Sep 15 2008

If only reporters understood economics

Category: economy,election 2008,McCain,media,Obama,Palin,politics,taxesharmonicminer @ 3:57 pm

Sarah Palin criticizes Obama’s tax plans, and the AP seems to think it has corrected her, by stating an irrelevant piece of data. (not to mention a largely wrong one)

Campaigning on her own, the Alaska governor also said Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama “wants to raise income taxes and raise payroll taxes and raise investment income taxes and raise business taxes and raise the death tax.

“But John McCain and I know that’s not the way you grow the economy,” she added.

In fact, independent groups such as the Tax Policy Center have concluded that four out of five U.S. households would receive tax cuts under Obama’s proposal, which include higher income and payroll taxes only for the wealthiest wage-earners.

Note that Palin did not say that Obama was going to raise everyone‘s taxes.  But the AP responds with a “fact check” from the Tax Policy Center that implies she did.  Surely this is simple failure to understand plain English. 

Speaking of plain English, four out of five U.S. households cannot receive income tax cuts, because two out of five U.S. households pay no income tax at all.  The last time I looked, two plus four does not equal five, a fact that apparently escapes both the AP and the Tax Policy Center.  Giving “tax cuts” in the guise of “refunds” to people who would not pay tax anyway is not a tax cut, it’s welfare, plain and simple.  It’s old fashioned socialistic confiscation/redistribution.

Speaking of the “independent” Tax Policy Center, while it is not directly affiliated with either party, it is most assuredly Left leaning, and usually favors Democratic policies.  They are sometimes subtle about it (although not in this case, calling a give-away a “tax cut”), but they are not possessed of Olympian detachment.

It would be more impressive (as journalism goes) to match the perspective of the Tax Policy Center with one from the Club for Growth, or the CATO Institute.  Both of these are also “independent” and “nonpartisan”, but simply more likely to lean Right. 

You can form your own opinion about why the AP would not seek their input in interpreting Palin’s statements.  I have mine.

In the meantime, what Palin said, quite clearly, is that if all of Obama’s tax plans are carried out, regardless of whether low-tax payers and non-tax payers get a short term “tax cut”, the economy is far less likely to grow vigorously than under McCain’s plan.  That economic growth would provide much more benefit to low- and non-tax payers than a single short term check, whether “tax cut” or “welfare”.

Go back and read her quote.  The APs rejoinder, masked as input from an “independent” think tank, is completely irrelevant to the point.

Embarrassingly, the AP seems not to know that.

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Sep 15 2008

Why the Left is flummoxed by Sarah Palin

Category: election 2008,McCain,Obama,Palin,politicsharmonicminer @ 9:25 am

Essentially, the Left thought it had a “magic candidate” in Obama.  He would be beyond normal criticism.  He would be both person and symbol.  He would speak with such power and transcendence that normal considerations of logic and rhetorical connection would not apply.  His mystical relationship with the message of the future of mankind would resonate in each person of good will without having to be explained in detail.  We would all just know that he was “the one” to change everything.  Indeed, he seemed untouchable: though there were scandals and questionable relationships in his background, it seemed not to matter to the electorate, surely another sign that he was blessed.  What other presidential candidate could have gotten away with being friends with terrorists and America haters?  Surely it must have been because people could see through these surface things to the soul beyond, and were moved by its purity and grace.  (After all, Jesus associated with publicans and sinners, and elevated them by His presence.)  His meager background was almost a plus, proving his uniquity and special annointing.  He was untouchable.

And then came Sarah.  She was, in most ways, the exact opposite of Obama.  She spoke simply, and clearly.  She seemed to get away with just being herself (unlike Obama, she was the same on home video as on stage before tens of thousands).  She did not appear to self-consciously cultivate an image or presence: she simply was.  She did not seem to need a script.  Shooting from the hip (literally and figuratively) she was on target.  People simply responded to her.  And despite the best the a scandal mongering media could throw at her, she simply sailed above it all, and let her acolytes defend her.  There were pleny of acolytes.

Obama was supposed to be special.  He would not have to make sense according to the normal rules of logic and evidence, because to know him created a faith that transcended the merely rational.

Yet, here was Sarah, actually making sense, very simple, unassailable sense, artlessly appealing to the perceptions of the people as the outsider who was the real agent of change, the unknown, waiting in the wings, whose time had come.  She, too, was the symbol of longings held by many.

Suddenly, Obama was not the only transcendant figure in the race.  He knew how to fight people who merely used logic and facts.  He appealed to the higher sense of personhood in his listeners.  But what could he do against someone who had as much mystical magnetism as he did, and also made simple, logical sense?

It was a pretty problem.  Someone would have to be destroyed for the other to prevail.  And Obama was determined that it would not be him.  His minions would see to that.

There are plenty of minions, in and out of his campaign.

The contest rages, for now, but it is no longer one of rationality against spirituality, because now both can be found on one side.  And the real game changer was not Sarah Palin…  it was John McCain, who selected her as his running mate, proving a defter hand than anyone suspected at crafting his image and staying true to his own often stated values at the same time.  And McCain is showing something else: he doesn’t care that Sarah Palin polls higher than he does, because all that matters is success in the election so he can do the work that needs doing, with her help.

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Sep 13 2008

Foreign travel, foreign policy “experience” and judgment

Category: election 2008,Iraq,McCain,media,middle east,Obama,Palin,politics,White Househarmonicminer @ 11:19 pm

As usual, the Obama campaign is still playing catchup to Sarah Palin. Now the big question is whether she actually crossed the border into Iraq by a half-mile, or stayed at the border.   Obama camp suggests lies over Palin visit to Iraq – Yahoo! News

The question of whether Sarah Palin has ever been to Iraq pushed Obama aides Saturday to accuse the McCain campaign of outright lies, distortions and distractions to the American people.

Since Republican presidential nominee John McCain tapped the Alaska governor to be his running mate on Aug. 29, questions about her experience have been fueled by her relatively brief tenure in office, as well as a dearth of foreign travel.

What matters isn’t how many countries she’s visited, or even how many heads of state she knows on a first name basis.  What matters is the judgment and values of the candidate.

When Russia invaded Georgia, Obama’s first response was to hope that both sides would exercise restraint, in a perfect-pitch-for-the-left rendition of moral equivalence, the natural born instinct of leftists everywhere.  That tells us what we need to know about Obama’s judgment and values.  Obama’s warm reception during his grand international P.R. tour doesn’t change who he is, a person who can’t quite define evil, and isn’t quite sure what we should do about it….  in his own nuanced way, of course.

I doubt an academic study can be found to demonstrate that shaking hands and chatting about inconsequentials with foreign leaders (the usual meaning of “getting to know them”) has produced better decisions than are reached by simply considering the facts at hand.  Roosevelt “met” with Stalin, and still gave away half of Europe.  Bush met with Putin and “saw into his soul”, and still didn’t understand, it would seem, what a fascist Putin would turn out to be.  Kennedy “met” with Kruschiev, and that resulted in the Cuban missile crisis when the Communist dictator decided that Kennedy could be rolled.

It’s decisions based on evidence that matter, not face time.  And tourism is not a pre-requisite for the Presidency or vice-Presidency, much as the Left might wish it was.

In the meantime, whether Palin made it 2500 feet into Iraq, or stayed at the border, matters not a whit.  The Obama campaign must really be spooked by this lady.  They should be…  she is something beyond their experience, a genuine person who simply says what she means.

OH, and the lead sentence to the quoted article is truly hilarious:  Imagine, the Obama campaign was “pushed” into calling the McCain campaign liars.  Gee…  you mean they just couldn’t help themselves?

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Sep 12 2008

The AP is totally in the tank for Obama

Category: election 2008,McCain,media,Obama,Palin,politics,White Househarmonicminer @ 9:35 pm

If you have any sense, you’ll simply ignore all AP reporting in this election cycle.  In what pretends to be a news article, the AP claims that McCain’s claims skirt the facts. This bit of magnificent analysis is by one Charles Babington.  The only hint given to the reader that it is mere opinion, and not NEWS, is the word “analysis” in the title. By rights, it has no place in a list of “news stories”, and should be clearly marked “editorial by left leaning writer”, but of course the AP isn’t that interested in helping you discern the difference. Here’s the first paragraph:

Republican presidential nominee John McCain, a self-proclaimed tell-it-like-it-is maverick, keeps saying his running mate, Sarah Palin, killed the federally funded Bridge to Nowhere when, in fact, she pulled her support only after the project became a political embarrassment. He said Friday that Palin never asked for money for lawmakers’ pet projects as Alaska governor, even though she has sought nearly $200 million in earmarks this year. He says Obama would raise nearly everyone’s taxes, when independent groups say 80 percent of families would get tax cuts instead.

This is risible. 80 percent of families don’t PAY income tax. About 40% of families pay no federal income tax. Obama wants to simply GIVE non-tax paying people a “tax cut” by sending them a check. In many cases of the 60% who DO pay income tax, the “tax cut” will amount to more than the taxes they pay.   He will pay for this by raising taxes on the top 5%. There are a couple of names for this: “welfare” is the polite one. Pure class-warfare socialism is another.

Further, if you ask the people in Alaska who “killed the bridge to nowhere”, they will say Sarah Palin.  Sarah Palin’s political enemies in Alaska say that she killed it.  Palin’s political friends say she killed it.  80% approval rating is hard to argue with.  But of course, Mr. Babington (one wonders if this is mispelled…  should it be Blabington?), from his olympian position as an AP flack, knows things that no one in Alaska knows, being so much smarter than the average Alaskan.

Even in a political culture accustomed to truth-stretching, McCain’s skirting of facts has stood out this week. It has infuriated and flustered Obama’s campaign, and campaign pros are watching to see how much voters disregard news reports noting factual holes in the claims.

Since this “news” story is full of factual holes, one can only hope the voters disregard it.  This diatribe goes on for a dozen more paragraphs of distortion about McCain and Palin, until at last, we get this sop to evenhandedness:

Obama, of course, has made exaggerated or questionable assertions as well. Earlier this year, for instance, he repeated a claim that more black men are in prison than in college, after news accounts refuted it. He also used a McCain remark about having troops in Iraq for “100 years” to exaggerate McCain’s proposals for being fully engaged militarily in that country.

THIS is the best this writer can find to document Obama’s false claims and questionable assertions?  What diligence.  What attention to detail.  What thorough research.

Voters are going to have to be very careful this season.  The major media are so far in the tank for Obama that they present pure opinion/spin pieces as if they are news.  A simple challenge to anyone who doubts this: try to find an AP piece, by ANY writer, ANY time in the last 6 months, that is this negative about Obama.  Since the AP seems to think it’s OK to disguise pure opinion as news, surely, if they were being evenhanded, they would publish at least ONE that was negative about Obama in the radical way that this piece is negative on McCain. 

Start looking.  I’ll check back next week to see if anyone found anything and put it in the comments area.  Oh:  and if, by some miracle, you find one, can you find another one? 

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Sep 08 2008

This post is rated PG: why Left leaning talk radio is rotting garbage

Category: McCain,media,Palin,politicsharmonicminer @ 9:24 am

Stay Classy, Stephanie Miller: Jokes McCain Picked Palin ‘To Look At Her A**’ |

Out in the snarkiest swamps of liberal talk radio is the Stephanie Miller show, which is very low on policy talk and very high on toilet humor and sex jokes. At the end of the show’s first hour on Tuesday, Miller aired a clip of McCain’s Friday unveiling of Sarah Palin: “Here is Grampy McSame [McCain] introducing his trophy VP before he stepped back to check out her a** for twenty minutes.”

As McCain spoke, the show’s official impressionist, Jim Ward, began impersonating McCain: “My next trophy wife…The middle part of Alaska is a**…and she’s got a terrific one, my friends.” Miller lamely added: “She puts the a** in Al-a**-ka.”

Miller read critical quotes from Paul Begala, Peggy Noonan, and Joe Conason, and said the choice was incredibly desperate.  Then Ward piped up again in his McCain voice: “Desperation, and a desire to look at her a** for hours and hours, my friends.”

Miller wrapped the segment: “We better have fun, Jim, because she may be out by the end of this show.”

The Left wants a “fairness doctrine”, so they can muzzle talk radio, which is predominantly right-leaning. There are several reasons that right-leaning talk radio succeeds, while left-leaning talk radio mostly fails (Air America should be given last rites and planted… They can barely GIVE AWAY advertising, because so few are listening.). The “fairness” doctrine would demand that left leaning broadcasters get as much air time as right leaning ones.

Obviously, that would mean that half of talk radio would be rated G, and the other half would be somewhere between PG and PG-13, with occasional excursions into R ratings.   In this case, though, only (intellectual) children will be listening to the PG-13 stuff.

(Of course, I know better than this.  The real result of the “fairness” doctrine will be the end of talk radio, because no network can afford to devote half its time to programs that don’t attract an audience.  And that’s exactly why the Left is pushing the “fairness” doctrine, to end talk radio as a media force.  Free speech, anyone?)

Hey, all you lefties: aren’t you PROUD that Stephanie Miller is your spokesperson? The elegance of the satire is breathtaking.

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Aug 31 2008

Complaints from the Right about Gov. Palin’s nomination

Category: Biden,economy,election 2008,McCain,Obama,Palin,politics,White Househarmonicminer @ 9:20 am

This fairly mild criticism from Powerline assumes “facts not in evidence” about the nature of economic knowledge required by a President, or Vice-President:

When I traveled with Senator McCain last November, just about the first question he answered was, what will you look for in a running mate. McCain responded that, first and foremost, he would want someone already qualfied to be president. Second, he said that because the economy is not his strong-suit, he would want someone with strong expertise in this area.

McCain did not say he wanted someone who would appeal to a potentially disaffected constituency within the Democratic party, or call attention (in an ironic way) to the inexperience of the Democratic nominee, or make such a splash as to counteract any Democratic convention bounce, or create a contrast to the Democratic vice presidential nominee, or “shake up” the Republican party, or “freshen up” the ticket, or reinforce his image as an opponent of corruption.

From the Left, such a criticism of Obama makes some sense, because the Left believes in complicated, frighteningly sophisticated economic models that supposedly allow the government appointed economic elites to tinker with the economy in the just the right way to make everything come out right.  These are essentially rooted in Keynes and Galbraith, both liberal progressive icons, because they are thought to have described a way to combine markets and capitalism with government management of the economy. Leaving out the fact the no one in the world knows enough to do such a thing, at least criticism of Obama makes sense, to the effect that he doesn’t know enough about economics to be President (economics of the liberal progressive brand, that is). Obama surely doesn’t have a detailed background in these matters, and so will be totally dependent on his advisers, economic rasputins all.

Does it make sense to level a similar criticism at Sarah Palin?

In a word, no. Here’s why.

Economics as understood from the right does not require a President who is deeply versed in complicated theories of market manipulation, and academic theories of how to rob Peter and pay Paul to make us all better off. It requires a President who knows enough to avoid wasteful spending, to keep taxes low, to keep regulation to a minimum, to encourage the development of energy resources, to remove as many barriers to free trading as possible, etc. It is not complex, and mostly requires a President who will avoid doing harm, supported by advisers who can help with the details.

Arguably, Sarah Palin has far more background in economic management than Obama, because in her executive roles she has cut taxes and spending. It is not complicated, and her behavior in office tells us all we really need to know about her economic background and perspectives, which is more than sufficient.  It is not an overstretch to say that if Congress had spent the last 8 years voting to do the sorts of things Palin has advocated, and has done as governor, we would all be in far better shape economically.  In fact, it’s more likely that the Congress would still be Republican.

So who, exactly, is unqualified here?

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Aug 30 2008

Kudos to Politico and Yahoo

Category: election 2008,Group-think,McCain,media,Palin,politicsharmonicminer @ 2:54 pm

Here is something so rare that it’s essentially a man bites dog story. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen something quite like this in political reporting. After running a story quoting various academics and political commentators bashing Gov. Palin as “too inexperienced” to be vice-president, Yahoo/Politico actually ran this update with a response from the McCain campaign.

Update: After reading this article, the McCain campaign issued the following statement: “The authors quote four scholars attacking Gov. Palin’s fitness for the office of Vice President. Among them, David Kennedy is a maxed out Obama donor, Joel Goldstein is also an Obama donor, and Doris Kearns Goodwin has donated exclusively to Democrats this cycle. Finally, Matthew Dallek is a former speech writer for Dick Gephardt. This is not a story about scholars questioning Governor Palin’s credentials so much as partisan Democrats who would find a reason to disqualify or discount any nominee put forward by Senator McCain.”

Two things, one unremarkable, one not:

Continue reading “Kudos to Politico and Yahoo”

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