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5101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 31, 2012, 12:10:20 PM
The top 4 newspapers in Iowa endorsed Mitt Romney in a big switch since 2008. Worth reading:
5102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics- Pew poll non-response rate is 91% on: October 31, 2012, 11:46:45 AM
Pew admitted they are getting a 9% response rate on polling.  91% are like me and don't take the call or don't tell strangers their views on the phone.  Hard to say what this means for accuracy but not a good sign.

Still I find myself watching the movement in the polls almost every day.  (
5103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy - Repeal the Medical Device Tax on: October 31, 2012, 01:07:23 AM
From the previous post, "we ought to kill the death tax. You paid for that farm once. You shouldn't have to pay for it again."

Great line!

Give some credit here to my congressman Erik Paulsen for pushing this.  The House has approved repeal of the medical device tax.  Now waiting for the Harry Reid led Senate to take up action - or to leave power.

Minnesota has 1270 medical device businesses.  Want to get less of something, tax it. 

Did anyone ever ask (David Gregory?) how this tax helps healthcare? Costs?  Or exports!?
5104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential: Mondale's only state in play for Romney? on: October 31, 2012, 12:49:27 AM
When Mondale lost 49 states to Reagan, MN seemed for a moment to be American's furthest to the left state.  Then Mondale lost statewide in MN in 2002 becoming the first and only person to ever lose statewide in all 50.

Minnesota Poll now has Obama in MN by just +3, inside the sampling margin of error.

Same poll was wrong by 12 points in 2010, overestimating Dem support. (Who knew?!)

Obama playing demographic cards in Nevada, New Mexico and elsewhere may have a different effect in the upper midwest.
5105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 30, 2012, 11:59:13 PM
Revise and extend my remarks...

Meet the Press etc should have done their job, filmed a show, brought in key guests,  asked tough questions - on key issues.  It is 2 shows to a landmark election and they haven't asked much yet. On the eastern seaboard they should have cut away as they did with every other show for extreme weather warnings.  People can catch up with the clips, news, video and transcripts when they have more time.

Strange to learn it wasn't the storm but the inconvenient comment of the Indiana candidate that superseded coverage of the Benghazi security scandal.

Like Candy Crowley says, we can get to that later.  Much later.

Bad storms coverage has good ratings.  Right wing rape abortion comments have the potential to hurt Mitt Romney.  We have time for that.
5106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya, Selective Disarmament and Unarmed military vehicles... on: October 30, 2012, 11:25:23 PM
"Drones above Benghazi were unarmed"  because ... _____________________________?

Because there was no threat in Libya, Benghazi?  No, that wasn't the reason. 

Disarmament is one of our strategies:  "Please tell Vladimir I will have more flexibility [to disarm] after my reelection."

Disarmament and appeasement turns enemies into peace seekers, so the naivete goes.

Why cover it up?  This is our strategy in Libya at least. With no American arms, no one will get hurt, right?

The administration does not explain the dichotomy.  The drones in Yemen and Pakistan do not been fly unarmed.  Recalling this map of "Obama’s 284 Drone Strikes in Pakistan":

They fly ready to kill with the purpose of killing.  Even the furthest left regime in American history knows you don't stop terrorists with unarmed aircraft.  Yet they chose unarmed for defending American resources in Libya.  Very odd.  And unexplained.

UAV, FYI, refers to unmanned, not unarmed, aerial vehicle.
5107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya / Benghazigate on: October 30, 2012, 09:41:54 AM
Right when I thought it was just me I keep seeing more coverage - in places only right wingers will look.  This one is PJ Media.  Goes from great coverage of what is thought to be known right now to conjecture about how and why it happened.  page through as you please and stop if you want before he gets to the "T" word, treason.

Questions for White House Over Benghazi Just Beginning
We have two likely possibilities for what occurred, plus a subplot involving arms to al-Qaeda, which could be treason.

(4 internet pages, read at the link or I can come back later to post it all here.)
5108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, Jonah Goldberg on Benghazigate on: October 30, 2012, 09:35:14 AM
The whole column is very good, but this part pertains specifically to the discussion here:

LA Times today:,0,6605340.column

"This is not to say that Fox News is alone in covering the story. But it is alone in treating it like it's a big deal. Of the five Sunday news shows, only "Fox News Sunday" treated this as a major story. On the other four, the issue came up only when Republicans mentioned it. Tellingly, on NBC's "Meet the Press," host David Gregory shushed a guest when she tried to bring up the subject, saying, "Let's get to Libya a little bit later."

Gregory never did get back to Benghazi. But he saved plenty of time to dive deep into the question of what Indiana U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's comments on abortion and rape mean for the Romney campaign. Typically, Gregory's instincts about the news routinely line up with Democratic talking points, in this case Obama's ridiculous "war on women" rhetoric.

I am willing to believe that journalists like Gregory are sincere in their desire to play it straight. But among those who don't share his instincts, it's hard to distinguish between conspiracy and groupthink. Indeed, it's hard to think why one should even bother trying to make that distinction at all."
5109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 29, 2012, 11:12:04 PM
cry cry cry

The whole Benghazi story and its lack of followup makes me angry and puzzled.  I don't understand why they are not called out to answer for the lies, shiny objects and deceptions.  There wasn't a video or a video maker in the Benghazi story, but we were told there was.  There was a multiple hour struggle with security within reach, ordered to stand down.  Why?  By whom?  Don't we deserve to know? 

We made mistakes, misjudged the threat, misjudged the security needed.  Why not come forward early on and say so?  What have we learned?  In hind-sight, what would we do differently, what should we do differently, right now?  None of it asked.  None of it answered.

Sec. of State Hillary Clinton didn't take responsibility in any real way, just admitted she was Sec of State when it happened.  President Obama didn't take responsibility in any real way, really just admitted he is President and is ultimately responsible.

Military leadership doesn't say stand down or don't protect our resources.  Civilian leadership had a reason for doing that.  I am all for civilian leadership over our military.  That is because we have more than one way to remove and replace them.

I would rather run them out with the accurate information than without it.

There is a lot we don't know about the specific terror network and perpetrators.  There isn't a lot the administration doesn't know about the U.S. side of the story.

If this is all national secret, then brief select members of congress.

But why should they answer or say anything.  Lessons were learned with Fast and Furious.  An Executive branch with no knowledge claimed Executive privilege. The Attorney General was charged with Contempt of Congress and a majority of his own party supported that.  Yet he is still Attorney General with no consequence and the President is still running roughly even in the polls despite a horrendous economy.

Why should they answer; they are hardly even being asked.

Let's give voters no information whatsoever and then let them decide.
5110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues -Storm story is big, so is national security before an election on: October 29, 2012, 09:40:39 PM
"If the excuse is the hurricane, lol...".  "Interesting wording."

Guilty. The nervous laugh is that every week they have a reason, not at the Act of God destruction sure to come.  I have the same compassion as your average liberal or journalist.  When will they get to asking the tough questions of the right people and demand an answer?  Never.  Not before, during or after the storm, or they can easily prove me wrong. If the only story is the storm, cancel the show and bring in the weather people and emergency broadcasters.  That is what they are doing tonight.  Is that what happened Sunday am?  I don't think so.

"Are you suggesting that potential damage, loss of life, etc. is not worthy of news, Doug?"  No.  And there wasn't any Sunday morning, but a real need to tell people to take cover.  "Are you suggesting that potential ramifications of Sandy shouldn't be talked about?"  No.  Did I say that?  "Especially on the east coast, which is where the news headquarters tend to be located?"  Interesting point, they should call it the meet the east coast press.  How about asking the rest of the questions from a Calif studio:  WHO TOLD OUR SECURITY FORCES TO STAND DOWN AND LET OUR DIPLOMATS BE MURDERED?  Was the drone armed?  Who watched in real time in the situation room?  Where was the President?  Who told Susan Rice the lie to spread on 5 Sunday shows?  Why?   - No time for any of that.

"And, I think I am firmly on record about OFF."  - Noted.  And likewise for the agreement on this issue.  )
None of my anger is aimed at anyone here!  (Big, friendly smile icon)

"That does not mean the criticism of the news shows of YESTERDAY was merited."  I watched the end of Fox News Sunday and the beginning of clicking between Meet the Press and This Week, was interrupted by news of a death in the family and left the house.  I am no expert on what they did or did not cover yesterday other than to infer from all sides in the conversation that the storm coming was the reason for no real follow up on a Benghazi story that is huge and that we all agree is not getting the coverage or aggressive followup that it deserves.

The storm story is now huge and publicizing its magnitude and potential for damage before it hit was fully warranted. 

It didn't stop Bill Clinton from telling a Connecticut crowd Sunday night:  "We're coming down to the 11th hour. We're facing a violent storm," Clinton said. He waited a beat, then added, "It's nothing compared to the storm we'll face if you don't make the right decision in this election."  Was that a joke or serious?  I don't know.

I expect hurricanes to hit seaboards, deathly cold waves in the north, earthquakes in earthquake zones, floods in flood zones, all newsworthy.  I wonder how many minutes Meet the Press spent on the Missouri River floods of 2011. "in the second half of the month of May 2011, almost a year's worth of rain fell over the upper Missouri River basin" after a 212% of normal snowfall meltoff from the Rockies.  - Not a mention.  Couldn't even see it from Washington or New York.

Freeway intersection I-29 and I-680 June 10 2011, US Army Corps of Engineers photo

Was this Sunday morning's storm coverage so urgent and thorough that they skipped their commercials?  - No.  They just skipped doing their job.


Note: Drudge who is not liberal or east coast based goes hog wild on big storms too.  Disasters make great news stories.  Huge headline as I post this, "NYC Goes Dark".  Below storm coverage he continues coverage of the rest, including:
CLINTON: Sandy 'nothing compared to the storm we'll face' if R elected...
There will be a 'Secretary of Business' in 2nd Term...
Father of Slain SEAL to president: 'Better to Die a Hero Than Live a Coward'...
5111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 29, 2012, 01:33:01 PM
A splattering of wimpy comments from the links of coverage in our AWOL 'watchdog' mainstream press:  Creating confusion.  Clumsy. Transparent.  An utterly contrived story.  Mentions on a blog but never a series of relentless followup questions on the Sunday shows in question with their key guests.  Please point out if I missed that.  One Stephanopolous blog entry ends with the quote Biden saying Romney is politicizing the tragedy and the other with the comment that it was Mitt's worst moment.  Why would a news show make a follow up on points expressed so clearly and objectively?

I wonder what these agenda driven losers would have said about Watergate, had it been Obama instead of Nixon.

Maybe for opinion, but the viewer should not need to go to right wing media to get basic facts on core issues of the day.  But we do.

If the excuse is the hurricane, lol, then which storm continues to keep them off of Fast and Furious?

It was NOT our military leaders IMHO telling our forces to stand down and let the assassinations and destruction go forward.  It was our civilian leadership and we have much easier way to change them out than impeachment.

“They’re just sowing more confusion about this rather than resolving the issue, which is creating more of an issue,” Gregory concluded.   - And then he didn't make it more of an issue.  Maybe he is planning a hard hitting, national, prime time inquiry into all the contradictions, misstatements, deceptions and the security failures themselves in Benghazi prior to the election - when they are done with their regional weather forecast.  I will stay tuned.

To this quote: "essentially the coverage has been far, far less than this matter deserves, and far, far less probing than this matter deserves," Bigdog wrote:  "as you well know I agree with you there."

Amen to that!
5112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, Wesbury, velocity, undertainty on: October 29, 2012, 12:33:30 PM
Wesbury is right on the money with his key point here.  Velocity is the key determinant of what is wrong and what needs to improve and uncertainty is at the heart of it.  Worse than high tax rates we have total uncertainty about future tax rates.  No investor can make any calculated decision.  No company can know their after tax return on investment for all the plant building and expansion decisions that are not being made right now.  Pull back, sit still and wait is the only logical choice which means, generally, no new jobs.

I've mentioned that Wesbury is more candid about his political views on right wing radio (Friday Hugh Hewitt show for one) than he is writing for the investment house.  Wesbury thinks Romney is going to win and that will be good for the economy.  So do I, but my uncertainty level is 50% or more.

What he means by plowhorse economy is that the American private sector is strong but pulling this awfully burdensome load, the American public sector, including all the transfer payments.

If you believe recovery depends on a change of course and the change of course depends on knowing the result especially President and Senate on which the change of course depends, how can you know or predict the economic outlook?

"Recently we lifted our recession odds to 25% from 10%."

Right.  What that means is that we are headed into a recession - or we aren't.  You can base your investment decisions on that secure knowledge.
5113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the left on: October 23, 2012, 07:56:49 PM
Covering for the lack of liberal posts on the board, I offer these:

Bill Keller's advice for Romney in the final debate.  He actually followed point one, lay off of Benghazi.  Point two is say something nice about the Palestinians, then extend a hand to the Muslim Brotherhood and on it goes.  Keller is former editor of NY TImes, maybe even inspired Crafty's 'Pravda' naming.
Next, the geniuses ot NYT thought if I liked that one I would like to read this one too!

Government creates jobs - millions of them:

Mr. Romney interrupted. “Government does not create jobs,” he said. “Government does not create jobs.”

It was a decidedly crabbed response to a seemingly uncontroversial observation, and yet Mr. Obama took the bait. He said his political opponents had long harped on “this notion that I think government creates jobs, that that somehow is the answer. That’s not what I believe.” He went on to praise free enterprise and to say that government’s role is to create the conditions for everyone to have a fair shot at success.

So, they agree. Government does not create jobs.

Except that it does, millions of them — including teachers, police officers, firefighters, soldiers, sailors, astronauts, epidemiologists, antiterrorism agents, park rangers, diplomats, governors (Mr. Romney’s old job) and congressmen (like Paul Ryan).
What they don't get it that government jobs ride off the revenues generated by taxpaying enterprise jobs (not the other way around).  Government can't and doesn't create them first or on their own.
5114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Did Pres. Obama know about two PRIOR Benghazi attacks? on: October 23, 2012, 07:42:55 PM
Did Pres. Obama know about two PRIOR Benghazi attacks?

If he did, then he knew this was a terror attack too BEFORE any report or investigation.

If he did not, were they in the daily intelligence briefings that he did not attend in person.

If they were in there and he did not see them, did he play golf or hold fund raisers on those days.

Just curious.
5115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Woodward: President wrong on defense sequestration on: October 23, 2012, 07:34:51 PM
Bob Woodward: Obama 'mistaken' on sequester

'What the president said is not correct,' Woodward told POLITICO | AP Photo
By LEIGH MUNSIL | 10/23/12 4:24 PM EDT Updated: 10/23/12 6:02 PM EDT

Bob Woodward says President Barack Obama got some of his facts wrong on sequester at Monday night’s debate.

Woodward’s book, “The Price of Politics,” has been the go-to fact check source for the president’s answer, in which he claimed the idea of using deep, automatic, across-the-board domestic and defense spending cuts to force Congress to address the nation’s burgeoning federal deficit originated from Congress, not from the White House.

“What the president said is not correct,” Woodward told POLITICO Tuesday. “He’s mistaken. And it’s refuted by the people who work for him.”

Woodward, a Washington Post journalist who was a key reporter on the initial coverage of the Watergate scandal, said he stands behind his reporting in the book, which drew upon sources involved in last year’s deficit talks and detailed notes taken in the meetings.

(Also on POLITICO: Woodward's book: 5 telling moments)

Woodward reports in his book that White House Office of Management Director Jack Lew and Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors took the proposal for sequestration to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and then it was presented to congressional Republicans.

During the debate, however, Obama said the idea originated on Capitol Hill.

“First of all, the sequester is not something that I've proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed,” Obama said, adding his strongest pronouncement to date on its future: “It will not happen.”

Woodward said there’s a possibility the president was unaware of how the idea came about.

“It’s a complicated process — and in fairness to the president — maybe he didn’t know that they were doing this because it’s kind of technical budget jargon,” Woodward said.

“What I wrote — it’s specific date, time, place, participants,” he said. “What I’ve reported is totally accurate. Call Nabors and Lew. Or ask the White House. I mean, they know that’s accurate.”

Read more:
5116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Climate Change / Global Warming on: October 23, 2012, 07:23:14 PM
What is the biggest issue of our time?

360 debate minutes behind us, the majority of that with Obama-Biden speaking.  The closest we came to a mention of climate change or global warming was the contest between Pres. Obama and Gov. Romney to see who was the most pro-coal.
5117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 23, 2012, 06:42:33 PM
"What is the margin of error? Even 6 might be a statistical tie."

Gallup has Romney at +5 with likely voters says margin of error plus/minus 4.  Rasmussen has Romney at +4 says sampling margin of error plus/minus 3 with 95% confidence.  Others have smaller margins well within the margin.  I don't follow margin of error closely because sample size is only one of the possible causes or errors. There are others such as how likely a likely voter is to vote and is there any correlation between being unreachable or refusing to answer the poll and who they support.  Each poll applies their own 'secret sauce' to manipulate their sample, (like global warming).  We are heading into the period where their real error or accuracy becomes quickly known and their reputation is judged.  Earlier poll errors don't count against them, they just say it was a late movement.

My guess is that Romney has to win by 2 points or more in the popular vote to be confident of winning the electoral college.  Al Gore won in 2000 by more than a half point: 48.38% to 47.87%. Romney needs to pull some Senators across the finish line too, for a number of reasons.

The actual error in Wisconsin 2012 was 7%, in Minnesota 2012 it was 12%, underpolling Republican votes in those two cases.
5118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, 3rd debate, Krauthammer, polls, final stretch on: October 23, 2012, 11:30:44 AM
First must comment on the previous post, the cartoon with Obama protecting Big Bird and Romney protecting the country.  The Big Bird issue was the shiny object trick thrown back on them and they went for it.  Four years of trillion dollar deficits and they still haven't started to cut the fluff.  The Pres has no cuts on the table so he can't press the challenger for real ones, and Mediscare backfired.  The joke is that PBS doesn't even need the subsidy, and especially not for its successful brands like Big Bird and Jim Lehrer.  Just Obama fighting hard for very small things. 

I did not watch the 3rd debate, but read a lot of commentary last night and this morning.  On debate zingers they say Obama won by a little, but 60% saw Romney as ready to be Commander in Chief, looking Presidential AGAIN, blowing the Obama line out of the water trying to show that Romney is not ready.

Conservatives and hawks may be disappointed in what he didn't say or the change of course that he did not lay out for our future foreign policy.

Gallup has had Romney up big, 6%, the last few days.  Rasmussen now has Romney up 50-46.  Others have it by less.  If accurate, an incumbent does not come up from 46-48%.

Remaining is the October surprise, the November surprise, the settling in of all the information we already know, and then the get out the vote operation.

If this really is a squeaker, Obama would win by taking Ohio and some other key states.

If the polls above are close to showing the new reality as I believe they are, Romney by 3 or 4, he will sweep all those and take a few others.
Now is the time to adopt an undecided voter and apply a little positive assertiveness on them.  )

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: I think it's unequivocal, Romney won. And he didn't just win tactically, but strategically. Strategically, all he needed to do is basically draw. He needed to continue the momentum he's had since the first debate, and this will continue it. Tactically, he simply had to get up there and show that he's a competent man, somebody who you could trust as commander in chief, a who knows every area of the globe and he gave interesting extra details, like the Haqqani network, which gave the impression he knows what he's talking about. But there is a third level here, and that is what actually happened in the debate.

We can argue about the small points and the debating points. Romney went large, Obama went very, very small, shockingly small. Romney made a strategic decision not go after the president on Libya, or Syria, or other areas where Obama could accuse him of being a Bush-like war monger. Now I would have gone after Obama on Libya like a baseball bat, but that's why Romney has won elections and I've never had to even contested them. He decided to stay away from the and I think that might have actually worked for him.

What he did concentrate on is the big picture. People don't care what our policy on Syria is going to be. They care about how America is perceived in the world and how America carries itself in the world. And the high point is when he devastatingly leveled the charge of Obama going around the world on an apology tour. Obama's answer was ask any reporter and they will tell you it wasn't so. That's about as weak an answer you can get. And Romney's response to quote Obama saying that, 'we dictate to other nations,' and Romney said, 'we do not dictate to other nations, we liberate them.' And Obama was utterly speechless.

So that is the large picture, America is strong and respecting. What Obama did is he kept interrupting, interjecting and his responses were almost all very small, petty attacks. The lowest was when he's talking about sanctions that are old. 'When I was working on sanctions you were investing in a company in China.' I mean that is the kind of attack you expect from a guy who is running for city council for the first time, that's not what you expect from the president. A personal attack about an investment when talking about Iran?

I thought Romney had the day. He looked presidential. The president did not. And that's the impression I think that is going to be left.

MEGYN KELLY, FOX News: Mitt Romney sounded a bit more dovish, less bellicose than some, perhaps on the right wanted to hear. How will that play?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I think those on the right like me, who would have loved for him to have been bellicose and love the near fisticuffs will understand exactly why Romney did it. He stayed away from the pitfalls. He did not allow himself to be painted as a war monger. This is what Reagan understood in 1980, he did it extremely well. So Romney did and I think this could help him win the election.

5119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market and the fiscal cliff on: October 20, 2012, 09:15:54 PM
I see a big win for Romney but there is also a real chance that Obama wins, with a Dem Senate, keeps Obamacare, lets tax rates go up, restarts the carbon war plus the not yet mentioned war against fracking, and kills off all growth.  That's a lot of uncertainty.  There could be recounts too, with either outcome.

Assume Romney wins, R's take the Senate and keep the House.  If they can enact the agenda then I am bullish bigtime on the long term - but not without turmoil in the short term.   

If they get it passed in March and make it retroactive to Jan. 1, that leaves months of unknowns starting now.  There will be a fight after the election over temporary tax rate extensions.  How does that end?  When does it end?  Nobody knows, I think it was Dec 24 last time.  Dems in the Senate could block things next year; some bills don't need 60 votes.

The market is up this year and up since the bottom in 2008.  People have profits to take before the year-end rate-hike possibility, and they have to sell before others do.  They can buy back into other stocks if they are bullish but widespread selling presents an opportunity for a downward spiral.
5120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market: 25th anniversary of the crash on: October 20, 2012, 05:58:50 PM
Are people still in the market with another correction coming?  If nothing is done, capital gains tax rates go up at the end of the year by 33-50%, and nothing is being done.  If Obama wins, under his plan they go up by as much as triple.  This doesn't affect you? If everyone but you sells, the value of your stock will go down - significantly.  MHO.
5121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy, Capping Deductions with Lower Marginal Rates, WSJ on: October 20, 2012, 05:50:40 PM
This is an extremely important piece IMO.  Very likely to become the framework for new tax reform.  I have tried to write tax simplification and reform that meets all the political and economic requirements and I can tell you it's not as easy as it looks.  Romney's plan moves us forward better than any other I have seen.  This WSJ Editorial explains it extremely well.

Romney's Tax Deduction Cap     WallStreet Journal Editorial, Oct 20, 2012, link below
An idea to finance reform and avoid political trench warfare.

The Obama campaign and the press corps keep demanding that Mitt Romney specify which tax deductions he'd eliminate, but the Republican has already proposed more tax-reform specificity than any candidate in memory. To wit, he's proposed a dollar limit on deductions for each tax filer.

During the first Presidential debate, Mr. Romney put it this way: "What are the various ways we could bring down deductions, for instance? One way, for instance, would be to have a single number. Make up a number—$25,000, $50,000. Anybody can have deductions up to that amount. And then that number disappears for high-income people. That's one way one could do it."

In an October 1 interview with a Denver TV station, Mr. Romney mentioned a cap of $17,000 and said "higher income people might have a lower number." His campaign stresses that these dollar amounts are "just illustrative" and that there are other ways to reduce deductions that in any case would have to be negotiated with Congress.

But details aside, the tax cap is a big idea, and potentially a very good one. The proposal makes economic sense to the extent that it helps to pay for lower marginal tax rates. Lower rates with fewer deductions improve the incentive for investing and taking risks based on the best return on capital rather than favoring one kind of investment (say, housing) over another. This would help economic growth.

The idea may be even better politically. The historic challenge for tax reformers is defeating the most powerful lobbies in Washington that exist to preserve their special tax privileges. Among the biggest is the housing lobby that exists to preserve the mortgage-interest deduction—the Realtors, home builders, mortgage brokers and the whole Fannie Mae FNMA -0.73% gang.

But don't forget the life insurance lobby (which benefits from the tax exclusion on the equity buildup in policies), the tax-free municipal bond interest lobby, the charitable deduction lobby and more. Each one will fight to the death to preserve its carve-out, which means that reformers have to engage in political trench warfare to succeed.

This is one reason President Obama wants Mr. Romney to be more specific: The minute he proposed to limit the mortgage-interest deduction, the housing lobby would do the Obama campaign's bidding by running ads against Mr. Romney's plan. Mr. Romney is right not to fall for this sucker play.

By limiting the amount of deductions that any individual tax filer can take, Mr. Romney is avoiding this lobby-by-lobby warfare. He'd let individual taxpayers decide which deductions they want to take up to the limit. In effect, the deductions would compete with one another as taxpayers decided which one was most important to them.

The political left should have a hard time opposing this because reducing deductions would hit high-income taxpayers the hardest. Out of the 140 million tax returns in 2009, the last year such data are available, only 45 million itemized their deductions. The non-itemizers, who take the standard deduction ($11,900 for joint filers in 2012), would be held harmless by the Romney cap. Most of these are lower- or middle-income earners.

The nearby table shows that the dollar value of deductions rises with incomes. Filers who itemized and earned between $10,000 and $40,000 in 2009 had average itemized deductions of roughly $16,000. This means they would on average lose nothing under a Romney cap. The average deduction amount rose to about $22,000 for incomes between $75,000 and $100,000. Filers with $1 million in income had average deductions near $173,000, and those who earn $10 million or more had deductions of about $4.3 million.

Another benefit is that the Romney deduction cap would cost taxpayers more in states with the highest tax burdens. Think of California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York.

The current tax code allows filers to deduct state income tax, real-estate tax, and some sales taxes from federal tax. This rewards states for raising taxes. Under the Romney cap, many upper-middle-class filers wouldn't be able to write off all their state taxes. This would create political pressure to cut state taxes.

We realize the tax cap isn't perfect and carries some risks. The tax code would not become any simpler. Liberals would also pocket the limits on deductions for the wealthy and immediately try to raise rates again. But that political risk exists for any reform short of repealing the 16th Amendment. Our preference would be to eliminate all such deductions and lower rates as far as possible, but we shouldn't make a perfect reform the enemy of the much better.

By the way, Mr. Obama has also called for limiting tax deductions for high-income filers. His budgets have endorsed allowing them to take writeoffs at a rate of 28% instead of 35%. The big difference is that Mr. Romney wants to dedicate the revenue gain from capping deductions to cutting tax rates. Mr. Obama wants to use the money to pay for more spending.

The larger point is that Mr. Romney is serious about reform and has put on the table a serious idea for how to finance and achieve it. That's far more than Mr. Obama has proposed about anything in a second term.
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5122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: October 20, 2012, 05:10:42 PM
So, are you saying that he can stonewall the OFF investigation with it?  That Issa's committee's subpoenas are meaningless?  What, if any, are the limits on assertions of EP?

Adding my layman's view into the mix, subject to being informed or corrected here on the forum.  )

We all believe in Executive Privilege with limits.  The executive should normally be able to get candid advice from his advisers in private.  Crafty's question is right on the money with his question, what are those limits.  When does a competing interest rise above the importance of protecting EP.  It would appear from reading BD's link that this is not entirely settled law.  It is a judgment call to decide when a legislative or public right to know rises above this privilege.

My understanding in the case of the Cheney energy task force is that the Vice President was getting candid advice from individuals and a group of contacts and industry experts, up to the point perhaps of writing parts of legislation that I think never got passed.  What happened behind closed doors IMO isn't crucial because the end product, their written proposal or bill is public, can be read, argued, amended, introduced, not introduced, passed or voted down.  If some crony wanted $100 million in the bill to go to Exxon or Haliburton, it would be in the bill; we don't need to subpoena the parties or break any secrecy to find that out.  Not at all similar to Fast and Furious IMHO.

Same question was asked about Hillary's healthcare task force, though as First Lady she was not really an Executive Branch official.

Not executive branch, but a similar question would be to ask who advised and wrote the clauses and inner workings of 'Obamacare' for former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Do we have a right to know that?  Maybe not, just a right to oppose the bill.

What about the quesiton of the White House sending out Susan Rice to 5 major Sunday shows to essentially disseminate false information to the American people about the attack Benghazi.  Some of us would like to know who sent her out there to send out a knowingly false message and why.  Are the discussions protected in secrecy if the intent was to mislead?

Executive Privilege in Operation Fast and Furious: Is there is a legitimate and compelling public interest in knowing who authorized the sale/transport of these weapons?  Does it rise above the principle of EP? How else would we prevent this or something worse from happening again?  Congress appropriated the funds used but not the operation.  They were not fully informed prior, during or after the use of public funds.  Laws were likely broken (I believe) and people died.  An international alliance was put in jeopardy. What is our right to know, through the investigative committees of the House of Representatives?

The irony of asserting Executive Privilege in Operation Fast and Furious is that we were being told that no one in the Attorney General's Office or White House had any knowledge, documents or discussions whatsoever on this operation.  The assertion of privilege would seem to refute that.  Either they did know and authorized the operation or else the assertion is frivolous (“transparently invalid”) it would seem to me.  The assertion is designed to forestall the investigation past election day or indefinitely.

The 255 to 67 contempt vote including a majority within the President's own party voting against the White House is telling.
5123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Klobuchar took Ponzi schemer’s campaign contributions, didn’t prosecute on: October 19, 2012, 06:03:34 PM
Documents: Sen. Klobuchar took Ponzi schemer’s campaign contributions, didn’t prosecute

Documents obtained by The Daily Caller show that U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar helped keep a multibillion-dollar Ponzi schemer out of prison in the late 1990s when she was the County Attorney in Hennepin County, Minnesota.

That financial criminal, Tom Petters, presided over companies whose employees gave Klobuchar $8,500 for her re-election campaign, and would later contribute more than $120,000 toward her U.S. Senate run.

One of those companies’ vice presidents was Ted Mondale, a former state senator and son of former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale. Before taking office as Hennepin County Attorney, Klobuchar was a partner at the Minneapolis law form of Dorsey & Whitney, where Walter Mondale has practiced law since 1987.

Perhaps because of the lure of Petters’ campaign cash or his deep connection to Minnesota Democratic politics, Klobuchar used the power of her office in 1999 to ensure Petters was not charged with financial crimes. And despite significant evidence against him, she cleared the way for Petters to build his multibillion-dollar illegal empire by prosecuting only his early co-conspirators.

One of those co-conspirators, Richard Hettler, told The Daily Caller that Klobuchar was aware of what Petters was doing, yet willingly accepted campaign donations from Petters’ company and its employees.
5124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Claire McCaskill’s husband cut business deals in Senate Dining Room on: October 19, 2012, 06:00:37 PM
Whistle-blower audio: Sen. Claire McCaskill’s husband cut business deals in Senate Dining Room

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill’s husband used the U.S. Senate Dining Room to cut business deals selling tax credits tied to stimulus money, a whistle-blowing executive inside his company alleged on an audio recording exclusively obtained by The Daily Caller.

“The thing that irritated me about this was he [McCaskill’s husband Joseph Shepard] entertained these outside investors in the Senate Dining Room,” the whistle-blower said. “That’s where he closed the deal.”
5125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Calif. official whounder-reported unemployment was Obama campaign donor on: October 19, 2012, 05:55:50 PM
Who knew?

Calif. official whose agency under-reported unemployment stats was Obama campaign donor

Marty Morgenstern, the secretary of the California agency that substantially under-reported unemployment claims last week, contributed to President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential election campaign, The Daily Caller has learned.

On Oct. 11, the federal government reported that weekly jobless claims were down significantly, suggesting a dramatic national increase in economic growth and a steep decline in layoffs.  Jobless claims, according to the Labor Department, had fallen by 30,000 to 339,000, their lowest level since February 2008.

The good news for the Obama administration spread quickly, with outlets like CNN and Bloomberg declaring, “Jobless claims fall to four-year low.”

But within hours, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Labor Department analysts announced that one major state had failed to fully document jobless claims. They declined to name the state.

Speculation among market watchers and economists initially focused on California, but the state’s Employment Development Department strongly denied that it had failed to properly document the data.

“Reports that California failed to fully report data to the U.S. Department of Labor, as required, are incorrect and irresponsible,” California Employment Development Department director Pam Harris said in a statement last week. “The California Employment Development Department, which administers the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program in the state, has reported all UI claims data and submitted the data on time.”

Early Thursday, the federal government finally revealed that California had, in fact, under-reported jobless data, skewing the national jobless claims results. This week’s updated jobs report corrected the error and showed unemployment claims spiking back up by 46,000 to 388,000.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Morgenstern to lead the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency in 2011. The state agency oversees the Employment Development Department.

According to campaign disclosure records, Morgenstern donated $4,600 — the maximum amount allowed by law — to the 2008 Obama camapaign, beginning with a $1,000 contribution to Obama for America in February 2008. Morgenstern followed up that donation with a $1,300 contribution in June, and then a $2,300 payout in early September.

On all three disclosures, Morgenstern indicated that he was either ”not employed” or “retired.”

According to the Sacramento Business Journal, however, Morgenstern was employed since 2003 as a consultant for the liberal University of California education system.

California officials have denied wrongdoing.
5126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 18, 2012, 11:43:34 PM
"...[Romney] doesn't [connect with voters], and you blame someone else"

My view is different than Crafty's in this sense, I am mostly satisfied with the Romney campaign and especially his debate performances including the second.  I thought Romney looked very well prepared for every question asked and gave clear and persuasive answers to each, under difficult circumstances.  There is always more he could have said, time permitting - but time didn't. I thought President Obama was way out of line in terms of false and deceptive charges and denials, a follow up for another thread.  I blame the moderator for failure in her assigned and agreed role.

"You are wrong on many things, Doug."  - I like to hear this.) I regularly hope I am wrong but end up disappointed.  wink

The Michelle Obama applause accusation seems to be true.  The audio has a lead partisan clapping loudly and a camera still shot indicates it was the First Lady - unless she brought her hands together to pray.  

NY Daily News

The real point though IMO was that the applause was one-sided and the so-called moderator did nothing about it.  It just compounded what was happening at the 'moderator' table.

Professional umpires assigning different strike zones to different hitters and pitchers...  I know it happens.  Is it professional?  

"[binders of women's resumes] would have been given to the winner of the election, no matter [who] it was."

If the story is a lie or embellishment, please link; plenty of staffers should know.  

The main point was the hiring, not the binders IMO.  He was ranked number one in the nation at putting women in top positions.  A Democratic Governor would have hired the same staff as a Republican Governor or hire just as many women?  We don't know that.  
5127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 18, 2012, 10:38:17 AM
Her wikipedia entry says Crowley is divorced with grown children. 

I noticed the President was quick and sure with questioners' names.  I was impressed. 

...there are reports that Crowley was at the White House on Sunday. 

They were very clear at the beginning that the questions were known only to Crowley and her staff.  If she violated that there would be quite a consequence for her - to move up even higher in Washington media social circles.
5128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Worst Moderating Presidential debate history, it was ugly on: October 18, 2012, 10:03:29 AM
The time difference in the first and the second is starting to accumulate when it is so blatant in the third and when it all goes the same direction.  The time was crucial in the third because nearly all of Obama's time from my point of view was spent making either false or misleading statement about his opponent or false and misleading statements about his own record.  Time is needed to rebut these and still answer the primary question of him in the debate, what would a Romney administration look like.

I did not notice Bigdog use the word 'professional' associated with the performance Candy, though I may have missed it.  Maybe we all agree here, except for the noted digression.

I wrote notes to myself throughout the debate and after question 6, I wrote that she was trying to keep order.  By question 9, by my count, she had horribly interjected herself into the debate as a participant.  She asked Gov Romney, "Why have you changed your mind?" on ak-47s, covering for a rebuttal point she saw the President miss.  Really? What pressing federal issue is out there about guns right now other than the dead Mexicans and US border guard scandal.  Looked to me like she was trying to help Obama carry Colorado using the movie theater shooting for political gain and Obama missed his opening. She needed this point made to show why she chose the question.

Then the "self-deport" followup, completely uncalled for, and all the other one sided interruptions.  "SIT DOWN GOV ROMNEY."  When did she say sit down Mr. President.  It was a moment of ugliness.  Are they not allowed to stand even during their opponent's time??

She made NO attempt to stop applause that real moderators don't tolerate.  The one-sided applause started to give away the phoniness of the setup; she was the one who picked the people by knowing their questions.  Little did we know who was applauding.

Then the doozy, sticking her nose in to call Romney a liar after all the misinformation she had tolerated to that point.  And she was wrong on her facts.
UPDATE: On that point the President and the moderator seemed to be openly collaborating.

That drew the biggest applause.  Turns out it was Michelle Obama leading the applause.  The television audience did not know that.  Instead of nipping it in the bud she blushed because it was she they were applauding.  Does the moderator have no control over the partisans allowed in the room?  If not, why are they allowed in the room?

She made a promise at the beginning that time to followup would be available at the end, but that wasn't true.  Pundits outside the room were keeping track of time discrepancies and she wasn't.  Instead she was looking for her openings to get herself in on one more big play for her team.  Did someone see it differently than that?!?

A professional hockey ref calls offside on Wayne Gretszky the same as he calls it on a first year unknown.  This lady didn't.  This replacement ref displayed her team's uniform and threw herself into it instead of moderating.  Participants get judged on style, not just substance.

Small time differences wouldn't normally matter except that our media and debate scorers count any lie or deception that is not immediately refuted as a debate point won.  And if refuted, they still score the point to the liar/deceiver because he had successfully put his opponent on defense.

Speaking of partisans, we have Bob Schieffer coming up next.

The Republican party and candidates may have signed on to a lineup of lefties for moderators because they were offered no other choice.  Out here in the heartland we did not give up our right to whine about Washington media lefties trying to control the process.

"...she wouldn't fit in Mitt's binder?"

Romney does exactly what every liberal would want any employer to do on pay equity.  He sought out, found and hired more women at senior high paying jobs, and Obama didn't.  For that, what do they do?  Thank Romney, honor him? No, ridicule.  Make fun of the process, or a word missing in a time limited sentence used to describe the process.  I assume he referred to binders of women's applications or resumes. - Hey guys, we found another shiny object! - Every minute that you visualize the binders of women you are not seeing 23 million unemployed, 47 million and still growing numbers of people dependent on food stamps and 1 in 6 in poverty.

'That's enough'.  'Sit down Gov. Romney.'  Most people give their dog more respect.
5129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care, covering pre-conditions on: October 17, 2012, 11:52:51 PM
"some 82,000 have the problem that was cited as the principal reason for spending $1.8 trillion over the next 10 years and in the process turning the entire health-care system upside down."

Without all the bureaucracy and extra-constitutional powers we could have just given them each $22 million and let them buy healthcare of their own choosing.
5130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: October 17, 2012, 11:41:30 PM
Considering that we have delayed foreclosures and the fought off a full correction in the housing market, and considering that we don't want to repeat the mistakes of the last decade namely a big bubble market in housing that had to burst, isn't the news of dramatically increasing housing starts in an artificial glut market actually bad economic news?
5131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 17, 2012, 10:46:27 PM
I'll grant you that Raddatz was more skillful in her partisanship than "Candy". I'm curious if that her nickname because she consumes bags of it daily?

GM, you are so mean!  I was going to post that she may rent two airline seats when she flies, and has nightmares about the new portions that the first lady and Bloomberg would like to impose on us all.

But that too would be mean, detract from substance, and so I decided not to post it.
5132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pres. Obama opens up a very big lead in one key constituency group on: October 17, 2012, 10:35:31 PM
Pres. Obama opens up a big lead in one key constituency group:

If every members of this group were to show up on Nov 6 and cast his or her ballot, Pres. Obama would win at least 36 states and maybe more.  What group is this that holds the balance in this election?

Unlikely voters.

Gallup, for example, had Obama leading consistently until they made the switch from registered voters to likely voters.  Today they have Romney leading by 6 among likely voters, but only by 2% with registered voters.  The key to the Obama victory 2012 rests solely in the hands of these unlikely voters.  Sure they are unenthused, unemployed, they lost their income, jobs and wealth, but if they want to stay out of the workforce and well compensated they will need to get off their food stamp enhanced derriere and get out and cast that crucial vote in support of the status quo.   wink

Only you, the likely voter, can defeat them by doing what you do better than anyone else: show up and vote!
5133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - "SIT DOWN, MR. ROMNEY" on: October 17, 2012, 10:17:49 AM
Obj, Joseph Curl has this right.  Besides interjecting herself as selective factchecker and participant in the debate she should have said at the end, as promised, to Mitt Romney, you have 4 minutes to use any way that you like, and I'm sorry for saying "Sit down Mr. Romney" and cutting you off disproportionately.  And she should have tacked on 8 more minutes for previous debate discrepancies.

You would think they would be more sensitive to even the appearance of bias, instead of making it a main feature of the program.

I don't watch cable but I see now why CNN's ratings are down.
5134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Astronomy on: October 17, 2012, 09:58:37 AM
Planet same size as Earth found right outside solar system

Published October 16, 2012

Associated Press

    Nearby Planet_Angu.jpg

    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.

Read more:

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."

Read more:
5135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 17, 2012, 09:34:11 AM
Pleased to see the WSJ lead editorial followup on the discussion here.  Excerpts:

    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.
5136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential, 2nd debate on: October 17, 2012, 12:31:20 AM
A CBS survey gave the debate to Obama by 37 percent to 30 percent Romney, 33% tie. But the respondents found by almost a 2-1 majority that Romney won on the economy.
5137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2nd debate: What did each need to do and did he do it? on: October 17, 2012, 12:21:52 AM
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."

Some quips:

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.
5138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The US Congress; Congressional races: RCP has 11 tossup races in the Senate! on: October 15, 2012, 10:46:08 AM
Republicans lead in the House.

Presidential race is now extremely close with the popular vote poll average exactly tied.

Either party could win the majority in the Senate.  The Senate with no toss ups right now goes to the Dems 52-48, with Republicans picking up only net one seat.

Neither party has any chance at 60 votes needed to control the Senate or the 67 votes needed in the Senate to turn our sovereignty over to the UN.

Get ready for (more) divided government where nothing good gets done.

Our last Senate race here was decided by 300 votes on recount.  Now is the time to get out and help somebody win one of these close elections!
5139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - Charles Schwaub writes: Who Can Ignite Growth? on: October 15, 2012, 10:32:53 AM

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.
5140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - 2nd debate preview on: October 15, 2012, 10:17:49 AM
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.
5141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - 2nd debate this week on: October 15, 2012, 09:47:01 AM
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.

Sorry, what were the similarities again?

5142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tech in GOTV on: October 15, 2012, 08:51:36 AM
"Campaigns Mine Personal Lives to Get Out Vote"

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.  )
5143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: October 14, 2012, 09:16:15 PM
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."

Better that you say that than one of us.  wink
5144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy (in the Presidential campaign) on: October 14, 2012, 10:33:43 AM
"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.  
5145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy False question - The $5 trillion tax revenue static loss on: October 12, 2012, 09:54:29 AM
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.
5146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Paul Ryan, Ryan looks presidential. For real. on: October 12, 2012, 08:32:11 AM
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.
5147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: CBO on TARP on: October 12, 2012, 08:27:28 AM
"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?
5148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - VP Debate on: October 11, 2012, 09:56:57 PM
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.

5149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Paul Ryan on: October 11, 2012, 08:05:19 PM
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...
5150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Occasionally Thomas Friedman makes sense on: October 11, 2012, 01:31:29 PM
It’s Not Just About Us
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.
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