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151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, stock market , investment strategies: GM disappoints on: July 24, 2014, 12:11:20 PM
I'm not sure if General Motors falls under US Economy or Cognitive Dissonance of Government Programs.  Who saw THIS coming?

GM Debt Climbs to Over $40 Billion, Earnings Disappoint

Other than trouble in housing, transportation, employment, healthcare, education, and global security on the brink of collapse, things look pretty good out there.

152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left, INCOME INEQUALITY IN 2010 on: July 24, 2014, 11:45:10 AM
Leftist power, leftist results, how did it all work out?
(skip to the bottom if you don't like my long intro)

In November 2006, based mostly on Iraq war fatigue, the American people transferred nearly all power in Washington to the left. The last initiative won by the lame duck George Bush was the surge; all domestic policy momentum shifted to the Democrats, led in name Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and in fact by the Presidential frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  What happened in that time?  Unemployment doubled.  Real estate crashed.  There was a financial run on the too big to fail institutions unprecedented at least since 1929.  Then there were the bailouts, TARP, a Presidential change, QE, cash for clunkers, cash for home buyers, cash for solar, cash for hybrids, cash for quitting work, artificially low interest rates and a debatable 'recovery' of sorts and a recession ending in the summer of 2009, the recovery summer of 2010 and so on.  If you invested everything you owned at the exact bottom of the market, you would have at least two or three times (nothing) today!

For the left, this was the perfect storm, complete control of the House, the White House, and the swearing in of the (stolen) 60th Democratic Senate seat in July 2009.  Tax increases on the rich became inevitable, along with the passage (or "deemed passed") of Obamacare along with a couple dozen more taxes that made it all possible.  As good as it gets!

Jumping forward, Republicans swept the House elections in Nov 2010 to be sworn in and take control of the one chamber in Jan 2011, limiting the growth and spread of leftism to just Republican caving and administrative over-reaches.  So the best year to judge the results of our leftist American storm was in their last big year, 2010, when George Bush had totally and completely left the building.

Here are the results of all this leftist euphoria, measured in terms of progress on their number one priority, income inequality.

Today's New York Times, Journal of the Left, Pravda on the Hudson, lifted from the trusted  Editorial Page, from one of their most trusted columnists, Nicholas Kristof, telling us how bad income inequality is, (drum roll please):

" In 2010, 93 percent of [all] additional income created in America went to the top 1 percent."
Idiot's Guide to Income Inequality

This, from the party of the middle class and the expanding underclass?? Unfortunately, the policies of cronyism, government takeover, class envy and punishment of personal achievement are not how you rise the tide that lifts all boats. 
153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Paul Ryan on: July 24, 2014, 10:56:33 AM
Nice post and good work by Paul Ryan.  He has been quietly visiting and studying poverty in America, seeing what most people outside certain areas never see.  If we had everyone who can, fully participating in our economy, this would be a prosperous nation beyond our wildest imagination.  Instead we are saddled with programs intended to help that are holding millions and millions of people back unmercifully.

Paul Ryan may not be the person with the charisma to win over the nation from the Presidential podium, but he is most certainly the right person to lead the House Ways and Means committee and the next President with a positive agenda going forward.
154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors, Ban lifted on: July 24, 2014, 10:39:32 AM
"The Democrat Party is the new religion for 75-80% of American Jews."

Very funny, if it was not so true.  From my Jewish friends closer to home I have heard passion for general liberalism more than for the defense of Israel.  More American Jews should consider moving toward conservatism - for many reasons!

Israel is the canary in the coal mine.  As already demonstrated, when terrorist are not purging Jews, they are attacking gays, Christians, atheists, agnostics, infidels, and the 'wrong' sect of Islam, whether to them that is Sunni, Shia or moderate.  We don't stand with Israel because they are Jewish.  We stand with them because we are moral human beings, and we stand with them as a practical matter for our own self defense because the same people would like to kill us next.  

I don't like Mayor Bloomberg but he has got a couple of things right recently and deserves specific credit for that.  (The other was calling out Harvard and Ivy league schools for their one-sided political suppression.)
Ban lifted

Interesting that the "FAA" lifted its ban after 36 hours.  Wonder if that was because it was the right thing to do or because they were getting hammered politically with criticism such as was posted here from Newt.  BTW, do we have a President in charge of our foreign policy or just administrative agencies acting on their own?  No mention of that in the story.  Maybe the President only learned of our policy flip flop in the news.
155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education, only liberals can teach on: July 16, 2014, 07:13:22 PM
A 49 to 1 advantage is not good enough!
"Professor Wagner sought a full-time position legal writing position at the University of Iowa College of Law after working there on a part-time basis. She was well known as a stalwart social conservative among the school’s faculty, which at the time numbered 49 Democrats and one Republican. The law school is overwhelmingly liberal. When she didn’t get the job and an inferior candidate did, she brought her lawsuit in federal court under section 1983, the statute that allows civil rights claims against state actors to be litigated in federal court."

Read about the case at the link.
156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, How inherited wealth helps the economy on: July 16, 2014, 07:06:56 PM
Greg Mankiw is head of the Harvard Economics Dept.
His blog:
This article:

How Inherited Wealth Helps the Economy

JUNE 21, 2014


Is inherited wealth making a comeback?

Yes, says Thomas Piketty, author of the best seller “Capital in the Twenty-First Century.” Inherited wealth has always been with us, of course, but Mr. Piketty believes that its importance is increasing. He sees a future that combines slow economic growth with high returns to capital. He reasons that if capital owners save much of their income, their wealth will accumulate and be passed on to their heirs. He concludes that individuals’ living standards will be determined less by their skill and effort and more by bequests they receive.

To be sure, one can poke holes in Mr. Piketty’s story. Since the book came out, numerous economists have been doing exactly that in book reviews, blog posts and academic analyses.

Moreover, given economists’ abysmal track record in forecasting, especially over long time horizons, any such prognostication should be taken with a shaker or two of salt. The Piketty scenario is best viewed not as a solid prediction but as a provocative speculation.
An undated photograph shows John D. Rockefeller, wearing a bow tie, and family members. Credit Rockefeller Archive Center

But it raises the question: So what? What’s wrong with inherited wealth?

First, let’s consider why parents leave bequests to their children. I believe that this decision is based on three principles:

INTERGENERATIONAL ALTRUISM This starts with the prosaic premise that parents care about their children. Economists simplify this phenomenon with the concept of “utility,” a measure of lifetime satisfaction or happiness. Intergenerational altruism within the family is modeled by assuming that the utility of Generation One depends on the utility of Generation Two.

And it doesn’t stop there, because future generations will also care about their children. Generation Two’s utility depends on Generation Three’s utility, which depends on Generation Four’s utility, and so on. As a result, each person’s utility depends not only on what happens during his own lifetime but also on the circumstances he expects for his infinite stream of descendants, most of whom he will never meet.

CONSUMPTION SMOOTHING People get utility from consuming goods and services, but they also exhibit “diminishing marginal utility”: The more you are already consuming, the less benefit you get from the next increase in consumption. Your utility increases if you move from a one- to a two-bathroom home. It rises less if you move from a four- to a five-bathroom home.

Because of diminishing marginal utility, people typically prefer a smooth path of consumption to one that jumps around. Consuming $50,000 of goods and services in each of two years is generally better than consuming $80,000 one year and $20,000 the next. People smooth consumption by saving in good times and drawing down assets when conditions are lean.

REGRESSION TOWARD THE MEAN This is the tendency of many variables to return to normal levels over time. Consider height. If you are much, much taller than average, your children will most likely be taller than average as well, but they will also most likely be shorter than you are.

The same is true for income. According to a recent study, if your income is at the 98th percentile of the income distribution — that is, you earn more than 98 percent of the population — the best guess is that your children, when they are adults, will be in the 65th percentile. They will enjoy higher income than average, but much closer to that of the typical earner. (This regression to the mean over generations, of course, has nothing to say about a nation’s overall income inequality, which is an entirely separate issue.)

This phenomenon is clearest for the most extreme cases. In their own times, John D. Rockefeller and Steve Jobs each created one of the world’s most valuable companies and made a ton of money along the way. They must have known it was unlikely that their children would accomplish the same feat.

Together, these ideas explain why top earners often leave sizable bequests to their families. Because of intergenerational altruism, they make their consumption and saving decisions based not only on their own needs but also on those of their descendants. Because of regression toward the mean, they expect their descendants to be less financially successful than they are. Hence, to smooth consumption across generations, they need to save some of their income so future generations can consume out of inherited wealth.

This logic also explains why many people aren’t inclined to reduce their current spending so they will have money saved for bequests. For those in the bottom half of the income distribution, regression toward the mean is good news: Their descendants will very likely rank higher than they do. Even those near the middle can expect their children and grandchildren to earn higher incomes as technological progress pushes productivity and incomes higher. Only for those with top incomes does the combination of intergenerational altruism, consumption smoothing and regression toward the mean lead to a significant role for inherited wealth.

From a policy perspective, we need to consider not only the direct effects on the family but also the indirect effects on the broader economy. Rising income inequality over the past several decades has meant meager growth in living standards for those near the bottom of the economic ladder, and one might worry that inherited wealth makes things worse. Yet standard economic analysis suggests otherwise.

When a family saves for future generations, it provides resources to finance capital investments, like the start-up of new businesses and the expansion of old ones. Greater capital, in turn, affects the earnings of both existing capital and workers.

Because capital is subject to diminishing returns, an increase in its supply causes each unit of capital to earn less. And because increased capital raises labor productivity, workers enjoy higher wages. In other words, by saving rather than spending, those who leave an estate to their heirs induce an unintended redistribution of income from other owners of capital toward workers.

The bottom line is that inherited wealth is not an economic threat. Those who have earned extraordinary incomes naturally want to share their good fortune with their descendants. Those of us not lucky enough to be born into one of these families benefit as well, as their accumulation of capital raises our productivity, wages and living standards.

N. Gregory Mankiw is a professor of economics at Harvard.
157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, Employment is going down. on: July 16, 2014, 07:01:13 PM
Friday, June 6, 2014  by Casey Mulligan, Economist, University of Chicago
Employment just went down
Please don't forget that the establishment survey excludes agricultural workers and many of the self-employed. The establishment survey has a lot going for it, but only for the part of the economy it covers. For anyone interested in the national economy, I recommend using the establishment survey plus unincorporated self-employed (from the household survey, seasonally adjusted) plus agricultural workers (also from the household survey, seasonally adjusted). See also the BLS on this matter.

One of the critiques of the household survey is that it is noisy month-to-month -- I agree. But my proposed augmentation of the establishment survey is not particularly noisy because the vast majority of its employment is from the establishment survey.

Changes from April 2014 to May 2014 (100s of workers):

+217 establishment survey
-213 unincorporated self-employed
-109 agricultural workers (excluding self-employed)
-105 National employment change

[The average monthly change since December 2013 has been +152: just keeping up with population growth. The avg monthly change in 2013 was +171. This employment measure has increased 36 out of the past 40 months (going back to 2010, not counting this month). This month's change is 1.9 standard deviations below the average change since 2010.]
[2010 was the labor-market's low point by most employment measures. But unincorp self-employment has fallen another 567,000 since then. If you use the establishment survey, you miss that.]
Posted by Casey B. Mulligan, Univ. of Chicago
158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: July 13, 2014, 04:02:47 PM
Doug posts:

"Meanwhile, fracking has no known incidents of poisoning ground water, and (posted elsewhere) the $100 Billion Germany is investing in solar will the delay the final destruction of the planet by 38 hours, according to peer-reviewed, scientific models."

If we replaced all coal with natural gas I wonder how much we could delay the end of humanity by.

Instead the left wants solar, etc that won't work for the bulk of what we need.

If you did 200 projects worldwide on a scale of the $100 Billion German solar project, you would extend life on this planet by one year (using THEIR math).

That calculation is meaningless, of course.  We aren't destroying the planet, the doom scenario is wildly exaggerated, and the energy production from these overly expensive sources is so minuscule that the gain from all them combined is meaningless.

Since that would do nothing, solve this a better way, through prosperity and free innovation.  We know nuclear has zero CO2 emissions and many improvements and variations of it are barely in development stages.  See next generation nuclear, pebble bed, Thorium, who knows?  What we will use for power 100 years from now isn't going to be gasoline, especially if bureaucrats are not in the lead.  Solar is great is some situations, and wind, and geothermal, but let them all compete on equal footing with every other idea.
159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: July 11, 2014, 09:34:23 PM
Exactly so.

We won't impeach, but if we did, what would be the articles of impeachment against him?  Will anyone add, correct or fill in details to make the case:

1)  Fast and Furious, what exactly are we charging them with doing there?

2) IRS Targeting, applying the laws and enforcement mechanism unequally under the law with the intention of stifling opposition gaining unfair advantage in the election.

3) A long list of 'passing' laws by administrative decree when he couldn't get the votes to pass in congress, as required by the constitution.  EPA rules, for one example.  Removing the work requirement for welfare, for another.

4) 13 Unanimous rulings in the Supreme Court against the administration for over-reach of executive power.

5) Benghazi:  Putting Americans in harm's way, not sending help, then deliberately misleading the American people about what happened.

6) Immigration and border unenforcement.

7)  ...

160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: July 11, 2014, 02:15:02 PM
Politically I'm thinking it would be a bridge too far, even though both he and the nation thoroughly deserve it.

For one thing, we don't have direct proof tying the President to some of the worst offenses.  Hard to say if willful neglect in governing equals high crimes and misdemeanors.

Impeachment is a political solution that would fail, install Biden as President if successful, and  most certainly backfire on Republicans. 

Republicans have a public perception problem.  They need to be seen as relentlessly advancing real solutions to real problems - every time they get a camera or microphone to their podium.  They need to change hearts and minds and they need to win races.

People are seeing how bad Democratic policies and governing can be, but haven't fully jumped over to conservative governing principles.  This is an enormous and historic opportunity to win people over and change directions.  The over-reaches of power and lawless governing are abominable, but side issues to being on the wrong track headed the wrong direction.
161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: July 11, 2014, 01:52:22 PM
EXACTLY the kind of material which this thread is about.  I look forward to giving that clip a proper listen.

It is quite insightful and worth your time IMHO.  Look forward to your comments.  Bringing the link forward:
162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Without fracking we'd be fuct on: July 11, 2014, 01:47:42 PM

$6 /gallon, and getting worse.

Meanwhile, Germany is banning fracking, since - just ask Ukraine, it is so easy to buy energy from your friendly neighbor.  Gas price in Germany, $8.28 and getting worse.

Meanwhile, fracking has no known incidents of poisoning ground water, and (posted elsewhere) the $100 Billion Germany is investing in solar will the delay the final destruction of the planet by 38 hours, according to peer-reviewed, scientific models.
163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left, left fights left in Minneapolis on: July 11, 2014, 01:37:08 PM
I wrote about this race somewhere, probably under election fraud, but the ugliness exposes a rift in the Dem party.  Jewish liberal Democrat incumbent since 1972 Phyllis Kahn is facing a serious primary challenge from Islamic Somali immigrant Mohammed Noor.  Phyllis Kahn is a household name around here, on a par maybe equal to what Ted Kennedy was nationally.  The liberal lioness is now blowing the whistle on Democrat fraud they perpetrated earlier as it backfires against her.  More fraud incidentally than the Al Franken margin of victory that gave Obamacare it's 60th vote in the Senate.  Perhaps more interesting than cheating is the cultural divide in the party the race is exposing.   I wonder how well her position on gay rights fits with Sharia law, lol.  Minneapois-based Powerline is covering the race, calling it business as usual:

164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Peer Reviewed Fraud: scientific journal retracts 60 papers on: July 11, 2014, 01:15:56 PM

 Chen created up to 130 fake email accounts of "assumed and fabricated identities" that created a "peer review and citation ring." In other words, it appears that he suggested his own fake identities to the journal as reviewers of his papers.

That isn't very different than the IPCC cartel working behind the scenes to cherry pick studies and data, hand pick reviewers and block out dissent.
165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe, Man beaten in Malmo, Sweden for displaying Israeli flag on: July 11, 2014, 01:06:43 PM
How come I can only find this story in Jewish press, picked up in the US on conservative sites?  I have posted other anti-Israel violence in Sweden third largest city.

A Kurdish man living in Malmö, Sweden was beaten and seriously injured this week by a gang of local Muslims who took offense at the Israeli flag displayed in his apartment window. ...  Babak said that twice rocks were thrown through his windows. When he went down to the street after the last incident, he was confronted by at least 10 youths, most wielding iron rods and glass bottles. After demanding to know why he placed an Israeli flag in his window, the youths severely beat Babak.

41 percent of Malmös population consists of first or second generation immigrants.
The dismal experience of Malmö undermines the theory that immigration has benefited the Swedish economy.
166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: July 11, 2014, 12:50:50 PM

It is quite frustrating and disappointing that so many economic measures are loaded with so many errors, even before the people with an agenda add their spin.

How do they tout the recent growth in new homes sales without mentioning that other than the other hope and change years, we are building at about half the rate of the last half century?

PP spells it out so well (as usual).  The 'surge' in growth was when the feds were paying for part of your house.  Incentives like that create dependency, not wealth, and they artificially bumps up prices making them less affordable.  The rest of the growth comes from low interest rates.  But the rates don't just happen to be low but are artificially low based on unsustainable and destructive policies.  Why do we want unsustainable growth?

Some might say homebuilding and the hiring of plumbers and cabinet makers peaked and will never return to previous levels because nearly everyone now has a home.  But ask people like Bill and Hillary Clinton or john and Theresa Kerry, what is the right number of homes per 'household'?
 If we all built 5 homes worth $30 million, that would stimulate more employment than we have people.  And it would only take less than a third of the money Bill Clinton has made out of office giving speeches.  Maybe (another) government program could solve this; if the homeless gave speeches under equal pay laws and the Fed accommodated that, we could have endless wealth!
167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Wesbury on the end of QE3 on: July 10, 2014, 06:44:28 PM

June, 2014, Wesbury:  The Fed is Flying by the Seat of its Pants
July, 2014, Wesbury:  Fed Still Easy

Both Grannis and Wesbury have opposed QE as it was carried out.  Both believe Fed Policy has been too easy for far too long.  (As do we, I think.)  If the monetary or liquidity policy has been far too expansive for far too long, then what (do they say) is the consequence for that?  Nothing?  A large mistake has a large consequence, it seems to me, unless there is some other factor offsetting that imbalance.

Curious, what was Wesbury's forecast for Q1?   What is his Q2 forecast?  Q2 is over and if the problem turns out to be weather, again, we should know that by now!  Other pros estimate Q2 growth at 2.3% (about the same as they forecasted in Q1, off by more than 5 points.)  But if after months of revisions it turns out growth was negative, again, then we have been in a recession since December of last year - and no one knew!  If the economy hits the estimate, then combining the two quarter still means this is a no-growth, slightly contracting economy.  If we had hit all the positive estimates all along (and we didn't!) then we would still only be growing at half the rate we should be under better policies (that both Wesbury and Grannis would favor).  That is a little like hitting on 4 cylinders with a V8 engine.  We know we have all these new taxes and all these new mandates and yet we are so surprised to see the economy under-performing.  It is quite sad in many ways.

The countries we are emulating have half their younger workers not working.  Printing more euros and more dollars doesn't address any of what is wrong.
168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 09, 2014, 01:19:35 PM
Since the administration is hiding information, working this behind the scenes, blocking congress and won't tell the truth about this crisis involving minors dumped inside our borders by the tens of thousands, we might as well assume the worst while we look for the evidence to prove it.  They know these kids are coming and are linking them up with relatives here, illegals also.  We may as well assume they are arranging this surge with the same level of thinking that brought us Fast and Furious.

They are uniting undocumented children with undocumented families with the "promise" that the illegals escort them faithfully to their deportation hearing.  Who respects our deportation laws more than illegal aliens?

The circumstances indicate that the administration is a co-conspirator if not the designer of the operation, as they were with Fast and Furious.

This could be the scandal of all scandals, the one that actually offends Democrats and The Media (sorry for the redundancy), not just conservatives and Republicans.
169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Youtube, The Hillary Clinton Tapes on: July 09, 2014, 09:20:54 AM
This is back in the news because the NY Times took a month to get to it:

Also because liberals are out trying to defend her on this:
Joan Walsh, Salon:  "I'm sure she would take that laughter back."    Ya think?

The laughter is real, she is laughing about the whole thing, getting him off on time served, ha ha, even though she believes he was guilty of raping a 12 year old girl and destroying the rest of her life, ha ha.  She was asked to take the case and took it.  She was confronted with the story; she brought it up in the interview - bragging about her past work!

While the laughter is real, the Arkansas accent is soooo phony.  She is from Chicago, lived later in Washington and got elected as Senator from New York.  Is this accent something you can turn on and off?  In her case, yes! More recently:
170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi and related matters on: July 09, 2014, 07:43:19 AM
So, we're the Iranians extra upset by the YouTube video?

They were a leader in this area, pissed about unreleased 2013 videos since 1979.
171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: DNC spokeswoman Martha Raddatz interviews Gov. Perry on: July 09, 2014, 07:33:04 AM

She appears to be auditioning (again) for an administration position.  Or is ABC News part of the administration?  Too bad that level of  partisanship is accepted in the so-called mainstream.  He handled it beautifully. 

I would think that as a rule in an interview with a dignitary, the Governor of Texas for example, the journalist would spend half the time letting them get their message out and half the time challenging them back with the tough, critical questioning, instead of all attack, all the time.  If they don't have a message worth hearing, then don't invite them on the program.
172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law, House Lawsuit on: July 09, 2014, 07:07:49 AM
The Boehner Lawsuit Against Obama Is Beginning to Take ShapeA vote on the resolution to authorize the legal action is set for the week before August break.

July 8, 2014
Starting next week, House Republicans will launch a highly visible—and likely tumultuous—three-week process of bringing to the floor legislation to authorize their promised lawsuit against President Obama over his use of executive actions.

"In theory, you could report out a resolution tomorrow and vote on it," said a House GOP aide on Tuesday. "But that is not the approach [the leaders] want to take."

Rather, the aim is to display—if not actually engage in—a more deliberative process, even if amid controversy. This drawn-out script builds toward a potentially dramatic floor vote held just days, or even hours, before the House adjourns on July 31 for its August-long summer break.  more at link)
173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ObamaCare failing, as it was designed to do on: July 09, 2014, 07:04:03 AM
More Than Expected Will Drop Out Of Colorado’s Obamacare Program

Nearly twice as many people are expected to drop out of Colorado’s state-run health care exchange in the coming years than originally projected, leading to nearly $2 million lost in associated fees for the financially embattled program over the next two years.

ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Unreliable, Audit Finds
 Posted 07/08/2014 06:59 PM ET

Buried in a largely overlooked government audit of the Obama-Care exchanges is a finding that casts still more doubt on the reliability of the 8 million enrollment number commonly cited by the administration and the press.

In a section titled "Other Issues," an inspector general report released last week found that the marketplace couldn't show it had been reconciling its monthly enrollment numbers with insurance companies.

That's despite the fact that the law specifically calls for this reconciliation, and the fact that, as the IG report notes, "the federal marketplace obtained the services of a contractor to reconcile enrollment information."

Obama administration officials "stated that the system to support reconciliations had yet to be developed."

But as the IG makes clear, without this monthly reconciliation, the government "cannot effectively monitor the current enrollment status of applicants, such as ... termination of plans."

Perhaps Far Fewer Enrollees
In other words, there could be far fewer enrollees than advertised if these numbers were reconciled as required by law.

Investor's Business Daily:

Most transparent administration in history, and they all seem so honest...

174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq, Terrorists Seize Chemical Weapons SIte on: July 09, 2014, 06:58:18 AM
The Associated Press
Published: July 9, 2014
UNITED NATIONS — Iraq said the Islamic State extremist group has taken control of a vast former chemical weapons facility northwest of Baghdad, where 2,500 chemical rockets filled with the deadly nerve agent sarin or their remnants were stored along with other chemical warfare agents.

I didn't know Iraq had WMD.  Was this under Saddam Hussein?

175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Billings Gazette: We Were Wrong on: July 09, 2014, 06:52:54 AM
So rare to admit it these days, especially for the media...

and "Finally, Obamacare has become synonymous with boondoggle."

Obama earned the low ratings

Sometimes, you have to admit you're wrong.

And, we were wrong.

We said that things couldn't get much worse after the sub par presidency of George W. Bush.

But, President Barack Obama's administration has us yearning for the good ol' days when we were at least winning battles in Iraq.

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal polls show that Americans are giving Obama lower marks than in 2006 when Iraq was going poorly for Bush and a tepid response to Hurricane Katrina sunk Bush's ratings.

It's not that popularity polling should be the final or even best measure of a president. There is that old saw that points out there's a difference between doing what is right and what is popular.

For us, though, it's the number of bungled or blown policies in the Obama administration which lead us to believe Obama has earned every bit of an abysmal approval rating.

Let's recap some of the mistakes:

- Maybe the worst and most widespread invasion of privacy occurred when the Obama administration continued a controversial National Security Agency program of spying on millions of citizens culling their phone records to intercepting online information. The administration has done nearly nothing to safeguard civil liberties or put in safeguards to protect our Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.

- The Obama administration has continued to ratchet down on emissions from coal-fired power plants while giving consumers little new innovation to replace the power supply. Meanwhile, Obama continues to thwart other energy projects that might be helpful to the economy, like the Keystone XL pipeline. The war on carbon might not be so bad if indeed it was being counterbalanced by true innovation.

- Iraq was an inherited quagmire from the Bush administration. But six years later, Obama has to own the current situation which, as this is being written, looks perilously close to civil war and a complete breakdown of government in Iraq. If that were to happen, the sacrifice of thousands of Americans' lives would be cheapened, if not in vain. His handling the situation seems uncertain and we can't help but wonder if the same type of inaction will lead to a civil war similar to Syria's?

- The Bowe Bergdahl situation is an example of right instinct, completely wrong handling of a prisoner exchange. The Obama administration should be lauded for not wanting to leave any American solider behind. But, surprising Congress, trading possible terrorists and not doing enough to vet the background of Bergdahl had the net effect of looking incompetent. What should have been an easy public relations victory for bringing a lost soldier home turned into a public relations nightmare, and continued to erode public confidence, leading some to wonder if Obama's team can't even get something as important as bringing home a captive soldier correct, what can it be successful at?

- The VA scandal showed that wait times for veterans access to health care was so bad that some veterans actually died before they could get the medical care they were entitled to. While the VA system was not invented by the Obama administration, after six years of management, it's clear that problems were not be corrected quickly enough and that our nation was not living up to the promise it made to take care of soldiers. The most recent debacle led to the sacking of retired Gen. Eric Shinseki, but it was another black eye for the administration which appeared to look incompetent when it comes to taking care of wounded, or in-need veterans.

- Speaking of health care, Obama had also pledged that his administration would embrace new stem cell technology, and part of the hope and change we heard so much about would happen as lives improved through medical innovation. But as his presidency has continued, we see little evidence that Obama is pushing for new cures, science or solutions when it comes to medical problems.

- For years now, reports by watchdog organizations and journalists that have shown despite Obama's promises of being more transparent, his administration has actually cracked down on journalists, spied on citizens and retaliated against those who leak information to the press. In fact, the Obama administration has become so opaque and difficult that it has earned the reputation of being far worse than Nixon, the disgraced president whose terrible clampdown of information led to federal law being changed for more transparency.

- Finally, Obamacare has become synonymous with boondoggle. To be fair, there has not been enough time to judge whether the comprehensive health care reform program works, but one thing is certain: The public presentation and roll-out of the program was so riddled with technical glitches and problems, it greatly undermined the public's confidence in the system.

These are all signs — none of them definitive on their own, necessarily. However, when taken in completely, these demonstrate a disturbing trend of incompetence and failure. It's not just that Americans are in a sour mood about national politics. That's probably part of it. Instead, Obama has become another in a line of presidents long on rhetoric and hopelessly short on action.

Obama's hope and change have left liberals and conservatives alike hoping for real change, not just more lofty rhetoric.
176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: America's Inner City, Chicago: 82 shootings in 84 hours on: July 08, 2014, 10:35:28 PM
"Personal responsibility and economic growth would run contrary to the needs of the dems/racial industrial complex."

That's right.  But it shouild be clear by now to some very key constituencies that these policies are failing those people.
177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: July 08, 2014, 10:38:04 AM
I am having trouble finding a surprisingly thoughtful piece by the former mayor of NYC (Blumenthal? Bloomberg?) on fracking
178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: July 08, 2014, 09:12:16 AM
The "pre-crash levels" are also known as "the bubble".

Okay, then down 50% from the previous 50 year average.
179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: America's Inner City, Chicago: 82 shootings in 84 hours on: July 08, 2014, 08:13:26 AM
My point looking into America's inner cities is not gun violence but the culture in the neighborhoods where that is happening.  This is IMO largely the result of our failed policies in the war on poverty.  George Gilder wrote about this in 1981 in "Wealth and Poverty" and the consequences he described then couldn't be more true today.  Government provides the necessities, lives without purpose, men without responsibilities, neighborhoods without home ownership, children without two loving parents in the home, businesses leave the area, schools fail, the cycle gets worse.

Instead of fighting poverty and a poverty mentality, pursue wealth and a wealth mentality.,0,2426321.story
180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economy under-performing by 10% on: July 08, 2014, 07:56:15 AM
"We are very likely still in a recovery, but the problem—as illustrated in the chart above—is that the economy is more than 10% below where it could or should be if long-term growth trends are extrapolated. This is without doubt and by far the weakest recovery in history. I think the reasons for this weak growth are a huge increase in regulatory burdens (e.g., Obamacare), a significant increase in top marginal tax rates, a hugely burdensome, complicated, and distorting tax code, and the developed world's highest corporate tax rates."  - Scott Grannis  June 25, 2014

It means we have given up over $11 TRILLION in economic activity over this period of wrongheaded economic policies.  That is the difference between young people getting a good start and not getting a good start.  That is not very different from my view. 

Accompanying chart:
181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: July 08, 2014, 07:46:25 AM
While looking through Scott Grannis today I notice this chart showing the new homes 'recovery' in perspective:

From that other source we keep hearing how good housing is since hitting rock bottom instead of how poor it is compared to better economic times.  Highest in 5 years is still down 60% from pre-crash levels.
182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: July 08, 2014, 07:30:51 AM
Scott Grannis has been cautioning us on our take of things and he is no partisan hack.

Agree, Scott Grannis gives honest analysis.  It was Krugman's choice to go from respected academic to partisan hack and it is a long accumulated, well earned characterization of his columns, even if poorly documented by me in that short post. 

I doubt if Grannis believes the combination of fiscal and monetary excesses caused no damage just because large price increases do not show up yet, nor does he use the sluggish Obama economy to slam the conservative viewpoint.

For one thing, Scott Grannis acknowledges that the Fed's strategy has destroyed the incentive to save in this country.  What are the long term consequences of that?  Nothing?

183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Immigration issues, Open Borders, Amnesty, Free Stuff, Limited Time Offer on: July 07, 2014, 07:34:12 PM
Michael Ramirez illustrates what the mainstream media will not put into words:
184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Heading off global warming by limiting 1st world emissions on: July 07, 2014, 07:30:17 PM
This chart perhaps tells it all:

if the climateers’ disaster scenarios are correct, then Germany’s investment of $100 billion in solar power schemes “can only reduce the onset of Global Warming by a matter of about 37 hours by the year 2100.”  A similar calculation would show the futility of the Obama administration’s “green” initiatives.
185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy, Bret Stephens, WSJ, The Coming Global Disorder on: July 07, 2014, 06:24:10 PM
90 minutes with Bret Stephens. He is quite knowledgeable, thoughtful and insightful.

The Book:
America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder Hardcover – November 18, 2014
by Bret Stephens

A Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist argues that the resurgence of isolationism in the U.S. is an invitation to global disorder of a kind last seen in the 1930s

Americans are weary of acting as the world's policeman, especially in the face of our unending economic troubles at home. President Obama stands for cutting defense budgets, leaving Afghanistan, abandoning Iraq, appeasing Russia, and offering premature declarations of victory over al Qaeda. Meanwhile, some Republicans now also argue for a far smaller and less expensive American footprint abroad.

Pulitzer Prize–winning Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens rejects this view. As he sees it, retreating from our global responsibilities will ultimately exact a devastating price to our security and prosperity. In the 1930s, it was the weakness and vacillation of the democracies that led to war and genocide. Today the regimes in Tehran, Damascus, Beijing, and Moscow continue to test America’s will.

Americans have often been tempted to turn our backs on a world that fails to live up to our idealism and doesn’t easily bend. But succumbing to that temptation always leads to tragedy. The mantle of global leadership is a responsibility we must shoulder for the sake of our freedom, our prosperity, and our safety.

America in Retreat is a warning and manifesto by one of America’s foremost foreign-policy thinkers. It will be hotly debated as the latest crises force our leaders to make difficult choices.

186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Krugman and price levels at minimum velocity on: July 07, 2014, 06:12:24 PM

(Broken record here but...) There is a difference between inflation and price level increases even though we conflate the terms.  Mr. Krugman, Nobel award winner, no one ever said M = P, they said MV = PQ.  Price increases are a consequence of excessive money supply increases, but not a big threat when the economy is running nowhere near peak velocity.  The question is, how big will be the price level increases AFTER normal velocity returns? 

Crafty wrote:  "Many of us here predicted massive inflation by now , , ,"  (emphasis added)

Krugman writes as if the final score is in, but the damages are not all known by now and posted.  We have seen but the tip of the iceberg of the consequences of these wrongheaded policies. 

Surprising (not really) that any professional who was off on economic growth by -200% last quarter (Wesbury, Krugman, etc.) would be smug about how right or wrong amateurs are at (straw argument) forecasting.

Average GDP growth the last 7 years was 0.4T/yr.
QE has been averaging 3/4 Trillion per year (in press reports), so the money supply is growing at nearly twice the rate of real output, by my count.  To say that will have no consequence seems insincere, to put it nicely.  Krugman is setting up is to blame the aftermath of these policies on Obama's successor, while still blaming Obama's predecessor for his current failures.  The technical term for that level of analysis is ... partisan hack.
187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 07, 2014, 09:18:48 AM
It's OK, I'm told amnesty will create millions of jobs and contribute to the tax base.


After all these years and all these mistakes, liberal politicians and liberal voters just don't seem to get that all these well-intended programs come with serious unintended consequences.  Serious enough to take down our economy, our culture and our country.

Same goes for the amnesty and immigration ideas.

The followers who believe them scare me more than the leaders who lie to them.

As Rush L has long said, we don't want to persuade or change them, we want to defeat them.

Handcuffing investors, businesses and employers is not how you help middle class employees.

I notice that Obama is pivoting away from abstract talk about income inequality to "the more politically palatable theme of lifting the middle class".

Unfortunately there is no accompanying pivot to economic policies that work.
188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Full time job losses and part time job increases on: July 07, 2014, 08:57:17 AM

Yes.  Historic increases in taxes and regulations levied against the hiring of full time employees leads to...   less hiring of full time employees.

Who could have seen this coming?
Obama Care in particular, which we know mandates additional employer health care costs for new full-time employees, freezes the motivation of employers to hire new full-time employees.
Obamacare has a myriad of disincentives to dissuade employment, full time employment, or employment beyond 50 employees.
The challenges of Obamacare for business – particularly those small businesses with employees near the magic “50 employee” threshold for Obamacare regulations – will be extraordinary.
 "Why France Has So Many 49-Employee Companies
Nonpartisan group finds Obamacare will shrink workforce by 2.3 million full-time jobs

It was a joke I heard in Steamboat Colorado years ago in a ski-bum comedy skit:.  To the roommates, "Hey guys, I got the job!"  "Great!"  "Now I just need 4 more part time jobs to pay rent!"

Now it is the story of the US Economy:
Most 2013 job growth is in part-time work, survey suggests
Reuters: Obamacare Is Creating Nation of Part-Time Workers
June Full-Time Jobs Plunge By Over Half A Million, Part-Time Jobs Surge

Is that really what we wanted??
189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / In the US Senate races, Minnesota looks familiar except upside down on: July 07, 2014, 08:02:43 AM
A lot of predicted Republican Senate pickup races are still close or still led by the Democrat.  The Republicans need to nearly run the board in 2014 in order to hold the majority in 2016 and give a new Presideent a chance at reforming the federal government.  Putting MN in play is one step in the right direction.  Here the far right, the establishment right, and the common sense right all agreed on the same candidate, while the incumbent Al Franken has a vulnerable record of agreeing 100% with a failed President.  Democrats also have a weak incumbent Governor and a one-party-rule legislature to reelect.  Energy and turnout could favor the challengers.

Al Franken knows the story — just not from this side.

In 2008, a first-time candidate dogged by his career history faced a formidable incumbent dragged down by an unpopular second-term president. The result: now-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., defeated then-Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, in a shockingly close race that only ended after a months-long contentious recount and legal battle.

Now Coleman’s handpicked candidate wants to return the favor in 2014. Franken will face a wealthy investment banker and first-time candidate, Mike McFadden, in November — and this time, he’s the senator battling an unpopular president’s drag on the ballot.

“The atmosphere right now is pretty toxic,” Coleman said in a recent phone interview. “This is a time when it’s good to not be of Washington. Mike is part of a solution, and Franken is part of the problem.”
“Every sentence about Norm Coleman in 2008 was a verb, a noun, and George W. Bush,” mused one former Coleman adviser.
A recent survey by the Democratic autodial firm Public Policy Polling showed Obama with a 44 percent approval rating in Minnesota, down from 50 percent in May of 2013.
190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: July 07, 2014, 07:33:54 AM
I think Rand Paul has it right on policy, the flat tax, but Mike Lee and Marco Rubio have a better grasp on the the politics of it.  To point out the obvious, tax reform that never becomes law is not tax reform.

Lee and Rubio Working on New 'Pro-Growth, Pro-Family' Tax Reform Plan

In a statement to THE WEEKLY STANDARD today, Lee responded to TPC's analysis and announced that he's already working with Florida senator Marco Rubio on a "new, comprehensive, pro-family, pro-growth tax reform proposal that we hope to introduce later this year."

Lee's full statement:

I thank the Tax Policy Center for their thorough work on my initial proposal to reform the individual income tax code and restore tax fairness to middle-class parents and families.

As I announced upon its introduction, the Family Fairness and Opportunity Tax Reform Act was meant as a first draft of a broader project to make the entire tax code simpler, fairer, and more pro-growth.

Initial estimates suggested the plan would yield a modest overall tax cut compared to the pre-Obamacare baseline. TPC's model scores it somewhat lower than that, and that's valuable information we can incorporate into the next revision.

Senator Marco Rubio and I have already begun work on a new, comprehensive, pro-family, pro-growth tax reform proposal that we hope to introduce later this year. Elimination of the Parent Tax Penalty should be a top priority for conservatives, and at the center of the overdue tax reform debate.
191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: July 07, 2014, 07:28:04 AM
...when the next presidential election rolls around, Ronald Reagan's 1980 victory will be as long ago as D-Day was at that time.
192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: July 07, 2014, 06:12:20 AM
Will try to find a good review- summary.

No matter how right the case for impeachment is, it still:

a) fails without Dem support, and

b) installs Joe Biden as President.

The two strategies are not mutually exclusive.  As you argue the merits of the lawsuit,  you are building the case for impeachment.

The main remedy is the next election.
193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2016 Presidential, Obamas and Valerie Jarrett back Elizabeth Warren, not Hillary on: July 07, 2014, 05:59:36 AM

Ed Klein, author of Blood Feud.
194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: McCarthy: Boener bringing whistle to a gunfight on: July 06, 2014, 04:30:18 PM

I disagree with Andrew McCarthy.  They are not willing to  de-fund or impeach so  compare  blowing the  whistle only with not blowing the whistle.  What he does not say with certainty is that this will fail on standing. The lawsuit keeps the over reaches of power in the news.  McCarthy says correctly, this is about public opinion.
195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / How can the House sue the President? on: July 05, 2014, 05:21:41 PM
...“The idea,” Rivkin tells me, “is to create the perfect combination of all relevant factors to create the perfectly configured legislative-standing case.”

The first plus-factor criterion is to demonstrate the lack of a private plaintiff. In Foley’s and Rivkin’s characterization, the president’s actions are “benevolent” suspensions of law — that is, they are specially intended to assist particular groups (young immigrants or small businesses, for example). Because assisting certain people was the president’s aim, no individuals have suffered sufficient injury to have standing to sue. “No one can challenge benevolent suspensions in court except Congress, because they constitute an institutional injury to Congress qua Congress,” Foley explains. The offense is not against private citizens; it is against the powers that the Constitution guarantees to Congress as a body.

Along with demonstrating the impossibility of a private plaintiff, the House should explicitly authorize the lawsuit, they say, through either a formal resolution or the use of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), a standing group of House members that is authorized by House rules to represent that chamber in the courts. This would count as a plus factor because institutional-standing cases do not require formal authorization from the institution. The House members could therefore file on behalf of the House without getting the body’s formal approval, but such approval would probably help the case.

The House should also show that no political remedy (“self-help”) for the situation is available. This third element is a point of contention among legal theorists on the right. Opponents of the House lawsuit contend that the Constitution provides the House with two obvious remedies, neither of which it has exercised: the power of the purse and the power of impeachment. Foley and Rivkin counter that these are not “proportionate remedies” to the problem at hand. With regard to impeachment, Foley asks: “What do you do when the president’s own party controls one of the chambers of Congress?” Moreover, “impeachment is overkill for this particular transgression,” she says. “All Congress wants is for the president to faithfully execute the law. This does not mean that they think he should be kicked out of office.” The second option, cutting funds, “creates major distortions in political accountability, which is the genesis, the heart, of the notion of the separation of powers.” Congress, says Foley, should not be blamed for the president’s misdeeds — but that is just what will happen if the House has no recourse but to penalize innocent organizations as a means of punishing the president. Political self-help is important, Foley observes, “but only when proportionate and related to the transgression.”

If the House can establish standing by fulfilling these four criteria — the establishment of injury-in-fact, as required by the Constitution, and the three “plus” factors — they will have the opportunity to make their case to the courts that the president has flouted his constitutional mandate. While they believe there are a number of transgressions to choose from, Foley and Rivkin plan to present only the strongest infraction in court. ...

more at link:
196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 05, 2014, 05:02:57 PM
All incentives have been turned upside down.  It used to be that you had to use your hard earned money to buy the stuff and hide it from the government.  One of the pundits had it right.  As soon as something is legal, it has to be mandatory, and free and provided to you by others.
197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 05, 2014, 04:56:34 PM
It was not the plan to lose the super-majority in the House.  It was not the plan to lose the House for a decade.  It was not the plan to lose the Senate.  It was even fathomable to them that his popularity/approval could drop below 60%, 50%, 40%, and still dropping.

This man likes the title and perks and is willing to do fundraising and appearances, but does not want to do the any of the difficult work required to be an good leader.

We are lucky he turned out to be mostly ineffective at leading us in the wrong direction. 

A really sharp and well organized opposition should have brought his numbers down to these levels 6 years ago.
198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: July 03, 2014, 11:48:28 AM
ccp:  "Hillary is about to continue the trend with this men vs women thing.

Did you see the article about Pepsi's CEO lamenting how women cannot still "have it all".    As though choosing between motherhood, wifehood, and a career is a tragedy, or a conscious effort to suppress women.

Don't men have to choose between a career, fatherhood, and husbanhood?

I have cousins, the wife works a professional career and the husband stays home and is a Dad and husband.  The kids seem wonderful and as far as I know happy.   

So Ms CEO of Pepsi:

I congratulate you on your truly astonishing accomplishments.   But I don't feel sorry for you.  You have no gripe."

My Dad's biggest regret on his death bed was that he could not spend more time with us growing up (because he had to work so much).  Women who choose career and daycare to raise their children might feel some of that regret too.  I was with my daughter almost everyday growing up with no regret but have big regret for the neglect that put on my career.

The number of hours in the day to do everything we wish we could do is a limiting factor that affects everyone equally.  Make your choices and quit griping.  Better yet with free speech, gripe all you want but we don't want to hear it.

199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2016 Presidential - Five Dems who should run (against Hillary), National Journal on: July 03, 2014, 09:11:27 AM
Warren, O'Malley, Schweitzer and Hickenlooper didn't make this list.  The list is every bit as good (or bad) as other recent years, Kerry, Gephart, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Howard Dean, etc.  Some of these are a little weak (Claire McCaskill?), but the point is, there are always names out there and someone rises to the challenge.
BTW, who says Hillary is running?  Lol.
5 Democrats Who Should Run Against Hillary Clinton
The former secretary of State could be vulnerable in a Democratic primary, but only if qualified candidates decide to challenge her.

By Josh Kraushaar
July 2, 2014
It's been remarkable to see how quickly the Democratic Party has coalesced around Hillary Clinton as its expected 2016 nominee, despite clear vulnerabilities she's telegraphed during her book tour. Clinton brings undeniable assets to the table—she'd be the first female president, the Clinton brand is still strong, her fundraising is unmatched—but her recent exposure on the book tour has demonstrated her political limitations as well.

I've outlined some of them in past columns: She's not a particularly good campaigner; she's skilled at staying on message but tone-deaf to the way comments about her wealth could backfire among an economically anxious public. With the threat of terrorism rising and increased turbulence in Ukraine, Syria, and Iraq, Clinton could find that her record as secretary of State is a major vulnerability in an election where foreign policy is looming as a major issue. Most important, she tied herself to President Obama by accepting his offer to run State, assuming that his coattails would be awfully valuable down the road. Now, with Obama's approval ratings tanking, scandals abounding, and a new Quinnipiac poll showing a plurality of voters consider him the "worst president" since World War II, Clinton knows she needs to keep some distance from Obama while maintaining the excitement of his base. That's not a great place to be.

Her biggest asset is the fact that the entire Democratic Party infrastructure is behind her, seemingly resigned to her vulnerabilities but hopeful about her potential. Even progressives who are nervous about her Wall Street connections are merely hoping to nudge her leftward, and not aggressively challenge her with an actual candidate. With a lackluster Democratic bench, it's hard to find many alternatives even willing to throw their names out there. And let's be clear: Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, whose loose lips would sink a campaign before it launched, and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, throwing in his name as a protest candidate, don't qualify.

That doesn't mean there aren't credible candidates who, on paper, could mount a serious challenge. With anti-Washington sentiment running high, this is a promising opportunity for an outsider to run and surprise. True, they don't seem to want to run, whether from fear of the Clinton machine, a desire to avoid challenging someone who might make history, or simply an assumption that 2016 isn't a great year for Democrats.
But the candidates exist. Here are some prospects who would normally be touted for higher office but have acquiesced to Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 election.

1. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia

Kaine was one of the first Democratic officials to jump on the Obama bandwagon, and he has a resume that normally would be the envy of his fellow pols: swing-state governor; Democratic National Committee chairman; senator elected on Obama's coattails against a former GOP presidential prospect, George Allen. Kaine was on the very short list of potential Obama running mates. If this were the resume of a Republican candidate, it would vault him to the top of the list of 2016 front-runners.

But instead, Kaine took the unusual step in May of endorsing Clinton before she even announced her candidacy, perhaps angling for a Cabinet post over pursuing any possible national ambitions. Maybe being a white man in the Democratic Party is now a vulnerability in the Obama era, but Kaine certainly could score chits as an early Obama supporter who helped swing his state the president's way. And his Midwestern roots, authentic personality (in sharp contrast to Clinton), and executive experience would all be strong selling points to a national audience.

2. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick

One of the obvious, yet underappreciated, factors in Obama's upset of Clinton was how powerful a role race played in the 2008 presidential primaries. Clinton had close ties to the African-American community from her days in the White House, but once it became clear that Obama was a serious challenger, he overwhelmingly carried the black vote in nearly every primary state where it mattered.

Why couldn't that dynamic repeat itself in 2016? Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is leaving office, and he is a close ally of Obama's. (Obama even touted him as a prospective candidate.) Unlike the 2008 version of Obama, Patrick boasts executive experience as a two-term governor who had to deal with one of the biggest crises during the Obama presidency—the Boston Marathon bombings. Unlike Mitt Romney before launching his first presidential campaign, Patrick scored solid approval ratings in his last year in office (53 percent in a January 2014 MassINC poll).

Patrick recently said he worries about how Clinton is being viewed as the inevitable nominee, but he hasn't made any moves of his own to suggest he's running. But if he could put a credible team together, he'd be a much more threatening challenger than, say, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

3. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri

In a normal year, a female media-savvy, red-state prosecutor who defied the odds to win a second term in the Senate would be at the top of many Democratic wish lists. But like Kaine, this early Obama supporter was one of the first elected officials to sign up with Clinton's nascent campaign, taking herself out of the conversation. Part of her motive was to ingratiate herself with Team Clinton, who placed McCaaskill on Hillary's "enemies list" after she said she didn't want her daughter near the former president in a Meet the Press interview (as an Obama surrogate).

Instead of sucking up to the Clintons, why not challenge Hillary? Representing a populist state, McCaskill would be well positioned to challenge Clinton on her wealth, ties to corporations, and perceived disconnect from the middle class. Plus, McCaskill's long-term prospects in the Senate aren't great, assuming she doesn't face Todd Akin again in 2018.

4. Former Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin

Where have you gone, Russ Feingold? The former Wisconsin senator and campaign finance reform scold has virtually disappeared from the political arena. Like Clinton, he's now serving in the State Department—as the special envoy for the African Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Like Elizabeth Warren, Feingold would be able to rally progressives around his campaign but he could potentially have more appeal to male voters, a demographic where the party has gotten crushed in the Obama era. Unlike Clinton (and Warren), Feingold took a lone stand for same-sex marriage in 2006, when most elected Democrats opposed such legislation. He's been a longtime critic of outside groups' campaign spending, which has been a rallying cry for liberal Democrats in the age of the super PAC.

Feingold has always marched to the beat of his own drum, and it would be hard to see him prevailing over the better-organized Clinton. But he could persuasively assert he was ahead of the curve on the issues animating today's Democratic Party, a powerful argument for the grassroots base. Indeed, he'd be in a situation similar to that of another reform-minded former Democratic senator, Bill Bradley, who challenged a sitting vice president and nearly won the New Hampshire primary.

5. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon

Winning two terms in an increasingly Republican red state—he ran 9 points ahead of Obama in 2008 and 11 points ahead in 2012—Nixon is one of the most accomplished Democratic governors in the country. The Kansas City Star's Steve Kraske dubbed Nixon the "Teddy Roosevelt of Missouri—vigorous, a champion of the outdoors, constantly touring all corners of the state more than any chief executive in state history." He worked with Republicans to pass comprehensive jobs legislation, cut spending, and passed ahead-of-the-curve legislation incentivizing college graduates to specialize in high-demand health care fields. Nixon won high praise for his handling of the aftermath of the tornadoes that devastated Joplin. And he's won over some social conservatives by allowing restrictions on late-term abortions and reducing the age for residents to purchase a concealed-weapons permit. But he's also expanded Medicaid and focused on boosting spending for education.

In short, his positions on social issues would probably be untenable in today's Democratic Party, where moderates are becoming as extinct as their counterparts in the Republican Party. And Nixon has shown no interest in national office, knowing the near-insurmountable challenges he'd face in a primary.

In 1992, when Democrats nominated a centrist Southern governor as their presidential nominee, it was a move born out of weakness, with party leaders desperately seeking to moderate their image and initially holding little hope they could oust the sitting president. At the onset of the primary, the field was wide open, with the party's biggest-name contenders (Mario Cuomo, Al Gore) opting not to run. The situation could well be reversed in 2016: Democrats acting like they're in a stronger position than the reality, opting for a coronation instead of a contested primary, and ignoring the political logic of nominating an electable moderate outsider who can expand the party's coalition. In 1992's more ideologically diverse Democratic Party, Nixon would be at the top of many Democratic wish lists. But we're still stuck in Clintonworld.
200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - Worst President since WWII on: July 03, 2014, 08:56:49 AM

"In a new Quinnipiac University Poll, 33% named Obama the worst president since World War II"

Not as widely reported is that Ronald Reagan was named far and away the best President since WWII.

"Ronald Reagan topped the poll as the best president since World War II, with 35%. He is followed by presidents Bill Clinton (18%) and John F. Kennedy (15%)."

So we keep choosing Republican candidates and Democrat Presidents that are the antithesis of Reagan...
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