All posts in General

Some good points about the risk of Condi as VP

From National Review.

A history lesson on fiscal deleveraging

From Nathan Sheets at Citi, courtesy of Zero Hedge:

In the years after World War II, the United States achieved a dramatic reduction in the level of the federal government’s debt. The costs of financing the military had pushed the debt up sharply, from around 40 percent of GDP before the War to a peak of nearly 110 percent of GDP as the War ended. But a combination of strong economic growth and remarkably disciplined fiscal policies, as well as elements of socalled financial repression, brought the debt below 50 percent of GDP by the late 1950s. This remarkable episode provides some important perspectives for us today as the debt is again on a high and rising trajectory.

The sharp decline in the public debt after World War II was driven by several factors. The first was a highly disciplined fiscal policy. During this period, a strong social and political consensus prevailed in favor of budgetary restraint and debt reduction. The government’s budget registered sizable surpluses in the late 1940s as military efforts were wound down, and then cycled near balance through the following decade. Notably, government outlays moved up some during the years of the Korean War, but this increase was matched by revenue measures, which allowed the military spending to be financed without additional debt issuance. Read more…

A victory of substance over form: Why I’m on board with Condi

The most disgusting part of politics has to be the deceit and disingenuousness that permeate seemingly every part of it.  The stench is especially unbearable when the media fans it while professing impartiality and exuding condescending self regard for its assumed role in our national affairs.

Every once in a while, though, the vapid bleating of the media elite runs into a person who is not only armed with blunt facts but who is also willing to contradict one of the herd’s carefully manicured cliches.  Katie Couric, meet Condi Rice.  In the following interview, Couric does her best to intimidate Ms. Rice with an “everybody knows” assumption which she covers in the silky and smooth-from-training comforter of condescension, fully expecting Ms. Rice to keep nodding and just go along, but FULL STOP.  Come again?

Of course, it’s not long before Rice has know-nothing Couric on her heels, and yet she manages to accomplish this feat in a disarming and inoffensive way.

I don’t know if Romney can bring her in but I’m all for a Romney-Rice ticket if he can.  Watch:


The Daily Show on the Economy

Link from Zero Hedge.

A Krugman takedown

Must read/watch this Krugman beatdown.

Classic that it comes at the hands of a lowly Spaniard, who reminds us of the utter nonsense that is Krugman economics. So let me get this straight, we’re going to get out of this mess (defined as too much government spending and suffocating debt) by taking on more debt and spending more… I see.

But rest assured the former Enron advisor still has the ear of the president.

The goose is cooked and it ain’t even Christmas!

I wish I were as flat out optimistic about Romney (and Obama’s chances of reelection) as our good friend Larry Kudlow. But I’m with him and I’m all in for Romney so let’s drink up the kool aid and get this party started. Time for some strong animal spirits for a change.

Read Kudlow on Obama’s goose.

Obama’s sacred stimulus has failed

From Tyler Durden of ZeroHedge, quoting AEI, on the recent jobs data:

This was not the employment report either the American worker or the Obama campaign wanted to see right now. The Labor Department said the U.S. economy created just 80,000 jobs in June, less than the 90,000 economists had been forecasting. And private-sector job growth was just 84,000, down sharply from 105,000 in May. Not doing fine.

The unemployment rate stayed at a lofty 8.2%.

This continues to be the longest streak — 41 months — of unemployment of 8% or higher since the Great Depression. And recall that back in 2009, Team Obama predicted that if Congress passed its $800 billion stimulus plan, the unemployment rate would be around 5.6% today.

– If the size of the U.S. labor force as a share of the total population was the same as it was when Barack Obama took office—65.7% then vs. 63.8% today—the U-3 unemployment rate would be 10.9%. Even if you take into account that the LFP should be declining as America ages,theunemployment rate would be 10.5%.

– The broader U-6 unemployment rate, which includes “all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons,”  is 14.9%, up a bit from May.

– The average duration of unemployment ticked up to 39.9 weeks.

And the chart that dismantles Obama’s stimulus:

Here’s the link.

What the president does and doesn’t understand

Contrary to some reports that the president just doesn’t understand certain things (e.g., outsourcing v offshoring per National Review), I think he understands some of those things quite well.  And I would venture that if we conservatives do not appreciate this fact we do so at our grave peril.  I believe, for example, that Obama knows perfectly well what the difference is between outsourcing and offshoring, but he has chosen to deliberately mislead folks who don’t know the difference because he thinks he can score some easy points at Romney’s expense.  He probably can.  But let’s call it for what it is.

I think it’s a different story on jobs.  I’ve advised folks for many years who may be competent in many areas but really don’t understand finance or the basic principles of money and the economy.  These folks rely on intuition, emotion, headline news and other people for their opinions.  The president of course has access to endless amounts of information about the economy and financial matters, but at heart it’s all academic for him since he’s never worked for an actual company that gauges its success from its balance sheet and income statement.  A company is the atomic particle that, together with other particles, makes up the organism that is our economy.  And it is clear from his words that our president doesn’t understand some of the most fundamental principles that give life to this being.

Obama’s response to the latest jobs data is just one more example of his fog on the issue.  He calls the non-growth in jobs a “step in the right direction.”  Come again?

Of course I think part of that is the typical Obama political deceit (anyone remember the growth we were supposed to get from the stimulus (and that small issue of the nation’s debt topping 100% of GDP about 10 years earlier than planned)?). But the other side of that coin is that when it comes to economic issues he really has no idea what he’s talking about, which is why so much of what he says lacks any ballast.

Oh yeah, and by the way, the jobs report is worse than you think or he’s willing to admit.

Whaaaat? You mean Obama’s a hypocrite?!

It only makes it worse when you consider the most visceral hatred for Bush came from the compassionate liberals so horrified at the mistreatment of criminals in the War on Terror.  Of course, it was never really about that.

In a city full of them, Harold Koh is Washington’s biggest hypocrite.

As the dean of Yale Law School, Koh was the most prominent critic of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies, deriding them as “executive muscle-flexing.” The former President, Koh said, was the “torturer-in-chief.” In a 2002 interview with The New York Times, he referred to the war on terror as “legally undeclared” and questioned the administration’s right to kill terrorists on the battlefield. “What factual showing will demonstrate that they had warlike intentions against us and who sees that evidence before any action is taken?” he asked.

In 2009, after the election of Barack Obama, Koh was awarded the job of State Department legal adviser. Since that time, he has defended a war waged in Libya without explicit congressional authorization, drone strikes targeting suspected terrorists and the extrajudicial assassination of an American citizen who had become a leading Al Qaeda ideologist.

None of these, however, can be considered the greatest of Koh’s manifold hypocrisies. That honor stems from a 2010 speech in which he triumphantly declared that the Obama administration “unequivocally guarantee(s) humane treatment for all individuals in U.S. custody as a result of armed conflict” (emphasis original).

One wonders, then, what Koh would make of Eli Lake’s blockbuster Daily Beast story last week. Reporting from Somalia, Lake found a secret prison holding alleged terrorists captured by, or with the assistance of, the United States.

“Overcrowded, underfunded, and reeking of urine, the Bosaso Central Prison could make even the most dedicated insurgent regret ever getting into the terrorism business,” Lake wrote. The prison’s warden told Lake that nearly 400 men are being held in a facility designed for 300. There today exist an untold number of such prisons where terrorism suspects, dispensed with by the United States, live in substandard, dehumanizing conditions.

The proliferation of such hellish prisons — which make Guantanamo Bay look like Trump Tower — is a function of two, seemingly contradictory impulses of the Obama administration: a near-religious conviction in its own moral immaculateness and the imperative to wage an aggressive fight against Al Qaeda.

Is the Socialization of America Economically Impossible?

Brandon Smith at Alt-Market has written a very interesting piece that is turning up across the web.  His bottom line is that socialism is bankrupt as a system and the United States is already insolvent.

Unfortunately I don’t agree that Obamacare couldn’t be implemented or that we couldn’t as a country go a lot farther down the road towards socialism.  To buy into the argument as a practical matter is to invite a lot of pain on the belief that purity of reason always prevails.  In fact it rarely does, and it certainly does not in the short run.

That said, I would encourage you to read his article.  His premise is spot on and his conclusions are logical and, apart from the timing component, mostly correct.  Smith:

I understand the dream of the common socialist.  I was, after all, once a Democrat.  I understand the disparity created in our society by corporatism (not capitalism, though some foolish socialists see them as exactly the same).  I understand the drive and the desire to help other human beings, especially those in dire need, and the tendency to see government as the ultimate solution to all our problems.  That said, let’s be honest; government is in the end just a tool used by one group or another to implement a particular methodology or set of principles.  Unfortunately, what most socialists today don’t seem to understand is that no matter what strategies they devise, they will NEVER have control.  And, those they wish to help will be led to suffer, because the establishment does not care about them, or you.  The establishment does not think of what it can give, it thinks about what it can take.  Socialism, in the minds of the elites, is a con-game which allows them to quarry the favor of the serfs, and nothing more.

There are other powers at work in this world; powers that have the ability to play both sides of the political spectrum.  The money elite have been wielding the false left/right paradigm for centuries, and to great effect.  Whether socialism or corporatism prevails, they are the final victors, and the game continues onward…

Knowing this fact, I find that my reactions to the entire Obamacare debate rather muddled.  Really, I see the whole event as a kind of circus, a mirage, a distraction.  Perhaps it is because I am first and foremost an economic analyst, and when looking at Obamacare and socialization in general, I see no tangibility.  I see no threat beyond what we as Americans already face.  Let me explain…

Socialism Is Failure
A country that feels the need to socialize has, in my view, already failed culturally.  Read more…

Anyone but Obama, thy name is Mitt

Mitt Romney is making it hard to get behind him.  But we have no choice.  I will enthusiastically vote for Romney in November, at this point because Obama holds the gun that is pointed at our collective head.  Unfortunately he appears to be a tone deaf simple politician who lacks understanding when it comes to the great issue of our time, namely, freedom.  But he’s all we’ve got and he’s far far better than the alternative.

And who knows.  Maybe he’ll eventually rise to the occasion.

Here’s a piece from Powerline on the topic:

When the Mitt doesn’t fit

Romney campaign strategist Eric Fehrnstrom appeared on MSNBC yesterday (video clip below). What is a top Romney campaign adviser doing on MSNBC? Nothing good, as it turns out.

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd extracted Fehrnstrom’s concurrence with Obama that Obamacare’s mandate is not a tax. Taking Fehrnstrom as Romney’s spokesman, we can conclude that Romney begs to differ with Obama’s lawyers (i.e., Obama in court) and with the Supreme Court: it’s not a tax.

What can we learn from this? I offer a multiple choice question.

(a) Romney is not the ideal candidate to don the mantle of opposition to Obamacare.

(b) Romney’s political instincts are lacking on a key campaign issue.

(c) Romney’s campaign requires an overhaul.

(d) Romney isn’t much of a Power Line reader.

(e) All of the above.


What we should really be upset about

Obama’s Systematic Assault on the Truth

| @Peter_Wehner 07.02.2012 – 9:19 AM

The Democratic talking points have been issued and are being followed to the letter (see here and here). And they go like this: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not a tax; it’s a penalty. Those who suggests it’s a tax are wrong, in error, disingenuous, and dissemblers.

Here’s the problem, though: characterizing the Affordable Care Act as a tax isn’t simply the interpretation of Chief Justice John Roberts and a majority of the Supreme Court; it’s the interpretation of the Obama administration.

As this story put it:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the Court had a duty to uphold an act of Congress if there was a constitutional basis for doing so. And the basis he seized on was the fallback argument [Solicitor General Donald] Verrilli included in the briefs—that the Constitution gives Congress a broad power to impose taxes to “provide for the general welfare.”

The government’s legal brief said the insurance mandate operates in practice as a tax law. No one would be prosecuted or punished for not having insurance. If they had taxable income, however, they would be forced to pay a small tax penalty.

The chief justice agreed with this argument, and so did the four liberal justices. Though Congress may not “order” people to buy insurance, Roberts held in the 5-4 decision, it may impose a small tax on those who refuse.

The Affordable Care Act, then, was upheld as constitutional based on the tax argument put forward by President Obama’s legal team. And yet the Obama administration is now insisting the Affordable Care Act never was a tax, is not now a tax, and shall never be a tax.

This is yet another example of how Barack Obama is a thoroughly post-modern president. Words and facts have no objective standing; they are relative, socially constructed, a way to advance personal reality. If referring to the Affordable Care Act as a tax helps advance the Obama agenda, then it’s a tax. If referring to the ACA as a penalty helps advance the Obama agenda, it becomes a penalty.

You like tomato and I like tomahto.

That philosophy may be fine for liberal arts professors and even tolerable among community organizers. But when the president of the United States systematically assaults truth—if words mean whatever you want them to mean—it becomes rather more problematic. Yet that is precisely where the United States finds itself in the summer of 2012.

From Commentary.