Daily Archives: February 27, 2012

Obama Hasn’t Lost It Yet

(If you must, read the original here.)

By E.D. Dijon

WASHINGTON

If the election were held right now, President Obama might win. He might even win with about the same margin that propelled him into office in 2008. But the election won’t be held right now, it will be held in November, which could be a problem.

The biggest hope for the Democrats is that voters will ignore the President’s record. This is true regardless of the fact that Republican candidates like Mitt Romney have been badly weakened in the nomination battle. So far, Obama has been left largely unmolested by the conservative super PACs. However, it appears likely that Obama’s super PACs, fueled by union dues, contributions from George Soros and Hollywood, and even taxpayer kickbacks, will hold their own. So that takes us back to the President’s problematic record.

Democrats may be disappointed by the apparent fade of Rick Santorum in the week before the Michigan primary and his surprisingly disjointed (yes, sans teleprompter) performance in last week’s debate. Still, it’s not as clear to me as it is to others that Santorum would be any less competitive than Romney as Obama’s opponent; after all, any Republican with half a mind (that’s all of them, ha!) will be running against the President’s record.

What’s also obvious to any idiot with an internet connection and a keyboard is that Democrats have an interest in the Republican contest going on indefinitely, especially past the November presidential election. Romney victories in Tuesday’s Michigan and Arizona primaries would likely shorten the process, and ending the nomination battle quickly is a precondition for a Republican counteroffensive.

They need one. Up to now, the Republican battle has played entirely into Democratic hands, driving many in the talking/typing head class to completely ignore the Obama economy, his foreign affair failures, and the cram down on social issues. The Democrats need their voters to vote early and often, casting ballots over and over again to overcome a general revulsion towards Obama’s record. Democrats also need working-class people an normal Americans to ignore other unimportant issues like freedom of religion, association, and speech. Finally, Democrats must ignore polling data which says the wealthy are already paying enough taxes and to disregard the debt millstone facing future generations of Americans.

And that’s exactly what’s happening right now. Obama won in 2008 and even though he ran 18 points behind in the working class, it mattered little, having completely locked up the non-working class. Until recently, he was running even worse than his 2008 numbers and Democrats were reminded of being crushed in what’s hoped to be a once-in-a-generation anomaly known as the 2010 elections. Obama has now regained the help he will need — and in the process strengthened himself substantially by an Executive Order allowing imported “voters” from Egypt, Syria, and Mexico — regardless of $6 gasoline, the food stamp recovery, and cooked unemployment numbers.

In the meantime, Romney’s wealth and tax status, his private equity background, and his utter tone-deafness on matters of all sorts have hurt him with the SEIU, the NEA, the UAW, and even the American Socialist Party and the Communist Party of America.

At the same time, social moderates — described by the White House Press Office as anyone who thinks like, or to the left of, Obama — have been appalled by the direction of the Catholic Church on issues such as contraception and abortion. Still, any GOP improvement anywhere should serve as a warning for Democrats. The Republicans now know how Obama is dangerous to them in ways well beyond his role as an Oval Office tripping hazard.

Moreover, although Obama has a lead 8 months before the election — in Friday’s Real Clear Politics poll averages he led Romney by one point and Santorum by less than onehis job approval ratings are still stuck in the Jimmy Carter range. However, there is good news. A recent Pew survey pegged his approval at 45 percent among independents, a big increase over his 37 percent rating last month. This means at this same rate of improvement, the President will actually have an approval rate of over 100 percent by the time the election takes place. Joy!

All this works to explain why Democrats don’t want Romney to win Michigan. With a win, Romney might even steal the President’s playbook of fear, loathing, and crony capitalism, or even address his record on the economy. On the upside, with a win, Romney might spend some quiet time with wise and moderate consultants who could tell him about global warming, being an alpha male, and green energy subsidies, distracting him from focusing on the President’s record. Finally, Obama’s super PACs, fueled by billionaires and government rent seekers, eager to keep or develop the backroom deals he has promised, could fire away freely (and free, literally) in the media, field-testing messages and exploiting Romney’s religious affiliation.

Obama is far better off than he was six months ago when government figures were less politicized and corrupted. But he cannot afford to go wobbly or to let this home-made good news go to his head. 

At Halftime, Nikki Finke 56, Academy Awards 3

Nikki Finke crushes the Academy.

I don’t have the ratings yet, but heard the Academy Awards were out-drawn by a season two rerun from Storage Wars. True?

Back to Nikki: if her post was a fight, the referee would have to stop it. She’s created a devastating masterpiece.

The bottom line up front:

This 84th Academy Awards show is supposed to be televised to more than 225 countries worldwide. So I’m tipping all you foreigners to something that Americans already know: The Oscars suck every year! And this year the Oscars are gonna suck worse than ever!

While that quote is representative, her insights get better and better.

Host Billy Crystal, looking generally lifelike for the first half-show, arrived in his signature Prius limo.

A short list of candidates to host the 85th Academy Awards is thought to include any of the characters from The Muppets, Conan O’Barbarian, Space Ghost, Jimmy Fallow, and Jimmy Kibbles-n-bits.

What Ails Europe?

By PAUL RUGRAT

(If you must, read the original here.)

Lisbon

Things are terrible here, as unemployment soars past 20 percent on its way to 30 percent or more. Things are even worse in Greece, Ireland, and arguably in Spain, while Europe as a whole appears to be sliding back into recession.

Why has Europe become the sick man of the world economy? Everyone knows the answer. They haven’t printed or borrowed enough money.

Read an op-ed piece on Europe — or, all too often, an allegedly factual news report (you absolutely can’t believe anything in the media, trust me) — and you’ll probably encounter one of two storylines, which I think of as the Republican European narrative and the German German narrative.

The Republican European story — it’s one of the themes of Mitt Romney’s campaign — is that Europe is in trouble because it has printed and borrowed too much money and that we’re watching the death throes of their so-called welfare state. This favorite right-wing fantasy falls back on the early 1920s, when Germany suffered a killer bout of hyperinflation brought on by money printing.

Did I mention that Germany (after World War I, hyperinflation, the depression, the rise of Nazism, and after the end of World War II) now has a very generous welfare state, is currently a reasonable economic performer, and depends on Turkish immigrants to perform many of its low-value and distasteful tasks?

So let’s do this systematically. Look at the European nations of my choosing who are using the Euro and rank them by the ration of their GDP to debt. Do the troubled PIIGS nations (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain) stand out for having unusually catastrophic GDP to debt ratios? Well, yes, but the question becomes “Can’t they just inflate their debt away, as Germany did to great success long ago?” No, because they’re stuck with the Euro, having given up having their own sovereign currencies.

Next up, the post World War II German German story. It is about fiscal responsibility (that is, their free-riding on U.S. provided security throughout the Cold War and beyond) and productivity. This story seems to fit Germany, and a few other non-Euro nations like Canada.

But what about those countries that aren’t on the Euro who seem able to run massive deficits and carry these unimaginable debts without facing much of a crisis at all? For example, Britain (ignore those stories about them being out of money. Lies, all lies, believe me) and the United States can borrow long-term at interest rates of around 2 percent. Why? Because they can create ever more government debt by having their Central Banks purchase the borrowings. It’s like magic: money for nothing, chicks for free!

What about calls for austerity, like cuts, living within one’s means, or even savings? Dismissed: those things are for clueless schmucks.

In other words, the idea we’re on the road to becoming like the PIIGS nations is completely off base because the U.S. is not on the Euro. (However, it should be noted that the PIIGS nations, like the United States government, have been accused of not using generally accepted accounting procedures).

So what does ail Europe? The truth is that the story is mostly demographic and productivity driven. By stupidly having their “elites” lock them into a single currency but without having a work ethic to make that currency work (Germany is the exception that proves the rule), Europe has built an entire continent with too many takers and not enough makers. Sort of like the old Soviet Union, in a way.

Even worse, the creation of the Euro fostered a false sense of security among private investors, unleashing huge and totally unwarranted flows of capital into the nations of Europe and around Europe’s periphery. As a consequence of these inflows, costs and prices rose, they became even more uncompetitive, and nations that had roughly balanced trade as recently as 1999 began running large trade deficits instead. That was the day the music died.

If these PIIGS had their own currencies, like Germany of old, they could and would use devaluation to restore competitiveness. But they don’t, which means that they are in for a long period of mass unemployment and unless they decouple from the Euro, slow, grinding deflation. (Deflation, warranted or not, is a favorite bogey man of the hobby economist community.) Ipso facto, their debt crises are mainly a byproduct of not being able to print and borrow their own money.

Germany could help by reversing its own austerity policies and bailing out the rest of Europe, but it won’t. Here in the United States, we too should reverse the ridiculous and pathetic calls for more austere governmental policies and instead print and borrow more.

Getting the European governments to create more debt would make a huge difference, because otherwise, we in America may face a contagion used to push policies that would be cruel, destructive to the welfare state, or even both. The next time you hear people saying government debt is something that must be repaid at value, here’s what you need to know: they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Print. Borrow. Borrow. Print. Trust me; I’m a writer and an economist.

Fixin’ To Kill (America) Rag

Well, come on all of you big strong men,
Brother Barry needs your help again.
He got himself in a terrible fix
Concerns a thing called economics
Gals, put down your books and get a free pill,
It’s fun in Obamaville.

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we voting for?
Don’t ask me, just stuff that box,
Or next stop is Dem detox;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Raise on up the federal debt,
Well, there ain’t no time to ponder knowledge,
Whoopee! we’re all goin’ to college.

Come on Hollywood, don’t be slow,
Why this campaign’s the way to go-go
There’s payback money to be made
By giving the gubmint the tools of its trade,
Just pray that we get back ol’ Obama,
Slicker and smarter than yo ol’ mama.

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we voting for?
Don’t ask me, just stuff that box,
Or next stop is Dem detox;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Raise on up the federal debt,
Well, there ain’t no time to ponder knowledge,
Whoopee! we’re all goin’ to college.

Well, come on folks, let’s fix the game;
Another big chance, don’t you come up lame.
Go out and get them tea party types
They’re the ones with the stars and stripes
And you know that future can only be won
When we’ve blown ‘em all to kingdom come.

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we voting for?
Don’t ask me, just stuff that box,
Or next stop is Dem detox;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Raise on up the federal debt,
Well, there ain’t no time to ponder knowledge,
Whoopee! we’re all goin’ to college.

Come on ladies in the welfare line,
Unload your burdens, on the couch recline.
Come on men, you don’t need no job
Stay in the basement as a lazy slob.
Freedom’s overrated, dignity too
Fire up play station and sniff some glue.

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we voting for?
Don’t ask me, just stuff that box,
Or next stop is Dem detox;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Raise on up the federal debt,
Well, there ain’t no time to ponder knowledge,
Whoopee! we’re all goin’ to college.

Fixin’ to Kill America Rag

Ghastly Outdated Party To Crush Dems?

By MORONICA DOWD

(If you must, read the original here.)

WASHINGTON

IT’S finally sinking in.

We Democrats are getting ready to harvest the Obama whirlwind, savaging the Big D brand in ways that will long resonate: think 2010 on steroids and then put that on turbo.

Does it really have to be this way? Based on core Democrat principles, yes.

“Look. Democrats are for government. Big government, bigger government, huge government, bloated government of any kind. Borrowed government, corrupt government, international, federal, state, county, parish, city, whatever. It’s good. It’s all good. All government is good. Except Republican-led government,” DNC strategist Alicia Tubeiktomy told me mournfully. “If John Dillinger was alive at this moment, he’d go into government and not into robbing banks. Why? Because that’s where the money is, that’s why. But if we lose to the Republicans, that’s all likely to change.”

She said many Democrats are “coming to grips with a much weaker economy, weakened foreign policy and worsened foreign relations, reduced personal freedom, diminished buying power, greater unemployment, shocking energy costs, and ridiculous government debt” and that Democrats are going through the six stages of political grief. “We’re at No. 4,” she said. (Political sadness.) “We’ve still got one to go.” (Political acceptance.) “And then comes step six. The end.” (Political annihilation.)

No matter if the contenders in the Republican primaries are stepping all over one another trying to be everything not Barry, Democrats everywhere are now beginning to see that Obamaworld is set to destroy their political futures. And the media, you ask? Yes, they’re in the tank, but all they’re seeing Jimmy Carter with more melanin.

In fact, it seems President Obama has caused deranged conservatives, now broadly defined as anyone who fails to see the President as the greatest leader since Abraham Lincoln, to reclaim America. However, these deranged conservatives — they view Obama as an “idiot with initiative” — are wrong. Rather, based on his record, they should view him as an idiot with initiative with melanin.

Newt Gingrich, a Vietnam-era war wimp who supported George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, had the gall to tell a crowd at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., that defeating Obama — “the most inept president in modern American history” — was “important” because “he is totally inept.” Excuse me? Who killed bin Laden? And remotely from the White House video-teleconference center at that?

How can the despicable big nasty otherwise known as the Catholic Church still be represented in the public arena by warm, caring, loving Catholic Democrats who would never want to burden a woman with a disease like a child? These people are my heroes, people like Nancy Pelosi, Charles Rangel, and John Kerry.

Still, not all is well. “All this social ram-jam, along with the economic policies of Joe Friggin’ Stalin, makes the Democrats look like we aren’t a modern party,” James Carville told CNN’s Erin Burnett, fretting about the President’s initiatives. “Doesn’t he understand that there is no free lunch; that it’s an economic fallacy?”

Following a speech in Boston on Thursday, even John Kerry recoiled at his own party: “I used to be a Democrat, then a liberal, and now I’m a progressive. Regardless of name, I look at us and I’m telling you, it would seem we’re nothing but a bunch of leftist idiots. Was everything we thought we knew wrong? Economically, all we can do is to try and let the media demolish the Republican candidates and to hope no one shows up to vote.”

Despite all the massive Obama and Democrat failures, they aren’t enough to keep me from slinging some anecdotal mud. For example, Alan Simpson, a gay ranch hand and former U.S. Senator from Wyoming, recently called Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum “rigid and homoerotic,” after seeing him in a men’s room at Reagan National, one of his (Simpson, not Santorum) favorite watering holes. Arlen Specter, who was a Democrat and then a Republican and then a Democrat (again) and finally, an ex-politician, told MSNBC: “Mitt Romney is a disgraceful flip-flopper. What he instead needs is what I had: total ideological flexibility.”

Democrats have a growing panic at the thought that Republicans will soon be directing their fire on the President’s signature economic accomplishments instead of one another and are stricken at the thought of giving back the Senate as well as even more House seats than were lost in 2010. More and more, Democrats openly yearn for a fresh presidential candidate and are even talking of Joe Biden, who could perhaps parlay his plagiarism and Senatorial experiences into presidential victory. Or maybe not.

Democrat jitters have increased exponentially as they’ve watched Obama’s fundraising limited to only two significant categories: George Soros and Hollywood. And despite the President’s taxpayer-funded Super Bowl ad, virtually no one in America believes the vacuous babble about “Detroit being back” or that because we’re at halftime in an American Depression, we need to “stay the course.” The President, sans teleprompter, looked especially unpresidential (despite the raucous applause) when he blurted out that “Michelle really loved it that they lengthened the Aspen airport to accommodate Air Force One” at a recent fundraiser held at Leonardo Dicaprio’s mansion.

Obama’s multiple slips threaten to give back all that Ted Kennedy, a dead man, once told the Chappaquiddick Chamber of Commerce: “If we can limit ourselves to being the party of crony capitalists, corrupt union and government leaders, and the vast welfare state, we should remain relevant for a good long time.”

Obama, whose name comes from the Latin root “deranged Democrat zealot,” has recently gone on The View to make his case for a second term: “I understand many Americans are suffering as a direct result of my policies, legislation, and bureaucracy, but I need them to all forget all that and focus on Hope and Change. If for any reason that doesn’t work, think about Winning the Future.”

Democrats, knowing they’ve indebted the American people with bills that can’t be paid and promises that can’t be kept while still managing to move the country backwards by every meaningful positive statistic are in danger of going the way of the Whigs and the Bull Moose party: living posthumously; drafting preferential legislation for women, minorities, and green energy; favorable jobs programs and benefits for illegal immigrants; and, celebrating the success of public education.

It’s all quite sad, but the only thing that would be worse would be Republican governance.

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