Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Romney or a Conservative?

It remains unclear who the final anti-Romney Republican will be. But Victor Volsky, writing in the conservative American Thinker, provides a to-me-persuasive pitch against nominating Romney. Volsky says Obama
has steered the country onto the road to socialist hell, and if his "accomplishments" are not undone, America will find itself in mortal peril. Assuming that in 2012 Obama goes down to defeat, as seems increasingly likely, it is paramount that the next U.S. president be as much a counter-revolutionary as Obama is a revolutionary. Zeal must be countered with zeal, persistence with persistence. For the U.S. public, ordinarily cautious and wary of dramatic moves, instinctively grasps the gravity of the situation and clamors for boldness.

The 2012 election will be that rare instance when the American people will tolerate -- indeed, demand -- decisive, visionary action to arrest the country's seemingly inexorable slide toward the abyss. Tinkering around the edges won't do. What is required now is an all-out counterattack to roll back the socialist onslaught. In short, what the country needs is a transformative president. Does Mitt Romney meet the specification? I am afraid not.
If you are for Romney, you believe strongly Obama will be hard to beat; only moderate Romney can get the job done. Romney is Rockefeller in 1968, Bush 41 in 1980, McCain in 2000 and 2008 (oops!)—the moderate to nominate because he can win. Yet Nixon (1968), Reagan (1980), and Bush 43 (2000) all won the nomination as conservatives, then won anyway in November.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Did not know: Fox dominates news industry.

Look at what the Pew Research Center found when it asked people about their views of the media. The “news organization” people thought of first is cable news, specifically CNN and Fox. People named the two cable channels more than twice as often as “lesser” outlets NBC, ABC, and CBS, and 10 times more often than the New York Times or NPR. Wow.

According to Pew:
The public’s top two sources of news remain television and the internet. Two-thirds of Americans (66%) say television is where they get most of their news about national and international events, while 43% say they turn to the internet. . . The top sources of TV news are the Fox News Channel, cited by 19% of the public, CNN (15%), and local news programming (16%).
Fox is the top news source!

Deroy Murdock, writing in the conservative magazine Newsmax, says Nielsen Media Research data shows the top 13 programs in cable news air on Fox. Its audience accounts for 48% of the prime-time cable-news market, compared to CNN’s and MSNBC’s combined total of 34%. Murdock adds that Fox News is now the crown jewel of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation empire, which, as of September, had a market valuation of $44 billion. Fox News makes more money than CNN, MSNBC, and the evening newscasts of NBC, ABC, and CBS combined.

Is that amazing, or what?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jobs and Jobs

Describing Steve Jobs’ influence after his death, the Economist wrote that Jobs “empowered millions of people by giving them access to cutting-edge technology,” adding
innovation used to spill over from military and corporate laboratories to the consumer market, but lately this process has gone into reverse. Many people’s homes now have more powerful, and more flexible, devices than their offices do; consumer gizmos and online services are smarter and easier to use than most companies’ systems. . .
Notice the Economist’s quiet dig at Obama-type industrial policy, the idea that innovation begins with big government (or big business—“military and corporate laboratories”)? As George Will recently pointed out:
government of the sort progressives demand — supposed “experts,” wiser than the market, allocating wealth and opportunity by supposedly disinterested decisions — is not just susceptible to corruption, it is corruption. It is political favoritism with a clean conscience. [emphasis added]
Elsewhere, Will added:
It is conservatism, not liberalism, that takes society seriously. Liberalism preaches confident social engineering by the regulatory state. Conservatism urges government humility in the face of society’s creative complexity. Society — hundreds of millions of people making billions of decisions daily — is a marvel of spontaneous order among individuals in voluntary cooperation.
Will makes such a crucial point. Devolve decision-making to the lowest possible level, and society captures the grandest possible aggregate of intelligence, expertise, and self-interested commitment. Get government out of the way. Here’s Reason’s Deirdre McCloskey’s caution with her simple definition of a job:
Jobs are deals between workers and employers, and so “creating” them out of unwilling parties is impossible. The state, though, can outlaw deals, and has.
Government can’t create jobs, but it can kill them. We are, as Joel Kotkin tells us in “Politico,” living through an awful, job-crushing period:
The situation [has been terrible] for small businesses — with serious consequences for job creation. The number of start-ups with employees — the traditional source of new jobs — has dropped 23% since 2008. Most entrepreneurs, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, expect the job market to weaken and unemployment to stay high for the foreseeable future.
Kotkin blames the president, then suggest a remedy:
the administration displays relatively little support — and passion — for the many middle-income Americans who depend, directly or indirectly, on industries like oil and gas, warehousing, construction and, except for the bailed-out auto firms, manufacturing. . .

So how best to [encourage] serious economic growth beyond Wall Street[? With a] flatter tax system with fewer exemptions, limiting trusts and foundations and ending the preference for capital gains[, forcing] the wealthy to re-engage the economy. They would have fewer ways to hide their money. Sweep aside both subsidies for oil and gas companies and the renewable industry, regulate sensibly and market forces can drive exploration and development.
The Steve Jobs experience. The advice of many non-progressives, liberals in the word’s original, Jeffersonian meaning. Liberate a billion wealth creators. China. India. The U.S. too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Obama Campaign Can’t Wait: Already Targeting Romney

The Washington Post reports top Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod (picture) used a 30 minute conference call with reporters to lay into GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the day after popular New Jersey governor Chris Christie endorsed Romney. Pushing his attack on Romney for flip-flopping to near its logical limit, Axelrod said,
I will give [Romney] this. He is as vehement and as strong in his convictions when he takes one position and he is when he takes diametrically opposite positions. ... The comedian George Burns once said all you need for success in show business is sincerity and if you’ve got that, you’ve got it made. Maybe that’s true in politics sometimes. But not in a presidential campaign. People want to know who you are, what you believe in, what you stand for.
Axelrod’s comments follow what conservative Rush Limbaugh called an “obvious” leak—NBC reporter Michael Isikoff’s story that White House officials had a dozen meetings in 2009 with three Romney health-care advisers who helped shape the health care reform law Romney signed in 2006, with one meeting “in the Oval Office and presided over by Barack Obama.” One Romney advisor said the White House “really wanted to know how we can take that same approach we used in Massachusetts and turn that into a national model.”

Now Limbaugh thinks the Obama team is hoping to run against Romney because he is so beatable as a flip-flopper married to Obamacare’s Massachusetts’ sister, so he asks rhetorically why would the White House at this time, with the Republican nomination battle still undecided, be leaking material damaging to Romney? What gives? Limbaugh guesses the reason: Obama and company expect Romney to emerge as the eventual nominee, but hope that’s only after a long and drawn-out campaign that slows Romney’s momentum.

I think Limbaugh is onto something. Slowing down the Romney express allows more time for Republicans to beat him up inside the train, so that when he finally arrives at the nomination station, he’s in poor shape to take on Obama.

Oh my.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

September Jobs Gains Better, Not Good Enough

Employers hired more workers than expected in September and job gains for the prior months were revised higher, according to Friday’s monthly jobs report. Nonfarm payrolls rose 103,000; economists had expected an increase of only 60,000. And the economy added 99,000 more jobs in July and August than initially reported, as hourly earnings rebounded and the average workweek rose. All good news.

The unemployment rate, however, remains stuck at 9.1%. Also, as the chart below shows, Obama must create 186,000 jobs a month every month for 12 months straight just to get jobs by next year's election back to where they were when he took office in January 2009—never mind that the country has added 8 million people since. Reaching an average of 186,000 new jobs a month for a whole year won't be easy. Monthly job growth over the past 12 months has averaged only 110,000.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Republicans: No Ronald Reagan

“You can’t beat somebody with nobody.”

--“Nobody” (maybe Nicholas Murray Butler)

So Chris Christie won’t run. Christie, the man with a Reagan-like ability to talk straight and make people laugh. And Rick Perry, the big-state governor with an impressive job-creation record and strong conservative credentials, the guy who looks like Reagan did when Reagan was 61? Well, we found out that when the TV lights are on, he can’t string complete sentences together. So Republicans in 2012 won’t have the next Reagan riding in on his horse to take care of Obama. Reality sets in.

Does that make Mitt Romney the GOP guy, in the pattern of George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, each one a “last man standing” in their time, all of who lost (H.W. in 1992 after first winning in 1988)? Is Romney truly it? Jon Stewart Wednesday used a string of old clips to go after Romney, an all-world flip-flopper. Stewart even found Romney flipping himself into the middle class!! The funnyman just gave us a great preview of how Democrats will skewer Romney. Oh my.

Let me offer 5 observations:

1. Republican hero-presidents are rare—4 in 150 years. The GOP had Lincoln (1860), Teddy Roosevelt (1901), Eisenhower (1952), and Reagan (1980—Reagan seemed an ersatz hero who only played heroes in movies, yet was a true hero who saved dozens of lives as a high school lifeguard). Republican heroes only come along once a generation. Of course, that means the party is due.

2. Weak Republicans do win. Best example of a weak two-term winner: Nixon. He won in terrible times when Democrats fought an internal civil war over Vietnam. George W. Bush sort of won twice, though he lost the popular vote to Al Gore in 2000.

3. Herman Cain wouldn’t be the first Republican nominated for president who never held major elected or appointive office or high military rank. That honor goes to Wendell Willkie, nominated by Republicans in 1940. Of course, Willkie lost 38 states and 85% of the electoral vote to Franklin Roosevelt.

4. This is no time for an objective read on the GOP field.
Democrats are fighting a life-or-death struggle to preserve big government. The media are the Democrats’ powerful air force, and are strafing and bombing every single Republican candidate who sticks his/her head out of a foxhole. In the fall of 2011, the only battle underway is for the GOP nomination, so the media are working over any Republican who looks like a threat to Obama. Meanwhile, that small portion of the New York/Washington punditry calling themselves Republican have picked Romney, and are piling on media attacks aimed at Romney’s GOP opponents. Once the caucuses and primaries begin, voters take over from the media in picking winners.

5. Republicans need to redefine the presidency. Perry moved in that direction when he said he wanted to make Washington as “inconsequential” as possible. We don’t need a hero. We need a president who will work hard to get government out of the way, so that business can create jobs.

And at the same time, Republicans should claim the word “compassion.” A compassionate government wouldn’t look like Obama’s, constantly getting in the way of entrepreneurs. A compassionate government would focus on the dignity and individual worth, as well as the shared prosperity, that comes from holding a job. Harry Truman believed in full employment as a national objective. He just failed to appreciate that business creates the jobs, with government on the sidelines keeping the competition fair.

Compassion = jobs.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Democrats: Obama goes for the base.

“Right after Mr. Obama’s election, David Plouffe, his senior political strategist then and now, declared America was no longer a center-right country, but had turned center-left.”

--Brit Hume, FoxNews “Special Report”

Let’s correct Plouffe. America is a center-right country. But Plouffe and the Obama team realize that Obama’s base isn’t confined to the left side of the political spectrum. It includes more conservative minority voters and unmarried women, with a large share of both groups believing Obama, Democrats, government itself is on their side while Republicans aren’t.

The latest Fox News Poll found that while respondents believed by 45% to 26% Obama has done more to hurt the economy than help it, the same people believe Republicans are worse, hurting the economy over helping it by 50% to 15%! The Republican brand remains weak.

As we earlier wrote, Obama is trying to mobilize his base against a Republican enemy the way Harry Truman successfully mobilized the country against a “do-nothing 80th Congress” in 1948.

But others are skeptical of Obama’s efforts to channel Truman. Political guru Stuart Rothenberg, writing in Roll Call, pointed out that the times have changed:
President Harry Truman did successfully run against Congress in 1948. But the differences between Truman’s situation and Obama’s are striking. The New Deal coalition was solidly in control back then, so Truman needed merely to activate it against the GOP. The president has a much more difficult job now. . . Running against a dangerous Republican presidential nominee, of course, would be [a] better [strategy].
Similarly, Jay Cost, in the Weekly Standard, wrote:
Truman went hyper-partisan against the Republicans in 1948 because he believed that, deep down, the country was still way more Democratic than Republican (and he was right about that). Obama is [doing the same] because he believes that, deep down, there are still way more Obama supporters than opponents. Let’s keep in mind that this president’s “arrogance to excellence” ratio has always been staggeringly high.
In mobilizing Obama’s base for victory in 2012, Democrats are intrigued by a "Colorado Strategy.” In 2010, a bad year for Democrats nationally, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet won election in a swing state by doing extremely well among minorities, college educated liberals, independent women, social moderates, and environmentalists.

As Jackie Calmes and Mark Landler report in the New York Times:
what buoys Democrats are the changing demographics of formerly Republican states like Colorado, where Democrats won a close Senate race in 2010, as well as Virginia and North Carolina. With growing cities and suburbs, they are populated by increasing numbers of educated and higher-income independents, young voters, Hispanics and African-Americans, many of them alienated by Republicans’ Tea Party agenda. . . Terry Nelson, a campaign adviser to George W. Bush, John McCain and, this year, the former candidate Tim Pawlenty, [noted that] “Obama needs fewer white voters in 2012 than he did in 2008.”

The latest nationwide New York Times/CBS News poll this month showed that . . . independents with household incomes above $100,000 approved of [Obama’s] job performance by 50% to 43%.
Yet the National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar believes Obama’s class warfare pitch is turning off the very higher-income, college-educated independents the “Colorado strategy” seeks to attract:
winning diverse, white-collar battleground states like Colorado, Virginia, and North Carolina—more-affluent states with growing numbers of independents[—isn’t helped by] the president’s latest rhetoric, pitting the affluent against the middle class[. It] threatens to turn off the very independents he’s seeking to win back.
We said Obama’s reach covers 63.7% of the electorate. To win, to obtain 50% of the total vote therefore, Obama under a “play to the base” strategy must win 78.5% of his base. Let’s round that off to 80% of the base. (Obama’s theoretical base includes non-citizens as well as citizens from groups—Blacks, Hispanics, youth—with historically lower-than-average turnouts, meaning his voter base is really less than 63.7%, probably less than 60% of those who will show up at the polls, and 50/60 is 83.3%, higher than 80%, so it’s actually being conservative to round off his base-win target to 80%).

In a down economy where jobs are scarce to non-existent, will unmarried females, Blacks, Hispanics, other minorities, white liberals, and youth vote 80% combined, across-the-board to re-elect Obama? Seems a tall order. Obama will win votes beyond his base, but not all that many in a campaign thus far overwhelmingly focused on the base.

You know that holding his base won’t be easy, when even Obama’s long-time adviser David Axelrod calls the upcoming election a “titanic struggle.”

Monday, October 03, 2011

One Side Must Lose (II)

the G.O.P. is no longer a “conservative” party, offering a conservative formula for American renewal. The G.O.P. has been captured by a radical antitax wing.

--Thomas Friedman, New York Times

We have discussed why Republicans oppose tax increases. Holding the line on taxes is the most effective way to halt government growth, and to begin reducing an unsustainably high debt level. Raising taxes, on the other hand, enables government expansion to continue.

But since holding the line on taxes takes the oxygen away from government, the government party, and the national elite that rules through government, Democrats wage a life-or-death struggle to increase taxes. Democrats fear smaller government. They will—as we have repeatedly noted—fight harder to hold onto what they have than will Republicans fight to gain new territory.

The hyperbole of their language tells us how much Democrats know their fate is tied to big government, and how much they feel the epic challenge to their continued rule:

From Katrina vanden Heuvel, Nation editor and publisher:
the [GOP] attempts to roll back not simply Obama’s reforms but the Great Society and the New Deal — indeed much of the progress made in the 20th century. . . it would be a grave mistake to give up on government; instead it’s time to clean up our politics and rebuild a fair economy.
From Congressman Harry Waxman (D-CA):
The Republicans want us to repeal the 20th century, the New Deal, the Fair Deal, to turn us back to the robber barons running the country, and to eviscerate the environmental and other regulations to protect public health and safety. And to cut spending in ways that would be very harmful to people who rely on government.
From Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Yorker:
Republicans are lunatics dedicated above all to destroying the Obama Presidency.
Democrats are so determined to raise taxes on the wealthy they will do so even if it doesn’t yield additional revenue, notes Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer:
asked [in 2008] about his support for raising capital gains taxes, given the historical record of government losing net revenue as a result[,] Obama [responded: “]what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.” A most revealing window into our president’s political core: To impose a tax that actually impoverishes . . . the U.S. Treasury is . . . nothing but punitive. It benefits no one — not the rich, not the poor, not the government. For Obama, however, it brings fairness, which is priceless.
But Krauthammer’s argument misses the mark. Obama and Democrats aren’t about just raising taxes on the rich. They truly want the revenue that comes from raising taxes on everyone. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) catches that point in his Wall Street Journal review of The Price of Civilization by Jeffrey Sachs, a well-known development economist at Columbia. Ryan writes
Sachs is honest enough to acknowledge that the "rich" are not nearly rich enough to pay for his ever-expansive vision of government. We're told that "each of us with an above-average income" (i.e., $50,000 per household) must "understand that . . . we can make do with a little less take-home pay."
Ryan notes Sachs wants more taxes even as Sachs admits, "Yes, the federal government is incompetent and corrupt—but we need more, not less, of it."

Republicans: no new taxes. Democrats: new taxes on everyone. A zero-sum war; winners and losers. The people decide.