October 21, 2014

Gettin’ a little crazy out there…

Vice President Joe Biden L'68

* except this smiling man. He always seems to have something witty on the edge of his tongue. Image via Wikipedia

No default. But no matter. It’s still not enough to make anyone happy.*

In fact, just to read the headlines, I can’t help but think that it’s getting a little crazy out there.

Check out a sampling of them from this screen shot of Real Clear Politics this afternoon:

Among other things, here’ s a few things that one might glean from the headlines:

Also, if this wasn’t painfully obvious to anyone not in the employ of the federal government: we’re in a bear economy, right now, and the light at the end of the tunnel might be a train. Or a bear.  If bears reflected light. And looked like this. 
In short, what I see in just the headlines is that everyone is obnoxious and no one is happy with the way things are going. Even the Chinese are getting in on the action. (Because, hey–they own a substantial part of the debt we almost defaulted on).

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Utah is becoming even more Republican…if that’s even possible.

Last night, or early this morning, I engaged in some hyperbolic jousting over Twitter with the inestimable Deb Henry, a candidate for Vice Chair of the Utah Democratic Party.

Amidst the trash talk, Deb reminded the world why she is running for Vice Chair of the Utah Democratic Party (yes, our state has one).

http://twitter.com/heydebhenry/status/75806018684207104

As I read her comment, I couldn’t help but wonder: can Utah really elect any more Democrats than they already do? In that vein of thought, wouldn’t it make more sense that to win you would need to increasingly be a Republican in this state? You know: if you can’t beat’m, join’m. [Read more...]

Why did the GOP lose NY-26? Not the reason you think.

The winning Democrat only won with 47%, just one point less than Barack Obama got in the district in 2008. Not exactly an awe-inspiring performance.

Democrats won only because a third-party candidate—self-proclaimed tea partier Jack Davis—spent a reported $3 million of his own money. Absent Mr. Davis as a spoiler—he got 9% of the vote—Democrats would never have made a serious bid for this district, nor won if they did. Ironically, Mr. Davis ran for the same seat in the last three elections as a Democrat. This year he ran as a populist conservative.

via Rove: Why the Republican Lost in NY-26 – WSJ.com.

But you won’t hear that from the folks on the left. A third party candidate, coupled with a Medicare scare campaign, won the race for the Democrats.

This is not to say that a GOP budget that reforms Medicare is a liability–on the contrary, it will be an asset, if Republicans can learn to talk about it right. If they can communicate that their budget is fair, keeps Medicare viable, and brings federal spending down (and that no one will be hurt or thrown off a cliff), voters will respond favorably.

Voters want to hear about Medicare reform. They understand the serious threat that the current spending trends present for our country. But Republicans have got to learn to communicate and counter Democrats distortions. Otherwise, it won’t matter how good the plan to reform unfunded liabilities is–Democrats will win elections based on the threat of negative change.

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Is the recession over, or are there more bubbles?

Deficit and debt increases 2001-2008
Image via Wikipedia

I’m reading “Aftershock: Protect Yourself and Profit in the Next Global Financial Meltdown” by Wiedemer, Wiedemer, and Spitzer. They claim to have seen the current recession coming before it happened, the result of the popping of various bubbles in our economy, including in the housing and credit markets. Interestingly, and perhaps most frightening, the authors believe that things will get worse, yet. You see, while national leaders are talking about the recession like it’s the result of a down cycle in the market, just another downturn following the growth of the last few years, the growth they are promising cannot come about without either a new bubble–which must eventually pop–or dramatic increases in productivity. It’s a scary proposition they are prophesying, and while they believe there are ways to survive and even make money in it, the sheer size of the next bubble is terrifying.

As bad as the financial judgment of the private sector bankers and investment bankers is, even worse is the incredible irresponsibility and bad judgment of the public sector–the U.S. government. They have been involved in the biggest bad loan of them all: the monstrous government debt bubble. We can’t possibly pay it off. Our tax base in a good year is only $2.5 trillion. In a bad year, it’s less. The total government debt bubble will soon be over $11 trillion and rising rapidly to $15 trillion. Even if we directed 100 percent of our taxes to paying it off, it would take at least six years, assuming interest rates stay at their current incredibly low level. What if interest rates rose to 10 or 15 percent? We would have a hard time just paying the interest!

From “Aftershock: Protect Yourself and Profit in the Next Global Financial Meltdown,” p. 57.

I find it noteworthy that the authors, while damning political leaders for their irresponsibility in debt creation, do not pull punches for either of the two major parties. Both are at fault. As a good friend of mine likes to observe, both conservatives and liberals have done a good job of spending in recent years–they just spend for different things.

Maybe Economics 101 should be required for freshman Congressmen and Senators in addition to the other orientations for a newly elected politician takes office in the Capitol.  The basics of supply and demand, to say nothing of budgeting and spending, could be considered as important as ideological purity, if not more so.

The interior of the United States Capitol rotu...
Image via Wikipedia

Why two parties? Why not more?

"The Third-Term Panic", by Thomas Na...
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Too many parties leads to extremism, says James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal.

Two is actually the optimum number of parties. A viable and durable third party would make it far easier to be elected with only minority support; more parties than that would raise the specter of small extremist parties wielding enormous power via their ability to make or break a coalition.

But the dangers of a multiparty system shouldn’t lead us to ignore the wisdom of the voters’ dissatisfaction with the two parties as they currently exist. And it is possible for a third party to remake the two-party system, as the Republicans did in the 1850s.

The observations are part of a larger story that argues that recent polling finds that voters believe that, ironically, the Democratic Party is more in the control of extremists than the Republicans (and their angry, activist Tea Party factions). I recommend the read here.

(h/t to http://twitter.com/#!/J_Kane)