Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A nation adrift. A Republican lifeline?

Republican guru Karl Rove, excoriated by the left because of his effectiveness, has the facts to back his argument when he writes:
voters don't believe the president's claims that the economy is thriving. Even people with jobs feel apprehensive. Paychecks are flat, growth anemic, and people are worried about their children's prospects. Mr. Obama had a 38% approval on handling the economy in the Sept. 9 Fox News poll. In the Sept. 7 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 67% believe America is on the wrong track.
Old figures? The latest (10/14) Fox News poll records the same 38% approval of Obama’s handling of the economy, and there hasn’t been an NBC/Journal poll since Sept. 7.

Stanford economics professor Michael Boskin, George H.W. Bush’s chairman of the council of economic advisers, is optimistic about America’s future, pointing out that
the U.S. has many strengths: the best higher-education system in the world; a highly productive workforce; the deepest, most liquid capital markets; the most dynamic and innovative companies, as witnessed in the “fracking” revolution and booming U.S. oil and gas industry; and, despite recent demagoguery, a diverse population supportive of earned success.
Of course, Boskin adds that these advantages “are not immutable.”
as has happened with our K-12 education, anticompetitive forces and poor policy can throw sand in the gears of these great contributors to American success. President John F. Kennedy, whose economic strategy emphasized tax cuts and trade liberalization, opined that “A rising tide lifts all boats.” That was overstated. But it lifts by far the most boats and leaves by far the fewest stranded or sunk.
That is why President Obama promoting redistribution at the expense of growth is a tragic mistake, for the nation and especially for those hoping to climb the economic ladder.
Boskin believes our highest priority is to remove obstacles to growth and to re-incentivize “the supply side of the economy.” He wants to phase in stronger budget controls, especially entitlement reform, and to lower tax rates across the board.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has been trying these classic G.O.P. “a rising tide lifts all boats” policies, with decidedly mixed results. A sympathetic Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal, in writing about Brownback’s difficulties, tells us that
Most of the blowback Gov. Brownback has received for his tax cuts has come from big-spending Republicans who preferred the status quo and have resisted the party's reform wave. Mr. Brownback rolled them during the tax fight, and their revenge now has been to unite with Democrats to cause him political mischief.
Brownback seems to have discovered the price you pay when you go after the GOP’s “spend to hang on” wing. But on the other hand, conservative Jay Cost in the Weekly Standard believes that
Republicans . . . could start by adopting the perspective of families that make about $65,000 per year. These people’s economic situation is uncertain, and they pay a goodly portion of their income to the IRS—. . .through Social Security and Medicare taxes, which flow into the federal government’s general revenues. . . Economic security for this group primarily means lowering the cost of education, health care, and energy.
So instead of talking about tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy, about easing regulations on business, and about entitlement reforms that lower social security benefits, Republicans must (I said “must”) show how government raises the cost of education, health care, and energy for people making $65,000 a year, and how Republicans--by increasing competition and reducing regulation--will make education, health care, and energy more affordable for ordinary people.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Obamatime: List of Federal Government Missteps & Failures

the party of government is presiding over a time of government failure and malpractice.

--Matthew Continetti, Washington Free Beacon  

under Obama an ever-expanding federal government has become the essential raison d’être for the party. . . in the future Obama [will] be remembered simply for being the nation’s “first black president.”

--Joel Kotkin, Orange County Register

It’s way beyond time to record the almost-continuous record of federal government screw-ups under the current administration, which loves Big Government (self-love):

  1. The Stimulus (failure of “shovel ready”); Department of Transportation (2009) 
  2. Foreign policy SNAFUs (Russian “reset,” abandoning Iraq, pull-out “date certain” in Afghanistan, chemical weapons “red line” in Syria, ISIS “JV terrorists,” Ukraine inaction, Iran gets bomb?); White House, National Security Council, Department of State (2009- ) 
  3. Alternative Energy (Solyndra bankruptcy); Department of Energy (2011) 
  4. “Fast and Furious” (gun walking); Department of Justice (2010-12) 
  5. IRS (targeting conservatives); Department of Treasury (2010- ) 
  6. $823,000 Las Vegas party; General Services Administration (2012) 
  7. Benghazi (“spontaneous protest/anti-Muslim video”); Department of State (2012) 
  8. Cartagena prostitutes; U.S. Secret Service (2013) 
  9. Monitoring AP and Fox’s James Rosen’s phones; Department of Justice (2013) 
  10. Monitoring our emails; National Security Administration (2013) 
  11. Obamacare (rollout and “keep your doctor, keep your plan”); Health and Human Services (2013- ) 
  12. Wait-list deaths; Veterans Administration (2014) 
  13. Children crossing open borders; Department of Homeland Security (2014) 
  14. Ebola outbreak chances “extremely low”; Centers for Disease Control (2014) 
  15. Help! There’s a man in the (White) House!; U.S. Secret Service (2014) 
  16. Cartagena prostitute; White House (2014) 
This incomplete list involves messups at 14 different departments or agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control, called by the New York Times’ liberal reporter Joe Nocera “the most trusted agency in the federal government,” and the U.S. Secret Service, two previously unsullied parts of a long-compromised federal behemoth.

When will we realize government’s just too big, too far beyond the people’s control? For insight into a related story--why and how the media protects Big Government--see former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s new book, Stonewalled.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hong Kong’s “Occupy Central” Central to China’s Future

Night 20: Hundreds of protesters swamp Kowloon’s Mong Kok.
The Occupy Central protests centered on Hong Kong’s financial district are now into their 21st day. They are reportedly costing Hong Kong’s economy around $13.5 million (HK$105 million) a day in lost revenue. Talks are supposed to begin soon between the student-led protest movement and the administration of Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung, a puppet of China’s leadership whom the students have called upon to resign. Understand, though, that talks have repeatedly been announced then reshaped, only to be later called off. A resolution of the crisis may not be in sight as long as crowds keep showing up in response to police and hired-goon beatings, talk cancellations, barricade removals, and other negative government actions.

Protesters want Hong Kong’s people to be able to elect their own chief executive--as provided for under the Hong Kong basic law’s promise of universal suffrage--not be force-fed a Beijing puppet. The Occupy Central movement specifically objects to Beijing’s announced plan to select on its own the individuals who compete in future Hong Kong chief executive elections. Beijing says its nomination plan is non-negotiable. Thus, the impasse.

Any solution in sight? The Economist recently editorialized its view that
Xi Jinping, China’s president, and his colleagues believe that the party’s control over the country is the only way of guaranteeing its stability. They fear that if the party loosens its grip, the country will slip towards disorder and disaster. They are right that autocracy can keep a country stable in the short run. In the long run, though, as China’s own history shows, it cannot. The only guarantor of a stable country is a people that is satisfied with its government. And in China, dissatisfaction with the Communist Party is on the rise.
China needs to find a way of allowing its citizens to shape their governance without resorting to protests that risk turning into a struggle for the nation’s soul. Hong Kong, with its history of free expression and semi-detached relationship to the mainland, is an ideal place for that experiment to begin.
Longtime China expert Orville Schell, writing in the Wall Street Journal, similarly paid tribute to Xi’s hard-nosed style before similarly recommending reform:
What has distinguished Mr. Xi to date is his persona as a tough, immovable leader. He has gone so far as to suggest that a “real man” might have been able to head off the demise of the Soviet Union. Such Putin-esque posturing will prove risky in a place like Hong Kong, where many already think that China’s leaders possess tin ears and strong, club-wielding arms. Hong Kong isn’t eastern Ukraine. Should Mr. Xi decide to take a softer path, it may signal that he is also capable of a more mature, subtle understanding. If he wants to build trust and confidence with surrounding countries, it is hard to imagine a more convincing and immediate way to do so.
Reform or revolution? Once again, China confronts two choices.

Richest Congressional Districts All Democrat

NY 12 (click to enlarge)
According to AP’s story, “Party of the rich: In Congress, it's the Democrats,” 8 of the 10 richest House districts--and every district where the per capita income exceeds $50,000 (that’s $50,000 for every man, woman, and child)--is represented by a Democrat:

1. New York 12 (Manhattan East Side, Queens):
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Democrat
Per capita income: $75,479

2. California 33 (Malibu, Brentwood, Santa Monica, Palos Verdes):
Rep. Henry Waxman, Democrat
Per capita income: $61,273

3. New York 10 (West Side, Greenwich Village, Borough Park):
Rep. Jerry Nadler, Democrat
Per capita income: $56,138

4. California 18 (Palo Alto, San Jose, Los Gatos):
Rep. Anna Eshoo, Democrat
Per capita income: $54,182

5. Connecticut 4 (Greenwich, New Canaan, Lower Naugatuck Valley, Bridgeport):
Rep. Jim Himes, Democrat
Per capita income: $50,732

6. Virginia 8 (Fairfax, Arlington counties, Alexandria):
Rep. Jim Moran, Democrat
Per capita income: $50,210

Also: 7. New Jersey 7 (NW New Jersey, centered on Morris County): Rep. Leonard Lance, Republican, Per capita income: $48,556; 8. California 12 (San Francisco): Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Democrat, Per capita income: $48,523; 9. New York 3 (NW Long Island, Nassau and Suffolk counties): Rep. Steve Israel, Democrat, Per capita income: $47,991; 10. Virginia 10 (Manassas, Loudoun and Frederick counties): Rep. Frank Wolf, Republican, Per capita income: $47,281.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola Democrats’ “October Surprise”?

"I want the American people to know that our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low."

--Barack Obama, September 16, 2014

I suggested earlier here that Barack Obama’s “September (or October) Surprise” was going to be a grand alliance against Islamic State that included current enemy Iran.

I was wrong. There is too much internal U.S. opposition to partnering with Iran if it comes at the price of accepting Israel’s enemy as a virtual if not actual nuclear power. The plan to link with Iran is apparently on hold at least until after the midterm elections.

Instead, we have a surprise sprung on the President himself, partly because of his unambiguous promise at the Centers for Disease Control this past September that “the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low" (see above).

Inside-the-Beltway journal The Hill’s Elise Viebeck in fact flatly stated that:
Ebola has become the October surprise of this year’s midterm elections. . . The U.S. public is increasingly fearful of the virus following three cases in Texas and news that the fatality rate for infected patients has hit 70% in West Africa.
A surprise indeed. Obama’s "RealClearPolitics" average disapproval-over-approval percentage is back above 10% after falling below that threshold, presumably due to the government’s unsteady handling of a crisis the President had called “extremely” unlikely.

There are only 20 days left in this election cycle. We'll soon enough know what the actual political fall-out from the Ebola crisis will turn out to be.