Planet same size as Earth found right outside solar system
Published October 16, 2012
Oct. 16, 2012: This artists impression made available by the European Southern Observatory shows a planet, right, orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B, center, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth. Alpha Centauri A is at left. The Earth's Sun is visible at upper right. (AP)
WASHINGTON – European astronomers say that just outside our solar system they've found a planet that's the closest you can get to Earth in location and size.
It is the type of planet they've been searching for across the Milky Way galaxy and they found it circling a star right next door -- 25 trillion miles away. But the Earth-like planet is so hot its surface may be like molten lava. Life cannot survive the 2,200 degree heat of the planet, so close to its star that it circles it every few days.
The astronomers who found it say it's likely there are other planets circling the same star, a little farther away where it may be cool enough for water and life. And those planets might fit the not-too-hot, not-too-cold description sometimes call the Goldilocks Zone.
That means that in the star system Alpha Centauri B, a just-right planet could be closer than astronomers had once imagined.
It's so close that from some southern places on Earth, you can see Alpha Centauri B in the night sky without a telescope. But it's still so far that a trip there using current technology would take tens of thousands of years.
But the wow factor of finding such a planet so close has some astronomers already talking about how to speed up a 25 trillion-mile rocket trip there. Scientists have already started pressuring NASA and the European Space Agency to come up with missions to send something out that way to get a look at least.
The research was released online Tuesday in the journal Nature. There has been a European-U.S. competition to find the nearest and most Earthlike exoplanets -- planets outside our solar system. So far scientists have found 842 of them, but think they number in the billions.
While the newly discovered planet circles Alpha Centauri B, it's part of a system of three stars: Alpha Centauri A, B and the slightly more distant Proxima Centauri. Systems with two or more stars are more common than single stars like our sun, astronomers say.
This planet has the smallest mass -- a measurement of weight that doesn't include gravity -- that has been found outside our solar system so far. With a mass of about 1.1 times the size of Earth, it is strikingly similar in size.
Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory, who heads the European planet-hunting team, said this means "there's a very good prospect of detecting a planet in the habitable zone that is very close to us."
And one of the European team's main competitors, Geoff Marcy of the University of California Berkeley, gushed even more about the scientific significance.
"This is an historic discovery," he wrote in an email. "There could well be an Earth-size planet in that Goldilocks sweet spot, not too cold and not too hot, making Alpha Centauri a compelling target to search for intelligent life."
Pleased to see the WSJ lead editorial followup on the discussion here. Excerpts:
REVIEW & OUTLOOK October 17, 2012, 12:38 a.m. ET
A President Without a Plan ...he still has no agenda for the next four years.
President Obama bounced off the canvas with a more spirited debate at Hofstra University on Tuesday night, as everyone expected he would. He was animated and on the attack. The question we kept asking as the evening wore on, however, is what does he want to do for the next four years?
At least two questioners put the point directly, yet Mr. Obama never provided much of an answer. Sure, he wants to hire 100,000 more teachers, as if there is the money to hire them or it would make much difference to student outcomes.
He wants to invest in "solar and wind and biofuels, energy-efficient cars," which probably means more Solyndras and A123s (see nearby). He wants to raise taxes on the rich—that's one thing he's really passionate about. Oh, and he does want to pass the immigration reform he said he'd propose four years ago but never did propose in his first two years when his party controlled Congress and he might have passed it.
But otherwise, what's his case for four more years? Judging by Tuesday's debate, the President's argument for re-election is basically this: He's not as awful as Mitt Romney. ... The paucity of this promise, the difference between now and four years ago, was never clearer than in the President's response to the young man who said he'd voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 but is less optimistic now. Mr. Obama responded by reciting his achievements—ending the Iraq war, "health-care reform to make sure insurance companies can't jerk you around," more Wall Street regulation, the auto bailout and more jobs.
As for the next four years: He said he has a plan "for manufacturing and education and reducing our deficit in a sensible way, using the savings from ending wars to rebuild America" and pursuing "the energy of the future." Then he attacked Mr. Romney again.
The Republican followed by reciting the economic failings of the last four years, piling on fact after depressing fact. "I can tell you that if you were to elect President Obama, you know what you're going to get. You're going to get a repeat of the last four years. We just can't afford four more years like the last four years," Mr. Romney said.
...the biggest contrast in the agendas for the next four years is Mr. Romney's willingness to put ideas on the table—Medicare reform, tax reform—that meet the economic and fiscal problems of our time.
...Mr. Obama seems out of ammunition for the next four years.
Pres Obama needed to tell us why the next 4 years should be any better than the last 4 that everyone seems to admit were miserable. He didn't.
Gov. Romney needed to show himself as Presidential and create the impression in the eyes of enough undecideds that he has a better chance than the incumbent at turning this around.
I think he did that.
Crafty, replying to my post in Political Economics on the constant workforce adjusted unemployment rate Oct 9 2012, wrote: "I have said more than once that Romney should be using the "adjusted labor force" number all along..."
Romney weaved the adjusted unemployment, 10.7% he said, into his first answer tonight.
Like I said, "Romney's advisers are more likely to read the forum."
Obama said of Romney's 5 point plan that he has a "one point plan", take care of rich people. Snarky. Unworthy of the event.
On pay equity / women's issues, Romney: "3 1/2 more women in poverty" under Pres. Obama. Obama said he will "advocate" on their behalf.
Romney told the story of getting more women in senior positions in his Mass. administration than in any other state.
Romney bragged Mass. no.1 in education while he was Goveror.
Obama said Bush tax cuts took us from surplus to deficit but that was not true. (During the 4 years after tax rate cuts were in place the deficit was falling.)
Romney said 1 in 6 in poverty, 47 million on food stamps. The growth rate keeps getting slower each year under Obama.
Obama was asked "Who denied the security request in Benghazi?" Didn't answer but said at the end, "I am ultimately responsible".
Romney used the opening on AK47 legislation to bring up Fast and Furious. Laid out the bizarre scandal cautiously, beginning to raise the questions.
Romney points out in competitiveness that Canada taxes corporations at 15%, the US at 35%.
Obama kept touting his goal to double our exports. No clue except for cronyism preferences what policies of his would lead us there.
Romney repeated: "The government does not create jobs, the government does not create jobs."
Moderator gave the President 9% more time. Challenged only Romney on facts. Maybe Ann Coulter could moderate the next one for balance.
Fundamental Economic Requirements For Our Next President
By Charles R. Schwab
Every American voter is approaching a critical decision. Of the two presidential candidates before us, who is best suited to lead our nation through the next four years?
The answer to that question is a simple test: can they ignite economic growth? The economic crisis we face is our greatest threat, affecting every American. For investors – and today over half of Americans are investors in some form – this issue is particularly pressing as it impacts not just their financial situation today, but also their retirement and other long-term goals. Economic growth is the only ingredient that will help pull the country out of its present funk and allow us to solve our pressing issues.
Economic growth is the fuel that makes new jobs, creates new industries, and helps your hard work pay off. A four percent GDP growth rate would lead to three million new jobs every year and lead to higher wages for those already employed. Growth expands the tax coffers nationally and locally, enabling investments for the future. That same four percent growth will provide America with $150 billion per year in additional tax revenue. With growth, everyone benefits.
Growth is not complicated. It is a force of nature. But when it stalls, as it has for the last four years, it will not return without effective leadership. A great leader understands and applies the power of incentives to encourage growth. Incentives appeal to a basic human instinct and motivate productive choices. They are used throughout our lives from grades in school that encourage learning and higher performance, to the incentives we use at work through pay, bonuses and promotions to recognize and encourage accomplishment. Incentives are the most powerful tool a government and its leaders have to spur economic growth.
Every voter needs to ask which candidate will offer the most incentives to get our economy growing again. For example, which candidate will look at tax policy as an incentive to spur growth? Capital gains are taxed at a lower rate in our tax system today to recognize and encourage people to put their money to work. That money in turn gets invested in businesses which hire and expand. That tax incentive encourages risk taking and investment for growth. Which candidate understands the power of tax incentives?
Which candidate understands how to effectively apply an incentive to encourage businesses to invest in job training? It is a tragedy today that there are jobs available but not enough people trained to fill them. Which candidate would streamline the muddle of ineffective programs today and encourage corporations to sponsor training programs through a simple, universal incentive? A properly-sized tax credit for job trainees hired over the next five years would do the trick.
Which candidate will review every line of the tax code and regulation to assess its relevance and its complexity? If there is a simpler, clearer way to meet the goals, the regulation should be rewritten. If the regulation is outdated, it should be scrapped. Job creators, particularly small businesses, are looking for clarity and certainty: certainty from the tax code, certainty on the regulatory environment. Business leaders cannot create jobs when they cannot accurately assess the impact of taxes and regulations on their business.
Lower corporate tax rates in foreign countries encourage corporations to do their business outside the U.S. Incentives here in the U.S. could change that. Which candidate would incentivize U.S. corporations to bring some of their $1.3 trillion in business now centered abroad, here to a more business-friendly U.S. through lower tax rates?
Strong economies need cheap and plentiful energy. Which candidate will lead us to energy independence through the development of our own domestic resources, rather than continuing to kneel to OPEC and other foreign oil suppliers?
Incentives should not be confused with disincentives, their ugly step-sisters, which are based on penalties and don’t motivate progress. They stifle investment and innovation. Today, disincentives abound and are on the rise. Increased taxes, in whatever form, are a disincentive to earn, to spend, to save and invest. Large regulatory schemes like Obama care and Dodd Frank are a disincentive when they make it unclear to companies what their cost of operations will be. 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. The lack of certainty about what those costs will be leaves them unable to move forward.
Today, our fundamental problem is a lack of economic growth and no attention to the incentives that can re-ignite it. The test for deciding who should be our next President is who understands that and will put the pieces in place to solve it. Our economy, job prospects, investments and retirement plans will get substantial help by picking the growth candidate.
Which candidate has the record to arrive at the big decisions and incentivize growth? Mitt Romney supports all of the growth-generating measures I have outlined above. If economic growth is what we need—and I believe it is—he is the right choice.
In the first debate Pres. Obama looked weak. He will look sharper tomorrow.
In the VP debate, Joe Biden was all aggressive over Ryan and the Romney plan. As Elizabeth Warren would say, good for him.
In neither debate did candidate Obama or Biden explain how they think this is good economic progress or why anyone should think the next 4 years will be any better.
Pres. Obama through Axelrod promises to follow up strongly on the scrutiny of the Romney plan. But we already did that. No one has yet asked similarly tough questions on the Obama plan and the Obama math, uh, arithmetic.
The townhall format also presents the possibility of an ordinary citizen to ask the question that becomes the zinger that frames this election. We will see.
Pundits say Reagan also had a off day on the first reelection debate, 1984. In the second debate the moderator came out hard on his age question:
Reagan had some charm you see and Obama told Sen. Reid, "Harry, I have a gift", the gift of oratory, allegedly.
Both had a predecessor they could blame for their troubles. One didn't need to. Reagan had a pro-growth agenda, and it was enacted by reaching across the aisle. Obama has 50,000 new regulations, 2 dozen new taxes, and a government takeover to one degree or another of a host of industries, rejecting pro-growth economics at every turn.
Reagan had approximately 8% GDP growth rate in 1984. Obama is going from 2% growth to 1% and now approaching zero. 3 million fewer people are working while the population continues to grow.
Reagan did not win 49 states based on charm alone.
Very creepy. Dick Morris said give me your demographic info and I will tell you with 2/3 certainty how you vote. With martial arts and self defense I'll bet there is a heavy leaning conservative for self reliance and 2nd amendment rights. For inner city landlords who value property rights and have seen the failure of our welfare system up close and personal, the percentage leaning conservative approaches 100. Single women who see the government as provider and protector, someone who look out for you until death do you part, a role formerly known as husband, they lean heavily Democratic.
In 1988 at a Grateful Dead concert, through the crowd and the haze of the smoke I found myself bumping into a voter registration table and a guy wanting me to register. I told him I'm all registered and that I'm a Jack Kemp delegate. He had no idea what I was talking about. He didn't want me to vote, he wanted me to vote a certain way. They associated taste in music with political choice and they tied a feeling of free spirit and liberties with big government advocacy.
I would rather know if a person is informed before I ask him to vote.
“Voting is habit-forming,” Yes. I see the first time voters in 2008 caught up in the Obama excitement of hope and change as future conservative voters. Come out and vote wrong. See how it goes for you. Make the adjustment. Come out and vote again - and try to do better the second time. )
Bigdog: "Is this true [America in decline economically erodes the influence...and takes from our ability to shape events] in absolute or relative terms? As in, if the rest of the world also is in an economic decline, and the US is too, to what extent is this statement fact?"
Good question. I say both relative and absolute terms. The relative position mostly but other nations in decline does not help us build ships. My point is that in the campaign, the candidate who can produce economic growth is in a stronger position to build military capability and deterrence. Only one really wants economic growth and only one wants a stronger military. The other enjoys some of the perks of a strong military, use of Air Force One, the best drones in the world, the Navy Seal Six team at your proposal for political purposes etc.
"this is a curious overstatement [Obama believed terrorists and jihadists hate only a George Bush led America, not an apologetic, surrendering America] given his use of drones against terrorists, and well beyond the war zones fought during the Bush presidency."
Yes! My unwritten thought is that the Obama administration foreign policy is bipolar. What I posted was half the story; what you point out is the opposing half. He also got tougher on terrorists and enemies when he kept Guantanamo open, when they moved a trial out of civilian court in NYC, when he kept the fighting going in Iraq before giving up the gains, when he kept the fighting going in Afghanistan even though our withdrawal/surrender is on an announced date-certain, the drones and of course the bin Laden kill. (Can you imagine the outrage from Dems and media if Dick Cheney was the President ordering the drone strikes or OBL kill of the last 4 years.) But then our President mentions a screwed up pretend filmmaker 6 times in his UN speech presumably as the cause of the deadly consulate attack. Mentioning the film 5 times would not have made the point, his advisers believed. The film provoked otherwise reasonable folks a day off of work playing with the rocket propelled grenades, he imagines aloud to the world.
GM: using drones...his "Look strong" headfake while he quietly loses the war.
There is no real need to know what he is thinking, just that he must go. I would guess drone strikes are not his strategy but people who know more than him say high value target and he doesn't dare say no, like the OBL hit. These conflicting strategies oppose each other. He knew not to spike the football on killing bin Laden, then for political reasons he spiked it and spiked it and spiked it. Same for losing the war. It isn't a loss if he was never trying to win. We were doing time in Afghanistan, a part of his job he despised and gave almost no attention - like growing the economy. He mostly works out war policy with people like Valerie Jarret and Axelrod IMHO as his commanders on the ground in the crucial hold-on-to-power game.
Likewise is partly true for Romney. He doesn't need a foreign policy until January. He doesn't need one at all if he doesn't get elected.
I think Barack Obama would be far more comfortable and effective criticizing reckless drone hits of Mitt Romney than approving and defending them himself.
Soon hopefully he can do that.
Crafty: "As for the YA-Crafty Doctrine, anyone who were to try running on it would not even get out of the starting blocks at this point."
"what is the US strategy and how do we articulate it in a way that gets Romney into the White House?"
"Romney will fight the global jihad rather than empower it."
"What does GM's formulation tell us specifically about what a Romney administration would do?" ---------
I don't expect big new specifics at this point and Crafty is right that people are war weary.
Romney is articulating clear differences in the principles he will use to guide him in the job.
1) Romney will rebuild America's economic strength and Obama won't. America in decline economically erodes the influence of our foreign policy around the world and takes from our ability to shape events that affect our security.
2) Romney believes in peace through strength, including military strength. He was very clear in his belief that we want to build and maintain military capability to prevent war, not to prosecute it. Obama believes the opposite, that our strength provokes countries like Iran to build weapons and threaten neighbors. The President sent his 'off-mic' message to Putin that he will disarm dramatically in his imagined second term. Weakness invites trouble; how many times do we need to learn this lesson?!
3) Romney recognizes enemies and terrorists for what they are. Obama has believed that terrorists and jihadists hate only a George Bush led America, not an apologetic, surrendering America.
4) Romney recognizes allies including Israel. Obama sees the parties in the Middle East as morally equivalent while one side promises to destroy the other.
5) Romney will not surrender foreign policy to world government. See Dick Morris' new book on what powers the Obama administration would surrender to the UN if it could win Senate ratification, including many, many global taxes, taking money from America and moving our foreign aid decisions to the world body of unelected, corrupt globalcrats.
6) Romney will want daily intelligences briefings, face to face, including serious follow up discussions. Obama is too smart to need them.
7) Romney represents a break from the dishonesty the American people received over the Fast and Furious scandal and the cover up of the deadly security void in Benghazi.
8 ) Romney's advisers are more likely to read the forum and learn of the YA-Crafty plan for splitting up Afghanipakistan.
The above does not immediately solve the Syrian crisis, move the new Egyptian government to religious tolerance or cause terrorists anywhere to lay down their arms. From the campaign point of view, Romney needs to demonstrate he is as ready as anyone can be to take on the role of Commander in Chief in an unstable and dangerous world.
What I call a false question is where the question and the answer demanded are based on a false premise.
So it goes with tax reform. In every debate including the next one we heard or will hear Romney Ryan pressed to name the loopholes and deductions they will close in order to offset a false $5 trillion in static revenue shortfall; the $5 trillion is an exaggerated number even with the false scoring premise.
Biden, Obama and a false inference in a Tax Policy Center study falsely and repeatedly claim Romney will raise taxes on the middle class right while Romney is explicitly proposing to lower their tax rate by 20%.
Who really believes that you stimulate investment by punishing it and confiscating it, and who really believes that an across the board tax reform program with lower marginal rates will not re-energize business investment and hiring in this faltering economy?
High tax rates cause investors to hide their money and lower tax rates result in growth and higher revenues.
In the chutzpah of it all, Obama and Biden and the Democratic congress in Obamacare just did raise 11 taxes on the middle class, while they falsely accuse their opponents.
I haven't followed all the corrections to the static scoring number because it is a false question, but the Romney idea is to eliminate deductions only for the high income taxpayers in order to get the marginal rate down. This approach solves both problems, it keeps progressivity in place for political purposes and lowers the key determinant of economic disincentive, the rate of taxation you will pay on your next dollar of earning.
The moderator showed she has no grasp of supply side economics with the static scoring followup and the angry old man in the debate demanded to see the rest of the cuts to make up every penny of static loss while saying his opponents plan is something that it isn't.
Obama in his first debate said "it's math, uh, it's arithmetic". Same guy already has a trillion dollar hole in his own math which assuming it got no worse for 10 years is a hole twice the size of what he is accusing.
Missing in the false math is DYNAMIC SCORING, a common sense idea that Romney and Ryan must believe is too wonkish for a debate and too complicated to put in a 30 second to 2 minute soundbite. It means that people make changes their behavior according to the policies and incentives/disincentives presented. We don't live in a static world. If you don't believe policies have any effect, what the hell is economics the study of and why do we need elections? Yet onward we trudge with static scoring questions again on a national stage with a liberal moderator pursuing economic ignorance.
The question should be asked backwards. What policies get you to the 4% growth number of which Ryan repeatedly referred. And what will federal revenues be in 10 years or over 10 years if you implement those policies and get that growth, with resurgent capital investment, employment, hiring and startups?
The answer is that if we really implemented all of the Romney campaign proposals, economic growth including revenues to the Treasury would be phenomenal.
526 economists signed on with the Romney plan. It has such a chance to generate the growth that is so badly needed. The status quo has no such possibility. Growth is going from 2% to 1% to zero with no details whatsoever presented to tell us how we are going to grow "from the middle class outward".
Economic growth isn't all about tax policy. Regulations have become even more stifling than tax rates and energy policy is number one on the 5 point plan. $4 gas is a tax, and the government is only getting a part of it.
Robust economic growth is not only possible, but it is the only way that revenues can surge. Revenues don't surge at all when you raise tax rates, the investment simply goes elsewhere or dries up. Freeze or shrink the size of the pie but split it up differently, that is the Obama-Biden plan. WE TRIED THAT. And we aren't going downward in spending under anyone's proposal so declining revenues mean fiscal and monetary collapse. That would be more fair?! To whom?
Revenues doubled in the decade of the 1980s. Ryan was correct to point to the JFK cuts. (And no he didn't say he was JFK, where did that come from, he was asked to point to where this had worked.) Revenues surged after the Clinton-Gingrich capital gains rate cuts of the 1990s.
A 4th example: revenues to the Treasury grew 44% in 4 years following implementation of the 2003 tax rate cuts. Revenue growth and employment growth ended with election of the Pelosi-Reid-Obama-Biden majorities in congress who were openly promising to return tax rates back to their previous levels. It proves the supply siders right, both ways.
Debate leads with Libya. She asks JB why the administration won't it follow the logic of the intervention in Libya. And, in my opinion, she was hands on enough to end the sections on time, and make JB look like an a$$. And, Ryan looks presidential. For real. No matter how this election ends, I'll be looking for Ryan for the lead in the party for years.
Big thumbs up, I like this post!
He held his composure in a rotten situation, complained once about the interruptions quite a ways into it. Showed his depth, knowledge and experience despite his relatively young age.
"CBO's Latest Estimate of the Cost of the TARP: $24 Billion"
George Bush is vindicated. )
People get the terms confused as we go through the recovery from hell, with Tarp, Stimulus1, Stimulus 2... QE1, QE2, QE ongoing, etc.
TARP was the late 2008 program that stabilized banks and non-banks in the heat of the crisis, a joint policy of the Bush administration, the Fed, Bernamke, Geithner at the NY Fed, and signed on by a Dem House and Senate and both the McCain and Obama campaigns.
The complaint of the right wing was more the over-reach of government than the dollar amount. Bachmann later asked Bernanke and geithner in Congressional suncommittee, where can you point to in the constitution does it give the authority to bail out non-banks like AIG?
My reaction: The moderator did okay, that's a tough job and she tried to ask tough questions both ways and tried to keep a little order.
I think both sides got what they wanted from their candidate. More interesting will be to find out what people in the middle thought of what they saw and heard.
Biden was annoying and obnoxious with distracting groans and interruptions, laughing at his opponent sometimes instead of listening. I think the anger in his passion will play better with the base than with the undecideds. Ryan was more restrained and respectful. They both appeared informed, passionate and energetic.
The real story is what you didn't hear. Biden like Obama gave no defense of why this economy is acceptable and failed to give any reason to believe the next 4 years will be any better.
Ryan's closing statement was particularly clear and effective. ------------ CBS reporting quickly that 50% think Joe Biden won this debate. ------------ Going back to the first debate, Gallup said Romney won by 50 points, 71 to 20%, the largest margin in Presidential debate polling history. We saw the painful picture of Michelle joining her defeated husband on stage. Now we find out the President did not know he lost. Vanity surpassed only by sending the Queen of England a DVD player as a gift pre-loaded with his best campaign speeches. Unbelievable.
Likewise, Doug, I am surprised (amazed) that you (and others) don't think that a professional can be a professional. I would love to discuss this tomorrow (or later tonight). What are you going to do if Biden IS asked about Libya?
Writing back quickly before the debate and before we know the answer to that. I'm sure (hoping?) she will ask tough questions of both sides. My point would be that most of the left, such as Star Tribune editors that have 'edited' my contributions, simply don't understand the viewpoint of the right. For example, has she ever demonstrated that she understands supply side economics beyond the straw caricature of it that comes from the left. In her case, I don't know the answer to that.
The judicial comparison is good. When would they and when should they recuse themselves. I would look to a lower court though for guidance. Would a Circuit judge recuse herself if her husband were deeply involved with one of the litigants?
Supreme Court is a bit different. They don't have alternate justices waiting and ready to step in like a jury pool. And they only have self-accountability except in the extreme possibility of impeachment.
In the case of the debates, other than Chris Wallace and other than perhaps Jim Lehrer, there aren't many journalists both sides would find acceptable. That could reflect on either the partisans or the journalists...
It’s Not Just About Us By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN Published: October 9, 2012 157 Comments "Mitt Romney gave a foreign policy speech on Monday that could be boiled down to one argument: everything wrong with the Middle East today can be traced to a lack of leadership by President Obama...
What a bunch of BS. I don't agree with Friedman and ripping Romney as a takeoff point did nothing to advance Friedman's own ideas for the Middle East, none of which Romney would likely dispute. The opening rip just serves to please his bosses and keep him published over at NY Pravda IMO.
The Romney speech laid out guiding principles for foreign policy and made clear distinctions between that approach and the current administration, as he has been called on to do. I wonder if Friedman saw the speech and I wonder how quickly the terrorists would be to drop their jihad and "embrace religious pluralism" and his education proposals if only they could read his column.
Gov. Romney has been upfront calling terrorism what it is and believes America can best deal with whatever is coming next from a position of strength. Building ships and submarines that we hope we will never need to use are good examples. Pres. Obama has been in denial that people out there want to destroy us, deceitful when they do, and he wishes to dismantle our unique superpower strength.
Will the principles laid out by Romney instantly fix Egypt or Syria? Iran, Iraq or Afghanistan? No. And neither did the apologize and blame America, surrender and disarm agenda of the opponent, but it does leave us in greater danger.
News flash to Thomas Friedman from the old neighborhood, we are in the heat of a Presidential campaign and it is Gov. Romney's job to spell out his similarities and differences with the incumbent. The first 100 days may not include peace on earth or Muslim countries "educating their people up to the most modern standards" and "empowering their women" but it will include a clear policy shift. Like it or not.
Had Romney centered his speech on Friedman's lofty wish list, he would have been ripped even worse, more likely laughed off the stage.
Running for leader of the free world is not as easy as it looks.
Bigdog, I am surprised (amazed?) that you do not see a conflict with the moderator's husband being not only a supporter but an active bundler for the Obama-Biden campaign. Bias that has gone from subtle to obvious has now become institutional and accepted. It was agreed to by the campaign - only in the context of being offered far worse, maybe Chris Matthews (NBC), Bob Schieffer CBS. Do you think they chose her over Chris Wallace or Brit Hume or anyone at Fox? I don't. The only choice that the opponent of Sen Feinstein found was getting no debate at all, so the 'acceptance' of mainstream, out of the closet, tingle in the leg partisanship is where we are in 2012. Perhaps she will go out of her way to be fair to the opposing team or maybe Ryan can successfully take on both of them, we will see. Still it is a sad state of affairs IMHO.
White House Scientists Struggle to Contain Outbreak of Scrutonium
WASHINGTON DC - Engaged a relentless battle against time and fatigue, a select group of message scientists assembled by the White House's Center for Narrative Control say they will take "all steps necessary" to contain a recent outbreak of scrutonium, a deadly poll-eating supervirus that attacks the immuno-hope system, leaving victims vulnerable to material facts.
"Failure is simply not an option," said an exhausted Mission Chief David Axelrod. "If left unchecked, this virus may actually force us to move back to Chicago."
The recent re-infection of scrutonium into the body politic has been a harrowing turn of fortune for Axlerod and his scientific team. In November 2008, they had declared scrutonium "all but extinct," although they kept small amounts of the strain for use in laboratory experiments with Republican tax returns. It was thought to be in containment as recently as five weeks ago, with scientists citing poll results showing resistance to doses of unemployment previously considered fatal.
All that changed on September 12 after an unexpected outbreak in Benghazi, Libya. Although it caught Axlerod and his team by surprise, they were temporarily able to keep it under control with a regimen of YouTube blame therapy and gaffe-meme injections. But the new Benghazi strain proved stubbornly resistant, and has continued to slowly spread.
Amid their battle to contain the Benghazi strain, a second - and even more deadly - outbreak appeared in Denver on October 3. Nicknamed "the Doomsday Strain", the Denver scrutonium virus has thusfar been impervious to any attempt at containment.
"We're dealing with the ultimate buzzkiller here," said Senior Narrative Engineer Stephanie Cutter. "This one directly attacks voters' ability to hallucinate happy thoughts, or even ignore the obvious - no matter how many squirrels we innoculate them with."
Despite all-out efforts to contain the virus, by Friday daily internal gauge readings at CNC headquarters indicated a public opinion disaster was in the making. In order to buy time, Axlerod called on reserves from the 101st Media Narrative Squadron.
"With a virus this aggressive, you need boots on the ground to help fight any new outbreak and sterilize the area with distractions," said CNC jounalistic affairs liaison David Plouffe. "Luckily, the 101st is highly trained, unquestioningly loyal, and completely immune to all known post-2008 strains of scrutonium."
"That Mitt Romney sure seemed awful testy, didn't he?" said hazmat-suit clad Lt. Ben Smith of the 101st's Politico Company, sweeping the rubble of Denver for trace readings of scrutonium.
While Smith and others work around the clock to quarantine the virus, Axlerod and his team remain deep beneath the White House in a specially constructed containment laboratory, racing to find a cure before it has a chance to wipe out Washington as we know it. Although all their experiments have thusfar proven unsuccessful, Axlerod refuses to concede.
"If I've learned anything in this job, it's that hope is a strategy," he said, wiping flopsweat from his combover.
"For instance, maybe Joe Biden will find a cure Wednesday night," he added.
Obama’s Advisers Favor Romney’s Tax Reform But the president wants to do almost the exact opposite of what his advisers recommend.
By Alan Reynolds October 9, 2012 National Review
President Obama and the press keep saying Governor Romney’s goal of revenue-neutral tax reform is vague on specifics and arithmetically impossible, citing a flawed study from the Tax Policy Center that has been debunked by several economists, including Harvey Rosen of Princeton University.
Here is what the director of the Tax Policy Center, Donald Marron, had to say about a tax reform proposal that is nearly identical to Romney’s:
President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force (on which I served) both endorsed this strategy [of lower marginal tax rates on a broader base] in their recent deficit reduction proposals. The fiscal commission’s “Illustrative Tax Plan” would scale back and redesign many of the largest tax preferences (e.g., mortgage interest, employer health insurance, and retirement saving), eliminate many others (e.g., state and local interest), and use the resulting revenue to
• Cut individual tax rates, bringing today’s six brackets (10, 15, 25, 28, 33, and 35 percent) down to three (12, 22, and 28 percent);
• Repeal the alternative minimum tax (AMT), the personal exemption phase-out (PEP), and the phase-out of itemized deductions (Pease);
• Cut the corporate income tax rate from 35 to 28 percent.
How does that tax plan compare with Romney’s? Romney would:
• Cut individual tax rates, bringing today’s six brackets (10, 15, 25, 28, 33, and 35 percent) down to 8, 12, 20, 22, 26, and 28 percent;
• Repeal the alternative minimum tax (AMT), the personal-exemption phase-out (PEP), and the phase-out of itemized deductions (Pease);
• Cut the corporate income-tax rate from 35 to 25 percent.
When it comes to tax policy, the main difference between Romney’s and Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force advisers is that Romney proposes 1) a slightly lower corporate tax rate, and 2) a much lower bottom rate of 8 percent rather than 12 percent. (The fact that there would be six rates rather than three is insignificant.)
Like most other news sources, The Economist (October 6) claims, “Mr. Romney has not specified which loopholes he would close.” On the contrary, Romney has been quite specific that he would prefer a firm dollar cap on total deductions. This is a much tougher plan than the president’s commission proposed, which cuts or caps some deductions but allows taxpayers to game the others. Romney’s plan is even tougher than a proposal from economist Martin Feldstein, which would limit deductions as a percentage of adjusted gross income (AGI). Romney instead proposes a very tight lid on the total of itemized deductions — during the first presidential debate, he suggested a cap no higher than $25,000 to $50,000.
Unlike the Obama plan, the Romney plan would collect huge revenues from many “millionaires and billionaires” such as Warren Buffet and Mitt Romney, who would be unaffected by higher tax rates on salaries but unable to follow their usual practice of deducting millions in charitable donations every year. Charitable donations have long been a nearly constant share of GDP regardless of tax rates, so the surest way to increase charitable donations is to increase GDP.
Aside from the fact that Romney has a stronger, less selective plan for limiting deductions, another key difference is that the President’s National Commission and Tax Force proposes a flatter, less progressive structure for individual income-tax rates. Because everyone who pays income tax gets the lowest rate on the first few thousand dollars of income, setting the lowest rate to 12 percent would indeed raise more revenues than an 8 to10 percent rate would (which is also why the 1986 Tax Reform has a minimum tax rate of 15 percent). That modest increase in the lowest tax rate is why the President’s National Commission and Tax Force can plausibly claim that their plan would raise more revenue than current law — or, as Marron puts it, “reduce the deficit by $80 billion in 2015 and more in later years.” Romney’s plan, on the other hand, just aspires to be revenue-neutral in a static sense (ignoring faster economic growth and reduced tax avoidance), but such minor details are properly left to Congress.
In marked contrast with the two groups of experts President Obama appointed to advise him on such matters (including Mr. Marron), the president proposes to do almost the exact opposite of what they advised. Obama would:
• Raise the top two individual tax rates (including Obamacare taxes) to 39.8 and 43.4 percent, and raise top tax rates on dividends and capital gains to at least 30 percent (the Buffet Rule);
• Retain the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and bring back rather than repeal the personal-exemption phase-out (PEP) and the phase-out of itemized deductions (Pease);
• Consider cutting the corporate income-tax rate by an unspecified amount only in exchange for eliminating alleged, inexplicable deductions “for moving a plant overseas.”
Nobody who has taken a serious look at designing a more efficient tax policy has ever suggested, as the president does, that we should trade fewer deductions for much higher tax rates on the rewards for investment, education, and entrepreneurship. When it comes to tax policy, some of the president’s wisest critics include his own National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and his Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force.
— Alan Reynolds is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and the author of a critical new study about “top 1 percent” incomes.
Excerpts: ---- The attack on our consulate there on September 11th, 2012 was likely the work of forces affiliated with those that attacked our homeland on September 11th, 2001.
This latest assault can't be blamed on a reprehensible video insulting Islam, despite the administration's attempts to convince us of that for so long. No, as the administration has finally conceded: These attacks were the deliberate work of terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others -- especially on women and girls -- who are fighting to control much of the Middle East today and who seek to wage perpetual war on the West. ---
The relationship between the president of the United States and the prime minister of Israel, for example -- our closest ally in the region -- has suffered great strains. The president explicitly stated that his goal was to put "daylight" between the United States and Israel, and he succeeded. This is a dangerous situation that has set back the hope of peace in the Middle East and emboldened our mutual adversaries, especially Iran. ---- When we look at the Middle East today, with Iran closer than ever to nuclear weapons capability, with the conflict in Syria threatening to destabilize the region, and with violent extremists on the march -- and with an American ambassador and three others dead likely at the hands of Al-Qaeda affiliates -- it's clear that the risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the president took office. I know the president hopes for a safer, freer, and more prosperous Middle East allied with us. I share this hope. ---- I'll roll back President Obama's deep and arbitrary cuts to our national defense that would devastate our military. I'll make the critical defense investments that we need to remain secure. The decisions we make today will determine our ability to protect America tomorrow. The first purpose of a strong military is to prevent war. The size of our Navy is at levels not seen since 1916. I'll restore our Navy to the size needed to fulfill our missions by building 15 ships per year, including three submarines. I'll implement effective missile defenses to protect against threats. And on this, there will be no flexibility with Vladimir Putin. And I will call on our NATO allies to keep the greatest military alliance in history strong by honoring their commitment to each devote 2% of their GDP to security spending. Today only three of the 28 NATO nations meet this benchmark.
2 big questions raised in the debate I think were the lie about Romney's tax cut costing $5 trillion and the dispute over his whether his plan addresses pre-excisting conditions.
Paul Krugman took a strong shot at Romney in the NY Times and on ABC's This Week calling Romney a liar for his statement on pre-existing conditions and ripping Obama for not taking him to task for it. John Hinderaker thinks Krugman must have missed the debate:
Stung by their man’s miserable performance in Wednesday’s debate, the Democrats have tried to change the subject by claiming that Mitt Romney “lied” repeatedly during the debate. But they have had a tough time coming up with any actual lies. The chronically truth-challenged Paul Krugman somewhat ironically stepped up to the plate in a New York Times column on Thursday that was titled “Romney’s Sick Joke.” You can always count on Krugman for understatement. This was Krugman’s contribution to the “Romney lied” theme:
Krugman: “No. 1,” declared Mitt Romney in Wednesday’s debate, “pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.” No, they aren’t — as Mr. Romney’s own advisers have conceded in the past, and did again after the debate. Was Mr. Romney lying? Well, either that or he was making what amounts to a sick joke. Either way, his attempt to deceive voters on this issue was the biggest of many misleading and/or dishonest claims he made over the course of that hour and a half. Yes, President Obama did a notably bad job of responding. But I’ll leave the theater criticism to others and talk instead about the issue that should be at the heart of this election. So, about that sick joke: What Mr. Romney actually proposes is that Americans with pre-existing conditions who already have health coverage be allowed to keep that coverage even if they lose their job — as long as they keep paying the premiums. As it happens, this is already the law of the land. But it’s not what anyone in real life means by having a health plan that covers pre-existing conditions, because it applies only to those who manage to land a job with health insurance in the first place (and are able to maintain their payments despite losing that job).
This is what Romney said during the debate:
MR. LEHRER: Let’s let the governor explain what you would do if “Obamacare” is repealed. How would you replace it? What do you have in mind?
MR. ROMNEY: Let — well, actually — actually it’s — it’s — it’s a lengthy description, but number one, pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan. Number two, young people are able to stay on their family plan. That’s already offered in the private marketplace; you don’t have — have the government mandate that for that to occur.
But let’s come back to something the president — I agree on, which is the — the key task we have in health care is to get the costs down so it’s more affordable for families, and — and then he has as a model for doing that a board of people at the government, an unelected board, appointed board, who are going to decide what kind of treatment you ought to have.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, it isn’t.
MR. ROMNEY: In my opinion, the government is not effective in — in bringing down the cost of almost anything. As a matter of fact, free people and free enterprises trying to find ways to do things better are able to be more effective in bringing down the costs than the government will ever be.
It continues from there. So, what does Romney’s health care proposal, which is basically a set of bullet points, say about pre-existing conditions?
Prevent discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage.
Hinderaker:So does that “cover” pre-existing conditions, or not? I think it would have been clear to most listeners that Romney meant his plan would address or deal with the issue of pre-existing conditions, not that the federal government would buy insurance to cover them. (Romney’s plan does not involve the federal government buying health insurance for anyone, beyond the existing Medicare and Medicaid programs.) And Romney’s plan does indeed address the issue of pre-existing conditions, by banning discrimination against those who have them and who maintain health insurance continuously. The continuous insurance requirement is necessary to prevent the obvious dodge (which Krugman specifically acknowledges) of waiting until you get sick and then buying insurance.
So what we have here is a policy disagreement, not a lie. Krugman tries to suggest that Romney’s approach to pre-existing conditions is meaningless because “this is already the law of the land.” But here Krugman is wrong, not Romney. Krugman is referring to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which was adopted in 1996. HIPAA, as explained here, makes group health insurance portable because it “imposes limits on the extent to which some group health plans can exclude health insurance for pre-existing conditions.” But HIPAA “provides no protection if you switch from one individual health plan to another individual plan.” So Romney’s plan will indeed cover pre-existing conditions to a significantly greater degree than existing law. Moreover, Romney’s health care plan also proposes to “[e]nd tax discrimination against the individual purchase of insurance,” so the plan’s extension of portability to individual policies takes on added importance.
Health care policy can be debated endlessly, and Romney and Krugman obviously disagree. Krugman wants government-controlled medicine, and Romney wants to use the private sector and principles of competition to improve care and control costs. But for Krugman to say that Romney “lied” about his own health care proposal as it relates to pre-existing conditions is simply wrong.
Krugman trashes Obama’s debate performance in his column. In addition to the language quoted above, Krugman adds this at the end of the column:
One could wish that Mr. Obama had made this point effectively in the debate. He had every right to jump up and say, “There you go again”: Not only was Mr. Romney’s claim fundamentally dishonest, it has already been extensively debunked, and the Romney campaign itself has admitted that it’s false. For whatever reason, the president didn’t do that, on health care or on anything else. But, as I said, never mind the theater criticism.
Hinderaker: What is odd about this is that in the debate, rather than being unaccountably silent, Obama made precisely the point that Krugman did in his column. When Romney completed his answer, Obama said:
But let’s go back to what Governor Romney indicated, that under his plan he would be able to cover people with pre-existing conditions. Well, actually, Governor, that isn’t what your plan does. What your plan does is to duplicate what’s already the law, which says if you are out of health insurance for three months then you can end up getting continuous coverage and an insurance company can’t deny you if you’ve — if it’s been under 90 days.
But that’s already the law. And that doesn’t help the millions of people out there with pre-existing conditions. There’s a reason why Governor Romney set up the plan that he did in Massachusetts. It wasn’t a government takeover of health care. It was the largest expansion of private insurance. But what it does say is that insurers, you’ve got to take everybody.
So Obama misrepresented the extent to which Romney’s plan would change existing law, exactly as Krugman did. To which Romney responded:
And with regards to health care, you had remarkable details with regards to my pre-existing condition plan. You obviously studied up on — on my plan. In fact, I do have a plan that deals with people with pre-existing conditions. That’s part of my health care plan. And what we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation, state by state. And I said that at that time. The federal government taking over health care for the entire nation and whisking aside the 10th Amendment, which gives states the rights for these kinds of things, is not the course for America to have a stronger, more vibrant economy.
So the very point that Krugman thought was missing from the debate was, in fact, thoroughly hashed out by the participants. Apparently Krugman was not paying close attention during the debate, and didn’t bother to check the transcript to make sure that the claim he made was correct. This is consistent with my impression that Krugman dashes off his Times columns in a half hour or less. Next time, he should exercise more care before declaring that those who disagree with him on issues of public policy are liars.
More than 500 economists — including five Nobel laureates — have endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s economic plan as the right choice for jobs creation and economic growth.
The pro-Romney group “Economists for Romney” announced Monday that its statement of support for the former Massachusetts governor’s economic plan now has 526 signatories, up from 400 a week ago.
“We enthusiastically endorse Governor Mitt Romney’s economic plan to create jobs and restore economic growth while returning America to its tradition of economic freedom,” Economists for Romney’s statement of support reads, proclaiming Romney’s plan as based on “proven principles” to restrain the federal government and expand opportunities in the private sector.
The 526 economists — including Nobel laureates Gary Becker, Robert Lucas, Robert Mundell, Edward Prescott, and Myron Scholes — point to six facets of Romney’s economic approach that they see as beneficial to future economic success.
Reduce marginal tax rates on business and wage incomes and broaden the tax base to increase investment, jobs, and living standards. End the exploding federal debt by controlling the growth of spending so federal spending does not exceed 20 percent of the economy. Restructure regulation to end “too big to fail,” improve credit availability to entrepreneurs and small businesses, and increase regulatory accountability, and ensure that all regulations pass rigorous benefit-cost tests. Improve our Social Security and Medicare programs by reducing their growth to sustainable levels, ensuring their viability over the long term, and protecting those in or near retirement. Reform our healthcare system to harness market forces and thereby reduce costs and increase quality, empowering patients and doctors, rather than the federal bureaucracy. Promote energy policies that increase domestic production, enlarge the use of all western hemisphere resources, encourage the use of new technologies, end wasteful subsidies, and rely more on market forces and less on government planners.
Seven of the signatories are from Harvard University and five from Columbia University — two of President Barack Obama’s alma maters.
The economists’ statement of support pillories Obama’s economic record, claiming that his expansion of the federal government has resulted in “anemic economic recovery and high unemployment,” which will continue if his future plans are implemented.
Among the Obama policies with which the 526 economists take issue include:
Relied on short-term “stimulus” programs, which provided little sustainable lift to the economy, and enacted and proposed significant tax increases for all Americans. Offered no plan to reduce federal spending and stop the growth of the debt-to-GDP ratio. Failed to propose Social Security reform and offered a Medicare proposal that relies on a panel of bureaucrats to set prices, quantities, and qualities of healthcare services. Favored a large expansion of economic regulation across many sectors, with little regard for proper cost-benefit analysis and with a disturbing degree of favoritism toward special interests. Enacted health care legislation that centralizes health care decisions and increases the power of the federal bureaucracy to impose one-size-fits-all solutions on patients and doctors, and creates greater incentives for waste. Favored expansion of one-size-fits-all federal rulemaking, with an erosion of the ability of state and local governments to make decisions appropriate for their particular circumstances.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2012 to
Serge Haroche Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France
David J. Wineland National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and University of Colorado Boulder, CO, USA
"for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems"
Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland have independently invented and developed methods for measuring and manipulating individual particles while preserving their quantum-mechanical nature, in ways that were previously thought unattainable.
The Nobel Laureates have opened the door to a new era of experimentation with quantum physics by demonstrating the direct observation of individual quantum particles without destroying them. For single particles of light or matter the laws of classical physics cease to apply and quantum physics takes over. But single particles are not easily isolated from their surrounding environment and they lose their mysterious quantum properties as soon as they interact with the outside world. Thus many seemingly bizarre phenomena predicted by quantum physics could not be directly observed, and researchers could only carry out thought experiments that might in principle manifest these bizarre phenomena.
Through their ingenious laboratory methods Haroche and Wineland together with their research groups have managed to measure and control very fragile quantum states, which were previously thought inaccessible for direct observation. The new methods allow them to examine, control and count the particles.
Their methods have many things in common. David Wineland traps electrically charged atoms, or ions, controlling and measuring them with light, or photons.
Serge Haroche takes the opposite approach: he controls and measures trapped photons, or particles of light, by sending atoms through a trap.
Both Laureates work in the field of quantum optics studying the fundamental interaction between light and matter, a field which has seen considerable progress since the mid-1980s. Their ground-breaking methods have enabled this field of research to take the very first steps towards building a new type of super fast computer based on quantum physics. Perhaps the quantum computer will change our everyday lives in this century in the same radical way as the classical computer did in the last century. The research has also led to the construction of extremely precise clocks that could become the future basis for a new standard of time, with more than hundred-fold greater precision than present-day caesium clocks.
Glut of Solar Panels Poses a New Threat to China NY Times October 4, 2012
BEIJING — China in recent years established global dominance in renewable energy, its solar panel and wind turbine factories forcing many foreign rivals out of business and its policy makers hailed by environmentalists around the world as visionaries.
But now China’s strategy is in disarray. Though worldwide demand for solar panels and wind turbines has grown rapidly over the last five years, China’s manufacturing capacity has soared even faster, creating enormous oversupply and a ferocious price war.
The result is a looming financial disaster, not only for manufacturers but for state-owned banks that financed factories with approximately $18 billion in low-rate loans and for municipal and provincial governments that provided loan guarantees and sold manufacturers valuable land at deeply discounted prices.
China’s biggest solar panel makers are suffering losses of up to $1 for every $3 of sales this year, as panel prices have fallen by three-fourths since 2008. Even though the cost of solar power has fallen, it still remains triple the price of coal-generated power in China, requiring substantial subsidies through a tax imposed on industrial users of electricity to cover the higher cost of renewable energy.
"There are two fundamental problems with this argument. The dollar is not the world's sole reserve currency, and the dollar is no longer pegged to [gold]. The dollar is free floating, and euros and yen and increasingly the yuan are alternatives. Consequently the Triffin dilemma no longer applies"
True. I would add though that the original piece was filled with good background information; it just doesn't support the theory advanced.
Our problems are political, not structural. We are using unsustainable monetary tricks like quantitative expansion to cover the gap created by fiscal irresponsibility and a fiercely anti-growth agenda. The fact that other places are doing even worse provides temporary cover for the relatively value of our currency, but does not offset our declining prosperity.
Dick Morris has this right: "Romney took away Obama's negative campaign, his class warfare, his entitlement issue, the Medi-scare tactic, and much of the president's case."
This wasn't a typical candidate vs candidate comparison. Each had something very specific they needed to accomplish.
Obama needed to convey how the next 4 years if he is reelected will be any better than the last 4 years. He didn't even try to make the case: In closing he said, "I’ll fight just as hard in a second term". Huh?? Obama also needed to bump up the enthusiasm gap of his base, and he took a giant step backward.
Romney needed to make a small numbers of swing voters comfortable seeing him as their President, and with a decent shot at turning things around. That is what I think happened.
The mainstream missed a part of the story. Romney had a great convention that softened and humanized his image and Obama had a vacuous one that bumped the polls but didn't answer the question of how things get better without changing course.
Obama and his campaign have been running against a straw man. In the debate he faced a real man with an exceptional background, talent and turnaround skills.
Romney in Presidential demeanor described how bad things are under Obama without using the F-word. F is for failure.
Despite Threats, U.S. Cut Security in Libya Before Attacks by Eli Lake Oct 4, 2012 4:45 AM EDT Even as American outposts in Benghazi appeared to be at risk, the State Department trimmed the number of security guards on the ground. Eli Lake reports on the latest allegations.
In the six months leading up to the assault on the United States consulate in Benghazi, the State Department reduced the number of trained Americans guarding U.S. facilities in Libya, according to a leading House Republican investigating the Sept. 11 anniversary attacks. The reduction in U.S. security personnel increased America’s reliance on local Libyan guards for the protection of its diplomats.
Details to follow, but I think Romney just won this election.
Bigdog: Not sure I'd go that far, but the debate? Absolutely.
Of course it's not over with a month to go, but if Romney goes on to win I think we will be point back to this first debate.
Crafty: "Dennis Miller wondered if Obama's kicked ass was covered by Obamacare"
Glenn Beck says: MSNBC's flag is flying at half mast. Hey Mr. President, it's October, surprise!
Mark Schields on PBS, normally a total leftist shill, said the President looked "rusty".
Award winning observation: Al Gore? says it might have been the altitude of 5000 feet that hurt Obama. The President flew in 2 hours before the debate. Romney did his debate prep in Denver.
Good job by Jim Lehrer. He couldn't hold these guys to a clock but he kept the discussion steered toward substance. No slanted questions in either direction that I noticed.
Hats off to the kids at the University of Denver. They got to witness something historic and they kept quiet the whole time - something the adults have never been able to do.
Liberals and Obama supportede seem perplexed that Obama hardly got off any cheap shots, like repeating Romney's latest gaffe about the 47%. Romney led with the latest Biden gaffe: "Under the president’s policies, middle-income Americans have been buried."
Romney went only part way into selling his economic plan. His advisers must think it too wonkish to distinguish between taxes and tax rates, a big pet peeve of mine. But he kept following up and getting at that point in different ways, that he does not accept that lowering rates is a $5 trillion cut, it will grow revenues. Later on the deficit he nailed it with the 3 ways to close the gap: 1) raise taxes, 2) cut spending and 3) grow the economy, "because if more people work in a growing economy they’re paying taxes and you can get the job done that way". He left room on the table for Paul Ryan to follow up on the concepts of growth economics.
You can bet the campaign is not confident in knowing the next major event coming is Biden v. Ryan with 90 more uninterrupted minutes on national television.
The Ryan/Biden debate will turn the generational storyline on its ear. Ryan is a sharp young guy with a mastery of both policy and vision. He goes up against an old guy with neither, who lacks a notable accomplishment in 40 years in the Senate and White House. Richard Nixon defeated George McGovern in 1972 when Joe Biden was elected to the Senate.
In both cases, Pres Obama and VP Biden are not accustomed to having their talking points challenged. The President's only two real electoral victories came against Hillary with an identical ideology and McCain who refused to take off the gloves. Both live in a political bubble where rarely in their careers have they faced a tough question or a tough opponent challenging their talking points.
President Obama's lowest points IMO: "we’ve tried both approaches. The approach that Governor Romney’s talking about is the same sales pitch that was made in 2001 and 2003. And we ended up with the slowest job growth in 50 years."
IN FACT WE HAD 52 MONTHS OF UNINTERRUPTED JOB GROWTH AND A 44% INCREASE IN FEDERAL REVENUES IN 4 YEARS.
The President continued: "...Bill Clinton tried the approach that I’m talking about. We created 23 million new jobs. We went from deficit to surplus, and businesses did very well."
HE JUST TOOK CREDIT FOR BILL CLINTON'S PRESIDENCY WHILE PRETENDING THE LAST 4 YEARS DIDN'T HAPPEN. BILL CLINTON PIVOTED WHEN HIS POLICIES AND PROPOSALS FAILED, PRES. OBAMA DID NOT.
I'd like to pretend the last 4-6 years didn't happen too!
In another exchange: On healthcare, Romney proved his ability to reach across the aisle and Pres. Obama astonishingly claimed Obamacare without a single Republican vote "was a Republican idea".
Quite persuasively covering one of his weaknesses, Romney said "what we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation, state by state" [not for the federal government].
Romney continued: "I said that at that time. The federal government taking over health care for the entire nation and whisking aside the 10th Amendment, which gives states the rights for these kinds of things, is not the course for America to have a stronger, more vibrant economy."
From Crafty's post: "...there's a U.S. air base just 450 miles away in Sicily." (L.A. to Reno, NV roughly)
This must have been a haunting feeling in the end. Imagine you are one of the diplomats under attack. The nearest support is 450 miles away and the strongest country in the world who sent you there is not willing to send help for fear of offending the group that is tracking you down, attacking and killing you. Other than that, how do you feel about your security?
Meanwhile, we are closing out in Iraq without leaving a force 'over the horizon' and preparing to do the same in Afghanistan, before we send in our future diplomats. There is something missing in a strategy of surrender without locking in gains, providing arms without safeguards, leading from behind without establishing a base or any military presence, enemy and terrorist denial, and scaling down our military superiority as our rivals and enemies are scaling theirs up.
Stephens, WSJ continued: "Let's review: The U.S. ignores warnings of a parlous security situation in Benghazi. Nothing happens because nobody is really paying attention, especially in an election year, and because Libya is supposed to be a foreign-policy success. When something does happen, the administration's concerns for the safety of Americans are subordinated to considerations of Libyan "sovereignty" and the need for "permission." After the attack the administration blames a video, perhaps because it would be politically inconvenient to note that al Qaeda is far from defeated, and that we are no more popular under Mr. Obama than we were under George W. Bush. Denouncing the video also appeals to the administration's reflexive habits of blaming America first."
Voters are confused about what to do in the Middle East right now, but the approach taken by this administration is ripe for valid criticism. If we deny American interests are at stake, why are American diplomats on the ground? If we deny they are at risk post 9/11/01 and after all the other attacks and embassy bombings and knowing al Qaida types are part of the coalition we supported, then we are fools escalating our own danger.
I don't know the answers but the first step is to see the enemy for what it is. This President didn't and doesn't. Sent his underling out to 5 Sunday shows to say it was a spontaneous reaction to an unwatched video trailer. Egypt did not get safer after the Obama Cairo speech. The enemies are not enemies of George Bush or Republicans; they are enemies of America.
Who got fired over the lack of security in Benghazi and isn't the James Clapper referenced here the same 'intelligence' director who said the Muslim Brotherhood is secular?
A serious George Will column from a few days ago with good suggestions for the moderator. I like that he puts questions about the judiciary first including a question about 'Kelo', the horrible public taking for private purposes ruling and a question on Citizens United. The last question is pretty funny.
The spectacles we persist in dignifying as presidential “debates” — two-minute regurgitations of rehearsed responses — often subtract from the nation’s understanding. But beginning Wednesday, these less-than-Lincoln-Douglas episodes might be edifying if the candidates could be inveigled into plowing fresh ground.
Concerning the judiciary
Although the average age of the Supreme Court justices (66) is less than that of the Rolling Stones (68), three justices will be in their 80s before the next presidential term ends, so the next president probably can solidify today’s conservative majority or create a liberal majority.
For Mitt Romney: Many conservatives advocate “judicial restraint.” They denounce “judicial activism” and define it as not properly deferring to decisions by government’s majoritarian branches. Other conservatives praise “judicial engagement” and define it as actively defending liberty against overbearing majorities. Do you favor “restraint” or “engagement”? Do you reject the Kelo decision, in which the Supreme Court deferred to governments’ desire to seize private property and give it to wealthier private interests who would pay higher taxes?
For Barack Obama: You deplore the court’s Citizens United decision. What is your constitutional basis for rejecting the decision’s principle that Americans do not forfeit their First Amendment rights when they come together in corporate entities (mostly nonprofit advocacy corporations such as the Sierra Club) to speak collectively? You say you would “seriously consider” amending the First Amendment to empower Congress to regulate political speech. Explain why you would choose to make the Bill of Rights less protective.
For Romney: The Republican platform endorses using “whatever legislative method is most feasible” to ban flag desecration. Can you distinguish this from the anti-blasphemy laws in some Islamic countries? Should we criminalize expressive acts that offend?
Concerning foreign policy
For both: On Oct. 7, we begin the 12th year of the war in Afghanistan, and 51 recent NATO fatalities have been at the hands of our supposed Afghan allies, causing U.S. commanders to indefinitely suspend many joint operations. Why are we staying there 27 more months?
For Romney: You envision “countervailing duties” to punish China for manipulating the value of its currency. Do the “quantitative easings” by Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve, which vastly expanded the money supply, constitute currency manipulation? Would duties increasing the prices Americans pay for Chinese imports violate your vow to not raise taxes?
For Obama: Your campaign boasts about increasing the number of unfair-trade charges against China. How would Americans’ welfare be enhanced by raising the prices they pay for consumer goods and production materials from China?
For both: You are correct that China subsidizes politically connected businesses. Does not our Export-Import Bank do this?
For Obama: Are GM and Chrysler subsidized? Are they politically connected businesses?
Concerning domestic policy
For Obama: Your opponent proposes cutting income tax rates 20 percent and implies that he would pay for this partly by means-testing some deductions (e.g., mortgage interest payments and charitable giving). Do you oppose his plan for making the income tax more progressive?
For Romney: You say “redistribution” has “never been a characteristic of America.” You’re kidding, right? Is redistribution not one purpose of progressive taxation? Is not most of what government does — from agriculture subsidies to subsidized student loans to entitlements — the redistribution of wealth from one cohort or region to another?
For Obama: You recently said that changing Washington “from the outside” is “how some of our biggest accomplishments like health care got done — mobilizing the American people.” You’re kidding, right? A majority of the American people never supported passage of Obamacare. Did you not secure passage by deals with Big Pharma and other inside-Washington players?
For both: Do you agree that a financial institution that is too big to fail is too big to exist? If not, why not? The biggest banks emerged from the Great Recession bigger. At the end of 2011, the five biggest (JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs) held more than $8.5 trillion in assets, which is 56 percent of the 2011 gross domestic product. Why should they not be broken up?
For Obama: Your deep-blue Illinois — like another essentially one-party Democratic state, California — is buckling under the weight of its portion of the estimated $2.5 trillion in unfunded state pension obligations. Will you promise to oppose attempts to force the taxpayers to bail out badly governed states?
For both: Do you assume that the Almighty is not paying attention whenever you say “I approve this message”?
When these jerks in the campaigns and in the activism organizations keep pushing states and voters to vote earlier and earlier, such as the Obama campaign, do they ever ask if the voter is ready - do they have all the information they need for the other contests, like judges, soil and water conservation board, the amentments, the city council, etc?? On October 1 have they viewed all the debates that haven't happened yet or the economic data that hasn't come in yet? Of course not. So why do they do it? To advance their own candidate, not to empower the voter.
Nothing is more reliable than having each person come in, in person, to a place with election judges on site, on the same day, verify who they are, and then cast one secret ballot.
I mentioned in another post that all polls for MN governor in 2010 including the final poll were off by 12 points. In Wisconsin this year they missed by 7. I thought the margin for sampling error was 3%, lol. Strangely those misses are about the range that Obama was leading Romney in key swing states in some outrageous recent polls.
One theory advanced is that the biased media and polling organizations want to effect turnout to swing the election with skewed polls. But a wide margin could sabotage turnout on the leader more than it does on the angry opposition, so that doesn't make any sense.
My theory now is right back to GM's theory on every other strategy in the Obama campaign. The polls results are concocted to fit the shiny object theory - HEY, look at this SHINY OBJECT, over HERE!! Take your eyes off the unemployment rate, the debt and the 24 year old in your basement for a minute, here is a shiny object!
The false polls give the Romney campaign has taken on a new first name, the struggling Romney campaign. Ask David Gregory, he gets it into the first sentence:
Announcer: From NBC News in Washington, MEET THE PRESS with David Gregory.
GREGORY: And good Sunday morning. With both sides in full-preparation mode for Wednesday’s first presidential debate, the struggling Romney campaign is recalibrating his message... -------------------
Unmentioned: There has been a 36 point enthusiasm swing from Democrats to Republicans since the 2008 election to today according to the latest Gallup. Dems +20 2008, Even 2010, R's +16% now. Everybody knows this of course because USA Today put it on page 13. ------------------
Polls all admit applying their own secret sauce to get the right samples and results. Unskewedpolls.com removes the skew back to best known party affiliation numbers and has Romney leading by 7.4%. http://unskewedpolls.com/
Missing in the scandal is some storyline about what was supposed to go right that unfortunately went wrong in Operation Fast and Furious. Here and on right wing radio the story is advanced that Obama's far lefties were sending guns to be used in violence to help them to ban more guns. I actually think that is true and no other story line has been advanced to my knowledge. Since this sounds cynical and far fetched, people don't know what to think about it, IMO. Just a scandal of an R House trying to shake down a Dem White House for more documents to embarrass them.
The White House first defense was that this was Bush program. That wasn't true, but if it was, didn't they promise to end the failing programs of the Bush administration - so that is no defense even if it were true!
The Dept of Justice operates in the Executive Branch with oversight and funding from congress. Oversight is hindered because of the stonewall but were they really authorized in law to perform such an operation?
Did they consult or inform the Mexican government? Was permission granted?
Who was responsible for security in Benghazi? State Dept? Marines? DOD? WHO?? No one.
Who took credit for the one achievement overseas, killing Osama? Well that one is easy. President Obama directed the mission. 14 times in the first person, he made the tough decision, even declared as recently as yesterday through his surrogate on Meet the Press that Romney would not have done it. Obama did it because he is the Commander in Chief and the buck stops there. But only if the operation is successful.
One might recall that the President made the Secretary of the Navy issue a memo taking full responsibility while the troops were taking their positions, just in case the operation failed.
President Obama should be addressing the nation after this Univision piece, APOLOGIZING TO MEXICO, apologizing to America and the victims families, taking full responsibility, explaining what it was they were trying to accomplish and explaining what went wrong. He will not do that.
_________________________________ Recession Risk Rising "...Right now, we are forecasting 1.5% real GDP growth for Q3. But, given the drought, a much lower number – even below zero – cannot be casually dismissed..."
This is 3rd quarter starting today, so translated that means the recession may already have started.
Brian Wesbury appears Fridays on the Hugh Hewitt radio show http://townhall.com/talkradio/. On the radio I find him to be quite a bit more open about his policy opinions than he is in these First Trust articles.
"...some of the administration’s (foreign policy) misjudgments have been serious. Perhaps the most fundamental and most consequential was the decision to downplay the degree to which what the administration refuses to call the global war on terror still dominates American policy and American strategic thought. Like the characters in a Harry Potter story who don’t want to speak Lord Voldemort’s name because they are afraid that using his name makes him stronger,... The administration sought to demobilize the American people and encouraged the nation to stand down from the war footing we assumed after the first 9/11. Instead of providing leadership and guidance to a public baffled, weary and confused by the struggles of the last decade, this administration sought to turn the national conversation away from the radical threat. It tried to change the subject when it should have helped the country develop a serious and sophisticated view of a complicated, dangerous and continuing international threat. 9/11/12 has blown the obfuscation away. The global war on terror (or whatever we call it, and the old Bush-era name is flawed) hasn’t ended; it has evolved." http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/09/26/the-presidents-speech/
Various media reporting that Univision has a powerful piece on Fast and Furious (Operation Dead Mexicans and Border Agent) airing today, Sunday at 7pm eastern time, 4pm pacific. (http://noticias.univision.com/aqui-y-ahora/):
Univision: The untold story of what 'Fast and Furious' wrought in Mexico
Sunday evening, Univision airs an investigative report on how the botched 'Fast and Furious' program resulted in a deadly toll in Mexico when US authorities allowed guns to 'walk' across the border.
By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / September 29, 2012
The ATF is under fire over a Phoenix-based gun-trafficking investigation called "Fast and Furious," in which agents allowed hundreds of guns into the hands of straw purchasers in hopes of making a bigger case.
When a journalist for Univision asked President Obama last week why he hasn’t fired Attorney General Eric Holder over the “Fast and Furious” gun walking fiasco, the reporter, it turns out, had an inside scoop that added urgency to the question.
At 7 p.m. on Sunday, Univision says it’ll air a blockbuster investigation detailing the impact of the deeply flawed gunrunning investigation, which operated between Oct. 2009 and January 2011.
The Spanish-language channel says the “Aqui y Ahora” program will expose the true deadly toll of a covert program where US officials allowed over 2,000 high-powered rifles to “walk” into the hands of violent Mexican cartels. Expecting American interest, Univision will caption the program in English.
In the US, “Fast and Furious” is most noted for its ties to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and for political fallout over the extent of involvement of the Obama administration, including Attorney General Holder. But in Mexico, the program may reignite furor over how a US government that had promised to try to halt the border gun traffic instead covertly contributed to it.
“Americans have been getting a lot of information about the possible cover-up in the Justice Department, the tragedy of Brian Terry getting killed, but what about the Mexicans?” says Miami-based Gerardo Reyes, Univision’s director of investigative reporting, in an interview Saturday with the Monitor.
“The sinister part of this, and I know it sounds very hard, is that the success of this operation depended in part on the fact that the guns were used in Mexico to kill,” says Mr. Reyes. “In order to reach the target of the operation, which was identifying the drug traffickers who were using the guns, [ATF agents] were waiting for the guns to be used. And how are guns used in Mexico? Killing people. I talked to an ATF agent who said there was no other way to explain it.”
By cross referencing gun tracing data, Univision identified 57 weapons linked to murders and crimes in Mexico, and used that data to highlight “the face of the tragedy in Mexico,” says Mr. Reyes.
Reyes said the program will detail Fast and Furious ties to the massacre of 16 teenage boys and girls in Ciudad Juarez, the nation-shaking murder of Mario Gonzalez Rodriguez, the brother of the former Chihuahua attorney general, the extent to which the Mexican government knew about the program, and an interview with a drug trafficker who says he heard from colleagues that the US government was selling guns to the cartels.
The program comes two weeks after a long-awaited DOJ inspector general report was met with bipartisan approval as it chided the Justice Department and ATF for allowing Fast and Furious to ever happen, identified 14 people who should be held responsible, and suggested that the program was ultimately what Obama and Eric Holder originally said after Agent Terry’s murder: The product of an ill-advised ATF gambit in Phoenix, where employees later tried to cover up the fact that gunwalking was occurring.
The author of the report, Michael Horowitz, did note to the House Oversight Committee that a person who could have possibly connected Fast and Furious to the White House refused to be interviewed. Mr. Horowitz also faulted the Department of Justice for failing to pick up on what the program entailed, which could have been easily gleaned from wiretap applications sent for approval to the department in Washington.
Under the program, about 2,000 mostly AK-47s and some .50 caliber guns were allowed to be purchased by known straw buyers and “walk” without trace into Mexico. The gunwalking was at first denied by the Justice Department, which then had to concede that the government did indeed knowingly allow guns to cross the border.
President Obama has called the program a mistake, but it had an honorable intent: Under intense pressure to stymie tens of thousands of illegal guns flowing across the border, ATF, building on a smaller Bush-era program that cooperated with Mexican authorities, hoped agents could trace the guns beyond low-level straw buyers and to the highest levels of cartel. Some 40 people were indicted on charges brought using intelligence gleaned from Fast and Furious.
The question remains how far up in the Justice Department knowledge of the program went. Some Republicans suspect that it was a ploy brewed up at the highest levels, including Holder and President Obama, to foment support for more domestic gun restrictions.
But Michael Horowitz, the inspector general, found only blame at the lower reaches of justice, positing that it was the product of a regional taskforce not a national subterfuge intended by the administration to sway policy.
No matter how far up knowledge of Fast and Furious actually went, exposure of its true toll in Mexico will likely raise new questions about how such a fatally flawed operation could ever have happened.
In a press release for Sunday’s program, Univision says, “Univision News’ Investigative Unit was also able to identify additional guns that escaped the control of ATF agents and were used in different types of crimes throughout Mexico. Furthermore, some of these guns – none of which were reported by Congressional investigators – were put in the hands of drug traffickers in Honduras, Puerto Rico, and Colombia. A person familiar with the recent Congressional hearings called Univision’s findings ‘the holy grail’ that Congress had been searching for.”
Strengthen the world by weakening the U.S., one would hope or think it is the Americans who would oppose this. Doesn't all foreign aid poll terribly? Isn't this the gaffe of all gaffes of this campaign? This is be one of several openings Romney has available to compete favorably in the foreign policy debate.
Redistribution analysis provides answers to the wrong question in the income debate. The Gini index Eduardo Porter (NY Time) references tells us only how your income compares with others, not how well anyone is doing. The question should be - which of the alternatives on the table will result in more income to more families going forward, no matter where you sit today in the income spectrum.
The Obama economy has worked the fixed-pie economic model to death, proving its underlying assumptions false. Central to redistribution is that disincentives don't matter and growth will rebound no matter the policies. President Obama assumes that capital gains tax rates, already scheduled to go up at the end of this year by more than 50% on higher income investors, will have no detrimental effect on the job situations of middle income workers. It will actually help them, he argues. But we know that isn't true. He admits knowing the contradiction when he accuses his opponent of moving jobs overseas in response to the same employment disincentives.
Employment requires capital and capital requires after tax return on investment. When we were approaching the last fiscal cliff in 2008 with tax rate hikes imminent, the selloff became epidemic. Those rate increases never happened but the damage was done. Millions of jobs were lost and trillions in wealth was destroyed. Worse for investment decisions than high marginal tax rates is uncertainty about future, high marginal tax rates. That uncertainty has been a continuous feature of the Obama economy from the day that the Pelosi-Reid-Obama took majority in congress with unemployment at 4.6%.
The question is not how much do you make compared to your neighbor but simply how much will you make. Paying the full array of your household bills, gas in the car, college and saving for retirement has nothing to do with what your neighbor or what any rich guy across town is making.
Mr. Porter quite accurately points out the irony that inequality increased more under Clinton than it did under the first Pres. Bush, but that is because the economy, at least in the last 6 years of Clinton, was growing much faster. Pres. Clinton had 2 years of slow growth, then changed course after the midterm election and the change of congress. Pres. Clinton cut capital gains rates and backed away from national healthcare while Pres. Obama clings to his redistributive, anti-growth agenda. The pro-growth policies that Pres. Clinton adopted brought prosperity, growth and at least a temporarily balanced budget. But growth means inequality because it is tied to the freedoms and choices of working, saving, investing and participating in the economy to create that growth. Conversely, the George W Bush presidency featured 51 months of job growth but according to Porter's own chart, the time when inequality fell was when the economy was plunging disastrously.
The key measure is upward income mobility, not income inequality. How likely are you to grow your income, over the next 4 years or over your lifetime. In a class-based, redistributive economy, the answer to your growth potential is not much. It is expanding economic freedom that offers the best opportunity to improve your economic situation. Don't grow the burden of government. Ease its excessive burdens.
After 4 years on the current path we know that penalties on investment do not translate into rewards for workers. Investment will pull back, sit on the sidelines or move overseas. Not just taxes, but with 50,000 new regulations the climate for startup companies, the engine of future growth, has never been worse. This helps no one.
Under Pres. Obama we have had more months above 8% unemployment than in all presidential terms combined since Truman, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking monthly unemployment. The real unemployment rate counting underemployment and workers lost from the workforce is close to 20%. For college grads today, the percentage failing to get a job in their field is worse than that.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul has proven to be no way to grow the economy, to improve opportunities or to be in a stronger position to help the truly needy. Printing money and running deficits in the trillions only worsens the future burden.
The 25 freest economies in the world earn per capita income 7 times greater than the 25 least free economies. Freer economies provides more income for more people. Inequality is a fact, but it is freedom that leads to national prosperity. - Doug