Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

The State Of The Union Address

An address that has become popularly known on blogs and Twitter as the SOTU. In the case of the one scheduled for tonight, some think it should be abbreviated as the STFU address, but then there are always some who’d prefer silence to the usual nonsense that takes place at the Capitol.

So what will we hear tonight? Well as we get closer, more and more is leaking out. One thing that leaked earlier than the rest is the spending freeze we’ve written about. 25 billion a year for three years. Make sure you listen for what the president talks about spending tonight to balance it against that huge spending freeze. As mentioned, we do many more times that amount of deficit spending each month. If that is the sum of his plan for addressing the deficit, he’s not at all serious about it.

The NY Times has an interesting paragraph in their preview of the SOTU.

When Mr. Obama presents his first State of the Union address on Wednesday evening, aides said he would accept responsibility, though not necessarily blame, for failing to deliver swiftly on some of the changes he promised a year ago. But he will not, aides said, accede to criticism that his priorities are out of step with the nation’s.

First, he will accept the “responsibility” but not necessarily the “blame”? How’s that work? If you’re responsible for something and it doesn’t get done, who else is to blame? Another in a long line of indicators that this guy is not a leader. One of the first things any company commander makes clear to a new platoon leader is the platoon leader is responsible for everything that does or doesn’t happen in his platoon. And that platoon leader knows exactly who the company commander will blame. The same is going to happen here. Obama may decide he’s not going to accept blame, but he’s really not the final arbiter on that, is he?

However, if that’s the Obama game plan, it will be interesting to hear to whom or what he tries to shift the blame. Bush, of course, is in for a round of finger pointing (perhaps more obliquely than usual, but I’m sure it will be there). One thing to remember when he begins that is the Congress – the branch of government that appropriates and spends money as well as making laws (and regulations) – has been in Democratic hands for the last 4 years.

I’d bet he’ll also set his sights on blaming “obstructionist” Republicans. Of course to buy into the “obstructionist” argument you have to again be ignorant of the fact that Democrats have enjoyed overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress to include, until recently, a super-majority in the Senate. So it is unclear who he can credibly blame, other than himself, for not passing his agenda items except, perhaps, the leadership of the Congress. And we all know how that would be received.

Then there’s the sentence that Obama refuses to “accede to criticism that his priorities are out of step with the nation’s”. Pure arrogance. Pure hubris. Poll after poll have made it clear the majority of Americans do not want this monstrosity of a health care bill specifically and in general they want government’s size and expenditures reigned in. And the sooner the better.

Obama and his team still haven’t recognized the fact that the entire political landscape changed with the financial crisis. He seems to think if he gives that crisis enough lip service while proceeding with an agenda ancillary to it, he can still do the agenda. No. Not true. All one has to do is read the Pew survey I posted yesterday to understand where the public’s attention is and where the public wants government’s attention focused. Almost without exception it’s the economy and jobs. All the rest is simply not important. The bunch in DC better figure it out and do so quickly or, as has been promised, they’ll get someone who will – beginning this year with the mid-terms.

So in effect, doubling down on an ineffective and unpopular decision doesn’t make one a strong leader. Instead, in the face of what those who put him in office want him to focus on, it makes him seem more of a petulant and stubborn adolescent who refuses to change because the adults want him too.

Consider this:

As Mr. Obama navigates a crossroads of his presidency, a moment when he signals what lessons he has drawn from his first year in office, the public posture of the White House is that any shortcomings are the result of failing to explain effectively what they were doing — and why. He will acknowledge making mistakes in pursuit of his agenda, aides said, but will not toss the agenda overboard in search of a more popular one.

That’s incredible. It is the very same fallback Democrats took when they lost the presidency in 2000. It wasn’t the message, it just wasn’t properly conveyed. For them it is never the message, even after poll after poll tells them it is. The man gave almost 30 speeches on health care and the public still has said – repeatedly – “no”. What part of “no” doesn’t he and the Democats understand? Which again brings us to the last sentence and the petulance I describe above. It also points to a man who has yet to understand what I pointed out previously – the political landscape has irrevocably changed since he introduced that agenda on the campaign trail. In politics those who can’t adapt “die” electorally – and that is precisely where he and the Democrats are headed.

Finally, it gives lie to the contention that Obama is a pragmatist. If what the NYT is claiming is true, he’s the very antithesis of a pragmatic politician. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool ideologue who will not give up his ideological agenda regardless of the hand reality deals him. And that sort of ideological intransigence will cost him politically. While I can admire those who try to live their ideology, I don’t particularly care for those who try to force it on others. And that’s precisely what he is attempting here.

I’m sure there will be some surprises tonight. I’m interested to hear his “pivot” toward jobs and the economy.  And I’m sure the speech will be eloquent. But we’re over the awe of his eloquence. It’s means zip anymore. Those 30 eloquent speeches on health care delivered what? Nothing.  Even though I’m quite happy about that, it makes the point that he’s all speech and no action. He is “just words”.

Speaking of words, I’m trying to get an idea of what the over/under is on how many times he’ll say “I”, “me” or “my” tonight. This is the first SOTU for the most self-absorbed president in my lifetime and I can’t help but believe the count will be high.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

More Global Warming Claims Debunked

It started as a trickle and is now turning into a flood.  More claims found in the “bible of the alarmists”, the UN’s 2007 IPCC report, have been found to be false.

The two latest have to do with extreme weather increases and the disappearance of the Amazon rain forest.

The IPCC 2007 report claimed that global warming was leading to an increase in extreme weather, such as hurricanes and floods. Like its claims about the glaciers, this was also based on an unpublished report which had not been subject to scientific scrutiny — indeed several experts warned the IPCC not to rely on it.

The author, who didn’t actually finish his work until a year after the IPCC had used his research, has now repudiated what he sees has its misuse of his work.

His conclusion: “There is insufficient evidence to claim a statistical link between global warming and catastrophe loss.”

Yet it was because of this — now unproved — link that the British government signed up to a $100 billion transfer from rich to poor countries to help them cope with a supposed increase in floods and hurricanes.

Peer review? Obviously impossible since the work hadn’t even been finished by the time the IPCC report was published. And much the same has been found concerning the IPCC claim that 40% of the Amazonian forests were at risk from global warming and would likely be replaced by “tropical savannas” if temperatures continued to rise.

This claim is backed up by a scientific-looking reference but on closer investigation turns out to be yet another non-peer reviewed piece of work from the WWF. Indeed the two authors are not even scientists or specialists on the Amazon: one is an Australian policy analyst, the other a freelance journalist for the Guardian and a green activist.

The WWF has yet to provide any scientific evidence that 40% of the Amazon is threatened by climate change — as opposed to the relentless work of loggers and expansion of farms.

What was that question that alarmists like to ask about the IPCC report? Oh, yeah – “how can 2,500 scientists be wrong?” Here’s how – take unfinished research, fudged data and un-peer reviewed work and publish it claiming it is none of those things, that’s how.

The good news?

The sceptics may be about to get their first scalp. Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman often wrongly described in the media as the world’s leading climate scientist (he’s actually a railway engineer), at first attacked those who questioned the IPCC’s alarming glacier prediction as “arrogant” and believers in “voodoo science”.

He’s since had to retract the prediction but can’t quite manage an apology — and is now under mounting pressure in his Indian homeland to resign.

And resign he should – the IPCC report, for which he was responsible, seems to be a pack of lies promulgated to advance a political agenda designed to loot rich countries and transfer the wealth to poorer countries under the auspices of “science”. He and that group have, instead, tarnished the reputation of science and set it back at least 50 years. It’s time for a little accountability in this world. Pachauri should resign at a minimum and, if a way can be figured out to do it, brought up on charges of conspiracy to defraud.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Oregon Voters Raise Their Own Taxes (Update)

If you were to ask them though, the taxes will be collected only from corporations and the rich.  The idea is to stick them with the bill for services the rest of the voters have decided they’d like but can’t afford.  It’s a bit like getting on a train without a ticket, finding a well dressed man, and having the ticket collector point a gun at him and demand ticket money for your trip.

If I were the well dressed man, I’d probably find alternate transportation for my next trip. If I was a “rich” person in Oregon, I might begin scouting out a new place to live. The voters have certainly made it clear they feel they have every right to loot my earnings at will. Why would I want to give them any more chances?

Measure 66 raises the income tax paid by households earning at or above $250,000 a year or individual filers who make $125,000 or more. Measure 67 raises the state’s $10 minimum corporate income tax.

Together they generate an estimated $727 million, which has already been budgeted by the 2009 Legislature for public schools and other state services.

So instead of cutting budgets at the state level to what they can afford, Oregon voters have doubled down and bought into the populist notion that they can do it on back of those demonized rich people and evil corporations.

Corporations, of course, have a number of choices. Among them, if the tax isn’t too high, is pass the cost on to their customers. That would most likely be those who voted “yes” on Measure 67 ironically. If it is a large tax which is not easily passed on to the consumer, the corporation has other choices. It can cut headcount – lay people off – to recoup the cost. Or, if it is really crippling, find a new home for their business in a state which is friendlier toward business than is Oregon. What they most likely won’t do, at least not anytime soon, is hire and expand.  And if I was a corporation looking for a new home, this vote would have me cross Oregon off the list.

The “rich” also have options. Find ways to hide that income. Like increase 401k savings so that taxable income is below that number. Many are probably small businesses which will hide income in the business vs. putting it in the owner’s income. If none of that’s possible they may find a new home for themselves and their business. One of the benefits of being “rich” is it does tend to give one some options as to where to live.

That’s not to say they will or even that all of them object to this new tax, but Oregon voters shouldn’t fool themselves that this sort of taxation is beneficial in the long run to an atmosphere which will attract and keep businesses or people who have the money to help the economy. Oregon might be a nice place to live, but it’s not that nice – especially when alternatives exist.

UPDATE: Megan McArdle points out something about the  tax on business that makes it even worse:

The business tax changes apparently include a gross receipts tax, which is really an awful tax, especially during a downturn. Companies which are actually losing money may still owe taxes, which could hasten their closure, and the evaporation of any jobs they provide.

Any business that took in a dollar last year owe taxes on it. That means, as McArdle points out, marginal businesses who have just managed to hang on (and continue to provide employment) may be forced to lay off or close their doors and liquidate to pay the tax. A particularly “smart” move in a recession.

Additionally, as Tonus points out in the comments – the $727 million will be spent on the static analysis which said such a tax would yield that amount of revenue. But life isn’t static and those effected will immediately begin to do things which will lessen the impact on them and, of course, make that revenue stream smaller than anticipated. That means two things – more deficit spending and, most likely, more taxes on those who approved these to measures in order to make up the revenue shortfall.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Global Warming – Last On America’s Priority List

For those that have chosen to make man-made global warming a form of religion this might come as disappointing news. Americans just don’t really care that much about it. In fact, since it was first measured by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in January of 2007, it has slipped a full 10 points and is now listed as dead last on the people’s priority list.

Dead last among 21 priorities

Global warming is simply not a priority except among Democrats. And even among them it is a minority position – only 43% see it as a top priority while only 11% of Republicans and 25% of independents see it as such.

Is it because they just aren’t buying the hype anymore and don’t believe it is really an urgent problem or is it because other are indeed more urgent problems? As I pointed out previously, since Pew has been tracking it in 2007, it has always been among the lowest of priorities with 38%. It has declined even more each and every year since.

There’s a lesson for the cap-and-traders there who would use global warming as a reason to enact the carbon taxing scheme designed to create a revenue stream for government out of thin air.

Global warming ranks lower among the public than trade policy – which I’m sure is followed with interest and understanding by the masses.  Politicians aren’t dumb – well not completely.  They’ll see that list and figure out what is below the 49 to 50% level and shy away from that for the time being.  That means immigration, tax cuts, financial regulation, the environment and global warming are going to find convenient back burners on which to sit.  Or should.

As an aside,  just because the public isn’t clamoring for tax cuts, it should be clear to all, given this chart, that spending can  not go on as scheduled.  Nope – deficit reduction ranks up there in the 60% range.  No tax cuts?  Cut spending then – big time.  Not piddling little 15 to 25 billion a year “freezes” – cut spending.  Pick a percentage and do it. 3% a year, across the board, for 10 years.  Budget for it.

That’s about the only way the economy will get moving. Government has got to quit sucking up all the available credit for these nonsense projects politicians like to claim will “create jobs”.    If those who think global warming is an important priority want to see it addressed at all, they’d better find a way to satisfy the rest of the country that the other 20 priorities have been successfully addressed.

“It’s the economy, stupid.”

[HT: looker]



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Magical Thinking

The progressive base is having conniptions over the failure of President Obama to get his agenda through Congress despite having supermajorities. Now that Obama is making token gestures (however feeble [via:HA]) towards fiscal sanity, they are experiencing political apoplexy:

As noted in quick hits by BDB and rayj, [UPDATE] and by David in a diary that just caused me to push back this diary’s publication time, Obama has now gone off the deep end. After passing a stimulus that most economists (not just liberal ones) said was too small, and that was made even more inadequate by being heavily tilted toward poor-performing tax-cuts, Obama is now intentionally recreating FDR’s mistake of 1937, when he prematurely cut back spending to try to balance the budget, and sent the country into a new recession.


Specifically: He’s going to announce a spending freeze on domestic programs (but not, of course, on the military) that is “projected to save $250 billion.” The rationale is that he wants to appease folks worried about runaway deficits. Which is just what FDR was worried about in 1937.

This is Bush-style idiocy. There is no other word for it.

The cause of this consternation is magical thinking on the part of the author, Paul Rosenberg.

Here, to remind you, is the chart I put together during the stimulus debate, showing, among other things, the relative ineffectiveness of tax cuts vs. spending in generating jobs, which is the key to getting the nation out of this recession–the only way that we can rationally hope to start bringing down the deficits:

While some tax cuts are much better than the real stinkers, it’s virtually a given that once Obama starts talking about tax cuts, the GOP is going to start demanding that Bush’s tax cuts be made permanent. Not only–as you can see from the chart–are these about the least helpful tax cuts of all, they are also heavily skewed toward helping the rich and the super-rich.

If you look closely at the chart you will be unsurprised to find that government spending is calculated to provide substantially more “bang for the buck” in creating wealth and jobs. That’s unsurprising because this chart is intended to support a progressive prescription for the economy. Of course it will show government as the answer.

Without arguing the statistical or modeling specifics behind the chart, there is one glaring item that reveals how much magical thinking went into its creation. By far the most “stimulating” actions set forth are “Temporary Increase in Food Stamps”(calculated to create 9,803,333 jobs), “Extending Unemployment Insurance” (9,236,667 jobs), and “Increased infrastructure Spending” (9,010,000 jobs). The closest tax-cutting measure, according to this analysis, in job creation is a “Payroll Tax Holiday” which is estimated to create 7,253,333 jobs. Do you see the problem?

How, exactly, do food stamps and unemployment benefits create jobs? Arguably, spending on infrastructure could create construction jobs on a temporary basis, although that hasn’t proven to be the case with the stimulus bill that was passed. But there is simply no logic to the idea that providing government benefits to the poor and unemployed will serve to create jobs, much less 9 to 10 million of them. That’s just magical thinking.

Rosenberg provides this explanation for the employment fairy (from Mark Zandi of Moody’s

Income support

The House stimulus plan includes some $100 billion over two years in income support for those households under significant financial pressure. This includes extra benefits for workers who exhaust their regular 26 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits; expanded food stamp payments; and help meeting COBRA payments for unemployed workers trying to hold onto their health insurance.

Increased income support has been part of the federal response to most recessions, and for good reason: It is the most efficient way to prime the economy’s pump. Simulations of the Moody’s macroeconomic model show that every dollar spent on UI benefits generates an estimated $1.63 in near-term GDP.x Boosting food stamp payments by $1 increases GDP by $1.73 (see Table 2). People who receive these benefits are hard pressed and will spend any financial aid they receive very quickly.

Another advantage is that these programs are already operating and can quickly deliver a benefit increase to recipients. The virtue of extending UI benefits goes beyond simply providing aid for the jobless to more broadly shoring up household confidence. Nothing is more psychologically debilitating, even to those still employed, than watching unemployed friends and relatives lose their sources of support.xi Increasing food stamp benefits has the added virtue of helping people ineligible for UI such as part-time workers.

Whatever the virtues of income support, and even if that support will be quickly spent in the economy, there is no justification for concluding that it will expand the economy. At best, it can stabilize a downturn by maintaining some level of consumer spending. But that does not expand the economy in any way, shape or form, and it certainly doesn’t create jobs an unprecedented level as suggested by Rosenberg.

Indeed, in order to give money to the poor and jobless, the government has to take money fr0m someplace else. Since it doesn’t create anything, the government will either (i) tax those who are working and creating wealth at higher rates, (ii) borrow money, or (iii) print money. Again, these are not wealth producing actions, but instead wealth destroying ones. It is true that, assuming such income support shortens a downturn, tax receipts will eventually outpace the costs of funding those supports. What is not true is that the government benefits will create jobs.

On the one hand, of course, I don’t want to discourage the left from turning on Obama (enemy of my enemy and all that). It just pains me to see it done based on such absurd premises.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

I Had To Laugh …

Marion Berry, Democratic Representative from Arkansas, has decided to retire from Congress voluntarily instead of chancing an involuntary retirement via the ballot box. Berry is considered a “blue dog” Democrat and is from a nominally conservative state whose voters have made it clear they don’t support the policies or agenda of this Congress or this president.

Berry relates an incident that struck me as the ultimate in hubris and arrogance:

Berry recounted meetings with White House officials, reminiscent of some during the Clinton days, where he and others urged them not to force Blue Dogs “off into that swamp” of supporting bills that would be unpopular with voters back home.

“I’ve been doing that with this White House, and they just don’t seem to give it any credibility at all,” Berry said. “They just kept telling us how good it was going to be. The president himself, when that was brought up in one group, said, ‘Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.’ We’re going to see how much difference that makes now.” [snip]

What got me laughing was how badly that statement may come to haunt Obama. They certainly have him, but as the political stars are aligning right now, “me” may end up in worse shape than did Bill Clinton. He’s already seen a super-majority go by the boards in the Senate – something Clinton never had – and it isn’t at all impossible that what most people would consider prohibitive majorities in both houses of Congress could be significantly reduced or, possibly, flip – although the latter is unlikely.

The only reason it wouldn’t be like ’94 is because there are enough Democratic safe seats to prevent the flip. But then, after Massachusetts, one has to wonder how many really safe seats there are. And what if the GOP trots something like this out in the interim?

In a recent interview with Diane Sawyer, President Obama said:

“I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.”

There is a third option which he obviously avoided. He could end up being a very mediocre and Carteresque one-term president the way things are trending.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Obama And The “Hard Pivot”

President Obama is about to do what the pundits love to describe as a “hard pivot”. What that really means is he’s going to try to change th subject enough to divert attention from his troubles and give the impression he’s doing something for the people that they actually want. The first part of the hard pivot was his attack on banking and Wall Street. Meeting with a modicum of populist success there and in the wake of the message from Massachusetts, he’s decided it is now time to focus on jobs, the middle class and, of all things, spending.

Well sort of. He’s going to address run-away spending fostered by a Democratic Congress (don’t forget – its been a Democratic Congress for the last 4 years that has increased spending by $900 billion over the last 3 years) by asking for a 3 year spending freeze. Wait. A 3 year spending freeze on non-security discretionary spending.

Make sure you understand that. Congress is quietly trying to raise the debt ceiling another 1.9 trillion dollars and Mr. Obama decides for a symbolism over substance move to address the deficit spending. The result?

The payoff in budget savings would be small relative to the deficit: The estimated $250 billion in savings over 10 years would be less than 3 percent of the roughly $9 trillion in additional deficits the government is expected to accumulate over that time.

Or put another way, we will “save” less over 10 years than we’re presently running up a month in deficit spending.


Don’t get me wrong here – any spending reduction is good news. But this spending cut – or spending freeze, because it isn’t really a cut – doesn’t at all address the problem of runaway deficit spending. It is another example of the smoke and mirrors for which this administration has become so famous. No one who is seriously concerned about the depth of our deficit spending habit is going to take this piddling $25 billion a year freeze on spending as a serious attempt to cut the deficit. This is a reaction to public concern over the debt. And while it may sound good to the uninformed in the State of the Union address, it is a trivial drop in the public spending bucket.

Obama likes to say that he doesn’t want to “kick the can down the road” when it comes to domestic issues. Well he’s not only kicking the can down the road when it comes to domestic deficit spending, he’s making it bigger too boot. While he’ll tout the “savings” on this end, the spending on the other end will increase dramatically.  You are required to “suspend disbelief”, ignore the increased spending and pretend this is an earnest attempt to reign in the deficit.

If he wants to be seen as serious about this, he can cancel the rest of the stimulus, which had done next to nothing to help relieve joblessness. He can ask Congress to cancel the omnibus spending bill which was passed earlier this year and return the money that hasn’t been spent. And he can return what is left of the TARP money to the Treasury. And if he’s really interested in not kicking the can down the road, he can address the real drains on the budget – Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. But we all know that’s not going to happen – in fact, he and the Democrats are trying to grow two of those three programs as we speak.

So while this will be described by the adoring media as part of that “hard pivot” to address the public’s concerns, it’s really a bone (and a tiny one at that) thrown to try to buy off those who really don’t pay close attention and to give the impression he’s serious about the deficit and the debt. Don’t be fooled – he’s serious about neither, and that’s been obvious since he was the junior Senator from Illinois. Nothing has changed since he ascended to the presidency.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Because It Has Worked So Well To This Point

James Carville, a Democratic consultant who is usually wrong about everything manages to be wrong again.  However, I have to admit to hoping Democrats and President Obama take his advice:

Contrary to what you might think, I am a proud member of the pro finger-pointing caucus. It wasn’t too long ago that my longtime colleague Paul Begala and I urged our friends on the other side of the aisle to engage early and often in the blame game.

Now it is the Democrats’ turn. Point fingers is exactly what Democrats have done following Republican Scott Brown’s surprise victory in Massachusetts, and the subsequent setback for healthcare reform .

The White House, Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts attorney-general, Celinda Lake, her pollster, congressional Democrats, the Democratic National Committee, Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, and Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, are just a few of the circular firing squad that has sucked up every last breath in Washington this past week.


Democrats would not be playing the blame game with one another for the loss or for the healthcare debacle if they had only pointed fingers at those (or in this case, the one) who put Americans (and most of the world) in the predicament we’re in: George W. Bush.

Really? Pointing the finger at Bush is panacea for all that ails the Democrats?

Pretty simplistic pap, wouldn’t you say? Martha Coakley could have stood at a podium 24/7 and talked about the demon George Bush and how he’s laid us low, but that wouldn’t change the fact that the Democrats owned the pork laden stimulus bill, the latest bacon bonanza of a spending bill, the economy killing (and thankfully languishing) cap-and-trade bill and the health care reform monstrosity, would it?

Blaming Bush seems so wussy. Like the playground habit of pointing your finger at a playmate and claiming the situation in which you’re caught to be of his making.  “He did it”. There’s a natural aversion to condoning that sort of blame shifting. It just doesn’t sit will with most people.

But Democrats, at least until recently, have believed the Carville route to the be one which would insulate them from criticism. Lay it on the previous guy and you will be covered.  MA, NJ and VA give some glimmer as to how well that’s worked so far, don’t they?  Some Democratic advisers are seeing that as a loser now:

Howard Wolfson, a senior official on Hillary Clinton’s campaign and veteran Democratic communications guru, noted that his party was able to run against Republican Herbert Hoover’s Depression-era presidency for 30 years.

“That doesn’t seem to be the case here,” he said.

Indeed it doesn’t. In fact, my guess is it tends to alienate voters because it is such a cheesy, infantile excuse. Most people understand that some of the troubles the country face didn’t happen under this administration’s watch. And they also understand they were “inherited”. But for heaven sake, does that have to be said each an every time you address a problem? If that’s not bad enough, how about trying to blame current problems that are indeed a result of Democratic policies on the previous administration? It is preposterous, tiresome and unworthy of an administration which would like to be considered seriously. How can you take seriously people who continually blame others and won’t take responsibility and ownership now that they’re in charge?

“Voters are pretty tired of the blame game,” said longtime Democratic strategist Steve Hildebrand, a top aide on Obama’s presidential campaign. “What a stupid strategy that was.”

“Was?” According to Carville, it should be an “is” strategy. And to an extent he’s right, although he doesn’t make the clear in his advice. How can “blame Bush” card be effectively played? Very selectively in relevant elections – but certainly not as a wild card for everything.

“It’s got to be highly relevant,” said pollster Joel Benenson. “It has to be done in a way that’s not gratuitous and on issues that affect people’s lives. You can’t just brandish [Bush’s image] and wave it like a pennant.”

“Voters are smart about this,” added pollster Geoff Garin. “There’s got to be some credible relationship, either in terms of how they voted or [in terms of] specific policies that they’re supporting now.”

It’s not, Garin continued, one size fits all, but for some GOP candidates, the line of attack still carries some promise. He cited Rep. Roy Blunt, a House majority whip in the Bush years who is now running for a Missouri Senate seat, and former Rep. Rob Portman, who served as Bush’s budget director and is now running for the Senate in Ohio.

“Those people were really present at the creation, and making the case against them as helping to create the Bush economy is still very powerful,” Garin said.

Those two cases are two in which the “blame Bush” card might have some relevance. But my guess is it would have a very limited effect. Bush is gone, and frankly, Obama has some voters pining for him. In effect, depending on how the Obama presidency proceeds, it could end up backfiring on those who use it, even in relevant cases. It is the “now” that voters concern themselves with. That means they relate their condition to who is in charge now as well. Most are going to consider the blame game a pretty poor attempt to divert attention rather than facing the problems at hand. And voters rarely reward those they think are avoiding the issues via distraction.

So despite saying how lame I think Carville’s advice is, I have to hope the heck the Democrats heed it and double down on the blame Bush strategy. It will drive independents crazy and into the arms of the GOP faster than “Pants on the Ground” went viral.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Republicans And Democrats Still Don’t Get It

The WSJ carries a story this morning entitled “White House Toughens Tone”. The essence of the article is the White House intends to use the State of the Union address to push an even larger agenda and isn’t about making any “abrupt policy shifts”. He will, however, be stressing jobs.

OK. So what? I think we’ve seen a year of speeches which, for the most part, pushed a nebulous agenda but then saw an ineffectual White House unable to push any of it through. What will be different with the SOTU address (other than the fact his use of his teleprompter will be in front of adults vs. sixth graders)?

The article also touts the fact that David Plouffe will be joining the staff of the White House. That is a purely political move, having little effect on policy or its accomplishment. Plouffe is a spin-meister whose preferred venue is a campaign where claims are rarely questioned. That’s not the venue he will find in the White House. And again, if nothing in terms of leadership from the White House follows the SOTU speech, the result will be much the same as it has been all year, Plouffe or no Plouffe.

“People are working harder,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” referring to the economy. “If they have a job, they’re working harder for less. They’re falling behind. That’s been true for a decade. They look at a wave of irresponsibility from Wall Street to Washington that led to that. And those were the frustrations that got the president elected in the first place, and they were reflected again on Tuesday” in the Massachusetts election.

All that Republican can hope for is David Axelrod and the White House keep believing this. The frustration he’s seeing from voters has little to do with Wall Street, despite the White House’s attempt to make it a populist cause. What is “frustrating” the voters is the out of control government spending and the massively increasing size of government and it’s continued intrusion into their lives. Yes, they want government focusing on the economy and jobs. But not if the “answer” is throwing more money we don’t have at it. Do what is necessary with tax cuts (such as an immediate one for payroll taxes) and rolling back some of the regulatory regime to encourage business to hire and expand. But Democrats and the White House seem oblivious to the fact that 56% of the country opposed the so-called “stimulus” and still do. So I look for Obama to promise massive spending increases to support whatever “focus” he brings to jobs in the SOTU address.

As for Republicans? Well, they have it wrong as well:

Republicans, meanwhile, said their victory in Massachusetts was spurred by opposition to the health overhaul. “The message in Massachusetts was absolutely clear,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “The exit polls that I looked at said 48% of the people in Massachusetts said they voted for the new senator over health care. Only 5% mentioned any other issue. The American people had a victory in Massachusetts, and they were sending us the message ‘Stop and start over.’ ”

Certainly health care was the immediate issue that is most identified as a reason for voting for Brown, but Brown’s overall theme was less spending, less taxation and smaller government. The voter’s disapproval of health care was just part of a broader disapproval of an out of control government spending them into penury. People are finally frightened by what they see. Over the decades the increases in the size, scope and spending of government has been relatively slow and incremental. But within the last year, it has been so massive that even the most disinterested of citizens has been alarmed by it. Democrats are seeking to raise the debt ceiling by 1.9 trillion dollars – again.

This sort of spending is recognized as “out of control” by even the least informed among us. If Republicans focus only on the Brown victory being about health care, they will, as usual, have missed the real problem and the real issue. And that’s unfortunate because it is an issue that plays to their strengths much better than it does those of Democrats. Scott Brown is going to Washington DC because he’s talked about making government smaller, less intrusive and less expensive. He ran a good campaign focused on those primary core issues. It is a blueprint for the coming midterms if the Republicans are smart enough to figure that out and use those broad issues against this Congress and President. They need to get over gloating about stopping health care and make the point that it’s about stopping explosive government growth and the spending that goes with it. It’s about telling the people we can’t afford this and they’re the ones to right the ship of state and cut back on its size and expense. For once, it appears the people are ready to listen to that message. I’m not sure how many more hints they have to throw the Republican’s way before they finally figure it out.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

About That Settled “Science”

More information about the now discredited Himalayan glacier claim:

The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.

Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report’s chapter on Asia, said: ‘It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.

As is obvious the so-called “science” was nothing more than concocted tripe used strictly for political purposes. And the fact that it was included, without peer review and never double checked raises doubts about the scientific nature of the IPCC report in toto. Lal’s admission is incredible. The fact that it was never further checked by those who put their reputations on the line by signing the IPCC document is equally as incredible.

As we skeptics have been saying since the beginning, this is as much about a political agenda as it is about science, and in the last few months, the science has been found to be severely wanting. This is simply the latest in a long line of credibility destroying revelations which should have now made every thinking person out there a skeptic when it comes to the “science” of AGW.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Buy Dale’s Books!