“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, July 1, 2011

Glenn Beck's Next Act

You have to hand it to Glenn Beck- he's more farsighted than even Ophrah Winfrey.

The talk show host who William F. Buckley used to describe as "that woman who is large, gets thin, then large again," recently created her own cable network, leaving one of the major broadcasters poorer as she consolidated her financial resources.

But, listening to the after-show hour-long infomercial on GBTV last night, I think Beck went her one better.

I'll probably write a longer post about this on my business blog in the next week or so. Over the past few years, I've argued in several posts (which I don't have time to find and link this morning) there that there's no reason for a well-known, talented person like, say, Larry David, to run his new programs on cable television. By using YouTube, his own funds, bank loans, a website and PayPal, he could easily self-distribute his next project and keep all the distribution fees.

Glenn Beck is doing just that.

He evidently became clued in a year or so ago when an interviewer asked when Beck would just move to the web?

Well, Beck told everyone to go to his website to see where he's going. The website announced GBTV. When you clicked on the button, it brought you to a page on which the paid membership options were presented, along with a one-hour infomercial describing Beck's new array of businesses- publishing, clothing, news, opinion, and more.

His streaming website is available on all platforms, with the display technology managed, literally, by the same outfit that does it for MLB.

I saw something like this peaking through Beck's various initiatives of the past few years. A sort of combination of John Doe clubs, new media and the web.

Beck will now stream his record-shattering 5-6PM Fox News program format from his own website from 5-7PM. The rest of the day will feature other programs with varying formats. He's bringing a clothing line out which will be produced in selected down-at-the-heels American towns. For that, he's borrowing a page from Paul Newman's businesses and using the proceeds as charity to fund some of his other activities.

I think in some sense, Beck decided to regain total control of his empire, originally centered on his radio program, and become less-dependent upon advertisers and network foibles. This will coincidentally allow Beck to become a sprawling, many-tentacled conservative counterweight to his liberal nemesis, mega-rich progressive George Soros.

More later on this topic.....

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Michele Bachmann's Challenge

I've watched Michele Bachmann's rise in the GOP presidential polls with great interest since writing about her candidacy a few weeks ago.

In that post, I wrote,

"Make no mistake- I believe Bachman is motivated, smart, well-educated as she has seen a need for her various political/legislative positions.

I think that, in terms of values and overall conservative disposition, she'd make a great president. But the job is, above and beyond the inevitable crises and presidential initiatives, a very large and potentially-overwhelming executive job. And I'm just not sure Bachman is up to that.

We've got one inexperienced failure in the Oval Office right now.

How does Bachman poll with independents, versus, say, Pawlenty?

Plus, Bachman keeps focusing like a laser on making 2012 a presidential election focused on the economy. If she can succeed with that, and it's clearly any GOP candidate's strongest topic, she might well make voters forget about her lack of executive experience, which matches Wonderboy's weakness, and, instead, vote for her more sensible economic policies.

So I'd move Bachman to preferable, but I'm uncertain on her electability as yet. A strong showing among independents would change my mind."

I haven't seen polls showing Bachmann's standing relative to other GOP candidates among independents, but it's remarkable how she seems to have already elbowed Pawlenty aside in Iowa. According to polls I've seen and heard referenced on Fox News, Bachmann is already about even or ahead of Romney.

On reflection, I remain comfortable with Bachmann in the Oval Office. But to get there, I believe her challenge is to make the primaries and general election about issues, not experience.

Specifically, about fidelity to the Constitution, private sector vitality and spending cuts. These don't actually require executive experience, so much as perseverance to principles and determination to use the powers of the office to drive needed change in the federal government.

In my view, Bachmann's personal and professional lives prior to her political career featured far more significant accomplishments than Wonderboy's did. So it's not like she spent her young adult life carefully scrubbing her track record to run for the Oval Office.

But, in the final analysis, to beat Romney and other former GOP governors, then the First Rookie, she'll have to change the game from experience to values and issues.

From what I've seen so far, I think she could do that. She has energy and a passion that might help her overcome Romney's financial advantage. For that matter, Romney spent considerable money last time and lost the nomination on issues. I think, given the ball and chain on his leg that is Massachusetts' RomneyCare, I think that could happen again, should Bachmann manage to stay focused on the topics that matter for her candidacy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Karl Rove On Wonderboy's 2012 Re-election Prospects

Karl Rove wrote a fine piece in his Wall Street Journal column last week concerning Wonderboy's standing with various demographic groups, relative to his 2008 numbers. Rove's contention is that the relatively slim 6% margin of victory may be easily overwhelmed by the cumulative effects of Wonderboy's poll numbers among various voting segments- minorities, women, income, age groups, etc.

I think Rove is correct. Being a national political figure, Rove isn't really in a position to write something which I suspect he believes, but can't publicly express. But I can.

I believe many white independent moderates and slightly-liberal or moderate Republicans, especially those with college educations or more and above-average incomes and/or wealth voted for the Junior Illinois Senator out of guilt and a misplaced sense of the importance of imagery.

Given the chance to vote for a black (Democratic) candidate who wasn't Shirley Chisolm (the true first black presidential candidate), nor Jesse Jackson, those whites jumped at the chance for personal and group cleansing of their presumably-inherited racial guilt for past American enslavement of blacks.

After all, as Joe Biden said of Wonderboy, he speaks well and he's "so clean." Yes, the president dresses well, cracks jokes and appears hip and cool.

In opposition, a cranky John McCain ran one of the worst presidential campaigns in memory. Unlike the voluble, energetic challenger to George W. Bush of 2000, the 2008 vintage McCain reminded you of your ornery grandfather. Then there was that stupid campaign suspension to run back to Washington during the financial crisis. Until then, he was actually slightly ahead in the polls.

Between Wonderboy's counting on nearly every black vote, which wasn't seen by the media as racist, as it would be for a white to get all the white votes, the guilt felt by educated, wealthy whites, and McCain's personality and campaign mistakes, it's a wonder that the margin of victory for the First Rookie was only 6%.

I don't know the numbers- Rove would- but I believe that a good deal more than 6% of the electorate will be whites that won't need to feel that guilt anymore, and from whom the magical Obama pixie dust of 2008 has been shed.

Without the need to vote for the first seemingly-presidential-looking and -acting black, these whites, who may comprise as much as 10-15% of the voting electorate, are more likely to back any credible opponent of the current Oval Office occupant's who has presided over a worsening economy and unemployment numbers.

Race and racially-based voting isn't something your average, high-profile professional political handler or operative can risk discussing in public media venues. But any thinking person who follows politics knows it exists, that it affected the outcome of the 2008 election, and that it's absence in 2012 could well be enough, on its own, to doom Wonderboy's bid to become a two-term president.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Debt Limit Talks

For me, the best line of the entire debt limit situation came last week when former Senator, now presidential candidate Rick Santorum, replied to a question from Glenn Beck about the Biden-led talks, to paraphrase,

'If Joe Biden's involved, then you know they're going to fail.'

I notice that all of the CNBC coverage involves earnest-sounding liberal Democrats claiming,

'There has to be compromise. Sure, we'll cut spending. But the Republicans refuse to raise revenues. They have to agree to more taxes- it's only fair.'


How about this- the Democrats and Republicans have been spending far above the long-term federal tax/GDP rate of 18% for decades. No matter what the tax rates, only about 18% of GDP will find its way to federal coffers.

The only real issue now remaining, as global investors begin to doubt America's government's ability to ever live within its means, is to cut spending.

Wasting time on tax hikes or new taxes will only distort and affect consumer behavior to once more lower tax collections to 18% of GDP.

Democrats don't seem to be able, or want to, acknowledge that tax policy is not arithmetic in a static environment, but government policy which provokes changes in consumer and investor behaviors which lower tax collections back to a surprisingly stable long-term rate of 18% of GDP.

Are the Congressional Democrats- and Wonderboy- really so blind and stupid as to not understand this?

I think some are, and the others are simply choosing not to acknowledge, hoping to just keep raising taxes at every opportunity. The liberal mainstream media backs this play by pretending that 'it's only fair' to raise taxes if spending is being cut, ignoring decades of spending excess by both parties. It's a very Russian negotiating tactic- what's yours is on the table, but what's mine is not, ergo, grudgingly giving way on spending cuts, but only if taxes are raised.

Personally, I am at the point where I am okay with no debt limit raise if the Democrats don't agree to spending cuts in excess of the raise within the next year or two.

Economist John B. Taylor offered an excellent compromise solution on Tom Keene's noontime Bloomberg program yesterday. Taylor suggested that Republicans extract half of the $6-7T in required spending cuts this time around, then go for the remaining $3T next year, with no tax hikes ever mentioned.

Sounds good to me.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Kim Strassel On GOP War Powers & Libya

I typically find Kim Strassel's editorials in the Wall Street Journal to be on the mark. But her recent piece about House Republicans and Libya, entitled The GOP's War Powers Opportunism, was quite wide of that mark.

Echoed by today's third Journal staff editorial, Strassel basically blames House GOP members for failing to support Wonderboy's ill-conceived and poorly-explained Libyan adventures, labeling this opportunistic.

I disagree.

What Strassel and others at the Journal fail to appreciate or acknowledge is that we don't really know who we're backing against Gadhafi. Back in March, I had lunch with an old friend who is culturally and hereditarily, but not religiously, Jewish. Even he backed Gadhafi against more extreme Arab fundamentalist rebels, suggesting we ask the Libyian dictator what he needed to kill the Muslim extremist seeking to overthrow him.

In occasional moments of lucidity, Strassel and the Journal staff admit that Wonderboy offered no compelling reason to risk American lives and money in Libya, then compounded that by saying NATO is running the show and, finally, we aren't really in combat.

This isn't about War Powers procedure anymore, but a serious lack of understanding of who we are backing if we oppose Gadhafi. It's no longer enough to say we want him out. What if the result is a rabidly-fundamentalist so-called democracy that wants Israel wiped off the map?

Until House members are provided more certain information assuring them that backing the Libyan rebels isn't going to create a Libyan Muslim fundamentalist, anti-American state, there's no harm or shame in simply stepping back and being neutral.

It's a fact that Wonderboy's administration chose to stick it's thumb in the GOP-held House's eye by failing to play along by the War Powers Act rules while insisting it need not, because the Act is unconstitutional. Instead, Wonderboy just flipped Congress the bird and went ahead without even attempting to build a consensus behind its policies and actions in Libya.

I don't think the House GOP is being cowardly nor opportunistic on Libya. Rather, they are behaving prudently in the face of a failure of leadership from the Oval Office, even as troops and money are squandered overseas without explanation.