Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Ethanol: Immortal & Immoral

Posted: Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 11:45 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
10 Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Insane-Clown-Energy-DrinkIt looks like the President and the Lame Duck Democrats have cut a deal with Republicans.  The country can breathe a sigh of relief that taxes won’t go up across the board on January 1st.  Another sigh of relief is coming from the ethanol industry.  From the Washington Post:

The White House and key lawmakers cleared the way Thursday night for swift Senate action to avert a Jan. 1 spike in income taxes for nearly all Americans, agreeing to extend breaks for ethanol and other forms of alternative energy as part of the deal.

I don’t find a lot to cheer in this.  It is widely assumed that a significant tax increase would be another shock to an already weak economy.  That might well be true, but maybe it would have done more good for Congress to show that it was serious about getting our fiscal house in order.

As for extending the ethanol subsides, I’m all for it.  I live in South Dakota and work for the state.  We have a lot more ethanol plants than beach volleyball courts.  I figure what floats the state economy floats me, and I am worried about the sinking of fiscal real estate hereabouts.

Of course, ethanol subsidies make no sense on any other grounds.  Ethanol production doesn’t increase our “energy independence”, whatever that might mean.  It takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than the gallon actually contains.  That extra energy isn’t coming from wind towers.  Over the next five years, these subsides will cost us over $25 billion dollars.

Ethanol production doesn’t yield any environmental benefit and certainly none at a reasonable cost.  From Forbes:

Australian academic Robert Niven found that ethanol gasoline lets out more harmful air toxins than regular gasoline. The Congressional Budget Office finds that taxpayers are shelling out $750 for every metric ton (2,205 pounds) of carbon kept out of our atmosphere. To put that in perspective, the carbon-offset company Terrapass values the reduction of 1,000 pounds of emissions at a mere $5.95.

When you add up the environmental costs of corn production, the equation looks much worse.  Virgin prairie has been plowed up to produce corn for fuel.  The machines that work the fields aren’t solar powered.  From Pajamas Media:

A gallon of ethanol emits less carbon dioxide (CO2) than a gallon of gasoline when combusted. However, CO2-emitting fossil fuels are used to make fertilizer, operate farm equipment, power ethanol distilleries, and transport the ethanol to market. In addition, when farmers plow grasslands and clear forests to expand corn acreage, or to grow food crops displaced elsewhere by energy crop production, they release carbon previously locked up in soils and trees. For several decades, such land use changes can generate more CO2 than is avoided by substituting ethanol for gasoline.

Ethanol production raises the price of gasoline and it raises the price of food.  Tariffs keep cheaper ethanol produced south of the border out of the U.S. market, which makes the system all the more expensive but is probably an act of Christian charity.  Diverting corn to ethanol production raises the price of tortillas which results in hungrier children.

But hey, as long as it brings money to the Dakotas and Barry’s own Illinois, why should I complain?  The issue has made odd bedfellows of conservatives and environmentalists, who have united in opposing the subsidies.  That’s amusing, since it was the green lobby that gave us ethanol in the first place.

I can’t help pointing out that subsidies for wind and solar power differ from the above only in so far as they currently do much less damage.  But they are no more economically or environmentally advantageous.

The ethanol regime is what you get when you base your energy on beautiful ideas like “renewable energy” or “green jobs,” and not on any rational estimate of the costs and benefits of energy technologies.

Wikileaks Very Bad 4 All

Posted: Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 12:19 am
By: Ken Blanchard
1 Comment | Trackback Bookmark and Share

The release of over two hundred and fifty thousand diplomatic cables by Wikileaks founder and self-professed enemy of the United States, Julian Assange, is a disaster.  Heather Hurlburt explains, at the New Republic, why progressives in particular should view it as such.

First, people on the left generally think that international conflicts should be resolved by diplomacy rather than by war.  That is difficult enough in the best of circumstances, but for it to be possible at all the negotiating parties have to be able to speak honestly with one another in private.

I spent almost a decade working at the State Department and overseas. After reading through these files, I cannot stop imagining just how hard it will be for Foreign Service Officers to do their jobs. One former Officer, Alex Grossman, summed it up for me nicely: “fear of publication will only prevent people from voicing frank and honest opinions, assessments and recommendations.”

And it’s not just that U.S. officials will have to be careful about what they say or write. It’s that they’ll be dealing with foreign officials living with the same fear of exposure.

That might make it harder for the United States to assemble an alliance against, say, Iran; but it might also make it harder for the U.S. diffuse a crisis in, say, Korea or between India and Pakistan.

Second, the release is, paradoxically, a severe blow to the idea of open government.

In the last few years, there has been some progress toward classifying fewer documents and using the more rarefied classifications less frequently. This series of leaks will almost surely reverse that progress. A top-secret classification would have kept any of these documents off the shared network from which they were allegedly downloaded by a very junior soldier.

You can bet that the intelligence community will make that point—not only to justify stronger classification of new documents but also to slow the declassification of old ones.

If you think that governments need to be able to keep some secrets but you want them to keep as few as possible, you’d better make sure that the former are secure.

The Obama Administration has come under severe criticism for not acting more forcefully against Mr. Assange.  Here I have to come to Obama’s defense.  It’s one thing to prosecute someone for stealing government documents.  Badley Manning is in the slammer for that, and he ought to be charged with treason.

It’s another thing to prosecute someone for publishing the stolen documents.  It is fantasy to imagine, as some have, that the New York Times will be prosecuted for publishing material provided by Wikileaks.  The Administration is right to be careful in its use of power.

Does that mean that Mr. Assange is immune?  No.  If Assange did anything at all to encourage pfc. Manning to commit the crime he committed, then surely Assange is an accomplice.  Did he?  Since Mr. Assange has identified himself as an enemy of the U.S., can’t the U.S. figure out some ways to make Mr. Assange’s life intolerably difficult?

Attorney General Eric Holder has said that a criminal investigation is underway, though who is the target and what are the potential charges is unclear.  I have no confidence.  Only when the third of three document dumps by Wikileaks was imminent did the Administration act at all.  Secretary of State Clinton wrote Mr. Assange a letter.  Somehow, that failed to persuade him.  The State Department has closed off its computers to the government’s classified network, now.  It took three Wikileaks dumps for those actions to be taken.  I predict that the criminal investigation Gen. Holder speaks of will turn out to be dust in the wind.

Julian Assange has done serious damage to the United States and to the international system of diplomacy.  It could have been worse.  He could have obtained information that would result in a real catastrophe.  Someday soon something like that might happen.  One can only hope that there will be a more competent Administration in place to deal with it.

How do you solve a problem like Korea

Posted: Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 12:36 am
By: Ken Blanchard
2 Comments | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Carter-KimIlSungThis is going to be on the test: which President won the Second World War?  Answer: Ronald Reagan.  If I need to explain that, let me know.  Now: which President won the Korean War?  Answer: Barack Obama.  I do need to explain that.  The explanation is “wishful thinking.”  The circumstances might be in place for this President to really deserve the Nobel Prize that was awarded to him in a fit of cognitive dissonance on the part of the Nobel Committee.  Whether there is a chance to bring this conflict to an end is doubtful.  That this President has the virtú required to realize such fortuna is more doubtful.  Allow me to be optimistic.

Yesterday the Gangster Regime in North Korea started shooting.

The 50-minute barrage on the island of Yeonpyeong – which killed two South Korean marines, wounded at least 19 other people and set buildings and forests ablaze – marked the first time in years that North Korea has trained the firepower of its 1.1 million-strong military on South Korea’s  civilian population. It prompted a withering round of return fire from South Korean batteries, the scrambling of the South’s air force and concerns that the firefight could spiral into all-out war.

This is the second act of aggression by Pyongyang this year.  In March, a North Korea submarine torpedoed a South Korean naval vessel.

It is thought that this belligerence has something to do with the dynastic succession in Pyongyang.  Kim Jong Il is ill, so the regime is grooming his son, Kim Jong-un to take over.  No one outside the inner circles really understands all this.  The same might be true of those in the inner circles.  Kim Il Sung was the founding Al Capone of the North Korean regime.  A cult was built around him, and that cult has necessitated a dynastic succession.  It seems unlikely that Kim 2 or Kim 3 had or have any of the awful powers of their great predecessor.  That the Party and the Army think they need to keep the bloodline suggests that the regime has no real center.  That is interesting.

North Korea is the worst government on the planet.  That would be merely appalling if it only starved, raped, and pillaged its own people.  Unfortunately, it also threatens the genuine republics and dynamic economies around it.  It’s like the Playboy Gangster Crips, only with Nukes.

For decades the United States has tried to deal with the problem by negotiation, on the basis of a Jimmy Carteresque view of the situation.  With the recent revelation of a large, sophisticated, and hitherto unsuspected uranium enrichment site, it is clear that the Pyongyang cannot be reasoned with.  The North Koreans will never honor any agreement.  This hideous regime is a threat to everyone.  They are producing nuclear weapons and may well sell them to other regimes or to terrorists.

So what is to be done?  A war against the North would certainly result in a victory for the U.S. and its allies, assuming China allowed it.  But the North Koreans could do terrible damage to South Korea and Japan before it was over.

There are two strategies that might work with less peril.  The regime in Pyongyang survives because the workers, if malnourished, don’t all die and the soldiers aren’t malnourished.  This is largely because China supplies the regime with food and fuel, and the South also supports Pyongyang with direct aid and a small free trade zone on the border.

China doesn’t want to see the regime collapse because it doesn’t want to see a flood of Koreans across its borders.  China also likes to watch North Korea distract and irritate the United States.  One way to encourage China to change its strategy would be to offer a few nuclear weapons to Seoul and Tokyo.  We could also help the Japanese build a real army.  Beijing would rather put the pressure on North Korea, by threatening to shut the spigot, than see South Korea and Japan join the ranks of nuclear powers.

Meanwhile the U.S. and South Korea could cut off all aid.  It looks like the totalitarian regime is already tottering.  That alone might push it over the edge.  The end of the regime should be our aim.  The world just can’t afford to tolerate it anymore.

This is the moment for the President to act.  He needs to be imaginative and bold.  If he is both, he might earn his place in history.  I am not optimistic.  I think the Jimmy Carter in him is the closest thing to a center than he has.  Imagination and courage he has not.  I hope I am wrong.

The Rise of Cult of Biden

Posted: Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 1:36 am
By: Ken Blanchard
Comments Off | Trackback Bookmark and Share

obama-messiahThere are ominous signs in the entrails of the press that pious hope for any change in Barack Obama is all but extinguished.  Consider this, from the Daily Caller:

Reporter Lisa DePaulo pressed [Vice President Joe] Biden repeatedly on why President Obama isn’t connecting with the American public and is instead viewed as professorial and aloof. “So what is it?” asked DePaulo.

“I think what it is, is he’s so brilliant. He is an intellectual,” Biden said.

So that’s what it is!  Obama is just too damn smart for us rubes to comprehend.  It isn’t his fault he is failing to connect.  He is like a Vorlon in Babylon 5.  He drifts into the room in his encounter suit and says something cryptic and we are supposed to recognize the inevitable wisdom of it.  Only we are just not evolved enough to understand.  That would at least explain the Greek columns at Obama’s nomination acceptance speech.

It is DePaulo’s puff piece introduction to her interview with Biden, however, that is the greatest expression of Obama’s expansive emptiness.

There are only two reporters traveling coast-to-coast with the vice president on Air Force Two on a clear day in early October. Which is two more than usual. Even though Joe Biden is in the midst of a long-overdue respectfest—the recent 9,300-word Atlantic opus declaring him “indispensable,” the eighty or so floundering Democratic candidates who called Joe before O to come stump for them—he’s still largely ignored by the press.

Biden’s “long-overdue respectfest” is underway now!  DePaulo mentions Mark Bowden’s “9,300 word opus” in the Atlantic.  Opus?  Yes, that’s the right word.  That, or paean.  Where are the Greek columns around this Apollo?

Joe Biden doesn’t just meet you, he engulfs you. There’s the direct contact with his blue eyes, the firm handshake while his other hand grasps your arm, the flash of those famously perfect white teeth, and an immediate frontal assault on your personal space. He shoulders right through the aura of fame and high office. Forget the Secret Service, the ever-present battery of aides and advisers, the photographers clicking away: the vice president of the United States moves in like an old pal with something urgent to tell you—just you. If he’s in a chair, he’ll scoot it closer; when the furniture’s not portable, he’ll lean forward, planting his elbows on his knees, gesturing with both hands while he speaks, occasionally reaching over to touch your arm or leg for emphasis.

Bowden is one more reporter who got a tingle up his leg, this time because he was engulfed by a blue eyed, white-teethed Joe Biden who actually (drum roll) touched his leg.  Isn’t this a bit pathological?

Nature abhors a vacuum, and the emptiness that is Barack Obama is pulling Joe Biden out of the miasmal mists.  Joe Biden is the most ordinary of politicians.  Over decades of political life he has demonstrated no virtues.  He has more than ordinary defects when it comes to speaking his mind.  In his first act of bad judgment, Barack Obama plucked Biden from near obscurity.  Now, when the President needs be reinventing himself, a “respectfest” is underway for his Vice President.

There are two possible interpretations of this.  One is that the insufficiently tingled press, having lost faith in He Who Blessed the Waffle, is kicking the Messiah upstairs and turning to worship his second in command.

The other is more prosaic.  A lot of people in the left-leaning press must be asking themselves: what if Obama doesn’t recover from this lowly state?  Bill Clinton did, after 1994.  Barack Obama, for better or worse, is no Bill Clinton.  What if Obama follows the advice of some creative thinkers at the Washington Post and chooses not to seek reelection?  The Democrats will have to run somebody in 2012 and somebody in 2016.

Either way, the rise of the cult of Biden is a sign of how far Barack Obama has fallen.

Lies & Moratoriums

Posted: Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 1:12 am
By: Ken Blanchard
Comments Off | Trackback Bookmark and Share

pinocchioFriend and occasional commenter A.I. chides me with these words: “You like to call the President a liar KB.”  I don’t in fact do that a lot.  I won’t say that I don’t like doing it when I think it is called for.

Here is an instance where it is called for.  From the Politico:

The White House rewrote crucial sections of an Interior Department report to suggest an independent group of scientists and engineers supported a six-month ban on offshore oil drilling, the Interior inspector general says in a new report…

“The White House edit of the original DOI draft executive summary led to the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer-reviewed by the experts,” the IG report states, without judgment on whether the change was an intentional attempt to mislead the public.

The story goes like this.  While the Deepwater oil spill was in full plume, the Administration decided to issue a six month moratorium on off shore oil drilling.  The decision was backed up by an Interior Department report.  At the eleventh hour, a crucial passage in the report was rewritten.  Here is the edited passage:

The recommendations contained in this report have been peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.

That one sentence contains two large, obese, inexactitudes, otherwise known as big fat lies.  One is that the seven experts endorsed the moratorium.  They didn’t and have said so.  The other is that the Interior Department recommendations were peer-reviewed.  They weren’t.

This is important enough to revisit for several reasons.  One is that the Administration was clearly and intentionally trying to deceive the public.  That is not unusual, but in a Republic it ought to be pointed out.

Another is that the Administration was clearly distorting science to back its policy agenda.  The Bush Administration was frequently accused of this.  If it was serious when a Republican was in the White House, it’s serious now.

The Interior Department could have easily gotten a peer-review of their moratorium recommendation, if not from the seven experts, then from some other group of qualified scientists.  In fact they never sought such a review.

Finally, the moratorium was very costly, something that put some burden on an already burdened economy and put a severe burden on a lot of people living and working along our Southern coast.  If, as indicated above, the moratorium reflected political strategy rather than a reasonable concern for public safety and the environment, it looks like a very bad piece of work.

The Administration’s handling of the BP oil spill was appallingly incompetent.  The President, aided by the media, exaggerated the severity of the situation.  This may have had two motives: one was to provide support for the Administration’s energy policy proposals.  The other was to provide the Administration an opportunity to act forcefully for the public good.  The moratorium was intended as an example of forceful action.  Since the example was important, and not any actual outcomes, who needs a stinking peer-review?

Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything the Administration could really do to help.  They ended up looking impotent while the real experts tinkered with the well.  The Administration’s inept attempt to exploit the disaster dealt a serious blow to the President’s credibility at a time when his party could ill-afford it.  It helped to destroy the illusion that Obama brought anything new to Washington.

Cognitive Dissonance is the System Democrats Live in

Posted: Monday, November 8, 2010 at 11:20 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
Comments Off | Trackback Bookmark and Share

cat-on-a-hot-newman-244x300Cognitive dissonance is defined as the discomfort someone feels when he or she tries to hold onto two contradictory ideas at the same time.  I suggest that the term ought to be enlarged to include the discomfort one is bound to experience when holding onto ideas that are manifestly at odds with the real world.

For example: the Obama Administration has criticized Israel for building new housing for Jews in East Jerusalem.  This is an obstacle to the peace process.  Secretary of Defense Gates has criticized Israeli PM Netanyahu for stating bluntly that only a credible military threat can encourage Iran to consider dropping its bid for nuclear weapons.  Secretary of Defense Gates is appalled.  He insists that our current negotiation strategy is working.

The problem is that there is no such thing as a genuine peace process for there is no player on the Palestinian side that is willing or able to make peace, let alone both; and the Administration’s negotiations with Iran, like those of its predecessor, haven’t slowed the Iranians down by a single day or a single ounce of radioactive material.  Our Middle East policies are based on fantasies, and those fantasies require a lot of mental energy to maintain.

Meanwhile here at home cognitive dissonance is the order of the day.  The Democrats seem about to reinstall Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as party leaders.  I endorsed this move in my last post, but I was kidding.  Michael Tomasky of the British Guardian doesn’t get the joke.

You lose 65 seats, you resign. Period. There should not be a question.

No, there shouldn’t be a question.  It doesn’t matter if Pelosi did the right thing as Speaker or if she will be effective in the minority.  Firing the coach is a necessary step to coming to grips with a humiliating loss.  If you don’t believe me, ask former Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips who got sacked after the Packers beat him 45-7.  Or ask Newt Gingrich.

Not firing the coach means not coming to terms.  Period.  Not coming to terms is what the Democrats specialize in these days.  The supporters of the current Congressional leadership say that the last two years were an age of heroes.  We did the right thing, and damn the voters, I mean, the torpedoes.

Okay, but when Pelosi urged her line out of the trenches, she didn’t tell them they were going to lose 65 seats.  She told them that forward was the way to winning the next election.  She told them that the Democrats lost big in 94 because they were cowards.  She told them that if they were brave this time, they would reap the fruits of victory.  She and Generalissimo Obama told them that if they would only push forward, the health care bill would become popular.

Well.  The game is over and the staff is raking up the confetti.  Obama is patiently taking responsibility while evading responsibility.  He tells us that the Democrats spent too much time getting things done and not enough time playing the political game.  I hope he knows he is telling a bald faced lie.  God help us if he believes what he is saying.

The President gave over thirty speeches during the health care debates.  All the wrangling over Congressional Budget Office numbers had nothing to do with policy and everything to do with manipulating the spin in the press.  Surely he can’t not know that.

Even if he does, it is clear that the Democrats are suffering from cognitive dissonance.  Reinstalling Coaches Reid and Pelosi is evidence enough.  The dissonance is on full display in the Oval Office.  From the Politico:

President Barack Obama has performed his act of contrition. Now comes the hard part, according to Democrats around the country: reckoning with the simple fact that he’s isolated himself from virtually every group that matters in American politics.

Congressional Democrats consider him distant and blame him for their historic defeat on Tuesday. Democratic state party leaders scoff at what they see as an inattentive and hapless political operation. Democratic lobbyists feel maligned by his holier-than-thou take on their profession. His own Cabinet — with only a few exceptions — has been marginalized.

His relations with business leaders could hardly be worse…  Add in his icy relations with Republicans, the media and, most important, most voters, and it’s easy to understand why his own staff leaked word to POLITICO that it wants Obama to shake up his staff and change his political approach.

It should be a no-brainer for a humbled Obama to move quickly after Tuesday’s thumping to try to repair these damaged relations, and indeed, in India on Sunday, he acknowledged the need for “midcourse corrections.”

But many Democrats privately say they are skeptical that Obama is self-aware enough to make the sort of dramatic changes they feel are needed — in his relations with other Democrats or in his very approach to the job.

That “self-aware” comment makes my point.  “Mendacity is the system we live in” said Brick or Big Daddy, I forget which.  I would change “mendacity” to “cognitive dissonance”.  We are awash in it.

B.O. Continues to Show Poor Situational Awareness

Posted: Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 9:25 am
By: RadioActive Chief
Comments Off | Trackback Bookmark and Share

Obama acknowledges his message didn’t get through

This is SO wrong! (Explanation follows.)

President Barack Obama is acknowledging in the wake of this week’s election rout that he hasn’t been able to successfully promote his economic-rescue message to anxious Americans.

Obama says in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he “stopped paying attention” to the leadership style he displayed during his run for the presidency.

Typical liberalism: style trumps substance darned near every time!

Obama also said he recognizes now that “leadership is not just legislation,”…

Real world translation: B.S. isn’t the same as reality.

,,,and that “it’s a matter of persuading people. And giving them confidence and bringing them together. And setting a tone….

LIncoln said something about this…oh yeah, the bit about not fooling all the people all the time!

And making an argument that people can understand.”

Real message: “You stupid people are just too dense to appreciate and accept the sheer genius of the Obamunist fundamental transformation that I’M trying to bless you with.”

“And I think that – we haven’t always been successful at that,…”

DUH! Lipstick on a pig still gives you a pig.

…he said. “And I take personal responsibility for that. And it’s something that I’ve got to examine closely as I go forward.”

One starts to doubt that there is the ability for enough “examination” to break through and achieve some accurate situational awareness: We GOT it, B.O! Your message came through loud and CLEAR, and we DO understand it…but we’re not buying it, at all, at all!

Coming to terms with defeat, or not

Posted: Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 12:42 am
By: Ken Blanchard
1 Comment | Trackback Bookmark and Share

margaritavilleSome people say that there’s a woman to blame
but I know: it’s my own damn fault

Those who have just been shellacked in an election would do well to listen to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaretville a few times, while searching for their lost shaker of salt.  When Republicans get shellacked they inevitably whine about the biased press.  That’s a little bit harder now that Fox News dominates Cable, but when did reason ever persuade the wounded heart?

In 2006 and 2008 the Republicans got shellacked nationally.  It didn’t happen because the other side cheated or because the press was biased or because the moon was in Virgo.  They got beat because they lost the confidence of the electorate. In a Republic that’s getting beat fair and square.

In South Dakota this year the Democrats got shellacked from top to bottom.  My esteemed Keloland Colleague and NSU Colleague Emeritus, David Newquist, is ready with excuses.  He blames the “the socio-economic factors affecting the Democratic Party in South Dakota.”  He doesn’t spell out those factors, but it doesn’t much matter.  In politics, as in golf, you have to play the ball where it lies.

I think it is a scandal that the Democrats did not run a candidate against John Thune.  David again is ready with excuses.  He seems to think that Senator Thune will do such terrible things to an opponent that no human being could dare to challenge him.  I think that that is utter nonsense.  Republicans Rand Paul in Kentucky and Daniel Webster in Florida bore up under much worse abuse than any candidate has ever dished out in South Dakota.  Instead of turning pale and withdrawing, they fought and won.  I cannot believe that Democrats in South Dakota are such cowards as David imagines them to be.  I think that the uncontested Senate race, the first in the state’s history, was a deliberate strategy.

Nationally, Democrats are looking for their own excuses.  One of the most common ones is that President Obama let his foes define him.  Here is E.J. Dionne:

President Obama allowed Republicans to define the terms of the nation’s political argument for the past two years and permitted them to draw battle lines the way they wanted. Neither he nor his party can let that happen again.

That’s just another version of the standard excuse used by both sides after bad news: the voters didn’t reject us or our policies!  We just didn’t explain ourselves properly.

Nonsense on stilts.  When President Obama put forth health care reform as his highest priority (among his other highest priorities), he very clearly defined the terms of the argument.  Health care reform would “bend the cost curve downward,” i.e, health care reform would save the nation money spent on medicine.  The problem was that no one believed it because it obviously wasn’t true.  Even if you believe the CBO estimates, the best you are going to get out of the health care bill is a wash.  But the CBO estimates always include caveats indicating that the savings in the bill depend on Congress doing things that it has always promised to do but has never actually managed to do.

Here’s why the Democrats took a bath in this election: First, the economy is in dreadful shape.  The President today praised the unexpected growth in private sector jobs.  But that growth is not enough to make up for population growth, let alone enough to depress the unemployment numbers.  Voters are hurting.

But there are two kinds of pain.  One is the kind you have when you break your ankle.  It really smarts, but you aren’t too worried because you figure you are going to get better soon enough.  The other is the kind of pain that makes you think that something much worse is happening, something that you won’t get over.  Pain plus existential fear is a lot worse than just pain.

The trillion dollars a year deficits we are running really worry a lot of us.  They make us wonder whether the economic pain we are suffering isn’t more like the persistent cough or the ache in the gut that won’t go away.  Maybe the whole system is sick.  Does the President have any plan to put us back on the road to fiscal health?  That is one thing that he didn’t define very well.

The deficits are the second thing that weighed down the Democrats.  The third thing was the health care bill.  As the economy stalled and the deficits mounted, the Democrats spent all their energies not on the present crisis but on the thing that they have wanted for decades.  The people didn’t want it.  The voters expressed their dismay not only in opinion polls but in actual elections, but the Democrats in Congress pushed ahead anyway.  That was the third thing.

The economy, the deficits, and the health care bill, in that order, did the Democrats in.  They ought to come to terms with that.  It might not get better.

Democrats Devour Themselves

Posted: Friday, October 29, 2010 at 11:29 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
Comments Off | Trackback Bookmark and Share

goya.saturn-sonThere is a sinister force stalking the land, conspiring against Democrats.  That sinister force turns out to be Democrats.  It appears that Bill Clinton tried to persuade Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek to drop out of the Florida Senate race.  It also appears that he did not.  When asked about it, Republican turned independent Charlie Crist says he can’t remember.  Apparently, when Clinton didn’t ask Meek to drop out he in fact persuaded Meek to drop out, but Meek later decided not to drop out although, mind you, there was never any deal that he drop out.

Now that we have that straight, what the heck is going on here?  In two recent polls Republican Marco Rubio is twenty points ahead of Charlie Crist, who is somewhere between seven and fourteen points ahead of Meeks.  However, in only one poll is Rubio’s support more than that of Crist and Meeks combined.  If President Clinton could have persuaded Meeks to official drop out and throw his support to Crist, which he apparently did and didn’t do, and if Crist then gained all of Meek’s support without losing any of his own, then Crist might have had a chance to win the Senate seat he so dearly covets.  Senator Crist would then have caucused with the Democrats.  Point Obama.

It might not have worked out that way.  A race reduced to Rubio v. Crist would have forced voters to make up their minds about Crist, and they might not be so forgetful as Crist apparently is.  Nonetheless, that looks like the only viable strategy that the Democrats have for winning that Senate seat.  They desperately want to win it, not only for one more vote in the upper house, but to stop Marco Rubio.  Rubio is smart, articulate, and Cuban.  He has a made for TV face and hairdo.  This is what Democratic strategists have nightmares about.

If Bill Clinton did in fact persuade or try to persuade Meeks to drop out of the race, it wouldn’t have been illegal or immoral, nor would it have contributed to global warming.  It would have been embarrassing all the same.  Trying to torpedo an African American Democrat, and by all accounts a very capable candidate, in favor of a very White, formerly Republican independent wouldn’t inspire confidence in the party.  If the only way the Democrats can win that Senate seat is by running someone who isn’t a Democrat…

Can’t anyone keep a secret these days?  This is the second such pseudo scandal to trouble the Democrats this year.  They did and did not try to persuade Joe Sestak to drop out of the Senate Democratic nomination race in Pennsylvania.  There is nothing improper about this but it would be better to handle it behind closed doors.  Apparently rooms don’t have doors anymore.  In that case, isn’t it better to just be honest?  The Democrats keep embarrassing themselves, but that might be because they have no better options.

If folks at the top of the Democratic food chain are reduced to eating their young, the young are biting back.  Dozens of House Democrats are running against their own party leadership.  The Democrats have a chance to hold onto the Senate seat in West Virginia, but only because Governor Manchin is running as a pro-life, pro-gun, anti-Obama candidate.  Manchin actually shot a sign with “cap and trade” on it with a rifle in a campaign commercial.  He favors repeal of ObamaCare.  With Democrats like this, what does one need a Tea Party for?

There is someone out to get the Democrats.  It’s the Democrats.  This is what their party achieved over the last two years.

Obama Sends Republicans to the back of the bus

Posted: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 11:00 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
Comments Off | Trackback Bookmark and Share

who's drivingIt is always difficult to run a campaign, and especially a national campaign, when you seem to be way behind.  It is difficult to inspire hope in among your own troops and at the same time convey the appropriate sense of alarm or to be upbeat without appearing delusional.

In one respect, however, campaigning becomes easier when you are in a hole.  You have less territory to defend and a smaller group of people at whom you can aim all your rhetoric.  The Democrats nationally gave up any attempt to win cut into the Republican vote or win back independents months ago.  That was tactically indicated.  They went negative on a national scale, searching for any way they could find to undermine Republican candidates.  That was also tactically indicated.  Charlie Cook endorsed such a strategy early this year.

Such a strategy involves its own traps.  Focusing your message on your base may permanently alienate voters who are not part of that base.  It may also make bridge building after the election rather more difficult.

Case in point: the President’s recent remarks in Rhode Island.  From Fox News:

He said Republicans had driven the economy into a ditch and then stood by and criticized while Democrats pulled it out. Now that progress has been made, he said, “we can’t have special interests sitting shotgun. We gotta have middle class families up in front. We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.”

As Mark Twain said of Wagner’s music, this is not as bad as it sounds.  The President was not really suggesting that a block of American voters that may well be larger than his own supporters this year have to accept their place, permanently, in the back of the public car.  What he said surely sounds as if that is what he meant.  Does he really have such a tin ear that he can’t recognize what telling people to move to the back of the bus means in American political rhetoric?

I will be charitable and assume that the answer is yes.  The President was oblivious to the historical and logical implications of what he said.  He was thinking only of how warmly the audience responded when last he said something like this.

The President’s single best piece of rhetoric in the campaign, perhaps the only memorable one, was this:

After they drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back. No!  You can’t drive. We don’t want to have to go back into the ditch. We just got the car out.

That was very good, and when a line goes over well you are likely to repeat it.  As for assigning all Republicans to the back of the bus, the President does have a tin ear and this is pretty much how he really thinks about politics.  People who disagree with him don’t really deserve to have a say.

What is really objectionable about the “sit in the back” quote is not the obvious historical resonance of the image, but the fact that the President does not seem to understand what an election is.  He doesn’t get to decide who drives the public car.  Rhode Island Democrats don’t get to decide that.  The people of these United States get to decide that.

I am honestly uncertain that the President gets that.  He really supposes that some or perhaps all of his authority comes from the fact that he is Obama.  He hasn’t grasped that every single ounce of it comes from the electorate.  He may not be capable of grasping that.

Republicans nationwide grasp the essential fact very well.  That’s the advantage of losing two elections in a row, badly.  Republicans right now are like children waiting for an early Christmas.  Every time a one of them goes to RealClearPolitics to check out the latest generic poll, he or she is shaking the wrapped up box and trying to guess how wonderful a gift is inside.  Unlike our President, Republicans know exactly who Santa Claus really is.