Free Markets, Free People

Barack Obama

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 08 Jan 12

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the president’s recess appointments and the new US military strategy.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

Gingrich fatigue?

Probably not so much fatigue as getting to know Newt and finding out he’s not really the guy many in the GOP want as the presidential nominee.  In fact, no one seems to be really capturing the attention of likely GOP voters for more than a month or two without imploding or fading.  Gingrich seems to be doing a fade job as Gallup documents:

After enjoying 14- to 15-percentage-point leads over Mitt Romney in early December, Newt Gingrich is now statistically tied with Romney in national Republican preferences for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination: 26% for Gingrich vs. 24% for Romney. This follows a steady decline in support for Gingrich in the past 10 days.

My guess is “Getting To Know You” wouldn’t be Newt Gingrich’s favorite song, because the more you know about him and the more you hear him, the less you want this guy anywhere near the Oval Office.  And for the man who sat on the couch with Nancy Pelosi to try to claim conservative credentials is, well, laughable.

So as the press actually vets a candidate (apparently they remembered how after Obama was elected) and voters get to hear more and more from him on issues such as the judiciary (and something about handcuffs) etc., not to mention the fact that he is the consummate and ultimate Washington DC insider, his star begins to twinkle less brightly in the political heavens.

Iowa will be upon us soon.  Rumor and a few polls have it that Ron Paul will win that.  As someone else mentioned, if he does, that will make Iowa pretty much a farce.  Paul cannot get beyond 10 to 11% nationally and winning Iowa won’t change that.  What it may do, it that happens, is cast even more doubt on Gingrich’s ability to win in the long run.  A Paul win in Iowa will simply make him the latest GOP shooting star.

Romney, however, will plod along and his organization will take Iowa in stride and continue on the long road to the nomination.  I’m not saying I want Romney by any stretch, just laying out the facts as I see them.   He has built the best organization and ground game.   Iowa will not stop or deter his pursuit of the nomination.  I won’t go as far as to say his nomination is inevitable.  It’s a long way to November.  I’m just saying that, barring the entry into the race of the prefect candidate, he probably has the best chance of being the compromise nominee when the convention rolls around.  Obviously the primaries will tell, but I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on Iowa.

Gingrich, on the other hand, is seeing what I would consider an expected pushback.  When you first see him and hear him you think, “ok, he’s articulate, he debates well, he could take on the incumbent easily and, well, he might not be so bad”.  Then you begin to pay attention and hear his ideas and thoughts.  And you decide he’s not at all what you’re looking for if you’re really a conservative.   He can talk the game, but if you really listen and pay attention to what he’s said in the past, you know he’s about as consistent as Mitt Romney – he just spins his flip-flops better.

That said, the GOP faithful are going to have to realize something – and before I say this, I want it understood it is not an endorsement of any of the above – they’re not going to get the perfect candidate.  At some point they’re going to have to pick among those running and back that candidate if they want Barack Obama to begin planning his library.  And it may entail holding their collective noses to do so … again.

If anything, that’s the problem with which the entire electorate should be concerned.  Look at the incumbent.  Look at the challengers.  How in the world did we ever get in the shape that they are the only one’s from which we have to pick?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

“Painful ignorance”

As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is frightening to read the words by this President and it is hard not be appalled by the apparent economic ignorance they contain.  We’ve remarked on it several times.  In particular this statement is stunning in that regard:

Factories where people thought they would retire suddenly picked up and went overseas, where workers were cheaper. Steel mills that needed 100—or 1,000 employees are now able to do the same work with 100 employees, so layoffs too often became permanent, not just a temporary part of the business cycle. And these changes didn’t just affect blue-collar workers. If you were a bank teller or a phone operator or a travel agent, you saw many in your profession replaced by ATMs and the Internet.

Richard Epstein of the Hoover Institution noticed it too.  And in very blunt language, points the very same thing we’ve been talking about:

To anyone schooled in economics, these statements reveal a breathtaking ignorance about the sources of national prosperity.  It is a good thing when plants can achieve the same output with less labor. Do we really want an America in which thousands of people work in dangerous occupations to turn molten lava into steel bars? Far better it is that fewer workers are doing those jobs. The jobs lost in that industry will be in part replaced by newer jobs created in the firms that build the equipment that make it possible to run steel mills at a lower cost and far lower risk of personal injury. The former workers can seek jobs in newer industries that will only expand by competing for labor.

And what about those ATM machines? Does the president really want people to have to queue up in banks to make deposits or withdraw cash in order to make a boom market for human tellers? Perhaps we should return to the days before automation, when phone calls were all connected by human operators. And why blast the Internet, which has created far more useful jobs than it has ever destroyed?

The painful ignorance that is revealed in these remarks augurs ill for the long-term recovery of America. With the president firmly determined to set himself against the tides of progress, innovation will be harder to come by. The levels of unemployment will continue to be high as the president works overtime to impose additional restrictions on the labor markets and more taxes at the top of the income distribution—both backhanded ways to reward innovation and growth.

The problem, therefore, with the president’s speech is not that it is demagogic in tone. The problem is that it is intellectually incoherent. As a matter of high principle, the president announces his fealty to markets. As a matter of practical politics, he denigrates and undermines them at every step. It is a frightening prospect to have a president who lives in a time warp that lets him believe that the failed policies of 1935 can lead this nation back from the brink. His chosen constituency, the middle class, should tremble at the prospect that his agenda might well set the course for the United States for the next four years.

Well said, but frightening.  Take the time to read the rest of Epstein’s piece.  It’s worth the read.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 11 Dec 11

This week, Bruce Michael, and Dale record talk about China, illegal immigration, and Egypt.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

Economic ignorance, thy name is Obama

I’m not sure how else to describe this statement from “the smartest man in the room” concerning the Keystone XL pipeline and unemployment benefits:

As Obama called for passage of those bills, he also responded to a recent Republican push to require him to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. "However many jobs might be generated by a Keystone pipeline," he said, "they’re going to be a lot fewer than the jobs that are created by extending the payroll tax cut and extending unemployment insurance."

It’s rather hard to even imagine someone thinking that’s true.  Yet here’s the guy who is supposed to be making jobs his focus and economic recovery his priority and he thinks he’s doing his job by trying to get unemployment insurance extended?  He believes that the extension of the payroll tax cut is job creator?   Note the word – create, as in what Obama said.  While it certainly can be argued that on some level it might save a few jobs, if there were any to be created from its extension, they’ve most likely already been created. 

The Keystone XL pipeline on the other hand, will create thousands and thousands of jobs.

TransCanada is poised to put 13,000 Americans to work to construct the pipeline – pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators, among other jobs – in addition to 7,000 manufacturing jobs that would be created across the U.S.  Additionally, local businesses along the pipeline route will benefit from the 118,000 spin-off jobs Keystone XL will create through increased business for local goods and service providers.

Of course, besides the pure economic ignorance displayed by the statement, Mr. Obama offers nothing in terms of numbers to back his claim.  It’s another in a long line of claims made recently that just aren’t true.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Obama the faux class warrior

Apparently, when in trouble politically, the “go to” issue for Democrats is class warfare.  It is time to demonize and divide instead of being statesmen and providing positive solutions, because positive solutions and bipartisan politics is hard, right? 

That’s precisely the road President Obama has chosen to take.  It was either that or run on his abysmal record during his term in office.  So, instead he’s decided to go the old route of many on the left when it is necessary to distract from their record – class warfare.  Pit Americans against Americans.  Play the egalitarian card and claim that those who’ve done better than others are the problem.

In a speech yesterday of about 30 minutes, he expounded on this theme:

But this isn’t just another political debate.  This is the defining issue of our time.  This is a make or break moment for the middle class, and all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.  At stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement.

Now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia.  After all that’s happened, after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that have stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for too many years.  Their philosophy is simple:  we are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.

Lets talk about policies and jobs, shall we?

If anyone is suffering from amnesia the man on the podium is.  It is his administration which as made concerted war on the job creators while trying to create a atmosphere that would shame them and turn other Americans against them.   The perfect example of this is to be found in the energy sector where Obama administration policies have blocked oil and gas exploration and production at every turn, killed jobs and prevented those who want to from earning “enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement.”  Just ask workers along the Gulf Coast.  But he will push the extension of unemployment benefits.

Their policies have also picked winners and losers – such as Solyndra – and, unsurprisingly, their winners have been losers.

This is a president who did nothing for the “middle class” for the two years he had a majority Democratic Congress except work on a horrendous health care bill which, if fully implemented, will be the ruin of the country.  His legacy was more important than the middle class.

Now he’s their champion, falsely accusing those who pay the majority of the income taxes in this country of being the problem.

Anyone with an ounce of sense and even a passing understanding of economics understands that income isn’t a zero sum game and regardless of how much someone else earns or what the income gap is between top and bottom earners in this society, there is nothing standing in the way of an aggressive, well prepared and hard working person moving from one group to the other.

But the crux of the Obama argument is that the high income earners are the problem and that it is government’s job to punish them (via punitive taxation) for daring to do as well as they have. It is his contention that their success has come at the expense of the middle class.   It is also an implied panacea for all our ills.  Hit them with prohibitive taxes and everything will be wonderful, the moon ponies will again fly, unicorns will graze in your backyard and all the ills of the middle class will be gone forever.

This is a calculated campaign designed to appeal to the emotions and to distract from the real issue – the abject failure of this man to lead and to be a statesman and the total failure of the policies he’s pushed to make any discernable difference.  It is his own record he’s running from and it is the oldest political trick in the world to which he turns to do that. 

This upcoming election isn’t about income gaps, the 1% and the middle class.  It is about a failed president and his abysmal record.  It is about the fact that he has accomplished little of worth and is a divisive president.  Instead of being the uniter he promised to be, he’s been a divider from day one.

The defining issue of our time isn’t the middle class.  In fact, if government would simply get out of the way in most cases, the middle class would find its advancement eased considerably.

The defining issue of our time is the role of government and whether or not we’re willing to let it continue its expanding intrusion and kill our country.  That’s what he’d prefer not be discussed.  Because if it is, he loses.

So let’s change the subject to that which is appropriate – what he has done in the past 3 years to positively advance the cause of America.

I think you’ll find the answer to that to be pretty much nothing.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Tina Brown: Obama just doesn’t like his job

Aw, Bunkie doesn’t like his job?  The smartest guy in the room? 

You know I think back to all the times in the past three years I’ve pointed out the man has little if any leadership skills and now, it seems, even liberals are having to admit it, even if obliquely and wrapped in spin.  Check out this transcript on Morning Joe with Tina Brown:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Tina, what has happened to this president, the president from hope and change?  What has happened?

TINA BROWN: Well it’s so interesting. I think that Obama doesn’t like his job, actually. I think that he is genuinely of a professional disposition in the sense that I think that he’s interested in chewing over the pros and cons, and he doesn’t like, he doesn’t like power and he doesn’t know how to exercise power. And I think knowing how to exercise power is absolutely crucial.  He doesn’t understand how to underpin his ideas with the political gritty, granular business of getting it done. And that kind of gap has just widened and widened and widened. And so that every time there is a moment, a window where he can jump in, like something like a Simpson-Bowles as well, he just doesn’t do it. He hangs back at crucial moments when you have to dive through that window.

SCARBOROUGH: And regardless of your ideology, it is very safe to say, I think most people would agree: LBJ he is not, Bill Clinton, he is not, when it just comes to understanding how to make Washington work.

MIKE BARNICLE: It appears off of what Tina just said, you just said, it appears that you could make a case that Barack Obama doesn’t like politics. [emphasis mine]

He doesn’t like power?  Nonsense.  As Ace says, this is just a way of spinning failure.  It is an apologia.  He loves power.  He thought this was all about power.  All he had to do was win and have his way.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the Oval Office.  He found out he had to lead to wield his power and he hasn’t a clue about what that entails.  You see, he never thought he’d  have to actually do the “political gritty, granular business of getting it done” … i.e. lead.  He’d just wave his hand and demand it be done.

Just check his reliance on executive orders and executive branch agencies to see how he’d prefer to do business.   Dictate. 

And this claim just floored me:

He doesn’t understand how to underpin his ideas with the political gritty, granular business of getting it done.

State Senator and US Senator and he doesn’t understand the basic nature of politics today, the process  and what it requires?  And he’s the smartest guy in the room?  That’s just absurd.  He knows full well what it takes, he just doesn’t want to have to do it.

As the discussion continues, Tina Brown agrees with Mike Barnicle’s claim that Obama just doesn’t like politics:

BROWN: Right. I absolutely feel that.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well who would today? I mean, I think it’s great that –

SCARBOROUGH: Oh come on. If you don’t like medicine, don’t be a doctor. If you don’t like politics, don’t put yourself out there to run the free world, Mika.

BRZEZINSKI: You know what?  Politics today need to be changed.

SCARBOROUGH: Stop the apologizing!

BRZEZINSKI: I’m not apologizing.

SCARBOROUGH: You’re apologizing. [Sarcastically imitates Mika’s voice] Who would like politics today?  You know what?

BRZEZINSKI: Who would?

SCARBOROUGH: He is running the free world. He better know a lot of people love politics.  Bill Clinton loves politics. FDR loved politics.  Ronald Reagan loved politics. Great leaders love what they do. So who would love politics?

BROWN: Isn’t it really also about, well the other word for politics is just doing what it takes to get it done. Like, one of the things that’s interesting about Obama is that he kind of, and I think he does believe in this, that his idea of being a transformative figure who can cross many persuasions and orientations and aisles. And yet when it is actually taken to reaching out and really bringing that in, and trying, I don’t think that it really –

SCARBOROUGH: He doesn’t do that.

If he doesn’t like politics, why did he run?  If the first word that springs to your mind is narcissism, I think you’re on to something.  As many have already noted, to include authors on this blog, he took over in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and what did he do?  He immediately began working on his legacy – healthcare.   He waved away what was important and concentrated on legislation and the politics it took by the way, to get it passed.  Meanwhile, the real crisis was ignored.  For two years he had a Democratic Congress and he did nothing to address jobs or anything else economic.

Brown would like to spin his narcissism as his belief that he’s a “transformative figure” who just can’t be bothered with doing the mundane stuff necessary to get things done.  Again, and once more for the slow among us, ObamaCare.  It gives lie to the premise.  His problem isn’t that he doesn’t like politics, it’s that other than jamming through his health care fiasco, he’s been a failure.

His withdrawal now, spun as “staying above it all”, is because he’s never been an obvious failure in his entire life.   Remember this is the guy who won the Nobel Peace Prize without ever doing a single thing but winning a presidential election.  And he took it as his due.

Obama’s biggest problem is he thinks he’s smarter than he is and he had a misconception, for whatever reason (for, you know, such a smart guy) of the role and demands of the presidency.  Apparently the unicorns and moon ponies deserted him, he found out it is damned hard work that demands a competent leader and for the first time in his life, everyone wasn’t praising every little thing he did.  In fact, instead his shortcomings were being headlined.  And he has plenty of them.  Additionally, he’s now forced to actually run on a record of accomplishment if he wants to be reelected.  Of course, that’s slim to nonexistent.

No, he and his apologists are beginning to understand that they’re going to have to spin everything – everything – to try to make him the attractive candidate he was in 2008.  He’s really not cooperating which is what prompts people like Tina Brown to begin spinning like she does.  Its fairly obvious that even the liberal elite are having problems dealing with his failure and are in full “explain it away” mode.

Unfortunately, Obama has finally bumped up against “hard America” after spending most of his life in “soft America”.  Soft America is where everything done is touted and worshiped as wonderful and performance really doesn’t matter as much as just showing up.

Hard America demands performance and accomplishment.   He has precious few to show for his time in office and plenty of failure.  Its not that he doesn’t like politics or power.  Its that he is inept at both and is just now discovering that for himself.   Reaction?  Pull back.  He’s never “failed” before and doesn’t really know how to handle it.

And thus we have our present situation … a president who refuses to lead, tries to stay aloof and is seen to be withdrawing from his duties.

Gee, sure wish I could have seen that coming.

Oh, wait …

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

More Econ 101, more lies

Have you been following the latest gambit of our president?  It’s time to pull the youth vote back to him with some candy.  Taxpayer candy of course.   In his latest “policy” swing, he’s offering a way out of student loans to … students with loans, of course.

And of course there’s the convenient lie – you can essentially get something for next to nothing.  Go borrow money and the government will help you “satisfy” the loan after so many years if you do things like “public service”.  Oh, and it will never cost you more than 10% of your salary … so go for it.

Wait, one more thing from the Candy Man as he addressed a crowd of college students at the University of Colorado’s Denver campus:

But, he added, “young guys, I need you involved, I need you active … I need you to get the word out.”

Of course that’s code for “hey, vote for me and I’ll solve all your student loan problems”.  Cronyism at its finest and all without legislation.  Wasn’t it the Democrats who said they feared the “executive President”.  But I digress.

Here’s the basic truth:

But the colleges fees have to be paid somehow, even when repayments are stopped, said Burke. Sooner or later, this “will ultimately result in tax increases — in putting this on the backs of three-quarters of Americans who did not graduate from college.”

Working-class people will end up paying for middle-class graduates’ basket-weaving and women’s studies degrees, she said.

That’s right … these are government guaranteed loans.  So they will be paid.  The creditor doesn’t care who pays it.   The student or the taxpayer. So what Obama is more than willing to do is to buy votes today, by executive order, for taxpayer bailouts of deadbeat students tomorrow.

Obama is “shifting the burden of paying for college to all of those Americans who did not graduate from college — the waitresses, construction workers, mechanics — and that should infuriate the taxpayers who worked hard to pay off their loans, who decided to live a modest lifestyle to pay off their loans,” said Lindsey Burke, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

Obama’s policy is also widening the class division between working-class Americans and those with college credentials, said Matthew Denhart, a researcher at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity in Washington, D.C.

In case you were wondering, Colorado is a swing state and one in which polls show the Candy Man below 50%.

Crony Capitalism isn’t the only form of cronyism in the world as Barack Obama (and politicians of all stripes) have been proving for years.  And all funded by your money.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Only government can save you from having to be self-reliant

Read this lead sentence and weep for this country:

At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today, President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America.

A “painful era of self-reliance”? Self-reliance is a negative thing?  Well yes if your ideal is a social welfare state.  The trait that helped build this country into a great nation is now a negative according to Barack Obama:

“The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don’t work even harder than we did in 2008, then we’re going to have a government that tells the American people, ‘you are on your own,’” Obama told a crowd of 200 donors over lunch at the W Hotel.

Oh, man … that would just be terrible.

You mean I’d have to take care of myself?  I’d have to do what is necessary to ensure I had a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in the pantry? 

Oh, no.

You mean I wouldn’t have to put up with intrusive regulation and government involvement and control in every aspect of my life?

Please, say it ain’t so.

Would I be treated to a government that took less of my money in taxes because it was smaller, less intrusive and costs less?

How horrible.

Whatever happened to American pride in self-reliance for heaven sake?  Whatever happened to those who sought this place out because it was peopled with the self-reliant?  Now the possibility of having to be self reliant is to be feared?  Now only government can “save” you from having to be “on your own”?

What a pitiful mess this place has become.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

America in decline?

That’s the consensus in an interesting poll just published:

More than two-thirds of voters say the United States is declining, and a clear majority think the next generation will be worse off than this one, according to the results of a new poll commissioned by The Hill.

A resounding 69 percent of respondents said the country is “in decline,” the survey found, while 57 percent predict today’s kids won’t live better lives than their parents. Additionally, 83 percent of voters indicated they’re either very or somewhat worried about the future of the nation, with 49 percent saying they’re “very worried.”

The results suggest that Americans don’t view the country’s current economic and political troubles as temporary, but instead see them continuing for many years.

My father used to tell me “you live between your ears” meaning attitude and outlook are yours to control and play a critical part in life.

Attitude and outlook are also critical in any sort of economic recovery.  If the attitude is pessimistic and the outlook deemed as dismal, it sometimes becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I remember back in the days of the Jimmy Carter presidency, the “malaise” that settled in on the country.  People felt everything was out of control.  Interest rates were through the roof, we were seen as a paper tiger in the world and whatever else Jimmy Carter might be, he wasn’t much of a leader.   Everyone then thought America was in decline then too.

But then Ronald Reagan came along, took charge, changed the attitude and outlook of Americans and, well, the rest is literally history.

One of the key jobs of a President of the United States is to address the country’s outlook and attitude.  It is a very important aspect of leadership.  It is also critical to recovery from economic problems, unemployment and other ills that are besetting our country.  It is about setting up the proper climate to make attitudes swing to the positive side and the outlook appear rosier.

One of the things I’ve said consistently since Barack Obama has taken office is he’s not (nor has he ever been) a leader.   That’s actually no surprise to me because I understand what leadership requires.   In a word, development.   The great leaders of today, with very few exceptions, worked their way up to their ultimate leadership job through a series of lesser leadership jobs. 

I use military examples because they’re familiar to me, but no division commander ever took that job that hadn’t first been a platoon leader, then company commander, battalion commander and brigade commander.

And even then, some division commanders are better than others.   But regardless, their leadership skills have been developed and honed by successive leadership positions of increased size and responsibility.  And the weak leaders have been cast aside in that process.

We’ve elected a man who hasn’t even had a platoon, if you get my drift.  And now we’re asking him to lead (well, in reality, we ask him to lead 3 years ago) in a very difficult time.

This poll indicates how well he’s doing.

In any school in the land, his grade in leadership would be “F”.

Is America in decline?  Under this president the answer is “yes”.  Does it have to remain in decline?  No.  But to change that, the first step is voting the present occupant of the White House out of office.  The good news is we all know what happened to Jimmy Carter.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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