Friday, December 16, 2011

Top 10 Reads of the Week – December 16, 2011

Winnowing the Field – Editors [National Review Online]

A hard-fought presidential primary campaign is obscuring the uncharacteristic degree of unity within the Republican party. It has reached a conservative consensus on most of the pressing issues of the day. All of the leading candidates, and almost all of the lagging ones, support the right to life. All of them favor the repeal of Obamacare. Most of them support reforms to restrain the growth of entitlement spending. All of them favor reducing the corporate tax rate to levels that will make the U.S. a competitive location for investment. Almost all of them seem to understand the dangers of a precipitate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and of a defense policy driven by the need to protect social spending rather than the national interest. Conservatives may disagree among themselves about which candidate most deserves support, but all of us should take heart in this development — and none of us should exaggerate the programmatic differences within the field.

Just as heartening, the White House seems winnable next year, and with it a majority in both houses of Congress, so that much of this conservative consensus could actually become law. A conservative majority on the Supreme Court, a halt to the march of regulation, free-market health-care policies: All of them seem within our grasp. But none of them is assured, and the costs of failure — either a failure to win the election, or a failure to govern competently and purposefully afterward — are as large as the opportunity.

We fear that to nominate former Speaker Newt Gingrich, the frontrunner in the polls, would be to blow this opportunity… Read the Rest

Regulation for Dummies – Editors [Wall Street Journal]

The White House is on the political offensive, and one of its chief claims is that it isn't the overregulator of business and Republican lore. This line has been picked up by impressionable columnists, so it's a good time to consider the evidence in some detail.

Jan Eberly, an Assistant Treasury Secretary, kicked off the Administration campaign with a white paper in October that purported to debunk the "misconceptions" that "uncertainty is holding back business investment and hiring and that the overall burden of existing regulations is so high that firms have reduced their hiring." Then the Administration mobilized some of the worst offenders, such as Kathleen Sebelius of HHS ("There has been no  explosion of new rules") and Lisa Jackson of the EPA (her opponents are "using the economy as cover")… Read the Rest

 

Newt Gingrich commits a capital crime – George F. Will [Washington Post]

Newt Gingrich — the friend of his detractors, to whom he offers serial vindications — provided on Monday redundant evidence for the proposition that he is the least conservative candidate seeking the Republican presidential nomination: He faulted Mitt Romney for committing acts of capitalism.

Gingrich did so when goaded by Romney regarding his, Gingrich’s, self-described service as a “historian” for Freddie Mac, which paid him more handsomely than anyone paid Herodotus. Romney was asked by an interviewer about the $1.6 million Gingrich earned, or at any rate received, from Freddie Mac, the misbegotten government-backed mortgage giant. In the service of Washington’s bipartisan certitude that too few people owned houses, Freddie Mac helped produce the housing bubble and subsequent crash. It did so even though it paid Gingrich $30,000 an hour. That is about what he received if, as he says, he worked for Freddie Mac about an hour a month, telling it that what it was doing was “insane.”… Read the Rest

Obama on jobs: Words, not action – Steve Huntley [Chicago Sun-Times]

President Barack Obama rolled out his 2012 campaign theme the other day, a populist message with the tired mantra of Republicans as the party of the wealthy while casting himself as the defender of the middle class. “This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class,” he declared. The problem is that, as usual, his record doesn’t match his rhetoric.

A make-or-break moment for the middle class “and all those who are fighting to get into the middle class” would cry out for immediate decisive action to protect that cherished status and give a boost to all those knocking on the door of the American dream.

But that’s not the case when it comes to good-paying energy jobs… Read the Rest

Anyone but the guy who could win – Kathleen Parker [Sacramento Bee]

"Anybody but Mitt" has become a familiar mantra throughout the Republican primary campaign.

It is also weird and self-defeating for the Republicans apparently wanting to nominate anyone except the one person who can defeat Barack Obama. And for the strangest reasons… Read the Rest 

Exactly What Is Crony Capitalism, Anyway? – Bill Frezza [Real Clear Markets / Competitive Enterprise Institute]

President Obama, progressive politicians, Occupy protestors, and leftist intellectuals are having a field day attacking what they call the failures and excesses of capitalism. They declare wealth to be prima facie evidence of perfidy, making no distinction as to how it was obtained. They preach equality, not just in opportunity but in economic outcome. In their eyes, all members of the 1% are already guilty, so economic justice demands that the rich be heavily taxed, not just to lift others up, but to bring them down.

Some defenders of capitalism draw a sharp distinction between those who obtained their wealth through government favors and those who created their wealth by satisfying willing customers through free exchange. The former are called Crony Capitalists. The latter, interestingly enough, don't have a name. Let's call them Market Capitalists… Read the Rest

GOP Campaign Strategists Worry About Gingrich’s Downballot Effect – Joshua Miller [Roll Call]

Top Republican strategists are increasingly worried that a 2012 ticket led by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) — instead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — could hurt the party downballot, especially in the Northeast.

The region is expected to be a top battleground in the fight for control of Congress. Although redistricting has shifted many lines, in 2010 Republicans won 61 House districts that were carried by Barack Obama in 2008… Read the Rest

Mitt’s Moment – Holman W. Jenkins [Wall Street Journal]

Week 3,334 of Mitt Romney's quest for the presidency hasn't been a good one. Newt Gingrich has seized the lead in the polls. The voluble front-runner has even lined up with Ted Kennedy, Paul Krugman, Obama's campaign brain trust and the Pulitzer department of every major newspaper in assaulting Mr. Romney as a job killer for his role in private equity.

Oddly, though, these are now the discordant media notes. For the first time, and perhaps here we can blame the Gingrich phenomenon, the press has suddenly found Mr. Romney a fascinating, nuanced figure… Read the Rest

Climategate (Part II) – Stephen Hayward [Weekly Standard]

The conventional wisdom about blockbuster movie sequels is that the second acts are seldom as good as the originals. The exceptions, like The Godfather: Part II or The Empire Strikes Back, succeed because they build a bigger backstory and add dimensions to the original characters. The sudden release last week of another 5,000 emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of East Anglia University​—​ground zero of “Climategate I” in 2009​—​immediately raised the question of whether this would be one of those rare exceptions or Revenge of the Nerds II.

Before anyone had time to get very far into this vast archive, the climate campaigners were ready with their critical review: Nothing worth seeing here. Out of context! Cherry picking! “This is just trivia, it’s a diversion,” climate researcher Joel Smith told Politico. On the other side, Anthony Watts, proprietor of the invaluable WattsUpWithThat.com skeptic website, had the kind of memorable line fit for a movie poster. With a hat tip to the famous Seinfeld episode, Watts wrote: “They’re real, and they’re spectacular!” An extended review of this massive new cache will take months and could easily require a book-length treatment. But reading even a few dozen of the newly leaked emails makes clear that Watts and other longtime critics of the climate cabal are going to be vindicated… Read the Rest

And the Crisis Winner Is?  Government – David Malpass [Wall Street Journal]

Across Europe and the United States, the fiscal crisis is setting up an epic battle among government services, pensioners, government employees, creditors and taxpayers. There is simply not enough money coming in to pay all the promises politicians have made. The shortfalls and fights are challenging our democracies and shifting wealth from the private sector to ever bigger government.

The hope has been that Europe's debt crisis would force government downsizing in time to meet cash flow requirements. Newfound fiscal discipline would provide a silver lining to the debt crisis. But that's not working out… Read the Rest

The Funniest Thing I Saw This Week

[Warning: Language]


Tim Tebow Becomes First Christian To Play In NFL - Sports Year in Review

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