Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why Obama Will Likely Lose the 2012 Presidential Election

By Karl Rove

President Barack Obama is likely to be defeated in 2012. The reason is that he faces four serious threats. The economy is very weak and unlikely to experience a robust recovery by Election Day. Key voter groups have soured on him. He's defending unpopular policies. And he's made bad strategic decisions.

Let's start with the economy. Unemployment is at 9.1%, with almost 14 million Americans out of work. Nearly half the jobless have been without work for more than six months. Mr. Obama promised much better, declaring that his February 2009 stimulus would cause unemployment to peak at 8% by the end of summer 2009 and drop to roughly 6.8% today.

After boasting in June 2010 that "Our economy . . . is now growing at a good clip," he laughingly admitted last week, "Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected." The humor will be lost on most. In Wednesday's Bloomberg poll, Americans believe they are worse off than when Mr. Obama took office by a 44% to 34% margin.

The last president re-elected with unemployment over 7.2% was FDR in 1936. Ronald Reagan overcame 7.2% unemployment because the rate was dropping dramatically (it had been over 10%) as the economy grew very rapidly in 1983 and 1984. Today, in contrast, the Federal Reserve says growth will be less than 3% this year and less than 3.8% next year, with unemployment between 7.8% and 8.2% by Election Day.

Mr. Obama also has problems with his base. For example, Jewish voters are upset with his policy toward Israel, and left-wing bloggers at last week's NetRoots conference were angry over Mr. Obama's failure to deliver a leftist utopia. Weak Jewish support could significantly narrow Mr. Obama's margin in states like Florida, while a disappointed left could deprive him of the volunteers so critical to his success in 2008.

Mr. Obama's standing has declined among other, larger groups. Gallup reported his job approval rating Tuesday at 45%, down from 67% at his inaugural. Among the groups showing a larger-than-average decline since 2009 are whites (down 25 points); older voters (down 24); independents and college graduates (both down 23), those with a high-school education or less, men, and Southerners (all down 22); women (down 21 points); married couples and those making $2,000-$4,000 a month (down 20).

This all points to severe trouble in suburbs and midsized cities in states likes Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Nevada.



Logic deserts the Left when it comes to Wal-Mart

Opining in today’s New York Times, history professor Nelson Lichtenstein asserts that Wal-Mart uses an “authoritarian style, by which executives pressure store-level management to squeeze more and more from millions of clerks, stockers and lower-tier managers.” Then he scolds Wal-Mart for being so bigoted that it erects “obstacles to women’s advancement.”

This tale is highly improbable. A company that squeezes maximum possible profits from its workers does not refuse to promote women simply because of their sex.

Such refusals would leave money on the table by keeping many employees in lower-rank positions even though those employees would add more to the company’s bottom line by being promoted to higher-rank positions. Conversely, a company that indulges its taste for bigotry is not a company intent on squeezing as much profit as possible from its employees.

If Ms. Jones can add thousands of dollars to Wal-Mart’s annual profits by working as a manager, rather than hundreds of dollars by working as a cashier, squeezing “more and more” from her requires that Wal-Mart promote her to manager.

It’s simply unbelievable that a company with Wal-Mart’s record of consistently wringing profits from razor-thin retail margins intentionally – or even negligently – wastes the talents of large numbers of its employees by using them in ways that do not add maximum value to Wal-Mart’s bottom line.



My Standard Question for Liberals/Progressives

Arnold Kling

A commenter suggested to me that Charles Sable does not fit my stereotype of liberals believing that government is the magic solution for human imperfection. But I picked out his paper on health care, and I found exactly that. He says that health care providers need to be able to improve by learning from and correcting mistakes. He then proceeds to offer legislation to force that.

My question for Sable is this: "If you know a better way to run health care organizations, why don't you start a health care organization?"

I would ask this question generically. If a liberal/progressive proposal is supposed to do X, why don't you start a private entity to do X?

There are examples where this question has a standard answer. For example, "why don't you start a private entity to discourage the use of carbon fuels?" The answer might be the standard externality argument that the private entity will not be able to overcome individual self-interest, so that government coercion is required.

But in the case of health care quality, I am not sure that there is a reasonable answer. If health care providers are doing a bad job, what stops you from implementing a better model and taking over the market? Are consumers too stupid to know the difference between providers who make lots of unnecessary mistakes and providers who don't? If they are so stupid as consumers, why do you expect them to be smart as voters?

The way I see it, the main difference between a business entrepreneurship and policy entrepreneurship is that if things do not work out as planned, the policy entrepreneur is insulated from the adverse consequences. For me, that difference does not work in favor policy entrepreneurship.



How the Democrats Nearly Destroyed the Economy

There is history -- a chronicle of human events -- and then there is perceived history. So often, the two are wildly at odds.

In 1963, a popular Democratic president was assassinated by a Marxist named Oswald, who had actually defected to the Soviet Union and returned to the U.S. with a Soviet wife, was an active member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and had attempted to assassinate a right-wing general named Edwin Walker earlier in the year.

Yet those who write history found these facts inconvenient. They created a different history in which the "atmosphere of hate" in the southern city of Dallas, Texas, led to the terrible political violence. In other words, it was political conservatism that led to John F. Kennedy's assassination. This perceived history was recycled as recently as the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. ABC's Christiane Amanpour, interviewing Jean Kennedy Smith, noted that the Kennedy assassination was "eerily relevant" and asked Kennedy to evaluate the "political atmosphere" in the country today.

Starting just a few years after the Kennedy assassination, American liberals began to consider anti-communism a kind of mental disorder. Hostility to communism was akin to racism, sexism and other character flaws. Reagan's description of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire" cemented liberal suspicions that Reagan was a dangerous buffoon. Yet starting in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, liberals began to find their anti-anti-communism embarrassing. And so they created a perceived history -- one in which the Cold War was a time of consensus, a time when, as former Sen. Bill Bradley put it, "We knew where we stood on foreign policy."

More recently we've witnessed the creation of new historical narrative about the financial crisis of 2008. The perceived history, eagerly peddled by liberals and Democrats, is that the crash of 2008 was the result of Wall Street greed. It was unregulated capitalism that brought us to the brink of financial meltdown, the Democrats insisted. And they codified their manufactured history in a law, the Dodd-Frank Act, that completely avoided the true problem.

It's both surprising and gratifying, therefore, to report that a great revisionist history has just been published by none other than a New York Times reporter, Gretchen Morgenson, and a financial analyst, Joshua Rosner.

In "Reckless Endangerment," Morgenson and Rosner offer considerable censure for reckless bankers, lax rating agencies, captured regulators and unscrupulous businessmen. But the greatest responsibility for the collapse of the housing market and the near "Armageddon" of the American economy belongs to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and to the politicians who created and protected them. With a couple of prominent exceptions, the politicians were Democrats claiming to do good for the poor. Along the way, they enriched themselves and their friends, stuffed their campaign coffers, and resisted all attempts to enforce market discipline. When the inevitable collapse arrived, the entire economy suffered, but no one more than the poor.

Jim Johnson, adviser to Walter Mondale and John Kerry, amassed a personal fortune estimated at $100 million during his nine years as CEO of Fannie Mae. "Under Johnson," Morgenson and Rosner write, "Fannie Mae led the way in encouraging loose lending practices among the banks whose loans the company bought. A Pied Piper of the financial sector, Johnson led both the private and public sectors down a path that led directly to the credit crisis of 2008."

Fannie Mae lied about its profits, intimidated adversaries, bought off members of Congress with lavish contributions, hired (and thereby co-opted) academics, purchased political ads (through its foundation) and stacked congressional hearings with friendly bankers, community activists and advocacy groups (including ACORN). Fannie Mae also hired the friends and relations of key members of Congress (including Rep. Barney Frank's partner).

"Reckless Endangerment" includes the Clinton administration's contribution to the home-ownership catastrophe. Clinton had claimed that dramatically increasing homeownership would boost the economy, instead "in just a few short years, all of the venerable rules governing the relationship between borrower and lender went out the window, starting with ... the requirement that a borrower put down a substantial amount of cash in a property, verify his income, and demonstrate an ability to service his debts."

"Reckless Endangerment" utterly deflates the perceived history of the 2008 crash. Yes, there was greed -- when is there not? But it was government distortions of markets -- not "unregulated capitalism" -- that led the economy to disaster.



Long-form birth certificate an amateur forgery

Gary Poyssick, an early employee of software giant Adobe System Inc., continues to maintain there is something "fishy" about the Obama long-form birth certificate released by the White House.

"What the White House released is not a simple scan," Poyssick told WND. "Something digital came between the paper and the glass."

Poyssick was at the San Jose-based tech company when it counted no more than 14 employees, and he continues to advise and write on Adobe software products. Poyssick, who today devotes his energies to running The Online Fisherman in Tampa, Fla., has written more than 50 titles about Adobe software, the printing industry, coding and programming, website development and workflow management.

His initial reaction was to declare the birth certificate an outright forgery. "I could have done a much better replica myself, if the president had asked," Poyssick told The Political Sandbox blog when the birth certificate first appeared and he opened the document in Adobe Illustrator. "The guy that did this is a bimbo in that he forgot to 'flatten' his works to soften the background edges so the fake letters blended, softly into the green paper.

Observing that the birth certificate document had multiple layers when opened in Adobe Illustrator, Poyssick was amazed the White House had released an electronic PDF file that had not been "flattened" so as to remove all evidence that it had been modified.




MA: New system not cutting health costs: "Early results show that putting doctors and hospitals on a budget — a payment method promoted as a way to curb health costs — has not saved money in Massachusetts, Attorney General Martha Coakley concluded in a report released yesterday. ... The yearlong review of what six large Massachusetts insurers paid providers in 2009 found that doctors working under the new 'global payment' system — which puts them on a per-patient monthly budget — generally did not cost less than doctors paid the standard way."

VT: Justices ponder limits of digital privacy: "The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution protects citizens from unwarranted searches and seizures of their 'persons, papers, houses and effects,' but it doesn’t mention computers, iPads, smartphones, and other electronic devices. Vermont’s Supreme Court was faced yesterday with the challenge of adapting the federal and state constitutions to the digital age in an electronic privacy case. The state complained that a lower court judge placed too many restrictions on a search warrant Burlington police got for a man’s computer and other devices as they investigated allegations of identity theft. It’s a case being watched closely by national groups devoted to studying how the law should be applied in cyberspace."

N.J. Slashes Public-Worker Benefits: "New Jersey's public workers will have to pay more for health-care benefits and will receive smaller pensions under a bill that won final approval in the state Legislature, with the support of nearly a third of Democratic lawmakers. Gov. Chris Christie, who is expected to sign the bill Monday, said the second round of cuts under his watch will bring sufficient change to the issue that has roiled private-sector workers who saw their jobs eliminated and salaries and benefits slashed during the recession. "We've accomplished on pensions and benefits what we needed to and wanted to accomplish," Mr. Christie said ..."

"Mainstream" churches promoting Islam: "Dozens of churches, from Park Hill Congregational in Denver to Hillview United Methodist in Boise, Idaho, and First United Lutheran in San Francisco to St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church in Honolulu, are planning to send "a message both here at home and to the Arab and Muslim world about our respect for Islam" with a time to read the Quran during worship this Sunday. The aim of the program, which is promoted by social activists behind the Faith Shared website, is to counter the message from Islamic activists who say opposition to their religion is the product of what they call a cottage industry of hate. So the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First is calling on Christian clergy to read portions of the Quran during their services Sunday. [I'm guessing that none of them had to go out and buy a copy of the Koran for the occasion]


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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