Odd story: Chavez allegedly released a statement to a international summit meeting in Chile yesterday. Odd that he has not communicated to his own country yet and odd that the only person saying he is well and coming back and now providing and reading his alleged statement is the VP who would become President if Chavez ever gets inaugurated and has to step down.
My father was a big believer in "The Peter Principle" (in an organization, people rise to their level of incompetence i.e. they get promoted as long as they are doing a good job, until they get to where they aren't doing a good job-- and that is where they stay).
That is worse than that by quite a bit!!!
Yes! Lew I'm sure is a sharp guy and so was Geithner. They got caught up in implementing and defending horrendous policies. Lew didn't cause Citicorp's failure, but wouldn't you think the people responsible that are not prosecuted would have to return to ordinary jobs.
As you suggest, this is worse than the Peter Principle. This is not promotion until you reach your level of incompetence, this is promotion after a record of abject failure.
The problem with us analyzing from across the aisle is that we are seeing it backwards from his view. Pres. Obama's business is collectivist-failure and Lew has a well rounded background in it.
Taranto writes now: "Mr. President, would it do any good if we said that secretary of defense thing was a joke? We didn't think so. Well, we've learned our lesson. Humor is just too dangerous and unpredictable a weapon. We will never use it again."
"Ironically, the harmful effects of these interventions lead policy makers to expand them, which further increases their harmful effects."
"While borrowers like near-zero interest rates, there is little incentive for lenders to extend credit at that rate."
"[these] policies perversely decrease aggregate demand and increase unemployment while they repress the classic signaling and incentive effects of the price system" ------------------- My new favorite economist John Taylor of Stanford says that Fed Policy is a Drag on the Economy. My hope is that President Rubio will put Taylor in charge of the Fed if we still have a nation worth saving at that point.
...Early in 2010 [the Fed] predicted that growth in 2012 would be a robust 4%. It turned out to be a disappointing 2%. And as the recovery fell short of their expectations, they continued and then doubled down on the emergency interventions used in the panic in 2008.
The Fed ratcheted up purchases of mortgage-backed and U.S. Treasury securities, and now they say more large-scale purchases are coming. They kept extending the near-zero federal funds rate and now say that rate will remain in place for at least several more years. And yet—unlike its actions taken during the panic—the Fed's policies have been accompanied by disappointing outcomes. While the Fed points to external causes, it ignores the possibility that its own policy has been a factor.
At the very least, the policy creates a great deal of uncertainty. People recognize that the Fed will eventually have to reverse course. When the economy begins to heat up, the Fed will have to sell the assets it has been purchasing to prevent inflation.
If its asset sales are too slow, the bank reserves used to finance the original asset purchases pour out of the banks and into the economy. But if the asset sales are too fast or abrupt, they will drive bond prices down and interest rates up too much, causing a recession. Those who say that there is no problem with the Fed's interest rate and asset purchases because inflation has not increased so far ignore such downsides.
The Fed's current zero interest-rate policy also creates incentives for otherwise risk-averse investors—retirees, pension funds—to take on questionable investments as they search for higher yields in an attempt to bolster their minuscule interest income. The low rates also make it possible for banks to roll over rather than write off bad loans, locking up unproductive assets. And extraordinarily low rates support and feed the spending appetites of Congress and the president, increasing deficits and debt.
More broadly, the Fed's excursion into fiscal policy and credit allocation raises questions about its institutional independence and accountability. This reduces public confidence in the central bank.
The large on-again off-again asset purchases have already created highly variable money growth—from 10% in January 2009 to 2% in June 2010 and back to 10% in early 2012 and then down again. Wide swings in money supply reduce macroeconomic stability—a danger that Milton Friedman warned about long ago.
There is yet another downside. Foreign central banks—whether they like it or not—tend to follow other central banks' easy-money policies to prevent their currency from appreciating sharply, which would put their exporters at a disadvantage. The recent effort of the new Japanese government to force quantitative easing on the Bank of Japan and thus resist dollar depreciation against the yen vividly makes this point. This global increase in money risks commodity booms and busts as we saw in 2011 and 2012.
When dissenters in and outside the Fed point out these costs, a majority of the Federal Open Market Committee—the main policy-making branch of the central bank—respond that the costs are outweighed by a huge benefit. They argue that the ultralow interest rates and asset purchases reduce unemployment by increasing aggregate demand, and they back up the argument with macroeconomic models.
But these models, which are useful for evaluating conventional monetary policy such as rules for the interest rate, were not designed and are not useful for evaluating the Fed's unconventional policies of the past few years. Instead, a basic microeconomic analysis shows that the policies perversely decrease aggregate demand and increase unemployment while they repress the classic signaling and incentive effects of the price system.
Consider the "forward guidance" policy of saying that the short-term rate will be near zero for several years into the future. The purpose of this guidance is to keep longer-term interest rates down and thus encourage more borrowing. A lower future short-term interest rate reduces long-term rates today because portfolio managers can, in a form of arbitrage, easily adjust their portfolio mix between long-term bonds and a sequence of short-term bonds.
So if investors are told by the Fed that the short-term rate is going to be close to zero in the future, then they will bid down the yield on the long-term bond. The forward guidance keeps the long-term rate low and tends to prevent it from rising. Effectively the Fed is imposing an interest-rate ceiling on the longer-term market by saying it will keep the short rate unusually low.
The perverse effect comes when this ceiling is below what would be the equilibrium between borrowers and lenders who normally participate in that market. While borrowers might like a near-zero rate, there is little incentive for lenders to extend credit at that rate.
This is much like the effect of a price ceiling in a rental market where landlords reduce the supply of rental housing. Here lenders supply less credit at the lower rate. The decline in credit availability reduces aggregate demand, which tends to increase unemployment, a classic unintended consequence of the policy.
Research presented at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association this month by Eric Swanson and John Williams of the San Francisco Fed is consistent with this view of credit markets. It shows that during periods of forward guidance, the long-term interest rate does not adjust to events that shift supply or demand as it does in normal periods. In addition, while credit to corporate businesses is up 12% over the past two years, credit has declined to noncorporate businesses where the low rate is more likely to be a disincentive for lenders. Peter Fisher, head of fixed income at the global investment-management firm BlackRock and a former Fed and Treasury official, wrote in September: "[A]s they approach zero, lower rates . . . run the significant risk of perversely discouraging the lending and investment we need."
Ironically, the harmful effects of these interventions lead policy makers to expand them, which further increases their harmful effects. No one should want a continuation of this vicious circle... more at wsj.com, link above
My first positive post on the Obama administration, I heard firsthand this weekend from a good friend that knew him personally, that local native Denis McDonough, Obama's new chief of staff, is quite a good guy, smart, genuine, etc.
That concludes the positive portion of my post. As deputy national security adviser, McDonough handled the Benghazi attack aftermath from inside the White House - and got promoted.
GM, Are you suggesting the Dem Senator from NJ would be treated differently by msm if he subscribed to a different political view? Mark Sandford in some similar situation (?) would get a scandal question in an MSM policy interview? Can't believe what I am hearing.
I know. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. I've been told Martha Raddatz was a professional and now I don't know what to think.
She IS a professional, by current industry (MSM) (double) standards. And our job is to point out how ridiculously un-even-handed they really are no matter how few people care.
No doubt it was a condition of the interview that no embarrassing questions were to be asked. A condition that Martha insisted on and Sen. 'John' Menendez agreed.
Same goes for the hard hitting celeb interview last night for Steve Kroft and 60 minutes. The ongoing campaign should have to pay for that time slot.
Kenneth Johnson, Marine Corps veteran of three combat tours, argues:
What kind of a man is it who can send women off to kill and maim? What kind of society does that?
What kind of men sharing a fire-team foxhole with a woman and two other men don't treat the woman more gently?
What kind of society bemoaning that men don't seem to respect women can't see that part of the respect they demand is predicated on the specialness of the other?
Perhaps it is possible in a firefight to distinguish between how one treats women and men, but I doubt that I could do it. And if I am trained to treat men and women the same throughout my career, can this have no significant effect on how I treat women otherwise?
GM, Are you suggesting the Dem Senator from NJ would be treated differently by msm if he subscribed to a different political view? Mark Sandford in some similar situation (?) would get a scandal question in an MSM policy interview? Can't believe what I am hearing. -----------
After Four Years of Denying It, New York Times Banner Headline Admits Obama's 'Liberal Vision' (WSJ excerpted, subscriptions at http://www.wsjsubscription.org/)
"... the Times has spent the last four years insisting against evidence that Barack Obama, who pushed through government control of health care and a huge ineffective "stimulus" package, while maligning the wealthy and pushing higher taxes, is some kind of moderate. Back editions of the Times are littered with claims Obama was a centrist or moderate:
Reporter Jeff Zeleny on April 10, 2011 wrote a story under the online headline: "President Obama Adopts Centrist Approach.' Zeleny also considered Obama a "pragmatist" in December 2009: "He delivered a mix of realism and idealism....he continued a pattern evident throughout his public career of favoring pragmatism over absolutes."
An April 19, 2009 story by David Herszenhorn and Jackie Calmes claimed: "In some of his earliest skirmishes, Mr. Obama eventually chose pragmatism over fisticuffs....Pragmatism, [his aides] add, is an Obama hallmark, and among the changes he promised - and has delivered - is a break from his predecessor's often uncompromising style."
Here's reporter Jodi Kantor on Obama the law professor, May 3, 2009: "Former students and colleagues describe Mr. Obama as a minimalist (skeptical of court-led efforts at social change) and a structuralist (interested in how the law metes out power in society). And more than anything else, he is a pragmatist who urged those around him to be more keenly attuned to the real-life impact of decisions."
"All Americans are poorer as a result of Obama's policies, but the poor are hit hardest."
"Forbes magazine calculates that if long term discouraged workers, those who've dropped out to collect disability payments, and those working part time because they cannot find full time work were counted, the real unemployment rate would hover around 22 percent."
"The anti-poverty talk was missing from the 2012 campaign. It was all about the middle class. Perhaps that's because Obama's first term created so very much more poverty. There are more poor people in America today than at any time since the Great Depression. There were 32 million Americans collecting food stamps in 2008. Now that figure is 47 million. Spending on food stamps doubled between 2007 and 2011."
Interesting ideas by Newt. He admits being "so shaken by how wrong I was in projecting a Republican win on election night" and needs a period of 6 months to "methodically examining where we are and what we must do". It hasn't been 6 months yet and his 24 point plan doesn't have the typical focus and clarity that Newt at his best possesses. He is right we need to learn all they can about the Dem methods but Republicans cannot compete and win on their field.
Simply put by Michael Barone today: "Democratic core constituencies -- blacks, Hispanics and gentry liberals -- tend to be clustered geographically in big metropolitan areas. Obama's large margins there helped him carry many electoral votes, but not so many congressional districts."
In the inner city I saw the blockworker with her pencil and clipboard the day before the election and she saw me from across the street. I braced myself for a repeat of the conversation I had with the ACORN people wasting each others' time in 2004. I was shocked when she didn't come over but this past year they were working smarter. I didn't fit her demographic and she had worked the area long and hard enough to know I was the landlord not the resident.
In the 'rich Republican' areas, no one does person to person exact tracking of every household and you can't. My own legislative candidate came by my house and missed me 7 times. I voted for her anyway but she doesn't know that. Houses are more spread out and people are busy. Caucus turnouts are a few in a thousand and they don't want to get on email or call lists much less go door to door or voice the phone banks.
We must learn all we want from the other side but the answer is not simply to copy them.
I finally took the very painful step of reading the Obamacare decision in its entirety, a part of my life lost to invasive government that I will never get back. Everyone should have been required to read it before the last election IMHO as that election was about the selection of Supreme Court members and it was about the question of keeping versus repealing Obamacare at the political level. Would anyone like to discuss the Court decision at this late date? I admit coming into this with a strong bias against it.
The decision has 4 main parts. Chief Justice John Roberts, former conservative, was the deciding vote, upholding for reasons different than the 4 so-called liberal members also voting to uphold the law. Paraphrasing Roberts, if you can find a way to uphold a law then you do that and he did. He found a way to construe a mandate as a tax even though the supporters of the bill said and wrote explicitly the opposite. His view is quite easily refuted in the dissent IMO.
Justice Ginsburg wrote the main pro-Obamacare opinion. I found her legal opinion to be mostly a political opinion in favor of the legislation (flawed IMO), starting off with the premise that the function of the legislation is to lower costs and pointing to nothing in it that does that. She explains it is about the need to pay somehow for at least minimum emergency services but the bill is not at all argued to be about simply paying for minimum emergency services. The Ginsburg opinion could just as easily been written by Nancy Pelosi or White House staff. Paraphrasing badly, she argues that legislation that clearly goes FAR beyond any previous federal government power in precedent is supported in precedent in the sense that we are always expanding federal powers to keep up with the needs and times.
The main dissent I found to be rambling, unclear and repetitive. Four 'conservative' justices seemed so blown away by the big expansion of government power that they could not point exactly to why, how or where it violated the constitution, a formerly limited powers document.
Last was an additional short dissent by Justice Thomas where he feels a need to add in dissent that he would also overturn many previous expansions of the Supreme Court definitions of Commerce Clause powers if other Juistices were so inclined. No one joined that opinion.
My view as an opponent is that the weak arguments of the four liberals was entirely predictable. The interpretation of Chief Justice Roberts is shocking. Either he is smarter than everyone else in America to find and take a completely solo view or he completely lost it here under the historic pressure. Worst to me was that the main arguments I would make against the legislation were never made by the lawyers in opposition or by the Justices in dissent. Put simply by this layman, Obamcare is not a enumerated power and it STOMPS ALL OVER some very obvious unenumerated rights: a) I have or had before this legislation a right of choice to procure healthcare services like with all other products and services, as needed, by paying a listed or negotiated fee for service price and terms payment option. b) I had the right to choose a plan that offers a different array of service and cost levels than than that very chosen by the federal government in this legislation. Now I don't. And c) I had a right of privacy regarding all these arrangements. Why, how and where (I guess I know when) did I lose my right to not disclose to the government my personal financial arrangements for healthcare products and services. The provider may be required in tax law to report revenues as captured but as far as I know that's it. The income tax amendment allows the government to know my income and tax it, and that's it. I don't know any situation where I am required to take or disclose every available deduction or expense. The comparison to car insurance by some was a complete non-starter. For one thing it was states acting individually and no one ever lost the right after the insurance mandate to ride with someone else, walk or stay home without penalty. With this you most certainly did.
I'm all for having people's doctor helping them to live longer, a key reason we go there. Governing is different. Defend our shores, plow our streets etc. but not control all our behaviors and choices. Cigarettes under current science seem kind of obvious. Your odds of bad health consequences go way up. I'm fine with the warning label mandates and all kinds of educational efforts.
Problem is the government does not know where to stop. For this board, I point out an obvious future target and hope no one in government reads it: Martial Arts has health risks. And soccer, football, hockey, skiing, skydiving and eating breakfast lunch and dinner - all involve risk taking. A friend just died of snow shoveling (heart attack). Sex for older people they are already saying ask you doctor if that is okay for you, next could be prohibition. We joked that after cigarettes, what's next, french fries and soft drinks? It's not a joke anymore. Give them that power and it becomes their responsibility forever and they won't always get the science right or respect personal choices. (understatement)
- "Have you been told yet you to ask your patients about guns in the home? It's a health care cost now." The only time I ask anyone that is if I am concerned they are so depressed that they may commit suicide.
Pediatricians ask here. I let my daughter field the question, I had one at the time that she didn't know about. The doctor meant no big invasion, it was in the context of kids wearing bike helmets for safety. I just didn't like that it came as a direct question, as part of checklist, making a record on a very private matter he seemed compelled to ask. Maybe I am sensitive but I see a distinction between informing us about safety and creating a very personal record easily breached.
CCP: "I pointed out my suspicion that the argument we should get people to stop smoking because they utilize more health care dollars while all the rest of us pay for their medical problems is flawed...The concept that we will reduce costs in the long run by getting them to quit might be flawed. If these people die at 50 or 60 rather than living to 80 or more the US might save a bundle in social security, Medicare, and long term care costs."
Doc, you are correct (as usual). Hubert Humphrey III made his mark with the states suing the tobacco companies for these 'costs'. Key point in the trial was the ruling made by the judge that the fact these people died more quickly includes a health care coszt savings, not counting what you point out Social security etc., when they get sick with lung cancer, emphysema etc was inadmissible.
Despicable to use their early death as a cost savings - except for the fact that the lawsuit was all about costs.
A libertarian view (aren't we a libertarian country?) is that it is none of government's business whether you are obese or smoke. Your mother, daughter, spouse, father, son, boss, neighbor or pastor can nag you about that, not the federal government. Now every choice you make affects a public expenditure. Every wet french fry you eat affects our currency relationship with China and the debt burden on children not yet born.
George Orwell could not foresee the number of cameras and the data mining systems that will double check your compliance.
Have you been told yet you to ask your patients about guns in the home yet? It's a health care cost now. The government will need to stop you from exercising your rights, based on false data and unconstitutional powers.
Rig the vote? I heard the liberal uproar to Virginia doing that. Romney would have had 9 votes instead of zero. In a better year, the Republican would win all of Virginia and the Dem wishes for the split. I don't recall the liberal uproar when Nebraska made that change in 1992 or Maine in 1972. If both methods are acceptable, why is one cheating?
Mark Steyn nails it in so many ways. What difference does it make?] "At a basic level, the "difference" is the difference between truth and falsity"
Clinton is saying: we went with falsity, we won and you can't do anything about it.
The exact quote I think was: "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans, Was it because of a protest or is it because of guys out for a walk one night and they decide they go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?"
With continuing disregard for the truth, neither of those scenarios is what happened either. Wasn't it a planned terror attack or do we still not know. Guys out for a walk?? One night?? It was the anniversary of 9/11!!! Does she still not get it??
'What difference does it make' is not an answer to a congressional inquiry. My first reading of this was that her reaction was scripted and rehearsed, answer a question with a question etc. More accurate and very funny is CCP's reaction, good thing she didn't have a lamp within reach. She was pissed. You have to know your Clinton history to get that one.
Continuing our conversation about tax rates and economic performance...
In the 1950s in the US, the U.S. had a very high top marginal rate that almost no one paid and we had relatively good economic performance. Since it will be hard to replicate the rest of the factors of the 1950s, decimated global competitors, stronger work ethic than now, intact families, very little welfare etc., it might be more interesting and informative to take a look around the globe right now.
The French economist selected by President Barack Obama to serve as one of his top second-term global development advisers reportedly has “faith in redistribution,” supported far left-wing political theories and leaders, and provided the intellectual framework for French Socialist President Francois Hollande’s electoral victory, records reveal.
Obama announced his intent late last month to appoint French economist and MIT professor Esther Duflo to the President’s Global Development Council, a new governmental advisory board that Obama created by executive order last year. Obama announced bond investor Mohamed A. El-Erian as his pick to chair the council.
The council “will be comprised of no more than 12 individuals from a variety of sectors outside the Federal Government, including, among others, institutions of higher education, non-profit and philanthropic organizations, civil society, and private industry,” according to a 2012 White House press release. “The Council will inform and provide advice to the President and other senior U.S. officials on U.S. global development policies and practices.”
Duflo, who is 40 years old, is the Abdul Latif Jameel professor of poverty alleviation and development economics at MIT and the co-founder and director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, which was initially funded by Saudi billionaire Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel.
Duflo’s appointment by Obama might have directly political motivations.
During Socialist Francois Hollande’s successful 2012 French presidential campaign, his three voter mobilization strategists, all former Harvard or MIT students, applied theories they first learned from Duflo, whose experiments “when applied to electioneering, had quantified the ability of a single door knock to deliver a vote.”
The tactics behind Hollande’s “campaign operation aimed at nonvoters” were first employed by Obama’s 2008 campaign and were most fully realized during Obama’s 2012 campaign, when a powerful voter database enabled Obama staffers to register new voters based on demographic and behavioral trends.
These tactics helped “alter the very nature of the electorate” in 2012, according to the New York Times, “making it younger and less white.”
"Doug, This is something to consider with a very possible grid collapse in the near future."
Very interesting. Do people know that without electricity you will not have heat even with most natural gas or oil systems? Without heat in a cold climate you will not have water.
The oldest furnaces I have are called gravity systems, natural gas with no blower at all. Electricity is required only in low voltage to run the thermostat circuit. Our government wants those removed and replaced with very complex circuitry with innumerable fault points. Is that good, is that bad, or is that none of their g*ddamned business?
The government program to address this should be back off and foster prosperity so that we might be able to procure, on our own, alternatives and backup systems.
Senators agree to Reid and McConnell’s filibuster reform measures Posted by CNN Senior Congressional Producer Ted Barrett
(CNN) - Democrats and Republicans in the Senate overwhelmingly agreed late Thursday on language reforming filibusters, passing the measures agreed to earlier in the day by Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
The two leaders proposed to their caucuses earlier a list of reforms to curb the use of filibusters and streamline other procedures in order to speed up floor action. The measures required the support of each party's caucus.
Neither Democratic senators nor a GOP aide said members had voiced major issues with the proposals prior to the vote.
A filibuster is a tactic used in the Senate to delay or prevent a vote on legislation. Reid and McConnell's measure, according to one Senate aide, offered a compromise to reduce the number of filibusters while ensuring the minority party gets votes on some amendments.
The proposal allows for two paths that could be used to begin debate on legislation, avoiding filibusters designed to prevent debate from actually taking place.
In the first path, Reid would allow two amendments from both parties to be presented, with the caveat that if an amendment isn't relevant to the legislation at hand, it would be subject to a 60-vote threshold.
On measures where Reid and McConnell agree, a second path allows votes to overcome filibusters to be held the day after Reid files a procedural petition, instead of the two-day period currently in place. That change would disallow stalled votes on consensus legislation.
The new procedure also limits debate on some presidential nominations that require Senate approval.
Senate Democrats have complained that the minority Republicans deliberately overused the filibuster to block Democratic legislation.
A group of junior Senate Democrats pushed Reid to pass broad reforms - including reinstating the requirement that senators conducting a filibuster speak continuously on the floor - by using a controversial method to change the body’s rules that Republicans called the “nuclear option.” That method to change the Senate rules would require just 51 votes instead of the 67 customarily required.
Republicans, furious they might be jammed, argued the filibuster is the only leverage they have to get roll call votes on amendments that otherwise are routinely denied them by the majority Democrats.
The measure went to a vote and passed without Democrats invoking the “nuclear option.”
"No party has ever broken the rules of the Senate to change those rules. I’m glad such an irreparably damaging precedent will not be set today," McConnell said in a statement as the vote became clear. "We’ve avoided the nuclear option, and we’ve reiterated that any changes to the Standing Rules of the Senate still require 67 votes to end debate."
Republicans had said if Democrats pushed the reforms through the "nuclear option," it would have destroyed relations between the two parties and lead to massive gridlock in the chamber.
President Barack Obama issued a statement after the vote saying he hoped "today’s bipartisan agreement will pave the way for the Senate to take meaningful action in the days and weeks ahead."
"Too often over the past four years, a single senator or a handful of senators has been able to unilaterally block or delay bipartisan legislation for the sole purpose of making a political point," he said. The statement specifically identified Obama’s desire the Senate consider legislation on gun violence, immigration and the economy.
A bipartisan group of senior members, led by Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Carl Levin, D-Michigan, offered the alternative compromise that became part of Reid and McConnell's proposal.
"We are going to change the way we do business here," Reid said Wednesday. "We can do it either the easy way or the hard way but it's going to change."
Like the inequality drivel, the contention that the middle class has stagnated for 3 decades is false in 3 ways. Yet Pres. Obama and his mentors want to bet the economy on the failure of economic growth to reach the middle class.
1) CPI calculations are false, static, don't account for people making different choices in different scenarios. "CPI overestimates inflation by underestimating the value of improvements in product quality and variety."
2) Income data doesn't include all income, such as untaxed benefits. "...this wage figure ignores the rise over the past few decades in the portion of worker pay taken as (nontaxable) fringe benefits. This is no small matter—health benefits, pensions, paid leave and the rest now amount to an average of almost 31% of total compensation for all civilian workers according to the BLS."
3) the average hourly wage is held down by the great increase of women and immigrants into the workforce over the past three decades.
On that third point in particular I have tried to explain, when you add one job at the bottom in times of prosperity and growth, all other things equal, Median income just declined. But no one is worse off. More likely everyone is better off. -----------
Donald Boudreaux and Mark Perry: The Myth of a Stagnant Middle Class Household spending on food, housing, utilities, etc. has fallen from 53% of disposable income in 1950 to 32% today.
By DONALD J. BOUDREAUX AND MARK J. PERRY
A favorite "progressive" trope is that America's middle class has stagnated economically since the 1970s. One version of this claim, made by Robert Reich, President Clinton's labor secretary, is typical: "After three decades of flat wages during which almost all the gains of growth have gone to the very top," he wrote in 2010, "the middle class no longer has the buying power to keep the economy going."
This trope is spectacularly wrong.
It is true enough that, when adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, the average hourly wage of nonsupervisory workers in America has remained about the same. But not just for three decades. The average hourly wage in real dollars has remained largely unchanged from at least 1964—when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) started reporting it.
Moreover, there are several problems with this measurement of wages. First, the CPI overestimates inflation by underestimating the value of improvements in product quality and variety. Would you prefer 1980 medical care at 1980 prices, or 2013 care at 2013 prices? Most of us wouldn't hesitate to choose the latter.
Second, this wage figure ignores the rise over the past few decades in the portion of worker pay taken as (nontaxable) fringe benefits. This is no small matter—health benefits, pensions, paid leave and the rest now amount to an average of almost 31% of total compensation for all civilian workers according to the BLS.
Third and most important, the average hourly wage is held down by the great increase of women and immigrants into the workforce over the past three decades. Precisely because the U.S. economy was flexible and strong, it created millions of jobs for the influx of many often lesser-skilled workers who sought employment during these years.
Since almost all lesser-skilled workers entering the workforce in any given year are paid wages lower than the average, the measured statistic, "average hourly wage," remained stagnant over the years—even while the real wages of actual flesh-and-blood workers employed in any given year rose over time as they gained more experience and skills.
These three factors tell us that flat average wages over time don't necessarily support a narrative of middle-class stagnation. Still, pessimists reject these arguments. Rather than debate esoteric matters such as how to properly adjust for inflation, however, let's examine some other measures of middle-class living standards.
No single measure of well-being is more informative or important than life expectancy. Happily, an American born today can expect to live approximately 79 years—a full five years longer than in 1980 and more than a decade longer than in 1950. These longer life spans aren't just enjoyed by "privileged" Americans. As the New York Times reported this past June 7, "The gap in life expectancy between whites and blacks in America has narrowed, reaching the lowest point ever recorded." This necessarily means that life expectancy for blacks has risen even more impressively than it has for whites.
Americans are also much better able to enjoy their longer lives. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, spending by households on many of modern life's "basics"—food at home, automobiles, clothing and footwear, household furnishings and equipment, and housing and utilities—fell from 53% of disposable income in 1950 to 44% in 1970 to 32% today.
One underappreciated result of the dramatic fall in the cost (and rise in the quality) of modern "basics" is that, while income inequality might be rising when measured in dollars, it is falling when reckoned in what's most important—our ability to consume. Before airlines were deregulated, for example, commercial jet travel was a luxury that ordinary Americans seldom enjoyed. Today, air travel for many Americans is as routine as bus travel was during the disco era, thanks to a 50% decline in the real price of airfares since 1980.
Bill Gates in his private jet flies with more personal space than does Joe Six-Pack when making a similar trip on a commercial jetliner. But unlike his 1970s counterpart, Joe routinely travels the same great distances in roughly the same time as do the world's wealthiest tycoons.
What's true for long-distance travel is also true for food, cars, entertainment, electronics, communications and many other aspects of "consumability." Today, the quantities and qualities of what ordinary Americans consume are closer to that of rich Americans than they were in decades past. Consider the electronic products that every middle-class teenager can now afford—iPhones, iPads, iPods and laptop computers. They aren't much inferior to the electronic gadgets now used by the top 1% of American income earners, and often they are exactly the same.
Even though the inflation-adjusted hourly wage hasn't changed much in 50 years, it is unlikely that an average American would trade his wages and benefits in 2013—along with access to the most affordable food, appliances, clothing and cars in history, plus today's cornucopia of modern electronic goods—for the same real wages but with much lower fringe benefits in the 1950s or 1970s, along with those era's higher prices, more limited selection, and inferior products.
Despite assertions by progressives who complain about stagnant wages, inequality and the (always) disappearing middle class, middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before. They live longer lives and have much greater access to the services and consumer products bought by billionaires.
Mr. Boudreaux is professor of economics at George Mason University and chair for the study of free market capitalism at the Mercatus Center. Mr. Perry is a professor of economics at the University of Michigan-Flint and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
WSJ editorial excerpt from 1/23 - (could be entitled why I like this newspaper)
"...she phoned President Obama only "later in the evening," she said. The attack in Libya began after 3 p.m. Washington time and the standoff there and at a nearby CIA annex lasted another seven hours. No military help came. Mr. Stevens and three other Americans were murdered.
Mrs. Clinton also said she wasn't responsible for the "talking points" about Benghazi given to White House briefers. She didn't walk point for the Administration on the TV shows that September Sunday because it is not her "favorite thing to do." The hearing's dramatic high point came when Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson wouldn't take this know-nothing line for an answer and pressed why it took the Administration so long to say it was a terrorist strike. "What difference, at this point, does it make?" she shot back.
Sorry, Ma'am. At this point, or at any point, it matters when Administrations mislead Americans."
It used to be said of the Clinton's, they lie with such ease. In the latest deal, you could say they deceive, stonewall and turn things around on people with such ease. As I wrote on the Benghazi thread, that does not change the facts.
We are not learning much about Benghazi right now but might as well take the opportunity to reflect on what we may already know about Hillary. Seems well sourced, some facts in dispute.
Politics: Watergate-era Judiciary chief of staff: Hillary Clinton fired for lies, unethical behavior
Dan Calabrese, Wednesday January 23rd, 2013
By DAN CALABRESE - Bet you didn't know this.
I've decided to reprint a piece of work I did nearly five years ago, because it seems very relevant today given Hillary Clinton's performance in the Benghazi hearings. Back in 2008 when she was running for president, I interviewed two erstwhile staff members of the House Judiciary Committee who were involved with the Watergate investigation when Hillary was a low-level staffer there. I interviewed one Democrat staffer and one Republican staffer, and wrote two pieces based on what they told me about Hillary's conduct at the time.
I published these pieces back in 2008 for North Star Writers Group, the syndicate I ran at the time. This was the most widely read piece we ever had at NSWG, but because NSWG never gained the high-profile status of the major syndicates, this piece still didn't reach as many people as I thought it deserved to. Today, given the much broader reach of CainTV and yet another incidence of Hillary's arrogance in dealing with a congressional committee, I think it deserves another airing. For the purposes of simplicity, I've combined the two pieces into one very long one. If you're interested in understanding the true character of Hillary Clinton, it's worth your time to read it.
As Hillary Clinton came under increasing scrutiny for her story about facing sniper fire in Bosnia, one question that arose was whether she has engaged in a pattern of lying.
The now-retired general counsel and chief of staff of the House Judiciary Committee, who supervised Hillary when she worked on the Watergate investigation, says Hillary’s history of lies and unethical behavior goes back farther – and goes much deeper – than anyone realizes.
Jerry Zeifman, a lifelong Democrat, supervised the work of 27-year-old Hillary Rodham on the committee. Hillary got a job working on the investigation at the behest of her former law professor, Burke Marshall, who was also Sen. Ted Kennedy’s chief counsel in the Chappaquiddick affair. When the investigation was over, Zeifman fired Hillary from the committee staff and refused to give her a letter of recommendation – one of only three people who earned that dubious distinction in Zeifman’s 17-year career.
“Because she was a liar,” Zeifman said in an interview last week. “She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”
How could a 27-year-old House staff member do all that? She couldn’t do it by herself, but Zeifman said she was one of several individuals – including Marshall, special counsel John Doar and senior associate special counsel (and future Clinton White House Counsel) Bernard Nussbaum – who engaged in a seemingly implausible scheme to deny Richard Nixon the right to counsel during the investigation.
Why would they want to do that? Because, according to Zeifman, they feared putting Watergate break-in mastermind E. Howard Hunt on the stand to be cross-examined by counsel to the president. Hunt, Zeifman said, had the goods on nefarious activities in the Kennedy Administration that would have made Watergate look like a day at the beach – including Kennedy’s purported complicity in the attempted assassination of Fidel Castro.
The actions of Hillary and her cohorts went directly against the judgment of top Democrats, up to and including then-House Majority Leader Tip O’Neill, that Nixon clearly had the right to counsel. Zeifman says that Hillary, along with Marshall, Nussbaum and Doar, was determined to gain enough votes on the Judiciary Committee to change House rules and deny counsel to Nixon. And in order to pull this off, Zeifman says Hillary wrote a fraudulent legal brief, and confiscated public documents to hide her deception.
The brief involved precedent for representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding. When Hillary endeavored to write a legal brief arguing there is no right to representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding, Zeifman says, he told Hillary about the case of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who faced an impeachment attempt in 1970.
“As soon as the impeachment resolutions were introduced by (then-House Minority Leader Gerald) Ford, and they were referred to the House Judiciary Committee, the first thing Douglas did was hire himself a lawyer,” Zeifman said.
The Judiciary Committee allowed Douglas to keep counsel, thus establishing the precedent. Zeifman says he told Hillary that all the documents establishing this fact were in the Judiciary Committee’s public files. So what did Hillary do?
“Hillary then removed all the Douglas files to the offices where she was located, which at that time was secured and inaccessible to the public,” Zeifman said. Hillary then proceeded to write a legal brief arguing there was no precedent for the right to representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding – as if the Douglas case had never occurred.
The brief was so fraudulent and ridiculous, Zeifman believes Hillary would have been disbarred if she had submitted it to a judge.
Zeifman says that if Hillary, Marshall, Nussbaum and Doar had succeeded, members of the House Judiciary Committee would have also been denied the right to cross-examine witnesses, and denied the opportunity to even participate in the drafting of articles of impeachment against Nixon.
Of course, Nixon’s resignation rendered the entire issue moot, ending Hillary’s career on the Judiciary Committee staff in a most undistinguished manner. Zeifman says he was urged by top committee members to keep a diary of everything that was happening. He did so, and still has the diary if anyone wants to check the veracity of his story. Certainly, he could not have known in 1974 that diary entries about a young lawyer named Hillary Rodham would be of interest to anyone 34 years later.
But they show that the pattern of lies, deceit, fabrications and unethical behavior was established long ago – long before the Bosnia lie, and indeed, even before cattle futures, Travelgate and Whitewater – for the woman who is still asking us to make her president of the United States.
Franklin Polk, who served at the time as chief Republican counsel on the committee, confirmed many of these details in two interviews he granted me this past Friday, although his analysis of events is not always identical to Zeifman’s. Polk specifically confirmed that Hillary wrote the memo in question, and confirmed that Hillary ignored the Douglas case. (He said he couldn’t confirm or dispel the part about Hillary taking the Douglas files.)
To Polk, Hillary’s memo was dishonest in the sense that she tried to pretend the Douglas precedent didn’t exist. But unlike Zeifman, Polk considered the memo dishonest in a way that was more stupid than sinister.
“Hillary should have mentioned that (the Douglas case), and then tried to argue whether that was a change of policy or not instead of just ignoring it and taking the precedent out of the opinion,” Polk said.
Polk recalled that the attempt to deny counsel to Nixon upset a great many members of the committee, including just about all the Republicans, but many Democrats as well.
“The argument sort of broke like a firestorm on the committee, and I remember Congressman Don Edwards was very upset,” Polk said. “He was the chairman of the subcommittee on constitutional rights. But in truth, the impeachment precedents are not clear. Let’s put it this way. In the old days, from the beginning of the country through the 1800s and early 1900s, there were precedents that the target or accused did not have the right to counsel.”
That’s why Polk believes Hillary’s approach in writing the memorandum was foolish. He says she could have argued that the Douglas case was an isolated example, and that other historical precedents could apply.
But Zeifman says the memo and removal of the Douglas files was only part the effort by Hillary, Doar, Nussbaum and Marshall to pursue their own agenda during the investigation.
After my first column, some readers wrote in claiming Zeifman was motivated by jealousy because he was not appointed as the chief counsel in the investigation, with that title going to Doar instead.
Zeifman’s account is that he supported the appointment of Doar because he, Zeifman, a) did not want the public notoriety that would come with such a high-profile role; and b) didn’t have much prosecutorial experience. When he started to have a problem with Doar and his allies was when Zeifman and others, including House Majority Leader Tip O’Neill and Democratic committee member Jack Brooks of Texas, began to perceive Doar’s group as acting outside the directives and knowledge of the committee and its chairman, Peter Rodino.
(O’Neill died in 1994. Brooks is still living and I tried unsuccessfully to reach him. I’d still like to.)
This culminated in a project to research past presidential abuses of power, which committee members felt was crucial in aiding the decisions they would make in deciding how to handle Nixon’s alleged offenses.
According to Zeifman and other documents, Doar directed Hillary to work with a group of Yale law professors on this project. But the report they generated was never given to the committee. Zeifman believes the reason was that the report was little more than a whitewash of the Kennedy years – a part of the Burke Marshall-led agenda of avoiding revelations during the Watergate investigation that would have embarrassed the Kennedys.
The fact that the report was kept under wraps upset Republican committee member Charles Wiggins of California, who wrote a memo to his colleagues on the committee that read in part:
Within the past few days, some disturbing information has come to my attention. It is requested that the facts concerning the matter be investigated and a report be made to the full committee as it concerns us all.
Early last spring when it became obvious that the committee was considering presidential "abuse of power" as a possible ground of impeachment, I raised the question before the full committee that research should be undertaken so as to furnish a standard against which to test the alleged abusive conduct of Richard Nixon.
As I recall, several other members joined with me in this request. I recall as well repeating this request from time to time during the course of our investigation. The staff, as I recall, was noncommittal, but it is certain that no such staff study was made available to the members at any time for their use.
Wiggins believed the report was purposely hidden from committee members. Chairman Rodino denied this, and said the reason Hillary’s report was not given to committee members was that it contained no value. It’s worth noting, of course, that the staff member who made this judgment was John Doar.
In a four-page reply to Wiggins, Rodino wrote in part:
Hillary Rodham of the impeachment inquiry staff coordinated the work. . . . After the staff received the report it was reviewed by Ms. Rodham, briefly by Mr. Labovitz and Mr. Sack, and by Doar. The staff did not think the manuscript was useful in its present form. . . .
In your letter you suggest that members of the staff may have intentionally suppressed the report during the course of its investigation. That was not the case.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Doar was more concerned that any highlight of the project might prejudice the case against President Nixon. The fact is that the staff did not think the material was usable by the committee in its existing form and had not had time to modify it so it would have practical utility for the members of the committee. I was informed and agreed with the judgment.
Mr. Labovitz, by the way, was John Labovitz, another member of the Democratic staff. I spoke with Labovitz this past Friday as well, and he is no fan of Jerry Zeifman.
“If it’s according to Zeifman, it’s inaccurate from my perspective,” Labovitz said. He bases that statement on a recollection that Zeifman did not actually work on the impeachment inquiry staff, although that is contradicted not only by Zeifman but Polk as well.
Labovitz said he has no knowledge of Hillary having taken any files, and defended her no-right-to-counsel memo on the grounds that, if she was assigned to write a memo arguing a point of view, she was merely following orders.
But as both Zeifman and Polk point out, that doesn’t mean ignoring background of which you are aware, or worse, as Zeifman alleges, confiscating documents that disprove your argument.
All told, Polk recalls the actions of Hillary, Doar and Nussbaum as more amateurish than anything else.
“Of course the Republicans went nuts,” Polk said. “But so did some of the Democrats – some of the most liberal Democrats. It was more like these guys – Doar and company – were trying to manage the members of Congress, and it was like, ‘Who’s in charge here?’ If you want to convict a president, you want to give him all the rights possible. If you’re going to give him a trial, for him to say, ‘My rights were denied,’ – it was a stupid effort by people who were just politically tone deaf. So this was a big deal to people in the proceedings on the committee, no question about it. And Jerry Zeifman went nuts, and rightfully so. But my reaction wasn’t so much that it was underhanded as it was just stupid.”
Polk recalls Zeifman sharing with him at the time that he believed Hillary’s primary role was to report back to Burke Marshall any time the investigation was taking a turn that was not to the liking of the Kennedys.
“Jerry used to give the chapter and verse as to how Hillary was the mole into the committee works as to how things were going,” Polk said. “And she’d be feeding information back to Burke Marshall, who, at least according to Jerry, was talking to the Kennedys. And when something was off track in the view of the Kennedys, Burke Marshall would call John Doar or something, and there would be a reconsideration of what they were talking about. Jerry used to tell me that this was Hillary’s primary function.”
Zeifman says he had another staff member get him Hillary’s phone records, which showed that she was calling Burke Marshall at least once a day, and often several times a day.
A final note about all this: I wrote my first column on this subject because, in the aftermath of Hillary being caught in her Bosnia fib, I came in contact with Jerry Zeifman and found his story compelling. Zeifman has been trying to tell his story for many years, and the mainstream media have ignored him. I thought it deserved an airing as a demonstration of how early in her career Hillary began engaging in self-serving, disingenuous conduct.
Disingenuously arguing a position? Vanishing documents? Selling out members of her own party to advance a personal agenda? Classic Hillary. Neither my first column on the subject nor this one were designed to show that Hillary is dishonest. I don’t really think that’s in dispute. Rather, they were designed to show that she has been this way for a very long time – a fact worth considering for anyone contemplating voting for her for president of the United States.
By the way, there’s something else that started a long time ago.
“She would go around saying, ‘I’m dating a person who will some day be president,’” Polk said. “It was like a Babe Ruth call. And because of that comment she made, I watched Bill Clinton’s political efforts as governor of Arkansas, and I never counted him out because she had made that forecast.”
Bill knew what he wanted a long time ago. Clearly, so did Hillary, and her tactics for trying to achieve it were established even in those early days.
Trust them with your health care, but the Feds also know what is best to light and heat you house - all without even knowing you. There is a new federal furnace law for 2013, all replacements (after May 1) must be of the 'high efficiency' type.
Being in the housing business in a very cold climate, this is something I have studied at great length and am still learning. Not the Feds. They know what is best for you when the bill hits their desk, even if the sudden, unexpected cost of the mandate could cost you your home or business.
High efficiency furnaces are far mmore costly to buy and install, are way more complicated, are FAR less reliable, and aren't the best solution for all circumstances. Imagine that.
Today I came back from an extended trip to find my house totally frozen. That law isn't in effect yet but I take great pride in keeping my energy usage and expense very low without their help coercion. I was quite pleased with myself having a super high efficient setup in place, having had my thermostat turned way down and being gone during some of the coldest weather in memory, average lows of ten below and a high of five below Monday. Not counting wind chill. Saved more money than a call to Geico. Not counting the damage.
Older furnaces waste heat right up the chimney, which also keeps the chimney exhaust open and rising out of the house. Newer, high efficiency, condensing furnaces make a condensate in combustion. They create water vapor as an exhaust gas and then blow it out the side of the house. Great idea - in the summer, or in a mild climate or where you run the furnace constantly to keep the waste heat coming. By the nature of it, the outside of the house is a potentially cold place - where water vapor FREEZES. In my case, it froze the exhaust line all the way shut - rock solid with ice, which with the first safety pressure check shuts off all heat. Now in order to turn my furnace down I will need to add electric heat to the exhaust of my 96% furnace because the 4% loss isn't enough heat to keep the line open. Or as others do, I can turn my thermostat much higher up than I would with an older style furnace as a precaution, in order to compensate for the design problem and avoid destroying all the plumbing again.
What do the Feds say about the issues I raised. So what! Mandate it. Every state, every month, every climate is different, so let's pass a law that applies exactly the same to everyone - before the technology is ready. If it doesn't work, what do they care? Should I sit outside and wait for FEMA? They never came when my homes were hit by tornado.
There is something very condescending about believing that people will not do the right thing on their own unless those who know better pass a law.
In the old days, you had to make a good light bulb or furnace first, make it bright, warm, durable and cost competitive, something people would want and choose to buy. Not is in this elitist fascism system that replaced freedom.
Trivia question: Forget about Chuck Hagel and Jack Lew for a moment... On what foreign policy question or issue was incoming Sec. of State John Kerry ever right?
Should have read: trick question, instead of trivia question. I'm not aware of Sen Kerry ever getting a foreign policy question right - at least from my way of thinking. Yes he voted to start the war in Iraq, but his famous I voted for the funding before I voted against it likely cost him the Presidency. Iraq overall was not his strongest issue.
Breitbart compiled a list of his top ten worst policy mistakes: (Anyone disagree with these?)
10. Honduras (2009) - Sen. Kerry backed Obama’s dubious claim that leftist President Manuel Zelaya--an antisemite and autocrat in the Hugo Chavez mode--had been ousted in a coup. He even tried to reverse a contrary finding by the Law Library of Congress.
9. Terrorism (1996) - In a debate with former Gov. Bill Weld, Sen. Kerry opposed the death penalty for terrorists, at a time when lack of vigilance by the Clinton administration allowed Al Qaeda to become a deadly threat. (After 9/11, Sen. Kerry changed his mind.)
8. Nicaragua (1985) - As Mary Anastasia O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal noted last week, Sen. Kerry encouraged Congress to end aid for the Contras, who were opposing the Sandinista regime, which quickly found support from the Soviet Union and Cuba.
7. Iraq (2003) - In 2002, Sen. Kerry voted to authorize the Iraq War; in 2003, he voted against continued funding and aid necessary to secure victory. The flip-flop was not only indefensible, but also cost Sen. Kerry the 2004 election against George W. Bush.
6. Colombia (2003) - Sen. Kerry described FARC, a drug-fueled terrorist guerilla army in Colombia much beloved by Chavez and the far left, specializing in kidnappings and hostage-taking, as having “legitimate complaints” against the Colombian government.
5. Gulf War (1991) - Not only did Sen. Kerry vote against authorizing UN-approved action against Saddam Hussein, but he also argued for a “new world order” not led by the U.S. and criticized the American-led coalition President George H.W. Bush had built.
4. Iran (2007) - Our own William Bigelow notes: “In 2007, Kerry voted against a Senate resolution that wanted to “combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
3. Israel (2003) - As CBS News has noted, Sen. Kerry called Israel’s anti-terror security barrier--which has saved hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian lives--a “barrier to peace” in October 2003. (As on many other issues, Sen. Kerry soon reversed his position.)
2. Syria (2009) - Though Sen. Kerry condemned Syria as a supporter of terrorism in 1991, when Syria had aligned with the U.S. in the Gulf War, he later embraced dictator Bashar al-Assad, leading Democrats’ efforts to rehabilitate the murderous regime.
1. Vietnam (1971) - As bad as Sen. Kerry’s record has been since, nothing quite tops his national debut in the “Winter Soldier” investigation as a decorated veteran telling false stories about war crimes allegedly committed by American troops in Vietnam.
Limited internet access for me in the mountains and I still haven't seen the video, but this event was not about congressional Republicans. It was Hillary's opportunity to set the record straight and take specific responsibility and she declined.
Of the 24 or so new recommendations from a commission, why were none of them thought of in advance by her - and implemented in the face of known threats? Why was no other national security agency in the loop on Benghazi security if State Dept. security was known to be absent and asleep?
That she got off easy in the hearing and that they did not circle her and destroy her as she leaves office does not mean this is over. She survived in her mind and believes she can go on offense every time it comes up in her potential political future, but that does not change one fact of what happened on her watch.
She had 4 years to prepare for her 3am call. that she said the other guy couldn't handle. She was the lead from behind expert on Libya touting the situation there as one of her accomplishments. She was there when the pleas for help came in months in advance. She knew the Ambassador personally. She didn't set up security or backup on site, off site or anywhere else. The call came during waking hours. They sat there powerless. That is not what SUPERPOWERS do. Her itinerary show she was hanging around the White House with events and photo opps. She must have been there when the call came in.
She was in the loop when they chose an ambitious chump to take the false story forward and answer no real questions. She hid during the months leading up to the election and hid during the months leading up to her fall and blood clot. Then she showed up and declares how dare you question me.
We left our best people exposed. We won't tell you what they were up to. We provided no security, before, during or after the attack. We ignored pleas for help. And we stonewalled and lied to the American people about what happened ever since.
Condi Rice was lambasted for saying who could imagined an attack like 9/11/01. But anyone who could not have imagined attacks on our embassies and diplomats in harms way on the anniversary of 9/11 in this part of the world in totally in denial of their very open thought process. They blew up two African embassies under (other) Clinton. They stormed our Tehran embassy under Carter. They've hit us here and everywhere else. We know the extremist groups are armed and operating in and around Benghgazi and they know we have assets there.
Hillary, you put forward a lie and had a publicity chump to do your evasion of responsibility work. Now you say what difference does it make. I say it makes a difference.
You say you take responsibility. Exactly when did you do that and how? The record now shows exactly the opposite.
- Did she answer any of the unanswered questions? Not really. Did she hurt her political future with her role in this disaster? I don't know.
From the Wash Post piece: Clinton told [Wisc. Sen. Ron] Johnson he was wrong and that he was missing the point with a narrow focus on the wording of the script Rice used. With four Americans dead, Clinton said angrily, “what difference at this point does it make?”
- That is her full answer to the lie that a spontaneous demonstration spun out of control - that anyone who asks it is missing the point that 4 are dead?
Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she takes responsibility for protecting diplomats and other employees abroad. “Nobody is more committed to getting this right..."
- But no one, in fact, was more responsible for getting it wrong. Unless she can say her demands for more security BEFORE the attack were denied by the Commander in Chief.
"Clinton has pledged to adopt all of the 29 recommendations from the independent Accountability Review Board, which include changes to the way diplomatic facilities in dangerous areas would be built and staffed."
- She sees herself, the one who was in of position of authority and ignored their timely pleas for help, as the reformer. She lacks competence integrity but has plenty of fight left in her. What is the lasting impression Democrat activists and voters take out of this?
Aside from the security questions, why was Susan Rice chosen instead of Hillary Clinton the front person for (mis)informing the American people as we tried to understand this deadly attack against Americans serving us? That wanted someone out of the loop, who could easily be wrong on the prepared points and say I don't know on the follow up questions. What role did Sec. Clinton play in choosing Susan Rice as the point person, instead of choosing to inform the American people timely and openly? A UN Ambassador to discuss a State Department security disaster??
My prediction is that next for the out-going Secretary is a rather lucrative book deal that glosses over her role in this scandal.
Isn't that about where we are right now politically? Separate from the merits and morals of slaughtering our young, wouldn't you say about 70% have no concept of states' rights and would prefer to have an assembled, benevolent politburo decide the toughest issues for us, as long as they get it right?
Pro-life groups should concede the politics of the moment and move the other direction - push legislation that gives the mom a reasonable time after birth to decide whether the child raising thing is really something she wants to tackle. The fetus is still not viable. Did she lose her right of privacy at childbirth? No prosecution for the mother or the doctor for killing the baby in the first 30 days after birth. In Illinois I believe they called something like that the Obama doctrine.
The euro crisis no one is talking about: France is in free fall By Shawn Tully, senior editor-at-large January 9, 2013: 9:26 AM ET
The euro zone's second-largest economy is suffering more than any other member from a shocking deterioration in competitiveness. And it's doing nothing to stop it.
FORTUNE -- Given investors' confidence in its sovereign debt, and its image as Germany's principal partner in the sturdy, sensible "northern" eurozone, you'd think that France endures as the co-guardian of the endangered single currency. Indeed, the rate on France's ten-year government bonds stands at just 2%, just a few ticks above Germany's. From a quick look at the headline numbers, France doesn't appear nearly as stressed as the derisively titled "PIIGS," Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain. So far, the trajectory of its debts and deficits isn't as distressing as the figures for the PIIGs, or even the U.K. and the U.S.
France's vaunted role in the creation and initial success of the euro enhances its aura of solidity. It was President Francois Mitterrand who in 1989 persuaded Chancellor Helmut Kohl to back monetary union in exchange for France's support for German reunification. In fact, France and Germany, along with the Netherlands, dramatized their commitment by effectively uniting the franc and deutschemark in a currency union that held their exchange rates in a narrow band, and heralded the euro's birth in 1999. In the boom years of the mid-2000s, France virtually matched Germany as the twin growth engine of the thriving, 17-nation eurozone.
A deeper look shows that France is mired in no less than an economic crisis. The eurozone's second-largest economy (2012 GDP: 2 trillion euros) is suffering more than any other member from a shocking deterioration in competitiveness. Put simply, France's products -- its cars, steel, clothing, electronics -- cost far too much to produce compared with competing goods both from Asia and its European neighbors, including not just Germany but even Spain and Italy. That's causing a sharp and accelerating fall in its exports, and a significant decline in manufacturing and the services that support it.
The virtual implosion of French industry is overlooked by analysts and pundits who claim that the eurozone had dodged disaster and entered a new, durable period of stability. In fact, it's France -- not Greece or Spain -- that now poses the greatest threat to the euro's survival. France epitomizes the real problem with the single currency: The inability of nations with high and rising production costs to adjust their currencies so that their products remain competitive in world markets.
So far, the worries over the euro have centered on dangerously rising debt and deficits. But those fiscal problems are primarily the result of a loss of competitiveness. When products cost too much to make, the economy stalls or actually declines, so that even modest increases in government spending swamp nations with big budget shortfalls and excessive borrowings. In this no-or-negative growth scenario, the picture is usually the same: The private economy shrinks while government keeps expanding.
That's already happened in Italy, Spain and other troubled eurozone members. The difference is that those nations are adopting structural reforms to restore their competitiveness. France is doing nothing of the kind. Hence, its yawning competitiveness gap will soon create a fiscal crisis. It's absolutely astonishing that an economy so large, and so widely respected, can be unraveling so quickly.
The world's investors and the euro zone optimists should awaken to the danger posed by France. La crise est arivée.
France's decline is best illustrated by the rapid deterioration in its foreign trade. In 1999, France sold around 7% of the world's exports. Today, the figure is just over 3%, and falling fast. The same high costs that are pounding exports draw an ever rising flow of goods from Germany, China and even southern Europe. Those imports are taking an increasing share of sales from pricier French-made products. In 2005, France's trade balance was a positive 0.5% of GDP. Today, it stands at minus 2.7% of national income, meaning imports now far exceed exports, turning trade from a growth-generator into a major drag. An excellent illustration of the competitiveness gap is the chasm between German and French exports to China. Germany sends $70 billion in cars, machine tools and other products to China each year, seven times the figure for France.
Even tourism is suffering because of the France's high prices. France is now struggling clientele from a surging, bargain-seeking tranche of the market, travelers from Asia, Brazil, India and Russia. In the mid-2000s, foreigners spent 15 billion euros more visiting the Champs Elysees and the Riviera than the French paid to vacation abroad. That surplus has since fallen by one-third, to around 10 billion euros.
The main reason for France's cost disadvantage is the burden of labor, a factor that typically accounts for around 70% of all corporate expenses worldwide. In France, the problem comprises a both high wage and social costs, and rigid laws, including a 35-hour work week that allows French employees the lowest number of working hours in the developed world. An astounding 86% of all wage earners enjoy "contrats a durée indéterminées," permanent contracts that make layoffs extremely expensive and time-consuming.
In France, 42 euros for every 100 euros in total expenses go to social charges, versus 34 euros in Germany, 26 in the UK, and 20 in the US.
Obviously, the restrictive laws and hostile unions are nothing new. What's causing the crippling malaise is the recent rapid rise in labor costs when rivals are lowering or moderating the weight of weight of their workforces.
Since 2005, France's unit labor costs -- the expense of producing a single car or steel beam, for example -- has jumped 17% compared with 10% for Germany, 5.8% for Spain, and 2% for Ireland. Today, French workers earn an average of 35.3 euros per hour, compared with 25.8 in Italy, 22 in the UK and Spain.
The result is a steep fall in French manufacturing and the services that support it, everything from consulting to logistics. Corporate profits have plunged to 6.5% of GDP, about 60% of the euro zone average. That's because French exporters are losing market share, and the ones that survive must lower margins to charge competitive prices. As a result, they lack the funds to invest in new plants and technologies. France now has half as many exporting companies as Germany and, amazingly, Italy. German industry benefits from 19,000 robots, five times the number in France. As for R&D spending, it's dropped 50% in the past four years.
Remarkably, the Hollande government is raising revenue by heightening the burden on business. In September, France announced new laws that limit deductions for interest payments and loss carry-forwards, effectively heaping higher taxes on business. Those measures will shrink already meager profits, and crimp future investment.
The cost-gap wouldn't be so damaging if France specialized in sophisticated, high-margin products. Indeed, the nation remains strong in fashion, luxury goods, and pharmaceuticals. But though those offerings symbolize France's economic élan, the nation is heavily dependent on autos, textile, steel, telecom equipment and other mid-to-low margin products that are extremely price sensitive on world markets. "France has never been strong in high-end, sophisticated products like machine tools or high-end computer equipment," says Jean-Christophe Caffet of Flash Economics in Paris. "And even in the high-end, it's lost a lot of market share to Germany."
Germany, for example, specializes in fancy cars, Audis, Mercedes and BMWs that folks are willing to keep buying if prices rise a bit. By contrast, France makes cheaper Renaults and Peugeots that risk losing sales to Ford or Fiat unless manufacturers hold down prices -- or settle for puny or non-existent profits.
Nor is France reacting to the looming crisis by following its neighbors' campaign to lower labor costs. Germany made big strides in the mid-2000s with its Hartz IV reforms that lowered the social charges on businesses. Spain recently raised the retirement age for full pensions from 65 to 67 and allows wage negotiations at the company level, a departure from the centralized system of imposing mandatory nationwide increases in pay. Italy is gradually raising the retirement age for women from 60 to 66 over the next six years.
But Francois Hollande, elected president in May, is taking far more tepid steps. The government is pledging to modestly lower social charges on businesses, but the reforms don't start until 2014, and last just two years.
It's the prospect of a future without growth, a direct legacy of the competitiveness problem, that could unleash a fiscal crisis. It's remarkable that in the mid-1990s, France had a lower unemployment rate than Germany, smaller deficits, less debt to GDP, and approximately the same growth rate. All of those measures have now totally reversed.
In 2012, the French economy expanded at just 0.2%, and its real growth rate for the past three years averaged 1.2%, less than half Germany's 2.7% performance. For 2013, France's ODDO Securities makes a persuasive case that the economy will actually shrink. The unemployment rate stands at a 14-year high of 10.9% and rising, compared 6.7% for Germany. Debt to GDP is nearing the danger zone of 90%, and could hit 97% in 2013.
It's not that France has been raising government spending at an outrageous rate. The issue is that a nation with already high spending levels and no growth has run out of room to keep lifting spending, and debt, at all. It's extraordinary that from 2004 to 2012, the private sector in France showed no growth whatsoever, adjusted for inflation. The entire rise in GDP, a mere 7.3% over eight years, came from government spending. It's the private economy that supports that spending, and it will keep dwindling, driving France further and further into debt.
Government spending now accounts for 57% of GDP and increasing, 12 points higher than Germany. By the way, Germany's private sector is growing briskly as public expenditures drop as a share of national income. The opposite dynamic is plaguing its long-time partner.
It's totally implausible to blame "austerity" for France's poor growth. Austerity is generally defined as large reductions in budget deficits, mainly driven by falling government spending. But France's spending has increased in real terms, and its deficits have been remained at a substantial 5% or so of GDP in 2011 and 2012, with the same figure likely for this year.
It's unclear when the crisis that's going mostly unacknowledged by investors and the Hollande government will erupt into a panic. The chance that France will lower labor costs by the 20% to 30% needed to restore growth is practically zero. Reforms can only happen when the economy is expanding and citizens feel good about the future, the antithesis of the gloom now enveloping France.
France is heading towards an economic Bastille. The longer it stays on that path, the more possible that the eurozone regime it labored so hard to create will crumble.
I've got news for Sec. Powell. Someone who supports Obama twice and all of the leftist agenda is not Republican. You are a leftist. Be proud of that.
Powell went on Meet the Press to give a show of support for Chuck Hagel. He said regarding Hagel's use of the term Jewish lobby, "that term slips out from time to time".
Yes it does, and so does support for Iran, Hamas, Castro, etc. His ideological matching with Obama is his qualification.
Powell called American DOD official, Douglas Feith "a card-carrying member of the Likud Party." Those slip ups are going to happen??
Hagel is not an anti-semite for what he said but the GOP IS racist for what they didn't say:
Powell went on to say that when Romney supporter Gov. Sununu called Obama "lazy" after his first debate performance, it was short for lazy bleaping nigger(?), the GOP is racist - they just don't say the last parts out loud. Huh?
President Obama Monday: "They don't think it's smart to protect endless corporate loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans rather than rebuild our roads and our schools . . ."
But wait. It was President Obama who insisted that the recent tax bill be loaded with tens of billions of dollars worth of additional "corporate loopholes," including for his billionaire buddies in the green-energy business (and Hollywood)
Nancy Pelosi declared on January 6 on CBS's "Face the Nation" that the fiscal-cliff deal was "not enough on the revenue side."
Michigan's Sandy Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, recently reassured his liberal colleagues on the House floor that "additional revenues" are sure to come in future budget deals and that "this [tax hike] sets that important precedent."
Pelosi, Obama et al voted against debt ceiling hikes under Bush to protest further spending on the Iraq war. Now the President says the debt ceiling has nothing to do with spending. It is only about paying bills already incurred.
The mainstream professional journalists have jumped ALL OVER HIM for the contradiction. (Just kidding)
Very funny and Goldberg has it about right. Of course Stewart is not really mocking leftism, just one bizarre idea by a leftist. Maybe in other shows, but here he is not mocking the idea that 16.4 trillion isn't enough debt and he isn't mocking the fact that the trillion dollar coin in concept is already our policy for financing our deficits; we are only borrowing back a fraction of the money we are printing.
In a different circumstance, can anyone imagine the Stewart type comedy shows if the trillion dollar coin proposal in lieu of honoring our debt limit had been put forward by a VP or Secretary of Treasury Sarah Palin?
Honoring the second amendment has two different meanings. Gun rights are good, important and justified, but that is just part of it. The larger meaning I think is the second amendment is symbolic of the guarantee that the entire constitutional, limited government framework continues, and is not taken away either by elected majorities, unelected bureaucracy or a foreign aggressor.
It is ironic in the extreme to see that the effort to get us have fewer guns has led to perhaps the biggest peacetime surge in the weapons ownership in world history - enough to arm China or India!
(It could just be more people reading the forum, with GM recommending guns, ammo and canned food throughout the economic crisis.)
Liberal-fascist incompetence is not new or surprising. The war on poverty accelerated the foundations of poverty and more recently the attempt to take fossil fuels away from us to with high prices led to a huge surge in fossil fuel production.
Post-1812 and since the full settlement of the heartland with all these guns in private ownership we have taken hits like Pearl Harbor and 9/11, but no one other than our own oppressive government has ever really tried to invade or take us over by force. Not all of our nation's defenses are controlled by Washington.
Harry Reid calls Republicans "obstructionists" generally for sure but doesn't point to a time, place or procedure where the Republican minority prevented him from passing a budget resolution - because it didn't happen.
Durbin made the same argument as Lew, they don't have 60 votes, a known talking point like spontaneous demonstrations in Benghazi, then failed to back it up. He didn't go from saying they only have 53 votes to pointing to the incident where a Republican member invoked the "Budget Point of Order" and stopped them - because it didn't happen. Instead he went on to change the subject to deficit commission etc.
Out of 380 named and counted filibusters, none were to stop a budget resolution. (?)
The threat of a filibuster is what stopped them? But did not stop them on 380 other issues?
Your link to the Hill tells it pretty well, what Harry Reid calls "show-votes". The Republicans wanted Senate Democrats to pass a budget to show their hand and they refused, pointing to the continuing resolutions enacted as meeting their legal requirement (but not the procedure laid out in the 1974 law).
The Hill: "None of the GOP budgets are expected to pass today, as Democrats will vote against them all. One of the five GOP resolutions reflects President Obama's budget, which already went down in a unanimous vote earlier this year."
No filibuster on those. As 'The Economist' piece 'refuting' the Washington Post most clearly states: "It is true that the Senate can pass a budget resolution with a simple majority vote."
"See how the Senate may very well need 60 votes even to "pass" a budget?" No I don't, even repeated. The bold and underlined sections refer to procedures later in the process for "legislation that violates the terms of the budget resolution". How could that have applied in this situation, procedures to prevent any legislation that violates the terms of a passed budget resolution that never existed?
I am out of arguments that don't involve repetition of those that were already unpersuasive, but willing to agree to disagree.
Lew was admitting they didn't pass a budget and blaming it on Republicans, not claiming they enacted one. He could have said the 1974 law isn't binding or that they enacted a continuing resolution at the end having the same effect, but he didn't. He said "unless Republicans are willing to work with Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid is not going to be able to get a budget passed". After looking at all that is posted on procedure, I still find that statement to be false and a politically motivated, intentionally deceptive response to the question that was asked. Silly you say. I wouldn't put him in charge of the Treasury.
Bigdog, Do you think Republicans were blocking Harry Reid from passing a budget, as Lew alleging. Wouldn't Reid have called them out on that for obstructionism if it were the case? Instead, Republicans have been calling on Senate Democrats publicly for years to pass one:
"where do we come down on the matter of leaving US troops in Afg?"
Hard to believe that after all the investment in Iraq and Afghanistan that we would not want to negotiate to ability to keep some kind of military base and premise on the ground in both places, slightly over the horizon, from where we can take take actions like taking out future terror training camps etc before they rise again to pre-9/11 levels.
The downside might be our own vulnerability and the resentment a permanent US presence might foster.
CCP, I don't support his proposal but the Stanford professor of economics and health research and policy shows as much wisdom on health care as anyone I have read in a long time. I especially like the premise that the search for a solution to the affordable health care problem is still on.
Yesterday I read that 6 Dem Senators are up in 2014 in states where Pres. Obama got 42% of the vote or less. (Can't find the article now, but a similar list at the Wash Post link.) One of those was Jay Rockefeller in West Virginia. Dems currently have 55 in the Senate.
Today's news: Jay Rockefeller won't seek reelection. http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/jay-rockefeller-to-retire-86054.html
This Washington Post piece says that of the ten most vulnerable Senators, 9 are Democrats and the other is in Kentucky. They didn't have Rockefeller in their top ten: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2012/11/09/senate-democrats-face-a-very-tough-2014-map/
Year 6 is where Bush lost it all and Obama is weakest when he is off the ballot. Some of these are states where he can't do much to help. No predictions here after the 2012 fiasco, but the opportunity for Republicans is there once again.
"But in a telling sign of the severity of his illness, Mr. Chávez apparently sent no greeting to the crowds wishing him well. There was no message from him read to the tens of thousands of followers who attended the rally in front of the presidential palace. There was no video or recording from the once-omnipresent president, who has not been seen or heard from directly in a month. There was not even any mention that Mr. Chávez might be watching the televised broadcast of the huge get-well rally held in his honor." http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/world/americas/a-celebration-that-accentuated-chavezs-absence.html
They had their celebration anyway - with a cardboard cutout of Chavez.
NY Times continued: "On Wednesday the Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Chávez could be sworn in at a later date — but set no time limit." ... "The opposition has called for a team of medical experts to go to Havana to evaluate his condition."
Venezuela does not have a President, the old term is over and the new term didn't start. The constitution requires a new election in less than a month. Both sides should get busy with their campaigns.