Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Is Rick Perry not ready for prime time?

Brit Hume, Senior Political Analyst for Fox News certainly seems to feel that way given Gov. Rick Perry’s performance at the past 3 GOP debates:

Analyzing the results of Saturday’s Florida Straw Poll on “Fox News Sunday,” Fox News senior political contributor Brit Hume said businessman Herman Cain’s victory may not mean very much, and that Perry’s poor showings recently may indicate his campaign is on the verge of  “total collapse.”

“Perry really did throw up all over himself in the debate at a time when he needed to raise his game,” Hume said.

“He did worse, it seems to me, than he had done in previous debates. Romney was as strong as he has been lately. He has clearly raised his game in reaction to the emergence of Perry. It’s been good for Romney in a way that one might not have predicted … Perry is about one-half a step away from almost total collapse as a candidate.”

When Perry showed up for his first national debate, he could be forgiven for not understanding the performance standards.  It is a whole different level than what a governor goes through when running for office.  But then you expect a better performance in the second debate incorporating the experience of the first and the lessons learned.   However, the 2nd debate actually seemed to be a worse performance.  And the third worst of all.

Perry’s entry into the race made him the instant front-runner.  But his three performances in nationally televised debates has seen that position erode significantly.  

Hume goes on:

“I don’t think we’re being too harsh on Rick Perry,” Hume said. “He still has some opportunity to recover his balance and put in a strong performance. What was so strikingly troubling about — from a Republican point of view — about this performance was that Perry was thought of as a really true conservative. Now it appears he has got this position on immigration which is anathema to a lot of conservatives.

“So this really hurts him with the base. You can’t, you know — look at all the trouble Romney’s had. He’s got some trouble with the base. That’s what’s holding him back. Now Perry has got the same trouble so his weakness is very real indeed.”

His “you don’t have a heart” comment concerning in-state tuition for the children of illegal aliens was ill advised.   It was poorly stated and it was just bad politics.   And as Hume points out, it may have invalidated his “true conservative” credentials among those voters on the right looking for one  – whether Perry really ever had those credentials or not (perhaps that moment was inevitable).   That statement removed all doubt and put him in the same place among conservative voters as Mitt Romney, at least for the time being.   The difference is that the GOP voters, especially conservatives, are used to Romney and will pull the lever for Romney if they have to given the alternative.   The hope was Rick Perry would be the answer to their prayers.   Instead he seems to be a disappointment.  Less informed, much less polished and frankly unprepared.

Unless he steps up his game he will eventually be dismissed as “Mitt light”, and folks that’s a hard distinction to earn and one no politician should want if they’re on the right side of the political spectrum.


Twitter: @McQandO

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 25 Sep 11

In this podcast, Bruce Michael, and Dale discuss the Republican presidential field, and the apparently inevitable Greek default,

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.


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Disaster relief and budget offsets

I guess I just don’t get this, given our fiscal shape.  Yesterday the GOP House passed a continuing resolution to fund the government until November (since we haven’t had a budget passed in the House for almost 3 years).  In it is a provision that pays for disaster relief by cutting spending elsewhere.   In other words, it tries to balance new spending on one side, even if the spending is on disaster relief, by cutting planned spending on the other side.   It is called prioritizing.   We all do it.  If the car breaks and it is going to cost $1,500 we may shave $1,500 dollars worth of vacation off of the planed vacation.  Household economics.  The car is a greater priority than a full 2 weeks of vacation.

However, when it comes to the government it seems that normal everyday concepts like living within your means somehow becomes a “dangerous precedent”.  Really?   Here’s TPM’s take:

But the bill received almost no Democratic support and faces an uncertain future in the U.S. Senate because Republicans have used the funding bill as a vehicle for disaster relief money, and insisted it be paid for by slashing funds for jobs programs Democrats support. Dems say the GOP legislation provides insufficient aid, and sets a dangerous precedent by requiring those funds to be offset with partisan budget cuts.

Yes indeed … removing the lefty modifiers to get to the real heart of the point, you are left wondering “why is this a bad thing”

“Dems say the GOP legislation provides … aid, and sets a … precedent by requiring those funds to be offset with … budget cuts”.

Uh, yes, yes, a thousand times yes.  Please, set the precedent, by all means.   That’s how all the rest of us do our business daily for heaven sake. 

Oh, and it is precisely the message the GOP candidates who won in the 2010 landslide were charged with doing.  Never mind the partisan nonsense from the Dems – insufficient aid is a matter of opinion obviously, the precedent is dangerous only because it requires disciplined spending offset by like cuts elsewhere and “partisan” budget cuts are only partisan to the side who’s ox is being gored.

The fact remains that this is how the House needs to routinely do business.  When something comes along that takes priority over something else for which spending was planned, the plan is changed.   The answer is rarely “go borrow money and do both”.

When it is, you end up in $14 trillion dollar debt.   I still don’t understand what it is about that concept that Democrats just can’t seem to grasp.

"It would be my hope that there would be some split the difference, the Republicans would come out and say we’re not going to go as high as you wanted…and we will have no offset. That I think would be a reasonable place to be," Pelosi said.

Yeah, that’s business as usual.  That’s why we’re in debt up to our necks.  No.  No thank you, Ms. Pelosi.  From a thousand little compromises like that grows economy crushing debt.  We’re there.  We’ve proven that.   No more.  That is no longer (not that it ever was) a “reasonable place to be”.  And it isn’t “radical” or “extreme” to point it out or ask that offsets be a part of any spending plan.

It’s sane.


Twitter: @McQandO

The Deniers rear their ugly heads again

Researchers at CERN, the big European physics laboratory, have released some interesting findings that, if true,would  cast doubt on a fundamental conclusion made by Einstein’s theory of relativity.

From 2009 through 2011, the massive OPERA detector buried in a mountain in Gran Sasso, Italy, recorded particles called neutrinos generated at CERN arriving a smidge too soon, faster than light can move in a vacuum. If the finding is confirmed by further experiments, it would throw more than a century of physics into chaos.

For over a century, since Albert Einstein published the Special Theory of Relativity (SRT)—buttressed further in 1916 by the General Theory—it has been settled science that the speed of is nature’s ultimate speed limit.  As an object approaches the speed of light, its mass increases. At the speed of light—were it possible to reach it—the object’s mass would be infinite. That would require, of course, an infinite amount of energy to propel the object.  Hence, moving faster than the speed of light is a physical impossibility.

Since 1905, through direct experimentation, mathematical modeling, and, later, measurements taken during the space program, as well as computer models, science has time and time again proved that the Special Theory of Relativity does, in fact, accurately model the way the universe works. The entire foundation of modern physics is built upon SRT. It has been proven correct over and over again. Clearly, SRT is settled science. An attempt to overturn it is, essentially, an attempt to overturn the entire body of physics that has been so painstakingly established over the past century.

Obviously, SRT is true.  Its conclusions are beyond questioning. Again, the science is settled, and there is almost universal scientific consensus about the truth of SRT.

Since that is so, one wonders what purpose the experiments at CERN might be. SRT needs no further validation, so there must be other motives. Who is funding this experimentation? Why are they so interested in denying SRT? If SRT is overturned, the implications throw cosmology in general into disarray. Out would go the Big Bang theory. Is this new experiment real science, or is it just another ploy of Big Plasma to overturn the settled view of cosmology?

These "scientists" at CERN say that more experimentation is needed to validate these results. But, they are so clearly wrong, it’s difficult to see what purpose further experimentation along these lines would serve. This transparent attempt to return physics to the limited and primitive world of physical experimentation, rather than the modern use of sophisticated mathematical models, is deeply subversive.

Now, there are calls for trying to replicate this experiment—at US taxpayer expense—at the Fermilab, here in the US. I see no reason to risk the scientific integrity of our premier physics laboratory pursuing the dreams of these SRT deniers at CERN.

SRT’s proof is incontrovertible, and any attempt to prove otherwise is a perversion of science. The science is settled. Consensus is almost universal. So, let’s not pursue these silly, pointless experiments. The important thing to remember about science is that, once you question the received wisdom proven repeatedly in the past, the result is chaos. It is vitally important that we do not throw all of modern physics and cosmology into disarray over some odd experimental results that really have no real-world application.

That would just be silly.

Dale Franks
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Krugman attempts to redefine the “social contract”

That Paul Krugman can be relied on to carry the Democrats water is no longer a point of argument.  He is in the tank with them up to his neck.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone that he’s decided the “social contract” now requires that the rich pay more in taxes than they are presently.  It is this redefinition of the social contract that allows him, one supposes, to claim that it isn’t class warfare that’s being proposed but simply the fulfilling of that contract.

And, of course, not days after the “Warren Buffet Tax” premise was completely and thoroughly destroyed, it is that upon which he begins to base his premise:

This week President Obama said the obvious: that wealthy Americans, many of whom pay remarkably little in taxes, should bear part of the cost of reducing the long-run budget deficit.

That is such a loaded line one could spend the day just unpacking it.

A) In Krugman’s world what does “remarkably little” mean?  Compared to what, the bottom 50%?  I mean it is a ludicrous statement to anyone who knows the amount of taxes and the percentage of taxes the so-called rich pay.  Never mind the fact that the premise that they pay less than middle class secretaries is nonsense.  But that’s the scary part – leaving it up to people like Krugman to make policy that effects your life with contextless terms like “remarkably little” and wave away your right to what you earned.

B) Are the rich not bearing “part of the cost of reducing the long-run budget deficit” now with the taxes they pay? Of course they are.   In fact, they’re bearing more than anyone else.  But to read that sentence you’d think they weren’t bearing any of it.  Again, pure nonsense.

C) Did they get us in this mess financially?  No.  It was government spending above and beyond the revenue coming in.  Actually it was government borrowing and spending above and beyond the revenue coming in.  Was that done at the behest of the rich?  If not why is it up to them to bear the burden?  Why isn’t it up to the institution that made this mess to change its ways and live within its means?  Doesn’t that mean reduction in the size of government and cuts in spending?  Of course it does.  But that is never mentioned in Krugman’s piece.

Krugman goes through a convoluted rationalization process involving income redistribution and comparisons that are, frankly, irrelevant to the point, all to finally end up with this as the basis of his argument (such that it is) for taxing the rich more:

Elizabeth Warren, the financial reformer who is now running for the United States Senate in Massachusetts, recently made some eloquent remarks to this effect that are, rightly, getting a lot of attention. “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody,” she declared, pointing out that the rich can only get rich thanks to the “social contract” that provides a decent, functioning society in which they can prosper.

That’s right, this is owed because if it wasn’t for government  – Krugman and apparently Warren’s new definition for a “decent, functioning society – none of the rich would be rich.

Seriously – do you actually believe that?  And since when is an institution that has managed to bury itself up to its neck in 14 trillion in debt define itself as a “decent, functioning” anything?  This government is dysfunctional and it is time that apologists like Warren and Krugman own up to that fact.  Instead they commit themselves to this twisted line of argument that claims that the rich are the rich because of a debt ridden government and because of that they owe it to the rest of us to pay that debt down.  The inference is the debt was partly (if not completely) the reason for their success.

There is nothing “eloquent” about that argument.  It is irrational and frankly, stupid.  The social contract as described by Rousseau, had nothing to do with paying down the debt of a profligate government.  It is about the voluntary association of people to their mutual benefit and the voluntary assumption of some social obligations in order to foster that society of mutual benefit.

How that became twisted into this morass of nonsense where those that have become “rich” owe their good fortune to government is just beyond me.  Obviously the society has much to do with it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean government for heaven sake.  Sure, it may have been part of it, but that part was paid for and has been paid for centuries without going into 14 trillion dollars of debt.

And it also must ignore the fact that those who are rich must have done something right to get to that state beside being in a particular society.  If it were just the society, i.e. government, we’d all be rich according to this line of reasoning.  So why is it that they only can find 1% who fit that particular bill?

This is all nonsense on a stick using the usual liberal trick of redefining words.  They attempt to create new axioms by changing the words or concepts over time.  The social contract as a concept was envisioned as a voluntary association in which free people took on voluntary obligations in an effort to indeed set up a “decent, functioning society”.  Note the key word: “voluntary”.  What they didn’t conceive is any sort of involuntary servitude which required certain of them to be treated differently based on their success (or lack thereof if appropriate) within that society they’ve formed.

But that is precisely what Warren and Krugman are trying to sell.  And it is never more obvious than in Krugman’s closing paragraph.  There he speaks of the GOP trying to stop the attempt to raise taxes on only one part of society and, of course, condemns it as something it just isn’t:

Well, that amounts to a demand that a small number of very lucky people be exempted from the social contract that applies to everyone else. And that, in case you’re wondering, is what real class warfare looks like.

A portion of the populace that pays 38% of the freight but comprises only 1% of it is “exempted for the social contract that applies to everyone else?”  In what world, Mr. Krugman?  Certainly not in the one where sane people are able to apply critical thinking to the sloppy nonsense you seem to delight in dishing out.

And note the dismissal of their status with “very lucky people” used to describe them as if what they’ve earned was undeserved. 

Makes you just want to throw up, doesn’t it?   And before I get the usual “Krugman is a putz and I don’t know why you read him”, the answer is two-fold: A) so you don’t have too and B) it is important to highlight his arguments because they are the arguments of the left and the ones they will continue to push unopposed if we don’t point them out.

I refuse to let them go unanswered.


Twitter: @McQandO

Bill Clinton’s ironic Tea Party rant

Ironic in the sense that he ends up doing exactly what he condemns in the same speech.  Luckily I’m able to do what he claims doesn’t happen.  If you’re confused, read on.

First the condemnation:

You can stand up and say anything and nobody rings a bell if the facts are wrong. There’s no bell ringing. It’s crazy, we’re living in a time when it’s more important than ever to know things. And not just to know facts but to put them in a coherent. sensible pattern. And we live in a time, if you just want to talk about the economy, where the model that works for economic growth and prosperity is cooperation. But the model that works in politics is conflict.

Well actually, Bill, there’s a lot of bell ringing, you just have to get out of the cocoon, get on-line and find it.  For instance, I’m about to ring the bell on you.

You know, there’s not a single solitary example on the planet, not one, of a country that is successful because the economy has triumphed over the government and choked it off and driven the tax rates to zero, driven the regulations to nonexistent and abolished all government programs, except for defense, so people in my income group never have to pay a nickel to see a cow jump over the moon. There is no example of a successful country that looks like that.

Bell ring one:  There is indeed an example of what the Tea Party wants to be found embodied in a country – at least temporarily.  We live in it. Clinton and his ilk have done everything in their power to kill that model and finally those who happen to like it are fighting back.  His reaction?  To “stand up and say anything” even when “the facts are wrong”.  Well, he’s wrong (don’t you love it when the left tries to redefine something – now what our founders wanted is supposedly what we have now.  Really?).

Bell ring two:  The Tea Party doesn’t preach anarchy.  It talks about sanity in government – smaller government, less costly government, and less intrusive government.  It talks about government living within its means.  It talks about government on a budget.  But none of them talk about “tax rates to zero” or abolishing all regulations and government programs except defense.

That’s a typical leftist fact free smear that sets up a strawman they can attack.  And there Clinton is right in the middle of the political model he claims to dislike.  Conflict abetted by mischaracterization designed to demonize.  Fact free rants like this with the added bonus of condemnation of fact free rants.

Yes, Mr. Clinton, you haven’t changed a bit.   And there’s even a bit more irony according to Think Progress (although they don’t seem to recognize it – I’ve always contended the left is irony impaired):

While blasting the Tea Party’s economic policies, Clinton also acknowledged that the media plays an increasingly dangerous role in fanning the flames of partisan rancor.

That’s just funny.  Clinton fanned those flames with his mischaracterization of the US political model and the Tea Party knowing full well the smear would be reported by the media.  But it is the media’s fault even if Clinton planned that every partisan word of his speech would be quoted by them.

You have got to love the guy in one way.  He never lets his words get in the way of his actions, does he?


Twitter: @McQandO

American majority perceives media bias

We’ve talked about this for quite some time, years in fact (hit the media category for previous discussions).  And we’ve been told countless times by the media and media apologists that is just isn’t true, because, you know, they’re professionals.

But the the world of opinion, perception is reality.  People’s opinions of an organization or institution are formed around their perceptions of that organization or institution.  In the case of the media, it appears they have earned the reputation of a biased institution.  Whether they agree that’s true or not is really incidental.  Their “customers”, in the majority, believe it.  And thus, to them, it’s true.

The majority of Americans still do not have confidence in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. The 44% of Americans who have a great deal or fair amount of trust and the 55% who have little or no trust remain among the most negative views Gallup has measured.

That’s an earned reputation, especially after the last election when the media refused to the vetting of Obama that is customary for a presidential candidate while going into full feeding frenzy over Sarah Palin.  The difference was obvious even to the most disinterested of Americans.  And there are numerous other examples.  But primarily it was the obviousness of the political bias demonstrated by the media in that election which sealed the deal for many.

Key point:

Partisans continue to perceive the media very differently. Seventy-five percent of Republicans and conservatives say the media are too liberal. Democrats and liberals lean more toward saying the media are "just about right," at 57% and 42%, respectively. Moderates and independents diverge, however, with 50% of independents saying the media are too liberal and 50% of moderates saying they are just about right.

Interesting that those who see no bias but see it “just about right” are on the left.  Look up the term “confirmation bias”.  Notice there isn’t a category saying the media is “too conservative”?

What should the media as a whole take away from such a poll?

That they’ve lost the trust of the majority of America in their ability to report the news in a factual, complete and unbiased manner.

That’s a very difficult perception to reverse.  Trust is not something given lightly by most people.  And once violated, very difficult to win back.  The media has become it’s own worst enemy.  It refuses to acknowledge this perception of the public and thus makes no effort to self-correct.   And because of that the perception is constantly revalidated and the erosion of the trust factor continues.

Without the ability to self-correct, the media will continue with its business as usual.   And, as it has seen, on-line competition will continue to grow and prosper.  I’m biased and you know it.  You can filter that out.  But I make no pretense or claim to the contrary.

Perhaps full disclosure by the media would be the way to change the trust factor.  It certainly would be refreshing.  But, as I note, they don’t believe it of themselves, so why would they change?

And its not just Gallup finding these things:

In a report released Thursday, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found record-high negativity toward the media on 9 of 12 core measures it tracks.

Hope they enjoy their earned reputation.


Twitter: @McQandO

What part of “freedom of assembly” don’t San Juan Capistrano officials understand?

I swear this country gets more and more totalitarian as the days go by.  Try this one on for size:

An Orange County couple has been ordered to stop holding a Bible study in their home on the grounds that the meeting violates a city ordinance as a “church” and not as a private gathering.

Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm, of San Juan Capistrano, were fined $300 earlier this month for holding what city officials called “a regular gathering of more than three people”.

That type of meeting would require a conditional use permit as defined by the city, according to Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), the couple’s legal representation.

The Fromms also reportedly face subsequent fines of $500 per meeting for any further “religious gatherings” in their home, according to PJI.

“We’re just gathering and enjoying each other’s company and fellowship. And we enjoy studying God’s word.” Stephanie Fromm told CBS2.

A) What freaking business is it of  the city’s to begin with?

B) It doesn’t matter if they gather every day.  If it is voluntary, in a private home and they’re not disturbing anyone or violating anyone’s rights, what business is it of the city?

C) Where does the city get off requiring permits to gather at a private residence?

D) In case you missed it in A, what freaking business of the city, especially in light of the 1st Amendment guarantee?

Who someone chooses to peacefully assemble – especially in a private home – is none of the damn city’s business.  Does this make the weekly poker game an event that requires permits.  How about the weekly gathering at the neighbor with the big screen tv to watch football?

This is utter nonsense on a extraordinarily intrusive scale.  It isn’t about what they’re doing (bible study, poker, football) but that the city has taken it upon itself to invent some permitting nonsense that puts them in jeopardy legally.

Absurd – but there it is.

You have to wonder what part of this the folks in city government don’t understand:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Seems pretty clear to me.  And yes, I recognize we’re not talking about Congress here, but this is a right that has since been incorporated so that we all have it and government in general is prohibited from violating these rights.

Says the city:

“The Fromm case further involves regular meetings on Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoons with up to 50 people, with impacts on the residential neighborhood on street access and parking,” City Attorney Omar Sandoval said.

Oh, I see.  That is all it takes to abrogate the 1st Amendment guarantee.  Temporarily impacting “on street access and parking”.  Yup, inconvenience others and you’re guaranteed rights are kaput.  Gone.  Out the window, or to use today’s favorite phrase, under the bus.

Of course the fact that it is an invented excuse only adds to the nature of the folly:

Neighbors have written letters to the city in support of the Fromms, whom they said have not caused any disturbances with the meetings, according to PJI.

Or, as one can conclude, it’s a naked show of power by the city to exert control in something they have no freaking business being involved.

The little totalitarians are as dangerous as the big ones.  It is from the little ones – who are able to get away with this sort of nonsense – that the big one’s grow.  We need to stomp them out (metaphorically speaking) when they’re small.


Twitter: @McQandO

One difference between right and left distilled for all by Debbie Wasserman-Shultz

Debbie Wasserman-Shultz is one of the more entertaining politicians to watch.  Not necessarily because she isn’t the brightest penny in the roll or because she’s the head of the DNC (although both end up factoring in), but because she unwittingly and routinely mouths the platitudes that best exemplify why the left and right are so different.

Last night, while claiming that it is a slam dunk that Jews will vote for Obama (despite NY-9), she was reported to have said:

The Florida Democrat also insisted that the president will have no trouble winning her state – the stage for the Republican primary debate Thursday night – because Floridans understand that the president has fought hard to create jobs and turn the economy around.

Emphasis mine.  That emphasized phrase, to me, underscores something fundamentally different in the way each side thinks.

Trying is nice, but results are what count to most on the right (and most rational Americans).  But Wasserman-Shultz comes from the “hey, he tried and that’s good enough” school of reinforcing failure with feel-good nonsense (designed to get the failure another chance).

Obama tried.  Vote for him again so he can try some more. Nevermind he’s in way over his head.  Nevermind that he’s never been a leader in anything and it shows.   Nevermind that everything he tried has failed and cost you 4 trillion in debt while he was at it.  Nevermind that he refused to listen to the vast majority of you and rammed a costly and atrocious health care bill through and signed it into law.  Nevermind that his promise to hold unemployment under 8% if you gave him a trillion dollars actually saw unemployment hit 10% after it was approved.  Nevermind that he has totally ignored the unemployment problem and when, finally, forced to confront it (there’s an election coming up, you know), offers another spending bill with the same tired programs that failed before.


He tried.

Re-elect him.

Anyone know what a list of “accomplishments” such as Obama’s would garner any employee at review time?

An invitation to go visit their incompetence on another employer if they can find one that would take them.

Certainly not the bonus of keeping their job, that’s for sure.

The unfortunate thing for the Democrats is most Americans think like the right, not the left, on this issue.


Twitter: @McQandO

Economic Statistics for 22 Sep 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Well, this really isn’t a statistic, as such, but the Dow slipped -300+ at the open, on a pessimistic economic outlook for the US and EU, weak data for the euro zone,  and a negative outlook on the US economy from the Federal Reserve. Why the markets are reacting as if any of this is a surprise is beyond me.

Initial claims for unemployment fell -9,000, to a still-unpleasantly-high 423,000. Meanwhile, last weeks claims were revised upward by another 4,000.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index dropped to –52.1,  the worst since the recession "ended" in June, 2009. Note the scare quotes around the word "ended".

The Index of Leading Indicators rose 0.3% last month, though mainly on money supply gains as investors bailed out and went to cash. Which actually isn’t a good sign.

The FHFA home price index in July rose 0.8%. That’s the fourth month in a row the index has risen, so not everything is a complete disaster. We take our good news where we can find it, I guess.

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