"They miss growth when it is absent. They don't appreciate it so much when it is happening."
Voters want growth, not income redistribution by Michael Barone
"A 2008 election widely regarded as heralding a shift toward the more government-friendly public sentiment of the New Deal and Great Society eras seems to have yielded just the reverse."
So writes William Galston, Brookings Institution scholar and deputy domestic adviser in the Clinton White House, in the New Republic. Galston, one of the smartest political and policy analysts around, has strong evidence for this conclusion.
He cites a recent Gallup poll showing that while 82 percent of Americans think it's extremely or very important to "grow and expand the economy" and 70 percent say it's similarly important to "increase equality of opportunity for people to get ahead," only 46 percent say it's important to "reduce the income and wealth gap between the rich and the poor" and 54 percent say this is only somewhat or not important.
In addition, by a 52 to 45 percent margin, Americans see the gap between the rich and the poor as an acceptable part of the economic system rather than a problem that needs to be fixed. In 1998, during the high-tech economic boom, Americans took the opposite view by the same margin.
As Galston notes, these findings suggest that Obama's much praised speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, decrying inequality, "may well reduce his chances of prevailing in a close race." Class warfare politics, as I have noted, hasn't produced a Democratic presidential victory in a long, long time.
Where Galston misses a step, I think, is that he seems to regard the move away from redistributionist politics in this time of economic stagnation as an anomaly in need of explanation. He seems to share the Obama Democrats' assumption that economic distress would make Americans more supportive of, or amenable to, big government policies.
That, after all, is what we have all been taught by the great and widely read New Deal historians, and that lesson has been absorbed by generations of politicians and political pundits.
I believe that historians have taught the wrong lessons about the 1930s. And I believe there is a plausible and probably correct reason why economic distress has apparently moved Americans to be less rather than more supportive of big government.
To understand the lessons of the 1930s, you need to read the election returns. Franklin Roosevelt's big victory in 1932 was a massive rejection of Republicans across the board. Republicans lost huge ground in urban and rural areas, in the West and Midwest and most of the East, even in their few redoubts in the South.
In 1936 FDR won re-election by a slightly larger margin, but with a different coalition. The rural and small town North returned to its long Republican allegiance, while Democrats made further big gains among immigrants and blue collar workers in big cities and factory towns.
The New Deal historians attributed these gains to Roosevelt's economic redistribution measures -- high tax rates on high earners, the pro-union Wagner Act, Social Security. These laws, the so-called Second New Deal, were passed in 1935. They replaced the different, non-redistributionist policies of the First New Deal that stopped the deflationary downward spiral underway when Roosevelt took office.
The problem with the historians' claims is that the shifts in the electorate apparent in 1936 also are apparent in the 1934 off-year elections. Democrats won big that year, but compared to 1932 they lost ground in rural areas and small towns and gained much ground in big cities and factory towns.
The 1936 realignment happened in 1934. It could not have been caused by redistributionist Second New Deal legislation, because it hadn't been passed before November 1934.
So why should voters be leery of economic redistribution in times of economic distress?
Perhaps because they realize that they stand to gain much more from a vibrantly growing economy than from redistribution of a stagnant economic pie. A growing economy produces many unanticipated opportunities. Redistribution edges toward a zero-sum game.
They miss growth when it is absent. They don't appreciate it so much when it is happening.
Roosevelt's 1934 and 1936 victories were won in periods of growth. After the economy shifted into recession in 1937, New Deal Democrats fared much worse, and Roosevelt won his third and fourth terms as a seasoned wartime leader, not an economic redistributor.
Lesson: If you want redistribution, you better first produce growth. Which the Obama Democrats' policies have failed to do.
"some good things on the horizon (e.g. the US becoming the Saudi Arabia of natural gas) seems sound"
All are opposed by the current administration. Wesbury is arguing about what economic growth will be coming into the election, warning Republicans not to count on bad economic news at election time. Real recovery however hinges on a change in the policy arrow coming out of the election.
We are arguing essentially about how many tenths of a percent, within the margin of measurement error, we will be above or below 'breakeven growth' this year. Economic growth coming out of a hole this deep should be twice that, more like 6-8% of sustained growth.
Wesbury is prognosticating what to do in this environment instead of what to do about this environment, which is fine - if you are in charge of deck chairs on the Titanic.
GM's examples of what could go wrong are in addition to the general measurements posted of global stagnation. What is the US doing or proposing to do to lead the world out of this? Federalizing police and fire, defunding social security, queuing health care and further debasement of our currency? That oughtta do it.
What do they call it, 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner? Or is it one wolf and 2 sheep with the wolf counting the votes - same outcome.
"if Bremer did not make the foolish decision to disband the Iraqi Army, we wouldn't be needed in Iraq to maintain the peace."
There never was some easy answer for all of this.
"I'm not against 20,000 troops remaining."
Yes, that is the concept. Pull back, but maintain some presence and some readiness. Dems used to argue for pulling our troops to the 'horizon', not complete abandonment.
"If Iraq falls apart now - screw em."
Iraq is globally strategic. If Iraq falls apart, we are all screwed. What we fear from Iran is twice as large and more than twice as dangerous when Iran dominates Iraq.
"I never heard a plea for us to stay"
See Crafty's Allawi post!
"For years, we have sought a strategic partnership with America to help us build the Iraq of our dreams: a nationalist, liberal, secular country, with democratic institutions and a democratic culture. But the American withdrawal may leave us with the Iraq of our nightmares: a country in which a partisan military protects a sectarian, self-serving regime rather than the people or the Constitution; the judiciary kowtows to those in power; and the nation’s wealth is captured by a corrupt elite rather than invested in the development of the nation...Unless America acts rapidly to help create a successful unity government, Iraq is doomed."
Pres. Obama lost Nebraska by 15 points in 2008 and isn't nearly as popular now. Every prominent Republican in NE is vying for the Senate seat or considering the opportunity. Against these headwinds, Ben Nelson age 70, perhaps the most moderate of the remaining Dem Senators has decided that more time with family sounds better than defending his votes in Washington for Obamacare and the rest of the agenda back in the heartland.
Wash Post says Dems are left scrambling. The Dem reaction in Nebraska to this is irrelevant; they have lost this seat. The party in Washington would need to change if they wanted to be competitive in states like this. I wonder how often Reid and Schumer ask each other, how will their government-centric agenda play in Nebraska?
December 27, 2011 by John Hinderaker - Powerlineblog.com
It is time for Republicans to get serious. After flirting with just about every candidate in a large presidential field, is is time to come home to the one candidate who has the demonstrated ability to run the largest organization in the United States, the Executive Branch of the federal government; who has never been touched by the slightest taint of scandal; whose success in the private sector makes him the outsider that Republicans say they are looking for; and who has by far the best chance of beating President Obama: Mitt Romney.
The “anybody but Romney” mentality that grips many Republicans is, in my view, illogical. It led them to embrace Rick Perry, who turned out to be unable to articulate a conservative thought; Newt Gingrich, whose record is far more checkered than Romney’s; Ron Paul, whose foreign policy views–indistinguishable from those of the far left–and forays into racial intolerance make him unfit to be president; and Michele Bachmann, whom I like very much, but who is more qualified to be a rabble-rouser than a chief executive.
The knock on Romney is that he is “not a real conservative.” Well, I am sure he is not as conservative as I am. But he has a solid record of conservative accomplishment as governor of Massachusetts, and if you check out his economic plan, you will find it to be entirely Reaganite, updated for the crisis we face today. The “Romney isn’t conservative” meme is, frankly, a little weird: in December 2007, National Review endorsed him for president. Has he somehow gotten more liberal since then?
In electing a president, we are choosing someone to run the Executive Branch. A leader, to be sure, but not a speechmaker, a bomb-thrower, a quipster, a television personality or an exemplar of ideological purity. At this point in our history, the United States desperately needs a leader who understands the economy, the world of business, and, more generally, how the world works. We have had more than enough of a leader who was good at giving speeches and was ideologically pure, but who had no clue how the economy works or how the federal government can be administered without resort to graft and corruption. It is time for a president who knows what he is doing.
Romney was not my first choice in this election cycle–Tim Pawlenty was. But Pawlenty’s campaign failed to catch fire, mostly because GOP voters saw him as an “establishment” candidate; that is, perhaps, someone who won tough elections and governed successfully. Around the time Pawlenty’s campaign ended, John Thune gave serious consideration to jumping into the race. If he had done so, I would have supported him, but he didn’t. [UPDATE: I perhaps should add that I know both Pawlenty and Thune personally, consider them friends and have enormous regard for them. I have met Romney and have spent a little time with him, but not much. My preference for Pawlenty and Thune was largely driven by personal acquaintance; I feel that I know them well enough to have confidence in where they would take the country, as president.] There was no real reason to think that other Republicans like Paul Ryan, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio would get into the race, and they didn’t. You can’t get elected president if you don’t run for the office, and of those who are running, Mitt Romney is the best, by a very wide margin.
If this sounds lukewarm, it isn’t meant to. Let’s itemize Romney’s virtues.
First, he is a tremendously smart, competent and hard-working person. Many people do not realize what it takes to achieve the extraordinary business success to which Romney devoted most of his adult life. We have, currently, a president who is not particularly bright, knows little of business, has no idea how to run an organization–never having done so before 2009–and would rather golf than work. Replacing this cipher with Mitt Romney, one of the most capable men of his generation, would be an almost unimaginable improvement.
Second, Romney has led an exemplary life. He is, by any ordinary measure, an exceptionally good man. Maybe you care about this, maybe you don’t. My own view is that character counts, usually in ways you can’t foresee. Moreover, to put a purely pragmatic spin on it, the Democrats have nothing on him. Sure, they can mount an anti-Mormon whispering campaign, and they will. But it is highly unlikely that bigotry alone can derail a presidential candidate, especially one as upright as Romney.
Third, Romney has exactly the expertise we need for the next four years. Our country faces an enormous economic and fiscal crisis, brought on by years of politically-motivated fecklessness. We desperately need a president who understands why economic growth occurs and how jobs are created. The Democrats know nothing but payoffs and cronyism; who gets to stay the longest aboard a sinking ship. If ever we needed a president with Mitt Romney’s skills and expertise, that time is now.
Fourth, Romney can and will, I think, beat Barack Obama. The purpose of a political party is to win elections. It would be terminally stupid for the Republican Party to nominate a candidate whose weaknesses more or less guarantee defeat when it has, readily at hand, a candidate who can win. Ideological movements are another animal entirely. The purpose of the conservative movement is to advance conservative ideals, not necessarily to win elections for a particular party. Some conservative ideologues may choose to argue for a purer candidate (although I am not sure who that would be) in service of the long-run interests of the movement. But that is not the role of the Republican Party. The goal of the Republican Party is to win in 2012.
So: I endorse Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee for president in 2012. I think he can win, and I think there is a real chance that he could be a great president. Perhaps the man and the hour will meet, as with Churchill in 1940 and Reagan in 1980. But at a bare minimum, Romney can beat Barack Obama, and will be an infinitely better president. The time has come for Republicans to coalesce behind their best candidate.
Newt needed some good news. Romney IMO penalized for not putting specifics into his plan.
Newt Gingrich Endorsed by Economist Arthur Laffer
by Joy Lin | December 27, 2011
Dyersville, IA - Renowned economist, father of The Laffer Curve and supply-side economics, and architect of the Ronald Reagan economic plan, Arthur Laffer, announced his endorsement Tuesday of Newt Gingrich for President of the United States.
"Newt has the best plan for jobs and economic growth of any candidate in the field," said Laffer.
"Like Ronald Reagan's tax cuts and pro-growth policies, Newt's low individual and corporate tax rates, deregulation and strong dollar monetary policies will create a boom of new investment and economic growth leading to the creation of tens of millions of new jobs over the next decade. Plus, Newt's record of helping Ronald Reagan pass the Kemp Roth tax cuts and enacting the largest capital gains tax cut in history as Speaker of the House shows he can get this plan passed and put it into action."Mr. Laffer will join Newt Gingrich in Storm Lake, IA Thursday for a formal press conference announcing the endorsement.
"Rebuilding the America we love requires returning to job creation and economic growth. We need big changes to fix the economy, and I am ready to stand up to Barack Obama's class warfare rhetoric to make the case that letting the American people keep more of what they earn is the best way to create jobs."
Listening to opposition radio today I learned that Newt (allegedly) did not make the ballot in Virginia because of the new, tighter rules on voter registration. He submitted 12,500 signatures they said but 10,000 signatures of registered voters is required to make the ballot and he came up short. Same list 4 years ago would have been fine, but the rules changed. They were finding the irony quite enjoyable. (Unverified, I am unable to find a link.)
Thanks bigdog for the followup. I have mixed feelings about the franking privilege. Some communication makes sense. It should not look like a campaign brochure.
I don't oppose the President for traveling on our dime; It's a perk of the job he won in the election. I criticized him for lying on our dime.
They are supposed to separate out campaign stops from work. He denies any of it is campaign because he is unopposed in the primaries.
This speech is partly doing his job, selling his proposal, then it crosses the line. If he wants to tell his side of the story, that is fine. When he stops acting Presidential, he can expect a little criticism. We have a thread for that. Here he says of Republicans:
"And you got their plan: Let's have dirtier air, dirtier water..." And the partisan crowd boos.
I can't think of anything equally mean and false that elected Republicans would say about their opponents. What would you find to be similar? Thinking of the last 3 Republican Presidents, Reagan took little jabs at his opponents but always acknowledged their good intentions. Rush Limbaugh has said the economic destruction is intentional, but that is to compare a radio show host with the President of the United States.
"How do you feel about ... (until recently) common use among presidential candidates to accept public funding? "
I don't like publicly funding campaigns. I like full disclosure.
"Do you take the same offense when GOP candidates use taxpayer funds to get (re)elected?"
I am even more offended when my own side is guilty of being jackasses in their rhetoric and violate their own principles in their actions. Earmark scandals come to mind. I can't understand why Republicans won't try to draw a perfect distinction against their opponents on many points. (A concept we call RINOs, aka 'elected Republicans'.)
In the speech, where does the President explain the underlying economic principle that is supposed to make his plan work? Federalizing police and fire? Without attacking, he has no story, no speech. What are the odds (1/50?) that he is standing in perhaps the purplest swing state while he makes his attack / hate speech.
What he calls 'dirtier air' is what God put in your exhale. What a deceitful jerk. The only dispute on water that I know of (besides the Corps of Engineers flooding the heartland) is the recent opposition to fracking, a process that has not contaminated any water supply according to all state regulatory agencies involved. Is there a point he makes about his own plan or his opponents' plan that is true?
I admit to enjoying a cheap shot here - deservedly - at someone who travels at taxpayer expense to tell the nation that anyone who opposes him wants dirtier air, dirtier water, rewards only to the rich, etc. Of course she was just using proper respect to call him Mr. President and he was perhaps correct to take it as a personal question. He was smart enough to recognize the flippancy and narcissism in his first answer as he told it and quickly added that he wished he learned to speak fluent Spanish, which besides political advantage would give him better ability to communicate with the American people.
Although he is vacationing with family in paradise, flying on separate schedules without financial consequence, this is a time distinctly marked with an under-performing economy and immense danger in the world. His first thought he says is that it would be nice to be able to play an instrument. I don't believe him. I think he would kill for a decent golf game, but that isn't something he is willing to discuss.
Not likely to be asked by Barbara Walters about his shortcomings, but had she asked me I would maybe have gone the route of wishing he had read at least one book on economics that did not oppose our economic system, wishing he had ANY executive experience at all other than running his campaigns or that he had any foreign policy experience or expertise coming into this most difficult job, none of which are regrets of his.
He was not about to give up any material to opponents on real shortcomings, and as CCP has mentioned in personality disorder observations, he may not know of any.
"Harry, I have a gift..." online.wsj.com/article/SB124105013014171063.html
What do you call it when someone steals someone else's money secretly? Theft. What do you call it when someone takes someone else's money openly by force? Robbery. What do you call it when a politician takes someone else's money in taxes and gives it to someone who is more likely to vote for him? Social Justice. - Thomas sowell
Inside Syria's Death Zone Assad's Regime Hunts People in Homs DER SPIEGEL
The regime in Damascus is using snipers to hunt down its own people. Rebels on the ground in besieged Homs, the site of some of the most extreme brutality, say the international community is hesitating to help Syrians out of fear that it will trigger a civil war. But the threat is merely propaganda from ruler Bashar Assad, they claim.
When the haze dissipates in the late afternoon light, and when the last unfortunate souls hurry across the open space, running in a zigzag pattern, hunting season begins on Cairo Street. There is random shooting all day long at this spot, but from this moment on the shooting becomes targeted. A few people make it to the other side on this day, but one does not. He screams and falls to the ground as he is hit. He was carrying a loaf of bread, something that was no longer available on his side of Cairo Street.
Pedestrians are rarely targeted in the morning. But beginning in the afternoon and continuing throughout the night, the wide, straight street that separates the Khalidiya and Bayada neighborhoods becomes a death zone. That's when they -- the snipers working for Syrian intelligence, who are nothing more than death squads, and the Shabiha killers, known as "the ghosts," mercenaries who are paid daily wages and often earn a little extra income by robbing their victims -- shoot at anything that moves.
The map of Homs is a topography of terror these days. Entire sections of Syria's third-largest city are besieged. Hundreds of thousands have become the hostages of a regime whose president, Bashar Assad, insisted with a chuckle in an interview with America's ABC News, that only a madman would order his forces to shoot at his own people.
What began nine months ago as a peaceful protest against the dictatorship of the Assad dynasty has since become a campaign against the people by the regime -- a regime that, for 41 years, was accustomed to using brutality to enforce submission. Since it realized that this brutality was no longer sufficient, it decided to use even more -- and then even more when the resistance continued to grow. There are no negotiations. In the heavily guarded downtown section of Homs, where the regime feigns an eerie mood of normality for foreign visitors, it has put up signs that read: "The continuation of dialogue guarantees stability."
One of the Republicans landed a punch recently in the campaign about the attack on Christmas, and like clockwork the Obama family was off to church, first time in a long time, on what is typically a golf day.
In support of African American heritage, the Obamas are now honoring Kwanzaa this holiday season. Good grief. My experience in the black inner city and with successful African Americans I know through sports, friendships and business is that the holiday most are celebrating this season is ... Christmas. African Americans as a group are more religious and more likely Christian than the population as a whole. (http://www.christianpost.com/news/african-americans-most-religiously-devout-group-36736/)
"Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season.
Today marks the beginning of the week-long celebration honoring African American heritage and culture through the seven principles of Kwanzaa -- unity, self determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
We celebrate Kwanzaa at a time when many African Americans and all Americans reflect on our many blessings and memories over the past year and our aspirations for the year to come.
And even as there is much to be thankful for, we know that there are still too many Americans going through enormous challenges and trying to make ends meet. But we also know that in the spirit of unity, or Umoja, we can overcome those challenges together.
As families across America and around the world light the red, black, and green candles of the Kinara this week, our family sends our well wishes and blessings for a happy and healthy new year."
"Next fall, thousands of students on college campuses will attempt to register to vote and be turned away. Sorry, they will hear, you have an out-of-state driver’s license. Sorry, your college ID is not valid here. Sorry, we found out that you paid out-of-state tuition, so even though you do have a state driver’s license, you still can’t vote."
a) If they are away from home on election day, they can vote absentee back home - like adults do.
b) If they like where they live and are all grown up ready to vote and this is home now, not their parents' house, they can change their driver's license to their new address within 30 days of moving as would be otherwise required by law. School starts by Sept 1. Election day is in Nov. That ought to do it.
c) They could take notice that the campaign was in full swing 1.5 YEARS before election day and make a decision to vote, where to vote and how to comply with identification rules before the last day.
Many of these kids have a year of AP-US History, AP Physics and 2 years of AP Calculus before they turn 18 or enter college. How about we make rules for everyone that protects the integrity of the process and let them comply. Perhaps they are too busy to deal with real world realities; that may explain why they come in and vote like their professors until they find the world is different than they were taught. Somewhere in their studies perhaps they came across places on earth throughout history where it really was hard to vote.
How come student loans aren't dischargeable in bankruptcy? That sounds like a racket. They overspent like a credit card, more than they could afford. The lender extended irresponsible amounts of lending. I don't fully understand bankruptcy but if some debts aren't fully dischargeable, maybe none should be.
How soon until the income inequality attacks bleed over to education inequality? Colleges and universities pay cash for ACT scores and other achievements including sports and music, which in all 3 examples spill over disproportionately to rich kids. How is that fair?
As mentioned, I am re-learning the world of college cost as father of a H.S senior. She doesn't like hearing it but my 4 years, done in 3 or so, cost less than her upcoming spring break orchestra trip of one week. The rest of the learning came from the school of hard knocks.
The bubble in numbers or false expectations upon graduation isn't new. The absurd cost structure is. It grows like health care costs I think because of third party pay. Maybe more like housing where the lender lends without checking or expecting to find income from the borrower. Worse than housing, the less able your family is to handle the debt, the more they will lend.
The answer ("Cognitive Dissonance of the Left") is to move the cost even further away from the person using the service. Let's make a 4 year degree "free"! Tax the people who go straight to work and never get college to pay for the others to pursue pre-med, gender studies and social welfare degrees - until no one goes straight to work or pays taxes.
Nothing contains costs like tying the price charged to the affordability of the purchaser of the product in a market. From a conservative side it would seem the answer is work and study and pay as you go with your own money, 4 years takes perhaps 8 or whatever it takes if the institutions cannot provide a first rate, full time education within the cost framework of what a middle class family can afford. When you finish, you actually have bettered yourself, and will understand both the value of the education and the value of productive work.
With work rules as we have and those coming with Obamacare and everything else, I believe we are destined to move away from a 'job' society and back toward a more entrepreneurial economy. If that happens, paper-based portion of the credentials will diminish in value compared to real knowledge and real ability to get real work of value done. Just my two cents.
Already answered, but Iran "building up a defense against us" did not strike me as a serious observation either. Poor defenseless Iran - aren't they the number one sponsor of terror in the world according to both Bush and Obama administrations (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8028064.stm), sponsor of Hezbollah, makers of IED's aimed at Americans, jailed hikers for pawns, threaten to blow Israel off the map, stormed our embassy - what else? I don't understand regretting the American loss of life in Iraq, a very large part of it directly attributable to actions by Iran, and then feeling ambivalent or sympathetic toward Iran. If you are sympathetic to Iran then you should be joyous for the American loss of life. They are.
My reaction earlier today reading: "I was for staying in Iraq just to keep the military tied up" was that my sense of humor does not come through well in the written word either. Subsequent post said he meant every word of it, whatever that means. It makes no sense to me but I don't see America as the destroyer. -------------- Is there any part of JDN's post that he didn't already express. It's enough because "enough is enough"..."Time for us move on." - Okay, you got your say and you got it 2, 3, 4 times saying I think the same thing. None of it IMO, even in repetition, addresses a very compelling moral point made by bigdog.
Merry Christmas to everyone so inclined to accept that as an offering of peace, love and friendship. I am grateful to be alive and to have family healthy and together for this tradition and celebration. I am grateful for the Catholic Church for welcoming me in as a non-member with their celebration of positive messages: Joy to the World, Glory to God in the Highest, peace be with you, forgive those who trespass against us, and Hark the Herald Angels sing. The music to me brings a beauty and emotion bursting with the pride of having my daughter and other family members among the musicians contributing to this important celebration for so many people. The lights of Christmas help to illuminate what would otherwise be the darkest days of the year.
Trump: "...profoundly vain and vapid man". - He touts his book 'Art of the Deal' as the best selling business book of all time. It is a terrible book, all about him and who he knows and nothing about helping the aspiring business person IMHO. GM is right, he won't run and expose himself to all the negative scrutiny. ------------- Romney interviewed by WSJ: I post this just as part of the get to know the candidates series. My theory on Mitt is that he was always more conservative than he admitted in Massachusetts politics. He can't ever say that and I have nothing really to support it. This interview exposes I think an efficiency interest in taxation which could lead to a pretty good policy if followed closely. (Elsewhere on the internet, George Will writes that Mitt, the safe candidate, has so far in his political career won 5 out of 22 primaries. The 1962 Mets with the most losses since 1899 had a higher winning percentage.)
On Taxes, 'Modeling,' and the Vision Thing The GOP front-runner says Iran is 'evil,' Newt Gingrich is wrong on judges, and he might consider a value-added tax. He also explains why his penchant for 'data' and analysis won't limit his ability to lead as president.
By JOSEPH RAGO AND PAUL A. GIGOT
Does Mitt Romney have a governing vision, a dominating set of political principles? It's the big question many voters say they have about the GOP presidential candidate. So when the former Massachusetts governor visited the Journal editorial board this week, we put it to him squarely, if perhaps tendentiously.
Voters see in him a smart man, an experienced executive, plenty of managerial expertise, great family—but they also see someone with the soul of a consultant who has 59 economic proposals because he lacks a larger vision of where he'd take the country. What does he think of that critique?
Mr. Romney has been garrulously genial for an hour, but here he shows a hint of annoyance. "I'm not running for president for 59 ideas," he says. "I'm not running for president because the country needs a management consultant or a manager. I'm not even the world's greatest manager. There are a lot better managers out there.
"People who know me from my years at Bain Capital, Bain and Company, the Olympics and Massachusetts wouldn't say he was successful because he was a great manager. They'd say I was successful because I was a leader, that I had a vision of how to change the enterprise, any one of those three enterprises, to make it greater."
And that vision is? Mr. Romney says he's running "to return America to the principles that we were founded upon." He goes on, expanding on his campaign theme, Believe in America: "We have a choice in America to be remaining a merit-based opportunity society that follows the Constitution, or to follow the path of Europe. And I'm the guy who believes in the former. I believe America got it right. I believe Europe got it wrong. I believe America must remain the leader of the world. . . . I am absolutely committed to an American century. I see this as an American century."
He concludes with even more force, "America doesn't need a manager. America needs a leader. The president is failing not just because he's a poor manager. It's because he doesn't know where to lead."
Voters will have to judge the quality of that vision, and how it compares with President Obama's. But there's no doubt it's a contrast with Mr. Romney's visit to our offices in 2007, which became legendary for its appeal to technocratic virtue.
In that meeting the candidate began by declaring "I love data" and kept on extolling data, even "wallowing in data," as a way to reform both business and government. He said he'd bring in management consultants to turn around the government, mentioning McKinsey, Bain and the Boston Consulting Group. Mr. Romney seemed to elevate the power of positive technocratic thinking to a governing philosophy.
So it is also notable that now Mr. Romney describes the core failure of Mr. Obama's economic agenda as faith in "a wise group of governmental bureaucrats" rather than political and economic freedom. "It is a refrain that we have seen throughout history where smart people are convinced that smart people ought to be able to guide an economy better than hordes of individuals pursuing their self-interest," Mr. Romney says, "the helter-skelter of free people choosing their course in life."
The Republican presidential candidate says he never intended to run for office again after 2008—"I went back and bought a home which was far too expensive and grandiose for the purposes of another campaign," he jokes. He was drawn back into public life amid Mr. Obama's bid to "fundamentally transform" the country, to use the president's own words, into "an entitlement society," to use Mr. Romney's.
"America can continue to lead the world from a values standpoint, from an economic standpoint, and from a military standpoint," Mr. Romney avers. He says the coming election represents "a very simple choice" between Mr. Obama's "European social democrat" vision and "a merit-based opportunity society—an American-style society—where people earn their rewards based upon their education, their work, their willingness to take risks and their dreams."
Yet on that score—risk-taking—Mr. Romney's campaign is sometimes timid, in particular on pro-growth tax reform. His 59-point economic plan, released this autumn, would maintain the Bush tax rates, cut the corporate rate to 25% from 35%, and eliminate the capital gains and dividend tax for those who earn less than $200,000.
But his plan doesn't say what a more efficient, competitive code would look like, only that it would be desirable. Even Mr. Obama's Simpson-Bowles deficit commission was bolder with its recommendations to lower rates across all brackets, including the top marginal rate to 23%, while broadening the tax base and cleaning out the IRS warren of deductions and subsidies.
Mr. Romney says he has "a positive inclination" toward Simpson-Bowles, with some exceptions, though the general framework "is a course that I would intend to pursue if I were to become president." But pressed for specifics, he says that "Partially, I'm burdened by my experience in the private sector. I worked for a number of years as you know in the management consulting field."
Here the technocrat re-emerges. Mr. Romney mentions pricing options for Corning Inc. fiber optics, a case study from his Bain salad days. "We spent six months with a team of people modeling and analyzing something as simple as that to make what we thought was the right decision," he recalls. "I tend to be highly analytical, driven by data, like to gather the input of a lot of people, and then model out the various outcomes that might occur under different scenarios."
When it comes to "something as extensive as the U.S. tax code," Mr. Romney continues, "I simply don't have the team . . . to be able to model out what will happen to all of the different income groups in the country, what will happen to the different sectors of our economy based on dramatic changes."
He notes that "my 59-point modest plan are immediate steps I'll take on Day One and that the steps I will take Day Two include moving toward a Simpson-Bowles-style lower tax rate, a broader base tax system. . . . People say, 'Well, let me see that plan.' It's like, 'That's going to take a lot more analysis and modeling than I have the capacity to do in the confines of a campaign.' But I will campaign for lower tax rates and a broader base of taxation."
What about his reform principles? Mr. Romney talks only in general terms. "Moving to a consumption-based system is something which is very attractive to me philosophically, but I've not been able to sufficiently model it out to jump on board a consumption-based tax. A flat tax, a true flat tax is also attractive to me. What I like—I mean, I like the simplification of a flat tax. I also like removing the distortion in our tax code for certain classes of investment. And the advantage of a flat tax is getting rid of some of those distortions."
Since Mr. Romney mentioned a consumption tax, would he rule out a value-added tax?
He says he doesn't "like the idea" of layering a VAT onto the current income tax system. But he adds that, philosophically speaking, a VAT might work as a replacement for some part of the tax code, "particularly at the corporate level," as Paul Ryan proposed several years ago. What he doesn't do is rule a VAT out.
Amid such generalities, it's hard not to conclude that the candidate is trying to avoid offering any details that might become a political target. And he all but admits as much. "I happen to also recognize," he says, "that if you go out with a tax proposal which conforms to your philosophy but it hasn't been thoroughly analyzed, vetted, put through models and calculated in detail, that you're gonna get hit by the demagogues in the general election."
That also seems to explain his refusal to propose cuts in individual tax rates, except for people who make less than $200,000, which not coincidentally is also Mr. Obama's threshold for defining "the rich."
"The president will characterize anyone running for office, and me in particular, as just in there to lower taxes for rich people, and that is not my intent," Mr. Romney says. "My intent is to simplify our tax code and create growth, and so I will also look to see whether the top one-half of 1% or one-thousandth of 1% or top 1% are still paying roughly the same share of the total tax burden that they have today. I'm not looking to lower the share paid for by the top, the top earners like myself."
But doesn't that merely concede Mr. Obama's philosophical argument? "No," Mr. Romney responds, clipping his sentences. "I'm just saying that I'm not looking to change the deal. I'm not looking to go after high-income individuals like myself. I'm not looking to differentially favor. I'm looking to provide a system which continues to recognize that people of higher income pay a larger portion of the tax burden and I'm not looking, I'm not running for office trying to find a way to lower the tax burden paid for by the very high, very highest income individuals. What I'm solving for is growth."
The growth point is crucial to a successful campaign, and Mr. Romney is betting that he can win by making a better case than Mr. Obama for how economies grow. But Mr. Romney also seems to think that by not calling for lower tax rates he can avoid a debate over taxes and equality. Mr. Obama won't let that happen. The danger for Mr. Romney—and other Republicans if he is the nominee—is that in trying to dodge the argument Mr. Romney will cede the point to Democrats and end up losing the growth argument too.
Mr. Romney is less equivocal on two other campaign issues—the judiciary and Iran. Asked about Newt Gingrich's proposals for constraining judges, he hits back hard. "The idea of the Congress being able to draw in the judiciary, subpoena . . . and remove courts is in my view a violation of the powers that is part of our constitutional heritage," he says. "I think Speaker Gingrich said that if he disagreed with the Supreme Court on an issue like gay marriage, he might decide not to carry it out. Well, if that's the case for President Gingrich, might not that be the case for President Obama?" He goes on to call the former House speaker's proposals "unusual in the extreme."
As for Iran's nuclear program, Mr. Romney sounds a note of moral certitude reminiscent of, well, George W. Bush and the axis of evil. "I see Iran's leadership as evil. When the president stands up and says that we have shared interests with all the people in the world, I disagree. There are people who are evil. There are people who have as their intent the subjugation and repression of other people; they are evil. America is good.
"I mean if we go back to Truman," he adds, he "was able to draw a line between Communism and freedom, and having drawn that line, America was able to define a foreign policy that has guided us well until this president. I applaud Ronald Reagan's brilliance in identifying the Soviet Union as an evil empire. I see Iran as intent on building, once again, an evil empire based upon the resources of the Middle East."
So what would he do about it? "I do not have a top secret security clearance at this stage to be able to define precisely what kinds of actions we could take." But he adds that "the range includes something of a blockade nature, to something of a surgical strike nature, to something of a decapitate the regime nature, to eliminate the military threat of Iran altogether."
Some experts have told him that "the surgical strike option" would be inadequate because Iran could retaliate against our friends in the region. "And therefore if we were to be serious about going after Iran's nuclear capacity, we would have to be prepared to go in a more aggressive way," he says. The only thing he rules out are "boots on the ground." If Mr. Romney gets the nomination, he seems prepared to make Iran and the bomb a major issue.
Which brings us back to the campaign and why he hasn't broken above 25% in the polls. The former governor seems unconcerned. He compares himself to John McCain, who he says had the same problem in 2008 but won the nomination. He says no other candidate has been able to maintain any higher support, and that his strategy is to steadily build on that "floor" of 25% caucus by primary until he's the nominee.
"Now I happen to believe that if I were to say some truly incendiary things, that there is in our party such, such anger about this president, for good reason, that if you're willing to say some really vehemently, incendiary things that you can get a lot of quick support," he says. But then "you're gonna kill yourself in the general election."
Mr. Romney rarely says incendiary things, which is why many Republicans think he is the most electable candidate. But it is also why he can be less than inspiring. His challenge—both to win the nomination and especially to beat Mr. Obama—is to persuade voters that the data-driven, economic-modeling, analytical manager can also be a leader.
"Leaving prematurely, allowing for sectarian violence, no matter what public opinion says, is in my opinion shirking the duty of the nation."
bigdog, Your post here yesterday is a great one. I agree 100% in the moral responsibility of: "If you break it, you fix it."
The vote to go to war was bipartisan and it was made very clear from the start that the effort was not simply to bring down Saddam but to take care in what replaces that regime.
Very shortly into the war when fighting became more difficult and more personal, it seems that dissent and political opportunism and publicly polling kept undermining the effort. We will never know what part of the loss of life and length of the war were attributable to our own lack of resolve which was certainly followed by the enemy combatants.
Where I differ with Sec Powell and others is the inference in that guiding principle that a) things were not broken when we arrived, and b) that we have the capability to fix it now.
Low violence under 100% oppression is a hard thing to judge. Add in the mass murders of his own people, attacks on 4 of his neighbors and a known history of supporting terrorists and terrorism, Iraq under Saddam was already broken.
My view at the time was that if your neighbor's house is on fire (rule by Saddam Hussein) and you have the only fire hose available (American military) then you pitch in and fight the fire until it is out. Further, you help with the rebuild rather than walk away from a family sitting in the ashes if they need your help, but not forever if they keep tearing down what you help build or are shooting at you while you work.
From my midwest armchair with no intelligence briefings it would be presumptuous to know what we should be doing in Iraq, but we didn't leave Europe or the Pacific with no presence or capability to follow up. Decisions based on polling and elections at home instead of events on the ground are very likely to be wrong.
The answer is do the right thing whatever that is and bring the American people with you great leadership with great communications. Following polls is the opposite of leadership.
Your intro Crafty makes more sense than the story. It is fine and well to go after misdeeds in the packaging of the loans, but it was the product inside the package, not the gift wrapping, that was the root of the problem. It is quite a bit bone-headed to say that blaming government policies for this debacle is a 'The Big Lie'. OTOH it means they know their attempt to paint it some other way is failing.
Government policies caused lenders to make loans on criteria other than creditworthiness and likelihood of repayment. If you find a hundred or a thousand felonies in the securities business packaging these loans, that does not change the underlying fact that this crisis was about lenders making bad loans based on rules/ lack of rules coming down from underwriting - which had become 90% federal.
Go back to the basics, what is a down payment? It is skin in the game. Your own skin earned by setting an alarm, going to work, taking all the crap that often entails, having the government chop down what you earned into take home and then refraining from spending it all on everything else you want and need over an extended period of time so that you have 20% down to buy a house you can call your own. How do you get to 20%? By getting your savings up and by keeping the price down. The skin of your own in the game and the fact that it forces the price to be both competitive and affordable also creates the cushion to allow for short term value fluctuations without panic before the larger appreciation over time hopefully sets in.
The last time I borrowed against the purchase of a house, it was nominally 5% down, really 10%. I borrowed 95%, paid a highway robbery firm (AIG?) for PMI for years as insurance and penalty for the 'small' down, I had to bring 10% cash to closing to cover the down and the costs and I had to prove none of that money came from borrowed funds. I came out okay when it went up 750% over the next 20 years (and then down!), but at the start the borrower is clearly more likely to walk with a smaller down payment combined with a larger debt burden. The added cost of PMI only make the total cost worse and default more likely.
From 20% down, to creating exceptions to that rule, then we went all the way to people borrowing 125% of the purchase price(?)! I had originators calling me to clear the judgments that their borrowers still owe on the last place they couldn't afford and roll it all into the new loan they would never pay back, with no down payment and closing costs all rolled in with the other extras and maybe a free trip to boot. All they had to do was sign, but the lender already knows their signature / their word is no good from their awareness of the judgements of not honoring previous commitments.
What could possibly go wrong? Everything. The borrower has no likelihood of payback and the value, price and loan amounts are all pure, inflated fiction. Add to it that the same thing is happening all over the neighborhood, the city and the nation, all certain to fail. Not because of packaging, because of bad loans from bad lending practices.
What changed during this time in the underlying math and science of good lending practices? Nothing. Then why did lending practices change and make a U-turn? Government policies. Government pressure. Government rules. Nothing else.
The real followup to this should be to look at all the other policies of government enacted during this time to see what else they f*kced up that will continue to bring down our economy and our republic.
Bringing comments from CCP yesterday over here for comment:
"Some great posts with good insight into Gingrich on this board. Thanks to all... This comment, "More damaging to his Presidential candidacy is that Mr. Gingrich doesn't seem to understand why anyone is offended." couple this with his statement the other day saying something about America is fed up with "the Washington establishment" is enough for me. I heard him say that and all I could think of is what a hypocrite - reminds me too much of Clinton hypocrisy and deceit."
- Yes, the Freddie Mac money can't be shaken off. It ties into all that is wrong.
(CCP continued:) "It really is astounding to hear so many Republicans come out in full force against him. Even people who are playing it safe and not speaking negatively publicly, are trashing him by their silence and their patent refusal to endorse him. I am not clear that any big names on the Repub side are for him. Has anyone heard a single prominent Repub leader come out and forcefully speak up for him - other than maybe John Bolton (who might be his secretary of state)?
- The Thomas Sowell piece and the Manchester NH endorsements were exceptions in Newt's favor with limited effects. People have kept their distance.
"I am shocked at how disliked he appears to be by anyone and everyone who knows him well. I for one cannot ignore this. As long as Romney can keep coming out swinging and show me he is in for the fight of this country's life - he is my man. I am almost there. Thoughts anyone?"
- The facts in the Mark Steyn piece and other National Review thrashings on Newt are all true as are the facts in the Sowell piece and Manchester Union Leader in his support. Newt gives us a mixed bag. He wants us to count his achievements from the same period where he wants us to discount his misdeeds. That is fine but every voter needs to sort that out.
GM summed it up with this!: "Oh look, a shiny orbital mirror!" It took me a while to get it, Newt gets bored or distracted and moves on. That isn't the right personality for the job at hand.
Romney poses the risk to conservatives of not being conservative enough on several fronts. His 59 point plan is missing a couple of things besides marketability, but it is non-threatening and gives him many specifics to work with when the heat for specifics really starts coming his way. Where his plan does not go far enough, those points can be put into the bills by a congress before they hit his desk -if we get the right congress. Winning the Presidency, House and Senate which are all possible this coming year and that will require the look of extremely steady and competent hands at the top of the ticket. Romney had small letdowns along the way but was the steadiest of the bunch. An unsteady or untrusted candidate at the top will have repercussions in the other races.
A moment ago Newt had all the early states. Rasmussen now has Romney up in Iowa and New Hampshire. Not in South Carolina but he landed a prime endorsement there. From the earliest states it will be a race based on momentum - the perception of the ability to win.
Newt rose one month too early. From that rise he needed to perform only at his best with no unforced errors while he tried to run out the clock. Instead he walked right into another big blooper, right on top of Romney's own error - the bet. Newt's rip on capitalism was a far bigger error than Perry forgetting to close the department of energy which shouldn't be a department anyway. Besides getting a crucial point dead wrong, Newt violated his own rule against those kinds of attacks. It clearly exacerbated the effects of all the negative attention that was coming anyway.
I find the WSJ (Paul Gigot?) conclusion compelling. http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2112.msg57780#msg57780
"Our world that's coming is a world of narrowing, not widening, choices. It's a world that suits Mr. Romney's skills and history, his knack for operating within constraints and making choices based on data, data, data... When ideas are new and unfamiliar, they're not executable. When they're executable we need people who can execute."
Secretly I'm still pulling for Rick Perry ("I will try to make Washington DC as inconsequential in your life as I can."), and if it goes to the convention we all get behind Crafty.
(already covered in posts while I typed...) The points Crafty makes are reason for people like Hannity to attack him as he did this week. Ron Paul has big money, is weakening other candidates and could do big damage as a third party candidate. That makes things harder but does not guarantee Obama victory IMHO.
CNN should be building him up for that but just can't resist the temptation of the only thing racist ever found to be even remotely tied to tea party or Republicans.
The confusion of the candidates and the public over foreign policy right now is true. I doubt that the tinder boxes around the world in Nov 2012 will look so safe and stable that the let 'em all have nukes and do what they want approach will win. That is not the polling or intelligence that the current commander of drones is receiving.
Ron Paul in a 3 way debate would add uncertainty to both sides. It is one more person to attack and answer the record and statements of the incumbent, not just the Republican. H.W. Bush was taking the criticisms from two directions, not counting his loss of support from conservatives.
I don't see why you get to run for both the endorsement and lose and then run again against the endorsed candidate with no shame. Ron Paul would be the first to admit he is Republican in name only.
Each Chevy Volt sold thus far may have as much as $250,000 in state and federal dollars in incentives behind it – a total of $3 billion altogether, according to an analysis by James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Hohman looked at total state and federal assistance offered for the development and production of the Chevy Volt, General Motors’ plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. His analysis included 18 government deals that included loans, rebates, grants and tax credits. The amount of government assistance does not include the fact that General Motors is currently 26 percent owned by the federal government.
The Volt subsidies flow through multiple companies involved in production. The analysis includes adding up the amount of government subsidies via tax credits and direct funding for not only General Motors, but other companies supplying parts for the vehicle. For example, the Department of Energy awarded a $105.9 million grant to the GM Brownstown plant that assembles the batteries. The company was also awarded approximately $106 million for its Hamtramck assembly plant in state credits to retain jobs. The company that supplies the Volt’s batteries, Compact Power, was awarded up to $100 million in refundable battery credits (combination tax breaks and cash subsidies). These are among many of the subsidies and tax credits for the vehicle.
It’s unlikely that all the companies involved in Volt production will ever receive all the $3 billion in incentives, Hohman said, because many of them are linked to meeting various employment and other milestones. But the analysis looks at the total value that has been offered to the Volt in different aspects of production – from the assembly line to the dealerships to the battery manufacturers. Some tax credits and subsidies are offered for periods up to 20 years, though most have a much shorter time frame.
GM has estimated they’ve sold 6,000 Volts so far. That would mean each of the 6,000 Volts sold would be subsidized between $50,000 and $250,000, depending on how many government subsidy milestones are realized.
If those manufacturers awarded incentives to produce batteries the Volt may use are included in the analysis, the potential government subsidy per Volt increases to $256,824. For example, A123 Systems has received extensive state and federal support, and bid to be a supplier to the Volt, but the deal instead went to Compact Power. The $256,824 figure includes adding up the subsidies to both companies.
The $3 billion total subsidy figure includes $690.4 million offered by the state of Michigan and $2.3 billion in federal money. That’s enough to purchase 75,222 Volts with a sticker price of $39,828.
Additional state and local support provided to Volt suppliers was not included in the analysis, Hohman said, and could increase the level of government aid. For instance, the Volt is being assembled at the Poletown plant in Detroit/Hamtramck, which was built on land acquired by General Motors through eminent domain.
“It just goes to show there are certain folks that will spend anything to get their vision of what people should do,” said State Representative Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills. “It’s a glaring example of the failure of central planning trying to force citizens to purchase something they may not want. … They should let the free market make those decisions.”
“This might be the most government-supported car since the Trabant,” said Hohman, referring to the car produced by the former Communist state of East Germany.
According to GM CEO Dan Akerson, the average Volt owner makes $170,000 per year.
Just a quick yip to note the utter tactical incoherence of the Boener in the current go round with Baraq. The intellectual co-author of the "super committee" fiasco has now managed to enable Baraq positioning himself as the tax cutter! Unfgbelievable.
Yes, the roles got flipped here, but it was Boehner who got the pipeline into the bill and the senate approved that. Doesn't even the two month extension get the pipeline going? Unless I am missing something, they should have taken the deal.
OTOH, it is odd that Dems are so eager to defund social security making it less sacred.
Removal of the separate payroll tax should have been combined with comprehensive reform. Real reform is not possible with the current divisions of power. The positioning and posturing coming into the election is crucial and there is a leadership vacuum on both sides.
Biden's gaffe's would have gotten him laughed out of the GOP debates. In fact his inaccuracies debating Palin were unforgivable - and ignored.
The story of dropping has lingered beneath the newsprint for nearly four years waiting for someone notable to quote on it. Doug Wilder is the former Gov of Virginia, Virginia's first African American Governor. Harsh criticism with the ultimate penalty: drop him. Besides the VP issue, Biden will not be a young man or electable in 2016, win or lose this year.
"You go back to the reasons that Joe Biden was put on the ticket in the very first instance. It was supposedly because he had the great experience. He had been there for years. He had been Foreign Relations chair. He had been chairman of the Judiciary and supposedly knew the workings of the Senate. Now, has that worked to the president's better interest or has it taken away from the president? And the gaffe is not just a question of will Joe Biden make a gaffe and incidentally I like him. Personally, I think he is a fine fellow," Former Gov. Douglas Wilder (D-VA) said on FOX News.
"But, Is he the person you want in place? You know, you always hear that thing. Suppose something would happen to the president, who would be in charge? The Vice President. Joe Biden? You have got to be kidding today when you say the Taliban's not our enemy," Wilder told Neal Cavuto.
"I fought in Korea, front line. I knew who the enemy were. The enemy were the people who were firing at me. And shooting at me. And so for some guy to come back and today, incidentally, to meet with the returning veterans and their families and I don't believe he would tell them 'Oh, look, the Taliban is not your enemy.' Just like they would have told us in Korea, 'Well, you know, the Chinese are not really your enemy, they're just helping out the North Koreans.' Get ahold of yourself, Joe," he said.
This could go under Glibness but are we not going to send the N. Korean people our condolences at their time of grieving? Have we no manners or are we run by right wing zealots? And what about adding a stop on the Presidential apology tour - I wonder what role our crippling sanctions played in his demise.
The administration caught reading the forum. Right as we found out that Jimmy Carter's 'private' mission on behalf of Pres. Bill Clinton was not so private, the not so private citizen Jimmy Carter has extended our condolences not? on behalf of the Obama administration:
Former President Jimmy Carter has sent North Korea a message of condolence over the death of Kim Jong-il and wished "every success" to the man expected to take over as dictator, according to the communist country's state-run news agency.
A dispatch from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Mr. Carter sent the message to Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il's son and heir apparent.
"In the message Jimmy Carter extended condolences to Kim Jong Un and the Korean people over the demise of leader Kim Jong Il. He wished Kim Jong Un every success as he assumes his new responsibility of leadership, looking forward to another visit to [North Korea] in the future," the KCNA dispatch read.
When contacted by The Washington Times for comment, the Carter Center provided an email contact to a spokeswoman who is out of the office until the New Year.
From Constitutional Issues, Crafty wrote: "I get that there is serious legal discussion to be had here, and I very much like that Newt had the courage to go into a deep and difficult issue. What I'm not so sure what I like is the possible lack of judgment in doing so. Is this really the sort of issue for a presidential to raise now essentially out of the clear blue as far as the American people are concerned? Does he not appreciate how dangerous this subject is and how easy it is for him to be painted in a terrible light?"
True. He is showing off his knowledge of history, empowering opponents and scaring us with his drift, instead of narrowing his focus.
Reagan had only 3 things IIRC that he could not be pulled away from, reducing tax rates to grow the economy, increasing defense spending to win the cold war and reigning in the size and scope of big government. Just 3 things and he only succeeded at two of them.
We have all studied Newt at length. What are his 3 things?
On 'Constitutional Issues', a liberal Dean of a public law school took what I called selective outrage at the rhetoric coming out of the Republican side of the presidential debate, at one point declaring "I don't recall prominent candidates for presidential nominations — Democratic or Republican — ever talking in such tones."
What President would ever sit down the members of the Supreme Court of the United States and berate them over a decision he or she did not like in front of a formal Joint Session of Congress??
That hasn't happened ever? or at least not since ... President Obama did it January 27, 2010 in his second State of the Union!
American elections in effect turned over to foreign enemies by this Supreme Court, he said in so many words, to their face, in front of Congress, on national television broadcast worldwide. Is that not calling the Court "anti-American" and "grotesquely dictatorial"?! He received his instant gratification political reward for his slander - a standing ovation of what would appear to be all Democrats in the room.
Or as the Dean said about Gingrich and Santorum: "I don't recall prominent candidates for presidential nominations — Democratic or Republican — ever talking in such tones."
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If Newt Gingrich were being nominated for sainthood, many of us would vote very differently from the way we would vote if he were being nominated for a political office.
What the media call Gingrich's "baggage" concerns largely his personal life and the fact that he made a lot of money running a consulting firm after he left Congress. This kind of stuff makes lots of talking points that we will no doubt hear, again and again, over the next weeks and months.
But how much weight should we give to this stuff when we are talking about the future of a nation?
This is not just another election and Barack Obama is not just another president whose policies we may not like. With all of President Obama's broken promises, glib demagoguery and cynical political moves, one promise he has kept all too well. That was his boast on the eve of the 2008 election: "We are going to change the United States of America."
Many Americans are already saying that they can hardly recognize the country they grew up in. We have already started down the path that has led Western European nations to the brink of financial disaster.
Internationally, it is worse. A president who has pulled the rug out from under our allies, whether in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, tried to cozy up to our enemies, and has bowed low from the waist to foreign leaders certainly has not represented either the values or the interests of America. If he continues to do nothing that is likely to stop terrorist-sponsoring Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the consequences can be beyond our worst imagining.
Against this background, how much does Newt Gingrich's personal life matter, whether we accept his claim that he has now matured or his critics' claim that he has not? Nor should we sell the public short by saying that they are going to vote on the basis of tabloid stuff or media talking points, when the fate of this nation hangs in the balance.
Even back in the 19th century, when the scandal came out that Grover Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock — and he publicly admitted it — the voters nevertheless sent him to the White House, where he became one of the better presidents.
Do we wish we had another Ronald Reagan? We could certainly use one. But we have to play the hand we were dealt. And the Reagan card is not in the deck.
While the televised debates are what gave Newt Gingrich's candidacy a big boost, concrete accomplishments when in office are the real test. Gingrich engineered the first Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 40 years — followed by the first balanced budget in 40 years. The media called it "the Clinton surplus" but all spending bills start in the House of Representatives, and Gingrich was Speaker of the House.
Speaker Gingrich also produced some long overdue welfare reforms, despite howls from liberals that the poor would be devastated. But nobody makes that claim any more.
Did Gingrich ruffle some feathers when he was Speaker of the House? Yes, enough for it to cost him that position. But he also showed that he could produce results.
In a world where we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available, the question is whether Newt Gingrich is better than Barack Obama — and better than Mitt Romney.
Romney is a smooth talker, but what did he actually accomplish as governor of Massachusetts, compared to what Gingrich accomplished as Speaker of the House? When you don't accomplish much, you don't ruffle many feathers. But is that what we want?
Can you name one important positive thing that Romney accomplished as governor of Massachusetts? Can anyone? Does a candidate who represents the bland leading the bland increase the chances of victory in November 2012? A lot of candidates like that have lost, from Thomas E. Dewey to John McCain.
Those who want to concentrate on the baggage in Newt Gingrich's past, rather than on the nation's future, should remember what Winston Churchill said: "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." If that means a second term for Barack Obama, then it means lost big time.
Mixed news. Good for employment, but the housing market needed stronger demand not increased supplies.
When construction hit near zero, the percentage increases coming back look disproportionately dramatic. He is reporting a .093 /12 monthly increase. A 19 month high is in the context of more than 3 years at depression levels. Maybe Bernancke will call it irrational exuberance.
"It is ironic that conservatives continue with such attacks even as there is a conservative majority on the Supreme Court and its rulings overall are far more to the liking of conservatives than liberals."
Whatever 'overall' means. What additional powers would liberals want that could go further than taking our homes and slaughtering our young - 53 million since Roe, safe, legal and rare. Kelo and Roe are both still the law of the land. I assume he needs Justice Kennedy to imagine a conservative majority, but Kennedy was the swing vote in Kelo. Someone please tell me what is either conservative or constitutional (or forgivable) about finding a power in the constitution for activist local governments to buddy up with private interests to take private property for preferred private use.
"these candidates do a disservice to the American people when they are clearly wrong about the Constitution"
Perfect straw argument because it was the constitution gave CONGRESS the power to set up jurisdictions like the 9th circuit, the main point of the current controversy. Geography, population and case load have arguably outgrown the 9th Circuit.
"Perhaps these attacks on the federal judiciary are just part of the exceptionally poisonous rhetoric of these divisive times."
No space available in the piece to address Newt's very specific examples in history? Totally missing and that rebuttal from a real academic would actually have been helpful. His silence I assume means Prof. Newt had his history right?
Will the Dean please explain: if rule by independent judiciary was the only intent in the constitution rather than a complex system of checks and balances, why did they write all the other Articles?
Interesting that his own reaction to the attacks on the constitution depend on which Article or amendment is in question:
[abridging the right to bear arms] "is a reasonable way of achieving the government's legitimate goal of decreasing gun violence" [without any amendment to the constitution required] - Erwin Chemerinsky, March 14, 2007 ??
Great story. A few great heroes emerged in the period of overcoming the horrible history of Soviet and eastern bloc oppression.
Not to be confused with the Czech President since Vaclav Havel: Václav Klaus, a more contemporary hero IMO. These are our allies and happen to be the ones Pres. Obama spit on for a deal gone bad with Putin. When this miserable period in our country's history passes, we need to go out again and find our real allies, if we have any left. Those who witnessed communism firsthand appreciate freedom the most.
All the extremely private health care individual information in the nation integrated into one easily accessed system. What could possibly go wrong?
A trick question from my early career in bank information systems: what is the objective of the bank's computer system? It is a rookie mistake is to think the system should make all information available to all users. The answer is the opposite. The system needs to hold and process all the data with people's very private information but only make very limited information available to any user - just enough to do their job with proper security clearance. The larger the institution, the larger the opportunity for security breaches. Has anyone ever heard of wikileaks?
Guys all think they are experts on discerning real from fake. Those for sure are enhanced; some kind of hormone treatment. I hesitate to ponder whether the package came with the plumbing conversion. I never understood why 'ordinary' gays want to be associated with all the iterations of the LGBT movement. Are they still a gay couple if his lover really wants him to be a woman?
I wonder what the media attacks would be if Sarah Palin wore that blouse in congressional testimony with breasts exposed while everyone else was in a business suit.
Seems like a joke or an opposition gotcha, but yes in fact N.K. peasants are the closest model available to the lifestyle they think we should adopt. Don't fly, don't drive, don't heat your home, don't cook your food, don't light your house after dark.
We keep getting more efficient but we never break the correlation between prosperity and energy use.
The other perfect part about the so-called communist model is that the rulers are not subject to the same restrictions as the peasants.
This could go under Glibness but are we not going to send the N. Korean people our condolences at their time of grieving? Have we no manners or are we run by right wing zealots? And what about adding a stop on the Presidential apology tour - I wonder what role our crippling sanctions played in his demise.
She gets the free ride on Air Force One and I don't because she is the wife of the President and deserves to be WITH him. That makes sense. Other than that, why do unelected millionaires get paid vacations??
With More Vacation Days and Separate Travel, Price of Obama’s Annual Hawaiian Holiday Rises
BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN - KAILUA, OAHU - The U.S. Secret Service has arrived, street barricades are in place, and the U.S. Coast Guard has stationed itself in the waters surrounding Kailua, Oahu. That is a sure sign President Barack Obama’s security team is preparing for the first family to arrive in the small beachside community as early as Friday night for what is expected to be a 17-day vacation.
The President and his family are traveling separately to Hawaii because he wants resolve the payroll tax cut issue before leaving Washington – and his wife does not want to wait.
"you seem supportive of..." "I doubt if GM..." "let's send them to MN."
Let's split up the work here. I'll post my view. You post yours.
St. Paul is the number one destination for Hmongs. Minneapolis is number one for Somalis. The Twin Cities has the lowest unemployment of any metro over a million in the country. I wasn't aware this thread was for immigration policy. Just digressions. No comment on points of substance and no adherence to the agreement to move on.
Interestingly, this would have been a VERY short war if not for the moderate insistence that if we break what was already broken, then we have to fix it even if they keep blowing us up while we attempt to do that. How about if we had taken down the regime and left them with some suggestions for protecting individual liberties and peaceful nation building. Then came back and toppled them again (and again) when any one of the 24 points of American security interests in the Iraq War declaration became true again.
One poster quotes another regarding a likely bloodbath, but there is a difference. One has expressed concern and opposition to that while another demeans all people associated with this board by making statements alleging that Americans don't care about bloodbaths in other countries.
Polls of Iraqis run by majority Shia rule perhaps should be separated into opinions from the minority groups about a complete American exit. What do the Kurds think? (I wonder what the Copts in Egypt think about rule by poll taking.) When convenient, all of the sudden we hear the Iraqis speak with one voice. Two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch passes for consent of the governed in an election year.
Polls of Americans about Iraq and Afghanistan are lumped together along with the question of all troops leaving versus most troops leaving posted, but these are crucial difference when talking about the possibility of maintaining bases for future security threats. Meanwhile the < 0.1% of Americans polled at random have no idea what our commanders on the ground are saying.
Poll questions have a large effect on results. Poll this: 'Given the estimates that as many as a million innocent people were slaughtered in the immediate aftermath of the US pullout in Vietnam and that a similar scenario is possible in Iraq, do you favor or oppose all US leaving now with no regard to the consequences, versus the other proposals such as negotiating the right to maintain a smaller presence (base) over the horizon to prevent the genocide of Iraqis and to deal with future security threats that are certain to develop?'
Did the President discuss his final decision more with Axelrod or Petraeus? I will bet he relied on the same focus group advisers he called when he sat 16 hours on his difficult bin Laden question.
Hard to let this one go by. Axelrod regarding Gingrich. Isn't it Barack Obama who climbed the highest up the pole exposing his other side. Imagine if the leading GOP strategist said this about the President!
"At briefing for reporters, Chicagoan (Obama campaign manager David Axelrod) says of the Georgian (Newt Gingrich): "The higher a monkey climbs on the pole the more you can see his butt."
Sorry PC, but that is what he does: answer through distortion and ask what has been answered many times previously in the thread.
""The Iraq war killed almost 4,500 Americans, wounded another 32,000 and cost the country somewhere in the neighborhood of... For what; as someone said here, "to kill Hussein and his sons"? "
There were 24 reasons cited in the bipartisan authorization to use force in Iraq, (none of which said kill Saddam Hussein and his sons). I wonder if that is posted anywhere in this thread. FYI, Saddam was deposed in 2003 and given a fair trial by the Iraqis after being found, not killed, by the Americans. Uday And Qusay were both dead in 2003. Those wouldn't count as triple digit reasons we stayed in 2009, 2010 and 11 1/2 months of 2011.
Negotiating the right to keep a base or two after winning their country back for them - that would require leadership, not having advisers follow the polls while playing hacker level golf back home and telling America at taxpayer expense that Republicans just want dirtier water and dirtier air.
If the mission was truth over trolling, one might ask:
Why did the most anti-war of all 2008 candidates stay 3 more years under his watch - 8 years past the deposing of the aforementioned oppressors? Perhaps there was some other concern or objective.
The most anti of the anti-war in the land saw a national security interest value in what we were doing - and stayed up until the kickoff of his reelection. Our own naysayer pretends there was none. Not very helpful or convincing.
I could post this every week I guess, what a biased jerk he is for an alleged journalist. "I must interrupt you for accuracy!" and then he doesn't establish anything to be inaccurate. He baits Bachmann to call Newt's attitude toward her as sexism: "Is it Sexism?" (She declined.) Where the hell did that come from?? No one has made that charge!
I can't wait to see David Gregory ripping and interrupting a sitting President Obama "for accuracy" in the spirit of equal treatment. Or is "Sexism" or racism why the President will be treated with honor and dignity while his nonsense explanations will face only the lightest scrutiny if he ever appears on a show like that. ------------ Another network CBS, from 'The Atlantic' a piece ripping 60 Minutes for its softball interview of President Obama
How 60 Minutes Wasted Its Interview with Obama By Conor Friedersdorf
Dec 12 2011, 3:35 PM ET
The hour-long conversation was a typical example of a broadcast journalist failing to hold a powerful politician accountable
In an interview posted by 60 Minutes on Sunday, President Obama spends an hour answering questions posed by Steve Kroft, a 23-year veteran of the CBS television program who has won numerous broadcast journalism awards and enjoys unusual access to the president: earlier this year, he conducted the only interview with Obama on the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and back in 2008 he scored the first post-election interview with Barack and Michelle Obama.
Were I an adviser to President Obama, I'd urge him to give his next exclusive to Kroft too, for there is a superficial toughness to his interviews. "There are people in your own party who think that you were outmaneuvered. That you were stared down by John Boehner and Grover Norquist and capitulated," Kroft says at one point. Later he notes that "You say that you rallied the country, but these poll numbers show otherwise. They show that 75 percent thinks the country's on the wrong track." As a political operative, these are exactly the sorts of questions I'd want the struggling politician for whom I worked to get, because it appears that he has volunteered to sit down with a tough interviewer, but actually he is being given an opportunity to offer free-ranging explanations for something that no one can deny: lots of people in America are unhappy with him.
As a journalist at a non-broadcast outlet, I am frustrated by interviews like this one. Few journalists (and zero non-journalist citizens) are afforded an opportunity to spend an hour asking anything of the president, and fewer still who enjoy a mass audience as big as 60 Minutes, which bills its broadcasts as "hard-hitting." It is therefore disheartening each time the opportunity is squandered with broad, superficial, softball questions:
KROFT: You definitely have some impressive accomplishments.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, Steve.
KROFT: No, you do. And more than a lot of presidents who manage to get reelected. My question is, is it enough? Why do you think you deserve to be reelected?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think under some extraordinary circumstances, we not only saved the country from a potential disaster -- not only did we manage our national security at a time where there were severe threats and two wars going on, in a way that has made America stronger and more respected and put us in a better strategic position around the world and almost decimated our number one enemy, which is al Qaeda -- but what I've also been able to do is to, in very practical ways, put in place a series of steps that will allow middle-class families and those trying to get in the middle class to take back some of what they've lost over the last couple of years. Now, we're not there yet, but what I can say unequivocally is that everything I've done, every single day, and everything I will do as long as I'm in this office is designed to make sure that every kid in America has the same opportunities that I had.
Given a fleeting hour with a president who is avowedly seeking re-election, how can a journalist possibly justify that exchange? Of course he's going to say yes, he deserves to be reelected, and then repeat his familiar messaging. In the course of the next year, as President Obama stumps all over the nation and otherwise campaigns for re-election, there is zero chance that the American public will be deprived of his argument for why he deserves another term.
It would be forgivable if that question were surrounded by better ones. But much of the interview is flawed in similar ways.
KROFT: One of the things that surprised me the most about this poll is that 42%, when asked who your policies favor the most, 42% said Wall Street. Only 35% said average Americans. My suspicion is some of that may have to do with the fact that there's not been any prosecutions, criminal prosecutions, of people on Wall Street. And that the civil charges that have been brought have often resulted in what many people think have been slap on the wrists, fines. "Cost of doing business," I think you called it in the Kansas speech. Are you disappointed by that?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think you're absolutely right in your interpretation...
This is embarrassing. Why is Kroft volunteering an oversimplified explanation for American anger at Wall Street? Why does he pose the question as though Obama's feelings (whether he is disappointed or not) is relevant? More importantly, why does he fail to challenge the president with specific questions grounded in facts and policy realities rather than public perception?
Here's a journalist (ostensibly) working on behalf of a polity that has seen populist movements in the streets on the left and right, largely because they believe that there is an unseemly relationship between the federal government and Wall Street. Kroft could've asked whether Obama thought it was problematic for Peter Orszag to take a job at Citigroup; he could've asked whether it's true that Joe Biden called Jon Corzine at the height of the financial crisis to ask what the Obama Administration should do upon taking office; he could've asked about recent revelations that the Fed secretly funneled trillions to banks and failed to tell Congress about it. When did Obama know? Should anything be done about it? Kroft could've pressed Obama about why he hasn't pushed to end the "too big to fail" status quo that could conceivably lead to another Wall Street bailout. Any decent financial journalist could come up with dozens of other questions.
An interviewer determined to challenge a sitting president, as every interviewer of every president should do, could've asked what Obama thinks about the fact that his drone strikes in Pakistan are destabilizing a nuclear power and killing innocent children; or whether Solyndra got special treatment because of its insider connections; or what he thinks about the Fast and Furious scandal and what Eric Holder knew about it. Kroft could've challenged Obama to explain why he decided to proceed with military action in Libya even though it violated the War Powers Resolution, or asked him about the controversy surrounding federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, or echoed the concerns that progressives have with his immigration policies.
But nope. Kroft asked none of those questions; nor did he press Obama about his views on indefinitely detaining American citizens; nor did he ask about the killing without due process of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American; nor did he ask about the controversy surrounding whether the morning-after pill should be available over-the-counter for people of all ages or not; nor did he ask about the private security contractors that America will pay to stay in Iraq after we leave; nor about the state secrets privilege; nor about aggressively prosecuting whistleblowers; nor about many other issues of concern to liberals, conservatives, and libertarians, all of whom have earnest complaints.
Instead we got hard hitting exchanges like this one:
KROFT: I'm sure your poll numbers will probably automatically go up as soon as there is a Republican candidate in the race. I mean, that's normal. I mean, you're being judged now on your performance.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, no, no. I'm being judged against the ideal. And, you know, [Vice President] Joe Biden has a good expression. He says, "Don't judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative."
"Have you given up on the Republicans? Have you stopped reaching out to them? Are you just out there now trying to get your message across?"
"What do you make of this surge by former Speaker Gingrich?"
"Tell me, what do you consider your major accomplishments?"
What this interview represents -- like so many broadcast news interviews with sitting politicians and high level bureaucrats -- is the charade of asking tough questions to hold the president accountable. And the utter failure to ask any actually tough questions, to unearth any new facts of significance, to force any sort of reckoning before the television cameras on a matter of importance. If I were advising Obama, I'd make sure that Kroft got the next exclusive interview too.
We've just signed up our BigDog as Chief of Staff!
I was thinking Chief Justice, but I suppose you will have to wait for an opening.
Meanwhile our opponents keep taking each other down. Mitt refrained from going after Newt directly in the Sioux City debate. Instead we find out: "Last week alone, anti-Gingrich ads from a Romney ally outspent Gingrich by an 8-to-1 margin on television." http://apnews.myway.com/article/20111217/D9RMH5F00.html
As our involvement in Iraq has wound down, a few loose ends remained. The most important was the status of Ali Mussa Daqduq. Daqduq is a Hezbollah operative, apparently directed by Iran, who was responsible for the capture, torture and murder of five American servicemen. Under the status of forces agreement, he was to be turned over to Iraqi authorities, and could only be removed from that country with the permission of its government. A number of conservative activists and politicians campaigned to retain custody of Daqduq and bring him to Guantanamo Bay or another suitable venue for trial. A correspondent forwarded this email:
I know Captain Dan Fritz, Jake Fritz’s brother. He’s been to our house in Morgantown — in fact, one year to the day after Jake was abducted and murdered in Iraq.
I know Noala Fritz, Jake’s mother, from Verdon, Nebraska. She is one of the most humble, down to earth, pleasant people you will ever meet. Jake’s father, Lyle, a Marine and Viet Nam vet, passed away in June of this year. Together, they raised one of the most patriotic, caring, and giving families in America.
I write you to seek your assistance in stopping this absolute lunacy and ultimate travesty of justice that is about to occur. Please, contact anybody and everybody you can, and enlist their support in stopping Daqduq’s release from happening. Use the power of the internet, social media, or whatever means available, and get people to speak up. Leverage what you can (political parties, TEA parties, prayer groups, etc.) to let our Congressmen and Senators in DC know of our interest to stop the release of this calculated, cold-blooded murderer.
The Fritz’s are a family that has seen more than its share of suffering, and is “all in” on the War on Terror. We owe it to them, and to Jake’s honor, to see that his killer faces justice.
Thank you for your engagement — there is little time to act.
All such pleas fell on deaf ears, and the Obama administration turned Daqduq over to the Iraqis, despite widespread predictions that they will send him to Iran, where he will receive a hero’s welcome and soon return to the fight. The Wall Street Journal reported:
U.S. officials have feared turning [Daqduq] over to Iraq would lead to his release without trial.
The Obama administration “sought and received assurances that he will be tried for his crimes,” a White House spokesman said. “We have worked this at the highest levels of the U.S. and Iraqi governments, and we continue to discuss with the Iraqis the best way to ensure that he faces justice.”
"Who cares what an audience of soon-to-be-unemployed kids at the University of Wisconsin might think? With their heads stuffed with literary theory, gender studies, and environmental pseudo-science, they are barely qualified for the cubicle jobs they will obtain if they are lucky. There is some value to a B.A. of any kind; it teaches you to read, memorize, show up on time and repeat what you are told. College graduates, at least, can read the new job manual, which explains why their unemployment rate is much lower than the national average. But few of them will live well, and almost none up to their expectations." ---
As an aside, the abovenamed university with high academics and a very liberal reputation is one my daughter is strongly considering right now. This question could go under parenting. UW Madison is perhaps the best academic institution of the public schools within roughly driving distance and with in-state tuition reciprocity for us, rated higher than all but a very few small private colleges in the region. If I had any influence, should I be steering her away from known, pervasive liberalism on campus and toward a smaller, more conservative college with perhaps lesser academic experience to protect her, or sit back and trust it all to work out fine in the end? Any helpful suggestions?
A little stroll down memory lane with Saddam and Osama, Sept 12 2002 Sen.Fritz Hollings D-S.C. entered a reprint from the Iraqi state newspaper from exactly two months before the attacks of Sept 11 2001 arguably praising bin Laden and naming the targets of the attacks. Hollings, a Democrat, entered this in support of his decision to vote to authorize military action in Iraq.
Here is a news story from July 21, 2001, before 9/11 of last year, in the Iraqi news. The name of that particular newspaper is Al-Nasiriya.
Quoting from it:
Bin Ladin has become a puzzle and a proof also, of the inability of the American federalism and the CIA to uncover the man and uncover his nest. The most advanced organizations of the world cannot find the man and continues to go in cycles in illusion and presuppositions. It refers to an exercise called ‘‘How Do You Bomb the White House.’’ They were planning it. Let me read this to all the colleagues here:
The phenomenon of Bin Ladin is a healthy phenomenon in the Arab spirit. It is a decision and a determination that the stolen Arab self has come to realize after it got bored with promises of its rulers; After it disgusted itself from their abomination and their corruption, the man had to carry the book of God . . . and write on some white paper ‘‘If you are unable to drive off the Marines from the Kaaba, I will do so.’’ It seems that they will be going away because the revolutionary Bin Ladin is insisting very convincingly that he will strike America on the arm that is already hurting.
In other words, the World Trade Towers. Here, over a year ahead of time in the open press in Iraq, they are writing that this man is planning not only to bomb the White House, but where they are already hurting, the World Trade Towers.
I ask unanimous consent to print this article in the RECORD. There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows: [From Al-Nasiriya, July 21, 2001] AMERICA, AN OBSESSION CALLED OSAMA BIN LADIN (By Naeem Abd Muhalhal)
Osama Bin Ladin says that he took from the desert its silence and its anger at the same time.
He has learned how to harm America and has been able to do it, for he gave a bad reputation to the Pentagon as being weakened in more than one spot in the world. In order to follow one step taken by Bin Ladin America has put to work all its apparatus, its computers and its satellites just as the governor cowboy of Texas has done. Bin Ladin’s name has been posted on all the internet sites and an amount of $5 million dollars has been awarded to anyone who could give any information that would lead to the arrest of this lanky, lightly bearded man. In this man’s heart you’ll find an insistence, a strange determination that he will reach one day the tunnels of the White House and will bomb it with everything that is in it.
We all know that every age has its revolutionary phenomenon. In Mexico there was Zapata. In Bolivia there was Che Guevara, during the seventies came out Marcos and the Red Brigades in Italy, the Baader Meinhof Gang in Germany and there was Leila Khaled the Palestinian woman and others. They all appeared in violence and disappeared quietly. During the nineties Bin Ladin came out in the open having been completely overtaken in his mind by the robbery happening to his country and its treasurers. For him it was the beginning of the revolution. For this endeavor he mobilized everything that he had of money, of investments and Sudan was his first stop. Bin Ladin ended up in Afghanistan where his revolutionary drive pushed this stubborn revolutionary to plan very carefully, and in a very detailed manner, his stand to push back the boastful American onslaught and to change the American legend into a bubble of soap.
Because Bin Ladin knows what causes pain to America, he played America’s game, just as an oppressed man entertains itself with the thing oppressing him. He countered with the language of dynamite and explosives in the city of Khobar and destroyed two US embassies in Nairobi and Dar al Salaam.
America says, admitting just like a bird in the midst of a tornado, that Bin Ladin is behind the bombing of its destroyer in Aden. The fearful series of events continues for America and the terror within America gets to the point that the Governor of Texas increases the amount of the award, just as the stubbornness of the other man and his challenge increases. This challenge makes it such that one of his grandchildren comes from Jeddah traveling on the official Saudi Arabia airlines and celebrates with him the marriage of one of the daughters of his companions. Bin Ladin has become a puzzle and a proof also, of the inability of the American federalism and the C.I.A. to uncover the man and uncover his nest. The most advanced organizations of the world cannot find the man and continues to go in cycles in illusion and presuppositions. They still hope that he could come out from his nest one day, they hope that he would come out from his hiding hole and one day they will point at him their missiles and he will join Guevara, Hassan Abu Salama, Kamal Nasser, Kanafani and others. The man responds with a thin smile and replies to the correspondent from Al Jazeera that he will continue to be the obsession and worry of America and the Jews, and that even that night he will practice and work on an exercise called ‘‘How Do You Bomb the White House.’’ And because they know that he can get there, they have started to go through their nightmares on their beds and the leaders have had to wear their bulletproof vests.
Meanwhile America has started to pressure the Taliban movement so that it would hand them Bin Ladin, while he continues to smile and still thinks seriously, with the seriousness of the Bedouin of the desert about the way he will try to bomb the Pentagon after he destroys the White House . . .
The phenomenon of Bin Ladin is a healthy phenomenon in the Arab spirit. It is a decision and a determination that the stolen Arab self has come to realize after it got bored with promises of its rulers: After it disgusted itself from their abomination and their corruption, the man had to carry the book of God and the Kalashnikov and write on some off white paper ‘‘If you are unable to drive off the Marines from the Kaaba, I will do so.’’ It seems that they will be going away because the revolutionary Bin Ladin is insisting very convincingly that he will strike America on the arm that is already hurting. That the man will not be swayed by the plant leaves of Whitman nor by the ‘‘Adventures of Indiana Jones’’ and will curse the memory of Frank Sinatra every time he hears his songs. This new awareness of the image that Bin Ladin has become gives shape to the resting areas and stops for every Arab revolutionary. It is the subject of our admiration here in Iraq because it shares with us in a unified manner our resisting stand, and just as he fixes his gaze on the Al Aqsa we greet him. We hail his tears as they see the planes of the Western world taking revenge against his heroic operations by bombing the cities of Iraq . . .
To Bin Ladin I say that revolution, the wings of a dove and the bullet are all but one and the same thing in the heart of a believer.