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Romney’s Smile and Obama’s Frown: Lingering Images from the First Debate

October 8, 2012

Hard to believe (isn’t it?) that as I write these words, less than a week has passed since the first debate between Mitt Romney and the embattled occupant of the White House. Hard to believe that less than a week ago, the Romney campaign appeared to be imploding. 

The Mittster’s notorious “47 percent” remark, uttered behind closed doors to a group of supporters and promptly leaked to the public, seemed to crystallize the GOP nominee’s image as a staunch and clueless plutocrat — an arrogant member of the privilegentsia who could blithely dismiss nearly half the U.S. population as freeloaders. It was only the latest in a long line of oafish remarks uttered by an otherwise intelligent, competent and supremely slick public servant. But coming as late as it did in the 2012 campaign, the ill-chosen quip seemed to seal Romney’s fate.

What a difference a single debate can make.

Within minutes after the closing remarks in Denver, America’s vast media machine unleashed a swirling torrent of punditry, nearly all of it blistering in its criticism of Obama’s performance. “Calamitous” seemed to be the general consensus. Romney, they agreed, appeared sharp, well-prepared and eager to win, while the president essentially slumbered through the most pivotal evening of the entire campaign.

Even within the ranks of Obama’s supporters — especially within those ranks — the disgust overflowed like hot lava from a long-dormant volcano.  Liberal icon and generous Obama campaign donor Bill Maher wondered aloud if the president had spent his $1 million gift “on weed.” Even The New Yorker, that bastion of urbane progressivism, issued a cover cartoon that carried the most damning possible image of the debate: it depicted Obama as an empty chair.

I watched the debate that evening and I have to admit I was blindsided by the intensity of the Obama-flogging that followed. I actually thought the debate was a draw — a conclusion that probably nullifies any pretense to political omniscience on my part.

The way I saw it, Obama said the right things and said them well (if not forcefully or memorably by his standards). He came across as a model of concerned rational moderation: supportive of America’s beleaguered middle class… a champion of small business as the driving engine of the economy… commendably eager to reward businesses that hire American workers.

Romney, for his part, looked smooth and energized. He engaged his opponent forcefully but cordially, and generally took the high road. That much is praiseworthy. But he also told enough whoppers to turn his nose into a telephone pole. Liberal website ThinkProgress enumerated “27 myths” that Romney unfurled during the 38 minutes that he held the floor.

What I noticed at Romney’s end was an abundance of weaseling — not outright lies (though there were enough of those, too), but clever evasions calculated to rebrand the GOP’s elusive shape-shifter as a stalwart champion of the middle class. Example: Challenged on his scheme to cut taxes for the nation’s economic elite, Romney repeatedly countered, “I will not put in place any tax cuts that will raise the deficit.” 

That’s right, Mitt: you’ll compensate for your tax cuts on the rich by cutting federal support for education, the environment and Big Bird. Anyone can see that, right? Mr. President? Care to comment? [Faint snoring sounds emanating from Obama's lectern.]

So yes, Romney succeeded in slipping some big ones past the president. He looked animated where the president looked worn and depleted; he drove the debate, deliberately slinked from the right to the center and danced around his opponent, who was too tired, demoralized, indifferent or simply unprepared to take advantage of all those glaring opportunities for potential counterthrusts. And yet, if I had to score the debate on content alone, I’d still call it a draw. Obama committed no gaffes; he didn’t sweat or stammer; he simply told his side of the story. But it wasn’t enough.

Contemporary Americans, of course, are addicted to style — the flashier the better. That’s why Lady Gaga earns more than your average tax accountant. Back in 1960, Nixon famously “lost” his televised debate with Kennedy because he appeared haggard and unshaven. (He had just recovered from an illness and had lost several pounds.) Yet those who listened to that same debate on the radio generally proclaimed him the winner.

Obama is nothing if not a master of style, but a difficult presidency has taken its toll on the man who crusaded so brilliantly for hope and change just four years ago. He can still flash that winning smile, but he flashes it less frequently now. What a stinging irony that the silver-tongued orator lost the debate on style points to the starchy Mormon from Michigan!

In fact, the lingering image of Obama from last week’s debate is that of a  numb, chastened, unhappy man staring down at his notes with a petulant frown. He had good reason to be unhappy, even on his twentieth wedding anniversary. He had just been sideswiped by an opponent who was rebranding himself with each new statement, and no amount of note-taking was going to salvage the evening for him.

Romney made himself immune to attack simply by dodging and denying his previous positions, and Obama didn’t know how to bring down a moving target. The rational Mr. Spock was no match for a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger.

One particular image of Romney lingers in my mind, too. I couldn’t find a photograph that perfectly captured its essence, but I’ll try to describe it for you. It was the image of Romney listening to the president, his craggy L. L. Bean male model’s face fixed in a condescending but curiously indulgent smile. It was the look of a father listening to his ten-year-old son telling him that the dog ate his homework. It was the visual equivalent of Ronald Reagan’s “There you go again.” It was well rehearsed, and it was unnerving.

The fatherly glow in Romney’s eyes seemed to radiate kindness, but it was the cursory kindness of a wealthy man who was decent enough to listen to a street beggar’s sob story. It projected a sense of assumed superiority. It was the look of a man who knows that his authority and social position are unassailable.  And as a tactical weapon in a debate with a sitting president, it was pure genius.

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275 Comments leave one →
  1. Rabbit permalink
    October 8, 2012 2:32 pm

    I’ve never succeeded in really disliking Romney, if he is elected I won’t be very worried. Then again, I never succeeded in disliking W Bush either and it took me many years to really sort out how truly poor a president he was. If Romney is elected I hope he will be like G. H.W. Bush. As AMAC wrote, he may be the last chance to moderate the GOP. So, try to see the silver lining Rick.

    As well, he made some pretty strong statements about what he won’t do and I think he would have a pretty hard time turning around and making a pure lie out of his moderate statements in the debate, so the debate served a purpose, he has to come to the center and if it was a great fake then there will be a price.

    I thought it was a good debate and a win for political decency. My moderate tendencies may make me a bit naive sometimes, but I thought it was a healthy and rather moderate exchange of views. I watched part of it out of one eye as I was doing other things, so I may have missed something.

    Nate Silver still puts Obama at an 80% chance of winning and I feel he is at least better than 50%, so to me its seems that there is little reason for all the drama both sets of partisans are expressing. It was a good event for Romney, and news of his death had been greatly exagerated, by one tempest in a teapot after another.

    But, you really gonna get it from the echo chamber for this one, best of luck to you, I’m staying out of that environment, see you when you post again. A one post per issue rule should keep me out of trouble My wife had a brilliant idea, she was not enjoying my political addiction, so she bought me an old motorboat to fix up. Worked very well, I should develop some other habits for here to cure me of!

    • October 8, 2012 8:54 pm

      From this point to the election there has not been a challenger since Truman that has gained less than 3.7 points by election day. Reagan was behind carter until the last week and still won handily.

      if you like motorboats or other hobbies, if they make you happy go for it. If making your wife happy makes you happy go for it.

      but if posting on TNM makes you happy then do that.

    • October 8, 2012 8:54 pm

      Rabbit: I have to confess that part of me couldn’t help but like GW Bush. For all his faults, he was one of those refreshing “what you see is what you get” personalities — straightforward, down to earth, and unconcerned about the political ramifications of his every move. Romney has an engaging side to him, but I can never tell if it’s genuine or calculated. There’s something synthetic about him.

      Romney had to say the “right” things to win the GOP nomination, so it doesn’t surprise me that he’s sliding back toward the center now to win the uncommitted independent votes. By temperament he’s more of a centrist than a Tea Partier, but I think he’s essentially a pragmatist: he’ll espouse whatever he thinks will work (especially if it works for HIM). He’s already repudiated some of his earlier positions, so it wouldn’t surprise me if, when elected, he decided to jettison some of the moderate positions that helped him get elected.

      Can’t blame you for wanting to avoid the onslaught from our friends on the right. You don’t have to feel guilty that I’ll be taking the heat. Honest. Have fun with your motorboat — but be warned that I might call on you if I need reinforcements. ;)

      • October 9, 2012 12:48 am

        Though I have bones to pick with the Tea Party on immigration and trade, the Tea Party is the center of the GOP. The northeastern liberal republicans or establishment republicans are the left wing of the party – just as the blue dog democrats are the dying right wing of theirs.

        Lying or not neither Romney nor Obama are going to actually do a fraction of what they promised.

        The good news is this election is fundamentally about economic freedom.

        If elected Romney has a mandate to dismantle atleast part of PPACA,
        to attempt reforms to medicare and social security that increase freedom, and decrease entitlement.He has a mandate reform tax reform, and spending cuts. He has a mandate to reduce government intrusions into religious freedom.

        Both candidates are falling over themselves bashing china.

        Unless those things mentioned about are the greatest fears of liberal america, they should quit the romney bashing.

        This election is NOT about gay rights 0 Romney barely mentions the topic though everytime he does the press picks up on it.
        It is not about abortion.
        It is not about civil rights.

        It is about winding down the nanny state.

        I do not beleive that Romney will do more than a fraction of what he promises, even if the GOP takes control of both houses, Romney will not be close to the power Obama had his first two years.
        When Democrats fillibuster every Romney proposal, is TNM going to be calling them the party of no or the staunch defenders of the downtrodden.

        What he will not do is make sweeping changes in those aspects of government and law that he rarely touches on.

        If we can not expect him to keep most of the promises he does make, why are we so deathly affraid that he will do things he does not even talk about ?

  2. October 8, 2012 3:47 pm

    Good luck on that motorboat, Ian. Your wife has your number for sure. While those of us in the”echo chamber” clearly do not possess the nimbleness and depth of intellect and generosity of spirit that you do, we will do our best to try to discuss Rick’s post with some semblance of moderation ;)

    Rick, excellent post. You and I evaluate this debate through very different prisms….Romney has been my preferred candidate since 2008, and Obama is clearly yours. I agree with you that, had Obama won this debate convincingly, Romney’s campaign would probably have not been able to recover, and the narrative that the “Romney campaign was imploding,” would have been set in stone.

    But, here is the thing- I never feared that that would happen, because: 1) I have never seen Obama speak authoritatively or knowledgeably about issues in an extemporaneous setting, whether it be in an interview, a press conference, or even a debate – he certainly won at least 2 of the 3 debates with McCain, but that had more to do with McCain’s weak performances than with Obama’s strength (I actually think that McCain did better in the townhall debate, but only barely). 2) Romney, painted relentlessly by Obama as a heartless, greedy, plutocrat, a man who despises and disdains the poor and who reveres only the wealthy, had a very low bar to clear as far as convincing voters that he is not that elitist and robotic oaf. Obama has spent this entire campaign trying to convince at least 51% of voters that Romney is not a smart enough or a decent enough man to be the POTUS. The energetic, affable and in-command guy that the voters saw last Wednesday seemed very presidential and not at all evil or oafish. 3) You should look back at some of your old posts, and things that you said about Romney being a moderate. You were right then, you are wrong now, if you’ve come around to thinking that he is a right-winger. Although he has succeeded in solidifying conservative suppport – a necessity for any GOP candidate, movement conservatives and libertarians still worry that he will “cave” when he occupies the oval office. Nevertheless, most consider him a far better alternative to Obama, who has refused to forge any kind of bi-partisan accomplishment….something that I think that has more to do with his ineptness as a leader than with his ideological principles. And, finally 4) The narrative that Romney’s campaign was imploding was never true to begin with. The campaign has been like the man himself, disciplined and well-executed…..the press simply couldn’t spin it their way after he won so convincingly. Who knows, maybe they believed their own narrative, and were taken by surprise…….

    • October 8, 2012 9:03 pm

      I think a major factor in both the debate and the election, is Obama has spent an enormous amount of money and effort over the summer with the aid of the media painting Romney as multi-headed evil hydra, and the debate showed – only one head.

      TNM and the left bemoan negative politics, but seem happy to use them, misrepresenting and maligning anyone with a different view point.

      But negative politics only works so long, and to the extent it works it also drags your own negatives down.

      The relentless attacks of the summer had their impact on Romney, but they are wearing off. Obama will no doubt beat the negative drum until election day, but people are paying less and less attention.

      Further like or dislike what Romney says, he is saying something he has policies and proposals. The president offers nothing – and when pressed admits the problems really do exist.

      i wish we had a real candidate that stood a chance of actually doing what they promised, that did more than talk a good game. And I will probably vote for Johnson as my own protest.

      But despite Nate Silver and intrade, and ….. I think that Romney is the odds on favorite at this point – not because of polls though they are improving. And a sitting president usually loses a full point on election day.

      • October 8, 2012 10:15 pm

        Dave: I’m no fan of negative politics. Both sides have been demonizing the other side’s candidate… they’re taking advantage of the rampant polarization in today’s political climate.

        I have to concede that Obama seems to be short on specific ideas, but I still have a strong preference for the general direction he prefers: to strengthen our struggling middle class, encourage small businesses and ensure basic safety nets to prevent widespread distress. Romney seemed to be muscling in on Obama’s turf during the debate… Mitt Romney, champion of the middle class? Let’s say I have my doubts.

      • October 8, 2012 10:30 pm

        Use your head Rick. Theres is NO hope of solving the financial mess of the US unless we have more folks paying federal taxes. The only way that will occur is with financial growth. It will not happen by building more “safety nets” which go on top of the $63T already on the table. This is about as simple a math problem as one can have. So, Barry, what is your plan for turming me into a person who pays more taxes, because that is the ONLY way this can possibley turn out. And, then the the other so-called middle class folks with NO JOBs. So, Barry what is your plan on that? Is it shovel ready? Ah, I didn’t think so!

        Sorry boys and girls but there really IS no Santa!

      • October 8, 2012 10:46 pm

        Rich: I absolutely agree that more Americans need to be paying taxes, even if it’s just a token amount at the bottom of the income scale. Everyone needs to have some “skin” in the game. Then we need to cut military spending (not to the level of Denmark, obviously… but we could cut our military budget in half and we’d still be spending 2 1/2 times more than the #2 nation). That would open up some funds for a true safety net. I’m not talking about bogus entitlements like free school meals and taxpayer-funded contraception for Sandra Fluke… I mean the kind of basic programs (including job programs for the unemployed) that would save people from having to live in their cars or use hospital emergency rooms for their primary health care.

      • October 8, 2012 10:51 pm

        Rick,
        You know that I am with you on defense spending (to a point). However, this would not ‘free up” money for more spending, as that spending is already commited to in existing social programs. Sorry, your math cannot work but if you figure out a way to do that, let me know.

        PS-For the poor, we do have medicaid and you should really learn more about it. Also, to my knowledge no federal jobs program has ever made any difference worth its costs. However, try eliminating the minimum wage and see how many jobs pop up. Plenty!

    • October 8, 2012 9:57 pm

      PR: Thanks… I started this one in the middle of the night, after nodding off on the den sofa. I felt strangely energized after that unexpected nap, so I put it to good use.

      We do see the candidates through different prisms. I think both sides have used negative advertising to excess (even by presidential campaign standards). If Obama’s camp has portrayed Romney as a heartless plutocrat, Romney’s camp has portrayed Obama as a do-nothing president who’s personally responsible for our endless recession (even though Republicans believe that government really isn’t supposed to meddle with business).

      As for the lack of bipartisan cooperation, I’d have to place more of the blame in the Republican camp. Several GOP leaders have stated that they’d do anything to see Obama fail. If I were Obama, I’d be pretty annoyed, and I might write off the GOP opposition as stonewalling obstructionists.

      Finally, Romney has clearly shifted his positions to win votes… initially from the right-wingers to win the nomination, and now in an attempt to grab centrist voters. So no, I don’t think he’s a far-right candidate OR a centrist candidate… I just think of him as a pragmatist who will jettison his beliefs when it’s advantageous for him. If we had to pin him down, he’d probably be a pro-business center-right person — something like you (except that you have more integrity).

      • October 8, 2012 10:12 pm

        And of course, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the model of bi-partianship? Give me a break Rick. Obama has not even made an attempt to work with his own party, He can’t even get the Democratic Senate to pass his budget! (0-535 remember?).

        I think your confirmatory bias is at an all time high here big guy. Ozero is simply not up to the taks of even trying to gain any consensus on any issue of important. He believes he can run out the clock and get a second term. For the sake of the US, I hope he is dead wrong.

      • October 8, 2012 10:36 pm

        Although, RIck, even by your measure, Obama has spent his time attacking Romney’s personal character, often with specious ads like the one blaming Romney for a woman’s death from cancer and accusing him of felonious tax evasion.

        Romney has attacked Obama as a failed, do-nothing president. In other words,he’s attacked Obama’s record, which is fair game. That’s how challengers defeat incumbents. The incumbent is supposed to defend his record. Obama’s problem is that he does not have a lot to work with…..so it’s easier and more effective to paint his opponent as a monster.

      • October 8, 2012 10:41 pm

        Yes, Mitt has destroyed families, companies, even whole continents. Of course, that is how you build a successful business that counts on repeat investors and companies willingly selling you their stock over a 20+ year period.. The ignorance around the PE industry is legend, but it matters not when you have no record you want to discuss.

  3. Ron P permalink
    October 8, 2012 5:05 pm

    Rick, you tried hard to defend Obama’s inept performance, but only those that accept the never ending sound bites and blaming the 1% will take that position.

    As for Romney’s position on taxes, he has told America he will cut tax rates and not add to the deficit. He has said he will eliminate loopholes. That’s enough! If he says he will eliminate depreciation allowance, every industry taking advantage will attack him. If he says he will eliminate mortgage deductions for yatchs, second and third homes, the boating industry and real estate will attack him, “Mitt Romney will eliminate mortgage interest deductions and cause home values to decline. Is this what you want from you President” Even though the average American would not be affected, political strategist would make every homeowner think Romney was against them with ads like I put in quotes.

    Now for our comment about reducing funding for education:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/education/mooresville-school-district-a-laptop-success-story.html?pagewanted=all

    Please read this article. Shows what one can do with less money and still improve education. Money is not the answer. Getting our educators heads out of their butts and bringing our education system up using 21st century methods and not the methods developed in the 19th century and used for over 100 years is the answer. And note that this is a school system where they can make decisions without a union looking out for themselves instead of the students.

    • October 8, 2012 9:42 pm

      Ron: I wasn’t defending Obama’s performance so much as the ideas that he articulated. Clearly Romney was more on the ball that night. But do we choose a president based on how well he performs during a debate? George Washington was supposed to be a bashful speaker, slow and deliberate in his utterances. He mumbled and had ill-fitting false teeth that wouldn’t have passed muster on TV. Yet we’d have to agree that he was a man of towering integrity, character and expert judgment.

      BTW, I have to agree with you (mostly) on education. We seem to think that merely throwing more money at public schools will solve their problems despite all the evidence to the contrary. They DO need to develop new methods, especially when it comes to educating inner-city kids. But they also need money to operate effectively. They shouldn’t have to fire teachers and stuff 40 kids into a classroom.

      • October 8, 2012 10:01 pm

        As Milton Friedman so often pointed out, you don’t judge policies on their stated or intended results, but you do look at actual results. i would ask you take a look at the War on Poverty and ask how well that dog hunted. Yet, after 50 years of destroying the social fabric of the black family, the progressives still want more of the same. How much more destruction would we like to see?

        It would be funny if it weren’t tragic.\

      • October 8, 2012 11:11 pm

        The average – AVERAGE – Chicago teacher’s salary is $72,000. And the schools are really, really bad. And the teachers went on strike because they were denied a 16% raise. I have no problem with bad teachers being fired. And I have no problem with good teachers making good money. But that is not how it works in government education.

      • October 8, 2012 11:14 pm

        It sure doesn’t. Candidly, we have Assistant Professors who make around that salary (happily I am not one of them). Then again, let’s examine the incentives. If you are a statist, do you really want a population that knows how to think for themselves or should they just get there marching orders from the women on the View?

        It is interesting to ponder.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 8, 2012 11:20 pm

        Rick, the number of students in a classroom has no direct correlation to their performance if the teachers have the tools to teach 40 kids at one time. If you read the article I gave the link to, you will seee that they increased the number of kids from 18 to 30 and at the same time drastically increased performance at the same time. There have been documentaries on TV where the classroom size has been increased and with proper software, the teachers monitor the performance of the students and help those needing help. They also have it set up that those far exceeding expectations also help those on their studies that need help, all using technology.

        But as long as unions have any control of the classroom, the pregress of the students will be secondary to the needs of the teachers.

      • October 8, 2012 11:22 pm

        I seem to recall class sizes of 30+ when I was at my grammar and high school. Where is the inherent problem here? Even in grad school, I rarely teach less than 25 students per class.

      • AMAC permalink
        October 9, 2012 11:48 pm

        I can agree with many, many reforms to public education. But, I won’t agree that class size doesn’t matter and public school doesn’t work. Public school needs big improvement, but the private sector would not educate all the youth in this country. It did not before public education, and wouldn’t now. Also, class size does matter. There is unlimited amounts of study that show this. Technology can make us more effecient and handle larger class sizes, but smaller classes perform better under the same conditions. This is why tutoring works so well. Tutoring is also better the closer to one to one ratio it reaches. Teachers should be held more accountable, pay should be by relative performance and need at position, etc. I

      • Ron P permalink
        October 10, 2012 11:36 am

        When you can increase class size by 67% and at the same time increase graduation rates by 11% and test scores by 21% as did Mooresville school system, I would agrue that class size had nothing to do with the students education. It was the method of teaching.

        With limited resources is it better to maintain a class size of 18 and have graduation rates of 80% and test scores of 73% meeting standards, or is it better to allocate resources to technology with class sizes of 30 and have graduation rates of 91% and test scores of 88 percent of the students meeting standards? Until someone can prove otherwise, I think I would want my kids going to Mooresville with these results than somewhere else were the class size is smaller, but the results are weaker.

      • AMAC permalink
        October 10, 2012 10:10 pm

        My argument was that under the same circumstances, class size does matter. I did not state teachers cannot handle large classes or be succesful under those circumstances. Under same circumstances, smaller classes perfom better, and this has been proven in countless studies since the early 80’s with Benjamin Bloom. With technology and improved methods, teachers can be succesful with large class rooms. I don’t know anything about your district, so I can’t speak for them.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 10, 2012 11:46 pm

        AMAC, here is the lick to the article I reference.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/education/mooresville-school-district-a-laptop-success-story.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

        Please read, not long and it shows what new methods of teaching can bring to students. It is not my area. Our schools are still argueing over staffing and class size and doing little to try new methods to improve performance.

        Yes, I will agree that when every dollar has been provided and used effectively and teachers have adapted excellence in teaching methods as did Mooresville to allow student to achieve their potential, then smaller class sizes would improve that performance even further. The problem is schools and unions wanting to throw money at schools without doing anything to change their methods to the way kids learn in the 21st century.

      • Anonymous permalink
        October 13, 2012 12:04 am

        I completely agree. Many decision makers, and teachers, are not well versed on the latest technology and methodology that has been proven succesful. These people only know to throw money at the problem, and expect that to fix it. I completely agree with that. I stay up on the lates publications and research on education, as I take my career seriously. The problem is that little is done to hold schools accountable for implementing and practicing the proven, effective, strategies that millions of dollars and countless hours of research has provided us. Bloom wrote about the “2 Sigma Problem” in 1984 and few teachers implement the methods provided and even fewer districts subscribe to the ideas. It’s a big problem with fairly simple solutions that don’t cost much money. Colleges employ even fewer of these strategies in their own teaching, In my experience. So many people are afraid of change and set in their ways, and that is a problem not limited to education.

      • AMAC permalink
        October 13, 2012 12:05 am

        That was me by the way…

  4. lovetheocean permalink
    October 8, 2012 5:31 pm

    The thing that really sticks in my mind about the debate is Romney’s continual smirk…and of course, his resounding flip-flops. I’ve read that researchers have found that debates rarely determine an election, but I would think they have at least some influence…considering that an election can be influenced considerably by whether or not it’s raining in a lot of the country. Interesting video posted by Anonymous, about Denver’s altitude; I did feel like Obama was physically off, like he was getting sick. With just a few weeks until the election, I, personally, have made what are probably my last donations (I donated to Obama and to a House candidate after having to endure the Romney smirk), and now I am starting to brace myself in case the unthinkable happens. My husband (a registered Republican who won’t be voting for Romney) and I have pretty much decided that, if Romney gets in, we’ll come completely out of retirement and start a new business to try and protect our kids future.

    • October 8, 2012 9:33 pm

      LTO: The flip-flops bother me, too. Granted, Romney had to veer to the right to capture the nomination, and now he’s veering toward the center to capture the undecided votes. But who is he REALLY? Is he simply a pragmatist who will shed his values for an easy victory? And what was that smirk all about? I suspect he was carefully coached to cultivate that kindly but condescending look. (Whoa, a lot of alliteration there.) It made him look as if he was already in a position of power.

      • October 8, 2012 9:58 pm

        I saw a smile, not a smirk. If anyone was smirking (see the SNL video on this) is was Barry. He clearly thought they had no right to ask him a serious question. Hey, they don’t do that on the View.

        Oh, happy anniversary to his lovely wife (barf).

      • lovetheocean permalink
        October 8, 2012 10:27 pm

        “Oh, happy anniversary to his lovely wife (barf).” That lost you some cred.

      • October 8, 2012 10:34 pm

        An obvious ploy to gain voters on the basis of how much he loves his wife. I will attest that both candidates love their wife. I am sure Hitler loved Eva. So what?

      • October 8, 2012 10:57 pm

        Just a note on Romney’s look: it has always been thus.

        Rick, you know my admiration for Peggy Noonan…she has frequently written about Romney’s ability to always be engaged in the debate, even when “off-camera” (because, of course, he knows that he may be on camera at any time).

        She has variously described the Romney look as “I’m so proud of my opponent’s nice little thoughts,” to “you’re a cute little shrimp,” to ” yeah, wait ’til it’s my turn.”

        So, he has perfected his game face – I don’t see the harm.

      • October 8, 2012 11:04 pm

        The POTUS could take tip from Romney, or from my fav of all time, Ross Perot. I miss that old guy!

        “Listen, see….”

  5. JB Say permalink
    October 8, 2012 5:43 pm

    What we saw in the debate was unavoidable.. A POTUS without his teleprompter was easy pickiings for a guy who is clearly his intellectual and moral supeiror. It was delightful to see and hear. Rick, you and Chris Mathews need to go through therapy so that your love of Obama might be excised. I predict that no matter how many Monster enemy bottles Barry downs before the next debate, he will again be humbled. Let’s face it, stupid is forever.

    • October 8, 2012 9:12 pm

      JB/Rich: LOL… I’m not as attached to Obama as you might think… he’s obviously far from perfect, but I’ve found that I agree with his stated positions the majority of the time. He actually wants to encourage and reward small businesses as a path toward recovery… not exactly a socialist mentality. (Teddy Roosevelt and Nixon, both good Republicans, would have taken a more radical approach to ending the recession.) I admire Obama for keeping his leftist instincts in check to do the right thing, even if he hasn’t been all that effective in pushing legislation through Congress.

      The problem isn’t his intelligence (or lack of it)… I think it boils down to the fact that he’s just not extroverted enough to be an effective politician. Sure, he’s great in front of a crowd, but he doesn’t know how to work the room like Reagan or LBJ. (He could have used a little more experience in the Senate.) He’s probably more comfortable thinking on paper than he is thinking on his feet. I know the feeling… I’d probably be hopeless in a televised debate.

      • October 8, 2012 9:25 pm

        Hey Rick, I would match my “wits” with Barry any day of the week and I am far from the genius he believes he is.

  6. October 8, 2012 5:45 pm

    PS-When Romney is elected, you will have a chance to start a business and succeed. With Barry at the helm, there won’t be very many businesses being started no matter what.

    • lovetheocean permalink
      October 8, 2012 6:00 pm

      I expect to have no problem starting another successful business in either political environment, but with future social programs torn apart, I would no longer have a sense of confidence that this country could help our kid, if through no fault of his own, he ever needed some kind of help. I really do envy my cousin in Denmark who has a thriving Internet business and can enjoy her business because she has absolute confidence that the society will always be there to take care of her children if they ever need it. I don’t know about other parents, but for me, that knowledge is priceless.

      • October 8, 2012 7:13 pm

        What social programs do you expect to be torn apart? I seriously doubt that SS, Medicare/Medicaid, welfare for the truly poor or unemployment insurance will go away under any administration, so long as the economy remains healthy (and if the economy collapses, no Democrat will be able to save them) . No previous GOP president has done so, and Romney is arguably less inclined to eliminate them than, say, Reagan, who did not).

        Free lunches for all may be cut back to free lunches for just the poor….there will likely be no taxpayer funded contraception for Sandra Fluke, and, yes, Big Bird, whose net worth is more than Mitt Romney’s, may have to give up his subsidy.

        No government can protect its poor and helpless if it goes broke. Not even Denmark. Just keep that in mind.

      • October 8, 2012 8:24 pm

        Cry for Sandra Fluke’s plight, if the tears will come!

        Apologies to Charles Dickens.

      • lovetheocean permalink
        October 8, 2012 7:53 pm

        I don’t have time now, so I’ll just pick up something I wrote elsewhere at the time of Romney’s 47% statement. This is for anyone who thinks being poor automatically gets you help from these United States.
        “Let me explain something, Mr. Romney. In my state of CA, one cannot get government “handouts” because one is poor. One can actually qualify for Section 8 housing assistance, but in practice, there’s a kind of triage, so only people in dire, dire circumstances who have children, who are disabled, or who are elderly get assistance. I know a woman in her 50s who cannot get a steady job and lives in her 12-year-old car, or occasionally with a sympathetic friend, as she goes around looking for work…there’s no housing assistance for her. You could be penniless and not qualify for Medicaid…that only goes to very specific people: the disabled, children, pregnant women. You could have a kidney stone embedded in your ureter and be in dire pain…you’ll get a pain-killer prescription and be sent on your way at the local ER…maybe, after three months, when you collapse on the street, ER docs will remove the embedded stone and try to save your life. Food stamps: if a person has take-home pay of over $908/month, s/he does not qualify for food stamps. So, you see, 47% of Americans are not getting “handouts.” Btw, who from the above groups would you cut? Disabled military? Disabled people in general? Old people barely hanging on? Children?”

      • JB Say permalink
        October 8, 2012 8:21 pm

        Great. So, you are certainly free to assist anyone you choose. What you really want is for all of us to chip in, even if we don’t share your enthusiasm. Sorry, I bow out. I gave at the office and when my paycheck was issued.

        Thanks for sharing.

      • lovetheocean permalink
        October 8, 2012 8:04 pm

        RE: “No government can protect its poor and helpless if it goes broke. Not even Denmark. Just keep that in mind.” Conservatives might be interested to know that there are only two countries in the world that have a debt ceiling..the U.S. and Denmark. The U.S. has one because it needs it (because it allows its financial industry to run amok so it must bail the industry out with taxpayer money, allows the wealthy to get away without paying anything near reasonable taxes, and runs up war tabs that allow companies like Halliburton to be war profiteers. Denmark has a debt ceiling because it is so conscientious. Pearows, you need not worry about Denmark.

      • October 8, 2012 8:23 pm

        If it only were true. Who do you think pays the taxes that finance your dream nirvana,. Hint: It isn’t you brother.

      • October 8, 2012 9:21 pm

        PR/LTO/JB: Of course Denmark uses tax money to fund those safety nets, as it should. One major difference between the U.S. and Denmark is that the latter country doesn’t spend half its annual budget on defense. If we could cut back on our military adventures, we’d be able to provide those safety nets without gouging our taxpayers. (We might even have money left over for Big Bird.) The bottom line is that no civilized country should allow its citizens to fall through the cracks the way LTO described. We’re not talking about massive entitlements, free lunches, subsidized day care and the like… just emergency support for people who have fallen on hard times.

      • October 8, 2012 9:48 pm

        First of all…Rick, are you seriously suggesting that the US spend the same portion of its budget on defense as…..DENMARK?? I know you are a a proponent of drastic cuts to military spending, but I would think that even you would stop short of suggesting that America should model its defense budget along the same lines as a country that joined NATO only in order to be protected by its collective security. That is not to say that Denmark has not fulfilled its obligations – it is in fact a loyal ally, and almost always supports US aims – but, its global obligations and commitments, such as they are, are miniscule, dare I say microscopic, in comparison to America’s.

        I agree that prioritizing help for those in need, and making sure that they do not fall through the cracks is of paramount importance in a moral and compassionate society. But I do not believe that people fall through the cracks because we are not spending enough money, but because we are spending it wastefully and inefficiently.

        I daresay that both you and LTO would agree that the per pupil cost to educate poor kids in inner cities is double and triple what the cost is to educate kids in the suburbs – and let’s stipulate here that I’m talking about blue collar middle class suburbs – yet far more, probably the vast majority, of inner city kids in public school “fall through the cracks.”

        Same principle.

  7. October 8, 2012 6:26 pm

    One cannot comment on the effectivness of “social programs” nor on the liklihood that they will changed under any POTUS selected in the US. The fact that the US has unfunded liabilities of over $43T to go with its acknowledged deficit of $16T simply illustrates what a fantasy world liberals live in. Let’s cut to the chase. These promises will simply not be kept.

    The current POTUS is simply running out the clock, trying to get a few more years out of the miracle of his (or anyone’s) lifetime. Let’s face it, he can’t do the job and he apparently is ready to throw in the towell, based on his last debate performance. As a experienced debater, I can tell you that he simply does not have the stomach to engage in give and take.

    A final word on those social programs: Send a note to the Greeks, the Spaniards, and the Italians and ask them about the reliance on “social programs.” You might be surprised what happens when OPM runs out!

    • lovetheocean permalink
      October 8, 2012 8:49 pm

      You know, if the financial industry hadn’t run amok because of its own greed, and if so many conservatives didn’t seem so damn heartless, I might trust them a bit more. It’s not lost on me that the USA has a very difficult time ahead, no matter who is at the helm.

    • AMAC permalink
      October 8, 2012 9:48 pm

      I think it is important to note, Jbastiat, that you are hardly an objective or unbiased commenter. You have characterize Obama very harshly and unfairly countless times. Your opinion is not that of an experienced debator, but one of a totally biased commentor. There is plenty to attack any political figure on, especially Obama, but you use discriptors like idiot, stupid, etc. Your comments have not been the observations of an experienced debator.

      • October 8, 2012 10:04 pm

        This is not a debate but a blog. If I were debating, I would simply reveal Obama’s lack of intellectual cajones by discourse, rather than simply calling him the idiot that I believe he is. That is why I like this format, it is much less work than an actual debate. Then again, it is clear that Barry was not looking real work when he showed up in Denver last week.

      • AMAC permalink
        October 8, 2012 10:36 pm

        But it is much more likely you would make several of your usual comments and SEVERELY lose the debate with “Barry”. Wether you agree with him or not, it is egotistical and unrealistic to believe you would win a debate with a seasoned political figure. Maybe if the topic was soley health care management, you might stay with him (if your ego was in check). I am not saying he is more intelligent than you, as I do not know him so well as you. Come back to reality!

      • October 8, 2012 10:38 pm

        I think the last debate challenged the notion of his being a seasoned debater. And, I would be happy to take the POTUS on, assuming he has no teleprompter or ear mic handy.

      • AMAC permalink
        October 8, 2012 11:15 pm

        That’s my point. You would be happy to, and expect to win. It is a little pointless to talk about. You are not being very realistic.

      • October 8, 2012 11:19 pm

        Maybe not but it would be a hoot to do anyway. Either way, I would have a blast.

  8. October 8, 2012 8:49 pm

    I did not watch the debate though apparently 70m people did.
    My read of the aftermath is that it focused on style rather than substance – which is not to say that Obama did better on substance. But it was personally disturbing that like myriads of other presidential debates we care less about the skills and policies that serve to run the nation than who looked better.

    If Rick wants my agreement that this is not supposed to be a beauty contest – he can have it.

    But I am disppointed in your analysis of actual issues.

    The claim that Romney’s tax plan is a $5T cut for the rich is solely about credibility.
    Numerous economists state that as proposed it will not reduce revenue or increase the deficit and does not represent a reversal of existing transfers from the rich to the poor.

    The claim that it is a $5T giveaway to the rich is only true of the plan that opponents think is likely as opposed to the one proposed.

    Politicians lie – and both candidates are equally challengable on that charge.

    But there is a difference between claiming Romney’s plan as proposed is a tux cut for the rich and saying you do not believe it will be implemented as proposed.

    The distinction may seem minor but it is important.

    Pres. Obama has probably not kept a single one of his campaign promises – for some we should thank god. Yet he too makes promises and proposals that are equally credulous and you take them as gospel, and if he is reelected you will excuse his failure – because he tried and besides it was all those evil republicans fault.

    Treat politicians as liars if you wish – but absent a compelling reason, and if anything there is more reason to beleive Romney than Obama, treat them as equal liars.

    Pretending that Romney will be a worse president because he will be unable to keep his promises, when you already know for certain that Obama has not and will not, is deceitful.

    • AMAC permalink
      October 8, 2012 9:51 pm

      I agree with you that we should focus more on content, but I think you also need “style”. Confidence and energy are important in almost any field, and are very attractive in a leader. Having good ideas is useless without the ability to influence.

  9. October 8, 2012 8:53 pm

    It is simple (yet inaccurate) to lay the 2008/9 meldown at the feet of the “financial industry.” Yet, it is much more complex than that and much of the causation sits directly in Wash DC. Moreover, it is also very simplistic to assume conservatives are “heartless” and I know that it makes you libs feel so superior to believe that. If that helps you avoid reality, fine with me. I know where and what my heart is, and am very comfy in that fact.
    Notice the attraction of simplistic solutions to complex social concerns, at least to some such as yourself.

    • AMAC permalink
      October 8, 2012 9:17 pm

      You did it now, Rick. You woke up “ole’ man” Jbastiat. Get out of his yard!

      • October 8, 2012 9:24 pm

        AMAC: LOL… Old JB definitely gets our blood flowing… generally a good thing (especially at my age).

      • October 8, 2012 9:26 pm

        Sorry, but I was at an academic conference. Hilarious, but that is another topic.

    • lovetheocean permalink
      October 8, 2012 9:30 pm

      I didn’t say all conservatives are heartless…but a good number of them demonstrate it verbally often. The notion that I feel superior because heartlessness offends me is garbage. And, by the way, we could have vastly simpler solutions to admittedly complex problems if we were dedicated to helping all Americans and the American society. I have heard it said that Denmark runs “efficiently,” as if there’s some mystery as to why that can happen. It’s pretty simple…Danes (1) want to feel “tryghed”–taken care of, protected, (2) believe in “jante-lov,” which means no one is any better than anyone else, (3) really like each other as people, and (4) want ALL Danes to participate in the good things of life. If America is complex, it is not because Americans are too GOOD.

      • lovetheocean permalink
        October 8, 2012 9:33 pm

        @ Rick…Gee, I think jbastiat is rather gentlemanly. Of course, I only drop by here once in a while, so I don’t really know the cast.

      • October 8, 2012 9:56 pm

        Thank you but I have been know to fly off the handle on occasion. Fortunately, Rick has known me for too many years and so is tolerant of my mood swings.

      • October 8, 2012 9:51 pm

        If Denmark is heaven, by all means, move to Denmark. That is what freedom to choose ultimately means. It may surprise you that many folks have different values than yours (or the Danes) have and that doesn’t make them inferior, simply different. The great thing about the American culture is that if you want to give every dime away to whatever floats your boat, you are free to do that.

        What you are NOT free to do is pick my pocket for your “worthy cause.” I may have my own cause I want to fund;. Since I am funding it with my money and not yours, where is the harm? If I prefer to fund the local Children’s Hospital instead of a home for ex-felons, I am free (so far) to do so. That makes me happy. Funding ex-felons, not so much. See how easy this is?

        So, go, be free and for pity’s sake, save for your retirement, as it appears you will need it.

      • lovetheocean permalink
        October 8, 2012 10:14 pm

        In discussions with conservatives, it always comes down to “move to Denmark.” And, by the way, we Americans are “told” what to do by majority (democratic) rule. We’ll all see what that will evolve to be in coming decades. I think the trajectory has been clear over the last few decades…towards more social programs. It actually might not be bad if Romney got in because that would diminish the middle class to the point where it might start to use its vote against the elite and for its own benefit…thereby speeding along the process of America becoming a country that embraces all its people. And, please don’t worry about me…I’m fine for retirement, but because I don’t have Bill Gates-level money, I’m concerned about my kid’s future…because all those who don’t have great wealth will be vulnerable until the underlying mission statement of America is to care about all its people.

      • October 8, 2012 10:25 pm

        I am not at all worried about you, nor to be candid your children either. They will do what they do, as will mine. With $63T of debt hanging over their heads, I wish them luck.

        Yes, you libs LOVE majority rule and that can be summed up by Ben Franklin’s statement: “Democracy has to be more than two wolves and a lamb deciding what’s for dinner.”

        So, sure, you can try to take control and “force” others to pay for your dreams, in the short run. In the long run, well, we have many empirical examples of how well that works: Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, USSR, Cuba, North Korea, China.. Shall I go on Comrade?

      • lovetheocean permalink
        October 8, 2012 10:41 pm

        Haha…haven’t heard “comrade” in a while. So, what are you saying…you’re against majority rule? You can’t have it both ways…majority rule does “force” people. That’s a bitch, isn’t it!

      • October 8, 2012 10:46 pm

        Well, yes, that is why the founders (smart fellows) set up a Constitutional Republic, with clear seperation of powers and state’s rights. In its correct form, the Federal Governemnt was “weak” and with specific intention that this be the case. Alas, this has been eroded over the years to our detriment. But, as I said, while one can try socialize the US, that is easier said that done.

        Keep trying and let me know how that works for you. You think the Tea Party is an accident? It is a reaction.

      • October 9, 2012 12:26 am

        There are myriads of studies showing that conservatives give two to three times as much to charity, and give more of their time to charitable causes.

        Those of us not on the left are as committed to helping others.
        But we do so through voluntary charity, or by succeeding and thereby creating more jobs and wealth for everyone.

        believing we are obligated to help others is not the same as believing we have the right to steal from someone else to do so. Government redistribution is theft by force.

        You can not accomplish good through evil means. If you believe that the best way to help others is to have government take from one group and give to another you believe in a system with an immoral foundation.

        From each according to their ability to each according to their need – is communism, and it is both evil and failed.

  10. AMAC permalink
    October 8, 2012 9:32 pm

    I actually enjoyed the debate. I saw two men act like adults and have a healthy debate while discussing their points and differences. I felt this was the most refreshing debate I had seen in a while. I wasn’t around for the Lincoln debates like some here (sorry for the jab), but I enjoyed what I saw. I am not afraid or even uncomfortable with confrontation, but I am a fan of men and women in positions of responsibility acting like grown ups. I hope this is a trend, but it won’t last if the media or either political party has anything to do about it. Most seem to call for a more “spirited” debate, code for childish. We have been living in the baby boomer world where loud is logically equivelant with right (or correct). I hope this debate leads to a trend, and the trend becomes the norm. I didn’t notice a huge win for either candidate, but thought Romney did very well. I would have declared him a winner.

    It is nothing new to see a candidate appeal to the base of his or her party during the primary, and then recoil toward the center post-convention. I suppose it is just part of the SOP for a major election. I do still think Romney is the opportunity to return the Republican Party to its 1980’s form. I hope so, anyway. I am not supporting Romney soley to balance his party, but it could be a very pleasant side effect. Some try to paint Reagan as the model for current day conservatism, but I think that Romney is much closer to Reagan than any current Republican Party figure. Yes, his religion is strange. But, isn’t all religion strange? (Remember I am a christian!) Yes, he comes from a completly different world than most of us, but 99% of all politicians do. I have hope for him, but I am not planning to live in a bunker and crap in buckets if Obama wins. No matter what president we have, we still have a lot of local, state, and national government that will continue business as usual.

    • lovetheocean permalink
      October 8, 2012 9:40 pm

      RE: “No matter what president we have, we still have a lot of local, state, and national government that will continue business as usual.” A good point, indeed. Interesting to hear a Christian claim that all religion is strange. I suspect that’s a benign statement but would be interested to hear your take on that further.

      • AMAC permalink
        October 8, 2012 10:07 pm

        Well it is important to state that I speak for myself and not the UMC I am a member of. I believe the bible and much of organized religion has been organized by man and may not reflect the true nature of god or Jesus Christ’s teachings. I believe that for every verse you find in the bible to support your belief, you can find two more that oppose your view. I believe in focusing on my faith and my personal relationship with Jesus rather than on my relationship to an organization led by man. I believe think violence has been prevelant in many religions over different time periods because so much of organized religion was set up by men during violent times. I think it is less important to follow a specific set of strategies and focus more on broad moral values that lead to faith. I hope to influence others to come to Christ by setting an example and showing the nature of christianity rather than talking about it. I think the bible can teach great lessons, but I do not consider it the treasure map to heaven. I also find it offensive to my faith to believe that aI have to belong to a certain political party to justify my faith. Religion should be kept out of politics more for protection of religion than of government. It is important, IMO, to talk about it when valuing various candidates, but not the end all be all. I have friends that do not believe, and they are very good people. I hope to influence them otherwise, but that will be accomplished better by setting an example, not by preaching or judging. These are some of my opinions. Not my chuch’s or even my family’s.

        Sorry for getting so much in to this, just trying to answer a question. Hopefully I didn’t outrage too many!

      • October 8, 2012 10:17 pm

        Nicely stated!

      • lovetheocean permalink
        October 8, 2012 10:22 pm

        AMAC, what a breath of fresh air! I, personally, think that is very enlightened. Thank you very much for sharing that.

      • AMAC permalink
        October 8, 2012 10:26 pm

        Thank you, JBastiat and LTO. In talking about religion or politics, you never know how the crowd is going to react!

    • October 8, 2012 9:55 pm

      I have stated this before. I have many students who are Mormens, most right out of BYU. To the person, they are a farily remarkable group of students. Serious, studious, and kind andd polite almost to a fault. Candidly, I could use more like them.

      • AMAC permalink
        October 8, 2012 10:28 pm

        Jbastiat
        I have not known any, but I do not doubt what you say. I met nothing I offensive to Mormans, just stating that his religion is strange to many (not mainstream). I am glad that they have been so well represented in your encounters with them.

      • October 8, 2012 10:37 pm

        I saw nothing offensive in your comments. I just have been impressed with these students.

    • October 8, 2012 10:05 pm

      AMAC, I agree that the format of the debate was excellent. For the first time, no stupid 2 minute buzzers, or “boxer or brief” questions. And, to be sure, both men conducted themselves with class, showing respect for their opponent.

      I fear that the next two debates will get a little dicier, as pressure on Obama to be more aggressive and attack Romney’s character seems to be increasing.

      • October 8, 2012 10:16 pm

        As long as he attacks Romney’s ideas, Mitt will master him. If he gets personal, it will backfire. These attacks about taxes, beiing a meany and all, will not seal the deal for Barry.
        Mitt will not go there, even though he has plenty of ammo to use on Barry.

      • AMAC permalink
        October 8, 2012 10:22 pm

        I agree. I was at an informal debate when my former congressman Stenholm was running for election after some jerrymandering mess in Texas (a whole different topic!). He was asked why the Democrats wanted to destroy our way of life. His oponent was more than happy to answer. I thought I was going to throw up. If only there was such a thing as an I-phone back then! That was the low point of my personal experience with national candidates’ debates. This past presidential debate was my high point. I can appreciate passion and spirit, but not the way we (society) have come to define it.

      • AMAC permalink
        October 8, 2012 10:24 pm

        Just want to clarify. My “I agree” was to pearows. I absolutely do not agree with the post above mine.

  11. October 9, 2012 12:13 am

    “there you go again” would be an appropriate response to the President.

    He has had his chance, what he has done has not worked.
    Everything is someone else’s fault – including his lackluster debate performance.

    We are to believe that but for the evil republicans who thwarted some of what he tried things would be better, and we should elect him again so – that for another 4 years he can complain that republicans are preventing him from saving the world.

    Pres. Obama’s problem is Pres. Obama, not Romney not republicans.

    It is my hope that we are seeing the last time these discredited ideas are tried.

  12. October 9, 2012 12:31 am

    Jbastiat;

    Our founders created a powerful federal government – not a weak one – though it would be deemed pathetic by modern terms.
    But they made that power incredibly difficult to excercise.
    Requiring a majority of representitives and a majority of senators, and the president, and ultimately the supreme court to agree to accomplish anything.
    They despised democracy.
    Over two centuries we have dismantled most of the impediments to the excercise of power they imposed. We are becoming the democracy they feared.

  13. Kent permalink
    October 9, 2012 10:04 am

    Rick, I am Centrist foremost. I have been silent for most of the time as you have probably noticed.

    One thing keeps me thinking of Obama and the other for Romney.

    Romney talks numbers and that is his game. He likes numbers. He knows what it takes to make things work. He’s straight-forward. He tells you what he thinks without a heart and he does it in a “logical” structure. He’s a “details” kind of guy. He’s the guy who knows all the options and picks the one that solves the solution first and fastest….Damned the damage in the way.

    Obama has compassion. He thinks out what policies will hurt individuals. He doesn’t like numbers. Numbers are probably his worst enemy. Just do it and do it right…kind of guy. He wants to look good!! Most people I understand are in this camp. Obama is the “Don’t give me numbers, just tell me what you want me to do”. Give me options and then you just go do it. Just like the Osama Bin Laden plan.

    Obama reminds me of “middle managers”…one I in fact had in the past. They are concerned for their position in a company. They take over a group of people, but they don’t know a thing about what their people are doing. They show compassion, but never actually been in their position or did the work. They are focused on self via showing compassion.

    Romney reminds me of the executive CEO’s, The “boys club”. The “Salesman”, “Top Accountant”, He number crunches, meets sales quotas, etc…but how many people were put into debt, and emotionally hurt? Where is the compassion?

    The United States is built between those who look for help or no help. Those who like compassion in their elected representatives or those who just want results.

    There is no question greater than to find than where you fit into this mess when deciding who to vote. Either to fix the country or for your own interests.

    I do not find either appealing. So I revert back to what the founding fathers were thinking. They wanted everyone to fend for themselves and if needs are to be satisfied then the populace must meet those needs via community/locally.

    If not, then the Federal Government must step in. In the Founding Fathers days the Federal Government only stepped into helping Americans only if it involved Security of the Nation.

    In essence, protection from foreign forces…either military, or monetary.

    China manipulating currency. Immigration. Balancing it’s own budget. Sound military strategy. Taxes. Spending. Deficits. These all seem National Interests.

    To require a law that “everyone” must have healthcare is a great idea, there is a lot of empathy, but it only protects the person who has it and punishes those who don’t. It is a “divide and conquer” premise.

    The U.S. wasn’t built by the Founding Fathers to punish certain Americans…it was to protect all. If you didn’t wish to participate then you don’t reap the rewards. Plain and simple. That is what living in the U.S. was about in the early years.

    A Government that promotes individual businesses and people to come together to make things happen is much greater than the Government that does it for everyone else. Government that promotes incentives toward a future…rather than a Government that dictates a future. The latter being composed on many selected individuals and businesses that lean either left or right on issues than on covering all Americans.

    This is why we here today!! To decide on which group gets the control. Not for all Americans, but which side gets to “dictate” the rules of how we live for the next years going forward.

    I don’t like it. I detest it. I would rather vote for Gary Johnson knowing that it is the people who are fed up with picking the “best of the worst”. The left and right only become more empowered when you put them into public office.

    At least I know I picked the closest to my views and can’t say I hate the other 50% of Americans. When you vote on Election day for a left/right candidate you basically hate the other 50% of Americans who vote opposite of yourself. You actually promote a “no solutions, only sides” agenda.

    I prefer a Centrist, “No Sides, Only Solutions” agenda. Majority wins. You can’t please everyone…do your best society.

    As far as I am concerned I don’t see either Party making me rich or better off. I guess I am going back to work tomorrow and shopping for groceries.

    • Kent permalink
      October 9, 2012 10:33 am

      Now, I am not saying that Gary Johnson is a Centrist, but I know that he doesn’t want to separate others. The Libertarian Party just wants people to do their best on their own. That community comes first for fix things. They just want the Government out of the picture entirely. Which isn’t a Centrist philosophy.

      Centrist is like Libertarian, but it believes Government has a role.

      At this point I am still undecided.

    • asmith permalink
      October 9, 2012 10:36 am

      Neither party will make you rich or better off, that is something you must do for yourself.

      Compassion is wonderful, but it provides no basis for making decisions.
      I have argued repeatedly that the vast majority of the so called “social safety net” has made the very people it was intended to help worse off rather than better.
      Compassion without rationality leads to decisions that are bad for everyone.

      So in the end who is truly more compassionate ?

      I am not looking to defend Romney – though I think he mostly says the right things – he does not fully grasp the benefits of free trade, open immigration and non-interventionist foreign policy – but neither does Obama. Otherwise he mostly says the right things – but ultimately i do not believe he will do much of what he says – but neither will Obama.

      I will not be voting for Romney, but that is because the GOP is not ready to govern yet. It is because even if implimented Romney’s solutions are insufficient, and therefore further failure is likely.

      i believe we are headed back into recession at the moment. I hope I am wrong, but that looks increasingly likely Whoever is elected will start with the economy getting worse.
      Further we have looming problems much larger than that. The housing bubble was tiny compared to what is essentially a bubble in debt, social security and medicare. If we do not fix those we are headed for more serious problems than the past 4 years. I do nto believe Romney will fix those.

      Absent draconian changes we are facing another mild recession, followed by much worse.
      These will likely occur on the next president’s watch – regardless of who is elected. They are the result of decades of mistakes, not just 4 years. They are the result of statism by both parties.

      If this is inevitable I would prefer to see the party that is less likely to see the light blamed.
      Though Canada’s successful efforts to reign in its unsustainable social parties came about through liberal efforts.

      Regardless, we need to cut a Trillion dollars a year from government spending – not a Trillion dollars a decade, and we need to move aggressively towards that now.
      Nor can that be done without goring anyone’s ox.

      i do not beleive things have gotten bad enough for us to grasp that, and I do not beleive we will build up the gumption to act until things are pretty bad.

      But as pessimistic as this sounds, it is not. Our greatest growth and increase in prosperity – even for the least has occurred when taxes, spending, and government were all small. Further historicially government cutbacks are followed by growth not decline.

    • October 9, 2012 10:43 am

      Current oil subsidies – which should be eliminated along with all other corporate subsidies, total $2.8B/year. DOE “Green” subsidies are running about $90B

  14. October 9, 2012 8:23 pm

    I don’t know if any of you are fans of the “Bad Lip Reading” series of videos, but,just for some comic relief, here is their treatment of the debate (I love the way they dubbed Jim Lehrer):

  15. October 9, 2012 9:32 pm

    The following is a brilliant treatise on Obamacare by the U of Chicago Prof Richard Epstein. If you can stay with him, we simply blows the entire plan into small pieces. Long but worth it.

  16. October 10, 2012 7:27 am

    Here you go! Obama’s essential problem: He IS ordinary!

    http://ace.mu.nu/archives/333653.php

  17. October 10, 2012 7:55 am

    Dave, I understand your rationale for not voting for Romney…don’t agree with it, but, as always, you articulate your positon well. Here is my question for you…and I’m asking out of curiosity, not challenging your decision: We know that, under an Obama admin., the current tax rates. Plus, Obamacare taxes will kick in, raising payroll taxes, capital gains rates, limiting FSA’s etc….are you saying that you believe that we will face these tax increases and the full implementation of the healthcare plan, no matter who is elected? Or just that it doesn’t matter, and nothing that a Romney administration would/could do could get the business cycle going in the right direction again?

    • October 10, 2012 7:59 am

      Whoops, I went to delete a typo, and forgot to replace it….that one sentence should read: “We know that under an Obama administration the current tax rates will likely go up.”

    • October 10, 2012 10:34 am

      Pearows;

      When she was in the Supreme Court I was a strong critic of O’Conner – theough I would take her back now.

      My main criticism was that on many critical issues she would always compromise.

      The results were usually worse than a victory for either side.
      Truly bad law – whether that of the right or left, fails. Either it pisses people off, or it is sufficiently destructive it can not continue and we must fix it.

      Compromise results in something neither fish nor foul. Not nearly as bad as whatever choice would have been bad – it does not really fail, Not nearly as good as the better choice it provides a small portion – but not most of the benefits.

      Learning comes through our successes and failures – not through the mush in the middle.

      Real compromise is a part of real life and markets – but it is not and should not be a part of law or government.

      In real life as individuals we have to make personal compromises – we have to order the value meal because we are saving for a vacation and can not do both. We have to take a job we don’t like – because we have a mortgage and want to keep our house.

      We make these comprimises on a case by case basis individually. Businesses make them too, in much the same way. They hire the less capable person because the better one is more expensive, or they pay overtime rather than hire, or …..

      Typically cases that come to the supreme court are about rights and freedoms.
      Is individual freedom more important than the public purpose of the healthcare mandate ?
      …..

      I think that PPACA is a horrible messy disaster. But our health insurance system is already an abysmal mess because of government. I think actually implementing PPACA may be our best chance of learning not only how bad an idea PPACA is but how bad an idea government regulation as a whole is.

      We learn through failure.

      Unfortunately I do not think that even if Obama is re-elected that we are going to go off the fiscal Cliff. I hope we do.

      I think that the GOP taking over the house in 2010 was premature.

      Do you believe things would be better if we had two more years like the first two ?
      Card Check ? Cap & Trade ? ……
      I think we would already be in a serious recession, and I think we would have elected Ron Paul or Gary Johnson – certainly not Obama vs. Obama Lite.

      We learn through failure.

      Further, I am not afraid of catastrophe. Once we identify the causes of failure – recovery is easy, and fast. The norm for every economic downturn is that the steeper the decline and the deeper the hole, the more rapid and stronger the recovery.

      Destruction is a critical part of freedom. Schumpeter called it “creative destruction”.
      It is by allowing poor choices to fail that we create the room for strong and sustainable growth

      Every boom is not followed by a bust. Strong sustained growth is the norm. But it is critical that the growth is triggered and fueled by us and our wants and needs.

      The government constantly talks about “public investment”. But it is government tinkering with credit and investment that creates the booms that cause busts – why ?

      Because real investment is a result of our choices in the market.
      Wealth exists to invest because some of us chose to save, the more we save the more there is to invest. Further when the investments pay off the savers have the wealth to buy what was produced.
      When government creates credit from thin air, the initial results are the same as when it is created naturally – some part of the market grows. But eventually that growth outstrips the actual need or want. In the real market investment moves to other areas.
      But that does not happen when government artificially invests. What determines when the growth has outstripped current wants of needs ? Instead of tapering off, an artificially fueled boom continues so long as the fuel is present, it continues until the overhang past what is real is so great it collapses from its own weight.

      I want PPACA to collapse on its own – if we can not learn from that, then we can never learn.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 10, 2012 11:50 am

        Asmith.. You state “Real compromise is a part of real life and markets – but it is not and should not be a part of law or government.”

        Was it not compromise that took place over 12 years (1776-1788) in the writing of our constitution? Was that not the reason why states were given equal power in the senate (2 senators), but proportional representation in the house because the smaller states knew they would not have any say in legislation if the senate was proportional also?

        And one might look back over modern history to see when this country was the most prosperious. I offer that in most years where divided government (congress of one party and President of the other) it seems like we were much better off than when one party controlled everything. I could be wrong. Let me know if I am.

      • October 10, 2012 12:06 pm

        It depends on the issue. If you want to take my life, there is little room for compromise.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 10, 2012 2:08 pm

        I think that may be stretching the issue. The Consitution gaurentees “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. This is also gaurenteed by the Bill of Rights. I beleive the compromise came in the legislative organization of the constitution for the most part and less in the Rights of citizens.

      • October 10, 2012 6:56 pm

        RonP;

        Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution are wonderful documents, but they are not perfect. Much of what is wrong with them is the result of compromise. Slavery was a necescary political compromise that eventually cost the lives of 450,000 of us in our bloodiest war.

        Is that the example of our founders compromise you wish to cite ?

        Many of the other issues are less compromises that disputes over the structure of government.
        The fundamental principle of the constitution is creating more power than the national government had under the articles of confederation, while making it extremely hard to exercise. The “equal power” you cite regarding small states – is fundamentally the power to say NO. It is a deliberate limit on government.

        We are more prosperous under divided government – because government does less. Not because there is compromise. Or more rarely because we get it right. Clinton did not “compromise” with Republicans to “end welfare as we know it”.

        No this is not Black and White – but nearly everyone vastly overrates compromise, and in government it is more likely to be a bigger mistake than losing..

  18. October 10, 2012 1:08 pm

    I guess I am afraid of catastrophe. While I understand, in theory, what you are saying about failure, failure on a grand scale – such as the collapse of an economy- causes so much destruction and human misery, not to mention the potential for demagogues and tyrants to take advantage of that misery, that it is not worth risking. Even if the catastrophe is not that dramatic, the repercussions of steady economic decline can be irreversible in the short term…and by short term, I mean during my lifetime, or that of my children.

    So, my propensity, like Ron’s, is toward compromise. There is compromise between good and good and compromise between good and bad. And, as JBas reminds us, some situations where compromise doesn’t work….but, in many cases it does. I’ll take the pragmatic leader who forges a good compromise any day, over the one who lets the perfect be the enemy of the good, or the one who is ideologically inflexible to the point of failure.

    • October 10, 2012 7:10 pm

      We are afraid of economic collapse on a grand scale but in fact it rarely happens.
      In 1921 we had a post war recession. the stock market, GDP, Wages, dropped rapidly – faster than the great depression, atleast 15% and possibly much more. That is two to three times the current decline.

      Harding did nothing – except cut government. The entire recession start to finish was less than a year. We came out into the “roaring twenties” until 1980, the longest sustained period of prosperity in our history. I am not trying to sell you the 20’s. Again government policies inflated the boom and caused the great depression.

      Great catastrophe does not end the world.

      The entire former USSR had total economic collapse – far worse than anything we will possibly ever experience – yet most of the eastern block transformed itself into modern capitolist democracies overnight. Outside of Russia itself which stalled and ended up with a battle between the oligarches and members of the old guard preventing a real free market from evolving – but even there the world did not come to an end.

      Most former communist nations are orders of magnitude better off than they were under communism.

      I am not particularly worried about economic carnage.

      My primary concern with collapse is that rather than grasp that the failure was one of government, people will find other scapegoats and move to more government.
      Times of serious failure are times of transition, and transition can be either good or bad.

      Despite the fact that the current mess is INARGUABLY the result of numerous failures of government, politicians from both sides have persuaded nearly everyone that this was a failure of markets. Yes – a failure of markets to adapt to the failure of government.

      Our country was born in crisis.
      But so was Nazi Germany.

      The danger is that things can go either way and the left and government are very good at selling false naratives.

    • October 10, 2012 7:15 pm

      We are past the point where the choices are compromise or catastrophy.

      The choice is get it right or catastrophy.

      We are $1T from a balanced budget.
      More than $1 in 4 government spends is borrowed.
      Almost $1 in 4 of all spending is federal government spending.
      Nearly $1 in 2 of all spending is government.

      Social security and Medicare are or will be atleast $200B each short every year for the foreseeable future.

      $1T in reductions in the rate of increase over the next decade are not even close to fixing this, and the likelyhood is we will back down from even those.

      • October 10, 2012 8:07 pm

        Well, economic collapse may not happen that often, but lately it’s happening oftener. And it’s not pretty, and you are absolutely correct in saying that it can go either way.

        And that is my point – in this world, with the left largely controlling the narrative, I think it is more likely to go a bad way. Obama has said that he does not believe that the debt is a problem “in the short term”….I assume that “short term” means “in a second Obama term.” Nevertheless, it is a stunning thing to say.

        And, although I understand what you are saying about the magnitude of the problem, but there is no public support for austerity. Look at France – they have elected a socialist, who says he will solve the problem by taxing the rich at a 75% rate. That is what happens after years of allowing the left to claim the narrative.

        Protecting capitalism, while ensuring that government safety nets remain in place and solvent is still a doable, acceptable compromise, and will succeed in a growing economy. At least I hope so……..

      • October 10, 2012 8:50 pm

        Well said. The austerity plan is for the other guy! Most sheeple think there is some free ride out there or that the “other guy” should pay. It rarely works that way, in the end.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 10, 2012 11:37 pm

        asmith, and don’t forget the interest payment on the debt and its effect if something is not worked out by January 1. With the projections for another 4+ trillion deficits through 2016, each 1% rise in interest rates has a huge impact on government cost.

  19. October 11, 2012 7:06 am

    Research the Kahn Academy for innovation at its best.

    • Ron P permalink
      October 11, 2012 1:58 pm

      jbastiat..That is another great example of how technology and education can produce excellent results. It does not say as much in the Mooresville article, but I beleive they are using this method or something very close to the Kahn Academy methods. He is a leader in teaching and came by it almost by chance when he started working with a relative’s child over the internet. Educators need to be innivative in their methods, but too many are being held back due to archiac red tape that does not good for the kids.

      • October 11, 2012 4:12 pm

        Yes, I use Sal’s videos for my finance classes. He is quite the guy.

  20. October 11, 2012 11:47 pm

    I won’t have the time to write a polished column on the Biden-Ryan debate, so we might as well give our impressions right here. I have to admit that Biden’s continual disparaging laughter got on my nerves, along with his frequent interruptions. I found myself muttering “Shut up, Joe!” at the TV screen more than once.

    That said, I think both men stated their positions clearly and effectively, and in terms of content it was a draw. I’m glad Biden mentioned the Republicans’ fealty to Grover Norquist, though he should have held Ryan’s feet to the fire on that issue. He cleared up the misconception that Obama would raise taxes on small business, when in fact only 3% of those businesses would have their taxes raised. (Those “small” businesses are predominantly hedge funds and other tycoon-operated enterprises… not exactly “job creators.”)

    Ryan was well informed on foreign policy, though I think he weaseled on the Romney-Ryan commitment to intervening in the Middle East. It would be insane for us to get involved in another war there… though Ryan denied that we’d use ground troops unless US security is threatened. Well, “threatened” allows for a lot of wiggle room.

    In terms of style, Biden was vintage Biden — when he’s going on all cylinders, he projects passion and common sense. He has the ability to articulate what so many ordinary Americans are thinking. Of course, he can be sloppy and undisciplined, too. In this debate, he might have been overcompensating for Obama’s low-key performance last week.

    Ryan actually seems to have more “gravitas” than Biden despite the age difference. But his cerebral, emotionally detached approach to the issues opens the way to policies based on ideology or dogma rather than the general well-being of the people. (For example, on the abortion issue Ryan stayed true to his Catholic roots… but the implication is that he’d have no problem imposing those views on the population at large.)

    I’d be curious to hear your impressions.

    • October 12, 2012 8:01 am

      Yes, Rick, with $59T in debt and unfunded promises, the US needs more of a Biden approch, yu uknow, where we make policy recommendations based on the “general well-being” of the population, whatever the hell that means. Certainly, a bright young man with a knowledge of how the funding really works (sans lies from the Dems) is not what we need at all. Keep the Dems in power so we can have more of the same.

      My old buddy, I think you are going senile. The house is on fire and you are looking for the TV remote and a cup of tea.

      BTW-you are clearly NOT a moderate so I suggest that you rename this blog.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 12, 2012 11:56 am

        jbastiat.. Rick needs to keep the blog just like it is. Even though his liberal side shows more often than not, at least he attracts moderates where discussions can take place and few personal attacks on other commentors take place. The are other blogs that claim to be “moderate” that attract anything but moderates, and when a moderate comments, personal attacks abound.

        As for the house burning down, as a moderate myself I would like to see some compromise made on spending and taxes, much like Simpson-Bowles. Right now that is not happening. It is like two different fire departments argueing over who has jurisdiction on putting out the fire while the house is buring down because neither one will open their hoses to put any water on the fire.

      • October 12, 2012 12:07 pm

        Yes, but tell this to the WH. Obozo doesn’t even meet with his own party on the Hill, let alone with the GOP. You can’t compromise if you don’t talk to the other side.

      • October 12, 2012 9:56 pm

        It’s a two-way street, Rich. How do you talk to representatives who put a higher priority on making sure you fail than doing what’s right for the country? That said, I think Obama is too thin-skinned. Instead of pouting, he should seek out the more moderate Republicans (there should be at least half a dozen of them left in Congress, right?) who would be willing to work with him and serve as a bridge to the other GOP representatives.

      • October 13, 2012 8:16 am

        So, if it is dificult, you just give up? Ask Bill Clinton if Newt was “easy to work with.”

      • October 12, 2012 10:26 pm

        Ron: Great analogy with the two disputatious fire departments. You nailed it.

        For a moderate blogger, I seem to attract more than my share of libertarians and conservatives, which, of course, makes me look liberal by comparison. I cross-blog at The Moderate Voice — the Huffington Post of the middle — and, if anything, I actually tend to be more conservative than most of the other bloggers and readers there (although they get a pretty wide range of opinions). Maybe that was the blog you had in mind.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 13, 2012 12:02 am

        Oh yeah, the Moderate Voice. Been their done that. Got tired of being called a neocon, Tea bagger and any other negative title they could place on me. Right now you have a good cross section of individuals that discuss the issues, support their positions and accept criticism without making it personal.

      • October 12, 2012 10:20 pm

        Rich: It’s all relative… am I to the left of you? Of course. Am I to the left of LBJ? Nope. You need to read Huffington Post, the Daily Kos, The Nation, Salon or Slate if you want to see true liberals at work. Believe me, they’ll make me look like a hidebound conservative by comparison.

        If I tend to skew a little to the left on fiscal matters, it’s because our country has increasingly become a plutocracy over the past 25 years or so. I just want to steer us back to the middle. You know… level playing field and all that. To me, that’s being a moderate.

        When it comes to social and cultural issues, I’m staunchly moderate and even a curmudgeonly conservative on some topics. I’ve railed against narcissistic special-interest groups, modern art, the disastrous effect of the Great Society, nanny-state meddling on personal habits, atheists who won’t allow public nativity scenes, [Fill-in-the-blank] Studies departments at universities… you name it.

        So The New Moderate will remain The New Moderate… at least until it becomes The Old Moderate.

      • October 13, 2012 8:21 am

        If I have to read those sites you mention, my head would explode, so Rick, old buddy, I will say that compared to say, Karl Marx, you are a moderate (joke). That said, I still don’t think you get the whole notion of how bad our fiscal situation. Asking for a “modereate” solution at this point is like standing on the deck of the Titlanic and thinking about how you might have brought more life boats.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 13, 2012 11:50 am

        JB,,As a moderate I have to ask, is it better to follow Reagans footsteps and take part of what you want to begin the process of achieving most of what you want, or is it better to reject everything if you can get it all. A moderate position is to take part of what you want and work to get the rest. Taking nothing will do no good at all except to lead the country in a disasterious direction as we have seen over the last 4 years. These 4 years shows exactly what happens when two opposing forces will not compromise on anything.

      • October 13, 2012 12:02 pm

        Using Reagan’s example is good. He met with Tip O’Neil constantly over his 8 yrs. When has Obama met with even his own party’s heads of Congress? Well, maybe never.

        Sorry, Ozero has not even tried to reach a consensus.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 13, 2012 12:05 pm

        That shows the difference between a leader and a politician.

      • October 13, 2012 9:16 am

        Haha, The Moderate Voice! I got banned there, after my first comment, which was not in the least rude or offensive (at least, I don’t think so, and it’s not my style). I actually emailed them and requested to know why I was banned, and the response I got was that they suspected that I was posting under different usernames as a “good cop/bad cop” sock puppet. They said they did this by an analysis of my wording and sentence structure (why not just check IP’s?)! Anyway, I never went back, but I’m glad to hear that you are posting there, RIck. I thought the site was good when Jazz Shaw was there, but since then it’s gone pretty far left – I could see where you would be a downright conservative by their standards ;)

    • October 12, 2012 8:06 am

      En the libs can’t spin their way out of a a Biden loss:

      http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/11/cnn-poll-on-debate-winner-ryan-48-biden-44/

    • October 12, 2012 8:53 am

      I did not watch the VP debate. Why ? From what I here it was pretty much as expected.
      Bidden agressively pushing false naratives – expect the intelligence community to respond to his claims they are responsible for Benghazi. This administration does not grasp that ultimately they are responsible for everything. Worse still in this instances they disregarded intelligence community warnings, requests for additional security and intelligence and state assessments after the fact. The Whitehouse gets little latitude when they act on bad advice – but in this instance they disregarded good advice.
      I do not think Banghazi is the most critical aspect of this election, but it is a clear instance where this administrations policies have failed and where it is lying to cover that up.

      Rick I am honestly offended by your attacks on Norquist. It appears to be your view that it is evil to expect politicians to keep their promises and to hold them accountable if they do not. Or is it evil to advocate for smaller government and lower taxes ?

      I will be happy to agree that neither candidate has a rational policy on the mideast. Obama and Romney are both making Bush look good.

      Why is it important that a president or vice president articulate what ordinary americans are thinking ? I want a government that works or gets out of the way. That is the entire point of Romney’s “47” remark – except that it is actually 60% of americans who are not net beneficiaries of government. How can you expect people to vote against a government that pays them off ? Despite demands to increase taxes on the rich – the top 10% now pay most of the cost of government – a much larger share of the cost than the top 10% in purportedly progressive socialist europe.

      PPACA raise taxes on everyone – particularly small business. Dodd-Frank is a disaster that has already choked the economy – the recover stall just as it became certain that Dodd-Frank would pass.

      Despite claims by the left that you clearly have bought – this election is not about women, or abortion. It is about the economy. To a lessor extent about making government smaller.

      All the traditional hot button issues regarding conservatives have not been raised or pushed by Romney-Ryan. They have come out only as responses.
      Should Romney win he would have a popular mandate to:

      Fix social security and medicare – in particular providing the option to opt out.
      Reign in government regulation – a bit.
      Reign in spending – a little.
      Repeal and replace ObamaCare – sort of.

      That is it. If that is what you wish to see vote for Romney, if you want more of what we have now Vote for Obama. If you want something better or different your SOL.

      If immigration, trade, abortion, the Drug War, …. any of myriads of other issues are important to you – neither of these candidates is seeking to alter the status quo.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 12, 2012 12:23 pm

        asmith..I think the GOP needs to be careful in how they categorize those that do not pay income taxes.

        For example, before the economic downturn, 40% did not pay federal income tax, not 47%. So the economic downturn added 7% to those that did not pay federal taxes since they were unemployed and had no income to tax.

        Now for the breakdown of the 47%.
        —10.5% of those Americans are elderly with no income other than Social Security.
        —8% of those Americans are students making less than the minimum to have taxes owed, individuals on disability, like military injured in combat, workers injured on jobs and individuals with disabilities since birth or are unemployed.
        —That leaves about 28% that are working and due to tax policies like those in the Bush tax cuts do not pay federal income tax, but do pay payroll taxes for social security.

        So the question I have is who do we raise the taxes on? The elderly that only have social security income? The disabled, mentally ill or wounded? Elimination of the tax loophole that allows people making less than a certain amount to avoid income tax? Or finally, eliminating the Bush tax cuts that allowed for increased number of individuals and families to not pay taxes so they could keep more of their money?

      • October 12, 2012 12:42 pm

        The flip side is that my family income is in the six figure bracket and I paid around 6% in Federal Income taxes last year. I can hardly complain that Mitt Romney did not pay his “fair share!”

        BTW- if you only have SS income, you might want to look in the mirror. Someone (you) are largely repsonsible for that fact.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 12, 2012 2:48 pm

        jbastiat, that is true in many cases, but in others it is not. There are many hard working individuals in this country that for some reason not their own, they were unable to save much during their working life to save. For instance, I worked where there were fine group of individuals preparing meals at the hospital. They had children and most of their income went to the education of their kids. They wanted to make sure that their children had life much better than themselves, so they sacrificed themselves for the future of their kids.

        There are other instances, like the small family farmer that makes enough during his lifetime to support a family, but nothing else. And there are many small business owners that provide for themsleves, their families and maybe another family or two, but have little to save after 15% social security tax on themsleves.

        I agree that in many cases people have lived over their heads and spent every available dollar on “toys” and “wants” compared to needs, but there are those that worked hard and still ended up with little.

      • October 12, 2012 2:59 pm

        People make choices their entire lives. If I choose to fund my children’s college at my own expense, that is fine and dandy. Not an issue and it is neither good nor bad. That said, I do it with the knowledge that I will not have those funds for my own retirement. That in itself is neither good nor bad, but a choice. Now, if I whine about not having any money when I retire, that is pathetic. I made the choice and now I want to complain about it? Or worse, ask someone else to fund my past decisions? Give me a break. Life is nothing but a series of choices and tradeoffs. Everyone make them, some actually remember that and live with them. That said, there is luck and bad luck can be a bitch!

      • October 12, 2012 10:34 pm

        Rich: The point you’re overlooking is that nobody should have to choose between sending their kids to college and enjoying a reasonably comfortable retirement. College costs have skyrocketed way out of proportion to general inflation. If private colleges want to charge $60,000 a year for tuition, that’s their business. But government needs to step in and subsidize our public universities to a much greater extent. Nobody with the ability and ambition should have to be denied a college education because it’s been priced out of reach for all but the rich. If we let that happen, we’re just tilting the playing field even more toward the nation’s elite.

      • October 13, 2012 8:26 am

        Rick, your first premise is absurd. Taken literally, you state that say, a single mom with no job for much of her life should be able to retire comfortably and send her kids (how many) to college. On what planet does that occur. ]

        Logic my dear boy, logic. Now, as to why college costs $60K that is an all day conversation. However, even if we somehow magically cut the cost in half, your first statement is still entirely a pipedream. No planet like that exists.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 12, 2012 11:17 pm

        In my comment, I did not say anything about people whining. I do not beleive they should be if that is the choice they make. Howver, the point I was making is there are a number of voices on the right that keep talking about the people that do not pay taxes. I said they needed to be careful. My mom did not have a degree after high school, was a homemaker until the age 48 and my father died. She worked in retail for the next 20+ years, making enough to support herself, but not much more. She did have a small savings, but not much. After retirement, she lived on less than $1000 a month from SS and a little from interest income. She never complained, but she was in the 40+ percent that the right wing talking heads speak of when they talk about those not paying federal income taxes. She was not a leach on society since she was drawing her SS and the amount my father paid for 30+ years was never drawn by anyone in my family.

        So again, I say the GOP needs to be careful when they talk about those not paying income taxes as a large number of them are only receiving the benefits that are due them and nothing more. Now we can talk about people drawing more out of SS than they pay in, but then we would also have to discuss had that money been invested like an investment consultant would have recommended over 40+ years, they might have more than they have since the government took their money and only invested in low interest government securities, causing the investment to be less than it could be using conservative investment policies that provide a good return and much better than the government return. And some might argue that they don’t even have the bond interest income since all they really have is IOU’s.

      • October 13, 2012 8:31 am

        Your Mom’s story is a positive one and is not dissimilar to my own Mother’s. That said, I think you know very well why the issue even comes up. While the very few pay the majority of the federal tax burden, Ozero has hammered and demonized them for four years, suggesting they are not paying their “fair share.”

        That is simply ludicrous. As someone who likely pays less than what I could (albiet legally) I am grateful that Mitt Romney pay millions. I will be damned if I go out tomorrow and criticise him for being successful.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 13, 2012 11:59 am

        My original comment was the GOP needs to be careful on how they comment about those that do not pay federal income taxes. Nothing more. There are many in that situation that would vote for Romney, but could be turned off and not vote at all if they feel demonized by the right.

        It is a good line to use to energize your base, but be careful as those that will make the difference are the moderate independant voters and they are the ones that do more analysis of issues and understand the issues better than those that just blindly follow one path or the other.

      • October 13, 2012 12:05 pm

        Speaking of demonizing. Romney made one off the record, illegally taped comment. How many times has Ozero demonized a particular groups he does not like. You know, those people clinging to their guns and religion?
        Those people who won’t pay their fair share. Those folks who did not build their own businesses. You get the point. Sorry, this dog will not hunt.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 13, 2012 12:14 pm

        Not sure how many political ads you are getting up north where the election results are basically set and Obama knows he will win most of the Northeastern states, but in the swing state of NC, we are bombarded with political ads on both sides. The one running the most at this time shows seniors, military, and others that are receiving benefits and then the comments are made concerning how they earned those benefits etc etc. “I’m BO and I approved this message”. All I am saying is there are some voters who could tip the election one way or the other that may be in this group that can be convinced to vote for B.O. One only needs to listen to some talking heads on the right to hear how this group is repeatedly brought up in a negative light, unlike the gun owners and others you have mentioned that now go unnoticed.

      • October 13, 2012 12:53 pm

        Let’s be fair about this. The average medicare recipient (which I will be in a few years) is expected to receive 8$ in benefits for every $1 they put in. Sooooooo, how long can this go on? Well, not very long, as most of the Euro zone is finding out right now. Shame on the GOP for trying to fix this issue now. So, yes, I get that Ozero doesn’t have an ounce of integrity in his body and that he lies evey chance he gets. Hats off to Ryan for trying to call the question. The fact is, we are $60T in the hole and lying about it is hardly an act of courage or integrity. I get that there are folks who “earned” this, at least in their mind. But NO ONE paid anywhere near enough for the amount of bennies that have been promised by these liars.

        Or as VP and chief asshat Joe Biden once said (last month) “there gonna put you all back in chains.” Yes, that is integrity at its finest, right? Barffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff!

      • Ron P permalink
        October 13, 2012 5:20 pm

        JB..i agree 100% with everything you have said and support every effort by the GOP in congress to fix the mess. But there are ways of saying something that the other side can not take completely or partially out of context and make a negative political ad. With every vote counting as much as each vote counts in states like VA and Ohio, no one needs to be alienating even on person.

        Saying Medicare spending is out of control and needs fixing is one thing. Saying 40+ percent (as so many on the right are saying on different news and talk shows) allows the left to capitalize and gain votes from those receiving benefits, regardless if they have earned them or not.. Why do anything to allow BO to use any statement in a negative ad and gain even one vote?

        That is all I am trying to point out.

      • October 13, 2012 5:26 pm

        Again, this was said ONCE to my knowledge and was an off the record comment that was illegally laped. I am not sure what Romney can do about it but backtrack. Then again, we have 5 minute tape where Ozero tells a black audience that they were left to die by Congress because they were black (Katrina funding) and this is after Ozero voted against the funding. If we had a real news media they would crucify him, IF he were a white POTUS. Let’s face, the guys gets the skin color ride every time.

        Remember, Biden can pander all day long to black audiences and gets the pass.; Next time he will show up looking like Al Jolson!

      • Ron P permalink
        October 14, 2012 12:18 am

        One only needs to listen to Laura Ingram, Hannity, O’rielly, Rush, Fox business channel, etc and you will hear that line spoken many times. If not there, then on Face the nation, Fox New Sunday and Meet the Press when the GOP backers are their guest. It may be less now since Romney said something to the same thing, but well before that,it was on everyones daily agenda to make that point whenever it could be made.

        And I said GOP supporters, I never referenced Romney.

      • October 14, 2012 8:26 am

        Well I can simply refer to MSNBC, HuffPo etc. The fact is, there ARE people gaming the system and there IS frustation by the folks paying the bills (right now that would be me). That is why private charity is a much preferred way to resolve some of these issues. There is much less resentment and much less gaming when these transactions occur in the context of “gift” and not “rights.” But, that is another story. Again, I suggest you ignoring how much Obama plays the “income” card. The man cannot live without the votes of those “on the dole” in whatever way you choose to interpret that statement.

      • October 12, 2012 10:06 pm

        Dave: I can’t respond to all the issues you brought up (one at a time would be a little easier)… but let me address the one that popped out: NORQUIST. Of course there’s nothing evil about advocating for lower taxes and smaller government, if only Norquist would restrict himself to that role. Here’s where the “evil” comes into play: pressuring elected representatives to sign a binding pledge not to raise taxes… the alternative being that Norquist will find candidates who’ll sign the pledge — and back them (with GOP financial support) against the incumbents who WON’T sign the pledge. Sorry, that’s coercion… something that should grate against a libertarian’s deepest instincts. I’d even call it more than coercion… it’s tantamount to blackmail. If a sitting representative doesn’t want to be drummed out of office, he essentially has to consent to becoming Norquist’s puppet. A representative is supposed to represent his constituents, not self-appointed puppeteers who operate behind closed doors.

      • October 13, 2012 8:18 am

        There is nothing evil about that at all Rick. The libs do it all the time with all kinds of issues. Do you think this money comes with no strings attached? Can you imagine how Hollywood libs would react to say an Anti-Abortion bill?

      • October 12, 2012 11:40 pm

        RP;

        Did unemployment actually increase by 7% ?

        The breakdown is irrelevant to the point, that both Romney and I are making.

        It is not that 47% of us are lazy slackers – that is imply not true. It is that 47% of us – actually it is closer to 60%, have good reason to vote for more bigger government. Not because it is a good thing, but because it is good for us. That is a path to ruin.

        It is a bad thing when the overwhelming majority of americans are net beneficiaries of just the re-distributive aspects of government.

        Lastly, if you follow your own argument to its logical conclusion,
        8.5% of us are young and poorly paid, 10% are on social security, 20% are actually poor, then there is the 28%, by the time your done there is a good reason that nobody should be paying taxes.

        And in fact none of us really want to pay taxes and it si a bad thing for pretty much all of us.

      • October 12, 2012 11:46 pm

        RonP;

        Sure there are people who through no fault of their own are actually poor.
        But last I check 47% of us were not poor. The poverty rate is about 15%.
        And a family earning 20,000/year can collect up to 10,000 in goverment benefits bring them very near the median income.

        Bad things happen in the world. They happen to the rich and the poor and all in between.

        If you accept that we should have a safetynet at all, it is to prevent people from dying and starving, not to assure that no matter what nothing the slightest bad happens to them.

      • October 12, 2012 11:55 pm

        Rick;

        Yes, that is exactly the point, nobody is entitled to either a reasonably good retirement or to send their kids to college. Those are things we earn not things we are entitled to.

        We are not equal, life is neither fair nor perfect, government effort to make it so, actually makes it worse for all.

        Further whether i like it or not government has made it possible for everyone kid to go deeply in debt for their own college education and spend the rest of their lives paying it off at nearly no interest,
        this is pretty much the reason that colleges costs have skyrocketted.
        If you subsidize something, are you surprised that it gets more expensive ?

        Real inflation is always a monetary phenomena (blame the fed).
        Narrow market price increases are the result of supply demand imbalances – we are making exactly the same mistake with college education as we just finished with housing. too much credit creates a bubble.

        So you retirement is not in danger.

      • October 13, 2012 8:35 am

        Over the last 29 years, the rate if inflation for college tuition and costs has risen faster than any item in the CPI, including health care costs.If memory serves, the rate during that period was about 400% over the aggregate CPI.

        I wonder why? PS-remember I teach at a University. I can assure you, this has not happened due to Professor’s compensation. increases. (I am not complaining about my pay BTW).

    • Ron P permalink
      October 12, 2012 11:47 am

      Rick, nice that Biden cleared up the tax issue and only 3% of people will be effected. I tried to find some info on those making more than $250K and what I could find is their total adjusted gross income for the last year reported was 3.5 trillion. Increaseing their tax rate by 3% would add $105 million to the treasury yearly. Over ten years, that will add $1.05 trillion in tax revenues.

      According to the CBO in a report number 41486, the projected deficits over the next 10 years total 13 trillion under current law. So taking the 1 trillion from this projection assuming Obama can get his tax proposal approved, the projected debt will rise from 16 trillion to 28 trillion, or just over 12 trillion during that period.

      Nice to find the administration keeping its eye on the target.

      • October 12, 2012 11:53 am

        Obama has no intention whatsoever on reducing the deficit. Every word out of his mouth is a lie or an evasion. The guy phones in everything, lies about the smallest thing. I can’t even stay civil on the subject any longer.

        And everyday, we know more about how our Ambassador was left to die in that hell hole Middle East. Obama lies, people die.

      • October 13, 2012 12:30 am

        We have had myriads of different tax rates on the wealthy, on the poor, on corporations, but the government has not collected more than 20% of GDP more than once since the end of WWII. For the most part receipts have varied only narrowly from 18.5% of GDP.

        That is basically because government can not take in more money without sufficiently negatively impacting GDP.

        Put differently you can raise taxes all you want at the top and you will get nothing – except reduced GDP.

  21. October 12, 2012 2:42 pm

    I have to say that this debate was absolutely NOTHING like I thought it would be…..I expected Ryan to be his usual self – wonkish, but with an excellent ability to communicate complicated ideas and policy positions. I also expected Biden to be energetic and charming in his unique way – I have never been able to dislike Biden, and I warned my Ryan-supporting friends that the Congressman would have all he could handle with the combative VP.

    I was right about Ryan – wrong about Biden. Any “debate points” that Biden scored – and he did score a few – were wiped out, in my view, by the way he absolutely beclowned himself, in the most juvenile, unserious, and disgraceful manner. It was obvious that his intent was to display contempt for his opponent, by the incessant smirking, eyerolling, smiling and laughing during Ryan’s serious responses – often about deadly serious issues – as well as his refusal to ever call Ryan by name or to thank him (as Ryan graciously thanked Biden) at the end of the debate, as is pro forma at these events.

    I was at work during most of the debate, which I DVR’d and watched later. But, while I was at work, I got a text from my youngest son. He is 22 and voting in his first presidential election. He has been undecided, at times leaning toward Obama, and, since the debate last week, leaning toward Romney. His text read:

    “I would use the word disgraceful to describe Biden’s performance so far. Constant and inappropriate interruptions and pathetic obvious lies as well as many hail mary appeals to the camera. Ryan is very classy anyone else would have given Biden the finger by now. Or worese” (Sic)

    I think that Biden’s over the top behavior will be the enduring takeaway from this debate. And that will not help Obama.

    • October 12, 2012 2:48 pm

      I agree totally with this assessment. That the hell is funny about deficits, debt, death and destruction? What an asswipe Biden is. This explains why he and Obama have never held a private sector job. It was disgusting.

    • October 12, 2012 2:55 pm

      Oh, and btw, Rick, it was hard to hear, over Marth Raddatz’s interruption, but, when asked if he would impose his pro-life views, Ryan clearly answered that he believed that the answer to the abortion question should be up to the voters, not the courts, so I think that you are mistaken in that impression – which was certainly the impression given by Biden, and, of course, a pillar of the “War on Women” narrative that is so much a part of the Obama campaign narrative.

      I’m a moderately pro-choice woman, and that narrative strikes me as pandering BS. I’m just sayin’…..

    • October 12, 2012 9:49 pm

      I have to agree with you and your son on this one, PR. Biden may be no intellectual, but he’s smart enough to know that people are still talking about Gore’s eye-rolling during the 2000 debates. What was the man thinking? His smirks, chuckles and interruptions were like Gore to the fifth power. Even worse, as you said, his buffoonish reactions were totally out of place in response to the serious issues being discussed. The effect was to make him look shallow and obnoxious in comparison to the earnest Ryan.

      It’s a shame, because Biden scored some important debate points and trapped Ryan on a number of issues (just off the top of my head: the stimulus, Norquist, the GOP holding the middle class “hostage” in the tax standoff, etc.). I’ve always found him refreshingly candid and big-hearted for a politician, but last night he was WAY over the top. I don’t know if he had bad coaching or just thought he could smirk his way to victory, but I didn’t like it.

      • October 12, 2012 10:47 pm

        I agree Rick, that Biden got the better of Ryan a number of times. Biden would have done well without the histrionics, I think, but he apparently believed that Democrats needed some red meat, to attone for Obama’s listless performance. You’ve got to admit that Ryan was unbelieveably unflustered in his demeanor…the only time I saw even a flash of anger was when Biden threw out the “Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy!” when Ryan answered his question to give examples of presidents who cut taxes to stimulate the economy.

        Heh, I read an interesting article today about the possibility of a Romney-Biden administration, should the Electoral College end up tied. The House would elect the president and the Senate the vice-president. It could happen :)

      • October 13, 2012 8:15 am

        Rick,

        Your “big hearted” pol Biden gives virtually nothing away to charity each year. What he is more than willing to give away is tax dollars. Perhaps you should research this topic. On the other hand, Scrooge Romney gives countless millions away and has his entire life. Moreover, when he works on “good causes” he does it for free.

        Facts are really annoying, no?

        “But Vice President Joe Biden is another story. He and his wife donated just 1.46 percent of their $379,035 income to charity. Paltry? You bet. And not unusual. Since Biden took office in 2009, he has made close to $1.1 million. His charitable donations: $16,710. Advice to kids: Don’t go trick-or-treating at the Biden house.”

    • AMAC permalink
      October 13, 2012 12:25 am

      I am not voting for Obama-Biden, but I can’t help but like Biden. I like his story, how he has succeeded and overcome so much. I like how you always know where he stands. I don’t like how he can fly off the handle, as I prefer a little more professionalism out of people in positions of responsibility. I disagree with Biden on plenty. However, I have always felt you would have to be completely partisan not to like him at least a little bit!

      • AMAC permalink
        October 13, 2012 12:47 am

        I will also add that I would never consider voting for Biden for president unless he was running against that chair from the Rep. Convention! That chair took all that crap off of Josey Wales and didn’t say anything.

      • October 13, 2012 8:41 am

        What has he overcome? Yes, he was in a car accident and he lost family members, He gets a pass in life because he was unlucky or a bad driver or both?

        The guy has never held a private sector job and has been a govt pol his entire adult career? Did I miss something in the history books? So, you must like loud, obnoxious, rude pols who bluster their way through a debate?

        “Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. was born in November 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and lived there for ten years before moving to, and growing up in New Castle County, Delaware. He graduated from Archmere Academy in Claymont, Delaware in 1961. In 1965 he earned his undergraduate degree (with majors in history and political science) from the University of Delaware in Newark, and in 1968 he earned his Juris Doctor degree from Syracuse University College of Law. Biden then found work as a public defender in Wilmington, Delaware.”

      • AMAC permalink
        October 14, 2012 11:11 am

        Yes the loss of his family is what I spoke about overcoming. I don’t know how I would react to losing my family and I hope I never have to face that. Maybe, as a family man, I am biased towards that situation. I think that losing my wife and children would be the largest obsticle that I could ever face. And note that I said, “You would have to be completely partisan not to like him a little.” That means that you are exempt from commenting!

      • October 14, 2012 11:38 am

        That last stagement is based on your opinion, which you entitled to. That said, I have a visceral reaction to Biden, always have. Moreover, there are plenty like him on the GOP side, arrogant Aholes that I equally despise. So, sorry, Biden is an Asshat no matter what side of the aisle he sits.

    • October 13, 2012 12:34 am

      the democratic critique of Obama after the first debate was essentially that Obama tried to actually debate – badly. Rather than just verbally body slamming his opponent.

      With the VP debate democrats got what they wanted – and WWF version of a debate.

      but then the left thinks we are all too stupid to think for ourselves.

      • AMAC permalink
        October 13, 2012 12:43 am

        Yes. Clearly there is a conspiracy forming, or already formed, from the left. They hate America and think we are all idiots. How could you conclude anything else? It couldn’t be that they believe they are doing what is best, could it? It is fine to disagree with them, but the rhetoric is mindless.

      • October 13, 2012 8:46 am

        What the left and some on the right are commited to is statism, that level of government where most behavior is proscribed by some form of the Common. That is the new religion, even though we have empirical evidence it cannot every work.

      • October 13, 2012 1:15 am

        I was not claiming any conspiracy – just that in Biden in the 2nd debate the left got exactly what they wanted. It is pretty much what almost all the left criticism of Obama demanded. They were not looking to win the battle of ideas, they were looking for more verbal aggression.

        And the fact that the left think we are all too stupid to think for ourself’s is not some conspiracy it is the overt basis for most of their policies, it is the root of the nanny state, and it is what the left constantly argues directly.

        The argument for regulating political speech is overtly based on the premise that we can not tell true from false.

        I do not believe in majority rule – because aside from preventing us from doing violence to our neighbor, the majority has no right to dictate the lives of individuals.

        But I believe we are each entitled to our opinion – so long as we do not force others to live by it. I believe we are each entitled to vote for whoever we please for whatever reason we chose – including any bad reason you can think of.

        I think that even if ordinary people are ill-informed and stupid they have the right to be that if they chose – and I have the right to buy the biggest billboard or megaphone I can afford to change their mind if I wish.

      • AMAC permalink
        October 14, 2012 11:17 am

        I don’t disagree we all have the right to vote. I am not a member of the “left”. I do not agree that the left thinks Americans are too stupid to make their own decisions. That is a stupid comment, though. Enough on that… I took your stupid test so that I could identify myself as slightly to the right of center and slightly to the libertarian side as opposed to statist. I won’t discuss it again.

  22. October 12, 2012 8:59 pm

    Smirkin’ Joe was at his snideliest, as he ignored the ineffective moderator(?) Raddatz, and interrupted Ryan over 80 times. Raddatz allowed the VP to interject and distract to his heart’s content, while cutting off the more polite Ryan on several occasions. How did the debate commission choose this person to run the debate, and what do we have to look forward to in the next two?

    • October 12, 2012 10:28 pm

      RP: I was appalled by the number of Biden interruptions, too. Raddatz needed to step in and warn him, though I guess that’s easier said than done in Biden’s case.

      • October 13, 2012 12:37 am

        I disagree. I think the debate belongs to the candidates. the moderator should be invisible. I think voters can judge between dominating on the merit of the issues and on pure verbal aggression.

      • October 13, 2012 8:22 am

        You are presuming she was impartial. Not a good assumption I am afraid.

    • October 12, 2012 10:29 pm

      Seriously, I thought Ms. Raddatz was terrible. At times it did seem that she and Biden were double-teaming Ryan, as she interrrupted and cut Ryan off many times,hardly ever Biden. I was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt for a while, and thought that maybe her constant challenging of Ryan’s answers was an attempt to give him a chance to talk over Biden’s interruptions….but once she brought up the abortion question, I realized that she was playing for Biden’s team. No questions on Obamacare, the national debt or the deficit. Abortion, that’s the ticket.

      I don’t know why the GOP agrees to some of these moderators…….

      • October 13, 2012 8:23 am

        I predict that in a week or so, the backlash from Biden/Raddatz will work to R and R’s favor. I heard some of that yesterday on NPR.

        BTW-that backlash is from “undecided voters.”

  23. October 13, 2012 12:22 am

    Rick;

    Again this is why you are a liberal not a moderate.

    It is Ok to have a beleive, it is ok to advocate for it, but it is not ok to “pressure” others.

    Norquist has no power beyond moral opprobrium and the money and resources other like minded people contribute to him.

    Was planned parenthoods pressure on Komen for the Cure evil ?
    How about boycotting Chick-Fil-a ?

    Were these coercion? blackmail ? whether you say yes or no, they are no different.

    How do you distinuguish between legitimate political advocacy and “evil” pressure.

    Your answer is whimsy.

    Politicians make promises all the time.
    I see nothing wrong with trying to make them keep them.
    Those signing Norquists pledge do so because they want his support.

    Nor do I see them as coerced into making them.

    You have no grasp of what is an is not force. You confuse personal inner turmoil with actual external force.

    A political office is not a right. Further you still have these silly ideas about money and politics. Yes Norquists money can help or hurt candidates – but only because voters actually think keeping promises on taxes matter.

    I can spend a billion dollars running adds that say Pres. Obama doesn’t like blue pinstripe suits – and I might sway a handful of votes.

    The purpose of political money is political speech. If Norquists words do not resonate it is irrelevant how much money he spends or how hard he works to get you unelected.

    Worse still – you are not accusing Norquist of lying.
    So basically you are saying it is somehow evil to tell the truth about a politician ?

    How exactly is telling the truth about something that is not even secret evil ?

    • AMAC permalink
      October 13, 2012 12:35 am

      I have no idea how you are interpreting what Rick is writing. What he said is true. Politicians should not be beholden to one man, they are supposed to be accountable to our voters. What Norquist has done is a perfect example of why special interest money should be remove from politics. You don’t see a problem with it because it supports your agenda. And you deduce rediculous conclusions from Rick’s posts because they support your set opinions of him. I don’t know where you come up with some of these ideas. I can’t tell if you are just coaxing him into an argument, or if you really believe what you post sometimes. I am sticking with my original idea that you are an alter ego of Rick’s from his I-phone to up the post count!

      • October 13, 2012 1:02 am

        There not beholden to one man.
        I am interpretting what he said as he said it.
        I can not see any other way to interpret it than that it is wrong to engage in political advocacy if you are going to expect politicians to keep their promises and hold their feet to the fire when they dont.

        I see absolutely no difference between what Norquist does and what MoveOn or any other political advocacy group does EXCEPT, that norquist is perfectly clear. He asks only one thing. He does not go after politicians who don’t raise taxes. When he goes after someone what he says is true.

        This is not about “my agenda”. “Special interest money” is used by the right and the left – democrats receive more corporate contributions than republicans do. I do not care if the Nazi’s or communists raise a ton of money and use it for political speech – it is still speech. It is still constitutional protected,

        Not only do I beleive what I am saying, but honestly the counter argument is so ridiculously self contradictory I really find it difficult to beleive people think otherwise.

        Once upon a time the left actually beleived in free speech too.
        It was the ACLU that fought to allow the Nazi’s to march in Skokie.
        Or the Klan to march wherever.

        The remedy for distateful, offensive speech is more speech.

        When you talk about regulating political contributions – what are you seeking to accomplish ? What you are after is supressing the expression of those ideas you do not like.

        If you do not beleive the outcome would be different – than why are you trying to do this ? And if you do beleive the outcome would be different why do you beleive that ? Do you beleive that voters are being bribed ?
        That is already illegal. No you are affraid they are being persuaded – well guess what, that is speech.

      • October 13, 2012 8:44 am

        There is absolutely NO way to remove “special interest money” from politics. This has been going on since the first day humans started to socialize and in the days of Kings and Emperors. This is a fantasy of the left and the immature.

        Your pet project is my special interest. BTW-they are all special interests to someone.

      • October 13, 2012 9:05 pm

        Thanks, AMAC. But I don’t think even my fertile mind could have invented asmith and his voluminous, data-intensive, elegantly dogmatic comments. He’s a force of nature.

    • October 13, 2012 9:00 pm

      Dave: You’re really doing back-flips to justify the Norquist phenomenon. Neither Chick-fil-A nor its opponents were attempting to blackmail elected representatives or ruin their careers, were they? We’re not talking about simple political advocacy or even lobbyists bribing representatives to do their bidding. There’s absolutely no excuse for a lone unelected citizen deciding who gets to run for office and who gets tossed into the dumpster for disobeying. (It’s not exactly a voluntary pledge if the alternative to pledging is being drummed out of office.) No excuses. As Dr. Johnson used to say, “There’s an end on’t!”

      • October 13, 2012 11:13 pm

        I think you’re blowing Norquist’s influence and power way, way out of proportion.

      • October 14, 2012 8:22 am

        If you are a dem, try being against abortion and see how far you get in politics. Blackmail? Well, maybe.

  24. October 13, 2012 1:18 am

    Some libertarian views on this election different from mine.
    Bothe do a pretty goof job of assessing each candidate.

    http://pjmedia.com/vodkapundit/2012/10/01/the-libertarian-case-for-mitt-romney/?singlepage=true

    http://www.volokh.com/2012/10/11/a-libertarian-perspective-on-romney-vs-obama/#more-65848

  25. October 13, 2012 9:25 am

    This is a great piece and confirms what I suspected about Obama trying to throw Hilliary under the bus. The arrogance and ego in this triangle is just amazing. How sad, four people died for no good reason and all these assclowns can do is posture for political gain.

    Is there a special hell for these folks? I hope so.

    http://dailycaller.com/2012/10/12/the-clinton-obama-rift/

  26. October 13, 2012 1:59 pm

    The natural extension of socialism and of political correctness. Of course, I want my physician to have race adjusted standards as well, right?

    http://tampa.cbslocal.com/2012/10/12/florida-passes-plan-for-racially-based-academic-goals/

    • October 13, 2012 8:50 pm

      Oh, don’t get me started on this issue. The left has a way of both pandering to and insulting minorities at the same time. They create softer standards for them without realizing that they’re unconsciously admitting that blacks and Hispanics can’t keep up academically with whites and Asians. It’s pretty clear that the majority of them can’t, but nobody wants to ask why (because they’re afraid of the answer… and the answer ain’t racism).

      My guess is that blacks tend to be more right-brained than whites and Asians… more intuitive, less reliant on logic. They come from an oral tradition; the written word has never been part of their culture. Unfortunately, for better or worse, western societies generally reward left-brained skills.

      The educational establishment could probably devise special teaching methods that reach minorities, but we’re supposed to deny the existence of racial differences. Well, let them keep denying, and let them watch black kids slip further and further behind.

      • October 14, 2012 8:21 am

        Rick,
        Check my memory on this. In HS, we had plenty of black students. I don’t recall them as being academically inferior in any way? Did we expect lower performance from them as a group? I don’t remember it this way at all. When did this performance gap become the norm?

      • October 14, 2012 10:39 am

        Rick;

        I agree with the first part of your rant. You can not create achievement by lowering standards and expectations. The message that send is “You are inferior”. But that is the message of every progressive objective.
        We owe minorities because they are inferior.
        We owe the poor because they can’t succeed on their own.
        Ordinary people are too stupid to look after their own healthcare, or retirement.

        The best charities grasped this problem long ago. You can not improve an african village by digging them a well. They will not maintain it To create a lasting benefit the village must solve the problem itself, with its own technology and resources.
        “The Ugly American” is about asia not Africa, and it is 50 years old, but the message is timeless. Government foreign aide does not work. Even successful charity is hard,, because the only way to lasting gains is for people to solve their own problems.

        But I part company with you when you start guessing about the causes of inequality.

        Maybe you are right and Blacks are more left brained. I doubt it but it does not matter.

        We are not all equal. Nor do we want to be equal. What parent sends their child to school hoping they will do just as well as everyone else. We want our children to be the best. If not the best at everything then the best at something. We do not want equality.

        if you want a teaching method that will work for Minorities, Women, …..

        It is simple – Life is not fair – get over it. People will make assumptions based on your race, gender, the way you dress, speak, … Some of those you can not control. If you ignore those you can then you are responsible for your own failure.

        To succeed you may have to be smarter, work longer, and harder than others – so what. That is how it is, it is what you must do if you want more.

        But it is not all that hard – because the average person – even moderately successful people do not work that hard.

        Further once you break from the pack, few cares whether you are female, or black or gay.

        Focusing on differences we can not change is counter productive.
        If it is a fact that race actually biases the genetic scales, it still does not do so uniformly. All great musicians and athletes are not black, all great scientists are not white, …..

        My daughter has had one dream since she was three. Achieving that dream requires some skills that she is weak at.

        Should I say “give up your dream, it is too hard for you” or is it my job as parent to push her to inspire her, to say “yes this is harder for you than others, but you can still do it”

        It is what we have had to work hardest for that we value most.

        We are not equal. The only equality we are entitled to is equality before the law. It is our inequalities, or differences that make life interesting, and worthwhile. Our success depends on those differences, We can not all be Beethoven, and a world of Beethovens would not provide the doctors, bakers, butchers, and farmers we need.

        Inequality – unfairness, is a requirement for human success, not an impediment.

        We need to stop wasting our time trying to figure out what “black children” need to perform better, and focus on what Dwane, or Ordalis, needs to reach their dreams.

        We can not manage life, the economy, healthcare, or much of anything else from the top based on aggregate needs and generalizations – even if true. The next Beethoven may be mexican, the next Einstein black, the next Micheal Jordan polish.

        One of the few truly great things that Barack Obama has done is sent a clear message to every minority in this country – particularly children, that you too could grow up to be president.

        That accomplishment is his – he “Built that”, but it also belongs to the nation It belongs to every person who voted – whether for or against him, because of his views not his race.

      • October 14, 2012 10:45 am

        The fundamental basis of liberalism and progressivism is that individuals are fundamentally unable to make good decisions. Therefore, the state must help them by bending the rules and/or making the decisions for them via regulation/subsidies. That has certainly been the modus operandi for the US since the New Deal. Bad idea. Add to that the continual decline in the public school system and you have perfect storm: prove the theory by fixing the game, ie bad schools produce poor thinkers, etc.

        The libertrian/conservative viewpoint is much more supportive of the notion that we as individuals are more able than our liberal friends will admit.

      • October 14, 2012 10:55 am

        Rich: Interesting question about our high school years and whether we had separate standards for blacks back then. When we were in high school, there wasn’t a single black student in the advanced English and math classes. That might have been due to the lingering prejudice against blacks at the time, because we had some pretty smart black classmates.

        Still, nearly every study I’ve seen indicates that blacks score lower on IQ tests, and their SAT scores are way below the median for whites and Asians. Are they less “intelligent”? I don’t think so, because those tests measure a narrow range of mental skills. (All left-brain skills, of course.) But it’s un-PC to admit any racial differences due to innate ability, so there’s probably no research into why blacks score lower and what schools can do to teach them more effectively.

        Instead, they just lower their expectations for minorities, the dropout rates are staggering, and the educational establishment gives literate black students a free pass to college even with substandard scores and grades. This all started with affirmative action in the late 60s, when it was decided that we needed to lower academic standards for minorities to compensate for past prejudice and to artificially boost their numbers in college enrollments.

        I could see the motivation at the time… we needed to jump-start black entry into the middle class. But it’s 40 years later and we STILL set lower standards for blacks and Hispanics. Something’s seriously wrong somewhere, and it starts with elementary education. They need to come up with teaching methods that reach these kids. It won’t be easy, but it’s preferable to 1) a permanent set of separate standards, or 2) having a caste system in which blacks are the permanent underclass.

      • October 14, 2012 11:36 am

        I agree Rick. That said, I have no trouble believing nor accepting that Asian students do better than Caucasians in STEM areas. Whether that is genetic or not, matters to me, not at all. The data is the data. If it is genetic, I can accept that. Why wouldn’t genetic abilities vary?
        Now, to then change standards based on that fact (if it is) is absurd on its face. I WANT the best folks going into STEM even if that means more Asians go than Caucasians. To the individual, the challenge is still the same: how do I excel?

      • Ron P permalink
        October 14, 2012 12:19 pm

        How about setting expectations for all the same and make them high enough that students actually learn something while in school. Then change teaching methods, using technology and methods something like the Kahn Academy, improving the way teachers teach and using 21st century methods like kids learn these days. Stop expecting more money to solve the problem and allow the students to solve the problem by expecting more from them, not less because you think they are less intelligent and can’t learn.

      • October 14, 2012 12:38 pm

        I am with you. At my U, we use some very cool tools that simply don’t cost all that much but are very effective when used with motivated learners. Our public schools are a disgrace in many instances. One might look to restucture them from the ground up.

  27. October 13, 2012 3:33 pm

    A brief, brilliant treatise on tax policy and overall social welfare.

  28. October 14, 2012 8:24 am

    You know, I wanted to mention something about the Biden/Ryan debate that has not come up here yet…

    Although Biden clearly spent the majority of the debate attempting to show that he believed Ryan’s positions – and, I assume all GOP positions on the issues – are laughable, false and beneath his contempt – and, I assume, beneath the contempt of any Democrat – it was Biden in my view who told some real, serious whoppers. It’s one thing to dispute Ryan’s math (the math on federal budgets is complex and twisted beyond belief, so it’s pretty easy for both sides to use their own math to shoot down the other side’s proposals).

    First, he said that he and Obama knew nothing about the Benghazi consulate having repeatedly requested more security in the weeks leading up to the 9-11 attack. He also said that the reason that the administration spent over a week blaming the attack, and the deaths of 4 Americans, on a video, was because that was what the Intelligence Community told them. This, despite the fact that the State has said that they knew within hours that this was a planned attack, having nothing to do with the video. Is it believeable – or even conceiveable – that the CIA and the State Department would not inform the Commander-in-Chief that we had been attacked, and our ambassador killed, in the course of a terrorist attack?

    Secondly, Biden claimed to have voted against both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, because “we couldn’t affort them.” The record shows that he voted FOR both. That is a pretty bold lie.

    Finally, at the end of the debate, Biden said that no religious organization would be forced to provide coverage for contraception and abortion, if it violated their religious beliefs. That is, also, patently untrue, and the Catholic Bishops came out the next day and said so.

    Like I said, these are not your garden variety little lies or flip-flops, these are whoppers, at least in my view. I’m truly stunned that there has been so little coverage of them. I mean, Nixon was impeached for less, right? No one got murdered at Watergate. Or am I making too much of this?

    • October 14, 2012 8:29 am

      Joe Biden lie? Well, I can’t imagine a world wherein that would happen.

    • October 14, 2012 8:45 am

      Priscilla,
      Read this article and I think you will see how blatantly this WH lies. My only hope is that Hilliary is not willing to be thrown under the bus on this and comes out swinging. When you think of it, it would bode her well to do that, given her desire to run in 4 yrs. Why take the fall for these assclowns, who can’t even lie effectively.

      http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/10/what-happened-in-benghazi.php

      • October 14, 2012 1:01 pm

        Dear lord, that article is chilling. I think it speaks volumes that this President prioritized a Vegas fundraiser over finding out what happened and dealing with the ramifications of the attack. I think that he has so detached himself from his actual duties, that, in his mind, re-election really is the far greater priority….it saddens me immensely to say that, but it angers me even more.

        But I may be even angrier at Obama’s enablers in the press, who were so quick to accuse Romney of “politicizing” this attack, while making excuses for Obama’s attempt to minimize what had happened (“bumps in the road”) in order to keep from being politically damaged by it.

        Of course, Romney wants to kill Big Bird, right?

      • October 14, 2012 1:03 pm

        I have never been so angry with a POTUS before (that includes LBJ. This clown is going to ruin this country and that is a tragedy. Special place in hell? I hope so.

    • October 14, 2012 9:16 am

      Biden also voted for the Reagan Tax cuts that “had never been done before”.
      In fact there are numerous historical examples dating back to the twenties of tax substantial tax cuts that have stimulated the economy and maintained or increased tax revenue.

      Biden’s remarks on religious organizations, contraception and abortion are quasi true.
      Any religious organizations that confines its activity to preaching and prosthelitzing is not subject to PPACA requirements to violate religious principles.
      But any religious organization that practices its beliefs by caring for the sick, educating the young, or pretty much anything beyond preaching is not exempt.

      Further any private individual employer is required to pay for services that may violate their beliefs.

      Rick makes a big claim that “corporations are not people”. Yet here is the left giving MORE rights to organizations than to people.

      Whatever the issue. If you can force a church, charity, or business to do something – then you can force an individual (and are forcing at-least one). Conversely there can be no possible more grounds to exempt a church, charity, or business, from something you force individuals to do.

      Our rights in groups are exactly the same as our rights as individuals.

      This is a fundamental truth that Rick and those on the left just do not get. We neither lose nor gain rights by forming groups.

      Rick like to rail against “special intersts” well anytime two or more people gather for a common cause – they are a “special interest”. Now is a special interest. Planned ParentHood is a Special interest, Americans for Tax Reform(norquist) is a special interest, GM is a special interest, MoveOn is a special interest, The catholic church is a special interest, even the majority of voters is a special interest.

      It is as proper for BoA to seek government benefits and protection, as it is for the catholic church to seek exemption from PPACA, or Planned ParentHood to seek public funding, or MoveOn to advocate for exiting Iraq, ir the majority of americans to favor health reform – and oppose PPACA.

      It is all just people advocating for their interest. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

      It is not coercion, or violence to publicly tell a politician – do what I want or I will vote against you and persuade everyone I possibly can to do likewise.

      Nor is it coercion, or violence to publicly tell a politician – do what I want and I will vote for you and persuade everyone I possibly can to do likewise.

      “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”
      ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

      “Life is indeed terribly complicated—to a man who has lost his principles.”
      ― G.K. Chesterton

    • October 14, 2012 9:45 am

      pearows;

      I think Benghazi has more effect on the election than the debates have.
      Yes, Romney got a boost because voters got to see him and Obama without the media filter.

      The Libya story has moved more slowly.
      Since 9/11 we have tolerated restrictions on our freedom for perceived increases in safety. Both parties have adopted that. This administration failed. Killing Bin Laden was justified to keep us safe. There is no running from the failure here. Either you must have the courage to be honest with people and say – government can not assure perfect safety, no matter how much of your rights we take, sometimes bad things happen, otherwise you are stuck with blaming others. This was some nutbar movie producers fault, or embassy securities fault, or an intelligence failure, or …. a long litany of excuses.
      I do not hold Pres. Obama responsible for this – atleast not in any way other that that it now appears clear that there were lots of warning signs months in advance that the administration – the white house chose to disregard. Regardless, bad things will happen.
      My problem is that government – both left and right makes the impossible promise to prevent all the bad things in return for ceding even more of our liberty.

      That said this administration has either lied, or at the very least spoken without knowing the truth. Romney’s remarks that were excoriated at the time, have proven true in every respect. While the white house narrative has proven false.
      This was not caused by a film insulting Mohammad.
      This was not the result of actions by an angry mob.
      This was a well coordinated terrorist attack, planned significantly in advance, likely coordinated with the Libyan security forces helping to guard the ambassador.
      The administration had been warned that Al Qeda and other terrorist groups were growing in power in libya – as that did not fit their narrative it was ignored.
      The administration was told that terrorist attacks against the US in Libya were increasingly likely.
      The Libyan embassy security staff asked for more resources and instead had its resources diminished.
      The administrations rules of engagement deprived those protecting the ambassador of any weapons to do so.

      Whether Libya or Lewinsky, or Watergate, it is not the crime, it is the coverup.

    • Ron P permalink
      October 14, 2012 12:02 pm

      pearows..The absense of Hilliary Clinton in this mess concerning Libya is also telling. It was her department that was responsible for the consulate and she has been missing in action for the most part. I believe it was because she would not go out and tell the lies that Rice told after the attacks. I believe she is still refusing to support the administration in their coverup. Why? Because she still has her eye on the 2016 election and she does not want to say or do anything that will come back to haunt her in the endeavor.

      And once the election is over and if O is reelected, it will be shortly after that Clinton announces her resignation to get the devil “out of Dodge” and distance herself from the mess created by the lies and coverup that is coming to light now.

      • October 14, 2012 12:06 pm

        Based on my reading, the Clinton’s are in full lock down mode. Bill is making appearances for other Dems but has stopped for Barry. He has hired a lawyer to “protect” his wife’s interests. It would be cool if she came out this week and called Barry the liar that he is. IMHO, she would appear to be the hero, he the goat.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 14, 2012 12:29 pm

        One thing for sure, I would not want Hilliary Clinton as an enemy. When you talk about the “Clinton machine”, I believe that is run completely by Hilliary and not much by Bill. Try running her over, and she will make sure the vehicle your in is headed off a cliff. She will protect herself and when the “it” hits the fan, she will be positioned far from the splatter.

      • October 14, 2012 12:35 pm

        I agree and in this one small instance, I hope she moves on Barry today. A small price to pay for getting rid of this clown prince.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 16, 2012 10:50 am

        jbastiat. Well she is taking the fall.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/hillary-clinton-libya-wall-street-journal_n_1969817.html

      • October 16, 2012 11:22 am

        Well, yes and no. She is blaming her call on the security (or lack thereof) on her intelligence experts. However, she cannot take the fall for his lying about the attack being a terrorist action. He perpetrated that little lie all by his lonesome.

  29. October 14, 2012 1:12 pm

    I agree that Hillary has clearly stayed away from the unfolding events. Even more curious to me is the total absence of David Petraeus. Isn’t he the head of the CIA, the agency blamed by Obama and Biden for misleading intelligence about the video?

  30. October 16, 2012 11:01 am

    Ron, the Hillary story is interesting, yet confusing, because there are really two sides to the Benghazi story: 1) why was there not more security at the consulate and 2) why did the administration push the video story for over a week, even though we now know that State knew within 24 hours that the video had nothing to do with it. Hillary’s acceptance of responsibility is only for #1.

    Also, I wonder….will Obama now ask for her resignation, which is generally what happens when a top official takes responsibility for something of this magnitude? Will he explain why he was unaware of the dangerous situation in a country that we only very recently bombed the hell out of and destabilized the government? I mean, my first reaction to this is “What the hell…??”

    • Ron P permalink
      October 16, 2012 11:22 am

      pearows, I think Hilliary will survive until after the election. Yes she is the “boss” and should have known about security or the lack of security. She is the one that will take the fall. But Obama is the “CEO” and the buck stops with him. He will do everything in his power to deflect responsibility and many in the country will give him a pass. For one, they would blindly vote for him no matter how bad he was and two, many could care less what happens as long as it does not impact them directly.

      As long as he keeps preaching his 1%-99% theme, he will attract many voters to his side. And the voters in Ohio will vote for him because the bailout of GM impacted them directly. And that is why I project he will win reelection for another 4 years. Romney could win the popular vote with all the swing states moving toward him, but as long as Ohio goes for Obama, it will be hard for Romney to win the election.

      • October 16, 2012 11:47 am

        Much depends on the fallout of this item and the two remaining debate. Expect the House GOP to keep up the drumbeat on this issue. Many independents don’t like being lied to.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 16, 2012 12:17 pm

        Hope your right.

      • October 16, 2012 12:38 pm

        Me too!

    • October 16, 2012 11:24 am

      In a word, no he will not ask her to resign. He will call it a “judgment call” made by some lower security type and THAT person will resign. He still has the cover-up all over his sorry ass.

      Nixon didn’t break into the Watergate but he sure did try to engineer a cover-up.

    • October 16, 2012 10:11 pm

      The issue with the video story is even more damning.

      Even if the administration did not know this was a terrorist attack that night.

      The video story is still phoney.

      Not knowing the truth does not give you carte blanche to lie.

      Benghazi was not even a protest. It was an attack.

      Beyond that intelligence was reporting for over 6 months that Al Qeda and other terrorists were increasingly likely to do something in the mideast, in libya and Egypt.

      The most reasonable guess was a terrorist attack not a mob incident over a video.

      Further extremists all over have a fixation on dates.

      Waco – April 19, OKC Bombing – April 19. Lexington and Concorde – April 19,

      Everyone in this country as well as the entire mideast knows the significance of September 11.

      IF something happens in the mideast on September 11, the PRESUMPTION should be an organized terrorist attack. not an angry mob ticked off about a youtube video.

  31. October 16, 2012 12:03 pm

    I have a great idea. Given all of this confusion over who is in charge and who knew what and when….. going forward, we should establish a single position in the government, with executive authority over the cabinet, but who also has ultimate military command authority.

    Oh, wait…….

    • October 16, 2012 12:13 pm

      Sounds kind of familiar……

    • Ron P permalink
      October 16, 2012 12:21 pm

      How about a constitutional amendment changing the Presidents term to one 6 year term and then he can stay in Washington and concentrate one what he needs to be doing instead of governing for 30 months and campaigning for 18 months. maybe he would have known if he had been the President and not the campaigner.

      • October 16, 2012 12:39 pm

        I am a huge fan of term limits. I like the one term and out.

    • October 16, 2012 2:50 pm

      Nah, too much concentration of power… it’ll never fly. ;)

  32. October 16, 2012 10:30 pm

    http://nymag.com/news/politics/elections-2012/tea-party-2012-10/

    I think Mr. Rich’s spin and understanding of the nuances of the right are abysmal. His own articals bad perceptions demonstrate the very ignorance that the left has of the rest of us. The spin in this is absolutely awful – reading it was like reading something Ian wrote about the right – everyone to the left of Obama is an extreme radical conservative.

    Regardless, Rich gets one thing correct. The triumph of the right is inevitable.
    It is inevitable because the vast majority of americans grasp that progressive government is an abysmal failure – and that perception of failure is increasing not decreasing.

    The proponents of the inevitable demographic victory of the left forget another facet of demographics – this nation is a melting pot – if anything more so today than in the past.
    Blacks and possibly asians are the only groups that have not been effectively assimilated.

    Hispanics may prove the ultimate solution to the assimilation of blacks as hispanics effectively assimilate both ways.

    I believe I have read that it takes about 3 generations in the US for a hispanic family to become “white” that is about the same as the Irish, Swedes, Italians, …. in the past.

    Hispanics are one of the more conservative minorities. Their bond to liberals and separation form conservatives is most tenuous.

    Further the “pure conservatism” will triumph doctrine is has an element of truth.
    As Reagan noted – the soul of conservatism is libertarianism,

    Personally I find the Tea Party to be a radical shift towards libertarianism for the GOP.

    It is idiots who think that every ideology associated with anyone on the right is extremist, that misperceive the nuances on the right.
    Bachman is NOT Santorum, is NOT Perry, Is not Caine, is NOT Paul, is NOT Bush, is NOT Romney. And Romney is running as someone he is not – if we can actually figure out who he actually is.

    Conservatism will eventually shed most of what alienates others and move towards libertarianism. When it does the left is doomed.

    Purely on the issues Gary Johnson is far closer to the american norm than any other candidate. Libertarians own the issues. They just have not figured out how to get rid of the mispreceptions. They are doing so by taking over the GOP from within.

  33. October 16, 2012 11:29 pm

    Purely on the issues, I agree that Johnson is closer to the American norm. My problem with Johnson is my problem with libertarians in general. They have an opportunity to work within the two party system, and achieve 80% of what they want. But, because they can’t get 100%, they declare that Democrats and Republicans are no different. Just this week, Johnson said that the difference between Obama and Romney is like the difference between Coke and Pepsi. I like Johnson, and maybe that was just the politician in him talking, but it’s nonsense.

    • October 17, 2012 5:34 am

      That is the problem with my libertarian friends (many of them). They can’t win the entire pie, so they refuse to partake. Thinking R and O are the same is just plain silly. You can still strive for libertarian principles but acknowledge that many won’t make the agenda.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 17, 2012 10:59 am

        So are we saying that those that are identified as tea party members are libertarians, because most of those will not give an inch on anything. You could offfer them a 100 to 1 actual spending cuts (not cuts in growth in spending) for every 1 dollar of tax increase and they would vote no becasue they will not compromise on anything.

      • October 17, 2012 11:28 am

        I don’t pretend to be an expert on the Tea Party.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 17, 2012 11:45 am

        I consider myself a Libertarian on most all issues except foreign policy, and even there I accept some of their positions. But I have a hard time accepting the tea party positions where many that have been elected will not accept the fact that tax increases (along with actual spending cuts) will have to happen. Someone has to pay the debts we have run up. Deep down I don’t believe either the republicans or the democrats are going to do anything that will fix the debt we have run up, nor fix the deficits we are running today until something in the magnitude of the PIIGS nations happens to us. That is why I am really torn as to how to vote. My mind tells me that a vote for Gary Johnson is a wasted vote, but it also tells me that a vote for Romney won’t make much difference either except for SCOTUS nominees since congress has the say on debt and deficits. People give the prsident to much credit or too much blame when the economy goes good or bad, much like the quarterback in football. Its a team that controls the outcome, this one being congress and the President.

    • October 17, 2012 6:28 pm

      What liberatarian do you know that wont be ecstatic to get 5% of what they want ?
      Come on!

      what we will not do – which is no different than liberals, is settle for 5% when we can get more, or take 5% and never ask for more. We will compromise regarding what can be accomplished, but not our principles – again no different from liberals.

      Libertarianism and liberalism are both ideologies – though I have a hard time grasping what the real underlying ideology of liberalism is. Conservatism is not an ideology.
      What distinguishs libertarians from liberals is that no good libertarian will allow the ends to justify the means. That is a moral violation. It is a substantial portion of why liberalism is ultimately evil. Small sacrifices of liberty for some purportedly noble greater good are impermissible – we will not compromise on that. Not only is that immoral, but ultimately it does not work. The sacrifice of liberty always grows, and the noble greater good never happens. These are actually related. Good ends rarely come from evil means.

      But as an example, i will agree to allow you to raise taxes any amount you wish on any group you wish – so long as you do so in a fashion that we will be able to get a pretty good future picture of the actual consequences – so that when as is pretty much certain your tax increase does not yield the revenue you expect – which it will not, or even worse decreases tax revenue, that we can put this idiocy to bed.
      I will fight you on increasing spending and decreasing taxes concurrently, or decreasing spending and increasing taxes, because when you do a stupid thing and a smart thing at the same time too many idiots blame the positive results on the stupid thing and the negative results on the smart thing.

      Want to cut government spending – any amount any where, any time, you have my agreement.

      Any other compromises you want to propose ?
      I will be happy to join Liberals in legalizing drugs, prostitution, gambling, gay marriage, … Even in taking tiny steps towards any of those.
      Even tiny steps towards freer trade, towards more open immigration, you got my support. .

      But i will not compromise with Rick on restricting campaign spending, because he is seeking to sacrifice an individual right for an illusory greater good, and that just does not work.

      The difference between Obama and Romney is the difference between Coke and Pepsi.
      What Johnson did not say is that “the engine of the world” is so powerful, that even minor differences can result in better or worse outcomes.
      In the short run Romney is a far better choice for this country than Obama.
      But we still have not grasped that our problems are larger than even Romney’s solutions.
      Electing either will still result in failure, one choice will just buy more time, and postponing failure nearly always makes it worse. So electing Romney will be better in the short run, but worse in the long run. Not because his actions will be bad, but because they will not be good enough.

    • October 17, 2012 6:35 pm

      Pearows;

      We are seeking coalitions with those evil and cray “Tea Partiers” and taking over the GOP. While Johnson is out on his own, and will likely get my support, If the GOP loses either the Tea Party or Libertarian support it is no longer relevant. Any significant minority willing to see the other parties extremists win rather than compromise within their own party has an enormous amount of power.

      In the 80’s the Christian conservatives exercised that power within the GOP.
      More recently it is the Tea Party, libertarians are less strongly affiliated with the GOP, but we vote republican atleast 60% of the time and most of us vote republican 80% of the time.

      That is alot of political power,

    • October 17, 2012 6:55 pm

      Ron, I think that you may be right about the tea party genesis of ‘no compromise’ that I see in many libertarians. I think that the tea party movement has been an overall plus for, not only the country, but the GOP – on the other hand, it has created political intra-party strife over the tea party’s take-no-prisoners approach. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either (I contend that the Democratic Party has been ruined by monolithic leftism), but it is a problem in a closely fought election like this one, when it is clear that the majority of voters want a Congress that is going to compromise and get things done.

      Your position is one that makes some sense to me….a vote for Johnson is a wasted vote, in the sense that Johnson’s chances of victory are zero. And there is at least one major reason to vote Romney – the certainty that, if re-elected, Obama would appoint left-wing judges, not only to SCOTUS, but throughout the Federal Circuit Courts. So, you have a dilemma, because you don’t really believe that Romney can or will do what he promises, but you know that Obama will certainly take us much farther down the path that we are on. Plus, you also acknowledge the reality that any president is limited by Congress.

      All of that is rational to me. I have an extremely high opinion of Romney, but even I do not know if he can do what needs to be done to restore us to fiscal and constitutional sanity. Not because he won’t try, and not because I think that there is anyone better suited and prepared for being president at this point in time….but because the federal government has become so corrupted by crony capitalism and identity politics and our education system has failed to bring up a generation of voters who really understand the issues. But, I am persuaded that, if it is possible, it will only be with a POTUS like Romney that it will get done. (I’ll stop now, because I am starting to sound like a campaign ad, lol).

      Anyway, my point is, you are not saying that there is “no difference” between Obama and Romney, which is my issue. There are many areas where the two parties SHOULD look the same – balancing the budget, ensuring national security, promoting free markets – but propose different ways of getting there. It ‘s those “ways” that make the candidates different than Coke and Pepsi, IMO.

  34. October 17, 2012 7:30 pm

    Ron P;

    There is absolutely no need for a tax increase. Government functioned fine on the 3% of GDP it averaged through much of the 19th century. It did not go bankrupt on the 18% of GDP that was the norm since WWII, Until 2009 it never spend over 20% of GDP except during WWII, Even today we are spending more than 23% of GDP and nearly as much as the peak during WWII.
    Conversely from WWII through the present tax revenues were lowest as a percent of GDP when rates were highest, From 1960 to the present revenues have never been below 15% of GDP nor above 20% regardless of the tax rates. In general tax revenues correspond far more strongly to economic growth than to tax rates.

    An extremely strong case can be made that increasing tax rates will at best decrease GDP and may even reduce revenue.

    Romer & Romer (yes, Pres. Obama’s Romer) produced data that seem to strongly suggest that the peak of the “laffer curve” is at a 33% marginal tax rate – that anything above that actually decreases the revenue government takes in and that since the curve is shallow, that reducing the upper rate as low as 25% will have negligable effect of government revenue (but a significant effect on growth).

    The very economist that Obama cited as purportedly proving that Romney’s 20% nearly flat tax would run several trillion short, has actually come out and said that the growth that reduction in rates would produce would result in a no change in tax revenues.

    The majority of the economic community grasps that increasing marginal tax rates has no positive effects.

    Econ 101 starts with supply/demand curves. When you increase the price of something consumption goes down not up. Increase taxes and whatever you tax you will get less of. If you tax investment – you will get less of it. It takes very little to grasp that there must be a point at which the negative effects of increasing the price of something outweigh the positive benefits. For marginal taxes the point of maximum return is approximately 33%, and the curve is sufficiently flat that the increase in revenue from 25% to 33% is very tiny.

    And that presumes that the objective of taxes is to maximize government revenue.
    Assuming that you are seeking the greatest economic growth – the most per capita wealth, the maximum is below 19% – we do not know how much below because there are very few governments with 19% marginal tax rates.

    The numbers are strongly against this.

    • Ron P permalink
      October 17, 2012 11:25 pm

      asmith. I agree the problem we have today is spending and not revenue. However, in the next ten years, without even an interest rate increase, all of our revenues will be going to defense, Medicare and Social Security. And then add to that another 1 trillion on 20 trillion debt by 2016 and that leaves nothing for anything else.

      So who pays for the 20 trillion of overspending for the past 30+ years. (10 trillion to obama and another 10 trillion since). Seniors with reduced Social Security? Future medicare recipients? Defense? None of these can stand the decrease to pay off the debt, so where does the balanced budget plus 20 trillion over 10-20 years come from? Or do we just leave the 20 trillion on the books and continue to pay China trillions in interest?

      I say we reform tax policy to eliminate mortgage deductions on second homes in Pebble Beach or 3rd homes in Vail CO. Do away with special interest deductions that benefit only a few. Reduce the tax rates to encourage investments, but when someone like Buffett makes millions from investment income and does not pay anything on regular W-2 income, then there needs to be reform where any amount over what is considered the breaking point between the middle income and rich income levels should be taxed as regular income.

      The amount taken in from these changes that is above the normal taxes under the current methods would be used to pay down the debt. Then balance the budget using what is left, with changes to all the entitlements to make them reasonable in their cost.

      Unlike anyone in DC today or anyone wanting to move to DC today, I want the future generations in this country to live as well as my parents. Not as good as I have lived because my generation has lived off future generations money. But living as well as my parents gives them a nice house, two cars, 2-3 kids in college without student loans and some of the nice things that make a house a home.

      Otherwise, they are screwed

      • October 18, 2012 8:28 am

        RonP;
        That shift in spending only occurs if we let it occur.

        I am not a pacifist. I have worked in defense. I beleive our defense budget can be cut by 2/3 – we would still be spending more than anyone else and still be the most powerful military in the world. We would still be ablt to invade almost anyone on whim – we just could not stay forever, which is a bad idea anyway.

        Social Security and Medicare were supposed to be self funding from their own taxes. I have repeatedly tried to pound in that that is a lie and that they are ponzi schemes. People are finally starting to grasp that.

        Social Security and Medicare funding needs to truly be separated into Al Gore’s “locked box”. There are numerous real solutions to their problems, and they are not all that draconian.

        What part of increasing taxes will not get more revenue is difficult to understand ? Yes you can increase taxes – but it will not solve the revenue problem.

        If you actually want more government revenue you MUST target the middle class. It is the only way that will actually produce an increase in revenue.
        This is not about fairness – though I think the tax the rich argument is immoral.
        Do you think that will be popular ?

        Cutting a Trillion dollars a year out of the US budget is not all that hard.
        And it can be done without significantly impacting “social programs”

        As a practical matter though there are enormous other programs, converting the entire social safetynet to single negative tax is about the smartest most efficient and simplest thing we can do.

        What that means is that you basically give the elderly, the poor, the disabled, the …. money and you let them work out how to spend it on their own.

        There are 21m “poor” families in this country – if each was paid $22K/year that would be $500B/year That is less than medicare, less than SS, less than the cost of other social safetynet programs.

        Implementing something like this to minimize the disincentives is problematic but possible.

        One of the BIG problems that both Republicans and democrats have is this idiotic beleif that every problem is solved by the application of more money. Often that just makes problems worse.

        AFTER adjusting for inflation were have doubled even trippled our per student public education spending since the 70’s And quality has gone down. Public schools now cost more than all but the very best private schools.

        I am just using education as an example. The real point is that money solves few problems.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 18, 2012 10:35 am

        asmith..first of all I agree that thowing money at a problem will not fix the problem. That is why I have said many times education can survive in this country and be drastically improved by less money and improved 21st century teaching methods.

        Now you stated that this country can survive with a trillion less being spent than currently by lowering spending. That is true. But to get to where I want to be, it is going to take much more than a trillion. Anyone knows that you can’t change D.C. overnight, so before we get to even a balanced budget we will be 20 trillion in debt or more. Ryans budget doesn’t even get balanced for many years to come. So now we have cut that trillion, but to maintain a balanced budget when historical interest rates return, we need to cut almost another trillion just to pay the increased interest on the debt. So thats 2 trillion. To pay off the debt over another 20 years, that another trillion. So now we are at 3 trillion that needs to be reduced to maintain a balanced budget and to pay off the debt.

        And yes, raising taxes above a certain level does little to improve the economy. But I want tax reform to make the tax structure more equitable. I have asked many different people how does Buffett paying 15% on money he has invested in stock, bonds and other interest bearing accounts create jobs, when the middle class is paying a much higher percentage and they have less to spend on consumer products. Would it not be better to have the middle class paying 15% on W-2 income, while Buffett pays 25-30% on investment income over 250K. How does those invested funds sitting in a stock fund create jobs compared to the middle class being able to buy a car every 5 years instead of 7-10 years? Total revenues may not increase from the shift in taxes, but it would increase because the multiplier effect of the middle class having more to spend in place of Buffett having more to invest in Stock funds would create more jobs due to demand. And last, how does mortgage deductions for yatchs, 2nd and third homes in million dollar neighborhoods benefit the middle class? Fairness is all I want, not differences that benefit special interest groups.

      • October 18, 2012 10:46 am

        The so-called multiplier effect has been debunked on many ocassions. Using that “logic” we can just drop money from a plane and the economy will improve. Sorry, there is no real improvement in our standard of living unless we increasethe overall productivity of resources. We do that by passing less money through a largely useless intermediaries (government) and more directly among ourselves when we judge that it is in our best interests to do so.

        Involuntary transfers do not increase total real wealth, ever. But, they do make some of us feel better and others richer (read politicians).

      • Ron P permalink
        October 18, 2012 11:27 am

        OK, so the multiplier effect doesn’t exist. Four questions.
        1. How do we balance the budget, not just slow the growth of spending.
        2. How do we pay off the debt run up over the past 12 years? (all of it would be good)
        3. Does Buffett keeping his money in investment accounts create more jobs than you or I having 10% less taxes paid to the government?
        4. Does one getting mortgage deductions on multiple vacation homes create more jobs than you or I having less taxes paid to the government?

      • October 18, 2012 11:36 am

        OK, so the multiplier effect doesn’t exist. Four questions. 1. How do we balance the budget, not just slow the growth of spending. 2. How do we pay off the debt run up over the past 12 years? (all of it would be good) 3. Does Buffett keeping his money in investment accounts create more jobs than you or I having 10% less taxes paid to the government? 4. Does one getting mortgage deductions on multiple vacation homes create more jobs than you or I having less taxes paid to the government?

        1-Stop/reducing spending on things the Feds should not be doing (Dept of Education for example). That is a total stop. Reduce foreign aid and military spending, greatly.

        2-See above. Also, start collecting the real actuarial benefit costs for future promised benefits. Once citizens see the real cost, they may, in fact, rebel at having these programs or may assent to reducing future benefits when faced with real present costs.

        3-A silly question. No one knows and really why should we care? Taxation should be about raising the requisite (minimum) amount of money needed to fund essential services, nothing more. Why should Buffett (or anyone) be taxed tied to their job creating value (as if that could be calculated?).

        4-Tax deductions are a silly attempt to manipulate behavior. In this case, the mortgage deduction artificially lowers the cost of home ownership, creating a distorted view of the real cost of homes. Why should renters subsidize home owners? Are they more or less virtuous?

      • Ron P permalink
        October 18, 2012 11:55 am

        “Taxation should be about raising the requisite (minimum) amount of money needed to fund essential services, nothing more. Why should Buffett (or anyone) be taxed tied to their job creating value (as if that could be calculated?)”.

        Excellent answer. To bad that making the tax code match this position will never happen. If it did, you, I and Warren would all be paying the same rate. But this is the arguement used to promote a 15% rate for investments compared to a much higher rate for W-2 earnings. “Lower rates on investments create jobs” . Really???

        One rate for everyone on everything generating what is needed to fund an efficient government.

  35. October 17, 2012 7:33 pm

    Dave, I am fully aware of the coalitions being built between libertarians and Republicans, and, as a moderate Republican with libertarian leanings, I welcome them, because, like most coalitions, the self-interest of both sides is enhanced by more political clout. But, to stop short of supporting a candidate at the top of the ticket, when that candidate is not only acceptable, but has a real chance of winning, seems to me like saying “well, my militia is going to join your army, but when the general says that it is time to go into battle, we might attack somewhere else, or maybe not at all, because we don’t really think that the enemy is any different that this army.”

    Maybe the army analogy is weak, but you get my point. No way to run a coalition.

    • October 17, 2012 8:42 pm

      The most powerful member of any coalition – the one who will get the most of what they want is the smallest group that can walk and change the outcome.

      Libertarians and fiscal conservatives are learning they will never get what they want from the GOP so long as they are reliable votes.

      Social conservatives were in this position several decades ago.
      Democrats have similar problems – actually far worse problems.
      Obama must be pro-immigration and anti-immigration concurrently.
      Most minorities are recent immigrants, they vote democratic and immigration is a big issue for them. Most unions are strongly anti-immigration, they vote democratic and immigration is a big issue for them. There are atleast as many stress fractures in the Democratic party as the GOP.

      2010 resoundingly demonstrated the power of a sufficient group who was willing to go there own way if they did not get what they wanted – the Tea party.

      Too many on the left and in the media seem to think that the tea party and OWS are somehow equal. The Tea Party got large numbers of local, state, and federal government officeholders elected. They did so by making it perfectly clear they would torpedo purportedly moderate candidates to get there way. They were willing to lose the battle to win the war.

      Libertarians are learning that. Ron Paul may be unhappy with Romney as a choice, and Gary Johnson may have left the GOP for the moment. But Ron Paul has made it perfectly clear tot he GOP that libertarians are here too stay. The GOP has never been able to win without them – but today they are organized – not as a fringe party that is not going to matter, but as a major power within the GOP. One that is willing to make demands, and willing to sit on their hands when they do not get what they want.

      I am sure you think this is childish – but it is the very method that has moved this country so far to the left, and it is the method with the greatest chance of moving it back.

      As Mr. Rich pointed out in the article I linked to poll after poll show overwhelming support for far less government – yet Romney is campaigning as Obama lite.

      He needs to embraces his 47% remarks. He needs to step up and say:

      If you would rather be on food stamps than have a job – vote for him.
      If you are more interested in how much government will give you than how much you can keep for yourself – vote for him.
      If you are more interested in the present than the future – vote for him.
      If you would rather be on the dole than have a chance to do well on your own – vote for him.
      If you want government to tell you how much soda you can drink, what medical care you can have,
      If you think you should go to jail for blogging about health – vote for him.
      If you think government tracking your garbage is a good idea – vote for him.
      If you think a lemonade stand should need a permit – vote for him.
      If you think that you should need a permit to hold a bible study in your home – vote for him.
      If you think government should stop you from feeding the homeless – vote for him.
      If you think public schools should inspect the lunches parents pack for their kids – vote for him.

      If you think think we need more government – vote for him.

      But this is not what he is saying.

      Here is a piece by Mark Cuban about Governor Romney’s tax plan.
      Though the most critical part is about Romney himself.
      It is not negative, but it does reinforce the the Romney as Obama-lite.
      Romney goes into this with far more experience than already president Obama.
      But exactly like Obama in 2008, Romney goes in not with faith that WE will make things work on our own, but the HE can step in and make things work better for us.
      It is precisely the same Hubris.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-cuban/governor-romney-tax-plan_b_1960967.html

      The solution to our problems is not in the RIGHT government policies. It is in less government. Yes the top down statism of the right is less damaging than that of the left.
      But the real cliff is out there, it is miles deep, when we go voer the edge it will not matter whether we are going 10mph or 80.

      • October 17, 2012 9:23 pm

        I don’t think it’s childish. I think it’s self-defeating. The left loves it when libertarians and conservatives attack each other, and it empowers them.

        And, I don’t think that Romney thinks that he,personally, will change things – certainly not in the way Obama “healing the planet” sense. I think that he believes that a skilled and competent public servantcan make a difference.

        If that is not true, then I’m afraid we’re in bigger trouble than you think.

      • October 17, 2012 9:38 pm

        Dead on!

      • October 17, 2012 9:36 pm

        Dave,.as one libertarian to another. Get you head out of your ass and vote for Mitt. You can try to convert the rest of the GOP later, after we retire Barry to wherever the hell he came from.

    • October 17, 2012 9:34 pm

      I agree with Priscilla. As a libertarian, I would love have a candidate that could actually win. That said, I think Mitt is a decent and very smart, able candidate that could be President. Can he win, Yes. Is he better than Barry. WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY better.

      This is a time to vote for the country and it is very clear that a vote for Gary Johnson is an exercise in egotism.

      Dave, Wake UPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP.

  36. October 17, 2012 7:54 pm

    RonP;

    The presidents ability to improve things and his ability to make things worse are not symetrical. The president does have very little ability to improve the economy, but he has a great deal of ability to make it worse.

    Numerous economists have countered Roggoff’s “financial crisis are different
    “meme. First this mess is no more a financial crisis than the great depression was caused by a stock market crash. On October 19, 1987 the stock market had its largest percentage single day crash in its entire history – and nothing of consequence happened.
    This event was preceded by the S&L crisis and likely caused by it we did not even have a recession until three years later. Financial crisis are not different.

    The severity (depth) of a recession/depression is proportionate to the magnitude of the false wealth created by the preceding boom.
    The duration is proportionate to the efforts of government to ameliorate the effects.
    Basically Government stimulus can diminish the depth, but at the expense of prolonging the duration – and the net economic harm – the area under the curve, is greatest when government is most activist.

    Worse still than stimulus is government uncertainty. The more unknowns the greater the risk the lower the investment. As an example the major problem with the upcoming “fiscal cliff” which is a speed bump compared to our future problems, is that investors have no clue what will happen. The market can adapt to certain increases in taxes, and certain decreases in government spending. But it can not adapt to uncertainty.
    I doubt that the Bush cuts will actually get repealed, but I actually expect some growth regardless – even if congress allows them all to expire which would be a bad thing, it would actually be less bad than not knowing. With know tax rates investors can make choices as to how to invest. With unknown future taxes investors do nothing because their choice depends on knowing what will happen.

    The extreme duration of the great depression is more likely do to FDR’s schizophrenic policy shifts rather than his socialism. There were many real pro growth policies of the Roosevelt administration, but these changed from year to year seemingly at whim. investors were unable to make even short term decisions.

    Put differently bad news is often better than no news. We go to work to overcome obstacles. We sit on our hands when we do not know.

    I expect that the economy will improve slightly after the election, it nearly always does. Regardless of who is elected.

    • October 18, 2012 8:17 am

      Dave, I think that it is true that any president has more ability to make things worse than to make things better. We agree that the current president has made the current economic climate worse.

      But I still don’t understand – and I fear I’m now badgering you, sorry – why you are so certain that a president who comes into office with an agenda to reform entitlements, reduce the tax burden on businesses and individuals and reform entitlements, is so certain to fail in almost precisely the same way as one who comes in with a big government agenda. I think I understand you to be saying that it’s simply a matter of going over the cliff more slowly as opposed to hitting the gas pedal.

      I guess I see it less as driving on a straight road toward the cliff, and more as driving a rocky, hilly road on which we are now hurtling downhill, and I’d like to, at the very least, get on a plateau and pull over to a rest stop. Maybe just to get a coke or a pepsi ;), but I think it would be a good idea to elect someone who will get out of the car and maybe look at a map (I know, everyone uses GPS now).

      • October 18, 2012 8:24 am

        Speaking as a libertarian, I can tell you that as a rule, we tend to be in love with our sense of pessimism and purety. That is why we end up where we are and that becomes a badge of courage, in a sense. “We are simply too viruous to compromise.”

        Of course, that is not very workable when one tries to govern, which is why we have no libertarians of note in office, save our crazy uncle Ron Paul.

      • October 18, 2012 11:51 pm

        Pearows;

        As Mark Cuban noted in his essay Romney’s claims depend entirely on both his personal confidence and his real ability to create impossible deals.

        Though some of the spin is different, and the focus is different this is exactly the same hubris that then Sen. Obama sold us in 2008.

        The core of Romney’s claim is that a strong leader and a powerful government header the right direction can make a difference.

        On every point that is wrong.

        We need weak leadership – we need government to get out of the way. We need individuals to take initiative for themselves, not follow a strong leader.
        We need a leader strong enough NOT to leader.

        The more powerful the government the worse our problems get. It is irrelevant whether that is rightwing power, left wing power or even moderate power. Power corrupts – more importantly concentreated power always leads in the wrong direction – because there is not a single direction we should be headed. We are not all the same, we do not want the same things.

        Government is NOT business. Success in business rarely comes at the expense of others. While most every exchange outside of government is a win-win, nearly every one involving government has a loser.

        Look at the lefts tax arguments. There is no attempt to hide the fact that one group is being punished to benefit another. We do not improve through lose-win exchanges.

      • October 19, 2012 8:09 am

        Dave,

        To make the government smaller (less instrusive) would require a leader of immense capability and strength. Mitt may not be that man; no one may be able to do it. But, it won’t happen unless the leader actually knows this needs to be done in the first place .Romney may know that, Obama certainly is 180 the other way.

        So, we have a choice. Personally, I am not wasting a vote on G. Johnson because he sings from my hymnal. While I am arrogant, even my arrogance and pride has its limits.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 19, 2012 11:22 am

        jbastiat..Smaller government will happen, but not due to leadership. Little will be done until economics requires a smaller government. We are following the European model.

      • October 18, 2012 11:54 pm

        Pearows;

        Sorry; we are headed towards a cliff.
        Maybe one driver will go faster and the other slower, maybe one will chose the bumpy path and the other run us accross the smooth plateau,

        But not too far in the distance is the cliff. the edge is sharp, and the drop deep.

      • October 18, 2012 11:59 pm

        i really hate using wikipedia as a source for political questions rather than data, but they have the best collected source I know of Romney’s views on numerous subjects over time.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Mitt_Romney

        Given almost any issue there is atleast once that he has aligned with my views, and once when he has been totally at odds.

        What Romney are we electing ?

        Obama proved quite well that once elected presidents neither have to keep their promises nor do a good job.

        Why do you expect Romney will keep his promises – and in some instances why should I reasonably hope he does not ?

  37. October 18, 2012 10:49 am

    And as if to prove my point, please see this link:

    http://mises.org/daily/6232/Why-Estonia-Is-Beating-the-Eurozone

  38. October 18, 2012 5:31 pm

    jB and Ron P–as you trek deeper and deeper into the weeds about the taxation issue/fairness argument, doesn’t it feel to you that you are quibbling about how to rearrange the furniture on the Titanic? The system of taxation we have now has been massaged for decades to benefit various interests, and has turned into a beast that does not serve the interests of the country.Once again, I recommend the FairTax, a consumption based tax that can totally change the game. BTW, trying to send a message to someone by voting for Johnson is a fool’s errand destined to ensure four more years of OJT for Obama (Re: Ross Perot?)

    • October 18, 2012 6:14 pm

      I am not treking anywhere. If it were up to me, our tax return form would be one page long and the tax return firms would be out of business. Moreover, I am the record for voting for Mitt. A vote for Johnson is a vote for Obama IMHO.

    • Ron P permalink
      October 18, 2012 11:24 pm

      RP. I agree that the tax code is a mess. As for the form, I think it can be on a card placed in an envelop with the appropriate bio info, then about 8-10 or so lines. W-2 earnings, Investment earnings, other earnings, total earnings. tax rate (ie 18%), total earnings times tax rate, withholdings, difference (refund or send a check). (18% is for example only, I don’t know what it would take to fund a balanced budget that spoent money wisely and paid off the debt over 20 years)

      I am not convinced yet on the fair tax or consumption tax yet. I see that as another way to shift the tax burden further from those making millions on investment earnings and save a much higher percentage of their income than those middle income families just making ends meet, I do not mean the ones that have all the new toys the day they come out. I speak of the family of 4 making 50K and trying to pay for state college tuition so the kids don’t end up with 20 years of debt to pay off.

      I believe in a fair tax that taxes all income at one rate regardless of source, with no deductions for anything.

      As for voting for Johnson, I will be voting for Romney. but my heart and mind is much closer to Johnson than the others. Maybe if enough people voted their heart and mind and not fear of the other candidate, we might have the Green Party and Libertarians on a closer basis with the two parties that are bought and paid for by special interest. maybe then we would have choices that everyone could be voting FOR.

      • October 19, 2012 12:13 am

        If you have a flat tax only on personal income collected at dispersal, you do not need a tax return at all.

        No one will vote for the Johnson’s of the future unless someone does now.

      • October 19, 2012 8:19 am

        Personally, I would not waste a vote on Johnson. Obama needs to go, now.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 19, 2012 11:26 am

        If money dominated politics in the 1700’s and 1800’s like it does today, would we still be voting for the Federalist or Whig Party candidate? Money is the reason the Green Party and the Libertarians can not get a viable candidacy going, not their political views

      • Ron P permalink
        October 19, 2012 11:04 am

        And if you mean personal income at dispersal meaning when you and I buy something, therein lies my problem with the flat tax. It is much the same as a sales tax used by the states and is highly regressive. I believe in a tax where everyone pays the same percentage of their income in taxes. The lower the better. I do not believe it is “fair” for someone making 10 million in interest income spends 200K and pays 20% flat tax on the 200K of 40K for an effective rate of 4/10th percent of total income compared to a family of 4 making 50K, spends 40K, pays 20% flat tax or 8000 for an effective rate of 16% on income.

        Many conservatives believe that a lower tax rate on investment income generates jobs. Many liberals believe that those with millions to invest are doing nothing but getting richer off the backs of the middle class and want the rich to pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than the middle class.

        I fall right in the middle. We all pay the same effective rate on all forms of income, thus reducing tax rates for some, increasing tax rates for others and everyone is paying the same rate, with no special interest deductions or exemptions. A single women will pay the same rate as the family with 10 kids and the same rate as Warren Buffett.

  39. October 18, 2012 8:30 pm

    jB– that last comment about voting for Johnson was meant for less rational libertarians than you. As far as the tax issue is concerned, even a one page tax form leaves much potential for continuing idiocy. The FairTax would rid us of tax forms entirely (and the IRS, to boot).

    • October 19, 2012 10:20 am

      I grasp that a vote for Johnson might result in Obamas re-election.
      I am OK with that.

      The Re-election of Obama is likely to leave the anti-progressive opposition truly independent. The return of the GOP to power will likely result in the supression of dissent within the GOP.

      Which do you want – a GOP that presides over a decline that is at best not as bad as what would have occured had Obama been elected AND is blamed for it ?
      A GOP where Mitchell, Boehner and Romney are whipping the entire party to toe the line ?

      Or another 2-4 years of opposition ? Another 2-4 years holding progressives responsible for the mess they have created ?

      2010 was a major water shed. Middle aged voters were out protesting in the millions.
      Last time something like that happened was when this nation was born.
      That was a huge deal OWS was meaningless.
      That disatisfaction is still out there.
      Distrust of government is as high as ever and rising.

      As I noted before Johnson’s platform – without party labels is overwhelmingly supported by a huge percentage of people – if we voted for policies and not people in a 3 way race that libertarian platform would still command more than 50% of votes.

      I am not suggesting that people are going to vote for Johnson. But I am suggesting that they still know what they want and it is not what Obama or Romney are offering

      You think it is a waste to vote for what you actually want.
      I think it is a waste to vote for the lessor of two evils, when what you want is a choice.

      Further I am not thinking about this election – but the next and the one after that.

      If elected Obama will fail. I think most of us grasp that.
      What will the results of an Obama re-election and failure be ?
      I see Obama’s re-election as empowering the libertarian and Tea Party factions of the GOP.
      I see an Obama failure as significantly eroding confidence in Progressivism.

      We have some time before heading off the real cliff. We can afford 4 more years of Obama – if it results in a real about face.

      What are the consequences of electing Obama-Lite ?

      i will admit that if he could actually pass it Romney’s tax package would be stimulative far beyond belief. I think the likelihood of its being passed intact are slim to none, and I think that most of what Romney can manage to get in tax reform is coming anyway – even under Obama. I wish Romney had taken the last real step and gone all the way – flat tax excluding the first 20,000 of income, with no deductions. No business taxes, capitol gains treated as income, eliminate ALL government subsidies. Transform all “entitlements” to fixed cash grants, if you are disabled, or in poverty or … you receive a fixed amount of cash from the government – no food stamps no school lunch, no medicare, no …. do whatever you want with that money. blow it on drugs if you want, but you are not getting more. It is just as offensive to tell the poor they can not buy caviar with food stamps as it is to tell cinema patrons they can not buy 64oz drinks.

      Other consequences of Romney ?

      The GOP will have to govern, and it will have to succeed – it is not ready for that yet.
      There will be enormous pressure to stifle GOP disenters.

      Sometimes god curses us by giving us what we want – that is how I feel about Romney.

      • October 19, 2012 10:29 am

        Dave,

        You sound just like a Marxist revolutionary. “Yes, the future will be terrible, many lives will be destroyed, but it is WORTH it because then, we will purge the system of these infidels and reach true heaven on earth. Seriously? Karl Marx redux, except for the 180 on direction.

        So, suppose by some miracle, Johnson won this election. Then what? Do you seriously think the Congress would be filled with Libertarians, ready to embrace Von Mises? Get real, the vast majority of folks simply are not on the same page as you are, nor care. They want SOME relief from the misery of the last four years.

        As I tell my students all the time: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”

        As for who you vote for, do whatever you want. In the end, Romney will win (IMHO) and the Marxist will retire to Hawaii and the world will work just a wee bit better in 2013. I will take a sure incremental improvement over a pipedream called Gary Johnson any day.

  40. October 19, 2012 12:11 am

    Jbastiat;

    Libertarianism is the most optomistic political philosophy there is. It requires believing that individuals acting in their own self interests will nearly always benefit us all.
    It requires a great deal of faith in people. It is liberalism that is pessimistic.
    Rick does not trust that voters can see past money. He thinks that With enough money we could be persuaded that Torquemada was Mother Theresa.

    Libertarians beleive in a better future – even if not some libertopia, still a place where free people have produced ever more, where our standard of living is higher, where ever more of our income is used not for food, clothes and shelter, but our wants and desires rather than our needs. They beleive that energy (and most everything else) will be even cheaper and more plentiful in the future

    It is not about some virtuous purity. It is about understanding that out of human chaos comes spontaneous order. That you build from the dirt up, not the sky down.

    • October 19, 2012 8:15 am

      Thanks for the lecture (once again). Given that I teach (largely) Austrian Economics, I think I might know something about libertarianism. That said, your statements here do not reflect those of an optimistic person and I think I am correct in saying so. Indeed, your daily lecturing is an example of why I believe Libs will always be a fringe party. Yes, you sound like you believe in the indvidual but your rhetoric is so consistently downbeat, I don’t think anyone here would like to have a glass of wine with you at happy hour.

      Lighten up pal, we all die, eventually.

      • October 19, 2012 1:04 pm

        I am not interested in some kind of anabaptist spat where we form our own separate warring churches because you want to baptise by dunking someone twice forward and once backward, and I think it should be three times backward.

        Progresivism is the enemy.

        I am contrarian, not pessimistic.
        I have zero doubt that the long term future will be better than today – even if I do not know exactly how. I also know that the magnitude of the improvement will be directly related to the extent we are free.

        But I am not afraid of failure. I think we can screw up badly enough to destroy our government as it is. I do not think there is any chance of catastrophic societal collapse.

        If the US dollar became worthless tomorow. If government became permanently unable to function, all kinds of really bad things would happen – and in a few weeks or even days we would adapt and move on.

        If that massive destruction actually cleaned the slate of the bad ideas that hold us back we would quickly be much better off than we were before.

        I am not afraid of failure. I am not afraid of going over the cliff.

        What I am afraid of is that we will neither fail nor succeed – dragging out a slowly decaying status quo is worse than failure.

      • October 19, 2012 1:19 pm

        Yes, I get that you are not afraid of failure. However, I would suggest that you assign some probabilitiies to the negative outcomes you project and your certainty that it will all work out. If you are wrong, the pain and suffering is not inconsequential. No man, is an island.

      • October 19, 2012 1:08 pm

        Why do you think my “Lecture” was pessimistic ?

      • October 19, 2012 1:23 pm

        Like all zealots, you seem to believe that you have some special insight that makes your world view unassailable. That comes through in many of your lectures. I certainly embrace libertarianism and individual freedom. That said, I get how wrong I may be in my assertions about how this could all work. Austrian Economics is NOT a science, but a way of framing and understanding human behavior. Beware hubris, Dave, it strikes all of us from time to time. In your case, perhaps it has stuck around?

  41. October 19, 2012 5:06 pm

    Jbastiat;

    So what do you think is the worst case failure we are likely to see and its probability, and its possible consequences ?

    Overall I suspect I think the odds of a serious calamity are higher than you do, but the real consequences are less than you do.

    I keep ranting that “money is not wealth” it is just the way we measure wealth.
    Nothing that can happen with government or money alters the real wealth we actually have.

    The recent housing market bubble bursting had absolutely no impact on the real wealth of the country. But it had a radical effect on how much wealth we thought we had.
    In a very short time much of the false wealth we thought we had created in the preceding decade turned to dross. The impact on real wealth was primarily a reduction in growth – or future value.

    What forthcoming catastrophe is going to occur that is going to cause all our accumulated real wealth to vaporize ?
    What is going to cause or factories to crumble, or homes to burn, …. ?
    We are not facing real destruction – like global thermonuclear war.
    We are facing the failure of ideas. That generally results in improvement.

    We had massive political collapse in the USSR – did everyone there suddenly starve ?
    Most of these countries went from a socialist economy to no economy to a free market economy in weeks.

    Absolutely there were winners and losers. Worse still some nations of the former USSR made poorer choices and suffered worse consequences.
    But in every nation and in most every way they are all doing better than 20 years ago.
    They were all doing better within weeks or months.

    No they were not all doing well – but they were in bad shape to start.

    What is the end of the world scenario you are afraid of ?

    What I am afraid of is decades of the mess we have now.
    actually we can’t have that, because 1% growth is extremely fragile. We must improve or get worse, we can not stay where we are for long.

    I will be happy to agree with the President, the actions of government may have prevented something worse.
    But worse only would have lasted a few months and recovery would have been both swift and steep.

    In exchange for chopping the bottom out of this recession we have bought atleast 4 years of stagnation – do you think that is a fair trade ?
    How many more people would you be willing to see lose homes they could not afford (and probably lost eventually anyway), in exchange for quickly bringing unemployment back to 5% ?

    • October 19, 2012 5:15 pm

      I think it is hard to say how this all turns out. It appears that most developed nations are in a race to see who can print money the fastest. One could imagine that in the end, this will all cancel out, ie that the currency inflation simply offsets on both sides of the world. That said, I certainly DON’t endorse this approach, as I believe it is insane.

      Now, if Romney gets elected, I believe Uncle Ben is a goner. My candidate for the Fed Chair is Richard Fisher from Dallas, a fellow Wharton Alum. While still a banker, he has been antis-timulus for many years. Of course, Romney has all kinds of challenges to face. It would help if he carried the Senate and kept the House. I think Mitt has the right instincts but he will be President, not a King, so like anyone who gets elected (even Gary Johnson) he will only be able to accomplish what he can negotiate. He is a very able negotiator (upon report) but he is indeed, only a human being.

      I am praying for the best, expecting the worst. What else can I do?

      • October 19, 2012 9:21 pm

        Thus far the money machines have mostly failed.
        The US has exported a small amount of inflation – US caused spikes in food prices are a big part of the unrest in the middle east.
        But internally we have had little. The something like $3T the Fed has dumped into the market is just sitting. Velocity is pathetic – we are truly in the midst of a Capitol Strike that would make Rand proud. But that can not last forever. As velocity increases the Fed has to yank money fast enough to avoid inflation but not so fast as to kill the economy. Not likely an easy job. Dumping it in was far easier.

        It does not matter whether the EU and the rest of the world matches us in printing money. The results still devalue what people already have and are particularly destructive at the bottom.

        I do not believe that even Bernanke is going to allow more than moderate inflation. Despite the fact that I do not think he has a clue what he is doing, the Fed is not even close to our biggest problem moving forward.

        The big problem is we can not even come close to affording what we are already committed to. We are going to have to accept that we have lied about some of the commitments we have made.

        Even in the perfect progressive model where increased taxes have no negative economic consequences there is not enough money in the top 20% to cover our commitments with a 100% tax.

        We have already cross the line where our debt bogs the economy down.

        How do you think we are going to manage to pay for social security and Medicare ? Neither candidate has honestly addressed that. Pre candidate Ryan has come the closest.

        And remember every 10% of GDP spent by government reduces growth by 1%/year. Assuming 2 vs 3% growth that is 8T in the fist decade of lost wealth. that is 28K for every person in the country. That is an unbeleivable number of jobs.

      • October 20, 2012 9:34 am

        I agree, Uncle Ben is clueless. If he does try to put on the brakes, I would love to see how THAT will work. Inflation is not a genie that goes back easily into the bottle. I remember that from the late 1970s.

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