Friday, June 29, 2012

Top 10 Reads of the Week - June 29, 2012

Krugman And Today's Policies: This Is Nothing Like 1937 - Sean Trende [Real Clear Politics]
Paul Krugman has spent the past three years inveighing against any immediate steps to reduce the growth in government spending on the grounds that we would merely be repeating the mistakes that Fed policymakers made in 1937. In that year, spending cuts and insistence on a balanced budget catapulted the United States into a deep recession, one that essentially spelled the end of the New Deal.
On Monday, Krugman doubled down, claiming that policymakers had progressed past 1937, and that we were risking a repeat of 1931. That was the year things really fell apart, when policymakers failed to contain a banking crisis in Austria, which eventually resulted in the spread of a global contagion, bringing down governments worldwide -- and bringing the Great Depression to its crushing denouement.
The European debt crisis is certainly something to be concerned about, but let’s step back a moment and be clear about something: at least in terms of policy, this is nothing like 1937, much less 1931. And if anything, 1937 tells us more about of the dangers of real-world Keynesian experimentation than anything else... Read the Rest

Suckerball - Walter Kirn [The New Republic]
LOTTERIES, BY DEFINITION, are for losers. You enter them with an evanescent sense of grandiosity and optimism, but beneath this delusion lurks the knowledge that you wouldn’t be buying a ticket at all if you believed you had a fighting chance of obtaining the prize by normal means. Then the winner is chosen—always some distant stranger who’s notably lacking in your best traits—and it becomes insultingly apparent that you can’t beat the system by any means, including the one that you just vainly tried. The game is not only rigged against you; it isn’t really a game. It’s a stone rip-off.
Given these gloomy psychological facts, it’s somewhat surprising, even slightly shocking, that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have embraced the sweepstakes as a fund-raising, mailing-list-building tool—and at a moment when middle-class Americans have started to fear they’re permanently out of luck. These contests are generally announced by e-mails ostensibly sent by the candidates’ family members who use a breathless, faux-familiar tone to convince donors to take a shot at securing something the families get for free: proximity to the great man. If the pitches came from the lobbyists and fixers who usually have to pay dearly for such access, they might sound marginally more genuine, but this would remind folks that face time with our leaders is indeed a priceable commodity, not a windfall to be gained by accident... Read the Rest
Time To Occupy State Pensions? - Walter Russel Mead [The American Interest]
The biggest scam going in American financial life may be the collusive effort by Wall Street, the political class, and public sector unions to use union retirement money to prop up Wall Street speculation.
Step One: state politicians promise big pension and health care benefits to their unionized work forces, but don’t set aside enough money to fund those benefits when the bill comes due. This makes union leaders and unions look good, because they can point to the shiny new benefits they have negotiated with the politicians. Meanwhile, it makes the politicians happy because the unions support them with contributions and volunteers at election time, but because the unions don’t insist on full funding for the benefits, the politicians don’t have to raise costs or otherwise disturb the big majority of voters who don’t work for the government.
Step Two: Make aggressive assumptions about the rate of return on pension investment funds. This has two consequences: it covers the gap between promise and reality (for a while), thereby postponing the day when the politicians have to face the voters and the union leaders have to tell their members that those beautiful benefits were bogus from the start. But the other purpose, equally important, is that it forces America’s public sector pension funds into the deep end of the financial markets, leading pension funds to be major investors in hedge funds, derivatives and various other not-for-the-widows-and-orphans investments. If these work out, great — the funds hit their investment targets and the benefits, or at least some of them, get paid. If they go awry — as many did in the last few years — then the pension problem turns into a crisis... Read the Rest
Will President Obama's Reelection Doom Fracking? - Editors [Investors Business Daily]
One more reason not to re-elect President Obama to a second term was provided last Friday, when Heather Zichal, the top White House energy aide, told reporters that she expects the Interior Department rules regulating hydraulic fracturing, dubbed fracking, to be completed by year's end.
Why are federal rules necessary since fracking has been successfully regulated at the state level for decades without a single documented case of groundwater contamination by fluids used in the process? Unless the regulations are so restrictive as to effectively end fracking as an energy tool in the name of safety, as has happened with offshore drilling and coal... Read the Rest
Class Struggle - Pete DuPont [Wall Street Journal]
Much has been written about the choice we face just 19 weeks from now, when we will select the next president. But while we discuss the almost polar opposite views of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on spending, regulation, taxes and health care, we shouldn't lose sight of another very important issue: education.
While the candidates have some areas of agreement, their beliefs about education are still quite different, and the impact on our nation's youth of a second Obama term versus a first Romney term would be significant. Not surprisingly, given their differences on most other issues, Mr. Obama's approach more closely follows the status quo, pro-teachers-union track, while Mr. Romney's more closely follows the reform, pro-student track. Mr. Romney's plan includes vouchers that would give disadvantaged children, particularly those in failed schools, and their parents the option of moving to a school of their choice... Read the Rest
Flashback of the Week



Monday, June 25, 2012

MA Energy Costs: How hard is it to say "ZERO"?

This spring the Massachusetts state senate passed its version of so-called energy reform legislation.  At the time I observed (twice) that for all of their rhetoric about finally taking steps to reduce the cost of energy in Massachusetts, what the senate proposed would actually increase costs by doubling down on high-priced renewable energy.

This week the House followed suit, passing its own version of what might be called the "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead Massachusetts energy cost inflation bill of 2012." At least over in the House leadership has the decency to be honest (kinda) about what they are doing.

Here's the State House News:
The House on Monday advanced legislation aimed at diversifying the state's energy portfolio by doubling the amount of renewables required to be purchased by utilities, while introducing competitive bidding to the process in an attempt to address the cost of the policy.
Pretty much par for the senate's course - doubling (!!!) the amount of higher-cost renewable energy that utilities are required to purchase, thereby guaranteeing beyond any shadow of a doubt that consumer energy costs will continue to rise.  The introduction of competitive bidding might (might) temper the rate of increase somewhat (or it might not), but it certainly won't do anything to bring down consumer costs.  Here's the good part:
Rep. John Keenan, the chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunication, Utilities and Energy, said quantifying customer savings from the energy bill was "hard to say," but said the bill sought to address some of the underlying drivers of the state's high energy costs, while also allowing Massachusetts to build on its renewable energy sources.
Well, no, actually "quantifying customer savings from the energy bill" is not "hard to say."  It is very easy to say.  Zero. Phonetically: ZEE-ROE. Or even easier: Nil. Or en espanol: Nada.  There will be no customer savings from the energy bill passed by the House today, because like the senate version it requires utilities to buy and sell higher-priced energy.  It may well be difficult to quantify the customer price premium that will result from this bill, but not the savings. More:
[Rep. Keenan] also said the introduction of competitive bidding to the renewable marketplace was not an indictment or commentary on the controversial contracts signed for Cape Wind power, but rather a statement of how the Legislature wants to proceed in the future.
Right.  So in the future the Legislature wants to be upfront about its efforts to increase the cost of energy in Massachusetts.  Which is great... if you happen to think our elected officials ought to be going out of their way to make it even more expensive to live and do business here in the Commonwealth.  Yet more:
With an average electric rate in Massachusetts of 14.24 cents per kilowatt hour, the seventh highest in the country and more than 4 cents higher than the national average, state officials have discussed reducing energy prices as a way to remove an impediment to job growth.
They sure have!  They have discussed the heck out of reducing energy prices.  If someone had just thought to erect a turbine or three in front of all of those discussions, maybe we'd have made some progress toward the goal. As it is, the Legislature seems to be proceeding once again on the George Constanza theory: doing the opposite.  Finally (we're still with the State House News here folks):
"I think the policy is more driven toward making sure we have a diverse energy portfolio as we're moving toward natural gas. We're trying to procure additional renewables and, though more expensive than natural gas, we're trying to make it as least costly as possible," Keenan said.
And there's that honesty I mentioned above.  Perhaps inadvertently, Representative Keenan just told us exactly what the House and Senate energy bills are all about - and it isn't cost reduction.  See, the nation's suddenly plentiful supply of natural gas is seriously undermining the already-artificial, almost entirely government-supported "market" for renewable energy.  Legislation like this - doubling down on mandates requiring the purchase of higher-priced (but politically correct) energy - is all about propping up that artificial "market" in the face of what used to be called "competition."  Not surprisingly, this is the same agenda being pursued at the national level by the Obama Administration and its allies in Congress.

"We're trying to make it as least costly as possible," indeed. But "as least costly as possible" will still be MORE costly.  Just bear that in mind.  Our state legislature is deliberately driving up our cost of living.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Top 10 Reads of the Week - June 22, 2012

Obama's Pity Party - Matthew Continetti [Washington Free Beacon]
I can’t be the only person in America who, at about minute 35 in President Obama’s almost hour-long “framing” speech in Cleveland Thursday, wanted to tell the president, as the Dude famously screams at Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski, “You’re living in the past!”
Obama’s overly long, repetitive, and by turns self-pitying and self-congratulatory address was so soaked through with nostalgia that MSNBC should have broadcast it in sepia tones. The speech—which even the liberal Obama biographer Jonathan Alter called one of the president’s “least successful” political communications—revealed an incumbent desperately trying to replay the 2008 election. But no oratory will make up for a flawed record and a vague, fissiparous, and unappealing agenda... Read the Rest

'Clean Energy' is Money Wasted - Charles Lane [Washington Post]
In blackjack, doubling down is a high-risk, high-reward move. If you think you can win, based on the first two cards dealt, you bet 100 percent more — but you also pay for the privilege by agreeing to take one, and only one, additional card.
Doubling down is also the semi-official metaphor of President Obama’s energy strategy, as we know from his speech in Cleveland last week: “My plan would end the government subsidies to oil companies that have rarely been more profitable — let’s double down on a clean-energy industry that has never been more promising.”
Blackjack pros like doubling down; it’s a chance to profit from newly acquired relevant information. Whether that logic applies to the U.S. government’s energy bets, however, is a different story. What we’ve learned so far suggests that the president should fold his cards... Read the Rest
We've Reached The Penultimate Jimmy Carter Moment of the Obama Presidency - Erick Erickson [RedState]
...The dirty little secret of our American Republic is that our ungovernability at the national level is a feature, not a bug. The founders intended it to be extremely difficult to pass legislation having just fought, bled, and seen friends die for a liberty they thought they already had only to see their government, of both a king and a Parliament, barter away their freedoms.
The difficulty in “good” governance is one of the last in a series of resistors designed to protect the citizens from the “good” government intentions of those they sent to Washington. It is a powerful reminder, should we pay close attention to this difficulty and resistance, that the federal government is supposed to be a government of limited powers. The difficulty and resistance reduce and largely go away when the President, for example, deals with foreign affairs. In that area, unlike the implementation of a domestic agenda, the President has much more constitutional power because his operations are not directed at the American citizens, but at other sovereign powers. At such time as his foreign policy powers might come to restrict the rights of citizens via treaty, again we see the resistors in operation with a two-thirds vote in the Senate required to approve at treaty... Read the Rest
 Morgan's Big Secret - Charles Gasparino [New York Post]
While the Senate Banking Committee last week spun its wheels trying to get JP Morgan chief Jamie Dimon to admit to something nefarious during testimony about his “London Whale” trading loss, executives at the big bank were concealing a far bigger scandal.
OK, it’s no secret that nation’s public pension funds are in big trouble, holding large “unfunded” liabilities owed to public workers once they retire. But most politicians (New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is an exception) will tell you the problem is fairly containable, that there are simple fixes — such as raising taxes on the rich or pruning benefits... Read the Rest
 Wikileaks, Meet Obamaleaks - Marc Thiessen [Washington Post]
Imagine there was an organization that serially leaked the nation’s most highly protected secrets — exposing intelligence sources and methods, and sharing classified information with the press that put lives at risk.
Sounds like WikiLeaks? Think again. It’s ObamaLeaks.
The difference, of course, is that WikiLeaks releases information that it believes will be embarrassing for the United States, while ObamaLeaks releases information intended to make President Obama look good. But ObamaLeaks has done damage to U.S. national security on a scale of which WikiLeaks only dreams... Read the Rest

Thursday, June 21, 2012

First extended interview with Charlie Baker in a long while...

Count me among the many who hope that Charlie Baker decides to throw his hat into the ring again in 2014 (I know - surprise, right?).

Charlie will be the guest on WCVB-TV's On The Record this Sunday morning, but the interview is already up on WCVB's website.

As Charlie says several times in response to persistent questions by hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu about his 2014 plans, there are plenty of interesting races this year that people ought to be spending their time thinking about.

Still... whether online or on TV, the interview is worth your time.


Consistency has never been an issue for the NY Times Editors...

... but this example of their breathtaking partisan inconsistency, tweeted by Byron York (@ByronYork), rises to and maybe past the level of self-parody:

Here's the NYT on President Obama's invocation of executive privilege in the on-going (and perhaps boiling over) Fast and Furious scandal, and the Republican House Oversight committee's subsequent decision to hold the Attorney General, Eric Holder, in contempt of Congress:
The political feud between the White House and Congressional Republicans has now culminated in a House oversight committee vote to cite Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. for criminal contempt. His supposed crime is failing to hand over some documents in an investigation of a botched gunrunning sting operation known as “Fast and Furious.”
The Republicans shamelessly turned what should be a routine matter into a pointless constitutional confrontation. And the White House responded as most administrations do at some point: it invoked executive privilege to make a political problem go away.
That editorial, by the way, is titled "A Pointless Partisan Fight."
Emerson, at least, would approve

Now hearken back to July 26, 2007, when a similar invocation of executive privilege by a different President elicited a somewhat (!!!) different reaction from the big brains at the Times:
The House Judiciary Committee did its duty yesterday, voting to cite Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, and Joshua Bolten, the White House chief of staff, for contempt. The Bush administration has been acting lawlessly in refusing to hand over information that Congress needs to carry out its responsibility to oversee the executive branch and investigate its actions when needed. If the White House continues its obstruction, Congress should use all of the contempt powers at its disposal.
The committee really had no choice but to hold Ms. Miers in contempt. When she was subpoenaed to testify about the administration’s possibly illegal purge of nine United States attorneys, she simply refused to show up, citing executive privilege. Invoking privilege in response to particular questions might have been warranted — the courts could have decided that later. But simply flouting a Congressional subpoena is not an option.
The title of that piece? "Defying the Imperial Presidency."

Emerson famously wrote, "A foolish Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen, philosophers, and divines. With consistency, a great soul simply has nothing to do."  What great souls, then, must populate the editorial board of the New York Times.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Trying to get a face-to-face with Professor Warren can be DANGEROUS!

From today's Boston Herald: "Cherokee Women to Elizabeth Warren: Stop Ducking Us!"
Four Cherokee women are in Boston for four days hoping to arrange a meeting with Warren. A spokeswoman for the Warren campaign told the Herald Sunday a staff member would greet the group, but the women told the Herald this morning they’ve still heard nothing from the campaign. 
“What is wrong with sitting down with the people she claims to be a part of?” said Sacks. “That’s all we’d like to do — educate her. She has the same opportunity to educate us if we’re the wrong ones. But she runs and avoids because she knows there’s nothing to back her claims.”
Ouch.

But here's the most interesting/intriguing part of the story:
The Cherokees wouldn’t divulge their schedule for the week, but they said they plan to present Warren with a secret birthday gift. Her birthday is Friday, and she has a campaign event Thursday night. They hinted they plan to make their presence loud and clear.
“I think it will be more and more visible as it goes on,” said Barnes. “The governor said he was speaking for the commonwealth and that the people don’t care. By the end of the week, there’s a good possibility he’ll find out that people do care.”
The trip has already produced one injury. One of the Cherokees tripped and fell while trying to carry Warren’s secret birthday gift earlier this week, but she expects to continue with the mission.
Elsewhere in the same paper, we find this: "Teen recovering after spear removed from his brain".

The top-secret gift? [AP Photo]
Coincidence?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Top 10 Reads of the Week - June 15, 2012

Obamacare's Secret History - Editors [Wall Street Journal]
On Friday House Republicans released more documents that expose the collusion between the health-care industry and the White House that produced ObamaCare, and what a story of crony capitalism it is. If the trove of emails proves anything, it's that the Tea Party isn't angry enough.
Over the last year, the Energy and Commerce Committee has taken Nancy Pelosi's advice to see what's in the Affordable Care Act and how it passed. The White House refused to cooperate beyond printing out old press releases, but a dozen trade groups turned over thousands of emails and other files. A particular focus is the drug lobby, President Obama's most loyal corporate ally in 2009 and 2010.
The business refrain in those days was that if you're not at the table, you're on the menu. But it turns out Big Pharma was also serving as head chef, maƮtre d'hotel and dishwasher. Though some parts of the story have been reported before, the emails make clear that ObamaCare might never have passed without the drug companies. Thank you, Pfizer... Read the Rest

Obama Redefines 'Green Zone' - Mark Steyn [Orange County Register]
Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee a few days ago – that's 60 years on the throne. Just to put it in perspective, she's been queen since Harry S. Truman was president. At any rate, her jubilee has been a huge success, save for a few churlish republicans in various corners of Her Majesty's realms from London to Toronto to Sydney pointing out how absurd it is for grown citizens to be fawning over a distant head of state who lives in a fabulous, glittering cocoon entirely disconnected from ordinary life.
Which brings us to President Obama... Read the Rest
GOP and Obama Have a Massive Conflict of Visions - Rich Lowry [Real Clear Politics]
President Barack Obama thinks Republicans are in the grips of a “fever.” Only if they can be coaxed back to rationality, through the calming effects of his reelection and perhaps some aromatherapy and a deep-tissue massage, will Washington ever work again.
By work, he means pass his priorities, of course. That is the operative definition, too, for all the liberal analysts rending their garments over the breakdown of our governing institutions. If only everyone could sit around a table and agree that President Obama is the personification of reasonableness, the country’s faith in government could be restored... Read the Rest
Ask Me About Your Volt - Daniel Foster [National Review]
It’s moments like this that make you forget that the Volt is a neato car. You remember that it is also a talking point, a floundering mascot of a political worldview according to which markets can be bribed and cajoled into making premature and uneconomic decisions, innovation can be centrally planned, and the future runs on the good intentions of the present’s policymaking class. Maybe that’s why GM had to suspend Volt production in March, and temporarily lay off 1,300 workers, to “align . . . production with demand.” Or why the president of the United States stooped to telling the United Auto Workers that he’ll buy a Volt the day he leaves office.
No president ever had to endorse the Model T. Indeed, Mr. Ford’s motorcar revolutionized the lives of the middle class in a way nothing else would until the invention of the microprocessor, despite Woodrow Wilson’s calling automobiles “the picture of arrogance and wealth,” the “careless” use of which was “spread[ing] socialistic feeling in this country.”.. Read the Rest
Obama Listens to Rich Liberals, At His Peril - Michael Barone [Real Clear Politics]
...Obama has seen enough Architectural Digest-type interiors in Park Avenue triplexes and Beverly Hills mansions, and on the block in San Francisco's Pacific Heights, where every house is owned by a billionaire, to develop an expertise in Louis XV walnut commodes and Brunschwig & Fils fabrics.
He's also had plenty of chances to absorb the advice of the kind of rich liberals who like to give money to Democratic presidents. And the evidence that he has taken some of that advice is his initiatives on three controversial issues, each of which involves serious political risk... Read the Rest

Chart of the Week

Read the accompanying post at PJ Media




Thursday, June 14, 2012

People Against Fine Print (or: The Wussification of America; or: Home Depot. Less Saving, No Lifting)

Posited: the employees of an appliance delivery service ought to be able (and by "able," I mean "allowed") to lift the appliances they deliver.  Seem obvious?  Not in today's lawsuit-happy, increasingly wussified United States of America.

This weekend our GE washing machine bit the dust.  A little but of Googling informed that that the machine was at the end of its natural life span, and that any attempt to revive it would likely cost most of what a replacement would run us.  So being the internet consumer type (and because it was too nice a day by a long sight on Sunday to spend any part of it shopping) I hopped onto HomeDepot.com, ordered a comparable replacement model, and - noting with pleasure the 'free delivery, installation and haul-away' policy - scheduled delivery for Wednesday.
BUYER BEWARE: Read the fine print

Wednesday rolled around, and my desk phone chimed with a call from my agitated spouse.  "The delivery guys are here, but they say they can't remove the old one or install the new one because they aren't allowed to lift anything."

I was momentarily puzzled.  "What do you mean they aren't allowed to lift anything?"'

"I mean the guy is right here, telling me it is company policy that they aren't allowed to lift anything off of the ground."  She was speaking loudly and with extra- incredulous emphasis, obviously for the delivery guys' benefit, hoping perhaps to appeal to their inner, um, men and maybe shame them into making an exception.  No such luck. "It's company policy," I heard a deep voice affirm in the background.

I should pause here to clarify the geography.  Our laundry room is small, with a sink just to the left of the door that juts into the pathway one must follow to get to the spot where our washer and dryer live.  In order to extract or place a machine, one does in fact have to lift it off of the ground and over the lip of the sink, which is precisely three feet high.  This relatively straightforward process has been successfully negotiated no fewer than three times since we moved in, without incident, and twice before by delivery folk from Home Depot.

That's what I said to the implacably policy-minded woman from the Home Depot's appliance delivery department who I finally - after the usual interminable holding - got on the phone later that afternoon.  "Your delivery people have done this exact thing before. It hasn't been a problem."  Her answer was beyond argument. "It's delivery company policy, sir.  They aren't allowed to lift anything off of the ground.  They cannot assume the liability if they drop the appliance."  I offered to waive any such liability, but should have expected her answer: "There is no provision for waiver in the policy."

Trying to lighten the conversation, I laughed good-naturedly and said, "you see the humor in this, right?  Your appliance delivery people aren't allowed to lift an appliance?"  She was having none of it. "It's the policy, sir.  Would you like us to come back and pick up the machine?"

So here we are, living in a land - or at least in a state - where appliance delivery people are not allowed to lift an appliance, and where "customer service" representatives cannot conceive of even the slightest deviation from "policy."

I was railing last night to a friend who I assumed would see the situation exactly my way.  As he frequently does, this friend had a slightly broader perspective.  After I finished my rant, punctuated with contemptuous variations on the 'wussification' theme, he commented mildly, "well, isn't it also an example of the stratification of society?  I mean, the fact that so many of us expect to be able to hire someone to do something that in the past we would have just done ourselves?  Can't we lift our own washers?"

My friend  was pointing out, gently, that for all of my indignation, clearly I myself have not escaped wussification.  I responded somewhat lamely that "free delivery, installation, and haul-away" was part of the Home Depot bargain, and a big part of why I chose to buy from them as opposed to, say, Sears.  Had the proposition on Home Depot's website been, 'free delivery, and we'll leave the old machine in place and drop the new one in the middle of your kitchen,' I would have gone with another retailer.

In fairness I should say that Home Depot's online terms of delivery do say (in the fine print) that there must be a "clear path" to the point of installation - though there is nothing about a general prohibition against 'lifting,' and (as I mentioned) Home Depot had successfully managed the very same lift several times in the past.  But I digress.

My friend suggested that perhaps what I ought more appropriately to be angry about is the fine print that for many customers saps much of the appeal and convenience of Home Depot's "free delivery" proposition.  Fine print, of course, has come in universal practice to mean "things we hope you don't bother to read."  As a result, it often ends up containing terms that fundamentally change the overall proposition - as in, "Free delivery and installation... so long as you want your washer installed in the middle of your ground-floor living room."

So a modest proposition: Henceforth, everything in the fine print ought to be converted to large font, bold text, and placed at the front end of documents where it cannot be missed.  Any retailer or service-provider violating this rule by continuing to bury crucial information in actual fine print will be subject to citizens' arrest and punishment determined by online consumer vote.  I think it will be very popular.

Back to my washer situation.  Having taken my friend's rather pointed observation to heart, I called up another friend and convinced him to come over.  Together, without any problem whatsoever, we lifted the old machine out and lifted the new machine in. I compensated him with a beer and the promise that should be ever make the ill-advised decision to purchase a major appliance from Home Depot, I will return the favor.

Relatively pleased with myself, this morning I called back Home Depot, informed them that the new machine is now in place and the old one safely lifted from its old spot, sitting with the requisite "clear path" to the outdoors, and asked that the delivery team be dispatched back to my house today to install the new and remove the old.  No-go.  Since my wife and I are tied up tomorrow evening (the only available window this week), the soonest they can possibly slot us in for a return visit from the non-lifting installation team is next Tuesday.

I recall a time when Home Depot built is brand not only on the vastness of its offerings, but also the quality of its customer service.  Having spent the better part of the day on the phone with a succession of equally-powerless "customer service" reps, I can say with certainty that those days are done.  Although to a one they were friendly and apparently well-meaning, each was powerless to venture outside the strictly limiting confines of a series of "policies."  The delivery teams have a "policy" that prohibits lifting anything.  The in-store employees are unable to enter a home because "they aren't insured for that."  The delivery and installation service has "a very strict policy" prohibiting any deviation whatsoever from pre-determined daily routes. Even the most earnest and helpful person I spoke with admitted that she was absolutely, completely, totally powerless to do a single thing to make this ridiculous situation even remotely more tenable for me, the  customer.

Ultimately I played the one card the consumer has.  It is a card that might still matter to a small or even a moderately-sized business, but is meaningless to a behemoth like Home Depot.  "We've bought appliances from Home Depot since we bought our home," I told several Home Depot representatives today.  "If you are telling me that there is nothing you can possibly do to help me out here, then I'm telling you that I'll never spend another dime in a Home Depot store."  That is "unfortunate," I was told.  But that's it.

I'm pretty stubborn about my occasional customer-service related boycotts.  I'll stick to this one.  There's always another hardware store around, and some of them even still care about their customers.

And I'll also take some small satisfaction in the knowledge that occasionally someone will Google "Home Depot free delivery," land here, and decide to shop elsewhere.

UPDATE: Proving my point, I guess, about the relative leverage an individual dissatisfied customer has over a smaller business as compared to the Home Depots of the world, after I drafted the lengthy expectoration above, I managed to get on the phone with a manager at Home Depot's delivery subcontractor.  He started by giving me the same "nothing I can do" line I'd gotten all day.  Thankfully, instead of blowing my stack I decided to calmly and in good humor relate the whole story to him - after which, mirable dictu, this salt-of-the-earth real human being had a real human reaction.  He apologized, said his delivery company appreciates my business - subcontracted though it is - and asked if he could call me right back.  True to his word, a few minutes later he did call back to inform me that one of his employees would stop by our house on his way home, hook up the new machine and take away the old.

I still think it is ridiculous that this delivery service has a no-lift policy, but in fairness I'd guess that policy found its genesis in a lawsuit filed by some jerk who makes his/her living the same way I do (as an attorney).  At least this no-lift delivery service hasn't discarded entirely the notion of customer service.  Especially in immediate contrast to my dealings with Home Depot over the past 36 hours, that is significantly more than nothing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Is Mitt 'high-fiving bad news'?

A new ad out from Romney for President:



If the Obama campaign deigns to respond, look for its surrogates to parrot a line used last week by Obama's spinner-in-chief, David Axelrod: "Instead of high-fiving each other on days when there is bad news, they should stop sitting on their hands and work on some of these answers."

That line, in turn, echoed a favorite line of our own Governor Patrick, who complained in 2010 of "folks who seem to rooting for failure."  Patrick probably got the line from Axelrod in the first place.  For all of his political talents, it must be occasionally annoying for our Governor to realize that he is in many ways the President's walking political test-kitchen.

Of course the notion that any attempt to counteract the President's increasingly fantastic rhetoric with a little dose of hard reality constitutes 'high-fiving bad news' or 'rotting for failure' is nothing more than a clever evasion.  Republicans who point to the latest evidence of continued economic stagnation  with some variant of satisfaction aren't 'celebrating' the bad news.  They are celebrating the possibility - however slight - that the harsh truth might finally break through the President's airy vacuity in a way that leaves a lasting impression on the electorate.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Top 10 Reads of the Week - June 8, 2012

The Boys of Pointe du Hoc - President Ronald Reagan [Real Clear Politics]
We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved and the world prayed for its rescue. Here, in Normandy, the rescue began. Here, the Allies stood and fought against tyranny, in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.
We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, two hundred and twenty-five Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs... Read the Rest

The "People United" Go Down In Flames - Walter Russell Mead [The American Interest]
...The left’s problem in Wisconsin wasn’t that the right had too much money. The left’s problem is that the left’s agenda didn’t have enough support from the public. Poll after poll after poll showed that the public didn’t share the left’s estimation of the Walker reforms. Many thought they were a pretty good idea; many others didn’t much like the reforms but didn’t think they were bad enough or important enough to justify a year of turmoil and a recall election.
The left lost this election because it failed to persuade the people that its analysis was correct. The people weren’t a herd of sheep dazzled by big money campaign ads on TV; the Wisconsin electorate chewed over the issues at leisure, debated them extensively, considered both points of view — and then handed the left a humiliating, stinging and strategic defeat.... Read the Rest
California's Casino Budgeting - Michael Boskin and John Cogan [Wall Street Journal]
California's fiscal and governance crisis careens from bad to worse. The latest blow: a 70% increase in the state's projected budget deficit in Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget, to $16 billion from $9 billion. Meanwhile, S&P warns of a downgrade to the state's bond rating, already the lowest of any state, and the latest CEO survey ranks California's business climate dead last.
Caught in the symbiotic financial embrace of special interests—teacher and other public-employee unions, trial lawyers and environmental extremists—Mr. Brown and the state legislature repeatedly nibble around the edges of the budget broken by costly, ineffective programs, financed by an uncompetitive, volatile tax system... Read the Rest
Are We At A Demographic Inflection Point? - Michael Barone [Real Clear Politics]
Demographic forecasts generally take the form of predicting more of the same.
Old people have been moving to Florida for the past several years, and old people will move there for the next few years. Immigrants have been streaming in from Mexico, and they will continue to do so. You get the idea.
Most of the time these forecasts prove right. But sometimes there are inflection points, times when some trends stop and others begin. My read of recent demographic data suggest we may be at such a point right now... Read the Rest
Why the Chinese Communist Party is Afraid of a Flower - Will Dobson [Slate]

[Ed Note: This timely column is excerpted from Dobson's The Dictator's Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy, released June 5]
Today is June 4, the 23rd anniversary of the Chinese government’s brutal massacre of its own citizens in Tiananmen Square. That means, like all the June 4s since 1989, that today Chinese security forces are on high alert, watchful for anyone who would attempt to use this day as an opportunity to make a political statement or remind people of the night Chinese soldiers fired on fleeing students in the streets near Tiananmen. But, as special a day as June 4 may be for those Chinese who remember what happened, it is not the only day the regime sits on edge.

The longer the Chinese Communist Party stays in power, the more politically sensitive anniversaries the regime accumulates. The calendar has become littered with dates that remind people of the regime’s crimes or serve as potential flash points. A quick rundown of the Chinese political calendar would include March 10 (the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising), May 4 (anniversary of the 1919 May 4 Movement), June 4 (the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre), July 5 (the 2009 suppression of Muslims in Xinjiang), July 22 (the 1999 crackdown on the Falun Gong movement), and Oct. 1 (the 1949 founding of the People’s Republic). Any of these dates are times when the regime must be on the lookout for those who might try to rally people against the Communist Party. Indeed, the fear was great enough in 2009—when many of these dates had important anniversaries—that the party reportedly established a special high-level task force called the 6521 Group. (The numbers 6521 referred to the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic, the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising, the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, and the 10th anniversary of the Falun Gong crackdown.)... Read the Rest

Quite an admission by Time's Mark Halperin (UPDATED)

Former ABC News Political Director and current Time Magazine and MSNBC analyst Mark Halperin makes quite an admission in his "Between the Lines" column for Time.  Analyzing the various misfortunes that have befallen President Obama's reelection hopes of late, Halperin laments the "negative, mocking" influence of the Drudge Report and comments,
The latest sign of Drudge's potency: Ed Klein, the author of the virulently anti-Obama book The Amateur, was barred from major TV appearances and mostly ignored by the mainstream media, but the book's prominence on Drudge's website propelled it to the No. 1 slot on the New York Times nonfiction list.
Remember all of those "virulently anti-Bush" best-selling authors who were "barred from major TV appearances and mostly ignored by the mainstream media"?  Paul Begala, Molly Ivins, Richard Clarke, coldly spurned to a one.  And oh how the "virulently anti-Bush" fauxumentary filmmaker Michael Moore was shunned!  Even Halperin himself, as co-author of the virulently anti-Palin book Game Change felt the sting of mainstream media rejection. Very tragic, all of it.  Okay... opposite!

Just this morning some of the brightest people I know tied themselves in rhetorical knots arguing that media bias against Republicans is a paranoid figment of conservatives' collectively fevered imaginations.  They'll have a non-response to Halperin's refreshing acknowledgement.  The mind reels.

UPDATE  (June 8): This new self-awareness among major mainstream media figures is apparently something of an epidemic.  Here's CBS News Chairman and CEO Les Moonves, commenting at an Obama fundraiser (let that sink in for a second) [credit: Los Angeles Times, via Breitbart]
CBS chief Les Moonves and his wife, Julie Chen, waited patiently for their wristbands. Obama, Moonves said, "has shown great leadership" on the issue of gay marriage.
Though he heads a news division, Moonves said, "ultimately journalism has changed … partisanship is very much a part of journalism now."
Media bias is hardly a new characteristic of "journalism."  There is something nice - even refreshing - though about the fact that some of the people in charge are finally willing to acknowledge it. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wisconsin Aftershocks Hit MA Unions

This just in from Boston.com:
The state’s largest teachers union has struck a deal in which it would give up significant seniority rights for members in exchange for a commitment from an education reform group to withdraw a far more sweeping ballot initiative proposal.
Paul Toner, the president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, confirmed today his group has been meeting with Beacon Hill legislative leaders to brief them on the deal and present them with a draft bill that would curb the influence of seniority in the placement and firing of teachers.
The MTA’s move comes after weeks of negotiations with a group called Stand for Children/ Massachusetts, which is collecting voter signatures in effort to get its reform plan on the November ballot.
“All along we have been trying to avoid a divisive ballot initiative,’’ said Toner. “We don’t think broad complex issues that are included in the initiative should be decided by a yes or no vote at the ballot box. A long, complicated ballot question is not something a voter should have to digest in a matter of moments in the voting booth.’’
On behalf of easily-befuddled voters across the Commonwealth, let me be the first to thank Mr. Toner and the MTA for looking out for us.

Then again... coming as it does a mere two days after the good voters of fellow Blue States Wisconsin and California dealt public employee union bosses their biggest polling place set-backs in recent memory, it is at least possible that this move by the MTA is motivated by something other than Mr. Toner's stated concern.

Maybe - just maybe - the MTA isn't worried so much about the possibility that we silly voters won't understand the pending education reform ballot initiative, as they are terrified of the possibility that we will understand perfectly well.

Check out Stand With Children's website for yourself.  Pretty straightforward stuff, it seems to me.  I'll bet it seems that way to the MTA too; which is precisely why the union bosses are so anxious to cut a negotiated deal and avoid the kind of voter judgement of their positions and their agenda that the unions in California and Wisconsin suffered this week.

Addendum: Whenever touching upon the caustic effect of teachers unions on education in this country, I feel remiss if I do not again recommend Waiting for Superman.  If you care enough about education to have read this post, then it is a must-see.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Do you Recall? A few thoughts on Wisconsin

First, there's this.  And it is good.



Then these, which are just hilarious:


And of course this.  Which is just... I mean... whoa.


Fate-tempting schadenfreude aside, a couple of related thoughts occur to me this morning: 

First, much has been made of the fact that the President 'mailed it in' (or Tweeted it in, more precisely) in Wisconsin, never showing the kind of support or leadership in a critical race that the Democratic base had every right to expect from him.

Second, much is being made this morning about the fact that pro-Walker forces significantly out-spent team recall.  

Less is being said about just why those two things occurred.  Why did the President and so much of the exceedingly well-funded national labor movement decide months ago basically to sit on the sidelines of a race that all agreed last year would be the defining political contest in the run-up to November's main event (see, e.g., Ms. Maddow's typical understated pronouncements in the excellent vid clip above)?  

Sure polls for a while now have pretty consistently shown Governor Walker leading his foes, but not by anywhere near the kind of margins that would put the race out of reach. Polls last week showed a dead heat... yet there was no 11th hour spending binge from the left, and President Obama did nothing more than task some White House intern with sending out an election eve Tweet.

I've been known to indulge from time-to-time in irrational optimism, but one possible explanation could be that the left's polling told them early on that the price of victory in Wisconsin would be too high - that the argument they would have to make and win is not one that would resonate with the vast middle in the rest of the country.

The fact is, Governor Walker's 'controversial' reforms worked.  And they worked in rather spectacular fashion.  To win the argument they teed up, the public sector union forces would have to convince the public that the reduced spending, deficits, and property taxes that Governor Walker has already achieved are not worth a modest increase in the amount that public employees pay for their still-generous benefits.  They'd have to argue that the double-digit fall-off in Wisconsin public sector union membership since Walker ended compulsory union sign-ups is something other than a workers' verdict against their union bosses.  Talk about a losing argument.

Rather than try to make that argument, thereby highlighting Walker's successes and further alienating the Independents who are already fleeing President Obama in droves, the White House and the national left took a pass. 

By insisting on a recall and losing, the left took a Governor with a mission and handed him a true mandate.  And that, for them, apparently was the lesser evil.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fauxahontas: The Tragic Death of a Delusion



In the most generous interpretation, this whole 'Elizabeth Warren Cherokee' thing is a sad and even tragic tale.  If she can be taken at her word (or at some of her words anyhow), then Elizabeth Warren, flaxen-haired, blue-eyed, pale-skinned daughter of the Oklahoma plains, truly did believe for most of her life that she was part Cherokee.  If that is true, then what we have all witnessed playing out across the pages of the Herald and the Globe over the past five weeks is the slow and messy death of an obviously-treasured self-delusion.  Worse, the systematic dismantling of Warren's sense of self has played out fully in the glare of a media spotlight that she herself invited.  Shakespearean stuff.

Professor Warrern is not who she thought she was.  Nor is her mother who Warren thought she was.  Nor her 'Pee-Paw' of the high cheekbones and decidedly Nordic ancestry.  That is is sad.  And the lengths to which she is going now to cling to her delusion are increasingly uncomfortable to watch.

So uncomfortable, in fact, that Warren's campaign has pulled her effectively off the campaign trail (or any part of it where she might cross paths with a reporter) and resorted to 'addressing' the issue via late-night press release - the most recent of which pretty much tried to un-say everything she's said about the controversy to-date, resulting in yet another Globe front page story... and yet more questions.

Time for Plan C, which apparently calls for Professor Warren to "come clean" one-on-one to hand-picked print reporters who the campaign undoubtedly expected to be friendly and sympathetic.  That is working out only a tiny bit better than her cringe-inducing televised efforts. The first try, with the Herald's resident liberal Peter Gelzinis, was an utter flop, earning her the headline, "Elizabeth Warren Requests A Call, Then Phones It In"
Not to belabor the Cherokee analogy here, but when it comes to the Herald’s recent powwow dance on Elizabeth Warren, well, I guess you could say I’ve been off the reservation.
Maybe that’s why I got a call from her people yesterday, saying Elizabeth would like to speak with me...
...’ll admit that for as long as I’ve been in this business, you always carry a smidgen of hope that this will be the moment when the veneer cracks, and the candidate will bare his or her soul. It almost never happens. And it certainly didn’t happen this time.
“I’ve debated Marisa twice,” a very friendly and energetic Elizabeth Warren said over the phone. “It was fun. I like it. I like Marisa. And I think it’s very important we debate. And if there’s a primary (translation: if DeFranco meets the 15 percent delegate threshold at Saturday’s Democratic Convention), yes, we’ll debate.”
No sooner had Warren said that when she looked right past Marisa DeFranco to say the debates she was really looking forward to were the ones she’d like to have with Scott Brown.
“I certainly hope Scott Brown will be willing to debate,” Warren said.
At that point, we were about a minute, 10 seconds into the interview when I attempted to elicit a response about breast-feeding in New Jersey and some of the Indian stuff.
“I’m afraid I have to rush off to an availability with the governor,” Elizabeth Warren said, as she left me with a warm “thank you” and disappeared into the phone mist... 
On to Plan C 2.0, in which Globe resident curmudgeon Brian McGrory got the call - and had a longer (though no more illuminating) conversation:
Warren maintained that she never personally wrote herself in as Native American on any documents at Harvard, though she lacked specifics in how she informed school officials of her ancestry. “I’ve never seen any Harvard forms,’’ she said. “I don’t have forms on what they report to the federal government. I know that at some point after I was hired, I let them know.’’
Asked how Harvard came to list her as a Native American while she was a visiting professor in the 1992-1993 academic year, essentially a trial run before she was offered a tenured position, Warren replied, “I don’t recall telling them. But I never tried to hide it. I don’t want to mislead in any way on this.’’
When the question was repeated, Warren said, “I don’t know.’’
Warren’s answers were no more enlightening, though never clipped, on other fronts, notably why she told reporters on April 27 that she first learned that Harvard claimed her as a Native American by reading the Herald, only to reverse course in Wednesday night’s campaign statement that acknowledged she had informed Harvard and Penn of her self-identification.
“I misunderstood the question,’’ she said.
Similarly, asked why she never raised her Native American roots with Globe reporter Noah Bierman when he met with Warren in Oklahoma City for a three-thousand word story on her upbringing, published in February, she replied softly, “Noah didn’t ask.’’
Only minutes later, though, while waxing on her Native American heritage, she said, “It’s who I am, it’s how I grew up. It’s part of the home I grew up in. It’s me, part of me, through and through. I can’t change that.’’
To the question of when she had informed her campaign strategists of her general self-identification as a Native American, Warren said, “When it showed up in the Boston Herald. I had never raised it with anyone.’’
Recap: "It's who I am, it's how I grew up... It's me, part of me, through and through..." But it isn't something Warren mentioned to anyone on her campaign?

"It's part of the home I grew up in..."  But it wasn't worth mentioning to a reporter who traveled across the country to Warren's home town for a story on how she grew up?

So the print reporter thing isn't working... Step right up, WCVB TV's Janet Wu. Wu is no pol's idea of a friendly interview, but maybe the way to handle this, the campaign brain-trust must have thought, is to let renowned attorney Elizabeth Warren to head-to-head with an aggressive interlocutor, one-on-one, mano-a-mano. See the results for yourself.

First question, right out of the gate: "Are you a Cherokee." Answer: "I know who I am." And off she goes, straight downhill from there. Again.

The most telling part of the Wu interview didn't make the video clip:
Warren had previously acknowledged that she identified herself as a minority in directories of law school professors. But she could not explain on Friday why she stopped identifying herself as a minority the year she received tenure at Harvard Law School.
Really, isn't that one of those things that does not need any explanation? Surely Professor Warren would recognize this bit of common legalese: Res Ipsa Loquitur. The thing speaks for itself.

When she does dare approach a press gaggle, Professor Warren is very visibly exasperated. This is not what she wants to talk about. She wants to talk about how the "middle class is getting hammered." And sure, she has some interesting things to say about that. Trouble is, Warren apparently exhausted her store of talking points months ago, during that widely-circulated meet-and-greet outburst on the inherent selfishness of greedy Capitalists. Her shtick is boring and stale. Hey! Let's talk about her ongoing self-immolation instead.

Need a reminder of just how opposite-of-believable Warren is when forced to talk about this issue? Oh, okay:

As more and more reporters comb through her background, it becomes increasingly apparent that for Professor Warren self-delusional self-aggrandizement is second nature.  Some intrepid press hound recently turned up a 2011 speech in which Warren claimed to be the "first nursing mother" ever to take the bar exam in New Jersey.

Okay... First, TMI.  Thanks very much.  Second, does that seem even remotely likely?  Or is it perhaps the case that Elizabeth Warren was the first breast-feeding mother to take the state bar in New Jersey - and then seek public recognition for it?

Now would be a good time for this candidate to go well and truly under ground, to jettison plans A, B, and C and work on something entirely different.  Unfortunately for Warren, the calendar has other plans.  This weekend at the Democratic state convention, which the Ds early on hoped would be a coronation but instead is increasingly shaping up as Warren's own personal Sugar Point, a group of actual Cherokee are planning to protest by standing silently outside the convention hall.  Pretty much the Warren campaign's worst possible visual.  And the Professor is sure to face more probing questions from the press.  Maybe she'll be the first candidate in history to address the convention via written statement.  They could use the jumbotron.

But no matter.  Governor Patrick this week declared "on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth," that "we don't care about [the Cherokee] issue."  Got that?  Cease and desist. His Excellency the Governor hath spoken.

The trouble for Warren is that the poll last week that showed a majority of the voters in fact 'don't care' about the faux Cherokee issue also showed that a majority currently still believe she is in fact part Cherokee - which only proves that a majority aren't yet paying attention.  It ain't so.  She may have been raised with that belief.  She may even still hold that belief.  But at this point, that belief has been completely and thoroughly debunked.

When those trusting voters learn that not only did Warren falsely represent herself for years in a way that, indignant protestations notwithstanding, almost certainly advantaged her academic career, but she also spent the last month-plus fibbing repeatedly about it?  Expect those numbers to move some.

The Herald's editors put it well: "In the end, elections are about more than issues and who will vote on which side. They are about character too. And if you lie about the little stuff, what happens when the big stuff comes along?"

Easy. You issue a midnight written statement.

Mitt's 'Morning in America' Ad

The original can never be matched, but this is a pretty good shot at it.

Top 10 Reads of the Week - June 1, 2012

Facebook Also A Loser In Egypt - Mark Steyn [Orange County Register]
So how's that old Arab Spring going? You remember – the "Facebook Revolution." As I write, they're counting the votes in Egypt's presidential election, so by the time you read this the pecking order may have changed somewhat. But currently in first place is the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi, who in an inspiring stump speech before the students of Cairo University the other night told them, "Death in the name of Allah is our goal."
Like!... Read the Rest

Is It Within Bounds To Ask: Is Obama A Socialist? - Paul Roderick Gregory [Forbes]
Democrat strategists know that the American electorate reacts strongly negative to “socialism” and are doing their best to discredit any and all who call Obama a socialist. There can be no doubt that Obama is a socialist in the European reform-Marxism tradition. In France, Obama would be the candidate of the French socialist party. In Spain, he would be at home in the Socialist Worker’s Party. In Germany, Obama would be torn between the Social Democrats and Die Linke. In “Old Europe,” the welfare state is well entrenched. Elections are about tinkering at the margin. The United States has still to decide whether it wants the European welfare state or not. Obama does. Romney does not.
Democrat strategists discredit Obama-is-a-socialist claims by equating them with the ludicrous charge that Obama is a card-carrying communist of the cold war tradition. That is not what is being said. European socialists are proud of their rich tradition and heritage that date back to the split with revolutionary Marxism at the turn of the last century. In the United States, however, candidates must conceal rather than openly proclaim their socialist beliefs... Read the Rest
It's Time To Drop The College-For-All Crusade - Robert Samuelson [Washington Post]
...We overdid it. The obsessive faith in college has backfired.
For starters, we’ve dumbed down college. The easiest way to enroll and retain more students is to lower requirements. Even so, dropout rates are high; at four-year schools, fewer than 60 percent of freshmen graduate within six years. Many others aren’t learning much.
In a recent book, “Academically Adrift,” sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa report that 45 percent of college students hadn’t significantly improved their critical thinking and writing skills after two years; after four years, the proportion was still 36 percent. Their study was based on a test taken by 2,400 students at 24 schools requiring them to synthesize and evaluate a block of facts. The authors blame the poor results on lax academic standards. Surveyed, one-third of the same students said that they studied alone five or fewer hours a week; half said they had no course the prior semester requiring 20 pages of writing.... Read the Rest
Hope: The Sequel - John Heilemann [New York]
...But if the Obama 2012 strategy in this regard is all about the amplification of 2008, in terms of message it will represent a striking deviation. Though the Obamans certainly hit John McCain hard four years ago—running more negative ads than any campaign in history—what they intend to do to Romney is more savage. They will pummel him for being a vulture-vampire capitalist at Bain Capital. They will pound him for being a miserable failure as the governor of Massachusetts. They will mash him for being a water-carrier for Paul Ryan’s Social Darwinist fiscal program. They will maul him for being a combination of Jerry Falwell, Joe Arpaio, and John Galt on a range of issues that strike deep chords with the Obama coalition. “We’re gonna say, ‘Let’s be clear what he would do as president,’ ” Plouffe explains. “Potentially abortion will be criminalized. Women will be denied contraceptive services. He’s far right on immigration. He supports efforts to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage.”
The Obama effort at disqualifying Romney will go beyond painting him as excessively conservative, however. It will aim to cast him as an avatar of revanchism. “He’s the fifties, he is retro, he is backward, and we are forward—that’s the basic construct,” says a top Obama strategist. “If you’re a woman, you’re Hispanic, you’re young, or you’ve gotten left out, you look at Romney and say, ‘This fucking guy is gonna take us back to the way it always was, and guess what? I’ve never been part of that.’ ”... Read the Rest
Four More Years? - Pete DuPont [Wall Street Journal]
Before being elected in 2008, Barack Obama said: "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That belief has turned out to be wholly accurate. America has been greatly transformed by all areas of this administration's policy goals and actions.
The most significant policy change during President Obama's first term was his health-care "reform," the movement of 17% of our economy from the marketplace of ideas and physician-patient decision-making to control and management by the federal government. The Supreme Court is now considering ObamaCare are constitutional, and is expected to decide by the end of June... Read the Rest
Memorial Day Tribute