Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year! - I'm already two deep into my Sam Adams stash so this will likely be my last post of the evening.  What?  You want more content?  I'm just one man!  But I'll try my best, dear reader.  Happy 2013.

By the way, this is how my New Year's Eve started: my 17-year-old and I raced to complete this logic puzzle.  We both got the correct answer but he beat me to the solution by twenty minutes.  Sigh.
No deal - Zero Hedge: "InTrade odds of deal by December 31 plunge to 2.2%."
The California disease is spreading - Detroit News editorial: "Unfunded mandates could cripple state."  Unlike the federal government, the states can't just print money and/or get Ben Bernanke to buy up debt.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dopey joke I heard today

Rick Astley said you could borrow any of the movies in his Pixar collection except one.

He's never gonna give you Up.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pay now or pay (much more) later - Here's Greg Mankiw in the NY Times "Wishful thinking and middle-class taxes."  "Ultimately, unless we scale back entitlement programs far more than anyone in Washington is now seriously considering, we will have no choice but to increase taxes on a vast majority of Americans. This could involve higher tax rates or an elimination of popular deductions. Or it could mean an entirely new tax, such as a value-added tax or a carbon tax."  The money has to come from somewhere.
Depardieu wins! - Fox News: "French panel overturns 75% upper tax rate, saying it's excessive."  Check this out: the council said the tax was "unfair" and "would do little to stem the country's mounting fiscal problems."  Crazy, I know.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Nothin's gonna stop this debt train - Weekly Standard: "The Real Cliff."  "It is important to understand that the fiscal cliff is a charade." 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pessimistic - Weekly Standard: "Consumer confidence craters."  And it looks like uncertainty suppressed holiday retail sales.  Hey, I tried to stimulate the economy today by buying a new car battery.  For the record, there's nothing like hearing the enervated *click* of a dead ignition after a holiday snow storm.
This Krugman is a mercurial fellow - Prof. Greg Mankiw notes that our least favorite economist has shifted his position on the bond market over time.
You can set aside the "come together" nonsense - As Zero Hedge notes, nothing is going to happen with these fiscal cliff negotiations until everybody feels a swift kick in the wallet: "The only 3 charts needed to understand the fiscal cliff resolution process."
Math is cruel as seen in the case of 789 - Frank Fleming: "Math is coming."  "Right now the Republicans and Democrats are hotly debating which of their two wholly inadequate plans we should use to avoid the fiscal cliff, but looking at the size of the deficit, they’re proposing different-sized Band-Aids where a tourniquet is needed. If you point this out, you’re called a Tea Party extremist who wants to throw old people off a cliff and deny underprivileged Ivy League law students free birth control."

Math doesn't care about your Fairness.  Math is honest and unmerciful.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Starve the beast" hasn't worked.  It's time to "Present the check." - I like this post by Veronique de Rugy: "A little symbolism to fight fiscal denial."  She links to a Tyler Cowen piece that proposes a very small increase in taxes for everyone to go along with the tax hikes on the rich so beloved by this President.

After all, if Americans want to have a government spending at the unprecedented (peacetime) level of >25% of GDP, why not pay for it instead of pretending that a handful of "millionaires and billionaires" will cover the tab?  And why we're even talking about avoiding the less-than-painful sequester cuts is beyond my ken.
Good news/bad news - Toronto Sun: "Youtube video wins Norwegian kicker Havard Rugland tryout with New York Jets."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Not just for pipe insulation anymore - Saw this in the Boston Globe today: "Injectable foam could stanch internal bleeding."  This sounds like something from a cartoon: the foam is injected through the navel to spread throughout the abdominal cavity and apply pressure to internal organs.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The aging world and the shrinking workforce - Here's an interesting - and terrifying - statistic from a Weekly Standard article titled "The Demographic Cliff": at its current fertility rate, Japan will lose more than half its population by 2100.

All across the world, birth rates are insufficient to replace the population much less support the considerable costs of a nation of retirees.  So far the United States has stayed ahead of the curve until now: "U.S. birth rate falls to record low."

And here's a further sign-of-the-times: Santa Claus is disappearing from malls.  Not enough kids.

Gaming the Lemon Law - The Truth About Cars has a great story about L.A. scammers who roll back odometers, puncture brake lines, and otherwise take luxury car leasers on a ride.
American Pulverizer Company v. Obamacare - The Corner: "Does a businessman in America have religious conscience rights?"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chained CPI of fools

One of the fiscal cliff solutions being proposed is a change to the way inflation is calculated called the "chained CPI."  Since cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) for entitlements are based on inflation adjustments, the chained CPI changes the way inflation is calculated.  Very briefly, instead of taking a calculation based on the price of a list of goods, the chained CPI - realistically - assumes that you would pay a lower price for a substitution.  In other words: if beef prices rise, you wouldn't (necessarily) buy beef, you'd buy chicken.  That's it.  So moving to a chained CPI would very slightly arrest the rise in Social Security spending.

Naturally, that means we're pushing Grandma over a cliff and making our war-hero Grandpa to eat cat food:
“If we don’t do this right, we could be asking old, poor elderly people to make some pretty terrible choices,” said Jared Bernstein, former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and now a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Oh, yes, awful Sophie-like choices.  Behold the horrible reckoning:
For Social Security beneficiaries, the effect would barely be felt in a one-year period. In most years, chained CPI differs from the other inflation measure very little -- only by about 0.3 percentage points, according to the Social Security Administration's chief actuary. This year, for example, that would shave about $4 a month off the cost of living increase for the average Social Security recipient. Currently slated for a $21-dollar-a-month increase, the average Social Security recipient would instead receive a boost of only $17 a month.
What kind of country are we living in if we deny our seniors their monthly TV Guides, cappuccinos, and matinee movies?  I don't know...I just don't know.

Extra - Hit & Run: "What the chained CPI debate tells us about the politics of entitlement reform."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Things that happen in "The Little Rascals" and "Mr. Magoo" cartoons - CBS News: "Car backfire believed to have caused school lockdown."

I have to say: I've been driving for several decades and never in my life have I heard a car backfire.  I think it's an artifact from hand crank and carburetor days.  Yet it happens on TV with the same frequency as amnesia and getting trapped in an elevator with a pregnant woman.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Not even close - National Journal: "GOP movement on taxes still leaves huge budget quandary."  At this late in the game, any fiscal cliff action is going to be a fig leaf to get past the holiday season.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Economist explains the fiscal cliff



I got nothing

Well, all I'm going to say is that virtually everything reported yesterday about the Newtown shooting is wrong.  Time to take a break and pray for the victims.

Sigh.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The other side of the ledger - Washington Post editorial: "But there's no way to fix America's problem without doing something on entitlements."
Speaking of outlandish assumptions - Hit & Run: "Latest news in California's skill at revenue projection: it still sucks."
Hands off Medicare and let it go bankrupt on its own

Nancy Pelosi, who is entirely inconsequential to the fiscal cliff negotiations, nevertheless felt it was important to scare Grandma about raising the Medicare eligibility age. As Daniel Foster quips, it's "not great" as Pelosi strongly implies that seniors are going to wake up tomorrow to find their Medicare gone. Nobody believes it, but so what? It's all about standing tall, crying "Medicare forever!"

Leave it to those spoilsports at the Medicare Trustees Board to crunch the numbers. In a little more than a decade, the Medicare Trust Fund will be exhausted leading to automatic benefit cuts:

The projected date of HI Trust Fund exhaustion is 2024, the same date projected in last year's report, at which time dedicated revenues would be sufficient to pay 87 percent of HI costs. The Trustees project that the share of HI expenditures that can be financed with HI dedicated revenues will decline slowly to 67 percent in 2045, and then rise slowly until it reaches 69 percent in 2086.
Not to worry: Obamacare is here to save the day with a series of outlandish assumptions and/or unicorn intervention:
Most of the ACA-related cost saving is attributable to a reduction in the annual payment updates for most Medicare services (other than physicians’ services and drugs) by total economy multifactor productivity growth, which the Trustees project will average 1.1 percent per year. The report notes that sustaining these payment reductions indefinitely will require unprecedented efficiency-enhancing innovations in health care payment and delivery systems that are by no means certain. In addition, the Trustees assume an almost 31-percent reduction in Medicare payment rates for physician services will be implemented in 2013 as required by current law, which is also highly uncertain.
This last point refers to the "doc fix" which is the permanently temporary adjustment to Medicare reimbursement rates that Congress enacted to control costs and then regularly overrides.  To say that a 31% reduction in payments to Medicare doctors is "uncertain" is a vast understatement.

The Trustees conclude by urging Washington to take action so Americans have "adequate time to prepare" to the changes that will be made to the system under current law.  Instead, Nancy Pelosi wants you to believe this sinking ship will make it to harbor if we just get 2% of the crew to pull harder.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ravi Shankar

I heard this on NPR this morning - inspiring:
A few winters ago in Delhi, remembering those demanding early years of sitar studies, Ravi Shankar said his guru's most important lesson was this: "He says that we have to earn our livelihood, and for that we have to perform and accept money. But music is not for sale. The music that I have learned and want to give is like worshipping God. It's absolutely like a prayer."
Deep, man.  Rest in peace.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yuuuuuup, that show is fake - USA Today: "'Storage Wars' star says show is rigged."

This is the least-surprising news story on the wire today.  If you haven't seen "Storage Wars" it follows a group of buyers who bid on abandoned storage units which - inevitably - hold some hidden treasure.  There's always a "hey, what's this?" moment followed by a trip to an antique shop or an expert who tells the astounded (sometimes disappointed) buyer the true worth, always played to high dramatic effect.  After a while, the sheer implausibility of these "special" finds became too much.
Preserving the proud union tradition - The Truth About Cars: "Chrysler's drunk, stoned autoworkers are back making cars."  "The workers followed a grievance procedure process outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Chrysler and the United Auto Workers. The matter went to arbitration. Two years later, an arbitrator decided in the workers’ favor, citing “insufficient conclusive evidence to uphold the dismissals.”  Apparently, a video wasn’t good enough."
Down periscope - We're getting that sinking feeling again.  The Hill:: "Both White House and GOP deficit plans put nation's credit rating at risk."  That's because nobody is serious about the challenges we face.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The conspiracy to keep you poor and stupid - According to this Nick Kristof article in the NY Times, the slogan for some is "The Less You Know": "Profiting from a child's illiteracy."

Extra - Michael Barone: "Soul-crushing dependency."
The escalator is broken - Robert Samuelson: "Is the economy creating a lost generation?"  Younger workers - burdened by debt and unable to move to better jobs - are putting off marriage and starting families.
Simpler times

I love how the dog waits for the kid to finish up:

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Put it on the Bank of China credit card - Doug Ross: "Charting a grim milestone: Federal government now borrows 46 cents of every dollar it spends."
Whither the universality of entitlements? - The Hill reports that Democrats are re-thinking means testing of Medicare: "Democrats warm to Medicare change that the late Sen. Edward Kennedy opposed."

In the past, Democrats opposed means testing because it was thought it would erode the political support of programs that are supposed to be available to all Americans.  But given that socking the rich is the only hammer in Obama's toolbox, it's going to be on the table.
Just wait 'til next year

Normally I get incensed when Washington doesn't do its job.  After all, these guys normally work only three days a week for about 40 weeks a year.  But I like this year-end Christmas strategy proposed by Professor Jacobson:
I say call his bluff. If a deal which tackles deficits from both revenue and spending can be reached this month, great.
If not, pass a 90 day extension of current tax rates and whatever else is needed to postpone the “cliff,” and go home for Christmas to give time for a Grand Bargain which puts Democratic sacred cows on the table.
Let Harry Reid refuse to bring it to a vote, and Obama refuse to sign it. Their inaction will be the reason for taxes rising for everyone.
I know, I know, more playing politics.  But there's a practical reason for delay: this is a lame-duck Congress operating under the pressure of a self-imposed deadline.  Let the new Congress take their seats, let the committee re-shuffle chairs, and set up a little breathing room to make a deal.
Take a wild guess which state this story comes from - NPR: "School district owes $1 billion on $100 million loan."  Did you guess California?  Good for you.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

FICA thanks you for your contribution - Doug Ross: "A public service message for America's youth: here's how you're being ripped off."
In the red - Boston Herald "A Social Security myth": "Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the other day Social Security “has not added one penny to our deficit.” Can’t anyone drive a stake through the heart of this misleading ancient myth?"
Returning to flyover country - College Insurrection: "Harvard workshop - helping students cope with being such special people."

Friday, December 07, 2012

Not an honest soul in Washington

Via Hit & Run here's "Americans don't need higher taxes.  But they do need an honest appraisal of their choices."
The real problem here is that the public isn’t getting the sort of honest appraisal it deserves. Republicans tend to focus on tweaks to the entitlement system that won’t produce big savings. Democrats heavily emphasize tax hikes on the wealthy that won’t come close to providing the sort of fiscal course correction the federal government needs. But neither side talks seriously about the fundamental budgetary challenges the country faces—or the kinds of policy solutions that addressing those challenges might require.
Yet what the CBO has made clear over and over again is that what we need are big changes, the kind that won't be easy: “Making policy changes that are large enough to shrink the debt relative to the size of the economy—or even to keep the debt from growing—will be a formidable task.” Right now it’s a task that neither party is up to. And that goes a long way toward explaining why we're our current impasse. We don't necessarily need higher taxes to resolve our budget woes. But we do need politicians willing to level with the public about the scope of the policy changes that will eventually need to be made. 
Maybe I should go full libertarian and be done with it.  The other day, Drew Musings had two simple charts showing the utter inadequacy of Obama's tax hikes in addressing the deficit.  What's even more shocking, in my opinion, is that letting all the Bush tax cuts expire still wouldn't cover half of what we're currently borrowing.  On the spending end, we can't even agree to raise the eligibility ages for Social Security and Medicare even though Americans are living much longer and the costs of entitlements are poised to overwhelm the entire federal budget.

It used to be that politicians needed to make hard decisions.  Now they choose not to choose...and they get re-elected.
Hunting the great white collar - Commentary: "Barack Obama as Captain Ahab."  There be "fairness" out there, me hearties.
We're in this sinking ship together - Mickey Kaus: "Why Social Security is not like Medicare."

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The other deficit problem

In "Our Demographic Decline", Megan McArdle discusses how future fiscal promises are dependent on a growing population and how America isn't keeping up.
Those promises can be abrogated, of course. By law, Social Security will stop paying benefits in excess of its intake as soon as the "trust fund" is exhausted. And even in the absence of such provisions, governments can default, companies can declare bankruptcy. Or debts can be inflated away. But then what happens to the folks who planned futures around those promises? 
This is an important question for everyone, not just the unlucky retirees or welfare state beneficiaries who find themselves on the wrong side of fiscal history. This kind of mass default is going to undermine social cohesion and create a great deal of economic chaos. It's also going to radically alter the incentives to save and invest. Any form of saving beyond simply stockpiling food and ammunition is a sort of trade deal with the future: you create capital stock now, on the assumption that workers of the future will let you share in the extra productivity your savings helped create. If the future reneges, people may decide that they might as well be a grasshopper, since the ant gets just as screwed.  
The fiscal and demographic problems of entitlements are inextricably linked and virtually unsolvable, given the political backlash if baby boomers don't get what's theirs.  Time to go full Grasshopper.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Yawn: another government agency warns about entitlements - Nobody cares, GAO.  Hot Air: "Friendly reminder from the GAO: You're about to hit the entitlement iceberg."  Or as James Pethokoukis says: "Another day, another government agency, another scary debt chart."

Debt at 200% of GDP?  Put it on my bill.
Holy cow! - As a kind of joke, I was looking on Amazon for a Coleco Football game from the early 1980s. $80 bucks!  Geez, I should have stockpiled 'em when I was in junior high.

Monday, December 03, 2012

New toy - I played Santa and got myself a Google Chromebook.  So far, so slick.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Possibly a spoof

I don't know if this is real or not (a 3-minute voicemail?) but it had me crying laughing:

Thanks for subsidizing our retirement kids! - Powerline: "One generation got old; one generation got sold."  I warned you youngsters but did you listen?  Nope.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The nation's largest employer makes the move

Huffington Post (h/t Gateway Pundit) has the latest "find out" on Obamacare: "Walmart's new health care policy shifts burden to Medicaid, Obamacare."
Labor and health care experts portrayed Walmart’s decision to exclude workers from its medical plans as an attempt to limit costs while taking advantage of the national health care reform known as Obamacare. Among the key features of Obamacare is an expansion of Medicaid, the taxpayer-financed health insurance program for poor people. Many of the Walmart workers who might be dropped from the company’s health care plans earn so little that they would qualify for the expanded Medicaid program, these experts said.
“Walmart is effectively shifting the costs of paying for its employees onto the federal government with this new plan, which is one of the problems with the way the law is structured,” said Ken Jacobs, chairman of the Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.
Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Perish the thought - Washington Examiner: "Anxious Republicans skeptical of the president's fiscal cliff plan and proposed $1.6 trillion in new taxes, mostly on the wealthy, are worried that the administration is planning new spending programs, not debt payments with the money."  (H/T Instapundit)
Pilot of the Airwaves

Gosh, I love this song.  Reminds me of younger days and stuff.



Friday, November 30, 2012

Blindsided by the debt

Mark Steyn: "Kindly note the impending bankruptcy - You can't have American-sized taxes and European-sized government"
Sequestration sounds like castration, only more so: It would chop off everything in sight. It would be so savage in its dismemberment of poor helpless America that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that over the course of a decade the sequestration cuts would reduce the federal debt by $153 billion. Sorry, I meant to put on my Dr. Evil voice for that: ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THREE BILLION DOLLARS!!! Which is about what the United States government currently borrows every month. No sane person could willingly countenance brutally saving a month’s worth of debt over the course of a decade.
There's been an Ed Koch quote of the mayor after losing re-election where he says: "The people have spoken...now they must be punished."  Obama spent the last campaign proclaiming that, gosh darn it, if we only returned to the tax rates under Bill Clinton everything would be great.  Well, if America wants record peacetime government spending, then let's go back to those tax rates and pay for it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This Obama fellow doesn't seem too interested in compromise - Ace: "Laugh: Washington Post issues CYA editorial calling on Obama to stop campaigning and start finding solutions."
Stop the madness of indiscriminate budget cuts!

Hit & Run: "Why the sequestration cuts shouldn't be part of any larger fiscal cliff deal-making"
There should be absolutely no room for negotiating away the pathetically small amount of spending reduction the government imposed on itself to raise the debt-ceiling by $2 trillion. For god's sake, we're talking about trims of around $110 billion annually. The 2013 budget alone will spend about $3.8 trillion and using constant dollars, federal spending has increased 50 percent over the last decade...
If such tiny, wafer-thin cuts cannot in fact be enforced, then we should simply give up now and really max out the credit cards and party like there's no tomorrow. Seriously, go ahead and just finish the whole tub of ice cream already.
We're slashing to the bone here:

I hope we can get by with such Spartan spending levels.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Somebody get a tuke for that guy's head - I think James Carville has hypothermia on the brain.  Hot Air: "Carville: Yeah, we're obviously going to see entitlement cuts in this deal."  Now I think he's just trying to be counter-intuitive here and get some airtime on TV but an entitlement agreement is not going to happen in the fiscal cliff negotiations.  The Obama entitlement reforms pre-election were already laughably inadequate in addressing the wide unfunded liabilities of these programs.  Now that he's re-elected there's no chance of addressing them now.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The not-so-great Warren Buffett - Greg Mankiw: "A master of tax avoidance."  "Warren Buffett has an op-ed in today's NY Times on one of his most popular themes: The rich should pay more in taxes.  At first blush, his position seems noble: A rich guy says that people like him should pay more to support the commonweal.  But on closer examination, one realizes that Mr Buffett never mentions doing anything to eliminate the tax-avoidance strategies that he uses most aggressively."

Extra - Corner: "The Buffett Tax Twists".

Sunday, November 25, 2012

About those entitlements - In "None Dare Call It Default." Holman Jenkins notes that they're going to be cut or otherwise diminished by inflationary policies.  And there's nothing you can do about it: "Don't go running to a judge when this doesn't pan out. The courts do not overrule changes in government policy just because citizens find their promised free lunch isn't forthcoming."  On this point, n.b. "Flemming v. Nestor": you have no contractual right to Social Security benefits.
The doctor needs to know if you're wearing your seat belt - A physician discusses what he can and cannot talk about under Obamacare: "A Physician's new reality: Patients ask me to break the law."
Do you hear what I hear?

I drove my wife's car (Subaru Forester) yesterday at highway speed and there's a slight whine in the engine during acceleration. It's not there during idling or at steady speeds and you wouldn't even notice it if the radio is on.  There's no noticeable drop in power and/or fuel mileage.  The only other clue I have is that there's a slight hesitation during starting.  I checked the battery voltage and it's OK (12.8V).

I typed in "whine during acceleration" into Google and one of the results was "Whine during acceleration (wife not in car)."  Heh.

Some of the auto forums online say it might be the alternator and others say check the power steering fluid.  I'm hoping it's not a leak in the manifold although I think I would hear that during idling.  I'll have to check everything hooked up to a belt.  Anybody else have a similar problem?  Thanks.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

On a personal level, I have much to be thankful for: everybody in the family is healthy, my kids are doing great, things are going fine at work, and I just celebrated my twentieth anniversary with my beautiful wife.

And although I'm worried about the direction of the country, I'm comforted by the fact that we live in a free, democratic, and capitalist society with built-in safeguards to keep us moving forward.  In the words of Sir John James Cowperthwaite, former Financial Secretary of Hong Kong:
"...in the long run the aggregate decisions of individual businessmen, exercising individual judgement in a free economy, even if often mistaken, is less likely to do harm than the centralized decisions of a government; and certainly the harm is likely to be counteracted faster."
(Lifted from P.J. O'Rourke's "Eat the Rich.").  Appropriately, this lesson of individual initiative over collectivism was the history of the Plymouth Plantation and our first Thanksgiving.

So let's give thanks for a hundred TV channels, American football, and the magic of supply chain management which brings frozen turkeys and gelatinous cranberry sauce to our homes.

Have a good day, everyone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

When Black Friday comes


Speaking of pranks, I've had this recurring wish to buy a storage unit in California and stock it full of empty boxes marked "China" and "Vintage Playboys" and "Antiques."  Then I'll abandon the locker and let the dopes at "Storage Wars" bid on it.  Yuuuuuuup!
Not the slightest bit unexpected - Politico: "Rough start for fiscal cliff talks."  Neither side is serious.  I say let the sequestration axe fall and we'll be one-tenth of the way there.

Extra - John Stossel: "About that fiscal cliff."
Usually, I find myself fading fast after Turkey's influence - Commentary: "Why Turkey's influence is fading fast."

A little Thanksgiving humor to start your day!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Plausible


But not the deal we're going to get

Robert Samuelson discusses the fiscal cliff in "The deal we need":
The American economy resembles a sick patient who's been put on a powerful drug: budget deficits. If the drug is withdrawn too abruptly, the patient relapses. That's the fiscal cliff. But if the drug is never withdrawn, the patient may face highly toxic side effects. That's a future financial crisis that occurs if lenders refuse to lend at low interest rates. It seems confusing, because it is confusing.
Curb those deficits -- but not too fast. No one has adequately explained the messy choices to Americans. Not the president. Not major economists. Not congressional leaders.
The other day on NPR, Senator Patty Murray was asked why negotiations would succeed now when the deficit supercommittee - which she chaired - couldn't reach an agreement.  Her answer was that we're much closer to the cliff so action is urgent.  I found this to be so depressing.  It means that every critical issue is going to be a model of brinkmanship.  We're going over the cliff not only because the parties can't agree but because there's no getting around the math anyway.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My mind is officially blown - I'll post a link when available but "60 Minutes" had a story tonight about a cognitive study at Yale where babies as young as three months were shown to have an innate understanding of fairness, justice, and - yes - bigotry.  Wow.

Update - Link here.
We are all in debtor's prison - Zero Hedge: "Europe's depression, Japan's disaster, and the world's debt prison."  "A great bet is underway, a poker game with stakes in the trillions, between those who are buying time with central bank money and believe that they can continue as before, and the others, who are afraid of the biggest credit bubble in history and are searching for ways out of capitalism based on borrowed money."
That ended abruptly - The last race to decide the NASCAR championship was this afternoon and because of the way points are allocated it was a two-man race between Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski.  But then Johnson had a dropped lugnut that put him way behind then his drive train broke.  In other words, Keselowski will be the 2012 champion.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bond franchise shaken, not stirred - I just got back from seeing "Skyfall" and the movie is a delight for 007-fans with some great throwbacks to the golden era from tuxedos to Bond's gray Aston-Martin.

I don't want to give away too many spoilers but there's one scene where Bond asks M something like "Are you going to complain the whole way?" and then he flips open the top of the stick-shift to reveal a red button.  And then near the end, Bond enters a room with a hat rack - yes, that hat rack - and all I could think about was Sean Connery tossing his hat from across the room.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Now we're just haggling about the speed over the edge

Zero Hedge has an excellent review on how this debate about the fiscal cliff is just prattle because there are no serious proposals to address "mandatory" spending:
Given that the entire problem is with mandatory spending, slashing the discretionary budget is pointless. It's as if the US economy is a speeding train heading towards a ravine at 200 mph, and the conductors are arguing about whether they should slow down to 150 or 175.
Read the whole thing, as they say.  We're just fooling ourselves.
Hostess bankrupt - Tallahassee hardest hit



My wife said she stopped by the supermarket tonight and the Twinkies were wiped out.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Generation X: Punk'd

Here's the conclusion to an otherwise good editorial in the WashPost: "Entitlement reform must be on the table".
At his news conference Wednesday, President Obama called for “a serious look at how we reform our entitlements,” advocated “compromise” and pronounced himself “ready and willing to make big commitments” on debt reduction. Sounds like a man who understands what is needed.
Sweet Fancy Moses.  Really, WashPost?  Did he also say "we must protect our sacred promise" or "the time for action is now" or "we must overcome our differences"?  Because if empty platitudes are the hallmark of understanding, then Obama's got a surplus.  Also, dear editors, name a single entitlement reform that Obama has offered in four years at the helm.  Just one.  Oh, but the "understanding".  That wisdom will be of great comfort for the baby busters when the Trust Funds dry up and benefits are automatically cut.

Extra - Ace: "Media distressed to learn that Democrats are quite serious about their shameful pandering on entitlements."  Funny how that works.  Pre-election: insouciance.  Post-election: concern-trolling.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Impervious to reason and/or basic math

Remember, America, that it's the Republicans who are supposed to be unbending and incapable of compromise.  Hot Air: "Reid: Social Security really isn't part of the problem, you know."
Social Security is not part of the problem.” Er, actually, these gigantic and growing entitlement programs are the main drivers of our ever-increasing $16 trillion national debt, and Social Security is not a crisis waiting to happen. It’s a crisis that is happening, right now, everyday — and it’s not like ‘nobody could have seen this coming’ or anything.
In fact the Congressional Budget Office has charted the long-term spending on entitlements and by "long term" I mean we'll be totally broke in fifteen years:


As this graph indicates, in an uncomfortably short period of time federal spending will rise above 20% of GDP and never goes down.  This is the tipping point because Hauser's law tells us that revenues from taxes rarely rise above 20% of GDP.  In other words, if you've enjoyed five years of trillion-dollar deficits, you're going to love the next forty.  Well, that is, until the merry-go-round breaks down.

In his effort (such as it is) to avoid the fiscal cliff, Obama has proposed $1.6 trillion dollars in revenues by taxing the "rich."  Keep in mind that this is spread out over a decade - so $160 billion/year - and in October alone federal overspending added $120 billion to the national debt.  In other words, even if we soaked Uncle Moneybags, we'd still have to borrow from China to pay for the other 10-1/2 months of the year.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

That was fun - My wireless printer suddenly stopped taking commands and turned into an expensive paperweight.  The HP "troubleshooting" software said "You're good to go!" but then the test page would...fail to print.  Eventually it came down to the ol' turn-off-then-on and that worked.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Let's make a deal - Hit & Run: "John Boehner's draft memo to Obama on avoiding the fiscal cliff."  Disclaimer: this is not really a letter from the Speaker.
You tolerate me!  You really tolerate me!

OK, fans, in the words of Dave Grohl, "I'll stick around."

Let me ease back into blogging with this non-political headline I saw in the Boston Globe yesterday.  The story was about former NHL star Adam Oates who is about to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame:
"On way to Hall, Oates scored big with mates"
Nice!  Very clever.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Motivation: low

I have to be honest: I'm thinking about quitting this blog.

It's never been a high-traffic source, so I know that it will be barely missed.  Oh, sure, I've gotten the occasional Instapundit link and I'd like to think I've added something to the conversation over ten years.  But I'm not in the mood to spend four more years griping about how Washington refuses to face up to fiscal reality.

Mark Steyn framed the fiscal problem today in "The Edge of the Abyss":
In the course of his first term, Obama increased the federal debt by just shy of $6 trillion and in return grew the economy by $905 billion. So, as Lance Roberts at Street Talk Live pointed out, in order to generate every dollar of economic growth the United States had to borrow about five dollars and 60 cents. There’s no one out there on the planet — whether it’s “the rich” or the Chinese — who can afford to carry on bankrolling that rate of return.
And he also framed the political problem:
So Washington cannot be saved from itself. For the moment, tend to your state, and county, town and school district, and demonstrate the virtues of responsible self-government at the local level. Americans as a whole have joined the rest of the Western world in voting themselves a lifestyle they are not willing to earn. The longer any course correction is postponed the more convulsive it will be. Alas, on Tuesday, the electorate opted to defer it for another four years. I doubt they’ll get that long.
There's a joke in one episode of "Futurama" where Bender tells a baldly obvious lie and another character responds: "I'd like to believe that were true.  So I do!"  The American people have been sold on the fiction that our unsustainable fiscal problems can be solved without a wrenching correction.

As Jake says in "The Sun Also Rises": "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Good post-election advice



Gonna watch some NASCAR and football this weekend.  Yay.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Quote of the day

Alexander Fraser Tyler from "Cycle of Democracy":
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over lousy fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average of the world's great civilizations before they decline has been 200 years. These nations have progressed in this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage.
Link.  This is most likely the quote that John over at Power Line is referring to.
Damn, wasn't that first debate great?

I don't have much to say here.  I thought Romney ran a competent campaign but the Obama campaign did an effective job of painting him as a "rich guy" and loathing those guys is all the rage these days.  When the Gallup poll started opening up +5% for Mitt and he was packing Red Rocks and one poll showed a slim lead in Ohio, I thought I sensed a tide swelling.  But no.

If you haven't noticed, this blog's author is preoccupied with the national debt in general and entitlement reform (as a way to control debt) specifically.  I firmly believe that we are marching down the same path well-worn by Japan and Greece and every other overextended empire.  I'm not saying that Mitt Romney would have made great strides against turning back the tide of red ink but I'd like to believe that Paul Ryan would steer America towards much-needed reform.

But I guess guys like me and Paul Ryan and just the schoolmarms at the prom who insist on six inches of space between you and your dance partner.  Geez, what a drag.  Just put it on the credit card and let the next generation worry about the bill.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Well, I said Ohio was key - I was right and I was wrong.
My firewall is crumbling - Wisconsin is gone and now there's a very, very narrow pathway for Romney.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Official Viking Pundit prediction: Romney 285 - Obama 253

I'm absolutely exhausted today but I figured I owed it to my readers (both of them) to put it on the line before the polls open tomorrow.  In addition to the 191 votes allocated by the RCP electoral map, I believe Romney/Ryan will get Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Colorado.  Ohio is key.  I don't see a pathway for Romney without Ohio but I think it's very doable in what has traditionally been a Republican state.  Popular vote will be, let's say, 51%-48%.

I wanted to write so much more about predictive models, "Shy Tory", crowd sizes, early voting and such but I'll focus on this one fact: the party affiliation of this race will look nothing like 2008.  In that election, Obama enjoyed a D+8 advantage at the polls.  Rasmussen, which has had a good track record of predicting the electorate, says that the voting electorate will be R+5.8.  This seems like a huge swing but it's based on a very large sample of 15,000 likely voters.  Gallup found a partisan split of R+1 (R+3 with leaners) which would swing 300+ electoral votes to Romney with a landslide in the popular vote.

As an additional note, the WashPost noted that 13% of Americans who voted for Obama in 2008 said they will vote for Romney.  In 2008, Obama got 53% of the popular vote so: 53%*87% = 46% of the popular vote for Obama in 2012.  This is curiously on line with the estimates based on the party affiliation models.  If Republicans and Democrats cancel each other out, Romney's persistent and significant lead among Independent voters will push him over the top.

We'll see tomorrow.

Extra - More predictions for Romney from Michael Barone, Fred Barnes, and Josh Jordan.

GMTA update - Karl Rove also says 285-253 but he gives Iowa and New Hampshire (6+4) instead of Wisconsin (10).

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Redskins lose - Romney wins

National Journal: "The last Redskins pre-election home game might determine the election"
It's likely no one noticed at the time, but the squad's performance in its last home game before Election Day soon became arguably the best indicator of who would win the presidential race. A Redskins win meant the incumbent party would stay put. A Redskins loss meant the White House would change parties. With only one exception — 2004 — this trend has held in every election cycle.
Going into the game today, the Redskins were 3.5 point favorites over the Carolina Panthers.  Final score: Panthers 21 - Redskins 13.  CBS News: "Redskins lose to Panthers, Redskins rule says Mitt Romney will be President."
Buckeye state update - Washington Secrets: "Ohio shocker: GOP closes voting gap, boosting Romney."

Extra - From Moe Lane.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Friday, November 02, 2012

Somebody from ABC News shouted a question - And Obama smiled and walked on.  That's part of Jim Treacher's "Benghazi news round-up."  "The Obama administration knew an attack on Benghazi was imminent. They knew Islamic terrorists love anniversaries, and 9/11 was coming up. They did nothing to stop the attack, and even hindered efforts to stop it. Then Obama and his surrogates told ridiculous lies to cover up their ineptitude. Then they lied about the lies. Then they lied about the lies about the lies. And so on."

And here's the conclusion of the WashPost editorial: "A security breakdown in Benghazi" "While the agencies separately defend themselves — or not — the White House appears determined to put off any serious discussion of Benghazi until after the election. Sooner or later, however, the administration must answer questions about what increasingly looks like a major security failure — and about the policies that led to it."
The great uniter - Breitbart: "Obama: Voting is 'best revenge' against Romney."  Another off-teleprompter moment for Mr. "No red or blue states."



Grandpa has your job - Zero Hedge: "Chart of the day: America's geriatric work f(a)rce."
Benefit for victims of Sandy - Well I've been tricked again: TV Guide said "Community" was going to be on but it looks like another one of those telethons.  Can we go a solid hour without a politicized statement from one of these celebrities?  Probably not.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Just another $6 billion/day - Zero Hedge: "Starting off with a bang: In first month of 2013 of fiscal 2013, U.S. adds $195 billion in debt."  That's a lot of Halloween candy.
Confirmed: Obama did nothing

As the White House tries to run out the clock on the Benghazi investigation, they keep pushing this line:
Neither the President nor anyone in the White House denied any requests for assistance in Benghazi during the attack,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Hill via e-mail.
That's technically correct because, as I've speculated, they gave no response at all.  Now CBS News is reporting tonight that the White House did not convene the very agency designed to respond to terrorism: "Key task force not convened during Benghazi consulate attack"
CBS News has learned that during the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Obama Administration did not convene its top interagency counterterrorism resource: the Counterterrorism Security Group, (CSG).
"The CSG is the one group that's supposed to know what resources every agency has. They know of multiple options and have the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets across all the agencies," a high-ranking government official told CBS News. "They were not allowed to do their job. They were not called upon."
The White House is now pushing this "ongoing investigation" nonsense as if it takes weeks to collect a bunch of emails and tell the American people what happened in the Oval Office that night.

Extra - Instapundit and Hot Air.

More - Foreign Policy: "Troubling surveillance before Benghazi attack."

And - Brietbart: "Of course, no investigation is really necessary as far as the decisions made on the night of the murders of our ambassador, two former Navy SEALs, and a fourth American. The administration knows precisely what happened – who gave the stand-down order, and who refused to authorize military intervention. They just don’t want to release that."  Yeah, and don't hold your breath for a press conference.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Somebody's talking about Benghazi

It's quite something when the national media cedes coverage of Libya to Jay Leno:
"Well, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is back. Not for gays in the military. It’s President Obama’s new policy for questions about Libya. Don’t ask. Don’t tell."
Don't worry, the MSM won't ask.  But, hey, maybe we'll get some pics from the Situation Room.

Extra - Breaking the embargo, here's David Ignatius in the WashPost: "Lingering questions about Benghazi."

More - Ace: "There are three parts to this scandal: Before, During and After."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Movie descriptions should all be like this


Obama better get a huge turnout from Chicago cemeteries - Interesting tidbit from Gallup via Q&O: Romney leads by 6% among people who have already voted and 6% by people who plan to vote on election day.  So if Romney leads by a substantial margin with past, present, and future voters, Obama may need another dimension of time to pull this off.

Extra - Good roundup of stuff from Nice Deb.

More - Big Government: "Gallup: Obama's early vote advantage collapses 22 points over 2008."
Haven't we suffered enough? - Twitchy: "Robert Reich: Secretary of Affliction."
Nothing can penetrate this fog of war - Bill McGurn: "The fog of Obama's non-war - Seven weeks after a U.S. ambassador was murdered and there are still no answers."  What exactly was the directive the Commander-in-Chief allegedly gave to "secure our personnel" in Libya?

More - IBD: "Stand-down order in Benghazi attack still a mystery."

Monday, October 29, 2012

You're right: trust matters - Here's Stephen Hayes on Benghazi: "So where the administration didn’t hide information, it cherry-picked what it would share. And where the administration shared information, it manipulated that intelligence. Now, as Americans seek information about what happened in Benghazi, the administration stonewalls."

Do you know why this administration stonewalls?  Because it can.
Dead heat in Massachusetts Senate race - The Boston Globe reports today that Senator Scott Brown has an insignificant lead over Elizabeth Warren.  I happen to think Brown's been running a pretty lackluster campaign but Warren's personality has not been endearing to the voters.

Extra - From Legal Insurrection.
Hurricane Sandy - They sent me home from work and, when I pulled into my driveway, I heard and saw a tree behind my house go over.  I'm nervous.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Administration's curious locution on Benghazi

Am I the only one that has noticed that officials in the Obama Administration have employed a strange non-denial in statements on the Libya debacle?  Here's CIA director David Petraeus:
No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate.
And here's the White House:
Neither the president nor anyone in the White House denied any requests for assistance in Benghazi.
Take note that denying "denying requests for help" is not the same as "sending in help."  Why doesn't anybody in the White House say: "Hell, yes, we told them to save those guys!"  Instead we're left to conclude that the Commander-in-Chief didn't say "no" but he didn't say "yes" - in other words, he said nothing at all, which allows these weasel words to stand-in as "truthful."

If we had a real media instead of a bunch of lapdog note-takers, the press would be asking: "Was a Presidential directive made to save the ambassador in Libya?"  Follow-ups: "If not, why not?" and "If so, why wasn't that order carried out?"  We know from Obama's schedule that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was at the White House as the attack in Benghazi was starting.  We also know that as the assault was reaching its fatal conclusion, Obama was chit-chatting with Benjamin Netanyahu for an hour.

Extra - PJ Media: "The White House's lame denial of a Benghazi cover-up."


More - Senator Ron Johnson: "Let's face it. What was the president doing, during those seven hours? Did he give that directive? Or didn't he? Did Leon Panetta directly defy him? I mean, what happened?"  Yeah, what happened?  We don't need a full investigation to state facts.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Meanwhile in Iowa - Nice Deb: "The Des Moines Register endorses Romney."  This is the first time the Register has endorsed a Republican in 40 years.
The Benghazi two-step

Mark Steyn really goes for the jugular here, all but accusing Obama of letting four Americans die in Libya.  Read the whole thing, as they say:
Why would Obama and Biden do such a thing [deny the request for military backup]? Because to launch a military operation against an al-Qaeda affiliate on the anniversary of 9/11 would have exposed the hollowness of their boast through convention week and the days thereafter — that Osama was dead and al-Qaeda was finished. And so Ty Woods, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Chris Stevens were left to die, and a decision taken to blame an entirely irrelevant video and, as Secretary Clinton threatened, “have that person arrested.” And, in the weeks that followed, the government of the United States lied to its own citizens as thoroughly and energetically as any totalitarian state, complete with the midnight knock on the door from not-so-secret policemen sent to haul the designated fall-guy into custody.
That gentleman's bail hearing is, coincidentally  the Friday after the election.  Bill Kristol has ten questions for the White House since it has been reported that Obama was in residence throughout the timeline of the battle in Benghazi.  They're simple queries such as: did Obama speak with CIA director David Petraeus?  Did he convene a meeting with his national security council?  Did he even go into the 'situation room'?

It's not enough to simply push off these questions with a boilerplate: "Well, there's an investigation."  There are facts known by this Administration that they clearly do not want to share.

Watch this number - The match-up polls are bouncing in the margin of error, but historically a President will get a popular vote percentage that's close to his approval percentage.  Today Gallup reported that Obama is underwater with 46% approval - 49% disapproval.  Rasmussen has O's approval number at 47% and 52% disapproval; none of the recent polls show him over 49%.

Extra - And then there's likely voter party affiliation.  That's a good 'un, too.
Everybody on the government dole, the kids will get the tab - George Will: "Mugging our descendants."

Friday, October 26, 2012

Big ideas vs. shiny objects - Big Government: "Romney goes big in economy speech."

By the way, while you were watching baseball, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio hit 102%.
Local reporter commits act of journalism - The Blaze: "Obama refuses to answer repeated questions on whether requests for help in Benghazi were denied."  Wow, it's been almost two months since the 9/11 attack and somebody managed to ask the Commander-in-Chief an actual question which was, of course, filibustered.

Extra - From Nice Deb and the Right Scoop.  He wants to be super-careful about the Benghazi investigation after trotting Susan King out to mislead on the Sunday news shows.

More - From Q&O.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Holy cow! - Did you see that bunt?!?
Big font, wide margins - Rich Lowry: "Obama's pathetic picture book."  "If the pamphlet works, it deserves to join the ranks of the classic picture books of all time, right up there with “Go, Dog. Go!” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” In an amusing touch, it has a table of contents — as if readers would have trouble navigating the extensive volume."
Time to put away childish things - Hot Air: "From Generation Hopenchange to Generation Disenchanted?"  Maybe the kids are catching on after all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An open letter to America's young voters

In this election season, polls continue to show that President Obama holds a wide lead in popularity with under-30 voters over Mitt Romney.  And I get it: Obama is hip, he's cool, you voted for him in 2008.  Maybe you agree with him on a host of social issues.  But Obama's policies and failure to lead are deeply compromising your future.  Your folks see the problem, too.

First of all, Obama has added $5.5 trillion in new debt to our now $16 trillion-plus national debt.  This is all swiped onto the national credit card to be repaid by future generations.  It also serves to suppress the economy (see: Europe), driving the under-30 unemployment rate to nearly 12%.

If you happen to have a job, watch for more stories like this as Obamacare is implemented: businesses will be cutting back worktime under 30 hours a week to avoid the health care expense.  And then there's the little-known Obamacare practice of "community rating".  From Hit and Run: "How Obamacare, like Medicare, royally screws young people"
Obamacare forces insurers to charge their eldest beneficiaries no more than 3 times what they charge their youngest ones: a policy known as “community rating.” This, despite the fact that these older beneficiaries typically have six times the health expenditures that younger people face. The net effect of this “community rating” provision is the redistribution of insurance costs from the old to the young.
So young Americans are subsidizing everybody else's health care: fairness and all.  Finally, there's the generational warfare of entitlement spending:
Social Security and Medicare, which provide retirement and health insurance benefits for senior Americans, generally without regard to need, are funded by taxes on the relatively meager wages of younger Americans who will never enjoy anything close to the same benefits.
According to the government's own accountants, the Medicare Trust Fund will be depleted in 2024 and the Social Security Trust Fund will be zeroed out in 2033; after these dates, benefits will be cut sharply.  Obama hasn't done the slightest thing to defuse this time bomb set for young Americans who will pay into these programs all their lives.  Tough luck, kids.

What has Obama offered for young Americans in return?  Well, you can stay on your parents' insurance until you're 26 and Sandra Fluke can get her employer to pay for her birth control pills (assuming the Olive Garden hasn't cut her hours).  And then there's federal student loans and some studies have suggested that these are actually working to drive up tuition costs.  So you'll need more student debt, a.k.a. the next subprime crisis.

So I need to ask: are young Americans really going to sell their vote - and future - for the magic beans of Pell Grants and subsidized contraception?  Time to grow up.
People died, Obama lied, the press complied

Here's Jim Treacher on Benghazi:
And of course, Obama did what any president would do: He blamed the murder of an American ambassador by terrorists on a dumb YouTube video, and told the world that freedom of speech is fine as long as you don’t offend a Muslim. (Coincidentally, the maker of that dumb YouTube video is now in jail. Even more coincidentally, his court date isn’t until after the election.)
I can understand why Obama thought he could get away with this. He’s never been held accountable for his actions in his entire life, so why would anybody start hassling him now?
This evening on Fox News, Mara Liasson said that Mitt Romney missed an opportunity to press Obama's clear-as-mud explanations on the death of four Americans in Libya.  But Charles Krauthammer said the real fault lies with the media which is uninterested in doing its job when there's a Democrat in the White House.

Extra - Ace of Spades: "Just because Ansar Al-Shariah claimed responsibility for the attack, and in fact were later connected to the attack, doesn't mean you should think they were connected to the attack."

More - Blackfive: "The consequences of Benghazi."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Make your choice, America



Breitbart: "Big Bird, Binders, Bayonets."
Just in time - Hot Air: "New Obama ad: Dude, I found my second-term agenda."

Opinion Journal: "The guy is tapped out."
Get ready for a lot of ridicule, Nate

As Romney marks a new high in the RCP poll average, the NY Times' Nate Silver actually increases Obama's chance of winning to >70%.  Ace of Spades responds:
Nate Silver just emailed to say Obama's odds of winning improved to 640%, which means that, in addition to winning the election, Obama now has a good shot of being crowned King of the Third French Empire and the next Celebrity Apprentice.
Everybody at the Times is now Pauline Kael.
Obama wins debate on foreign policy...which nobody cares about

I thought Romney was shaky at the start of the debate and his answers had a staccato rhythm.  It's pretty clear he wanted to project an image of steadiness but at times he let easy rejoinders slip away.  For example: Obama has never visited Israel as President although he's visited nearly every other country on earth.  Romney got stronger midway through and he was clearly more at ease talking about the economy.

Obama was better at the start and made some palpable hits.  But then he ran out of steam and fell back on 1.) snark and 2.) his stump speech.  How many times did he say we needed to invest in education?  Four?  Should we ask "people like him" to pay more in taxes?  What American hasn't heard it a thousand times?  By  the end he seemed desperate to let people know he was smarter, oh so smarter, than Mitt.

In the larger sense, Romney needed to appear Presidential and he did.  If Americans were looking for a Commander-in-Chief, Mitt can fill the bill.  This debate will not change the trajectory of the polls one bit and that's a win for Romney.

Extra - CNN poll of registered voters says Obama "wins" 48-40% but on whether the candidates could be President, the numbers were nearly equal.  On the question of whether you'd be more likely to vote for a candidate it was 24% more likely to vote for Obama, 25% for Romney, and 50% neither.  In other words, no change at all.

More - Oh, I forgot to mention: Obama's closing argument to the American people was his vapid laundry list from his stump speech.  Romney's final pitch was optimism, peace, and strength through a strong economy.  Excellent and effective.

And - White House Dossier: "Romney's brilliant maneuver."

Plus - Instapundit: "Snarky, condescending, peevish and small."  Obama that is.

Finally - Nice Deb has a video of Charles Krauthammer who thought Romney won, hands down.

Monday, October 22, 2012

For what it's worth - I agree with Jonah Goldberg on Romney's debate strategy tonight: "Why did Romney get such a huge surge in the polls after his first debate? Because he reassured reluctant voters that he was a plausible president of the United States. He came across as confident, likable, serious, focused on the economy and, most important for tonight’s purposes, presidential. And that should be Romney’s goal tonight: Be presidential. That means seeming steady and unexcitable. It means his criticisms should be focused on Obama’s naivetĂ©, arrogance and ideological obsessions. But even here, less is more."  Yes, make your point but more out of sorrow than anger.
So many questions and no straight answers - Over at the Corner, Bing West is bewildered by the explanations from the CIA, as reported by the NY Times, over Benghazi.  There was no protest - "none, nada, none" - and for weeks the Administration ran with the "bad movie review" line.  We're still investigating and shouldn't draw conclusions, yet Susan Rice was dispatched to push the protest line right away.  The attack on the consulate lasted seven hours but no military assistance was sent as a U.S. drone watched it all unfold.

I don't normally watch O'Reilly but he makes a good point tonight: isn't the country owed a press conference from this Commander-in-Chief?  Yes, the "fog of war", but it's six weeks later.  I predicted way before Libya that Obama wouldn't hold another press conference but now it looks like the only answers we'll get from this President are whatever are pried out of him by Bill Schaeffer tonight.
Somebody's going to get the "Cory Booker" treatment

Hit and Run: "Obama's foreign policy is 'dysfunctional' and 'lackluster' says former Obamaite."
[T]o a significant extent, President Obama is the author of his own lackluster foreign policy. He was a visionary candidate, but as president, he has presided over an exceptionally dysfunctional and un-visionary national security architecture -- one that appears to drift from crisis to crisis, with little ability to look beyond the next few weeks.
Oh dear.
Foward Barack voters - Looks like spelling is optional at a Joe Biden rally.  Or maybe they were reading the Boston Globe.