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

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, September 16, 2011

Newt As GOP Opening Act

I happened to catch some of the exchanges on Fox News' 'The Five,' it's uneven replacement for the departed Glenn Beck program at 5pm, earlier this week, after the CNN GOP presidential debate.

The name of the program is a play on the time of day and the program's composition- five Fox News contributors. Former CNBC options program participant, now-rebranded Fox Business Channel personality Eric Bolling notionally chairs the group, which includes brainless and lone liberal Bob Beckel, former Bush press secretary Dana Perino, Greg Gutfield, and what seems to be a rotation of any of the following: Kimberly Guilfoyle, Andrew Napolitano, Monica Crowley and Andrea Tantaros.

When I saw it, Gutfield was discussing the one-liners exchanged during the debate. Several people gave Bachmann credit for her quick comeback to Rick Perry about what offended her about his HPV vaccination decision.

Gutfield focused on Gingrich and his wonderful retort when someone asked him about voters being scared by Romney's or Perry's remarks concerning Social Security, which was, paraphrased as closely as I can recall it,

'No, not when they're being scared by President Obama every day.'

But Gutfield went on to say that it's pretty clear that Gingrich has these things canned and ready to fire off when appropriate.

Since Gingrich has had so many campaign missteps, and ranks so low among the candidates in the polls, I thought perhaps he could be given the job of being the official GOP debate warm up comedian.

Before the debate, Newt could appear like a talk show host and give a 10-minute monologue. Like the late Johnny Carson or, now, Leno or Letterman, neither of whom I watch, Newt could work through a patter which noted recent Democratic political actions and gaffes, getting laughs as he verbalized zingers which embodied Tea Party and/or conservative viewpoints.

This way, we'd all benefit from hearing Gingrich's humor and wit, without actually worrying that someone might mistakenly elect him president.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another Bachmann Gaffe

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal noted another Michele Bachmann gaffe.

It seems that, after sparring with Rick Perry in the recent CNN GOP candidates' debate over HPV vaccinations, Bachmann made the rounds of the talk shows the next morning alleging that the vaccines could cause "mental retardation." The Journal article contended that there is absolutely no evidence to support this very irresponsible and outrageous accusation.

It's bad enough when a candidate's intensity gets in the way of her/his messages. But when Bachmann engages in loose talk about alleged side effects of a vaccine like the one for HPV, it's much, much worse.

Now Michele Bachmann is combining junk/nonexistent science with campaigning. As the Journal editorial pointed out, it would be a very bad thing if Bachmann's wrongheaded allegations cause parents who otherwise would have protected their children from HPV with the vaccine to change their minds and not do so.

It's reminiscent of the British hysteria over a vaccine thought to cause, I believe, autism. Later found to be a totally baseless allegation, as well.

So it seems there is now another reason why I would find it difficult to support Bachmann for president. Her campaigning is looking irresponsible and portrays her very much as not yet ready for prime time.

Wonderboy's Approach To Job Creation

I heard some of Wonderboy's latest jobs stump speech yesterday afternoon on Bloomberg. It was hilarious.

From the soundbite I caught, his understanding of how businesses create jobs amounted to this,

'....so business owners can get some more money in their pockets and say, hey, I can hire some more people.....'

Hahaha....if only!

What a simpleton the president shows himself to be.

Business owners don't make decisions about the future based on today's cash balances. They don't take near-term income as the basis for long-term investments in hiring or buying capital equipment.

No, those decisions are based on their projections of future sales and costs. Currently, it's looking like the US economy is re-entering a recessionary phase. And taxes for next year and after are highly uncertain. Thus, most business people who can, will defer investments in people or assets until the future becomes clearer and brighter.

But Wonderboy's wrong-headed, simplistic view of economics and business is what you get when you elect a lawyer who has never actually managed anything in his life.

Except, of course, his election campaigns.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

There May Be Hope For Truth On Social Security!

I was watching Fox News last night to see post-debate coverage of CNN's almost-unnoticed 'Tea Party' debate on Monday evening. I actually stumbled across it as it ran live, but mistakenly thought I'd found a rerun of MSNBC's GOP presidential debate of last week, so skipped on to other channels.

Never the less, the general sense of the pundits was that there are now too many fringe candidates in these debates, i.e., Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and probably Newt Gingrich, too. That the debates have evolved/degenerated into everyone beating up on Perry because he became the front-runner within a week of entering the race.

But something very interesting occurred on Sean Hannity's program last night.

Hannity often has pollster Frank Luntz air live focus group reactions to speeches or debates, then does Q&A with the group to ascertain their motivations and reasoning.

Last night, Luntz polled the group on their reaction to the Romney vs. Perry exchange concerning Social Security. Perry came out and bluntly called the program a Ponzi scheme. But, more tellingly, and a first, as far as I can tell, Perry described the program as, to paraphrase as closely as I can recall,

'An eighty-year old federal program that was badly designed.'

Now, Perry's allusion to SS becoming a state program makes no sense. It's not supposed to be a temporary social welfare service like unemployment or medicare. If you're going to have some national minimum pension assistance, it should be nationally-funded.

That said, Perry is the first candidate to my knowledge to begin to label it an old idea that should be scrapped because it was badly conceived and implemented. He said the purpose was necessary, but not this program.

Here's where it got interesting. Almost all of Luntz' focus group backed Perry and derided Romney as a phony. One guy actually aped Bill O'Reilly's body language lady, Tanya Reiman, noting how often Romney blinked, moves his hands on the podium and looked away when uttering Social Security-related platitudes which the audience said sounded like pandering to Democrats.

In general, they liked and applauded Perry's blunt and honest depiction of SS, while they loathed Romney's sucking up to Democrats and conventional wisdom, lying about the program's integrity.

Maybe there's hope yet for a total restructuring of SS from a general defined-benefit scheme with no limits, to an individual, account-based defined contribution program with payments from the federal government based on a one-year lagged fixed percentage of Treasury receipts. No COLAs or anything like that. The recipients share economic pain or rewards along with employed Americans who fund the program.

I know I'd never be elected on my views. Because, if it were up to me, the transition would be sudden and abrupt. Basically, anyone now drawing SS payments could continue on the program they entered. Everyone else, no matter how close they are to collecting payments, would be put into the new fixed-percentage, defined contribution account scheme.


The entire program was never a solvent concept. Time to just scrap it quickly and totally.

Rick Perry's Texas Economy

I've been thinking recently about the comments would-be detractors have made concerning Governor Rick Perry's state's economy.

We know from various reports that Texas has created more jobs than any other single state in the past several years. Perhaps even the decade- I forget. And, more than any one state, I believe over a period of years, Texas has created more jobs than all other states combined.

It sounds like a really good story.

Then Democrats and Mitt Romney weighed in to say that those are low-wage jobs. Wonderboy's education secretary said he pities Texas kids for having to settle for such poor schooling.

Romney, in a recent debate, reminded Perry and viewers that Texas is blessed with gas and oil. Assets for which Rick Perry can take no credit.

Separately, a Texas university economist, while a guest on Tom Keene's noontime Bloomberg program, described the state's social safety net as 'thin.' Jobless benefits are low and of short duration. State spending on social benefits are, on the whole, low by national standards. And, yes, he said the jobs were, on average, low-paying by national standards, as well.

So we are left with the image of a large state which has coped with an enormous net inflow of residents, made the most of its energy resources, kept taxes and spending low, allowing for job creation which has absorbed the bulk of those new residents.

My question is, regardless of what credit Rick Perry does, or does not take for the Texas economy and employment situation, can and does the US, as a nation, want the Texan solution?

If Rick Perry replaced Wonderboy in the Oval Office tomorrow, what would he do to ignite job growth? Cut unemployment benefits? Social Security? Other entitlement spending?

Mind you, personally, I'm all for that. But I'm not sure that's what voters in Massachusetts, Illinois, California and other solidly blue states are expecting.

It's not clear to me that Rick Perry's Texas is a role model for employment strategies that we want to implement nationwide. In fact, regardless of Texas' spending on social programs, we really can't afford Texas-style employment nationwide.

It's not Rick Perry's fault that Texas is not home to more high-value-added, high-paying jobs. Financial service firms aren't chock-a-block in Austin, Dallas or Houston. Nor are many other large, white-collar sector employers which pay high compensation for high-value work.

Which, I think, means that Rick Perry's policies for facilitating job growth in Texas may not really matter much to the rest of the US, unless we are ready to implement, almost immediately, the drastic reduction of federal entitlement programs of which many speak, but none, save Paul Ryan, have really dared describe in detail.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't vote for Rick Perry. But it does mean I'd be cautious about believing he can transfer much of what has worked economically for Texas to the federal level very soon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Holman Jenkins, Jr. Satirizes Wonderboy's Jobs Speech

Holman Jenkins, Jr., wrote this amusing editorial in last weekend's edition of the Wall Street Journal. While the alleged speech is unlikely to have actually been writtten, I agree with Jenkins that its sentiments are true. Thus, I thought it worthy of being reposted in its entirety.

An unreliable source provided this early draft of President Obama's speech to Congress last Thursday night:

Members of Congress, honored guests, my fellow Americans:

Jobs are the No. 1 priority of the American people. Jobs are the No. 1 priority of my administration's rhetoric. Jobs have not been the No. 1 priority of my administration's policies, however. Let me explain why.

A British statesman—I believe it was Harold Macmillan—was asked what he intended to do if elected prime minister. He answered, roughly, "Deal with matters that arise." That has not been my approach.

Elections have consequences. We mastered the use of slogans and imagery and won the presidency. Now the power is ours to choose our agenda, and we chose not to be distracted by matters that arise—say, the country's economic crisis. We chose instead to pursue the things that we know should be pursued.

These things are called shibboleths—badges of identity that signify us as "progressives" and entitle us to a sense of superiority. One is nationalization of health care, an emblem of our "caring."

One on which we've made less progress is the displacement of fossil fuels in favor of "green energy," at much higher cost. Accompanying this shibboleth are related shibboleths—about "energy independence," about "global warming"—that, like all shibboleths, are impervious to examination.

Another is union power—labor is good, management is bad. I could go on. These shibboleths are so important that, as you will have seen by now, we will not allow them to be impeded or delayed by matters that merely arise, such as the public's crying need for jobs. So we have blocked drilling for fossil fuels in as many places as possible, protecting Americans from the jobs that would be created.

So we have sacrificed jobs in order to punish Boeing for building a plant in South Carolina that would employ nonunion workers.

So we enacted a health-care plan whose unimaginable complexity and cost can only weigh negatively on every private-sector employer.

I have chosen to pursue this agenda, notwithstanding its untimeliness in the face of matters that have arisen (i.e., the economic crisis), in part because I'm comfortable with it.

Consider my background. I don't know much about business and, frankly, don't care to. You see, I have a self-reinforcing image of Barack Obama. I am high-minded. Business people are greedy and, somehow, lesser. I stay focused on that.

Some might say, "Had I known this I never would have voted for you." A) You weren't listening carefully; and B) that was my intention, my art. To conceal—for instance, by dropping one's Gs—is what it means to be an effective left-wing ideologue in America these days.

I am not anti-business. I get a supreme sense of satisfaction when business leaders approach me and, in a deferential manner, ask for subsidies and regulatory favors that will determine whether their companies succeed or fail. Like solar subsidies. This is the kind of job creation I'm interested in.

My administration has taken flak because of our "investment" of tax dollars in a solar company that last week filed for bankruptcy. Don't be misled. If such companies were profitable and could survive without subsidies, they would not be fit objects of government charity, nor would their leaders approach me with a deferential mien.

Their dependency is what makes them loyal constituents, generous with a campaign donation, willing to go on CNBC and praise our policies. You can always count on me for job creation when it means taking money from independent businesses, those that are answering the call of the marketplace, and giving it to dependent businesses, those that are answering the call of government.

In closing, let us recognize that an election is approaching. The time is upon us when my administration must ratchet up its rhetoric to make it sound like your agenda (jobs, growth) is my agenda.

Indeed, I will begin tonight by junking the more revealing passages of this draft speech and pretending that I place a higher value on job-creating pragmatism than on my progressive shibboleths.

This, I hope, will cause you to re-elect me. Thank you for listening.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wonderboy's Rose Garden Speech This Morning

If you happened to catch Wonderboy's Rose Garden appearance this morning to formally send his jobs bill to Congress, you saw vintage campaigning. As well as the man's continuing tin ear/eye when it comes to what concerns the bulk of the nation's voters.

I, of course, turned the volume off. But I saw and heard enough to understand that this morning's carefully-staged event was classic Wonderboy.

He again urged, in contravention of the separation of powers, that Congress simply rubber stamp his bill, with no debate nor changes.

But the visuals were the clue as to how the First Rookie continues to view his mission. Behind him were arrayed, in uniform, all manner of public sector union employees- teachers, firemen, police, etc. The message being, you in the states don't have the right to decide whether to keep or dismiss public union employees. Or to choose to borrow to continue to fund them.

No, the federal government will unilaterally borrow the money for you, then give it to you, provided you continue to employ these public sector union personnel.

Meanwhile, the other spending in his jobs bill is essentially for other union members- those in the construction trades. And at high, Davis-Bacon Act rates, mind you. So you, the taxpayer, will pay the highest amount of money possible to construction workers, thus getting the smallest amount of value for the road, bridges, sewer systems, etc., built with your borrowed dollars.

Wonderboy clearly doesn't care what most voters think of his explicit bias toward union members. Or that he's demanding a second...or third...fourth....how many now?....round of stimulus spending to transfer your tax dollars to favored public and private sector union members.

Interesting how totally insensitive he is to the lesson of last November and the basic complaints of Tea Party members and their kindred voters- that the federal government usurps too much power and money.

Judging by his bill, and his little visual display in the Rose Garden this morning, the First Rookie clearly doesn't care what the bulk of America's voters think of his prejudices.