Thursday, August 23, 2012

Quick Hits - August 23, 2012

George Orwell's classic novel, Nineteen Eighty Four, highlighting the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of a totalitarian society, introduced a number of words into modern day lexicon.  One of these was 'doublespeak' - which is defined as:
"To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed...."
Adolf Hitler, writing in 'Mein Kampf, highlights the 'Big Lie' and how / why it works...
All this was inspired by the principle--which is quite true within itself--that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.
Given this, what are we to make of the intellectual bankruptcy of Obama Campaign Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter?  Her past actions have qualified her to be termed a sociopathic liar - what with the lies about not accusing Mitt Romney of being a tax 'felon', or the pattern of lies around Joe Soptic, the infamous 'Cancer' accusation / advertisement, and the linkage between the Obama campaign, Joe Soptic, and Priorities USA.

Now we have the latest example of  her use of the 'Big Lie'... her claim that President Barack Obama has created more jobs in his term in office than were created by President Ronald Reagan during the 'Reagan Recovery':

…Well, I think that worker probably has a good understanding of what’s happened over the past four years in terms of the president coming in and seeing 800,000 jobs lost on the day that the president was being sworn in, and seeing the president moving pretty quickly to stem the losses, to turn the economy around, and over the past, you know, 27 months we’ve created 4.5 million private sector jobs. That’s more jobs than in the Bush recovery, in the Reagan recovery, there’s obviously more we need to do, and as I said to Mika at the at beginning of the program, I think that unemployed worker probably sees one person in this race trying to move the country forward and that’s the president…
There is an incredible arrogance and intellectual bankruptcy around her statement.  There is also an audacity with her willingness to flat out lie.  And we need to ask ourselves about those who are around her if they also see no challenges with her willingness to lie in such an outrageous manner.  And what does it say about Cutter's and the rest of the Obama campaign team's contempt towards the American citizen that they see nothing wrong with employing the 'Big Lie' or 'doublespeak' in their effort to win at all costs?

The facts around job creation are easily determined. The facts around President Obama's economic record are easily determined.

The President, and his team, promised us, that he would halve the deficit by the end of his term.
- Broken Promise.  We got four consecutive years of > $1 trillion deficits and nearly $6 trillion new debt.

The President, and his team, promised us, that he spent nearly $850 billion in a stimulus, by the summer of 2012, we would have a 4.0-4.5% GDP growth rate and a 5.6% unemployment rate.

- Broken Promise.  We're struggling to maintain a 1.7% GDP growth rate, have a 'cooked books' unemployment rate of 8.3% - and if we used the same labor participation rate today as was in place in January 2009, the unemployment rate would be 11.0%

In fact, the labor participation rate today is at the lowest level in over 30 years...

Erika Johnson, writing in the above link from Hot Air, is just far too polite and kind towards Stephanie Cutter in her riposte to Cutter's latest lie...
We’ve had almost four years of President Obama’s ‘plans to put unemployed workers back to work,’ and it is more than evident that they haven’t worked. Public-sector “investments” for things like “job-training programs” or “education plans to ensure that young people have every opportunity… for the jobs of the future” are some of the lamest, most paltry excuses for action-items out there. And as for helping small businesses out with tax cuts? President Obama is touring the country harping about how Mitt Romney wants to cut [insert pet Democratic cause here] in exchange for ‘tax cuts for the wealthy,’ but President Obama’s master plan is nothing more than a tax hike that will harm small businesses and cut America’s job creators off at the knees.

… President Obama has created “more private-sector jobs” than the ‘Reagan and Bush recoveries’? Okay, first of all — the government does not create jobs. The government can either hinder job creators, or set them free. Secondly, let’s talk a little real talk about net job creation during Obama’s tenure, which isn’t nearly so rosy. And if you don’t want to get into an argument about when exactly President Obama became accountable for jobs gained and lost and for our overall economic activity (although, according to him, we still haven’t hit that point), that’s just fine. Let’s look at some more reliable indicators about our economy’s health after almost four years of Obamanomics: The labor force participation rate is at three-decade low, and economic growth is piddling along at a 1.5 percent annual rate as of the second quarter (and multiple sources are predicting that it’s only about to get worse!).
The presumptive GOP Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, does a fine job mocking President Obama's imaginary economic recovery...

New jobless claims increased again according to the Department of Labor.  A seasonally adjusted 372,000 filed for new jobless claims, an increase over the 365,000 that 'experts' were predicting for this week's number.  As is now standard operating procedure within the Obama Administration, last week's numbers were revised upwards, from 366,000 to 368,000.

Unsurprisingly, NBC News, seriously in the tank for the Obama campaign, calls this a 'surprise jump'.

The Wall Street Journal features an editorial in today's edition that highlights the effects of the President's economic policies, and lays the full responsibility for the fiscal cliff that we will reach on January 1, 2013 on the President's economic policies.  This is a read-it-all editorial as it lays out the fallacy around the Keynesian approach - which fails again in practical implementation - as well as the failure of the progressive political / economic ideology...
The problem is political, but more important it is intellectual. The Keynesians and their allies who have dominated tax policy for most of the last decade (the 2003 bill excepted) need to be exiled back to Harvard, Princeton and Wall Street. And the Romney-Ryan Republicans need to understand and not repeat the Bush mistakes of 2001 and 2008.

Instead of "timely, targeted and temporary," tax policy should include lower rates (and fewer loopholes) that are applied as broadly as possible and are permanent. These were the principles that guided the Reagan policy of the 1980s, and they need to be revived.
Business Insider has a long two part article that really touches on tax policy and who pays the taxes in this country that is part of their case that they try to make to address the question as to how to resolve our national fiscal challenges.

They begin with establishing the foundation:

The Federal Tax Revenue as a Percentage of GDP

How our current level of Federal Spending is at a near record level

And the delta between spending and revenues that have brought us four consecutive years which averaged an annual federal budget deficit of $1.2 trillion

As BI notes, we need to cut spending as well as increase our revenues if we are to bring the federal budget into balance.

How do we increase revenues?

The progressive model promoted by Barack Obama is to increase taxes - particularly on the 'wealthy'.  They call for this in the name of 'fairness' and 'social justice'.  But where is the 'fairness' when nearly 50% of all American's do not pay any federal income taxes?

The top 10% of wage earners in this country already pay about 65% of all the total individual income taxes collected by the federal government.

Based on 2009 tax data, the top 25% of wage earners in the United States account for 66% of the total income earned in the U.S. - but this group's share of the total income taxes paid is 87%.

How much more can / should this group (or smaller traunches of this group) pay?  Is increasing income tax rates the best way to raise revenues?

Art Laffer, the economist behind the Laffer Curve, advocates that the best way to increase revenues is not via increasing tax rates, particularly when the current tax code is already quite progressive.  The Laffer curve says that at higher tax rates, revenues will actually decline as those at the higher rates will take additional steps to hide / limit their tax liability.

The Romney-Ryan plan focuses on reforming the tax code - making it broader (more inclusive with fewer people paying nothing), reducing tax loopholes and deductions, and lowering the tax rates in return for reducing tax loopholes and deductions.

These steps, combined with pro-private sector actions (reformed / lower corporate tax rates, regulatory changes), would stimulate economic growth.  This economic growth would then translate (as they did under Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush 43) into higher federal revenues.

But that's only part of the problem.  Spending is not sustainable at nearly 24% of GDP.  Spending has to be decreased.  While there is significant government waste and inefficiencies within the federal bureaucracy, this is the low hanging fruit.  We need to get the federal government out of the business of subsidizing states to the level that it is doing - and reserve for the states those responsibilities that belong locally.

Unfortunately, though, even this fails to address the three biggest areas of spending that is currently and will continue to bust the federal budget beyond servicing our growing debt obligations.  Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the three largest spending obligations we have.  All three are seriously outdated and in desperate need of reform.

While these are in need of reform, we need to tread carefully in reforming them as we also have an obligation to undertake reform without causing major economic problems to the current dependents  / recipients of these programs or to the national economy.

Which set of candidates running for election today have laid out a plan and an approach to do this?

The majority of the polls continue to show that for the voter, the number 1 issue is the economy and the fiscal crisis the country is in the midst of.  We've spent nearly 4 years trying the progressive / Keynesian solutions - to the point that we are now in the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression.  (Remember, it was FDR's New Deal policies that exacerbated the recovery from the Great Depression.)

How will this impact the November election?  Two political science professors with the University of Colorado have developed a model for the November election that has correctly predicted who will win the past eight presidential elections.
A University of Colorado economic model that has correctly predicted who will win the past eight presidential elections shows Mitt Romney emerging as the victor in 2012.

Ken Bickers, professor of political science at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Michael Berry, political science professor at the University of Colorado Denver, announced Wednesday that their state-by-state analysis shows the Republican capturing a majority of electoral votes.

“Based on our forecasting model, it becomes clear that the president is in electoral trouble,” said Mr. Bickers, who also serves as director of the CU in DC Internship Program.

The results show President Obama winning 218 votes in the Electoral College, well short of the 270 required for victory. While the study focuses on the electoral vote, the professors also predict that Mr. Romney will win 52.9 percent of the popular vote to Mr. Obama’s 47.1 percent when considering only the two major political parties.

The analysis factors in a host of economic data, including state and national unemployment figures and changes in real per capita income.
The moronic GOP Missouri Senatorial candidate, Todd Akin, got another dose of reality today as a newly conducted Rasmussen poll shows he is trailing the very vulnerable Democrat incumbent, Claire McCaskill, by 10 points.

The lamestream media continues to focus attention on Akin's inexcusable and offensive statement about 'legitimate rape' and pregnancy.  In the past three and a half days, the ABC, CBS, and NBC nightly newscasts and morning shows have broadcast 45 segments, totaling 96 minutes of air time, on Todd Akin.  In comparison, these same media outlets and programs only dedicated about 20% of this effort towards reporting on Vice President Joe Biden's racial accusation that the GOP wants to put African-Americans back in chains made last week.  Even worse, almost all of these reports now try to link Romney-Ryan to Todd Akin's uninformed statements even though both candidates have denounced Akin and demanded that he withdraw from the Missouri Senate race.

Also getting a pass is the Massachusetts Democrat Senatorial candidate, Elizabeth Warren.  She's gotten a pass over questions around her academic thesis and writings as well as a pass over her false claims that she is of Native American ancestry - done to take advantage of affirmative action.  Trailing incumbent GOP Senator Scott Brown by 5 in the latest polls, Warren has launched a new attack on Scott Brown leveraging a misleading and dishonestly edited video of Scott Brown on the campaign stump - ending a clip mid-sentence to take it out of context.

Yesterday's QH covered in detail a number of new polls - and in particular the challenges with those polls.  Today, we have another poll that follows in the same meme.  CBS / New York Times / Quinnipiac partnered again to conduct a poll in three key swing states for the November election- Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

The poll results show President Obama is still leading in all three swing states, but two of these, in Wisconsin and Florida, are a virtual tie.  The results for Ohio continue to show the President with a 6 point lead.  

These numbers reflect a narrowing of the race - but when one looks deeper into the details of the poll that aren't listed in the usual newspaper articles, there remains a huge red flag for the President.  The catch, as always, is in the samples.  Ed Morrissey, at the above link to Hot Air, lays it out:
What do the partisan splits in the samples look like? Let’s lay out all three states and compare the D/R/I of this poll to 2008 and 2010:

• Florida: 34/28/32; 2008 37/34/29, 2010 36/36/28

• Ohio: 34/26/34; 2008 39/31/30, 2010 36/37/28

• Wisconsin: 32/28/33; 2008 39/33/29, 2010 37/36/28

Once again, we have a significant under-representation of Republicans in all three states, especially against the 2010 model. And yet, Barack Obama doesn’t seem to be faring too well even with the boost.
In Florida's sample, Republican turnout in this poll is 6 points smaller than the 2008 actual turnout and 8 points smaller than the 2010 turnout.

In Ohio's sample, Republican turnout modeled in this poll is 5 points smaller than 2008's actual turnout and 11 points smaller than the 2010 turnout.

In Wisconsin's sample, the Republican turnout modeled in this poll is also 5 points smaller than 2008's actual turnout and 8 points smaller than the 2010 turnout.

Are we really to believe that GOP enthusiasm this year is that much lower than it was in 2008?  Let alone 2010?  With that answer - then ask yourself if these numbers are really good news for the Obama team?

When you don't have much to run on, your only options left are to lie (see above Stephanie Cutter) or disrupt...
Bucking protocol, President Obama and the Democrats are planning a full-scale assault on Republicans next week during their convention.

Presidential candidates have traditionally kept a low profile during their opponent’s nominating celebration, but Democrats are throwing those rules out the window in an attempt to spoil Mitt Romney’s coronation as the GOP nominee.

President Obama, Vice President Biden and leading congressional Democrats have all scheduled high-profile events next week to counter-program the Republican gathering in Tampa.

Even first lady Michelle Obama is in on the act, scheduling an appearance on the “David Letterman Show” smack in the middle of Romney’s nominating bash.
Ah, staying classy.

Today in History

1305 - Scot patriot William Wallace was executed via being hung, drawn, and quartered in London.

1929 - The Hebron massacre takes place during the 1929 riots - Arabs attack the Jewish community of Hebron inside the British Mandate of Palestine - killing 65 to 68 Jews and forcing all of the others in the Jewish community to leave the city.

1939 - German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov sign a non-aggression pact which gives Hitler free reign to deal with Poland and a possible war with Britain and France without concerns of a two front war.  In return, Hitler agrees to not only partition Poland, but defines a secret protocol to divide all of Central and Eastern Europe into 'spheres of influence'.  This sets the stage for the November 1939 Soviet invasion of Finland and the 1940 Soviet occupation / annexation of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

1942 - German forces begin their assault on the Soviet industrial city of Stalingrad

1944 - The French port city of Marseilles is liberated by U.S. troops.

1958 - The Second Taiwan Strait Crisis begins as the People's Republic of China resumes massive artillery bombardment and the blockade of Quemoy and Matus Islands - owned and occupied by the Republic of China (Taiwan).  The PRC is attempting to intimidate Taiwan into pulling out of the islands and demonstrate independence in actions from the USSR.  U.S. President Eisenhower responds by indicating that the U.S. would support the Republic of China to defend the islands and deployed naval forces to the area.

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