the fact that the American people have seen that the image they have been trying to put over on us is simply wrong. For example, in speaking of the Denver debate that Obama blew so gloriously, Tomasky refers to Romney as “reversing many key positions without Obama ever calling him on it.” But in fact, Romney was not reversing his key positions — what was the case is that Obama had tried to make us believe Romney had taken certain positions, against the truth. This business of the “$5 trillion tax cut,” for example, just was never a Romney proposal, but in fact a Democratic think tank's take on Romney's proposed tax policy, assuming a part of it went through but not the whole. So when Obama tried to make the claim that Romney had proposed such a plan, Romney truly and accurately said he never had done so, yet Obama repeated this claim three more times after Romney corrected him the first time — and Romney had to correct him again and again! So the one time that Obama tried to “call him on” a supposed “reversal,” he failed because it was not really a reversal at all! So much for “reversing many key positions without Obama ever calling him on it.”

The thing that amazes me is that these people actually believe that Romney has called for the things they accuse him of calling for. If they ever read what Romney has said, rather than their own interpretations of what he said, perhaps they might figure out the truth.

But then, I want them to fall for their own self-deceptions. That way, they will not be able to make a believable case to the American people, who ever since that Denver debate have come to see Romney as what he is: an honest and honorable man, far more of both than the President is, and more worthy of the Presidency than the man who has that position now. And when Barack Obama skulks back home to Chicago on January 20th, the country will be in the hands, for the first time in years, of a capable man in the White House.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Probably the best reason to support Romney

Much of the reason I've been supporting Mitt Romney for the Presidency is a negative one — that the alternative is Barack Obama, who is one of the worst presidents this country has seen. Only Jimmy Carter, of those presidents whose terms of office have been within my lifetime, has been worse, I believe. But the best reason to support Romney is a positive one. He can unite people of both parties to forge a consensus.

George W. Bush said he was “a uniter, not a divider,” but as Governor of Texas, the Democrats he had worked with were conservative enough that he was unprepared to find, when he came to Washington, that the Democrats there were of such a different stripe that he was not able to find common ground with them. President Obama used different words, but in his 2004 keynote at the Democratic convention, when he said “I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America,” he seemed to offer to many the promise of uniting us. However, as President he has not governed in a way consistent with this rhetoric. He has pushed through a healthcare bill with no support from a single Republican Senator, and only one Republican vote in the House of Representatives. He has made “recess appointments” when the Senate has just broken for a weekend, so he would not get them rejected in the Senate. He has done exactly the opposite of what a unifying, consensus-building President would be expected to do.

By contrast, we have the record of Mitt Romney as Governor of Massachusetts — a state which, unlike George W. Bush's Texas, has Democrats who are as liberal as any in the country, and yet where, facing an 87% Democratic legislature, he managed to get substantial parts of his program enacted. The Des Moines Register, which has endorsed Democrats in most recent elections (in fact, has endorsed only one Republican from 1964 to 2008) and endorsed Obama in 2008, endorsed Mitt Romney, saying: “Romney succeeded as governor in Massachusetts where he faced Democratic majorities in the legislature. If elected, he would have an opportunity to renew the effort.” As Emily Miller of The Washington Times points out,

President Obama has burned bridges by ramming through legislation like the stimulus and Obamacare without bothering to consult Republicans. That’s not how Mr. Romney would operate. “I know there are good Democrats who love America just like we do,” he told supporters in Celina, Ohio, Sunday. “I want to reach across the aisle to them, work together, put the interests of the people ahead of the politicians.”

He noted that as a GOP governor of a deep blue state, he worked with a legislature that was 87 percent Democrat. He still managed to decrease spending and cut taxes 19 times. “We were able to balance our budget. The $3 billion budget gap in our first year became a $2 billion rainy day fund,” Mr. Romney explained to cheering crowds. “We did that together, Republicans and Democrats. And we’ve got to do that in Washington.”

The Obama campaign is trying its best to deny this bipartisan record. “The American people can’t trust a word Mitt Romney says, especially when he claims he’d work across the aisle as president,” said campaign spokesman Danny Kanner. “As governor, he refused to work with Democrats in the legislature.”

Not so, according to the Bay State’s former Democratic House majority leader. “The governor did work with the legislature,” James Vallee told The Washington Times in an interview Monday. “There were issues of difference, but I had a very productive relationship with the Romney administration. They reached out to legislatures and did an effective job working with us.”

Mr. Vallee, who left the legislature in June and is now a lawyer at Nixon, Peabody, believes Mr. Romney would be most effective with a bipartisan cabinet and team. “If he says he’s going to reach across the aisle, I think he will,” he said.

That's the best reason to support Mitt Romney for the Presidency this year.

Monday, October 29, 2012

"You can't have your own facts"

In the first of the three debates between Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, Romney said at one point, “Mr. President, you're entitled as the president to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts.” A good riposte to some of Obama's fabrications, yet there were, as I mentioned in a posting dated October 7, other blogs and comments that seemed to characterize Romney as creating his own facts! It really perplexes me, because to me the facts are clear, Mitt Romney is only telling the unvarnished truth, and whenever Barack Obama and he differ, Obama is clearly at variance with the facts. For example, there is that business about the “$5 trillion tax cut.” It was never what Romney proposed, yet Obama repeats it incessantly. And there is that “47%” quote. Somehow, a statement that Gov. Romney made to say that he cannot expect to get the votes of people who have a stake in the present policies is turned into a lack of compassion — in a man whose charitable giving is one of the greatest in this country!

And the left-leaning bloggers and columnists still accuse Romney of being the one who is lying, and support Obama's claims! Somehow, they “have their own facts.” And they can't, as Romney said. It's gotten to be that anything the Obama campaign team says has to be considered about as reliable as a story in the National Enquirer, and read with the same number of grains of salt!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What happened to President Obama once he had to debate Mitt Romney?

Yesterday, I saw a column by Peggy Noonan, on the Wall Street Journal's site, entitled: “When Americans Saw the Real Obama.” It's a really interesting column, and while I had a lot of suspicions that some of what it said were true, I was interested to see those suspicions confirmed. Dropping a few paragraphs at the beginning, it first got to the meat with the following:

Why was the first debate so toxic for the president? Because the one thing he couldn't do if he was going to win the election is let all the pent-up resentment toward him erupt. Americans had gotten used to him as The President. Whatever his policy choices, whatever general direction he seemed to put in place he was The President, a man who had gotten there through natural gifts and what all politicians need, good fortune.

What he couldn't do was present himself, when everyone was looking, as smaller than you thought. Petulant, put upon, above it all, full of himself. He couldn't afford to make himself look less impressive than the challenger in terms of command, grasp of facts, size.

But that's what he did.

And in some utterly new way the president was revealed, exposed. All the people whose job it is to surround and explain him, to act as his buffers and protectors — they weren't there. It was him on the stage, alone with a competitor. He didn't have a teleprompter, and so his failure seemed to underscore the cliché that the prompter is a kind of umbilical cord for him, something that provides nourishment, the thing he needs to sound good. He is not by any means a stupid man but he has become a boring one; he drones, he is predictable, it's never new. The teleprompter adds substance, or at least safety.

One might wonder why President Obama let himself in for such a fall, given his past success as a campaigner. And Noonan wonders too:

A great and assumed question, the one that's still floating out there, is what exactly happened when Mr. Obama did himself in? What led to it?

Was it the catastrophic execution of an arguably sound strategy? Perhaps the idea was to show the president was so unimpressed by his challenger that he could coolly keep him at bay by not engaging. Maybe Mr. Obama's handlers advised: "The American people aren't impressed by this flip-flopping, outsourcing plutocrat, and you will deepen your bond with the American people, Mr. President, by expressing in your bearing, through your manner and language, how unimpressed you are, too." So he sat back and let Mr. Romney come forward. Mr. But Romney was poised, knowledgable, presidential. It was a mistake to let that come forward!

Was it the catastrophic execution of a truly bad strategy? Maybe they assumed the election was already pretty much in the bag, don't sweat it, just be your glitteringly brilliant self and let Duncan the Wonder Horse go out there and turn people off. But nothing was in the bag. The sheer number of people who watched—a historic 70 million—suggests a lot of voters were still making up their minds.

Maybe the president himself didn't think he could possibly be beaten because he's so beloved. Presidents are always given good news, to keep their spirits up. The poll numbers he'd been seeing, the get-out-the-vote reports, the extraordinary Internet effort to connect with every lonely person in America, which is a lot of persons—maybe everything he was hearing left him thinking his position was impregnable.

After throwing out those questions, however, Noonan changes her tune, and here is where the picture of Obama resembles my suspicions — especially after I read excerpts of Bob Woodward's recent book, “The Price of Politics,” to which Noonan refers:

But maybe these questions are all off. Maybe what happened isn't a mystery at all.

That, anyway, is the view expressed this week by a member of the U.S. Senate who served there with Mr. Obama and has met with him in the White House. People back home, he said, sometimes wonder what happened with the president in the debate. The senator said, I paraphrase: I sort of have to tell them that it wasn't a miscalculation or a weird moment. I tell them: I know him, and that was him. That guy on the stage, that's the real Obama.

Which gets us to Bob Woodward's “The Price of Politics,” published last month. The portrait it contains of Mr. Obama — of a president who is at once over his head, out of his depth and wholly unaware of the fact — hasn't received the attention it deserves. Throughout the book, which is a journalistic history of the president's key economic negotiations with Capitol Hill, Mr. Obama is portrayed as having the appearance and presentation of an academic or intellectual while being strangely clueless in his reading of political situations and dynamics. He is bad at negotiating — in fact doesn't know how. His confidence is consistently greater than his acumen, his arrogance greater than his grasp.

He misread his Republican opponents from day one. If he had been large-spirited and conciliatory he would have effectively undercut them, and kept them from uniting. (If he'd been large-spirited with Mr. Romney, he would have undercut him, too.) Instead he was toughly partisan, he shut them out, and positions hardened. In time Republicans came to think he doesn't really listen, doesn't really hear. So did some Democrats. Business leaders and mighty CEOs felt patronized: After inviting them to meet with him, the president read from a teleprompter and included the press. They felt like “window dressing.” One spoke of Obama's surface polish and essential remoteness. In negotiation he did not cajole, seduce, muscle or win sympathy. He instructed. He claimed deep understanding of his adversaries and their motives but was often incorrect. He told staffers that John Boehner, one of 11 children of a small-town bar owner, was a “country club Republican.” He was often patronizing, which in the old and accomplished is irritating but in the young and inexperienced is infuriating. “Boehner said he hated going down to the White House to listen to what amounted to presidential lectures,” Mr. Woodward writes.

Mr. Obama's was a White House that had — and showed — no respect for Republicans trying to negotiate with Republicans. Through it all he was confident — “Eric, don't call my bluff” — because he believed, as did his staff, that his talents would save the day.

They saved nothing. Washington became immobilized.

And Woodward is, apparently not the first to call attention to Obama's weaknesses:

Mr. Woodward's portrait of the president is not precisely new — it has been drawn in other ways in other accounts, and has been a staple of D.C. gossip for three years now — but it is vivid and believable. And there's probably a direct line between that portrait and the Obama seen in the first debate. Maybe that's what made it so indelible, and such an arc-changer.

People saw for the first time an Obama they may have heard about on radio or in a newspaper but had never seen.

They didn't see some odd version of the president. They saw the president.

And they didn't like what they saw, and that would linger.

I liked this column. And that is why I repeat it here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Jay Leno on Obama's economy

Most of the media is firmly in Barack Obama's corner. I was not aware that Jay Leno was of a different stripe. But here is a quote that deserves spreading about.

One of President Obama's winning points last night was about how sanctions against Iran are crippling their economy. And believe me, if anyone knows how to cripple an economy it's President Obama.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Unintended consequences?

There is an old saying, “Be careful what you wish for; you might get it.” The point of this saying is that there are often unintended consequences, which nullify the desirability of something. And perhaps this is the best characterization of “Obamacare.” The goal was to get everyone to have health insurance. (At least, that was the goal of those who enacted it; I think a better goal would have been to get everyone who wanted it to have health insurance.) And, I assume to be certain that the insurance people got was real, it provided for the setting of minimum standards. This seemed reasonable, as you don't want people to be tricked into buying insurance that didn't meet their needs.

The problem is: These minimum standards were not set by determining what would meet the minimum needs of people; they were set up by bureaucrats who simply decided what they would consider adequate. This has had a number of results.

For one, it has led to the contraception impasse. Between people who feel that contraception is so important that it must be available to all and Catholics (and perhaps some others) who consider it immoral, there is no middle ground. Pres. Obama has put through a “compromise” that is no compromise in fact. In theory, insurance companies will provide the contraception coverage free, separately from what employers are paying for. In fact, the insurance companies are not charities; they are profit-making businesses, so the premiums will be adjusted to account for the added costs, so those employers will in fact be paying for it, if one compares the premium with what it would have been without the contraception mandate.

But “Obamacare” has other unintended consequences, too. For example, the mandated coverage is such that many present policies would not qualify. Pres. Obama's promise prior to his election that “if you like your present coverage, you can keep it” is simply not true; people will not be able to keep their present coverage because insurance companies will not be able to offer those plans that fall short of what the bureaucrats have decided to consider minimal. And the costs of insurance will go up because more has to be covered.

The third consequence I want to mention is that the mandate that all full-time workers be covered means that employers are encouraged not to hire full-time workers. If they can hire a lot of part-timers, the cost of training more people will be balanced by the savings in insurance they do not have to provide. And if they can get away with fewer employees in total (not even hiring part-timers) it may be a better deal. This is being anticipated by prospective employers. While the mandate has not yet affected them, they see it in the future, and this is why unemployment, and underemployment, are so high.

These are among the reasons “Obamacare” needs to be replaced by a better plan, and why Mitt Romney needs to be elected Present.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Two more egregious lies out of Barack Obama's mouth

President Barack Obama knows he cannot make a case for re-election on his record — which marks him as the worst President, except for Jimmy Carter, since the early part of the Twentieth Century. He is forced to do two things: engage in mudslinging and lie.

In the debate Monday night, he said:

First of all, the sequester is not something that I proposed. It’s something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen. The budget that we’re talking about is not reducing our military spending. It’s maintaining it.

Well, this is directly contradicted by Bob Woodward, in his recent book “The Price of Politics,” which says:

At 2:30 p.m. [White House Office of Management Director Jack] Lew and [White House Director of legislative affairs Rob] Nabors went to the Senate to meet with [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid and his chief of staff, David Krone.

“We have an idea for the trigger,” Lew said.

“What’s the idea?” Reid asked skeptically.


Reid bent down and put his head between his knees, almost as if he were going to throw up or was having a heart attack. he sat back up and looked at the ceiling. “A couple of weeks ago,” he said, “my staff said to me that there is one more possible” enforcement mechanism: sequestration. He said he told them, “get the hell out of here. That’s insane. The White House surely will come up with a plan that will save the day. And you come to me with sequestration?”

Well it could work, Lew and Nabors explained.

What would the impact be?

They would design it so that half the threatened cuts would be from the Defense Department.…

Lew, Nabors, [White House National Economic Council Director Gene] Sperling, and Bruce Reed, Biden’s chief of staff, had finally decided to propose using language from the 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction law as the model for the trigger. It seemed tough enough to apply to the current situation. It would require a sequester with half the cuts from Defense, and the other half from domestic programs. There would be no chance the Republicans would want to pull the trigger and allow the sequester to force massive cuts to Defense.

This is clearly in contradiction to Obama's “the sequester is not something that I proposed. It’s something that Congress has proposed.” So we have him in lie #1. Another lie from the debate came in the very next paragraph, from Obama's cutesy attempt to paint Romney as ignorant about military matters, or perhaps about modern technology:

But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You — you mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets — (laughter) — because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.

But of course, while “horses” may be obsolete, “bayonets” are still quite useful to the modern military, so perhaps it is President Obama who “maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works.” To quote A. W. R. Hawkins on

While the Army discontinued traditional bayonet training in 2010, the USMC still trains Marines with bayonets and issues them as standard equipment. The Army has also begun training soldiers in a different style of bayonet use — not affixed to the end of a rifle but as a secondary melee weapon.

To make bayonet training relevant again, the Army got rid of the bayonet assault course, in which soldiers fixed a bayonet to the end of a rifle, ran towards a target while yelling and then rammed the bayonet into the target center. Instead, soldiers learn in combatives training how to use a knife or bayonet if someone grabs their primary weapon.

Some users on Twitter have claimed that, by virtue of the USMC still using bayonets, there actually are more bayonets in use than 1916, when the army had between 100,000 and 140,000 enlisted members. As of 2010, the Corps boasted 203,000 active duty members and 40,000 reserve marines.

That's two lies in two paragraphs — even more than Obama's usual!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Last night's debate

Last night, in Boca Raton, Florida, President Obama and Governor Romney had the last of the series of three debates. And while a CNN poll seems to have given the edge to the President in the debate, it was close, 48-40 (and in fact, on the question “Who did the debate make you more likely to vote for?” it favored Romney, 25-24, with half the people saying “neither”), and looking at such commentators as Charles Krauthammer and Erick Erickson, it would seem that who won depends on who you support; most people seem to have given the edge to whoever they wanted to win in the first place. There were also commentators like Toby Harnden of the British newspaper, The Daily Mail, who said that “Obama may have won the Boca debate battle but he knows he is losing the election war to Romney.”

Indeed, all of the pro-Romney commentators remarked that Romney looked more like a president and Obama like a challenger. Erickson wrote:

The whole time during the last Presidential debate, Mitt Romney looked like the incumbent and Barack Obama looked like a challenger trying to keep it together. More specifically, Barack Obama, when he made eye contact, looked like he was seeing and invisible hand writing “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin” on the wall behind Bob Schieffer. This was a man who knows the gig is almost up.

Throughout the debate, Mitt Romney smiled, agreed, and avoided fights. Barack Obama did everything he could to get into fights. That’s not what incumbents in a comfortable lead do.

And Harnden wrote:

If you had been on an extended vacation for the past four years, you would have been forgiven for watching this debate and thinking you were viewing a President Mitt Romney being challenged by a pretender called Barack Obama.

I looked at the transcript, and sometimes President Obama looked absolutely silly. He said things like:

You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.

Gee. As if Governor Romney never heard of aircraft carriers and nuclear subs. But he said this in response to a statement by Romney:

[O]ur Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We’re now at under 285. We’re headed down to the low 200s if we go through a sequestration. That’s unacceptable to me.

I'm sure that the admirals who “said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission” allowed for the existence of aircraft carriers and nuclear subs — and so President Obama's comments are pretty laughable.

When Bob Schieffer asked about Iran, President Obama responded:

[A]s long as I’m president of the United States Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. I made that clear when I came into office.…[A] nuclear Iran is a threat to our national security, and it is a threat to Israel’s national security. We cannot afford to have a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world.

Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. And for them to be able to provide nuclear technology to non-state actors, that’s unacceptable. And they have said that they want to see Israel wiped off the map.

Brave words, for someone who has done so little to deter Iran. It has gotten so bad that Prime Minister Netanyahu had pleaded at the UN for help in dealing with the Iranian threat to his country's existence, and yet the President refused even to meet with him when the two were both in New York. Obama says what we want to hear, but his actions show he is unwilling to take any steps to defuse the Iranian threat.

And Romney's point was well taken when he said:

You look at the record of the last four years and say is Iran closer to a bomb? Yes. Is the Middle East in tumult? Yes. Is — is Al Qaeda on the run, on its heels? No. Is — are Israel and the Palestinians closer to reaching a peace agreement?

No, they haven’t had talks in two years. We have not seen the progress we need to have, and I’m convinced that with strong leadership and an effort to build a strategy based upon helping these nations reject extremism, we can see the kind of peace and prosperity the world demands.

Because the record of the past nearly 4 years is the real issue in this election. As I said, it looks to me that who won depends on who you were supporting in the first place. To me, Romney had the stronger case. But all along, to me, Romney seems to be making sense, and Obama nonsense. So I admit I'm very far from being impartial in judging this debate.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

More on "Likable" President Obama

I have long wondered why people considered Barack Obama as “more likable” than Mitt Romney. Obama's past includes the nasty business with Alice Palmer, as well as about every sort of nastiness one can imagine a Chicago machine politician to be capable of. Romney, by contrast, is a generous man who would close down his business to help an employee search for his daughter. So why anyone would consider Obama as the more likable of the two puzzled me. But this likability differential seems to be going away. Earlier today I read a post, dated Friday, by Matthew Continetti on a site called The Washington Free Beacon, entitled “The Jerk Store Called — Column: They’re running out of Obama-Biden.” It begins:

Remember when President Barack Obama was likable? Once upon a time the public viewed the incumbent more favorably than his challenger by large margins. These days Obama’s favorable and unfavorable ratings are similar to Mitt Romney’s. The televised debates have unveiled the current administration as alternately listless, manic, angry, soporific, rude, bullying, aloof, and thin-skinned. Americans who have just begun to tune into the election are seeing the president unmediated. They no longer are looking at him through the scrim of fawning press, majestic settings, and roaring crowds. And they are discovering that Obama is not so likable at all. He is actually something of a jerk.

Those who read coverage of the Obama administration closely will have known this for a long time: The president is cold, abstract, prickly, and insular. His brand of cerebral partisanship is better suited for liberal blogging than for leading the free world. He doesn’t enjoy interacting with strangers or even with associates outside his immediate clique. He has few close friends. He relies on about half a dozen senior advisers. His impromptu speech is given to cutting, sarcastic remarks.

Put him in front of an adoring and obsequious audience and he will be charming and suave. But the real Obama is revealed the second you remove the klieg lights. This isn’t a guy who will spend his post-presidency more or less running the Democratic Party, a la President Bill Clinton. Obama will spend his retirement as a solitary member of the irritable left, receiving honorary degrees, appearing on MSNBC, and scribbling for Salon.

After this overview, Continetti gets down to some specifics, writing:

The president’s unsociability is one of those obvious facts that are conveniently overlooked. Earlier this week Neera Tanden, the president of the liberal Center for American Progress, caused a mini-controversy when New York magazine quoted her saying, “Obama doesn’t call anyone, and he’s not close to almost anyone. It’s stunning that he’s in politics, because he really doesn’t like people.” Tanden, who has worked for Obama, later “clarified” her remarks. What she meant to say, she tweeted, was that Obama “is a private person.” Note, however, that one can be a private person and still not “like people.” Tanden did not really take back her words. Nor should she. Her initial comments were factual and honest.

In some of his quotes, the source is only described, not named:

A “Democrat deeply familiar” with the Clinton-Obama relationship said pretty much the same thing to Ryan Lizza a few months ago: “Obama doesn’t really like very many people.” A Chicago Democratic donor told Jane Mayer this summer, “He’s not the kind of guy I would go out and have a beer with.” “One United States diplomat” told Helene Cooper of the New York Times in September that Obama is “not good with personal relationships; that’s not what interests him.”

And speaking of the New York Times,

That paper’s story on Valerie Jarrett, the president’s closest aide, describes Obama as “introverted” and his social circle as “small.” Michael Lewis’s profile of Obama shows a loner who broods over his decisions, spends time reading and writing and playing basketball with a tightly knit group, and says his biggest difficulty as president is “faking emotion.” His media puppets admit that the president is an emotionless “Spock.”

As a result, Continetti continues:

This combination of arrogance and detachment has been a political problem. Obama has paid a price whenever his unlikable personality has emerged in unscripted moments. There was his promise to meet with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea in the first year of his presidency. There was the time when he told Hillary Clinton that she was “likable enough.” There was his stubborn insistence to raise taxes on capital gains and dividends even though it would raise less revenue. There was his explanation that the white working class didn’t like him because “they cling to their guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them.”

There was his remark that the Cambridge police acted “stupidly” when they arrested a Harvard professor. There was his attack on Scott Brown for driving a pickup truck; his snide retort to John McCain that “the election’s over”; and his jibe that “shovel ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected” (which provoked laughter from his “jobs council”). This year we’ve heard Obama say “the private sector is doing fine,” that he’s “always struck by people who think, it must be because I was just so smart” that they’ve been successful, and that the attacks on our embassies across the Great Middle East were “bumps in the road” to Arab democracy. When Obama says what’s on his mind, his political team runs for the hills.

But it's only recently that Obama and Romney have had to get on a stage together in debate. And these debates seem to have finally called the people's attention to Obama's nasty streak, and even turned over some of his supporters:

The debates have made the president’s dilemma worse. Obama has not masked his prideful contempt for Romney. He “told friends that he respected Mr. Romney’s intellect,” the Times reported, “but had come to view his rival as a less formidable adversary as he learned more about him from reading research books and watching his campaign.” He went into the first debate in Denver thinking he would end the race on October 3.

But a huge audience watched as Romney dissected the last four years and Obama responded with a mix of condescension and apathy. The president seemed always to be smirking and looking down at his notes. He barely could mount a defense of his record. He returned again and again to his vision of a fair America. But this was not enough even for his most slavish supporters. Andrew Sullivan called him “effete.” Michael Tomasky asked, “Does Obama even want to win the election?”

Continetti continues, noting that not only Obama but Vice-President Biden is displaying that nasty streak:

The first debate inaugurated a shift in the race toward Romney that hasn’t abated. And the left drew exactly the wrong lesson from it. The left believed Obama had failed because he was insufficiently rude, and the Obama campaign seems to have agreed with them. But that meant Obama was trapped. He had to be more combative, but he also had to retain his likability. Doing both was not an option. Obama chose combat, in keeping with his long-run campaign strategy of maximizing turnout among Democratic Party client groups.

So we got a Joe Biden who spoke under his breath, interrupted Paul Ryan at every turn, raised his voice, gesticulated grandly, cackled during discussions of the Iranian nuclear program, and grinned so wildly that he looked like he was channeling Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker. We got an Obama who was more engaged but also came across as angry and heated and ready to challenge Romney to a duel. We got a Democratic ticket that, per Chris Matthews’s suggestion, looks like it is auditioning to replace the Cycle on MSNBC.

And Continetti concludes, as a result the election will turn on this loss of likability by the President:

Obama’s anti-Romney spirit may make for a more disagreeable and somewhat more interesting debate. Television ratings benefit. But how does it solve the weak economic recovery? How does it reassure voters looking for solutions on jobs, health care, the deficit, and energy? How does it improve the president’s image, or restore his poll numbers?

The cliché is that the more likable candidate usually wins the election. Morris Fiorina, one of my favorite political scientists, says that isn’t actually the case. Maybe. What we know for sure is what Washington has known all along: Obama doesn’t like people.

And increasingly, people don’t like him.

None of these characterizations of President Obama surprise me; it's just that it's taking so long for people to realize that Obama is what he clearly showed he was many years ago.

Friday, October 19, 2012

At least one media outlet has left Obama

The New York Observer endorsed Barack Obama in 2008. Their endorsement that year is still to be found online. So it is big news to read the editorial that just came out, where this paper strongly endorsed Mitt Romney. In part, it says:

The crisis of leadership in American government is easily explained: thanks to a flawed presidential primary system that rewards strident rhetoric and hyper-partisanship, candidates tailor their messages to fringe elements in small, unrepresentative states. The result? A nasty, shallow and expensive process that rewards sound bites rather than solutions and gamesmanship instead of ideas. This year, however, we have witnessed a rare phenomenon in American politics. A candidate has emerged from the rough and tumble of the primaries with his dignity intact. The system has produced not a demagogue but a manager, a candidate whose experience is rooted in the pragmatism of the business world rather than the ideology of partisan politics.

That candidate is Mitt Romney.

Gov. Romney won the Republican Party’s nomination precisely because he is not an ideologue—and that is no small achievement. He persuaded enough Republican primary voters that the time has come to put aside dogma and inflexibility in favor of real-world solutions to the array of problems America faces at home and abroad.

Over the last few weeks, Mr. Romney has shown that he is a moderate to his core—he is a manager, and a listener, who believes he can restore the balance between the private and public sectors that has been a hallmark of the American economy.

The Observer endorses Mr. Romney’s candidacy and urges readers to support him.

The paper acknowledges its support of Obama four years ago, and says:

Four years ago, Barack Obama captured the imagination of many Americans with his thrilling message of change. Given the challenges confronting the president—two raging wars and an unprecedented global economic collapse—the desire for a quick fix was unrealistic.

America supported that candidate (as did this newspaper), but his presidency, so filled with promise and potential, has failed to deliver the change America needs.

I will not repeat the rest of ths editorial; you can follow this link to read it. But it is nice to see that some of Obama's erstwhile supporters have left his camp, even among the media.