Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: September 2011


Economic Statistics for 28 Sep 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Last week, mortgage rates dropped, and the Fed announced a switch to longer term treasuries. This sparked a rush of refinancing, as well as new mortgage applications. The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that mortgage applications rose by 9.3%, led by a 11.2% rise in re-fis, and a 2.1% increase in purchases.

Durable goods order fell –0.1% last month, both overall and ex-transportation,  though they were still 12.3% higher than last year.

~
Dale Franks
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Green jobs? At $23 million a pop?

How many times have we said the government shouldn’t be involved economically in picking winners and losers?  And how many times have we seen examples of the government doing precisely that and the program ending up a disaster.

Solyndra, for instance.   But political agendas rarely yield to the laws of economics so it is fairly easy to predict how they’ll end.   The Obama administration’s “green jobs” agenda – again see Solyndra for the latest prime example – is a consummate failure.  And a look at where that agenda is headed serves as an example of why what has been said right here (and many other places) continues to be true.

But in case you’ve missed it or are inclined to wave off what we might say here, here’s a guy from CATO:

Jerry Taylor, senior policy analyst for the free-market Cato Institute, says the whole program shows that the federal government should not be picking private-sector winners and losers.

"It’s a lot of money for very few jobs if you do the math," Taylor said. "If nobody in the private sector is willing to invest their capital, that’s a pretty good signal."

What is he talking about?  Take a look at the chart.

Yes, those are Department of Energy numbers for the number of jobs that will be created for $6.5 billion in loan guarantees for the 9 companies in question.  That’s right, $6.5 billion in guarantees will create 283 permanent jobs.   That’s $23 million of your dollars (or borrowed money) per job.

Where’s the private investment?  Why are these companies having to seek federal loan guarantees so they can get loans?  If they’re viable, as Jerry Taylor points out, the private sector should be willing to invest in them.

Why aren’t they?

In fact, why, given that it appears the private sector is not willing to do so, is the DoE even considering these loans?

Because there’s an agenda at stake here.   This isn’t about market viability or sound economics, it’s about trying to save an agenda that promised 5 million green jobs, remember. 

And this is what you get.   A failed Solyndra and 9 companies the private sector won’t invest in which may create 283 jobs.  May.  Government estimates about programs it supports have never been known to be overly optimistic, have they?

$23 million a pop for 283 jobs that may or may not materialize. 

The fact that they’re even considering these loan guarantees tells you all you really need to know about how clueless they are. 

And there are people that still wonder why there is a growing body of us out here wanting smaller, less costly and less intrusive government that binds itself to the limits of the Constitution?

Really?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Obama: Likeable but incompetent?

One of the enduring truths about national political elections in the US is you can’t win with just the support of your party base.  There just aren’t enough of them. Roughly 30% on the left consider themselves to be Democrats and about the same on the right call themselves Republicans.  Even if a candidate got every vote, he or she is going to be shy of the majority needed to win the office.   So another enduring truth is you must win the independent vote – that big, supposedly moderate 40% in the middle – to win an election.  That’s why you hear people talk about politicians “running to the middle”. 

So when you’re looking at a presidential race or polling, the most interesting demographic are the “independents”, because where ever they’re going or whatever they’re saying is likely to determine the election.

Since early last year, that demographic has been increasingly deserting the Democrats in general and Barack Obama specifically.  To put it succinctly, they’re not at all happy with the condition of the country, it’s direction or his policies even while many of them find Obama to still be likeable.

In 2008, Obama carried independents by a decisive 52% to 44% margin and took 30 states. In 2004, John Kerry narrowly won independents over George Bush 49% to 48%, reversing Bush’s 47% to 45% win against Al Gore in 2000.

In only nine of the last 32 months has the IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership index been above 50, and the positive months were all in 2009. Since January 2010, the index has stayed in the negative territory (below 50). The averages were 57.5, 44.2 and 44.6 for 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Independents also believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. Only 19% of them are satisfied with America’s direction and 80% are not satisfied.

But will likeable be enough in 2012?  Not likely.

An overwhelming share of independents (74%) like Obama personally, and 59% believe he has the vision to be president. A similar share (58%) also believe the president cares about the needs of people like them, and 59% think he’s worked hard to bring about change compared with 40% who say that he has mostly talked about it.

On the other hand, 62% disapprove of his policies, and by 63% to 35% they think he lacks the experience to be an effective president. A majority of independents (51%) do not believe that he is someone they would be proud to have as president; only 42% would be proud.

Reality is a stark reminder that performance, not rhetoric  is what counts.  And likeability will only carry you so far. Good intentions are laudable but only if they lead to solid results.  Also of note is most people are willing to give a politician a chance to accomplish things and are even appreciative of hard work and that the politician “cares”.  But the bottom line is that only results get someone re-elected.  To this point, Obama simply hasn’t provided those.  Independents may like him for the most part, but his job performance has not impressed the majority:

Only 15% give Obama an A or B for his handling of the economy, 16% give him good grades for managing the federal budget, and just 12% see him favorably for creating jobs and economic growth.

These low grades more than cancel out Obama’s non-economic successes, including the killing of Osama bin Laden. Nearly eight in 10 (79%) independents say his handling of the economy weighs more in their minds than getting the al-Qaida leader and mastermind of 9/11 (11%).

Funny and ironic … in his run for the presidency, his lack of a resume was probably his biggest strength.  What was to criticize?  What was there to assess?  He sounded great.

Now, on the other side of winning the presidency, he has to finally run on his record.   And, given this poll’s results, it isn’t a good one.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Obama fundraising down?

Drudge sent out an alert highlighting this story buried deep in a NY Times piece about a “more sociable Obama”.  It talks about the fund raising effort for the Obama campaign in this quarter:

Mr. Obama had planned a West Coast swing during the summer, campaign officials said, but it was scrapped because of the talks to raise the federal debt ceiling. Several other fund-raising trips were also canceled in the 60 days that the president was hunkered down in Washington.

That has left the campaign behind where it wanted to be in fund-raising. The campaign manager, Jim Messina, told Democratic Party officials recently that the campaign expected to raise $55 million in the third quarter, compared with $86 million in the previous quarter.

The excuse offered, of course, is that Obama was in DC doing his job and thus couldn’t be fund raising.  But wasn’t his strength the last time the $5 and $10 dollar online effort?  What’s up with that?

They were once among President Obama’s most loyal supporters and a potent symbol of his political brand: voters of moderate means who dug deep for the candidate and his message of hope and change, sending him $10 or $25 or $50 every few weeks or months.

But in recent months, the frustration and disillusionment that have dragged down Mr. Obama’s approval ratings have crept into the ranks of his vaunted small-donor army, underscoring the challenges he faces as he seeks to rekindle grass-roots enthusiasm for his re-election bid.

In interviews with dozens of low-dollar contributors in the past two weeks, some said they were unhappy with what they viewed as Mr. Obama’s overly conciliatory approach to Congressional Republicans. Others cited what they saw as a lack of passion in the president, or said the sour economy had drained both their enthusiasm and their pocketbooks.

For still others, high hopes that Mr. Obama would deliver a new kind of politics in his first term have been dashed by the emergence of something that, to them, more resembles politics as usual.

Oh.

Don’t you just hate it when the little people look behind the curtain?

Keith Koffler has a theory:

This helps explain the vitriol Obama has been dumping out on the campaign trail. He needs to get people motivated to send him their money, and if he can get the hating thing going – hate Republicans, hate the rich, hate EVERYONE – maybe they’ll part with some cash.

The old class warfare gambit.  Wow … how original.

In recent weeks we’ve seen stories about how blacks were less enthusiastic about him, Hollywood was giving him the cold shoulder and his numbers across the board were in free fall.   The drop in fundraising is the unsurprising “other shoe” in that sort of a scenario.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Economic Statistics for 27 Sep 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

ICSC Goldman reports retail sales slowed for the 2nd consecutive week, down 0.2% for the week, with the year-on-year rate down to 2.7%. Meanwhile, Redbook reports slightly below trend retail sales growth of 4.2%.

The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index held steady for the last week, with no change in prices from last month, on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Year-over-year, however, the price index is down -4.1%.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index, despite a rough couple of weeks, shows a boost in confidence to 89.9 from August’s revised 88.1.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index shows the third consecutive drop to -6 from last month’s -10, as manufacturing in the Richmond Fed’s district continues to contract.

The Consumer Confidence Index rose to 45.4 from 44.5 last month. Despite this, consumers report deteriorating current conditions, which bodes ill for the September employment report. On the other hand, the 6-month outlook rose, while inflation expectations fell, bringing the overall index higher.

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Dale Franks
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New information reveals ATF sold guns directly to Mexican drug cartels

Information about Operation Fast and Furious – the US government run gun running operation that turned over thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels – is coming fast and furious now.  The newest revelation:

Not only did U.S. officials approve, allow and assist in the sale of more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa cartel — the federal government used taxpayer money to buy semi-automatic weapons, sold them to criminals and then watched as the guns disappeared.

This disclosure, revealed in documents obtained by Fox News, could undermine the Department of Justice’s previous defense that Operation Fast and Furious was a "botched" operation where agents simply "lost track" of weapons as they were transferred from one illegal buyer to another. Instead, it heightens the culpability of the federal government as Mexico, according to sources, has opened two criminal investigations into the operation that flooded their country with illegal weapons.

Yes, it’s not just about allowing drug cartel members to buy guns from US dealers and move them into Mexico, apparently the ATF also bought guns and resold them to the drug cartels with the same result.  Or said another way, they used your money to actively participate in this bone-headed plan and sure enough, got the expected results.  But then they lost track of the weapons – on purpose.

Apparently there was a little office politics involved in the stupidity:

In June 2010, however, the ATF dramatically upped the ante, making the U.S. government the actual "seller" of guns.

According to documents obtained by Fox News, Agent John Dodson was ordered to buy six semi-automatic Draco pistols — two of those were purchased at the Lone Wolf gun store in Peoria, Ariz. An unusual sale, Dodson was sent to the store with a letter of approval from David Voth, an ATF group supervisor.

Dodson then sold the weapons to known illegal buyers, while fellow agents watched from their cars nearby.

This was not a "buy-bust" or a sting operation, where police sell to a buyer and then arrest them immediately afterward. In this case, agents were "ordered" to let the sale go through and follow the weapons to a stash house.

According to sources directly involved in the case, Dodson felt strongly that the weapons should not be abandoned and the stash house should remain under 24-hour surveillance. However, Voth disagreed and ordered the surveillance team to return to the office. Dodson refused, and for six days in the desert heat kept the house under watch, defying direct orders from Voth.

A week later, a second vehicle showed up to transfer the weapons. Dodson called for an interdiction team to move in, make the arrest and seize the weapons. Voth refused and the guns disappeared with no surveillance.

According to a story posted Sunday on a website dedicated to covering Fast and Furious, Voth gave Dodson the assignment to "dirty him up," since Dodson had become the most vocal critic of the operation.

"I think Dodson demanded the letter from Voth to cover both himself and the FFL (Federal Firearm Licensee). He didn’t want to be hung out to dry by Voth," a source told the website "Sipsey Street Irregulars."

Your government at work, carefully looking out for your best interests.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


What would we do without the experts — teachers told to avoid white paper because it may cause racism

No, honestly.  That’s according to a story in the UK’s Telegraph.  Additionally, witches should be dressed in pink, fairies should be in darker pastels and when a teacher is asked their favorite color, they should answer “black” or “brown”.

All of this from experts who are “early years consultants”.  The premise of course is changing all these colors changes the perception of everything among a bunch of kids who haven’t yet digested that the kid next to them is a different color:

Instead, teachers should censor the toy box and replace the pointy black hat with a pink one, while dressing fairies, generally resplendent in pale pastels, in darker shades.

Another staple of the classroom – white paper – has also been questioned by Anne O’Connor, an early years consultant who advises local authorities on equality and diversity.

Children should be provided with paper other than white to drawn on and paints and crayons should come in "the full range of flesh tones", reflecting the diversity of the human race, according to the former teacher.

Finally, staff should be prepared to be economical with the truth when asked by pupils what their favourite colour is and, in the interests of good race relations, answer "black" or "brown".

Yes friends, white paper is racist because it doesn’t reflect the diversity of color out there, or something.

And yes, witches, soften them up with pink pointy hats I guess.  Otherwise you’re likely to get … witchism?  Can’t wait to see if this takes hold by Halloween. 

If not, I suppose I ought to lecture the parents about the fact that they’re engaged in turning their little witches into racists.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Oh and before you start thinking “those stupid Brits”, pause and reflect:

The advice is based on an “anti-bias” approach to education which developed in the United States as part of multiculturalism.

It challenges prejudices such as racism, sexism and ageism through the whole curriculum and teaches children about tolerance and respect and to critically analyse what they are taught and think.

Right.  And what they’re taught to think is things like affirmative action is the cat’s meow.  I have to laugh when I see claims such as this – they’re not  taught to “critically analyze” what they’re taught, they’re taught what to think and regurgitate on command.  They’re propagandized and introduced to group think.

"This is an incredibly complex subject that can easily become simplified and inaccurately portrayed," she said.

"There is a tendency in education to say ‘here are normal people and here are different people and we have to be kind to those different people’, whether it’s race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or faith.

"People who are feeling defensive can say ‘well there’s nothing wrong with white paper’, but in reality there could be if you don’t see yourself reflected in the things around you. “As an early years teacher, the minute you start thinking, ‘well actually, if I give everyone green paper, what happens’, you have a teaching potential.

“People might criticise this as political correctness gone mad. But it is because of political correctness we have moved on enormously. If you think that we now take it for granted that our buildings and public highways are adapted so people in wheelchairs and with pushchairs can move around. Years ago if you were in a wheelchair, then tough luck. We have completely moved and we wouldn’t have done that without the equality movement.”

Actually it isn’t an “incredibly complex subject, but “experts” don’t get paid consulting fees unless they at least try to make it one.  And I at least appreciate the fact that it is acknowledged as political correctness.

Take a look at that load of pap above and then consider this:

Margaret Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the Parents Outloud campaigning group disagrees. She said: “I’m sure these early years experts know their field but they seem to be obsessed about colour and determined to make everyone else obsessed about it too.

“Not allowing toy witches to wear black seems to me nonsense and in the same vein as those people who have a problem with ‘Bar Bar Black Sheep’ or ‘The Three Little Pigs’.

Children just see a sheep in a field, whether it be black, grey, white or beige. I have worked with children for 41 years and I don’t believe I have ever met a two year old who was in any way racist or prejudice.”

But:

However, recent research by Professor Lord Winston provides evidence that children as young as four can hold racist views. In an experiment carried out for the BBC’s Child of our Time series, children were presented with a series of images of faces of men, women, boys or girls. Only one of the faces in each sequence was white.

Children were asked to pick out the face of the person they wanted as their friend and the person they thought would be most likely to get in to trouble.

Almost all white children in the survey associated positive qualities exclusively with photographs of white children or adults. More than half of the black children made the same associations.

In contrast, people with darker faces were viewed as troublemakers.

Of course we have no idea of the experiences the children in question have had or what they’re home life teaches them.  We just conclude that they associate dark with bad for no other reason than they’re inherently prejudiced.   And apparently they assume they can change that by changing the color of their paper and claiming, whether true or not, that favorite colors are “black” and “brown”.

It is, again, the state via the school system, attempting to dictate a certain type of behavior or belief.  This is the same sort of model that is used with the environment – where children are taught (or propagandized if you prefer) that much of what supports their standard of living is bad and harmful to the environment. 

By the way, critical analysis requires what?  That both sides of an argument be presented factually and objectively, right?  Clearly in the case above and the environmental example (at least based on what I’ve seen), that’s not the case.  And calling it that is simply the usual redefinition of a word or concept that is so prevalent (and insidious) these days .

So put up your white paper, you racists.  Don’t you know that your insistence on using it is just racism?  Readability – phaa.  Your clients will welcome your new orange stationary, I promise.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Are white liberals getting ready to engage in “electoral racism”?

That’s the theory that is being put forward by the Nation’s  Melissa Harris-Perry

It’s an interesting argument for its ignorance.  I’m sorry, that’s not very kind, but frankly it’s true.   Harris-Perry gives a few paragraphs at the beginning of her piece to explaining this “most insidious” of forms of racism – electoral racism.  You see, it shows up, apparently, when voters refuse to vote for someone just because of his or her skin color.  And she goes to the trouble of talking about Barack Obama’s last two elections and what is called “roll off”:

One way to determine how many people felt this way is to measure the “roll-off.” In presidential election years, a small percentage vote for the president, but then “roll off” by not casting ballots for state and local offices. A substantial increase in roll-off—larger than usual numbers of voters who picked John Kerry or George Bush but declined to choose between Obama and Keyes—would have been a measure of the unwillingness of some to vote for any black candidate. I tested this in 2004 and found no increase, statistical or substantive, in roll-off in Illinois. Faced with two black candidates, white voters were willing to choose one of them.

The 2008 general election was another referendum on old-fashioned electoral racism—this time among Democratic voters. The long primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Obama had the important effect of registering hundreds of thousands of Democrats. By October 2008, it was clear that Obama could lose the general election only if a substantial portion of registered Democrats in key states failed to turn out or chose to cross party lines. For Democrats to abandon their nominee after eight years of Bush could be interpreted only as an act of electoral racism.

Not only did white Democratic voters prove willing to support a black candidate; they overperformed in their repudiation of naked electoral racism, electing Obama with a higher percentage of white votes than either Kerry or Gore earned. No amount of birther backlash can diminish the importance of these two election results. We have not landed on the shores of postracial utopia, but we have solid empirical evidence of a profound and important shift in America’s electoral politics.

Got that?   In both of the elections, no “roll off” was detected.  So it is usually safe to say that if none happened in the elections, racism was probably not a factor, given her theory.

But … and you knew there had to be a “but”, now Harris-Perry is very concerned that there will be a form of roll off in the 2012 presidential election.   And if Barack Obama doesn’t get his due in votes, it is most likely the fact that white liberals have abandoned him that will be the reason.

No, seriously.

The 2012 election may be a test of another form of electoral racism: the tendency of white liberals to hold African-American leaders to a higher standard than their white counterparts. If old-fashioned electoral racism is the absolute unwillingness to vote for a black candidate, then liberal electoral racism is the willingness to abandon a black candidate when he is just as competent as his white predecessors.

Really … that’s the reason?  A “tendency” of white liberals to hold African-American leaders to a higher standard than their white counterparts?  Well there’s news.   It’s also news that he, Obama, is “just as competent as his white predecessors”.  Yeah, Jimmy Carter – maybe.

This is the the old tried and true race baiter’s tactic of whipping the base into line by throwing out the race card.   Pure and simple, she’s trying to use race as the basis of scaring white liberals, who would rather be called child molesters than racists, back into supporting a black president.

Harris-Perry attempts to use Bill Clinton in her comparison/justification of her claim (hey, wasn’t he the first black president?) saying that Clinton was much less impressive in his achievements yet managed to see his support increase in the days before he was re-elected:

In 1996 President Clinton was re-elected with a coalition more robust and a general election result more favorable than his first win. His vote share among women increased from 46 to 53 percent, among blacks from 83 to 84 percent, among independents from 38 to 42 percent, and among whites from 39 to 43 percent.

But:

President Obama has experienced a swift and steep decline in support among white Americans—from 61 percent in 2009 to 33 percent now. I believe much of that decline can be attributed to their disappointment that choosing a black man for president did not prove to be salvific for them or the nation. His record is, at the very least, comparable to that of President Clinton, who was enthusiastically re-elected. The 2012 election is a test of whether Obama will be held to standards never before imposed on an incumbent. If he is, it may be possible to read that result as the triumph of a more subtle form of racism.

Anyone, is Barack Obama’s tenure in office “at the least, comparable to that of President Clinton?”  Well he is beginning to catch up in the scandal department.  But no one really ever considered Clinton a “failed” president.  Flawed, certainly.  But the word “failed” is what is beginning to be whispered about Barack Obama, even in liberal circles. 

I was one of Bill Clinton’s harshest critics and frankly I see no comparison between the two.  Clinton, despite all of his vices and problems was at least a competent leader.   Obama has never once shown comparable leadership skills.  And Clinton was a vastly better politician than is Barack Obama.

Instead of racism, could it just be something as simple as all Americans, including white Americans, are disappointed in his performance and are much more likely to compare his performance to Carter’s rather than Clinton’s?   Does it really have more to do with the economy, horribly high unemployment and the failure of this president to do anything meaningful to change that (see Carter)?   Clinton had the good fortune of having an up economy in his second run and he was credited with that.  Where Harris-Perry would find racism, most Americans see economic misery and the ineffectiveness of the man in the Oval Office to do anything about it.

Whether you believe that the president can significantly effect the economic tides, the president is the one who gets credit or blame depending on the condition of the economy (and they have no problem claiming credit on the positive side, do they?).  Oh, and don’t forget, Obama promised that if he was given his stimulus package he actually would change the economic tides and hold unemployment under 8%.  Three years later, we remain in an economic morass, and the man is trying to get another chance to finally do something? 

Is it really racism to drop your support for some politician who promises the moon and then delivers nothing?  That’s Obama’s problem, not his race.   I remember very well when the meme or talking point for Democratic politicians as applied to George W. Bush was “incompetent”.   Barack Obama, in the minds of a number of voters, has redefined the word.   Is it really racism to drop your support for an incompetent black politician, or is it a rational decision based on performance or lack thereof.

The key to Harris-Perry’s claim is her unsupported conjecture that Obama has been at least as competent as Bill Clinton, and if you disagree with that assessment (and aren’t going to support Obama this time) you’re a racist.

Same old song, different verse, and just as tired.  This time, though, it’s being deployed to keep white liberals in line.  A nice little twist.

In fact, the most insidious and subtle form of racism is claiming it exists in the face of any number of factors that weigh very heavily against such a presumption.  And that’s precisely what Harris-Perry engages in here.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Economic Statistics for 26 Sep 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

New home sales fell to a 295,000 annual rate, compared to 302,00 in July. This is a nine-month low for new home sales. Of course, without any serious mortgage lending by banks, we can expect home sales to remain depressed.

The Dallas Fed’s Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey index of general business conditions slipped to -14.4 from last month’s -11.4. The production index rose, however, from 1.1 to 5.9 as factory activity increased.

The Chicago Fed National Activity index fell to minus 0.43 in August from plus 0.02 in July. Employment-related indicators fell to -0.08, and consumption & housing slipped to -0.35.

~
Dale Franks
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Reconnecting the DC GOP to reality

I remember giddy Republicans in early 2001. At last they had won the Presidency and both houses of Congress. They were like football fans whose team had just won the SuperBowl.

What exactly did we get out of that wonderful deal, again? Oh, yeah, a higher rate of spending than under Clinton. A new entitlement we couldn’t afford. Intrusion of the federal government into education. A blatantly unconstitutional law limiting free speech during elections.

However, it was a good time for DC Republicans. There were lots of jobs and lots of opportunities to get on the talk shows.

I suppose I understand, then, why DC Republicans look at elections more like a football game. If their team wins the game, there are goodies to go around.

However, the rest of us, including many disaffected Republicans, have realized that the rah-rah, go team approach to politics is a pointless waste of time, money, and energy. This is shown in the Tea Party’s character, for example. They want to discuss issues, and they’re not dazzled by nice hair, experience in the establishment political world, or all the other characteristics that political consultants find so important when they rate candidates.

One would think that the establishment GOP would have enough self-awareness to understand that it’s time to change their view on candidates and elections. I’d like to think these people are intelligent enough to read the charts and realize that the time for playing games is past. We are very probably approaching a worldwide financial crisis that will rock the very foundations of Western society.

Unfortunately they don’t seem to notice, as I was reminded this weekend when I read this piece on The Corner quoting Mary Matalin:

…Republicans should get over their puppy love, she said, and realize that no candidate is going to be perfect. The important thing is that they can beat President Obama.

No. That’s not the important thing. That statement may sound wise and obvious to DC political types, but it’s absolutely wrong, and there are two ironclad reasons why.

First, if it gets us a Nixon or a G.W. Bush, then it actually makes things worse. Suppose we expend our limited opportunity to reverse our current headlong rush to catastrophe by electing such a person. Then suppose the catastrophe comes on their watch.

The result is that it’s probably then the last chance the GOP will ever get to fix things. The left-leaning media will pin all the blame on the Republicans, and contort every fact they find to make it look like the Democrats can fix things.

An observant, rational person might note that the notion of the Democrats fixing anything about large, intrusive, expensive, debt-ridden government is laughable. But the media will sell that ridiculous notion, and clueless moderates will buy it, just as they did in 2008. The GOP brand will then be tarnished for a generation (“See, those Tea Party types just make things worse!”), and there will be plenty more fiddling while the country burns. The Tea Party types will likely try a third party, and given the structural problems in our system, that’s highly unlikely to work fast enough to make a difference.

Second, the very idea that we can predict who can or can’t beat Obama is just silly. I remember when Reagan “couldn’t beat Carter” because he was just a B movie actor. Bill Quick is fond of saying that his Pomeranian could beat Obama, and if things continue to move in the direction they’re going now, he’s clearly on target.

Just to pick out someone, let’s look at Hermann Cain. By conventional wisdom from establishment types, he can’t possibly beat Obama.

Well, why the hell not? He won the Florida straw poll decisively, so he seems to have something in his tank to motivate the base. Given that he’s black, suppose he changes the voting in that population from 90-10 Obama to 70-30 Obama. That alone would be enough to tie him even if Obama did as well among all other groups as he did in 2008. And Obama isn’t going to do nearly as well in most groups except for those firmly on the left wing.

I’m not endorsing Cain here. I’m just pointing out that playing the “who can beat Obama” game is silly, and could even cause catastrophic long term damage to the very party these people belong to.

Contra Mary Madalin, the important thing is to find a candidate who understands the depth of the crisis we face and has the courage to go to the wall against dozens of special interest groups to fix it. Without such a person, winning the White House is pointless and possibly counter-productive in the long term.

Of course, I’m not sure the DC establishment types care much. Matalin was married to James Carville last I heard, so if there was ever a couple deeply invested in business-as-usual in DC, it’s them. They and the other DC establishment types probably expect to be safely ensconced in their nice houses, drawing a guaranteed check, so they won’t suffer as much as the rest of us when TSHTF.

But that means we need to ignore anything and everything these people have to say.* We’ve been paying attention to them for decades, and where has it gotten us? The old saw about doing the same thing over and over comes to mind.

It’s time to throw the dice and try something different. It might not work, but it has a chance, and that’s better than the certain failure of DC politics as usual.

(*) The folks at National Review are some of the main ones who need to pay attention to this. The time for standing athwart history, yelling stop, is past. Only a serious U-turn will do us any good now. And we’ll never, ever get that from establishment GOP types.