Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sarah Palin is a Weenie

It seems that Sarah Palin has joined Sean Hannity in their breathless denunciation of the "tone" of the current Republican battle to face Barack Obama.  This is getting ridiculous.  Every time I turn on Hannity, he's whining about the race, that Republicans shouldn't be attacking each other, that they are violating the "11th Commandment" of St. Ron of Eureka.  This is utter nonsense.  The job of primaries is to differentiate oneself from one's opponents, and that is something that both of the major GOP contestants are doing, just fine. 

Listen, I didn't enjoy watching Romney be treated like a pinata about Bain and his taxes--and the fact that the "tone" of the criticisms were reminiscent of liberal garbage was noteworthy--but the mere fact that he was forced to respond to these charges has made him a better candidate.  Let's face it folks, Newt Gingrich has been a divisive figure, even within the Republican Party.  To suggest otherwise is simply revisionist history.  Yes--he led Republicans out of a forty-year desert, and it was one of the most amazing political lifts in US history.  But he was also forced out of the Speakership because of his temperament and his ability to lead.  These things are fair game, as are his activities in selling his estimable Washington influence after leaving office.  If Newt is going to be our nominee--than he HAS to answer for these things.

The continuing reference to Reagan and the "11th Commandment" is just downright silly.  Ronald Reagan could issue the 11th Commandment because he was, well.....Ronald Reagan.  None of these guys are he, and we ought to stop waiting for Him to return like a bunch of "end of the worlders". 

It's time to hunker down, to recognize that THIS race, with THESE men, will settle our candidate question.  Let them do what needs to be done, and we'll have a stronger candidate at the end. 

What Happens If?

Ok, I'm no defense expert but I can read a map. If Egypt renounces the Camp David Accords and Syria is taken over by Islamo-NAZIs (as opposed to the secular killer régime they currently enjoy) and Iran acquires the big one...and America is led by a man who's middle name is Hussein, well, what would you say the over/under would be for Israel?

Monday, January 30, 2012

How Are Those Google Ad Proceeds Coming, CW?


I remember when he did this with Twitter several months ago and Iowahawk had a fun-filled afternoon of tweeting POTUS. Nevertheless, smart move by the Obama campaign to have his name pop up on every Google search in the US.

The You Tube site says neither POTUS nor his staff will know which questions (in the form of You Tube videos) will be selected for him to answer. It also says the winning You Tubers will be invited to sit in with the President as he answers the questions. I'm guessing, since they are viewable in rank order for all the world to see and since the Secret Service already knows who is coming over today, that the White House staff will once again be exercising their model integrity by not peeking before tonight. I can't wait to watch the absolute surprise on Barak's (he said I can call him that) face as each new video is unveiled. Darn, I'll be on the road then. Oh well, maybe Sally or Hammer can catch it for me instead.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mitt Continues to Rack up Endorsements

Big day for the Mittster: the highly coveted Gene Simmons endorsement!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Last Night's Debate

Newt needed a knockout punch, and he just couldn't get it in.  Mitt stayed close and attacked and counterattacked.  When Newt tried to be grand and curry favor with the panel, Mitt wouldn't let him off the mat.  Anyone looking for fight and spirit out of Romney last night will not have been disappointed.  I was happy to see both Romney and Santorum not pander to the Space Coast, and also to see no one rise to the bait of the "Palestinian Republican". 

Rick Santorum really is the "conservative" option to Romney, but his views on social issues lack broad appeal, dooming his candidacy. 

Mitt's gonna have some 'splainin' to do today with respect to an ad that he has running in FL that was the subject of discussion last night--but which he didn't appear to be aware of (although he "approved this message"). 

Mitt takes FL by 4. 

Have You Contributed to Romney for President Yet?

Looks like Mitt's shaken his South Carolina blues and is going to do very well in FL--I'm predicting a 4 point victory.  Newt is a great American folks, but he just isn't going to unhorse President Obama.  Heard the old Washington joke again this week--Newt saying to Bob Dole, "Why do people take such an instant dislike to me?" and Dole saying, "so they don't have to waste any time."

Let's start to show the campaign what an influential blog looks like.  Donate to Mitt Romney for President here, don't forget to check the box indicating that you know your referrer.

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Here we go again, folks!  The day when you get to share what's on your mind.  Feeling a little blue about your Vice President's ethnic jokes?  Tired of being made fun of about your moon colony?  Get it off your chests, folks.  Live a little!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Uncle Miltie Answers the President

When I became interested in politics I was a muddle headed quasi-liberal, as I suspect were most of you. It's not that I was a raging leftist, I wasn't, but I did care about the direction of the country and I did (and still do) care about the plight of the less fortunate. I thought most people were basically good and I also thought giving people a leg up was good for them and good for society. I had no idea what motivated people, what incentives they responded to, or the pitfalls of dependency. And I certainly had no idea what was the proper role of government. Milton Friedman changed that for me.

After last night's State of the Union with all of Obama's proposed government meddling, interventions, subsidies etc., I thought it might be a good time to revisit Professor Friedman. There's nothing new about what Obama is proposing. Utopians have been around since Plato and they all have one thing in common: In their societies the elites will have all the power and they will spill blood to keep it.

So, if you haven't done it already, I urge you to read "Free to Choose" and "Capitalism and Freedom" (if you're in the mood for something heavier). Like so many great works, it's as if they were written yesterday. Also you can click on the header and catch Uncle Miltie on Donahue back in 1980 (his jokes suck but hey, he's a college professor).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Newt Can't Handle the Silence

The debate last night was a bit soporific at times. One reason for that is the subject matter for most of the evening had been covered ad nauseum over the last nine or so months. The other reason was the audience was asked to hold their applause. Personally, I thought it was a welcome break from the raucous crowds we've been treated to in the past.

But it had another advantage-it knocked Newt a bit off his game. He seemed subdued without the support of the crowd; even some of his lines seemed to pause for an expected audience roar of approval.

Clearly Newt recognizes his unexciting (but to be fair, still solid) performance, in great contrast to his last two debate performances when he had a little help from Juan Williams and John King. So on Fox and Friends this morning, Newt made the threat that he may not participate in future debates if the crowd can't get involved. Yeah, right Newt.

Seems Speaker Gingrich is terribly concerned about the free speech rights of the audience. Wonder if he'd feel that way if he didn't need them so much to egg him on.

Stagecraft at its Lamest

Curious as to what we may hear in the SOTU tonight?

Wonder no more. One of the props--er, guests--seated with the First Lady tonight will be Warren Buffett’s secretary. You know, the one we keep hearing about, the one who pays more in taxes than Warren Buffett himself does?

We need an over/under on how many times the Oracle of Omaha's name is invoked. How utterly ridiculous these people are.

No Lefty Like An Old Lefty

Robert Redford tells us that his Sundance Film Festival is "for the 99%", not the 1%.  Uh, right.

Governor Romney's Tax Returns

Well, it looks like things are beginning to squirt out about Governor Romney's taxes, and I think Fox News gets it right when they dclare "He's Rich, He Donates, He Pays Taxes".  As I read over press reports this morning, I am waiting for the "bomb" to drop--you know, the one that would have made him reticent to release this information before today.  I simply don't see any of it at this point. 

I was down hard last night (flu symptoms combatted by two hits of Nyquil and 12 hours of sleep), so I didn't see the debate.  My reading of things this morning is that he handled this issue well, and that he had a good debate in general.

Monday, January 23, 2012

You Be the Judge

John Kerry showed up at a White House ceremony honoring the Boston Bruins today with two black eyes.

He claims he broke his nose playing hockey. (Nose looks okay to me).

I claim he had some plastic surgery.

What say you?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Romney in South Carolina

Last night was not a good night for Mitt Romney.  Voters in South Carolina repudiated him in a stark way, and sought comfort in the arms of a candidate thought by many (outside SC) to be weaker in the general election.  Of interest to me last night were the exit polls in which SC voters consistently cited Speaker Gingrich as the more "electable" candidate, with "electability" related directly to debating skills.  The voters are HUNGRY to see someone who can give it to the President with both barrels, and there is no question that Newt can do that.  What Mr. Romney must now do is show that he too can do the same.  He needs to get aggressive, and go on the offensive.  And his immediate target is NOT Barack Obama, it is Newt Gingrich.

Romney lost in South Carolina because of one thing and one thing only--his answers in two straight debates on his tax returns.  His defense of free market capitalism and his time at Bain were well done; his prevarication and stumbling in the face of questions about his tax returns--not so much.  People viewing were left with many questions in their minds, including 1) what is he hiding? and 2) how can he possibly be fumbling this question after five years of running for President?  In other words, either his ethics or his competence were questioned, neither of which is a good thing for someone running for President as an ethical and competent man.

Voters are smart enough to figure out Mr. Gingrich.  I fear South Carolina's role of picking Republican nominees has come to an end, in the interest of voters sending a serious message of discontent to the eventual GOP standard bearer.  Mr. Romney MUST take this seriously.  His decision this morning to release his 2010 tax returns is the right one--doing so on the day of the State of the Union Address is also a good tactical move.  But he damn sure better be ready to explain them in a way that Americans can at least then sit back and say, "ok--he's not dishonest, and he's got his stuff in one sock."  He doesn't have to be the high school debate champion--he simply needs to re-instill confidence that he can go toe-to-toe with Obama. 

Romney has said from the beginning that this would be an extended process--without I think, believing that it would be true.  Well, it is now.  Time to put that Bain, Olympic competence to work. 

Separated at Birth?

Hillary: Cut. Your. Hair. It's just not working for you, girl.

Maureen Dowd Suddenly Discovers the Obamas are Arrogant

I fully expected from MoDo this Sunday a scathing piece on Newt, but somehow she resisted the temptation and instead turned her formidable knives on the Obamas. Best line: 'the president and the first lady do believe in American exceptionalism — their own...'

Read the whole thing here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Palmetto State Despair

I just can't believe that lacing into a debate moderator is a winning strategy for winning a primary. Yet sadly, it's appearing that may be enough for Newt today.

I can't believe people might be duped into voting for Newt Gingrich because they want to see him smack down Obama in debates. Debates will consist of about SIX HOURS of the fall campaign. What about the rest of the time?

I can't believe Newt really thinks Obama will agree to even one Lincoln-Douglas style debate. Why would he? Candidates that are ahead by double digits, which O will be if Newt is the nominee, rarely if ever agree to more debates than necessary. And all that Gingrich pomposity would be tough to take anyway over the course of a few hours.

I can't believe Romney has let things get out of control to the point that a Gingrich South Carolina win is even a possibility.

I can't believe that Newt Gingrich is almost making Ron Paul appear a better choice. Heck, Ron BURGUNDY looks like a better choice.

Despite the gargantuan size of this man's ego, Newt is a small, small man. Did I mention I can't believe this is happening?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Grandiosity, Thy Name is Newt

A hilarious press release from the Romney campaign, following Newt's declarations of his grandioseness last evening:

A Selection Of Speaker Gingrich’s Thoughts Over The Years

Gingrich On Gingrich:

· “I Think I Am A Transformational Figure.” (PBS.org, 12/2/11)
· “I Am Essentially A Revolutionary.” (Adam Clymer, “House Revolutionary,” The New York Times, 8/23/92)
· “I Have An Enormous Personal Ambition. I Want To Shift The Entire Planet. And I’m Doing It. … I Represent Real Power.” ( The Washington Post, 1/3/85)
· “I First Talked About Saving Civilization In August Of 1958.” (GQ, 8/05)
· “I Am The Longest Serving Teacher In The Senior Military, 23 Years Teaching One And Two-Star Generals And Admirals The Art Of War.” (GOP Presidential Candidates Debate, 12/15/11)

Speaker Gingrich Has Compared Himself To A Litany Of Historical Leaders:

Ronald Reagan And Margaret Thatcher: “Gingrich said he learned a lot about himself in the political wilderness. … In the same breath, he compares himself to two conservative giants. With Gingrich, humility has its limits. ‘Because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, I’m such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I’m trying to do.’” (CNN.com, 11/16/11)

Woodrow Wilson: “He earned a PhD in history and taught college before winning a seat in Congress. He has often spoken of himself as a historian. In 1995, he told CNN’s Bob Franken: ‘I am the most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson.’” ( The Washington Post, 11/22/11)

Henry Clay: Gingrich said that like Clay, he did more than just preside over the House. ‘I was not a presider, I was the leader,’ Gingrich said in the interview. ‘I think Henry Clay’s probably the only other speaker to have been a national leader and a speaker of the House simultaneously.’” (USA Today, 8/30/99)

Pericles: “In a long interview on May 4, 1992, devoted almost exclusively to the topic of Gingrich, former White House aide Richard Darman concluded that Gingrich was ‘an unstable personality’ who talks about four or five great people in history, including Pericles and himself.” (Bob Woodward, The Washington Post, 12/24/11)

The Duke Of Wellington: “Obsessed recently with Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, Gingrich likened the appropriations triumph to the way the British expeditionary force maneuvered against the French during the Peninsular War, a campaign in Portugal and Spain in the early 1800s that eventually led to Wellington’s ascendance and Napoleon’s abdication.” (The Washington Post, 8/13/95)

A Viking: “With his machine-gun staccato delivery, Gingrich is the center of attention. He terms himself a ‘Viking.’” (South Bend Tribune, 7/28/95)

Some Thoughts On Last Night's Debate

Let's get the tough part out of the way first:  Mitt Romney is in trouble in South Carolina, and it is largely his own fault.  His answers to the tax return questions in the last two debates have been the low points in his campaign.  I have a hard time believing that there isn't a chorus of people around him saying "just do it, Mitt", so I'm left with the sad sense that this is his call, and it appears to be a bad one.  My guess is that he wanted to wait until he had the nomination sewn up before he released them, but that plan looks to be in jeopardy.  Worst of all was even if his reticence to release his returns is entirely Mitt's own doing, he should have had a much better answer crafted than the one he had. 

Newt's performance in the first five minutes was great theater, but utterly embarrassing to witness as a sentient being.  While the crowd loved the red meat he threw them (what conservative crowd doesn't like a little press bashing), the bottom line is that this situation is not the press's doing, it is Newt's.  Newt had affairs with at least two women while he was married to two other women.  Newt conducted a six year affair.  Newt wants all of us to believe that he has changed, and that we should forgive him his transgressions.  Sure, Newt.  You're forgiven.  But forgiveness is not absolution, and that MANY people currently supporting him have little or no idea about the facts revealed in last night's interview IS GERMANE to his pursuit of the Presidency.  I would have sent $500 to ANY of the candidates who raised their arms and said "hey, wait just a moment.  I take a back seat to NO ONE when it comes to bashing the liberal press--but this is not a liberal press issue, this is a question of character issue.  Rick Perry had it right when he said that if a man cheats on his wife, he'll cheat on his business partner.  What kind of Party are we becoming, if our hatred of the Press blinds us to real, moral failure?"

But instead, we saw a well mapped out and utterly successful strategy executed by the Speaker, while Mitt Romney stumbled.  I hope Governor Romney figures out a solid strategy for addressing his taxes (I would LOVE to have seen him whip them out of his coat pocket last night and hand them to John King), and puts this issue behind him.

UPDATE:  Whoops, forgot the other two...

Rick Santorum had an awesome debate--really took it to all three of the others.  He is sincere, he's got good ideas, he's making a good impression.  And Mitt Romney's chances of winning SC depend ENTIRELY on Santorum stealing votes from Newt.

Ron Paul was ridiculous, as always.  Sorry Dr. Paul, abortion is not just a medical issue....

Democrats Propose "Reasonable Profits Board". This is Not a Joke

Six house Democrats have put forward a bill designed to arbitrate whether or not oil companies make too much money.  No word yet on whether accompanying legislation will cover trial lawyers and Hollywood.

Have You Contributed to Romney for President Yet?

Do it today, and I promise he'll release his tax returns by April 15! :)

Seriously folks--Mitt's in a race, and then he'll have to beat the President.  Dig Deep!

Big Fat Friday Free For All

What's on your mind, folks?   Ex-wife been talking smack?  Can't seem to find those old tax returns?  No one paying any attention to the fact that you really ARE the President?  Let it all hang out, let your freak flag fly....I present the Big Fat Friday Free For All!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Debt is the Issue!

Debt will ruin this country. Debt will steal our liberties and destroy our way of life. This debt burden we have is so large, that even if we do everything right in terms controlling spending etc., it is not at all certain we will ever recover. But I don't think the American people get it. I just don't think they realize the implications of such a unimaginable amount of debt. I think they think it will all be worked out and somehow we'll come through this like we always have. I once held that view but I'm growing increasingly pessimistic.

I believe in American Exceptionalism. I believe the Constitution is the greatest political document ever written. And I also believe if adhered to and respected, prosperity and freedom will follow as day follows night. But if we stray from the course, if we grow tired of its restraints that limit our ability to "do good", if our arrogance extends beyond the point of reason, we as a nation and society will be diminished.

Britain's experience teaches us a valuable lesson. Prior to World War I Great Britain lived by the rule that her navy must be twice as big as the next two biggest navies, plus 10%. In 1918 Britain had over 60 battleships, 120 heavy cruisers and about 470 destroyers. She had a big empire to protect and that's what it took to do the job. By 1925 her fleet was a shadow of its former self and the empire was soon to follow. What happened? A war DEBT, that's what happened.

What can we conclude when the greatest (and healthiest) empire since the Romans is brought down in less than 10 years due to crushing debt? My conclusion is it can happen to us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Death of Newsweek?

Most of us know Tina Brown. She's an Oxford educated British ex-pat, a hardcore leftist (in the tradition of Tony Benn and Michael Foot), and shares the Fleet Street tabloid tradition of yellow journalism. Here in the States she's edited the New Yorker and Vanity Fair, both reliably liberal publications appealing to the progressive northeastern intelligentsia (or knee-jerk, narrow-minded, leftist halfwits as I like to call them). After Newsweek changed ownership she became managing editor.

So, how's she doing? Well, not so good. Reportedly the news mag is bleeding money at a rate of $20 mil. a year. Investors (Barry Diller, Jane Harmon, a consortium or two) have a target of 2013 to turn things around but are losing patience with such high loses. Even though the Washington Post basically gave them the brand, and this is obviously a labor of love, loses are loses and even leftist scum hate loses (at least when it's their money).

Therefore, in my humble opinion Newsweek is a dead duck. To start with it's an outdated business model. The internet is killing "slow news" publications like this and there is absolutely no reason to think this 15 year trend will change. Plus, Ms. Brown style of journalism doesn't fit with a news mag. Turning Newsweek into an overtly leftist, opinion oriented magazine will have by definition limited appeal, and sensational attention seeking stories or controversial covers (Michelle Bachmann's wild eyed photo comes to mind) aren't going to raise circulation. If Newsweek is around a year from now I'll be very surprised.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Live Audiences at Political Debates

Last night's debate, like any and all others of this election and other recent ones, was cheapened by the presence of a rowdy studio audience.  CNN's got a guest commentary up about this subject, and it is worth a read.  Bottom line for me is that the crowds distract from good debate, break up the flow of the conversation, and generally display boorish behavior.  The Party needs to run these debates on cleared soundstages--and the quality of the debates would improve.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Reason Newsweek was Sold for a Dollar

Because they produce stuff like this.

Live-blogging Tonight's Debate

Ok folks, let's all meet here in the app to the right to live-blog tonight's debate, shall we? 

Huntsman to Leave GOP Race

The interwebs have been a-flutter with news since last night of former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman's decision to leave the 2012 race.  This is a good thing for Mitt Romney (who he will reportedly endorse), the Republican Party, and Jon Huntsman.

It's a good thing for Mitt because it removes the only player left in the field with whom he competed for "moderate" Republican votes.  Fiscally conservative, socially ambivalent Republicans didn't have a lot of choices in this race--and now there's one less.

It's a good thing for the Republican Party because it removes a minor candidate from the distraction status that he'd achieved during the race.  Huntsman had a good New Hampshire, but not good enough.  He's getting no traction in SC or FL.

And it's a good thing for Huntsman.  Let's face it folks, he ran a strategically flawed campaign.  Rather than run as the conservative Governor who got things done, he decided to run as the "to the left of Mitt" guy who speaks Chinese.  Republicans wanted more red meat than he was willing to serve up.  I hope he goes home to Utah and spends the next eight years (the Romney terms) refining his message for a 2020 run--because he could be the real deal.....someday.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

WaPost Hit Piece on Romney at Bain

Now isn't this special?  William D. Cohan, a writer for Bloomberg and troubadour of Wall Street inside stories, has penned an editorial in this morning's Washington Post in which he says (among other things) the following:

"Yet, there is another version of the Bain way that I experienced personally during my 17 years as a deal-adviser on Wall Street: Seemingly alone among private-equity firms, Romney’s Bain Capital was a master at bait-and-switching Wall Street bankers to get its hands on the companies that provided the raw material for its financial alchemy. Other private-equity firms I worked with extensively over the years — Forstmann Little, KKR, TPG and the Carlyle Group, among them — never dared attempt the audacious strategy that Bain partners employed with great alacrity and little shame.

Call it the real Bain way.  Here’s how it worked. Private-equity firms are always eager to find companies to buy, allowing them to invest chunks of the billions of dollars entrusted to them and from which they earn hundreds of millions in fees. One ready source of these businesses is Wall Street bankers hired to sell companies through private auctions. The good news is that when a banker puts together a detailed selling memorandum about a company, chances are very high that company will be sold; the bad news is that these private auctions tend to be very competitive, and the winning bidder, by definition, is most often the one willing to pay the most. By paying the highest price, you win the company, but you also may reduce the returns you can generate for your investors.
I never negotiated directly with Romney; he was too high-level for any interaction with me. Rather, I dealt often with other Bain senior partners, who were very much in his mold. In my experience, Bain Capital did all that it could to game the system by consistently offering the highest prices during the early rounds of bidding — only to try to low-ball the price after it had weeded out competitors.

So let's break this down, shall we?   First of all, the headline to the piece speaks of Romney's word not being "....his bond" and Cohan writes as much in his closing.  Yet Cohan admits in his piece to never dealing directly with Romney.  Ok....next.

Cohan does a reasonable job in laying out the process that connected him (as an adviser to Wall Street banks) and Bain (looking to do private equity deals), a process that includes early rounds of bidding in which the company being sought for purchase and its lawyers "weed out" private equity firms not able to meet their idea of price.  Critical to this round of bargaining is that the PE firms have not had access to in-depth information about the company--something Cohan explains thusly:  "By bidding high early, Bain would win a coveted spot in the later rounds of the auction, when greater information about the company for sale is shared and the number of competitors is reduced. (A banker and his client generally allow only the potential buyers with the highest bids into the later rounds; after all, you can’t have an endless procession of Savile Row-suited businessmen traipsing through a manufacturing plant if you want to keep a possible sale under wraps.)"  What this? I'm shocked, shocked there's capitalism going on in here.  

What Cohan reveals here are the inherent tensions in a capitalist exchange.  He was trying to get the highest price for the companies being sold, in order to deliver the greatest return to the bankers involved.  Romney was trying to get the lowest price for the company, in order to return value to HIS investors.  In the middle, is a transaction, freely entered into by two parties with the ability to walk away at any point in the process.  Bain would have been guilty of financial misconduct were it not to lower its bidding price as more information came available to indicate the value of the company in question.  If this were a Bain strategy, than presumably if it weren't successful in determining a truer market value of the company for sale, the market would have punished Bain, more people would have done what Cohan did in 2004--as is recounted here: "  By the end of my days on Wall Street in 2004, I found the real Bain way so counterproductive that I no longer included Bain Capital on my buyer’s lists of private-equity firms for a company I was selling."

But the market did not punish Bain for its strategy.  It rewarded it.  And Cohan left Wall Street to become a writer.  Wall Street valued what it Cohan refers to here:  " But Bain Capital took the art of negotiation over price into the scientific realm."Yes Mr. Cohan--after the negotiation entered the realm of truly fair negotiation, where both buyer and seller had the opportunity to reach a price based on sufficient information, Bain scientifically and painstakingly analyzed what the business was really worth--and bid accordingly.  Cohan makes a great show of how disruptive it would have been for the parties on the sell side to walk away, but this is simple hogwash. It happens all the time.  This accounts in no small part for the number of lawyers on Wall Street.

One would have thought though, that Mr. Cohan's clear revulsion with Romney would have been manifest with his decision in 2004 to pass on any deals with Bain.  Yet a (ridiculously easy) Google search of Mr. Cohan's political contributions over the past few years reveals that although he has heavily favored Democrats (including President Obama for the full $2500 in this cycle), he made a $1000 donation to Romney in 2007.  How can this be, Mr. Cohan?  Have you all of a sudden come to conclude that Romney might bait and switch the Congress,  or the Chinese?  Had you not reached these conclusions in 2007?  Or is the answer closer to a case of the shoe being on the other foot--Cohan looking to implement a "win-at-any-cost" strategy of his own in support of the President's re-election?

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's Friday Folks--Have You Donated to the Romney Campaign Lately?

Things are looking awfully good for Mr. Romney, folks.  The field will narrow considerably after Mitt puts SC in the win column--then it's on like Donkey Kong through November.  Mr. Obama is amassing a huge campaign war chest--some estimate it will be $1B.  If we want to win the White House, we're gonna have to open our wallets.

Click this link to donate to Romney for President....today.  And please check the box indicating that you know your referrer. 

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Well folks, it's that time of the week again.  Got something to get off your chest?  Have you spent the last year of your life campaigning in New Hampshire, only to come in 3rd?  Tired of bringing it every day only to have people think you should be dumped for Hillary?  Share, people.  Share!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Elvis Has Left the Building!

Well, not Elvis, but maybe the only adult in the West Wing. Bill Daley is a Democrat to the core, but he's nobody's fool. This guy has been steeped in the amalgamation of politics and business that is Chicago. He knows both sides of the fence and in my estimation would be a handy guy to have around with an election coming up. Evidently Obama & Co. think differently.

From what the talking heads are saying Daley had been isolated and marginalized for a good while now, which is unfortunate for Obama and the country. I guess they got tired of him bringing up things like spending and regulation and those other little niggling things that are destroying the economy. Regardless, this is a good indication the ideological forces in the White House, as opposed to the pragmatic, are in full control.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Was it Worth It?

First the cost: The numbers are in for Iraq but we're still jerking around in Afghanistan so things could change. In Iraq we lost 4500 American lives with about 32,000 wounded (Iraqi dead in the hundreds of thousands). The Iraqi war cost the taxpayer $800 billion but ongoing medical treatment etc. for veterans could easily double or triple that figure. Afghanistan has cost us about $500 billion so far with 1900 American dead and another thousand or so Coalition troops. Some reports suggest the final bill for both wars could exceed the cost of World War II.

So, was it worth it? What did we gain? To be honest I'm not sure, and I wish somebody would tell me. But I can tell you how other countries benefited. In 2010 the China National Petroleum Corp became Iraq's biggest customer scarfing up 5 major oil field auctions. China is busily rebuilding infrastructure and refineries and hopes to quadruple production in 10 years. Russia's Lukoil is also doing pretty well in Iraq along with Royal Dutch Shell. So how are American companies like Exxon Mobil and Conoco doing? Not so good, they got nada.

I wonder what was going through the minds of all those oil executives and Chi-Com government types while they were getting the Baghdad red-carpet butt-smooch as American choppers hovered overhead providing security. Russia and China vehemently opposed the war at every turn but that didn't stop them from swooping in when the goodies were being handed out. They couldn't help but think Americans are the biggest chumps on the planet; and justifiably so.

We are fools. We are so blinded by political correctness, and so weak and afraid of criticism that we might, just might act in our own self interest that we have become an international laughing stock. Sometimes you have to say to hell with what others think. When you do that you are free to act, and that brings opportunity and possibility and that my friends is how you progress. We did not go into Iraq because of oil, so now we have to prove it by allowing our diplomatic and economic enemies to steal resources for which our soldiers paid so dearly in blood? We liberated Iraq, not the Chinese or Russians. If any country benefits it should be our Coalition partners and us.

This will not bode well for the United States. Not only do we not get any economic return for our sacrifice but we demonstrate our weakness before the World. And showing weakness as opposed to projecting strength is how wars start.

The Coming Chinese Slump

Robert Samuelson has an excellent column in this morning's Washington Post describing mounting fears of a "China Bubble".  Here's the nature of the problem:

How all this affects China’s growth is controversial. “Most likely, China will have a soft landing,” says Justin Yifu Lin, the World Bank’s chief economist. “Growth goes to 8 percent or 8.5 percent.” That’s down from about 9 percent in 2011. Government debt is still low enough to permit ample stimulus, Lin thinks. Many forecasts agree.  But skepticism is mounting. The Japanese securities firm Nomura sees a one-in-three possibility of a “hard landing” — a drop in growth to 5 percent or less. To Americans, now experiencing annual economic growth around 2 percent, this may seem fabulous. But for China’s modernizing economy and huge labor force, a 5 percent growth rate would raise unemployment and social discontent. The adverse GDP swing would roughly equal the U.S. decline in the 2007-09 recession.

Read that again--China could have a 5% growth rate and STILL experience an economic swing reminiscent of our recent swoon. Folks, China is building pyramids, spending money on roads to nowhere and office buildings that are largely empty--in order to produce 9-10% growth a year.  After all, when you need to create as many jobs each year as the Chinese Communist Party does, the music can never stop.

You want to talk about a threat to our national security?  China's economy sinking fast qualifies.  There should be an NSC Study group meeting regularly--bringing together State, Commerce, Treasury and Defense--devoted to thinking through what happens when the China bubble bursts.  It could get ugly, fast.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Some Thoughts On Last Night's Debate

We live-blogged last night's debate here on the CW, and it was a rousing good time.  Some drive-by thoughts on what we saw:

1.  This was the worst of the debates so far overall, driven largely by the ineptitude of the moderators.  They should be ashamed of themselves, and they should take a page from the book of Fox News Anchor Bret Baier when it comes to debate moderation.  The questions were really, really dumb.  Here we are in the midst of a horrible economy and we spend 15 minutes on contraception.  Not a word on the President's new defense strategy.  Horrible.

2.  Rick Perry showed a great deal of what "could have been".  If he had gotten his act together and poured over the briefing books for six months, he could be sitting pretty right now.  I hope he's learned his lesson if he looks to run again.  He's the real deal, but he was unprepared.

3.  Rick Santorum did fine, but he didn't lay a glove on Romney, and he didn't lay a glove on Newt. He landed lots of gloves on Ron Paul, but those voters won't vote for him.  Therefore, he lost.

4.  Newt Gingrich?  Same story.  Though he should have been pursuing the Paul line--and that is to attack the "non-Romney" (Santorum).

5.  Ron Paul gave his supporters what they wanted, and he'll do well in New Hampshire.  But he's a wingnut who would make a dangerous President.

6.  Mitt Romney--game, set, match.  This thing is all over.  Unless he explodes on Meet The Press this morning, he'll crush in New Hampshire and roll up the field thereafter.

When Romney has the nomination wrapped up, he'll need to thank Ron Paul. Paul savaged Gingrich in Iowa and he's doing the same to Santorum in NH.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Obama Outflanks Congress" (and the Joint Chiefs) Fawns WaPost

I'm writing this post here on this site because it is largely political in nature, though it does touch broadly upon national security strategy and the kinds of things I usually write about on the other site (Information Dissemination).  I am posting this one here because it is abidingly political, and I fear I may wear out my welcome over there with my biased views.

Here's the deal.  I came across this article on the Post whilst scanning the interwebs this afternoon.  Headlined "In Creating New Defense Strategy, Obama Attempts to Outflank Congress."  The thesis of the piece is that by gaining the military's "buy in" at senior levels during the development of the strategy, Obama now faces the Congress with proxies of the Joint Chiefs in his pocket.  The article is largely a hagiography of our learned, professorial President  who has finally brought order and logic to the national security planning process, which has apparently suffered for decades in not having an inexperienced constitutional academic driving it.  The truth?  This piece could only have been written by reporters who don't have a clue about the way things work, unquestioningly  lapping up the manipulative statements of those seeking to be seen as influential.

First of all, this notion of a free-wheeling, inclusive process among the Chiefs and Combatant Commanders may very well have existed; but the plain truth of the matter is that the President had already struck a bargain with the Congress that reduced the Pentagon's budget by $487B.  They had NO CHOICE but to come up with some method of applying military power in support of national security, because the old way was unaffordable given the new budget target.  That the National Security Staff, the Secretary of Defense and the uniformed leaders of the military were able to put together a process that appears to have been collegial, inclusive and collaborative is a credit to those men and women, and their professionalism.  Uniformed leaders take orders from civilians--when the President says make due with half a trillion dollars less, you can either quit or make it work--and making it work is what uniforms do. 

Much is made in the article about the President coming to the Pentagon to announce it and having the Chiefs standing behind him.  Are we supposed to believe this means the Chiefs are happy with the outcome, that they support defense getting hit for half a trillion?  Of course not.  They did the best they could, they played the hands they were dealt.  They were standing there because that is their job, and  because he is the Commander in Chief.  This sense that somehow the President was buoyed by all this, and that Congress will be cowed by the optic of the President and all those uniforms is naive.  The Congress is full of big boys and girls, and they have a say in budgets too.

Additionally, any senior DoD civilian in the last decade, and any senior uniformed leader in the same period--should be incensed by the incredibly self serving view of those involved in THIS process who helped the reporters form this view of previous strategy efforts:  "Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sought to ram his change agenda through the Pentagon’s bureaucracy with mixed results. His successor, Robert M. Gates, often relied on a group of trusted aides as he developed policy."  This is simple hogwash.  Both of those secretaries relied on smart people throughout the bureaucracy to help frame strategy to match requirements, and their processes were NO LESS inclusive or collaborative than those held up for such high praise here. 

Folks, this article rightly praises the President and his senior team for a smart, focused approach to considering difficult national security questions.  Good for them.  But the suggestion that somehow the Obama/Donilon team stumbled into new territory here is misplaced, and the President's team at the Pentagon during the Gates years (especially) should be pissed at the extent to which their hard work was dismissed.

Live Blogging the Debate Tonight at 9PM

Join me here tonight at 9PM to liveblog/chat the Republican Debate.  We'll use the Conservative Wahoo Chat feature on the right side of the blog.   I look forward to a great crowd and a spirited debate!

George Will on Redistribution and Inequality

If you read anything today, it should be George Will's editorial in the Washington Post.  It is an intelligent discussion of issues we hear talked about quite a bit, though the interlocutors are rarely informed about what they say and think.

We hear much talk about inequality of wealth in this country.  Mostly, the talk comes from liberals for whom the very existence of inequality is anathema.  They search about for various bogeymen, fixing mostly on bankers, Wall Street, rapacious capitalists, and Republicans.  They look at inequality and declare it bad, though they haven't been able to articulate WHY it is bad, and why it measures anything but envy.  They prattle on about the size of CEO pay as compared to those who work for him, without asking coherent questions about the lot of that worker compared to 25 years ago.  The comparison is never apples and apples.  Why? Well because those comparisons tell a far different story.

But I am open minded enough to consider that the FACTORS contributing to inequality of wealth are worth looking into.  Perhaps in that inquiry, we will find ACTUAL mechanisms for causing the kinds of social distortions that liberals claim are coming our way.  The Depression and the rise of the Nazis are most often put forward as proof that inequality is going to destroy us, without any real discussion of those times in our history when inequality was high and social unrest low.  The rhetoric is plain envy, and Will has it right when he opines: "People are less dissatisfied by what they lack than by what others have. And when government engages in redistribution in order to maximize the happiness of citizens who become more envious as they become more comfortable, government becomes increasingly frenzied and futile."

But what is it about this particular editorial that caught my eye?  Well, it is the whole discussion of how the very "socially conscious" policies we have pursued in this country as we enshrined the welfare state have contributed to inequality.  That is, redistribution of wealth--the panacea of the Demo-Socialists--brings about the very conditions against which they now rail.  Here's Will:  "The welfare state’s primary purpose is to subsidize the last years of Americans’ lives, and the elderly are, after a lifetime of accumulation, better off than most Americans: In 2009, the net worth of households headed by adults ages 65 and older was a record 47 times that of households headed by adults under the age of 35 — a wealth gap that doubled just since 2005. The equalizing effects of redistributive transfer payments are less today than in 1979, when households in the lowest income quintile received 54 percent of such payments. In 2007, they received 36 percent. Because Social Security and Medicare are not means-tested, the share of transfer payments going to middle- and upper-income households tends to increase, for several reasons. The retirement age is essentially fixed, but people are living longer. And because the welfare state is so good to them, the elderly are unusually diligent voters and are especially apt to vote on the basis of protecting their benefits". 

Here is something I can get my teeth into.  If American workers -- irrespective of how much money they make-- in their prime earnings years begin to believe that their labors are to an unacceptable degree going toward the sustainment of good living for America's retirees--rather than to the advancement of their family's goals--we have the makings of inter-generational strife that could actually be politically meaningful.  THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is a cause and effect relationship that I can grasp, and which I believe ought to be addressed with policy solutions.  The fact of inequality does not bother me so much as the fact of one of its major contributions--redistribution of wealth from citizens of working age to citizens of retirement age.  This means we spend an increasing amount of our tax money on people who simply don't need it.

Of course we must be compassionate toward our seniors, and we must never allow the kind of Depression-era grinding poverty in old age to be a facet of our economics again.  But that doesn't mean that we should be siphoning off money from productive wage earners to pad the coffers of well-heeled seniors.  Social Security and Medicare should be MEANS TESTED in some manner.  Both long ago ceased to be contribution funded as our life expectancies increased and our fecundity decreased.  We can't abide by the fiction of these programs being ANYTHING but entitlements, and the great lie of the FDR era that social security can never be confused with welfare must be exposed.  It IS a form of welfare, one that as a society we generally support and one that as a civil nation we are morally bound to provide.

Friday, January 6, 2012

On our New Defense Strategy

My thoughts are up on the other blog, for those so inclined.

It's Friday Folks--Have You Donated to the Romney Campaign Lately?

Big weekend ahead (two debates) and New Hampshire Tuesday.  Dig deep folks, let's send a message to Barack Obama that the his days in office are numbered.

Click the link to the right and be sure to own up to knowing your referrer!

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Hey folks--what day is it?  It is FRIDAY!!!!! Time to kvetch, bitch, whine and pout.  Your fourth place finish in Iowa causing you to display the instability that everyone feared (and which put you in fourth place)?  Your new defense strategy got folks thinking you're waving the white flag?  C'mon folks, share!

Interesting fact:  Tubby McG and Mrs. Tubby will make a mint portraying the Romney's if he is elected...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Romney, Gingrich and Santorum.

As I was driving home from work yesterday, I listened for a bit to Hannity on the radio, and he had as a guest former Clinton strategist and now hired gun Dick Morris.  I like Dick Morris.  He seems a little bit sleazy, but that doesn't mean he isn't smart.  And his analysis of the Republican field was spot on. 

The interview came shortly after a very fiery Newt Gingrich was Hannity's guest.  Newt made it clear that he's taking off the gloves, and that he's going to come at Romney with guns blazing.  Morris doesn't like that strategy, and he believes it will pretty much hand the nomination to Romney--here's why.

Morris believes Gingrich is the only guy in the field who can challenge Romney.  He believes that Santorum's surge in Iowa was less a factor of his hard work/99 county strategy and more a reflection of Iowa voters having been through everyone else already--Santorum was the last man standing.  By going at Romney--Gingrich essentially is doing the same thing Santorum will do--and they will split the "anti-Romney/non-Paul" vote--leaving Romney sitting pretty, fat and happy on top. 

Morris believes Gingrich's strategic play is to go at Santorum--to get him out of the game, unify the anti-Romney vote and then make a real run at Romney.  Put another way, Newt's emotional snit is causing him to focus on the wrong guy.  I think Morris has this right.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On Iowa

Well, the "votes" are in, and it looks like Governor Romney won a close one in Iowa over Senator Santorum,.  Santorum ran a classic insurgency campaign, and he did it superbly.  Iowa is tailor-made to produce someone like him, and it did not disappoint.

Trouble is, he doesn't scale up.  Watch what happens in New Hampshire.

What truly surprised me was that Ron Paul didn't do better.  I was certain he'd win.  Coming in third does not bode well for he of ill-fitting suits.

Rick Perry is toast, as is Michele Bachman.  Newt appears to be getting fired up for a scorched earth run, but he simply doesn't have the money to pull it off (being negative costs money).

No friends, things are looking mighty good for Governor Romney.  I know, I know--some of you will cry "he only got 25% of the vote".  Yes, but he did that in Iowa, which showed its colors by delivering second place to Santorum.  "He got fewer votes this time than last time in Iowa".  Yes, that's true.  But last time, he was the "conservative candidate".  He's moved to the right since.  Iowa moved farther and faster.  "But CW, it is a weak field".  Perhaps, but what made it that way?  The weakness of Chris Cristie, Mitch Daniels, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and every other White Knight who considered Barack Obama unbeatable and decided to sit this one out.  Romney never wavered, he soldiers on.  And he will win.

Get out those checkbooks, folks.  Donate to Romney for President.

Monday, January 2, 2012

On Our Insipid Presidential Primary System

The voters in Iowa will go to the polls tomorrow night to render their long-sought after opinion on the Republican Presidential Primary.  Actually, this isn't quite right.  Caucus-goers will assemble throughout the state, all at the same time.  Representatives of the campaigns will all make one last speech, and then the caucus-goers will cast their votes.  Organization and ground game intensity are the keys to success.  Iowa protects its "first in the nation" status with terrible determination, and neither party nor any serious candidate has or can criticize its outsize impact for fear of retribution. 

Iowans like to believe they are "doing the job" for the rest of us.  The retail style of politics, in which individual voters actually take offense if they haven't been able to personally meet each candidate, is held up as some sort of effective screen for the rest of us.  Thanks, but no thanks.

The problem is, we're not all Iowans.  For whatever reason, Iowans are both more liberal and more conservative than the parties they hold hostage.  For months now, we've been treated to the spectacle of 8 or so candidates kissing the collective "arses" of Iowa voters, and going into tomorrow's primary--only one of the top three men in the polls has even a prayer of beating Barack Obama.  Neither Ron Paul nor Rick Santorum can do so, and it remains highly questionable that either can even win the Republican nomination.  I am on record as supporting the third candidate in contention, but clearly, there are others in the race FAR MORE likely to be threatening to President Obama than Paul or Santorum--Gingrich and Perry come to mind.  Essentially, what Iowa represents is an opportunity for the fringe to define the party, and they seem very effective in seizing this opportunity.  How can this be a good thing?

What do I recommend?  The Republican Party should select four states, one in each of the US timezones--and conduct a January primary on the same day in each of the four states.  This would 1) demonstrate the national electability of a candidate 2) mitigate the outsize influence of small, homogeneous states, and 3) cull the field early, as the ability to marshal resources necessary to compete in four states would be beyond those marginal candidates who can survive with an "everything in Iowa" strategy.

I have nothing against the State of Iowa or Iowans.  I simply believe that we need to change the way we nominate the party Presidential candidate to a system that more closely approximates the conditions of a general election.

Eric Cantor to 60 Minutes: When Will I Be Loved?

Sorry Eric, the answer is never, not by these people. More to the point, when will you and your fellow Republicans realize you are hated by Leslie Stahl and the establishment media? Oh I'm sure she told you it would be a nice puff piece with a few political questions. They just want to introduce you to the American people and show your "human" side with the fam and everything. And Leslie being a nice Jewish girl, well SHE wouldn't set you up, not a chance. I'm sure your heart sank when Stahl started the segment with terms like "gridlock", "obstructionist" and "hardline image". Oh the betrayal!

I don't have a problem with tough one-sided interviews and I don't have a problem with Leslie Stahl; she is who and what she is. My problem is with Cantor's stupidity. Stahl has a long history of hit piece journalism on subjects and people she doesn't like and conversely a long history of "let's set the record straight" interviews with people she does like (see Jeffrey Immelt). But Cantor's bend over backwards demeanor was so infuriating, at one stage his press secretary (in a fit of rage no doubt) interrupted to call BS on Stahl. Somebody needs to tell Republicans that when you go into an interview like this you need to be prepared. Let them ask what they will but get some editorial control up front so your best stuff won't be cut. Go on the offensive, make the damn argument with no apologies or inhibitions. Take the fight to the interviewer and if they want to get it on, BE READY! But for Pete's sake don't just sit there waiting for them to knock one past you because you make their point for them, and the point is you're an idiot.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Debacle in Atlanta

Last night, my Wahoos got stomped by Auburn. Some of you will say, "what did you expect, CW? Auburn is the defending national champion and they play in the SEC.". We heard quite a few SEC chants, especially in the swcond half. I would like to believe that we were beaten by a better team last night and perhaps we were. Only problem I have, is that you simply couldn't tell that from the game I watched. We were thoroughly outcoached and thoroughly outprepared, but the team that UVA fielded last night was not the team that beat Ga Tech, Miami, and Fla St this year. Some particulars:

Special teams: UVA has been only average on special teams this year. Every punt return is an agonizing wait to see if the return man will botch a fair catch or if the uncaught ball will bounce into one of our clueless players. Our kick return team has been unsatisfying all year. Last night? An average unit took the field without sufficient preparation. Two blocked punts. A botched fake field goal. An out of bounds kick. A ridiculously underdefended free-kick after a safety. The special teams were simply not ready to play, and that is a coaching issue. UVA coach London owned up to it after the game, but a head coach needs to be able to count on his assistants. London cannot count on Anthony Poindexter.

Tackling: Yes, I know. Auburn was fast, and fast guys make you miss tackles. But last night? Even their not so fast guys were breaking tackles. UVA's defense was simply out-prepared; Auburn's misdirection offense takes timing to execute, amd it was obviously well-prepared.

I think any Auburn fan who watched the game last night believed that they were in for a rough game after the first 20 minutes or so. Our offense moved the ball at will. If our special tems had shown up, we might have been able to get into an offensive shootout, since neither team seemed to be able to stop the other. But that game didn't happen, because we were not ready.

Later tonight after I return home, I will dutifully post an Auburn emblem on my Facebook page for 72 hours, and I will plan on once again taking The Hammer to dinner to pay that debt. Great to see a ton of old friends in Atlanta, I only wish the team had shown up. Sorry for typos, doing this on my iPad.
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