Herman Cain is assessing his candidacy in light of yet more woman trouble. From the NR version of the conferece call:
“Obviously, you’re all aware of this recent firestorm that hit the news yesterday,” Cain began, his voice somber. “First thing I want to do is say to you what I have said publicly: I deny those charges, unequivocally. Secondly, I have known this lady for a number of years. And thirdly, I have been attempting to help her financially because she was out of work and destitute, desperate. So, thinking that she was a friend — and I have helped many friends — I now know that she wasn’t the friend that I thought she was. But it was a just a friendship relationship.”
“That being said, obviously, this is cause for reassessment,” he continued. “As you know, during the summer we had to make some reassessments based upon our financial situation. We were able to hang in there; we reassessed the situation and kept on going. We also did a reassessment after the Iowa straw poll and we made another reassessment after the Florida straw poll. When the previous two accusations, false accusations, came about, we made another assessment. The way we handled those was, we continued on with our schedule. We made an assessment about what was going to happen to our support. But our supporters, and even some folks that we didn’t have as supporters, they stood with us, and they showed it not only in terms of their verbal support, they showed it in terms of their dollars.”
“Now, with this latest one, we have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people’s minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth,” Cain said.
Obviously, prior asessments hve not meant termination.
Barney Frank won't seek re-election in 2012. The obvious guess is that this signals a tough environment for Massachusetts libs, but I think that on net it will help Elizabeth Warren, who now becomes the undisputed center of the liberal universe in MA and won't be dragged down by Barney's baggage.
From the AP:
Man rescued from quicksand in Utah after 8 hours
8 hours? Sure, glaciers were impressed by that quickness, but wait'll they get a load of my crossover dribble, which often takes me less than 8 minutes.
Away we go. I still can't figure out how to post from my new Kindle Fire, so I am going old-school here.
This last example suggests why the J.F.K. cult matters — because its myths still shape how we interpret politics today. We confuse charisma with competence, rhetoric with results, celebrity with genuine achievement. We find convenient scapegoats for national tragedies, and let our personal icons escape the blame. And we imagine that the worst evils can be blamed exclusively on subterranean demons, rather than on the follies that often flow from fine words and high ideals.
JFK also matters because the Democratic Party is always looking to nominate the next JFK, i.e., someone young, charismatic, and with no history of positions that might annoy some portion of their fractious base.
Once again we see some catnip for the left - a Fairleigh Dickinson research group has published a fairly ridiculous poll, and the HuffPo got so excited after the first few paragraphs that they stopped reading.
Here is the HuffPo headline and lead:
Fox News Viewers Know Less Than People Who Don't Watch Any News: Study
Fox News viewers are less informed than people who don't watch any news, according to a new poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
The poll surveyed New Jersey residents about the uprisings in Egypt and the Middle East, and where they get their news sources. The study, which controlled for demographic factors like education and partisanship, found that "people who watch Fox News are 18-points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government" and "6-points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government" compared to those who watch no news.
Overall, 53% of all respondents knew that Egyptians successfully overthrew Hosni Mubarak and 48% knew that Syrians have yet to overthrow their government.
That is accurate but woefully incomplete. Had the Huffers pressed on, they would have found this tidbit about their own friends on the left:
New Jerseyans are not necessarily more likely to be knowledgeable about domestic politics than international events. Just 47% are able to identify the Occupy Wall Street protesters as predominantly Democratic: 11 % think they are Republicans. Viewers of cable news on MSNBC are the most likely to think the protestors are Republicans. Watching the left-leaning MSNBC news channel is associated with a 10-point increase
in the likelihood of misidentifying the protesters.
Har de har! Those daffy lefties have got Cairo covered but can't even figure what side OWS is on! C'mon, Lean Forward and smell the coffee!
Or maybe, this whole poll has a deeply dubious methodology. Let's flash back to the question on Egypt - here we go, from the poll:
To the best of your knowledge, have the opposition groups protesting in Egypt been successful in bringing down the regime there?
Hmm. As a more-than-casual observer of the international scene, I infer that current events in Egypt suggest that the protestors are asking themselves that very question. Massive demonstrations certainly suggest some local angst about whether the military replacement of Mubarak really represented regime change they can believe in.
The poll was conducted from October 17 through Oct 23, 2011. I lack the character and commitment to essay the Fox archives, but let's check some NY Times headlines from October:
A NY Times editorial from Oct 13:
Egypt's Failing Army
... The army is increasingly at odds with the people and contributing to instability. Many Egyptians now understandably fear that the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took over when Mr. Mubarak was pushed out, will do anything to retain power and keep ordinary citizens from exercising their political rights.
Meet the new boss. So as of Oct 17, those silly bunnys watching Fox weren't sure that protestors had "been successful in bringing down the regime there". And we still aren't sure, even if the Huffers and the Fairleigh Dickinson people are. Too bad the question didn't specifically cite Mubarak so we could have learned something.
As to methodology, I am deeply suspicious of this result:
By contrast, some media sources have a positive effect on political knowledge. For example, people who report reading a national newspaper like The New York Times or USA Today are 12-points more likely to know that Egyptians have overthrown their government than those who have not looked at any news source. And those who listen to the non-profit NPR radio network are 11-points more likely to know the outcome of the revolt against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. However, the best informed respondents are those that watched Sunday morning news programs: leading to a 16-
point increase in the likelihood of knowing what happened in Egypt and an 8-point increase in the likelihood of knowing what happened in Syria.
"Sunday morning news shows tend to spend a lot more time on a single issue than other news broadcasts, and they are less likely to degenerate into people shouting at each other," said Cassino. "Viewers pick up more information from this sort of calm discussion than from other formats. Unfortunately, these shows have a much smaller audience than the shouters."
In a total sample of 612 respondents did they really find a statistically meaningful number of people who watch the Sunday talkies but are not news junkies devouring newspapers and the internet? That defies my credulity, but if they didn't, they have a huge covariance problem. My alternative hypothesis is that answering yes to "Watch Sunday shows" serves as a marker for high overall news consumption, not as evidence that the Sunday shows are uniquely informative.
Here is the question on news sources:
I’m going to read you a list of news sources. As I read the list, just say “yes” if you got news from that source any time in the past week.
Nothing about frequency or intensity of consumption. The gal who reads the Times and the WSJ on the train into work each day and religiously dials into the Sunday talkies is lumped in with the guy who picks up the NY Post for the football line and inadvertently caught a few minutes of the Sunday Fox show while getting ready for the football. Whatever.
And with the samll sample size, we have a large margin of error of +/- 3.5% for the whole group, and of course more for sub-groups. On the Egypt question, the "winners" were NPR with only 24% getting the "wrong" answer; Fox brought up the rear with 18% "incorrectly" indicating that regime change had not occurred. Statistically significant? Hardly.
All in all, a good job by the Fairleigh Dickinson team of self-promoting nothing into a bit of attention.
HMMM: Utterly uncritical recycling from Taegan Goddard; not his usual standard.
GETTING SOMEWHERE: Frances Martel of Mediaite picks up the OWS foible and provides some helpful bashing.
ALSO TOO EXCITED: David Taintor of TPMDC never reads as far as page 2.
QUESTIONS I HAVEN'T SEEN POLLED... How would a typical OWS protestor do on the seemingly simple question of whether the US had regime change with the election of Obama in 2008? Hmm, the Street-coddling Geithner moved to Treasury, Gates stayed in Defense, troops were added to Afghanistan, Gitmo is still open, the Bush tax cuts were extended... maybe the 1% simply tapped a new figurehead. I bet a lot would get it "wrong" (but they would, being Republican).
SECRET FOX VIEWERS: From a new report by Amnesty International:
Egypt's military rulers have completely failed to live up to their promises to Egyptians to improve human rights and have instead been responsible for a catalogue of abuses which in some cases exceeds the record of Hosni Mubarak, Amnesty International said today in a new report.
"The human rights balance sheet for SCAF [Supreme Council of Armed Forces] shows that after nine months in charge of Egypt, the aims and aspirations of the January 25 revolution have been crushed. The brutal and heavy-handed response to protests in the last few days bears all the hallmarks of the Mubarak era."
Newt Gingrich was, for practical if not legal purposes, a lobbyist for the drug companies during the 2003 debate over the creation of a Nedicare drug benefit. That does not square well with his recent claim that he has "never done lobbying of any kind."
Newt is an engaging speaker with a million ideas but I don't think he will wear well.
The Captain tackles the now-passed House bill on concealed carry reciprocity:
Here’s a conundrum for limited-government conservatives. Should the federal government dictate reciprocity on firearm carry permits to states as part of its authority under the Commerce Clause and the incorporation view of the Second Amendment? Or should states have the sovereignty to decide on reciprocity for carry permits as a function of federalism and states’ rights?
Ask me a tough one - with Heller and the subsequent McDonald v. Chicago the Supreme Court has backed a right to self-defense in the home and not much more. If libs tried an end-around at the Federal level to limit states rights and advance of their agenda, righties would be furious, so let's have some consistency on states rights. If the good people of the great state of New York want to have strict gun control, feel free to move elsewhere.
What I would support is some sort of "just passing through" exception for motorists. I have friends who routinely drive from Pennsylvania to Vermont, passing through New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and/or Massachusetts. The manner in which they transport their weapons might be legal in both Pennsylvania and Vermont but nowhere in between. A good-faith exemption would make sense.
But the idea that a tourist from Arizona can bring Arizona's concealed carry laws with him to the mean streets of New York for a week-long visit strikes me as absurd.
The Captain notes that the solution to this is within the grasp of the states and in many cases has been grasped:
The existing level of [state-to-state] reciprocity indicates to me that the issue may not really need federal intervention in the first place, and that the proper limited-government perspective should be to keep the federal government out of it.
OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD: Although driver's licenses are often cited as an example of state reciprocity, New York won't accept out-of-state licenses for people under 16. That would be a quick example of local public safety concerns trumping the principle of reciprocity.
Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD clear out Zucotti Park overnight, although it may be only temporarily:
Hundreds of New York City police officers cleared Zuccotti Park of the Occupy Wall Street protesters early Tuesday, arresting dozens of people there after warning them that the nearly two-month-old camp would be “cleared and restored” before the morning and that any demonstrator who did not leave would be arrested.
Let's see whether the Occupiers return, and whether polls indicate they have worn out their welcome. I hope they make it back - there is still plenty of embarrassment left for them to deliver to the left.
Herman Cain met with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and made some news. Apparently, the topic of Libya is a trick question; Cain also went to Wisconsin without getting up to speed on the matter of strikes, collective bargaining, and public sector unions.
The Supreme Court takes up the ObamaCare mandate, wth a decision expected next June:
The Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals from just one decision, from the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, the only one so far striking down the mandate. The decision, from a divided three-judge panel, said the mandate overstepped Congressional authority and could not be justified by the constitutional power “to regulate commerce” or “to lay and collect taxes.”
The appeals court went no further, though, severing the mandate from the rest of the law.
On Monday, the justices agreed to decide not only whether the mandate is constitutional but also, if it is not, how much of the balance of the law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, must fall along with it.
In a statement issued soon after the decision, the Obama administration restated their argument that the mandate is perfectly constitutional.
“We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident the Supreme Court will agree,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director.
But even the White House has said that the mandate is “absolutely intertwined” with two other provisions — one forbidding insurers to turn away applicants, the other barring them from taking account of pre-existing conditions.
Well - if the Supremes uphold the law, it will
(a) energize conservatives who will see a Republican President as the only path to repeal;
(b) placate moderates who will figure it's Constitutional if the courts say it is;
(c) rally libs who are never happier than when in "I Told You So" mode.
The net effect will help Obama.
Conversely, if the Supremes shoot down the law it will:
(a) energize conservatives who won't trust Obama to jettison his only legacy;
(b) placate moderates who will figure that since the courts have struck it down, they don't need to worry about it;
(c) rally libs to the defense of their Roosevelt fantasies and re-open the pubilc option debate.
The net effect will be to, hmm, help Obama? Naaah - if a Constitutional Law lecturer's proudest accomplisment is found to be unconstitutional, that can't be helpful.
Between tee times President Obama explained to America's CEOs that we have been "lazy" in attracting foreign investment to the US:
President Obama to CEOs: ‘We’ve Been a Bit Lazy’
By Jon Garcia
For the second time in as many months, President Obama has taken the nation that elected him president to task for its own lackadaisical economic performance on the global stage.
Obama told a group of CEOs today that the United States has gotten “lazy” and that America lost its hunger in promoting itself in a global marketplace.
“We’ve been a little bit lazy over the last couple of decades. We’ve kind of taken for granted — ‘Well, people would want to come here’ — and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new businesses into America,” he told the CEOs who are gathered on the sidelines of the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, which the United States is hosting this year in Hawaii.
“I think it’s important to remember that the United States is still the largest recipient of foreign investment in the world and there are a lot of things that make foreign investors see the U.S. as a great opportunity — our stability, our openness, our innovative free market culture,” he said.
The First Busy Bee (a former community organizer and unpublished law review editor and lecturer) has shredded the rule book on behalf of the UAW, ended off-shore drilling, punted on the Canadian pipeline, and thrown sand in Boeing's gear for attempting to open a plant in South Carolina. If these other slackers could just pick it up, we might be able to achieve Greek's status by Christmas.
So how did you love the debate? If you thought the greatest crisis facing America was the tendency of Republican Presidential candidates to take forty seconds to deliver a thirty second answer, then you loved CBS moderator Scott Pelley. Of course, he looked pretty stupid when he cut Mitt Romney off after thirty seconds and Mitt had to explain he was on the sixty second clock. Ooops! And his lecture to Newt about the illegality of Obama's lethal drone strike on Awlaki was absurd. Per CBS News, the Justice Department is on one side and the ACLU on the other; the question is at best unresolved.
Among the candidates, I thought the humbler, self-deprecating Rick Perry was effective. He had some good quips about his Dept of Energy memory lapse, but otherwise did seem lost up there. Gingrich and Romney stood out, as usual; Cain seemed to be BSing, but it probably didn't cost him support.
T. A. Frank of the NY Times Magazine profiles Herman Cain. Four snippets; first, Cain and homework:
They [former staff members] also speak — bitterly — of a candidate with zero interest in policy. They speak of events canceled at the last minute to accommodate any available television interview. They speak of unrelenting self-absorption, even by the standards of a politician.
But they don’t speak of someone who can’t win.
The author argues that Cain's news and views of the word have come from his time in talk radio, which leaves Cain as an unparalleled example of epistemic closure:
But I suspect Cain’s flubs are unrelated to intelligence. In 2010, Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute set off a lively debate by suggesting conservatives had fallen prey to “epistemic closure,” a fancy way of saying that they were getting all their information and opinions exclusively from one another. This may or may not be true of the conservative movement. But it is certainly true of Herman Cain.
“I can honestly say that if I hadn’t been on the radio, I wouldn’t have been as familiar with the issues as I am now,” Cain has written. “I believe that having that program was God’s way of forcing me to understand the critical issues confronting our nation.”
In short, Cain’s briefings on politics came from heated right-wing callers on talk radio. “Epistemic closure” is probably too mild a term for such conditions.
This goes a long way in explaining why Cain has found himself hypothetically negotiating with Al Qaeda or affirming a woman’s right to choose. Absent an opposing point of view, you lose sight of what the battle lines are. If you don’t see the soldiers on the other side of the line, you might just find yourself wandering over it. And so Cain, who for years has been busy battling liberal straw men in the echo chamber of talk radio, missed the real thing.
Cain and his audience:
Cain also likes to tell his audience that callers to his show went from “concerned” to “frightened” for the nation’s future. This, too, is true. More than any other candidate, Cain has managed to connect to those Americans — yet, unlike Sarah Palin, he has done it by unleashing optimism rather than bitterness. He can articulate a crowd’s worst fears — America is falling apart, weakening in the world, suffering economic carnage — and then reassure everyone that, no worries, we can fix it. If any candidate were able to relate to voters in this way and have a clue what he or she was talking about (there, in Cain’s case, is the rub), that person would be unstoppable.
Finally, this advice from Cain on public speaking was not addressed to Gov. Rick Perry, but...
Years later, Zoller asked Cain for some pointers on public speaking. They met at the Four Seasons in Atlanta, and Cain wrote out a few pages of notes.
“He said: ‘Look, it’s very simple. Talk about things you’re passionate about. And have three points you want to make. If you have three points you want to make, you can remember those, and you can speak from the heart.”’
Well, Cain can, maybe.
An Occupier died in Salt Lake City but it is the reaction that surprises me:
SALT LAKE CITY — Hours after a man was found dead inside a tent at Pioneer Park, Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank announced Friday he could no longer allow camping in the park or anywhere in the city.
The decision followed the death of a man who had been sleeping at the park in a tent. Investigators believe the man died from a combination of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a space heater inside his tent and a drug overdose. The man, whose body was discovered just after 10 a.m. Friday, was not immediately identified.
So will they stay or will they go now? And where is the compassion?
Simon Dillion, from Connecticut, said the campers would like to get together Friday night and figure out what their next move will be. When asked whether he was prepared to be arrested, he said he didn't know.
"We are all here exercising our constitutional right of assembly," he said. "We're not hurting anyone. It's a peaceful protest. (The victim) died of his own stupidity."
"His own stupidity"? I thought these Anarchists for Big Government were beyond the petty tyranny of personal responsibilty. C'mon - some of them have huge student loans or underwater mortgages, but that is all the fault of The System, or Goldman Sachs, or something, right? How can it be that homeless vagrants are now responsible for their poor choices but over-educated unemployables are not?
Paul Krugman explains the Euro debacle to us, but I am drawn to his brief revisionism in which he explains that, as usual, liberals are always right and conservatives are always wrong:
But what’s the meaning of the eurodebacle? As always happens when disaster strikes, there’s a rush by ideologues to claim that the disaster vindicates their views. So it’s time to start debunking.
First things first: The attempt to create a common European currency was one of those ideas that cut across the usual ideological lines. It was cheered on by American right-wingers, who saw it as the next best thing to a revived gold standard, and by Britain’s left, which saw it as a big step toward a social-democratic Europe. But it was opposed by British conservatives, who also saw it as a step toward a social-democratic Europe. And it was questioned by American liberals, who worried — rightly, I’d say (but then I would, wouldn’t I?) — about what would happen if countries couldn’t use monetary and fiscal policy to fight recessions.
I wonder what right-wingers he has in mind? Some Euro-economists took a premature victory lap in 2009 reviewing the skepticism of American economists to the whole Euro project from 1989 to 2002; they open with a quote from Milton Friedman (not a lefty) and highlight the skepticism of Anna Schwartz (not a lefty) and Martin Feldstein (not a lefty). They also note a number of Federal Reserve economists and other academics among the skeptics, but no names leap out at me as left or right. And believe it or not, I can't recall Bob Dole's view on the EMU. Or George Bush's. Give me a minute (and an Advil...)
But was it all doom and gloom from Americvan economists? In an eerily prescient piece from December 1998, Paul Krugman predicted the current situation but Moved On:
For all the seven long years since the signing of the Maastricht treaty started Europe on the road to that unified currency, critics have warned that the plan was an invitation to disaster. Indeed, the standard scenario for an EMU collapse has been discussed so many times that it sometimes seems to long-time eurobuffs like myself as if it has already happened - perhaps because it is modeled on the real crisis that afflicted the European Monetary System back in 1992.
Here's how the story has been told: a year or two or three after the introduction of the euro, a recession develops in part - but only part - of Europe. This creates a conflict of interest between countries with weak economies and populist governments - read Italy, or Spain, or anyway someone from Europe's slovenly south - and those with strong economies and a steely-eyed commitment to disciplined economic policy - read Germany. The weak economies want low interest rates, and wouldn't mind a bit of inflation; but Germany is dead set on maintaining price stability at all cost. Nor can Europe deal with "asymmetric shocks" the way the United States does, by transferring workers from depressed areas to prosperous ones: Europeans are reluctant to move even within their countries, let alone across the many language barriers. The result is a ferocious political argument, and perhaps a financial crisis, as markets start to discount the bonds of weaker European governments.
Well, here we are, right on the brink of the creation of "euroland", and it is now clear that none of the problems EMU critics have warned about will arise, at least for a while.
So Krugman is a self-described "eurobuff". Well, that might simply mean he follows it closely. But eventually we get his Big Finish:
So what do the europessimists - the people who believe that the whole experiment will come to grief - say now? Well, they have a new argument.
"They"? Shouldn't that have been "We", since Krugman has always been right about everything?
Since you ask, let's move on to that new argument:
Pretty clearly, Europe is not about to tear itself apart because it cannot agree about monetary policy. In fact, everyone but the central bankers now *does* agree about monetary policy. The clear and present danger is, instead, that Europe will turn Japanese: that it will slip inexorably into deflation, that by the time the central bankers finally decide to loosen up it will be too late.
These Europeans, they are a subtle race. And this time they may have subtled themselves into a very tight corner.
Europeans are a "race"? I guess it's a social construct. And they "may" be in a tight corner. Or not. Thanks for sharing.
I think that back in reality, American economists were Euro-skeptics across the politcal spectrum, including that fair-weather fan, Paul Krugman. I have no doubt that somewhere some American business leader classifiable as right-wing advocated for a Euro just for simplicity. But I just don't recollect a lot of cheerleading for the Euro from anyone.
ONE DAY, WHEN THE TIMES HAS A COLUMNIST WHO UNDERSTANDS INTERNATIONAL TRADE:
I can resist no more - I love this recent apologia for Solyndra from Paul Krugman:
These days, mention solar power and you’ll probably hear cries of “Solyndra!” Republicans have tried to make the failed solar panel company both a symbol of government waste — although claims of a major scandal are nonsense — and a stick with which to beat renewable energy.
But Solyndra’s failure was actually caused by technological success: the price of solar panels is dropping fast, and Solyndra couldn’t keep up with the competition. In fact, progress in solar panels has been so dramatic and sustained that, as a blog post at Scientific American put it, “there’s now frequent talk of a ‘Moore’s law’ in solar energy,” with prices adjusted for inflation falling around 7 percent a year.
The Commerce Department in Washington on Wednesday opened an investigation sought by American manufacturers who accuse the Chinese of “dumping” solar panels into the United States at prices, aided by government subsidies, lower than the cost of making and distributing them.
Solar-panel prices have come down sharply, it's true, but the reason is not big efficiency gains. Under Moore's Law, computer chips doubled their capacity every 18 months. It took 25 years for commercial solar panels to double their efficiency to today's 10% or so, and no "transformations" appear to be in the offing. Solyndra went bankrupt because its panels, with 12% efficiency, couldn't be delivered at a competitive price.
The solar-panel price collapse has two causes: Chinese overproduction and decisions by governments around the world that it no longer is politically feasible to subsidize the industry. Listen to the words of Chairman Michael Ahearn of First Solar Inc. on a conference call last week: "Declining subsidy pool . . . Shrinking subsidy programs . . . European countries reducing their subsidies . . . No significant new state-level solar programs . . . Moving downward in terms of subsidies . . . A much lower subsidy level . . . Solar industries feeding mostly off of legacy subsidies in California."
MORE ON MOORE: Per this chap, solar price per watt has fallen at 7% per year over the last couple of decades (ignoring installation, land, etc.). Per the old rule of 72, that means it halves every ten years, not quite as breathtaking as the eighteen month time frame for processors. And eventually, physical reality will take over as solar panel efficiency will peak near 100%. (OK, micro-processors will reach a physical constraint when data is stored on individual sub-atomic particles, but we are long way away there, I think. And isn't there a Heisenberg Uncertainty issue? Forget I asked...)
John Hinderaker rounds up some of the headlines from around the Occupied globe. I have a partial answer to this rhetorical question:
In London, employees of St. Paul’s Cathedral have had to clean up human waste left by Occupiers inside the cathedral. (What is it with the Occupiers and toilet issues?)
I think a lack of convenient public restrooms is, well, providing access to ammunition. As for motive, some analogy relating bears, woods, lefties and symbols of authority seems to apply.
After the latest Perry swan-dive excitement mounts for the big show on Saturday night. CBS claims the focus will be on foreign policy. Herman Cain may get his clocked clean, but Perry seems to be a lock for brain-lock. Jon Huntsman will claim he won, based on his Ambassadorship to China and ability to order off a Chinese menu. Newt will be impressive, as will the other Mormon (despite his trade war with China).
So, Saturday night at 8 - will anyone in America actually tune in?
Bold leadership from Obama:
U.S. Delays Decision on Pipeline Until After Election
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, under sharp pressure from officials in Nebraska and restive environmental activists, announced Thursday that it will review the route of the disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline, effectively delaying any decision about its fate until after the 2012 election.
We have a jobs crisis and an ongoing energy challenge but there is only one job Obama is worried about. Thus we move from "Drill, baby drill" to "Punt, baby punt".
Buongiorno! Italian bonds have improved by about 0.50% against the German bund in morning trading. I don't see any obvious headlines explaining the Rocky Balboa of markets.
ROCHESTER, Mich. — Gov. Rick Perry of Texas emphatically declared at a Republican presidential debate on Wednesday night that he would like to eliminate three government agencies. But as he began to explain, he could think of only two.
“Commerce, Education,” Mr. Perry said, pausing for an uncomfortable moment and looking from side to side as he counted on his fingers and flipped through notes. As his rivals offered suggestions, a moderator asked if he could name the third agency. “I can’t,” he finally said, a sad look on his face.
“Oops,” he said.
As Mr. Perry tries to revive his candidacy and present himself as a serious contender to Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and the rest of the Republican field, his lapse promised to be the most memorable moment of the two-hour debate on CNBC. which was otherwise dominated by polite exchanges over economic policy. It was not until several minutes later, when he received another turn, that Mr. Perry said: “By the way, that was the Department of Energy I was reaching for a while ago.”
In a column nearly as surprising as this morning's sunrise in the east, David Brooks lauds the earnest and capable Mitt Romney.
His conclusion is, presumably intentionally, hilarious:
Romney is running in an atmosphere in which it is extremely difficult to remain serious and substantive. Yet he is doing it. Democrats should not underestimate him.
Ahh, Romney's problem is not with Democrats...
Herman Cain tells Jimmy Kimmel he has never smoked pot, which opens a whole new line of investigation for our restless media.
And a fifth woman comes forward with a "troubling pattern" story which (per the story-teller herself) doesn't reach the level of harrassment:
A former employee of the United States Agency for International Development says Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain asked her to help arrange a dinner date for him with a female audience member following a speech he delivered nine years ago.
Donna Donella, 40, of Arlington, said the USAID paid Cain to deliver a speech to businessmen and women in Egypt in 2002, during which an Egyptian businesswoman in her 30s asked Cain a question.
"And after the seminar was over," Donella told The Washington Examiner, "Cain came over to me and a colleague and said, 'Could you put me in touch with that lovely young lady who asked the question, so I can give her a more thorough answer over dinner?'"
Donella, who no longer works for USAID, said they were suspicious of Cain's motives and declined to set up the date. Cain responded, "Then you and I can have dinner." That's when two female colleagues intervened and suggested they all go to dinner together, Donella said.
Cain exhibited no inappropriate sexual behavior during the dinner, though he did order two $400 bottles of wine and stuck the women with the bill, she said.
The next time the women heard from Cain was Christmas, when he sent them his gospel CD.
Guys - they never call.
The NY Times editors deplore the mistakes that were made during Fast and Furious (and of course they play the 'Bush did it, too' Wide Receiver card) but they insist on keeping the focus on the eed for stricter gun control. To this end, they rely on phony statistics and very careful presentation:
Congressional Republicans have rebuked the Obama administration for the Fast and Furious fiasco. That this tactic — which ranges so far from proper law enforcement — was used in the Bush years is equally disturbing. Congress should bring responsible officials to account, but it cannot duck the need for far stronger laws to control gun trafficking.
Mr. Breuer said in the past five years, 94,000 weapons have been recovered in Mexico and 64,000 were traced to American sources. “We need more tools,” he said.
Now, let's note that the Times is correctly reporting something that Mr. Breuer did say, so they won't see a need for a correction. However, it is hardly possible that Mr. Breuer's assertion was correct, as the Times ought to know.
Breuer first, responding to a question from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (my emphasis):
FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate that. Mr. Breuer, in June of this year, I received a letter from the ATF. This was in response to a letter I had asked them from Acting Director Melson, stating that 29,284 firearms recovered in Mexico in '09 and 2010, and submitted to the ATF tracing center [WSJ link]. With those weapons, 20,504, or 70 percent, were United States sourced. A country of origin for the remaining firearms apparently could not be determined by ATF, meaning that the number could be much higher. What info -- what actually is the number? Now this was back in June. Is that the most current number? Is it fair to some that 70 percent of the firearms showing up in Mexico are from the United States?
BREUER: Thank you, Senator, for the question, and for your leadership on this issue. You have, of course, identified the paramount issue that we have to face as we deal with transnational organized crime from the Mexican cartels. From my understanding, 94,000 weapons have been recovered in the last five years in Mexico. Those are just the ones recovered, not the ones that are in Mexico. Of the 94,000 weapons that have been recovered in Mexico, 64,000 of those are traced to the United States. We have to do something to prevent criminals from getting those guns, Senator. That is my understanding of the most accurate numbers.
So Ms. Feinstein made the point that among guns that were both recovered and submitted for tracing, roughly 70% came from the US. This distinction had been kicked around back when Democrats (such as Obama or Ms. Feinstein) were claiming that 90% of recovered guns in Mexico were traced back to the US. Back in reality, it turned out that plenty of guns recovered in Mexico were never submitted for tracing (FactCheck), so the 90% figure was probably closer to 34%, or maybe 17%.
On that theme, a report from the DoJ Inspector General in November 2010 had this to say about the efficacy of gun tracing efforts with Mexico (p. 89 .pdf):
The number of trace requests from Mexico has increased since FY 2006, but most seized guns are not traced.
Mexican crime gun trace requests to ATF have increased since Project Gunrunner was established. The number of traces of Mexican crime guns increased from 5,834 in FY 2004 to almost 22,000 in FY 2009.
Yet, in a June 2009 report, the GAO estimated that less than a quarter of crime guns transferred to the Mexican Attorney General’s office in 2008 were submitted to ATF for tracing.
Even on the trace requests, the OIG was gloomy: from the table and chart on p. 90 of the .pdf, we see that of the 21,762 trace requests for FY2009, only 6,664, or 31%, were successful. On that point (p. 9)
Further, most trace requests that are submitted to ATF from Mexico are considered “unsuccessful” because of missing or improperly entered gun data.
One wonders whether the Times editors have the least interest in apprising themselves of this information. In responding to Ms. Feinstein, Mr. Breuer didn't even manage to include the caveat that most seized guns are never submitted to the ATF for tracing. However, the Times is happy to go to war for gun control on the basis of phony Administration intelligence.
From The Hill we get a Fast and Furious update:
Starting next week and stretching into December, Holder is likely to experience the most intense heat yet. Republicans on the Senate and House Judiciary Committees plan to grill him on whether he knew about the controversial “gun walking” tactics used in Operation Fast and Furious, which may have contributed to the death of at least one federal agent.
Holder maintains that he did not know about the “gun walking” methods — a tactic used in tracking guns by overseeing the transfer of firearms into the hands of known or suspected criminals without immediately intercepting them — and has asked the Justice Department’s (DOJ) independent Inspector General’s (IG) office to complete an investigation.
Will Holder's resignation be Boehner's Christmas gift to the right or will Holder still be Attorney General at Christmas time? I will gloomily bet that he is still with us.
Willim Kristol reaches back to William Faulkner and explains that 2012 won't look like 1980 and Reagan II; conservatives hoping for victory over a weak incumbent should study Clinton 1992 and Roosevelt 1932.
Interesting - Clinton was a New Democrat running away from his party and towards the center (at least for purposes of the general election; actual governance ws a different matter.) Does Mr. Kristol think conservatives should do something similar now? Go, Mitt! Or Huntsman...
Republican distrust of the intellectual elites did not begin with Sarah Palin. However, Ross Douthat launches with Jon Corzine and segues to the contemporary case for healthy skepticism of the Best and Brightest.
In meritocracies, though, it’s the very intelligence of our leaders that creates the worst disasters. Convinced that their own skills are equal to any task or challenge, meritocrats take risks than lower-wattage elites would never even contemplate, embark on more hubristic projects, and become infatuated with statistical models that hold out the promise of a perfectly rational and frictionless world. (Or as Calvin Trillin put it in these pages, quoting a tweedy WASP waxing nostalgic for the days when Wall Street was dominated by his fellow bluebloods: “Do you think our guys could have invented, say, credit default swaps? Give me a break! They couldn’t have done the math.”)
Hmm. And however!
What you see in today’s Republican primary campaign is a reaction to exactly these kinds of follies — a revolt against the ruling class that our meritocracy has forged, and a search for outsiders with thinner résumés but better instincts.
But from Michele Bachmann to Herman Cain, the outsiders haven’t risen to the challenge. It will do America no good to replace the arrogant with the ignorant, the overconfident with the incompetent.
In place of reckless meritocrats, we don’t need feckless know-nothings. We need intelligent leaders with a sense of their own limits, experienced people whose lives have taught them caution. We still need the best and brightest, but we need them to have somehow learned humility along the way.
Is Mitt Romney humble?
The NY Times offers something for everyone: Op-ed columnist David Brooks explains that fracking and the shale gas revolution will create jobs:
Already shale gas has produced more than half a million new jobs, not only in traditional areas like Texas but also in economically wounded places like western Pennsylvania and, soon, Ohio. If current trends continue, there are hundreds of thousands of new jobs to come.
The new columnist for the Times magazine explains how the energy sector won't provide jobs:
The federal government does something similar when it decides, for instance, to regulate oil drillers and subsidize windmill makers. Such a policy might help the environment but it just moves jobs from one sector to another without adding any. And while both Perry and Mitt Romney propose that further oil and gas drilling in the U.S. will transform the jobs picture, only 30,000 Americans work in oil and gas extraction, and about another 125,000 in support occupations. With more than 25 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, it’s unlikely that any changes in that part of the energy sector would make a real dent.
"Half a million" versus "30,000", with a further 125,000 in support. Baffling. This May 2010 BLS job survey may provide more detail than I can handle, since the meaning of many of the subcategories is unclear to me. However, I see a section for "Construction And Extraction Occupations" which includes Derrick, Rotary Drill and Service Unit Operators, and let's not overlook Roustabouts. Those four categories alone sum to 123,000; elsewhere I see twenty-eight thousand petroleum engineers and I have no doubt that civil engineers and others are involved with oil and gas production and distribution (not to mention the clerical support all around).
I don't want to use the word "wrong", but I doubt that the 30,000 or 125,000 figures could be substantiated.
Wow - this is a heck of an intro from a new NY Times magazine columnist:
Can Anyone Really Create Jobs?
By ADAM DAVIDSON
Starting this week, I’ll be writing a regular column in the magazine that tries to demystify complicated economic issues — like whether anyone (C.E.O.’s, politicians, people running for the presidency) can actually create jobs. The fact is that creating them in a far-too-sluggish economy is practically impossible in our current capitalist democracy. No corporate leader is rewarded for hiring people who aren’t absolutely required. Most companies hire only when its workforce can no longer keep up with the demand for its products.
Even with all the attention on hiring, the government’s ability to create jobs is pretty dispiriting, no matter who is in charge.
Really? Krugman has been pounding the keyboard twice a week telling us that creating more jobs is a simple matter of more government spending (and no tax cuts, please). I infer (not for the first time) that the Times editors are only keeping him on to amuse the far left, not to inform the rest of us.
We detect a "to be fair" moment several paragraphs later:
One reason we have so few ideas about job creation is that up until recently, the U.S. economy had been growing so well for so long that few economists spent much time studying it. (They’re trying to make up for it now. See the chart on the next page.) With no new theories, Democrats dusted off the big idea from the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes’s view that government can create jobs by spending a lot of money. The stimulus, however, has to be borrowed, and it has to be really, truly huge — probably something like $1.5 or $2 trillion — to fill the gap between where the economy is and where it would be if everyone was spending at pre-recession levels. The goal is to goad consumers into spending again. And President Obama’s jettisoned $400 billion jobs package, hard-core Keynesians argue, is nowhere near what it would take to persuade them.
Oh, so Krugman might be right but his ideas are more than 70 years old. Much better.
I have to back Barack and say something in French to the French on this one:
“Obama insults Sarkozy,” blared the headline on one French website, taking umbrage at Mr. Obama’s wayward remark at the G-20 summit here about the physical appearance of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Mr. Obama thought he was making a gentle joke about Mr. Sarkozy, host of the summit, when he congratulated Mr. Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni on the birth of their baby daughter on Oct. 19. Instead, Mr. Obamacaused a minor international incident.
“I want to make mention that this is our first meeting since the arrival of the newest Sarkozy, and so I want to congratulate Nicolas and Carla on the birth of Giulia,” Mr. Obama told reporters shortly after his arrival at the G-20, with Mr. Sarkozy at his side. “And I informed Nicolas on the way in that I am confident that Giulia inherited her mother’s looks rather than her father’s, which I think is an excellent thing.”
He added, “And so now we share one of the greatest challenges and blessings of life, and that is being fathers to our daughters.”
Sarkozy is upset because Obama suggested Sarkozy's daughter might be as pretty as her mother? How does one say "Move on" en Francais?
And we learn that Sarkozy is conscious of his looks? Let me help - Google Translate tells me that the word I am looking for is "crapaud".
Perhaps we are being braced for Newt's audition as the "Anybody But Romney" candidate; Glenn and Ace link to a story from last May revising the legendary hospital vist by Newt to his wife. Ace's headline:
The divorce turned much of Carrollton against Gingrich. Jackie was well loved by the townspeople, who knew how hard she had worked to get him elected-as she had worked before to put him through college and raise his children. To make matters worse, Jackie had undergone surgery for cancer of the uterus during the 1978 campaign, a fact Gingrich was not loath to use in conversations or speeches that year. After the separation in 1980, she had to be operated on again, to remove another tumor. While she was still in the hospital, according to Howell, "Newt came up there with his yellow legal pad, and he had a list of things on how the divorce was going to be handled. He wanted her to sign it. She was still recovering from surgery, still sort of out of it, and he comes in with a yellow sheet of paper, handwritten, and wants her to sign it.
One might have inferred that the 1980 operation was for cancer, and it may well have been a follow-up to the 1978 cancer treatment, but there is no specific claim of cancer in 1980 made here.
Justin Elliott of Salon reprised the media treatment of this incident over the years in a March 2011 article; he summarizes the legend in his lead:
For almost three decades, Newt Gingrich has been dogged by a single devastating anecdote from his past, one that has been repeated in the national press hundreds of times and that has arguably come to define his political persona. After being elected to Congress in 1978 on a family values platform, the story goes, he visited his wife Jackie, who was in the hospital recovering from an operation for uterine cancer, and demanded that she discuss terms of their divorce.
It’s a story that, remarkably, Gingrich disputes to this day. Testament to how deeply it has reverberated, some version of the story — often rendered as Gingrich “serving divorce papers” to his wife in the hospital — has been cited in the last month alone by Slate, MSNBC, Politico, Commentary and the New York Times, among other outlets.
I would say that nicely illustrates the inaccuracies that crept into the telling of that tale. Let's just peek at what the Times wrote - here is Jeff Zeleney in February 2011, near the end of a profile on Newt:
In 1981, he and his first wife, Jackie, divorced, and he married his second wife, Marianne, that year. In an episode often cited by his detractors, he visited Jackie in the hospital in 1980 while she was recovering from a cancer operation to discuss terms of their divorce. Mr. Gingrich disputes the account.
And the always thoughtful Gail Collins:
The most famous story about Gingrich’s failed marriages is about his first wife, Jackie, who had been Newt’s high school math teacher before he appeared at her door and suggested a new equation. Jackie was recovering from surgery for uterine cancer when her husband walked in and started talking about the terms of a divorce.
The first ex-wife gave her version to the WaPo in early 1985, as described by Salon:
“He can say that we had been talking about [a divorce] for 10 years, but the truth is that it came as a complete surprise,” says Jackie Gingrich, in a telephone interview from Carrollton. “He’s a great wordsmith … He walked out in the spring of 1980 and I returned to Georgia. By September, I went into the hospital for my third surgery. The two girls came to see me, and said Daddy is downstairs and could he come up? When he got there, he wanted to discuss the terms of the divorce while I was recovering from the surgery … To say I gave up a lot for the marriage is the understatement of the year.”
Asked if, in fact, he handled the divorce as insensitively as portrayed, Gingrich responded: “All I can say is when you’ve been talking about divorce for 11 years and you’ve gone to a marriage counselor, and the other person doesn’t want the divorce, I’m not sure there is any sensitive way to handle it.”
I'm glad to hear that the cancer part of the story was an exaggeration. Take that out and take out the notion that Newt visited the hospital with the intention of discussing the divorce (rather than bringing the two girls), and the incident is much less ghastly.
The GAO (report) finds inconsistencies in the NY Fed account of the drama around the settlement of the AIG credit default swaps. Wow. People's memories of a high-stress situation are muddled and inconsistent - I bet nobody saw that coming.
It seems like only yesterday, but it was two years ago that I was denouncing the fantasy that the government should have attempted random renegotiations of some of AIG's obligations.
Herman Cain's latest debacle is like waiting for the next shoe to drop while living under Imelda Marcos.
AS I WAS SAYING.. I didn't like Cain's har-de-har about the electrified border fence; immigration policy and border security are mainstream issues and a serious candidate ought to have a serious position.
I didn't like Cain's bafflegab on abortion; abortion rights is hardly a new topic in the national conversation and a serious candidate ought to have a serious answer.
I don't like Cain's 9-9-9 plan, which seems to need a bit more time in the oven to achieve half-baked status.
And I just can't tolerate the fact that Politico has been sniffing around this harrassment story for ten days yet Cain's response seems utterly unprepared and is changing by the hour. The Presidential campaign is a bit of a dress rehearsal for the candidate to display his poise under pressure. I don't want Cain answering a 3 AM phone call unless the caller is looking for a quick joke.
If "Engaging Uncle from Out of Town" where an elective office Cain would win hands down. But he is not looking Presidential.
SINCE YOU ASKED (OR MIGHT HAVE): If we were picking a candidate for "Annoying Class Nerd" I think Huntsman wuld be our best bet against a very tough Obama.