Front and Center

Politics, society, and other random randomness

Monthly Archives: August 2011

Another Person Who Agrees With Me–Reagan Would Be Persona Non Grata in Today’s GOP

On a couple of different occasions, I wrote about how former President Ronald Reagan probably could get elected by today’s GOP no matter how much they revere him (see here and here). It’s an opinion shared by a number of pundits across the blogosphere. Here is another example of exactly what I mean:

After trying (and failing) to disembowel Social Security, Reagan did an dramatic about-face and bailed out the program to the tune of $165 billion and made Social Security taxes more progressive, forcing upper-income Americans to shoulder more of the burden than their poor counterparts.
Reagan raised taxes 11 times! He passed the largest tax increase since World War II and introduced hefty new corporate taxes.

While conservatives like Sarah Palin tout Reagan’s record for standing up to the Soviet Union, they ignore that Reagan was attacked by far-right conservatives for being too conciliatory to the Communist bloc. When Reagan engaged in direct talks with Gorbachev and the Soviets, conservative leader Paul Wyerich wrote in The Washington Post, “Reagan is a weakened president, weakened in spirit as well as clout.”

Go here to read the rest. It’s definitely worth the read.

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A Few Things to Make You Say “Hmmmmmmm…”

Each of these could be a blog piece by itself (and probably will be eventually).  But for now, here are some things to make you say “hmmmmmm,” or scratch your head, or go buy a stiff drink…

THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT GOOD AT PICKING WINNERS (part 1):  The government has ordered the phasing out of the trusty incandescent light bulb, which means we all have to go out and get the curly-looking compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.  Sure they are more energy efficient.  But they also have a small amount of mercury in them.  Broken one lately?  Have you seen the steps involved to clean up after one breaks? But that’s not the worst part. Because of the government mandated change, GE has closed all of their incandescent light bulb plants in the US. At a time when unemployment is already high, that’s more jobs lost.

THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT GOOD AT PICKING WINNERS (part 2): The search for alternative fuels is very worthwhile. Except when the government is subsidizing it. Let’s talk ethanol. First, the government subsidizes ethanol production with taxpayer dollars. Second, there is a tariff placed on the importation of Brazilian sugar cane ethanol, as a way of protecting US production (it would be cheaper otherwise). The result? Not only are food prices (especially corn) higher because farmers are spending more time growing corn for ethanol, but the end product has been found to damage small engines over time. Oh, and then the government tells us ethanol is cheaper per gallon. Right.

HE’S TALKING ABOUT THE TEA PARTY, RIGHT?: Here is a recent quote from Senator John Kerry:

“And I have to tell you, I say this to you politely. The media in America has a bigger responsibility than it’s exercising today. The media has got to begin to not give equal time or equal balance to an absolutely absurd notion just because somebody asserts it or simply because somebody says something which everybody knows is not factual.”

“It doesn’t deserve the same credit as a legitimate idea about what you do. And the problem is everything is put into this tit-for-tat equal battle and America is losing any sense of what’s real, of who’s accountable, of who is not accountable, of who’s real, who isn’t, who’s serious, who isn’t?”

Let me guess. The press should ignore the Tea Party, their supporters, and maybe even the GOP because they lie, right? Got it. By the way, Senator, would you apply that standard to your own party? Because I’m sure we’d see a lot less of some of your pals.

SPEAKING OF LYING…: This one came to my attention earlier today. Senator Harry Reid said earlier this month that there were 8 million jobs lost during the Bush years. Unfortunately, it is an easily provable lie:

As always, we looked at jobs numbers compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the government’s official source of employment data.

During Bush’s eight years in office — January 2001 to January 2009 — the nation actually gained a net 1.09 million jobs. (Because there were gains in government jobs, the private sector actually lost 653,000 jobs during that period.)

This isn’t remotely close to what Reid claimed. Reid’s office didn’t respond to our request for information, but we think we know what he was referring to.

From the economy’s peak to its low point, the nation lost 8.75 million jobs. Here’s the problem: The peak for jobs came in January 2008, while the low point for jobs came in February 2010.

This means the starting point for Reid’s measure came seven years into Bush’s eight-year tenure, and the low point occurred about a year into Barack Obama’s tenure.

‘Nuff said.

ON TAXING THE RICH:  According to the IRS, there are over 8,200 income earners that earn more than $10 million per year.  Their combined income is $240 billion/year.  If you taxed them at 100%, it would be enough money to pay for government spending for a whopping 22 days.

Finally, I leave you with this thought, which most definitely will take on a life of its on another day in another post…

PARTISAN VOTERS HAVE NO CLUE WHAT AN INDEPENDENT VOTER IS: We get accused of straddling the fence, or of taking no stance. Even worse, we get attacked by both sides if we actually accept a view held by one party over another. But it’s simple. We look at the views and candidates available and choose what we like, regardless of what side it represents, and it could vary from week to week, from party to party, or from election to election. I’ve learned that instead of constantly fighting accusations that I’m not independent, I will simply stop feeding the trolls and continue business as usual.

Party on, dudes!

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is Stupid. Oh, and He’s Racist. ALL Republicans are Stupid and Racist!

As expected, Texas Governor Rick Perry entered the crowded GOP presidential field over the weekend.  Him tossing his hat in the ring was a non-event, as people had been expecting him to enter for a while now.  No offense to Michelle Bachmann, but most bets right now are figuring this to be a two-horse race between Perry and former governor Mitt Romney.  (Sidenote:  is becoming president worth running multiple times and spending millions of your own money??)

Almost immediately, the attacks on Perry started coming.

It’s no secret that the Left loves attacking their political opponents via cracks at their intelligence.  Folks on the left will wax poetically on about how intelligent Obama is and how stupid George W. Bush is, or how stupid Michelle Bachmann is.  I can’t recall anyone on the Left referring to Al Gore being stupid even though his grades were actually worse than Bush’s.  And even when such an observation was made, it was done in a way to still make Gore–the Lefty–not look so bad:

His generally middling college grades at Harvard in fact bear a close resemblance to the corresponding Yale marks of his presidential opponent, George W. Bush, whose studiousness and brainpower have been more open to question during this campaign.

Gore arrived at Harvard with an impressive 1355 SAT score, 625 verbal and 730 math, compared with Bush’s 1206 total from 566 verbal and 640 math. In his sophomore year at Harvard, Gore’s grades were lower than any semester recorded on Bush’s transcript from Yale. That was the year Gore’s classmates remember him spending a notable amount of time in the Dunster House basement lounge shooting pool, watching television, eating hamburgers and occasionally smoking marijuana. His grades temporarily reflected his mildly experimental mood, and alarmed his parents. He received one D, one C-minus, two C’s, two C-pluses and one B-minus, an effort that placed him in the lower fifth of the class for the second year in a row.

But I digress.

Recently, The Huffington Post jumped into the fray by announcing they had obtained a copy of Rick Perry’s college transcript.  As is usually the case, the intended implication is that maybe Perry ain’t so bright:

One reason that might explain his hostility toward the system: He didn’t do very well in it. A source in Texas passed The Huffington Post Perry’s transcripts from his years at Texas A&M University. The future politician did not distinguish himself much in the classroom. While he later became a student leader, he had to get out of academic probation to do so. He rarely earned anything above a C in his courses — earning a C in U.S. History, a D in Shakespeare, and a D in the principles of economics. Perry got a C in gym.

Nevermind that the debate should center on what he has done since then, or maybe even focus on his term as governor, or even that release of a transcript without permission of the student may be illegal. No. Let’s go back to college so we can legitimately say (say it along with me now) “Rick Perry is stupid!!”

Now, the other preferred method of attack is to find a way of labeling the GOP as “racist.”  Nevermind that the word has been misused so much that most people don’t even know the real definition, or don’t realize that “bigot” or “prejudiced” would probably be better if the argument actually applied.

MSNBC talking head Ed Schultz decided to prove Perry is a racist.   Now, mind you, the Left is always on the case when it comes to calling out statements they don’t like, especially when they are made by Limbaugh, Hannity, and other Conservative talking heads.  Somehow, they never mind when people like Schultz pull absurd statements out of their sphincter void and toss them out like gospel.

Rick Perry gave a speech where he referred to America’s debt as a “black cloud hanging over us.”  So what did Schultz do?  He had his people do some selective editing:

Yep.  Let’s leave out a key phrase–“that debt”–and make a case out of it, going so far as to invite guests on who you know will agree with you.  Schultz did apologize.  “On this particular statement, we should not have included it in our coverage of his overheated rhetoric,” he said in a statement.   “That’s our mistake. The full context of all of these other statements show who he is and what he stands for.”

In other words, “sorry we faked THAT one, but he’s still a racist!”

Next, we’ll start hearing about how GOP candidates are ugly and dress funny.

Do Politicians Understand What “Stimulus” Means? I Think Not.

Is it so difficult that the idea behind a “stimulus” package, or “stimulus” spending, or “stimulus” funding would be to stimulate the economy via job creation?  Somehow, politicians aren’t getting this.  The suggestions made by them aren’t ones that include a job multiplying effect.  In other words, for stimulus to be effective, it has to go towards something that creates a job, which directly creates a need for additional jobs, and so on.

Earlier this week, during a press conference, White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked how extending unemployment benefits creates jobs.  His reply?

“There are few other ways that can directly put money into the economy than applying unemployment insurance,” Carney said.

Carney answers the question: “It is one of the most direct ways to infuse money directly into the economy because people who are unemployed and obviously aren’t running a paycheck are going to spend the money that they get. They’re not going to save it, they’re going to spend it. And with unemployment insurance, that way, the money goes directly back into the economy, dollar for dollar virtually.”

This is similar to a comment made by former Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi:

Economists will tell you this money is spent quickly. It injects demand into the economy, and is job creating. It creates jobs faster than almost any other initiative you can name because, again, it is money that is needed for families to survive, and it is spent. So it has a double benefit. It helps those who have lost their jobs, but it also is a job creator.

Back when Pelosi made the comment, as you can see from the feedback on the Media Matters page, they were more than happy to show how economists backed up what she said, while right-leaning critics were going nuts and criticizing her.

Regardless of the economists that affirmed her statement (and even the CBO), we can now agree that the assertion was wrong.

Maybe I’m out in left field here, but I am willing to wager that the majority of people who are collecting unemployment benefits are spending the money on necessities–food, power, gas, phone, ect.  While the money is technically going into the economy, its not going in for things that will create more jobs.  Listening to Carney, Pelosi, and those who agree with them, it’s as if the unemployment benefits are disposable income.  Paying the bills is not a job multiplier.

Likewise, the expressed opinion of the Left is that the stimulus was a success.  Even a CBO report says that it had some success. From Factcheck.org:

As we have written before, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report in August that said the stimulus bill has “[l]owered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points” and “[i]ncreased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million.”

Simply put, more people would be unemployed if not for the stimulus bill. The exact number of jobs created and saved is difficult to estimate, but nonpartisan economists say there’s no doubt that the number is positive.

But the key words are “created and saved.” Many of the jobs that received stimulus money were to maintain exisiting positions, not create new ones. Much of the money went to states to help prevent them from firing government workers. Not to mention, as the President himself said not too long ago, some of the shovel-ready jobs were “not so shovel-ready.” (Sidenote: he chuckled after cracking this joke. Looking at the cost of the stimulus, and how those shovel-ready projects were talked about ad nauseum to get the bill passed, its not very funny.) Again, in the end, for the section of the stimulus intended to create jobs and stimulate the economy, based on the unemployment rate since then, there was no multiplier effect.

So, with calls coming for another stimulus, we should be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Random Thoughts: White House and the Ratings Downgrade, Al “global warming” Gore Unhinged, Wisconsin Recall Elections

Just a few thoughts and observations:

With the recent downgrade of the country’s credit rating by Standard & Poor’s, the White House had to blame someone for what happened.  So they complained loudly about how S&P had made a mistake with the downgrade, even pointing out an accounting error that S&P made that made things look worse than they really are.  Then, they came out and blamed the Tea Party for causing the downgrade.  I’m confused.  If S&P made a mistake, it would have nothing to do with the Tea Party, right?  Then again, everything is the Tea Party’s fault, from what I hear.

The other day, President Obama did a press conference to address the credit downgrade.  While he was giving his speech, the stock market dropped 200 points.  Ouch.

Speaking of Standard & Poor’s, how do you go forward with a downgrade even after you’re told you made an accounting error?  Simple.  Just blame the politicians!  Say it’s because Congress can’t work together.  Come up with a worthy excuse.  But just don’t own up to it.  By the way, they didn’t downgrade Lehman Brothers until AFTER they imploded…

Former Vice President and current Global Warming–uh,  Climate Change– crusader Al Gore was giving a speech recently and ran off the rails.  Seems he was calling BS on those who don’t agree with him, and called the scientists who put out anti-warming info fake.  I could’ve sworn that the main basis for the argument is whether or not the changes occurring are man made or natural.  But I digress.

It’s recall season in Wisconsin.  Democrats, angry that the Republican-led Legislature changed collective bargaining law, were able to collect signatures to force a recall election for 6 Republican state senators.  In order to have a chance at taking control of the state Senate, they needed to win 3 of the seats up for recall.  Unfortunately for them, they only won 2.  There are more elections coming but they will have no chance at winning control until the next election.  If the Dems had succeeded, I think it would’ve sent shockwaves nationwide.  Having said that, pay attention to the redistricting fights going on in the states.  Redistricting happens every 10 years and the party in power at the time in a particular state usually tries to stack things in their favor.  Look and see how strange some districts end up looking just to accomplish either keeping a rep in office or getting the opposition OUT of office.

Just Random: A Fresh look at Hitler and the Third Reich

Yes, with all that is going on in politics, talking about Hitler and the Third Reich is totally a tangent.

I am a World War II buff (much to the chagrin of my wife, who makes me go watch the History Channel in a separate room).  I recently watched a 2 part series on the rise and fall of the Third Reich.  I knew the general idea of how Hitler rose to power, the wanton killing the Nazis did to hold power, the extermination of Jews across Europe, and the subsequent mudhole stomping they received from the Allies by the end of the war.

But this was different.  They showed things from the perspective of home videos, shot by people in Germany at the time, as well as those shot by soldiers in the war.  What jumped out at me most:

  • Hitler and the Nazis ascended to power very quickly.  Two weeks after Hitler lost an election attempt to run the country, he was able to become Chancellor.  52 days later, he was head of Germany
  • It is amazing how much Hitler had Germany in the palm of his hand.  People believed whatever he told them.  Whether it was justifying killing and displacing Jews, or the whole idea of a master race, they ate it up.  Women wanted to marry him.  Kids wanted to be just like him.
  • At one point there were 20,000 concentration camps.  And the people in the towns near them claim they had no idea what was going on.  When the allies captured Germany, they made the townsfolk walk through the camps and see first hand the cruelty.  They also made Nazi party members buy the dead.
  • The German people were convinced nothing could go wrong.  That is, until their cities were getting bombed and the German army got routed by the Russians.
  • By the end of the war, Germany had lowered the drafting age to 13.  Kids were in the streets fighting to protect Berlin.  Any kids caught hiding from duty were hung.
  • Other countries knew was was going on with German Jews, but turned them away when they came looking for refuge.  That includes the US.

There is more, of course, as the show was 4 hours long.  It’s not for the faint of heart, as there are many disturbing images.  but I highly recommend the program.