Archive for August, 2011

ICYMI: Obama’s second thoughts, China’s economic danger, best man-on-street quote ever, and Gore for president?

Your weekly list of good reads and information not to be missed:

  • A new meme emerging on the left and on the right: President Obama’s problem is that he hasn’t been willing to consider whether he’s been wrong about some things. Well, except perhaps for his belief that we should be more civil in our political discourse.
  • Al Gore for what??? Also, this (language warning with the second link).
  • While London burns (and the authorities mostly watch), some big American cities are dealing with a new kind of flash mob (the Atlanta dateline in this story seems to be incidental).
  • Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign may have fizzled, but expect him to keep up efforts like this one to engage the public on big conservative ideas.
  • I wrote earlier this week that Standard & Poor’s used faulty reasoning and played politics in explaining its downgrade of the U.S. government’s credit rating. Here’s a strong dissenting view.
  • From economist Greg Mankiw, a graph displaying almost four decades of …

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Class warfare, from Barack Obama to the streets of London

It is not much of a leap from the rhetoric of our president to the violence and looting that has beset Great Britain.

No, I don’t hold Barack Obama personally responsible for our rampaging cousins across the pond. And, no, I’m not referring to some anti-colonial feelings Obama supposedly harbors against the British, thanks to his Kenyan father.

But there is, at best, a blurry line between the belief of Obama and numerous left-wing administrations in Britain’s modern history and the kind of “thinking” evident in Britain’s rioting youth — that the earnings of one group of citizens by rights belong to someone else.

Consider what an unnamed girl told a BBC reporter to explain why she and others looted local shops:

“It’s the rich people. The rich people have got businesses, and that’s why all this has happened. We’re just showing the rich people we can do what we want.”

We’re just showing the rich people we can do what we want. And what they want is not to be paid more for working …

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A bad night for Big Labor in Wisconsin recall elections

What does $10 million to $15 million get you? If you’re Big Labor pouring money into recall elections in Wisconsin, it gets you a cumulative 47 percent of the vote and continued minority status in the state Senate.

Unions angry about the new collective bargaining laws in Wisconsin — you may remember the days and days they spent occupying the state Capitol earlier this year while Democratic senators fled the state to prevent a quorum — targeted six Republican senators for recall elections.

In 2008, Barack Obama carried all six by an average of 7 percentage points.

In 2010, Scott Walker carried all six by an average of 13 percentage points on his way to becoming governor.

Last night, Republicans held onto four of the six — and thus a one-seat majority in the Senate — by an average of 6 percentage points. The cumulative vote was 53 percent to 47 percent in the GOP’s favor.

Democrats managed to win the most liberal district of the six (Obama took it by 23 percentage points in …

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In London, the failure of the welfare state, chapter 4,976

If you’ve been wondering what in the world is driving the riots in London night after night, a left-wing columnist for The Australian, Brendan O’Neill, offers the sharpest explanation I’ve seen yet:

What we have on the streets of London and elsewhere are welfare-state mobs. The youth who are shattering their own communities represent a generation that has been suckled by the state more than any generation before it. They live in urban territories where the sharp-elbowed intrusion of the welfare state during the past 30 years has pushed aside older ideals of self-reliance and community spirit. The march of the welfare state into every aspect of urban, less well-off people’s existences, from their financial wellbeing to their child-rearing habits and even into their emotional lives, with the rise of therapeutic welfarism designed to ensure that the poor remain “mentally fit”, has undermined individual resourcefulness and social bonding. The antisocial youthful rioters are the …

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2012 Tuesday: Is Rick Perry really a secessionist?

There are reports that Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Saturday will “remove any doubt about his White House intentions” during an appearance at the RedState Gathering in Charleston, S.C. Perry’s candidacy has been rumored for some time, and may not officially begin Saturday, but a confirmation in South Carolina followed by an immediate trip to New Hampshire — he’d be hitting up two of the earliest primary states in rapid succession — would rock the GOP primary.

I have my doubts about the ability of another twangy-talking Texas governor to win the presidency so soon after George W. Bush left office, but the current state of the economy and Barack Obama’s inability so far to come up with any new ideas to help right the ship may negate that factor.

Instead, the biggest obstacle Perry will have to overcome before he can contend seriously is the notion that he has endorsed the idea of Texas seceding from the union.

I have to admit that I have given this issue only cursory attention to …

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A critique of Obama’s fitness for his job — from the left

Who said the left and right can’t agree on anything anymore? Atlanta’s own Drew Westen, a professor at Emory University and Democratic consultant, took to the pages of the New York Times this past weekend to offer explanations for President Obama’s lackluster presidency. It’s a long piece, but there’s one section in particular that will sound awfully familiar to conservatives:

[One] possibility is that [Obama] is simply not up to the task by virtue of his lack of experience and a character defect that might not have been so debilitating at some other time in history. Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence on the campaign trail chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography: that he had accomplished very little before he ran for president, having never run a business or a state; that he had a singularly unremarkable career as a law professor, publishing nothing in 12 years at the University of Chicago other than an autobiography; and that, before joining the …

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No standards, and poor reasoning, in U.S. downgrade

I can’t remember the last time something as telegraphed beforehand as the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the federal government’s credit rating was discussed as if it were so shocking to so many people. S&P said a couple of weeks ago that it wanted to see a package of $4 trillion in deficit reductions to go along with the debt deal, or else a downgrade was coming.

Ratings agencies don’t get to set budget policy in this country, and Congress decided to do something else. Congress doesn’t get to set credit ratings in this country, and S&P decided to make good on its threat. The company really wouldn’t have had a shred of its credibility — you might say the very last shred of its credibility — left if it hadn’t done so. In the end, I think that’s what this move was really about: The company unwisely placed a stake in the ground of the debt-ceiling talks, and then had no choice but to do what it had threatened to do.

Why do I think that’s what it was about? Because it certainly …

Continue reading No standards, and poor reasoning, in U.S. downgrade »

If liberals agree to balance the budget, what will they give up?

The next substantive move in the nation’s debt-and-deficits debate is up to liberals. But they’re not going to like it.

That’s because they’ll have to stop pretending they can be all things to all people, and decide which parts of their National Greatness Liberalism vision to give up.

This has more to do with math than politics. But it helps that politics has brought the math into focus.

By rights, House Republicans should not have been able to dictate the terms of the debt-ceiling deal the way they did. If Newt Gingrich couldn’t govern the country from Capitol Hill in 1995, John Boehner shouldn’t have been able to do it from one side of the hill in 2011.

He managed it not due to tea-party terrorism, but because even Democrats must know most of the public finds it silly to decry $1 of cuts in a decade for $1 of new debt in 18 months. There is a limit after all.

Determining what that limit is, and what fits under it, are the next big questions. What’s the limit? Let’s return to …

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As long as debt’s too high, get used to the market gyrations

So…the markets.

As I begin writing this — and the only certainty right now is that things are uncertain — the Dow is down another 2 percent and the Nasdaq 3 percent. By now, all but forgotten are the morning’s jobs numbers: a small reduction in the unemployment rate, which is either a) worse than it looks because a whole lot of people have simply given up looking for work, or b) slightly better than it looks because the job-creation number is lower than it should be due to the Minnesota government shutdown.

It is overly simplistic to attribute the steep falls Tuesday, Thursday and today to the debt-ceiling deal. Mainly because a reduction of $7 billion in federal spending (a fraction of 1 percent of gross domestic product) between now and October 2012 isn’t the reason investors are worried about another recession. And it’s not a sign that investors think Washington is overly dysfunctional right now — otherwise, they wouldn’t be rushing to buy Treasurys and pushing down yields …

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Poll Position: Who’d serve Georgia best on deficit committee?

The action on federal finances now moves to the joint committee tasked with detailing $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions by Nov. 23. There will be three Senate Republicans, three Senate Democrats, three House Republicans and three House Democrats on the committee.

Who would best serve Georgia on the joint deficit committee?

  • None of the above (44 Votes)
  • Tom Price (16 Votes)
  • John Lewis (10 Votes)
  • Tom Graves (7 Votes)
  • Hank Johnson (6 Votes)
  • Phil Gingrey (4 Votes)
  • Lynn Westmoreland (4 Votes)
  • Rob Woodall (4 Votes)
  • David Scott (1 Votes)

Total Voters: 96

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Will any Georgians be on the committee?

Time will tell, but there are some strong possibilities. Tom Price has been one of the more visible House Republicans since his days as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, during the last Congress. Tom Graves has already begun to gain prominence in his first full term in the House. Over in the Senate, Saxby Chambliss is already steeped in these …

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