A Philosopher's Blog

Losing to the Obama that Isn’t

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on September 24, 2012
Official photographic portrait of US President...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I wrote in a previous post, politicians and pundits often craft alternative realities that do not correspond to the actual world. Rather than being a few lies or distortions, sweeping fictional narratives have been presented.

One interesting impact of this tale telling is that some people have come to believe in the fictional world they themselves have fabricated. I am not sure if they believed in that world first and then attempted to get everyone else to try the Kool Aid or if they drank too much of their own beverage and came to believe. Either way, the result seems to be the same: a belief in the existence of an Obama that isn’t (nicely illustrated by Clint Eastwood speaking to a “Harvey” Obama that apparently only certain people can see).

One clear indicator of this is the shock and dismay on the part of conservative pundits such as Laura Ingraham. She recently said “if you can’t beat Barack Obama with this record, then shut down the party.” Other pundits and spinions have expressed incredulity at Obama’s ability to stay ahead of Romney in the polls. This is understandable. On their narrative, Obama is the worst president in history. He has divided the country, brought socialism to America, destroyed jobs, played the race card against all opponents, gone on a worldwide apology tour, weakened America and might be a secret Muslim who was born outside of the United States. Obviously enough, such a terrible person should be extremely easy to defeat and Americans should be clamoring if not for Romney, then at least to be rid of Obama. As such, it makes sense why the people who accept the alternative reality in which Obama is all these things (or at least most of them) are shocked by what is actually happening.

It also makes sense that they would believe that the Republican Party is to blame for the failure to beat such an easy opponent. To use an analogy, imagine that fans of a team believe that an opposing team is pathetic but as the game is played, the “pathetic” team gets ahead and stays there. Rather than re-assess the other team, the fans are likely to start blaming their team, the coaches and so on for doing so poorly against such a “pathetic” opponent. However, if the opposing team is not as they imagined, then they have the explanation wrong: they are losing because the other team is better.  Put another way, their team is not playing against the team they think they are playing against-the pathetic team is a product of their minds and not an objective assessment of the actual team.

In the case of Obama, the conservatives an Republicans would be rightfully dismayed if they were losing to someone as bad as their idea of Obama. However, they are not running against that alternative Obama. They are running against the actual Obama and he is not as bad as they claim. Hence, it makes sense that they are not doing as well as they think they should be doing.  To be fair, the Democrats also have an Obama narrative that is not an unbiased account of the president.

As might be imagined, while the Republicans have a good reason to try to get people to accept their alternative Obama some of them seem to have come to believe that the alternative is the actual. This has a rather practical impact in that to the degree they believe in this Obama that isn’t, their strategies and tactics will be distorted. After all, when one goes into battle accurate intelligence is vital and distorted information is a major liability. It does seem that some folks have fallen victim to their own distortions and it is actually having a negative impact on Romney’s chances.

Romney might, of course, be able to turn things around. While Obama is doing well, the contest is still very close and one should never underestimate the power of distortion in politics. If Romney can get enough people to accept his narrative, then he can win. If not, the actual Obama will win.

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120 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on September 24, 2012 at 8:40 am

    I see that when I go dark the light of reason is extinguished on this blog.

    If you read the post above, you would never know that the U.S. is on a path to financial ruin. A vote for Obama is a vote to continue on this path. It is that simple. In comparison, none of the other stuff matters.

    Back to work. I am a proud member of the 53%.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 24, 2012 at 11:43 am

      I lit that candle to guide you back from the darkness.

      If we are on the path of financial ruin, part of the reason is that the folks in congress seem rather reluctant to put their hands on the wheel and steer us away from the cliff they set a course for.

      As far as Obama leading us to ruin, that is the narrative. But saying it doesn’t make it so. We do know for a fact that the economy tanked under Bush. As to why, the lack of restraint on the financial sector seems to have been a clear factor. What will Romney do that is different and how will it swing things around better that what Obama has done in his slow climb from ruin?

      • magus71 said, on September 24, 2012 at 1:05 pm

        “We do know for a fact that the economy tanked under Bush.”

        We do?

        We know for a fact it hasn’t improved under Obama.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 24, 2012 at 7:18 pm

          It seems to be a matter of historical fact. After all the economy tanked while Bush was president.

          But it has improved. After all, at the height (or depth) of the recession jobs were being lost and the economy was, as they said, in free fall.

    • biomass2 said, on September 24, 2012 at 11:58 am

      TJ: I hope I’m not interrupting your work. Bless your soul, you haven’t retired yet.
      I’d like to begin with the clear understanding that the path to financial ruin’ you refer to was blazed by a conservative administration (exec and legis branches) that created the unfunded Medicare D program,entered two wars, and cut taxes ‘during’ those wars. The Bush tax cuts. ##

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2012/07/17/the-truth-about-the-bush-tax-cuts-and-job-growth/2/
      ends with this:
      “But the GOP meme suggesting that tax cuts equals jobs while, conversely, tax increases on the so-called “job creators” mean less work for the rest of us, simply does not survive any reasonable scrutiny.
      Putting more money in the pockets of the wealthy may create a few jobs for the foreign bankers who get to count the extra money funneled into into the off-shore accounts of the rich, but there is nothing in the way of actual data to support the notion that putting more money into the pockets of the wealthiest Americans will inure to the benefit of those looking for work.
      I wish it were otherwise.”
      The article simply summarized: Jobs weren’t created any more successfully under W’s tax cut than they have been under any two term president. It’s hard to argue that we weren’t on a path to ruin ’01 to ’08, though likely some diehards will try. It’s pointless to argue how the country would have fared under McCain/Palin, but it might be good fun for us to speculate when you’re not hard at work. And it’s pointless to predict that either candidate will get us off that ‘path to ruin’ leading to the cliff any faster than events will allow.
      I, for one, have less confidence in Romney. For some reason, I don’t believe experience running a corporation, or a baseball team , or the Olympics, or an oil exploration company, . . . or a state, all the while holding a silver spoon in one’s mouth guarantees that an individual can run a national economy. See Bush.
      Meanwhile, I’ll stick with the socialistic :), Godless :), Muslim:) **** president I know, not the etch-a-sketch ex-governor, Bain man-devil **** I don’t.

      ##Perhaps you should have been out there in front during the Bush years, lighting the way for W and company. . .
      ****multiple sources

      • T. J. Babson said, on September 25, 2012 at 7:52 am

        biomass:

        I voted for Nader in 2000 and Kerry in 2004, so I was never a Bush fan. Saying that Bush ran $500 billion deficits hardly excuses Obama from running $1200 billion deficits.

        Obama is great on style, but I suspect math is not his strong point. We cannot run $1200 billion deficits any longer. We need to pay down our debt ASAP, and the only way to do that is to shrink the government and reform entitlements.

        You’ve got to look past the style and go on substance. Who actually understands what we are facing in terms of national debt? In a few years just the interest payments on the debt will be the biggest budget item.

        • biomass2 said, on September 25, 2012 at 9:49 am

          “Saying that Bush ran $500 billion deficits hardly excuses Obama from running $1200 billion deficits.”
          I hope you’re not misattributing that idea to me. I ‘am’ saying that dismissing the impact of the events of the Bush administration, even 4 years after he left office, is foolish. Hell, the aftershocks are still being felt. Nearly all of the big four—tax cut, Medicare Part D, war to name three— continue. . .And who state for certain the cumulative effect, over time, of those policies? And who can forget the circumstances that brought about the Bush-Paulson TARP?

          To repeat what I said above, I’d rather have the president I know, even with his flaws, than the mega-rich wannabe I don’t know and can’t know because he and his views are ever-changing. Perhaps before election day he’ll make a new policy statement or two that fits into my world view. Nothing’s impossible in the search for electoral votes.

          I ‘am’ saying that , unless someone can explain to me why I’m wrong, I will continue believing that understanding a state debt is not the same as understanding a national debt. That running a company is not like running a nation. I’m not certain anyone understands the national debt in terms of getting both houses of congress to solve it. I’m certain that multiple solutions have been presented by noted experts on the economy from both sides of the ideological chasm. I’m certain that neither you, TJ, nor I, nor anyone else on this blog can be certain who may be right. Seriously are you ‘dead’ certain the conservative approach will keep us from going off the cliff?

          Bless you for not voting for Bush. And who did you say you voted for in ’08?

    • magus71 said, on September 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm

      TJ,

      What is clear is that if Romney is elected and things get better, Mike will employ his sophistic mastery and give Obama the credit.

      Any argument against Obama is always met with: “Bush did it too” (even if it’s not quite true), or “it was bound to happen, since 8 years ago, Bush….”

      The only thing we can do at this point is stop talking and vote. There will be no convincing. Mike is the most competitive person I know, and his stubbornness in this regard is merely an extension of that competitiveness.

      • biomass2 said, on September 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm

        magus71
        Please note that I for one don’t say that Romney will do what Bush did. I’m making no predictions. My crystal ball’s in the shop. Inexplicably, it’s gone dark, and I’m told it will take ’til after the election to fix it. I don’t know how TJ managed to get such quick service on his. I would add, however, that he should take it somewhere where the service is slower, but the end result is better :( .

        I’m saying I have no reason to believe that Romney’s qualified to perform better than Bush did or successfully strike a new path.
        And I believe there are significant matters of scale to consider. Just as blindly calling for small government a la the kind of government that succeeded in the 19th and 20 centuries ignores the fact that US territory and population were notably smaller in the good old days, assuming that a guy who runs companies and small states can necessarily handle the presidency “just because” is a stretch. A brief example would be what he did for his foreign credentials on his one (and only— not surprisingly) excursion to the UK and Israel and Poland.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 24, 2012 at 7:25 pm

        There is, as always, some question as to the extent to which the president controls the economic state of country. However, if Romney gets elected and the economy improves, then there would be some grounds to infer that his policies had a causal role. However, as is the case with Obama, the causal connections would need to be carefully examined.

        Naturally, if the hypothesis is that the president gets the credit or blame for the economy, then Clinton would be the big winner and presumably his policies should be followed again.

        I don’t argue that Obama gets off the hook by doing what Bush did. Rather, my point is that to single out Obama for criticism based on X when Bush also did X would be unfair. Now, if X is wrong when Obama does it, then it would also seem wrong for Bush to have done it.

        • T. J. Babson said, on September 24, 2012 at 10:05 pm

          “Naturally, if the hypothesis is that the president gets the credit or blame for the economy, then Clinton would be the big winner and presumably his policies should be followed again.”

          Great idea. Let’s go back to Clinton’s policies.

      • T. J. Babson said, on September 25, 2012 at 7:55 am

        Things will get better because people know that Romney understands math.

        • biomass2 said, on September 25, 2012 at 9:51 am

          Interesting statement.

          • T. J. Babson said, on September 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm

            On national TV, Obama said he did not know the size of the debt.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm

              He was just expressing a commitment to Plato’s epistemology: one cannot know what is flux.

            • biomass2 said, on September 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm

              Can Romney step into the same river three or more times, then claim he knows the river—where it has been and what it will be— because he , himself, can be and has been whatever the river wants him to be? Can he then claim that that’s not what he meant to say at all?

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 25, 2012 at 10:57 am

          Being president is more than just a matter of math.

          One concern I have with Romney is one that was repeatedly raised by his competitors, namely that he does not seem to consistently hold to a set of core principles. While people can justly evolve their views, Romney seems to have shifted his positions to simply match the views of those whose votes he needs at the time.

          A second concern I have with Romney is the principles that he is currently endorsing, such as those behind his 47% speech. This sort of view, which seems to be essentially like Rand’s ethical egoism, is morally problematic.

          A third concern is that it is not clear what his policies will be, other than what seems to be the usual line of lower taxes and less regulation.

          • T. J. Babson said, on September 25, 2012 at 11:06 am

            “…principles that he is currently endorsing, such as those behind his 47% speech…”

            He wasn’t endorsing any principles in that speech. He was explaining to a bunch of hard-headed money men how he was going to win the election.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 25, 2012 at 11:12 am

              He certainly seemed to be endorsing principles, such as the idea that the people who do not pay federal income tax believe they are entitled to state support and that they are incapable of taking responsibility. This speech seems to clearly rests on an ideological view that is similar to that of Rand.

        • T. J. Babson said, on September 25, 2012 at 11:03 am

          “…namely that he does not seem to consistently hold to a set of core principles.”

          Exactly. He is a problem solver instead of a rigid ideologue.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 25, 2012 at 11:09 am

            While he clearly knows how to make money, I would not equate a lack of consistent principles as a sign of problem solving skills. Unless, of course, the problem is having a consistent set of principles. In that case, not having them would solve that problem.

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm

              How would you define a pragmatist, Mike? Romney was governor of Massachusetts, and was able to work mostly with Democrats.

              Why are you twisting this into something negative? I thought we wanted politicians who could work with the other side to get things done.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm

              Are you saying that Romney changing his professed views in accord with the direction of the political wind of the moment is the same thing as working with Democrats?

              While Romney was a moderate to liberal governor of Massachusetts, I am not sure that entails he will be willing (or able) to work with the Democrats if he gets elected.

              Are you hinting that his conversion to conservatism is merely a pragmatic ploy and that he will pragmatically revert to a more moderate form so as to work with the Democrats?

              I generally regard a lack of commitment to principles as a negative thing, no twisting required. I do not expect a person to be fanatical and unyielding, so my endorsement of principles is not an endorsement of unthinking and unyielding dogmatism. A person can have principles but be able to compromise on matters that are not in violation of core principles. As such, I’m not an absolutist.

              As far as pragmatism goes, I accept the usual definition. However, there is a point at which what is alleged to be pragmatism is actually a lack of principle. Being willing to say anything to get what one wants could be seen as pragmatism, but I would not praise someone for being thus pragmatic.

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 25, 2012 at 6:09 pm

              The issues Romney cares about are mostly fiscal. He thinks he can get the economy moving, reform health care, etc. What are the principles involved here? Honesty in accounting? Being truthful with the American people? Remember he was teasing Obama about promising to make the oceans recede whereas Romney wants to make the lives of average people better. Is improving the lives of average people a principle?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 25, 2012 at 6:27 pm

              So, his conservative posturing was just that, posturing?

              He does claim that he can do these things. The health care matter is rather interesting-after all, Obamacare is based on Romneycare (as his Republican critics noted). As such, President Romney would be acting against Governor Romney in this matter. Now, people can change-but this goes back to the question of what Romney’s principles might be. You have cast him as a pragmatist who just wants to set all things right. And has the skills to make it so. If that is who he really is, then he would presumably be a good choice. However, I am not sure who the real Romney might be. This is not a political ploy-after all, he has been criticized about this by people who now support him.

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm

              Romney’s whole career has been about taking troubled enterprises and turning them around. That’s what Bain did–try to fix troubled companies. That is what he did with the Olympics. He has clearly signaled that he will keep parts of the ACA and reform the rest. He has also signaled that although he won’t raise tax rates, he will eliminate deductions that favor the rich so they will in fact pay more under Romney.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 26, 2012 at 11:38 am

              Romney was certainly a money-maker and good at it. After all, he makes in a day what I make in a year…and, as he says, he hasn’t worked in a while.

              However, making a profit on a company and running the country are rather different things. As comedians have pointed out in jokes, Romney doesn’t get to pick winners and avoid losers. He is stuck with all 50 states, so the model changes. Also, getting things done via politics is rather different from how it is done in business.

              While his business skills are relevant (hopefully they have not rusted since he last used them), there is more to being president than being rich.

            • biomass2 said, on September 25, 2012 at 10:00 pm

              Again, TJ.
              When Mitt accomplished those things did he have a Senate and a House to deal with? Let’s assume for a moment that the House would be a little less accepting of his plans. Could he take the same approaches he used with the Olympics and be successful. He’s going to have to do more than eliminate some deductions that favor the rich to accomplish his goals. He’s going to have to eliminate some deductions for the middle class as well. Has he ‘clearly signaled’ which deductions will be dropped?If he would do so, do you think that might weigh on the results of the election?
              When he dealt with the Bain was he simultaneously dealing with foreign affairs? Currently, Republicans have a single-focus ticket. Romney and Ryan seem surprisingly uninformed about foreign policy. Watch this page out of the ol’ vid book,

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2In3Hvn61s

              and listen to Ryan’s ‘specific’ description of his foreign policy experience. . .

  2. magus71 said, on September 24, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    What’s amazing is the number of noobs that surround the President. Even Hillary messed up when it came to foreign policy in the Middle East. Now we’re left with a distanced Israel and a bunch of Arab countries run by Islamists. And yet again, we helped these idiots get into power by bombing stable governments which never threatened us and providing moral support to throngs of terrorists just because they were fighting the man. We’ll be paying for this for decades–and it won’t end in our favor like Iraq did.

    What an absolute failure this foreign policy has turned out to be. A stronger and more aggressive Russia and China, destabilized Arab nations, Iran on the verge of nukes and Israel–the only country I’d want to live in in the Middle East–is made to feel like it’s the bad guy compared to Iran.

    Where are the experienced, sensible people in this administration? Where are the Presidents advisers? How can so many professionals be so wrong, so often? I think the Middle East confounds Democrats because they still want to go by a Marxist model, which just doesn’t work in countries like Egypt.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 25, 2012 at 11:08 am

      Obama seems to be doing well in the Middle East. After all, many tyrants have fallen and democracy is on the rise.

      A look at the history of the Middle East and the West is useful for sorting out the hostility that exists and the problems. After the Ottoman Empire fell, the West (excluding Germany) divided up the Middle East and then engaged in the policies of colonialism and imperialism. Fast forward to the Cold War when the US backed dictators (complete with secret police) in a grotesque violation of our own principles regarding the basis of political legitimacy and inalienable rights. The Soviets, of course, backed their own dictators. Under the dictators, the more liberal opposition groups were destroyed. The Islamic groups did better surviving against the dictators and the dictatorships also served to radicalize people. As such, it is hardly a shock that the fall of the Shah lead to what we have today. In the case of Egypt and Libya, the US sided with the people and hence the anti-Americanism of the intensity we saw after the fall of the Shah has not manifested. While we are seeing some anti-Americanism, we are also seeing pro-Americanism and there is the fact that those engaged in the violence are a tiny minority.

      Since I value the core principles of the United States (democracy, rights, freedom, justice and so on) I favor a tyranny free Middle East. If we believe that we have the right to decide our fate, we cannot justly support tyrants to oppress their own people just to serve our interests. Golden rule and all that.

      • magus71 said, on September 26, 2012 at 8:55 am

        Afghanistan is a democracy. Pakistan is a democracy. Democracy is associated with peace and success; it is not the cause of it. Egypt elected an Islamist who is anti-Israel and will spend his career trying to undermine Israel, which will not lead to more peace in the Middle East.

        I am for democracy because I am for the individual. But it does not matter that people have the right to vote. What matters is what they vote for.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 26, 2012 at 11:33 am

          “But it does not matter that people have the right to vote. What matters is what they vote for.”

          What do you mean? One thing about democracy is that people are supposed to have the right to vote as they wish. This means that they might vote in ways you might disagree with.

          • magus71 said, on September 26, 2012 at 11:43 am

            So voting for Hitler was good because it was democratic? Democracy of this kind is merely moral relativism.

            Remember the Shah of Iran.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm

              I didn’t claim that voting for a bad person is good. There is a moral distinction between the morality of the consequences of a specific vote and the nature of democracy. Democracy is such that people (in theory) get to vote as they will. This is generally regarded as good (much like free choice in general is seen as good). However, not all the consequences will be good.

              I do remember the Shah. We backed him and he used his secret police against the people. He got the boot and the fundamentalists took over. Of course, the more moderate people had been eliminated. That has been a general theme of the middle east-the fundamentalists have done the best surviving under the tyrants we and the Russians backed.

      • magus71 said, on September 26, 2012 at 8:58 am

        Also, The Middle East looks very much like what it did in 1979 under Carter. Not surprising.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 26, 2012 at 11:32 am

          How so? Iraq, Libya and Egypt are radically different. Are you saying that 33 years have changed little? That the fall of the dictators has changed little? That the Arab Spring has changed little? I know that there is a strong “Obama is Carter-like” narrative, but it seems unwise to let that narrative distort the assessment of the Middle East.

          • magus71 said, on September 26, 2012 at 11:44 am

            The Iranian Revolution almost exactly mirrors the Arab Spring.

            • magus71 said, on September 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

              You do realize it was Iran that had a hand in many of the Arab Spring uprisings, right? From Bahrain to Egypt, this is true. I suspect we will also find that Iran had something to do with the recent attacks on the US State Department facilities in Libya. Those attacks mirrored exactly what happened after the Terry Jones Koran burning incident. What was not often talked about in the media was that Iran had and has now, sleeper cells whose job is to wait for incidents such as the 14 minute video, and seize the opportunity for violent uprisings. They do this quite often. Known Iranian affiliates in Afghanistan facilitated the violence there after the Koran burning. They waited outside mosques and targeted those they believed to be susceptible to their propaganda.

              In the case of the Arab Spring, Iran is attempting to shape the landscape to their favor. They have allied themselves with Sunni al_Qaeda to do this. My friend, Dr. Scott Catino, taught at a school in Bahrain and told me that Iranian influenced Shia were always trying to undermine the government. It is widely known that Iran was behind the uprisings in Bahrain.

              The “Cairo Doctrine”,as this Administration’s Middle East foreign policy is known, (from Obama’s speech in Cairo “A New Beginning”, is based upon false premises.

              “What else can Obama do? At their national convention, Democrats endlessly congratulated themselves on their one foreign policy success: killing Osama bin Laden. A week later, the Salafist flag flies over four American embassies, even as the mob chants, “Obama, Obama, there are still a billion Osamas.”

              http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-24/news/ct-oped-0924-krauthammer-20120924-7_1_islamic-foreign-policy-muslims

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm

              Iran does have aspirations of being a new Russia and they would be fools not to try to shape the region in their favor. Naturally, we would be bigger fools to let them get away with that. Iran, as you have noted, certainly has no moral qualms about using terror nor do they seem interested in creating free societies.

              I had hoped that the regime would fall, but they have been hanging in there. However, it seems likely that the current regime will not last. This could, unfortunately, lead them to take desperate measures to stay in power. Yet another reason to keep them from getting the bomb.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 26, 2012 at 1:35 pm

              How so? The Libyans are pro-American now. The king of Jordan was just on the Daily show. While there is some anti-American sentiment, there is also strong pro-American sentiment.

            • magus71 said, on September 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm

              Here are the people who control the Libya, now; the men with the guns–al_Qaeda and al-Shabab.

      • WTP said, on September 26, 2012 at 9:25 am

        hence the anti-Americanism of the intensity we saw after the fall of the Shah has not manifested
        Perhaps you missed the protesters on the walls of our embassy in Cairo, invading the compound, tearing down our flag and replacing it with a jihadi one. The only thing keeping the intesitiy of the Anti-Americanism under control is the $1.5 billion in aid that we have promised them. The difference is that the Muslim B-hood is far less friendly to us than the Shah ever was. Either way, security bought and paid for.

        And as for the cold war aspects, you gloss over the fact that the Soviet Union was also supporting their own set of dictators, supplying arms (it was Soviet-manufactured tanks we faced in Iraq, not US ones), etc. You might want to analyze and compare our dictators to theirs.

        As for democracy, it is only valuable in the context that freedoms are guaranteed. Without individual rights guaranteed in a constitution, along with a balance of power between different branches of government, democracy simply leads to mob rule. Without freedom of speech and the press and such, the mob will support whatever dictator they like most. See Venezuela for a more subtle example.

        • magus71 said, on September 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm

          I’d also like to point out that it doesn’t matter so much how many people in any country are friendly to America, so much as how many people are willing to take up arms against America and how easily they can operate in their own countries. Lenin said 1 man with a gun controls a 100 without one. The Libyan government has admitted they cannot control the jihadists in the country. Thousands of extremists were released from prison. We have no way to control the situations in Egypt or Libya. We merely bombed and left a vacuum to be filled: THe most aggressive actor fills the vacuum and I think we know who that is. We simply did not well consider the second and third order of effects in Libya and Egypt before we endorsed and promoted these changes. Now the situation is out of our hands.

          • biomass2 said, on September 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm

            How well considered were the second and third (and fourth and fifth. . .)order of effects in Iraq and Afghanistan?
            Is there not a point where even the most careful and intelligent consideration becomes mere speculation?

            • magus71 said, on September 26, 2012 at 7:40 pm

              The situations in Egypt and Libya are not comparable to what we faced in Iraq and Afghanistan. A whole book could be written on the differences and why they required different approaches.

            • biomass2 said, on September 26, 2012 at 11:04 pm

              “We simply did not well consider the second and third order of effects in Libya and Egypt before we endorsed and promoted these changes.”

              Let me put it another way. To what degree can we predict the outcomes of our actions at any level—international, national, state, or even, God help us, local? Initially , we took actions in Iraq and Afghanistan that , it could rightfully be argued, had terrible results. Whether we follow a Rep- recommended path or a Dem-recommended path with Iran , no one can predict with certainty the outcomes of our actions.

              I seriously don’t believe that the fact that the situations from country to country differ is ways small or large or not at all has any bearing on our inability to guarantee that the outcomes will be as we expect. Do you?

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 27, 2012 at 5:51 am

            Egypt seems to have a mostly functioning government and Libya is trying to build one. True-both countries could undergo Somaliazation and collapse into bands of competing warlords. Do you think we should be more involved militarily in Libya and be ready to roll into Egypt?

            Should the people of Libya and Egypt have a chance to rebuild their own states?

            It is worth noting that we, the Europeans and the Soviets contributed a great deal to the creation of the terrorist groups and radicals that are causing trouble in the region. We should look at the past to learn a bit about what we did and try to avoid doing that again.

            • magus71 said, on September 28, 2012 at 5:34 pm

              Here’s the email I received from Scott Catino, PHD military history, the day after the “embassy” attack in Libya. We worked together in Afghanistan where I wrote papers on the potential regional problems that could occur because of the destruction of the Libyan government.

              “Well Doug, you certainly called it right, and well ahead of most people.

              I remember you and talking about Libya, and the whole mess with AQ and other radicals positioning themselves in the so called Arab Spring and “democracy.” Apologies, excuses, appeasement, and other cowardly and failed methods are dominating US policy and action under the Administration.

              It is going from bad to worse, and the Obama supporters still don’t get it, and refuse to see cause and effect.

              Any way, hope you and your family are well, Battle Buddy.

              I’m glad to be home and working online. I am working full time for AMU and enjoying it much.

              Have a great week.

              V/R,

              Scott”

            • magus71 said, on September 28, 2012 at 5:36 pm

              And here was my reply:

              Scott,

              Great to hear from you and glad you and your family are doing well. You deserve it.

              I blogged and talked about the Arab Spring and what a sham it was. The same people who failed to understand the strategic implications of Iraq and Afghanistan, and how we must choose our victory conditions wisely, also failed to understand what happened in Libya. They saw Qaddafi and saw “bad guy”. They didn’t understand that he held at bay thousands of other bad guys. He was a figure that the public was well aquainted with so he was worth big momentary political points. We even witnessed the rebels commit a war crime on YouTube when they killed him and nary a complaint from UN types.

              Even though AQ has no real military strength, they have far more political and strategic savy than most people in Washington.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2012 at 10:28 am

              There is a pragmatic appeal in leaving the dragon alone if it keeps the orcs and kobolds from rampaging about. Of course, leaving a tyrant in power means that the people who are crushed, killed, and oppressed under him are paying the price for our security. This might be morally justified if this is better than the alternative. After all, there are arguments that we should have left Saddam alone for just that reason. However, we should be honest about the moral cost and who is paying the price.

              There is also the concern that these dictators will fall and if we supported them, this will not be forgotten (as per the shah). Also, there is the moral concern of grotesquely violating our own political and moral philosophies regarding democracy and rights.

              I do note that Hobbes would hold to your view-a tyranny is better than disorder.

  3. T. J. Babson said, on September 25, 2012 at 7:42 am

    During his first run for president, Barack Obama made one very specific promise to voters: He would cut health insurance premiums for families by $2,500, and do so in his first term.

    But it turns out that family premiums have increased by more than $3,000 since Obama’s vow, according to the latest annual Kaiser Family Foundation employee health benefits survey.

    Premiums for employer-provided family coverage rose $3,065 — 24% — from 2008 to 2012, the Kaiser survey found. Even if you start counting in 2009, premiums have climbed $2,370.

    http://news.investors.com/092412-626848-health-premiums-up-3065-obama-vowed-2500-cut.aspx

  4. T. J. Babson said, on September 25, 2012 at 10:14 am

    An Obama voter wakes up:

    The blue social model is eating its young with the active help of President Obama’s Department of Education. More specifically, two generations of student debtors are being hounded and harassed by President Obama’s hired debt collectors because a bad federal program and a dysfunctional higher ed machine (with an assist in many cases from poor choices by immature young people) have locked them into a lifetime of debt peonage.

    The federal government that Democrats like to portray as the friend of the friendless, the hope of the poor, the light of the world and the most generous uncle that ever lived has turned into the most inexorable, hard hearted and relentless debt collector in the nation, hounding a generation of students literally into their graves over loans they will never be able to pay and which they cannot escape. Using techniques that are banned by law when it comes to private debt collection agencies, the federal government is exempt from statutes of limitations and bankruptcy rulings and can garnish Social Security checks and disability payments. Yes, handicapped, disabled people can have their meager checks cut to satisfy student loan debt on jobs their disabilities now make it impossible to do.

    As a brilliant article by Andrew Martin in the New York Times (at its best, still the best when it comes to serious reportage) shows how federally contracted private debt collectors, more ruthless than the hounds that pursued Eliza across the ice floes in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, track broke and even disabled student loan defaulters down the decades of their lives.

    The student loan program is a shining example of the blue social model in the midst of decay. It’s a program that used to work pretty well, but over time has morphed into a nightmare. Conceived at a time when college costs were low, a relatively limited number of mostly pretty qualified young people went to college and full employment made the transition from college to the workforce a straightforward process, the student loan program helped a generation of young people to a good start in life.

    It was government at its best. It gave people a boost and opened the doors of opportunity, but it also imposed a burden on the beneficiaries. Loans had to be paid back. But since education created a greater earning capacity, those who got the loans could afford to pay them back. It worked, and helped to build the nation’s confidence in the architecture of the blue social model: an active federal government, a mass university system and a powerful national economy led by a handful of regulated monopoly/oligopoly firms providing lifetime employment based on educational credentials.

    A sensible and helpful initiative gradually turned into a devouring beast. Many students, of course, still navigate the system with success. They make sensible course decisions at good schools and emerge with skills which raise their earning power. They repay their loans out of that higher earning power, and life goes on.

    But it is clear that for large and increasing numbers of students, the system no longer works in this way. They borrow more money than they can repay, or their school experience goes bad and the credential doesn’t work or they fail to earn it and President Obama’s hired debt collectors are turned loose on them to hound them into the grave.

    Those who get in trouble, by the way, are disproportionately from poor and minority families, are immigrants, and are the first in their families to attempt higher ed. The young people that President Obama’s debt collectors are hounding most relentlessly are exactly the kind of people he hoped most to help.

    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/09/09/obamas-war-on-the-young/

    • biomass2 said, on September 25, 2012 at 10:42 am

      “A sensible and helpful initiative gradually turned into a devouring beast.”
      What increased college costs to the point that they’re now?

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/15/cost-of-college-degree-increase-12-fold-1120-percent-bloomberg_n_1783700.html

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-15/cost-of-college-degree-in-u-s-soars-12-fold-chart-of-the-day.html

      Do the institutions bear any responsibility for the increase? How about medical costs? Do pharmaceutical companies and hospitals and, yes, unions, bear any responsibility for the increases there?
      If the program —a good idea like the author is referring to, for example—is working, should we 1/ drag it to the bathtub and drown it? If there are weaknesses in the legal system should we eliminate law?Anarchy is preferable. . . ?

      Or could we 2/expect all aspects of society to come together to work out solutions that solve the underlying problems that turn good ideas into bad ones?

      That first approach is an admission of irreparable weakness in a system that has been declared exceptional. Do we want to go there?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 25, 2012 at 11:15 am

      The cost of education is certainly a matter of concern. Based on my own experience and information gathered from various schools a large area of increase has been in administrative costs.

      Interestingly, public schools and private schools are cheaper than the for-profit colleges (such as Sail) that have been pushed.

  5. biomass2 said, on September 27, 2012 at 9:26 am

    TJ:
    If you’re still there, you might appreciate this. It’s a vid!

    Watch up to the first commercial, if you wish. There you’ll find a humorous and fairly accurate summary of Obama and Romney’s roles.in the race up until now Go beyond, if you’re interested in King Abdullah’s thoughts about the Middle East.

  6. WTP said, on September 27, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Citing Redalert Politics, CNBC.com compiled the following list of gaffes committed by Barack Obama in just the past two weeks:

    1) President Obama referred to Israel’s concern over Iran’s march toward a nuclear program as “noise” and then called Israel one of the nation’s closest allies in the region.

    According to Kristen Silverberg, former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Obama’s commentary is unusual. “There has been a bi-partisan consensus for many years that the US and Israel are the closest of allies.

    2) Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was not premeditated. The commentary directly contradicted top Libyan officials who said the attack was planned in advance.

    3) President Obama stated that his biggest lesson from his first term was that “you can’t change Washington from the inside.”

    4) President Obama said that Egypt was not an ally, only to then be contradicted by his own State Department.

    Not to mention:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7423392n

    Which CBS wrote off as a “misspoke”.

  7. T. J. Babson said, on September 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Obama: vote for me if you want free stuff:

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 28, 2012 at 6:58 am

      Um, okay. But what does this prove? As the Daily Show showed, it is easy to get videos of Democrats and Republicans saying crazy stuff. So the Argumentum YouTubus would seem to prove that none of the candidates are any good.

      • T. J. Babson said, on September 28, 2012 at 7:57 am

        All I am saying is that there are a lot of voters out there who believe Obama will give them free stuff.

        I seriously doubt you will find any videos of Romney voters who believe he will give them free stuff.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 28, 2012 at 9:07 am

          Well, there are some who end up on YouTube. It would be interesting to see an objective poll on the matter.

          There are people who believe that Romney will give them things, including free things from the state. For example, while Romney probably won’t focus on free stuff like food stamps he has supported the for-profit schools that get 86% of their revenue from the state. He is certainly for free stuff, provided that it goes to the right people.

          • biomass2 said, on September 28, 2012 at 9:53 am

            the “right” people

          • WTP said, on September 28, 2012 at 10:48 am

            the for-profit schools that get 86% of their revenue from the state See, this is where the villainy thing comes in. College aide questions aside, the for-profit schools are not getting anything for “free”. They have to work for it by providing an education to the students. It may be many things, but it is not “free” like food stamps or whatever this obamaphone thing is. This is a blatant misrepresentation of a simple fact. You’re much more capable of rendering a better argument than this, so one must ask oneself why you do so?

          • T. J. Babson said, on September 29, 2012 at 9:08 am

            “schools that get 86% of their revenue from the state”

            Let’s unpack this statistic a bit. Much of this money is provide by the G. I. Bill. If you ask a veteran, I think you will find that veterans regard this money as part of their compensation, and so I would take issue as regarding this money as being “from the state.”

            Mike, you are on the state payroll–when you spend your money at the grocery store do you regard this as “government spending”?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2012 at 10:43 am

              Replies
              1. The money is part of their compensation. However, the GI bill is not a paycheck, rather it is money that goes from the state to the school when a vet enrolls. As such, it is still money from the state to the schools. Interesting, using your logic, Social Security and such would not be money from the state. After all, the folks who get Social Security and such earned that by paying in for years.
              2. My major concern regarding veterans is that the for-profit schools are preying on vets. The “radicals” at Allstate note this in an article. Also, I agree with Holly Petraeus that this schools are exploiting veterans.

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm

              There is a clear difference between Social Security and the G.I. Bill. When you join the military you enter into a contract in which you agree to do certain things and in return the government agrees to compensate you. Part of that compensation involves educational benefits. It is all understood up front.

              With Social Security, there is no agreement between you and the government. The government simply transfers some of your money to current social security recipients. Period. There is no contract, and certainly no guarantee that social security will be there for you.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm

              There is an agreement. That is what folks call the social contract. Since we have a democratic state, we can vote out Social Security if we find it intolerable.

              While I think it should be reformed, the idea has generally proven to be a good one.

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 29, 2012 at 7:18 pm

              I’m just pointing out that Social Security is a redistribution program and not compensation for services rendered. Big difference.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 30, 2012 at 6:37 pm

              It seems to be compensation on par with any retirement plan. I work, I pay in, I get money out. True-it could tank, but so could my 401K.

              Now, it could be argued that SS is a bad idea-that we’d be better off keeping the money rather than paying into a national retirement system. That does have some appeal, although there would be the problem of people who end up with no retirement because the private investments tanked or vanished. Or those who could not afford to set aside money for retirement.

            • biomass2 said, on September 29, 2012 at 9:36 pm

              TJ:

              “. . . Social Security is a redistribution program. . . ”

              Saying it doesn’t make it so. Here’s some evidence that there are other viewpoints out there:

              http://www.nber.org/digest/may00/w7520.html
              and/or this
              http://www.nber.org/bah/2009no2/w15070.html

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 29, 2012 at 11:04 pm

              biomass, I never would argue that social security redistributes from rich to poor. It basically redistributes from people who die young to those who live a long time. As many wealthy people live long lives, they do just fine with social security. Also, some generations will do much better than others, others much worse.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 30, 2012 at 6:40 pm

              That is somewhat of an odd way to justify calling something a redistribution system. By this standard, life insurance would be a redistribution system from the dead to the living. Insurance would also be a redistribution system since it distributes money from people who do not use it to those who do. Profit is also a redistribution, since more flows one way. While this would all be true using the term that way, “redistribution” has become a loaded term, almost a dysphemism. Do you mean it in the neutral sense or in the negative sense?

            • biomass2 said, on September 30, 2012 at 11:27 am

              TJ: ” It basically redistributes from people who die young to those who live a long time.” That’s it? Are you presenting this as a fact, or as a criticism of the SS system.

              Let’s not ignore the fact that those who die young often pay SS tax on entrance-level salaries. And, of course, because they are ‘fortunate’ enough to die young, they pay SS tax for far fewer years.

              And we must not forget that those who’ve paid into the system over 40-50 years get back from the system not only the money they’ve paid in but the interest earned on those contributions. Maximum wage earners get that back in about ten years.

              Finally, don’t forget the people who die before they reach the point where they’ve received everything they put into the system. The difference between their contributions and their withdrawals remains in the system to be distributed among the survivors, disabled, and elderly poor of our nation. At least that’s the way I understood the process when I was a teenage wage earner.

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm

              biomass, I was only arguing that social security is different from the G.I. Bill. I don’t have any real problem with social security because it is easy enough to keep it solvent by raising the retirement age.

              Just keep in mind that there is no account with your name on it accumulating interest. It is pay as you go, and when the money runs out it is game over.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 30, 2012 at 6:43 pm

              As I recall, when I used to get the yearly mailings there was an account with my name on it. That is, I am in the system and slotted to get the SS benefits. This seems on par with the usual retirement systems-I pay in and hope that when I retire there will be money left. There is always the risk that, for example, there will be the usual financial shenanigans and my private retirement account will be valueless or vanish in a puff of financial black magic.

            • biomass2 said, on September 30, 2012 at 3:45 pm

              TJ:
              “. . .it is easy enough to keep it solvent by raising the retirement age.” But not for everyone, I hope. If you agree, as I do, with the nber paper that points out that the wealthy as a whole live longer, would you be willing to amend your solution to raise the retirement age more for the wealthy than for the lower middle class and poor? The latter are, after all, most often the ones performing the most onerous and backbreaking tasks in our society .
              I also wouldn’t be averse to raising the SS wage base to $200 or 300k. . .

              “Just keep in mind that there is no account with your name on it accumulating interest. It is pay as you go, and when the money runs out it is game over. ” If the solution is as simple as raising the retirement, I’ll take an Alfred E Newman position: “What, me worry?”

            • T. J. Babson said, on October 1, 2012 at 10:06 am

              “As I recall, when I used to get the yearly mailings there was an account with my name on it. That is, I am in the system and slotted to get the SS benefits. This seems on par with the usual retirement systems-I pay in and hope that when I retire there will be money left.”

              Mike, you are living in cloud cuckoo land (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_cuckoo_land)

              In the usual retirement system there really is an account with money in it. Your statements from the government are just scraps of paper. Keep in mind that we are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. Do you really think this can go on until you retire and beyond?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 1, 2012 at 12:02 pm

              The paper from my retirement company is also just paper. After all, if the investments tank or the company collapses into scandal or ruin, then I would be out of luck. This has, of course, happened to people already.

              Actually, chaos claims the earth long before my retirement age. Whoops, wasn’t supposed to mention that.

            • biomass2 said, on October 1, 2012 at 11:10 am

              “In the usual retirement system there really is an account with money in it.”

              http://www.investopedia.com/articles/retirement/08/safe-db-plan.asp#axzz283huKiOA

              The answer to the article’s title question “Is Your Defined-Benefit Pension Plan Safe?” appears to be a qualified “Probably. . .most of the time. . .but don’t “bet the ranch” on it”. And we know that the 401(k)s that are often replacing DB plans are subject to the vicissitudes of the market. So God help you if you had plans to retire during a deep recession or at any other time the market decides to take a lengthy roller-coaster dip.

        • magus71 said, on September 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm

          As has been pointed out, the Democrats see the increase in food stamps as a positive thing.

          • T. J. Babson said, on September 29, 2012 at 9:10 am

            Obama: vote for me if you want free stuff. Mike can deny this is Obama’s message, but the voters certainly pick up on it.

            We could call it the “free stuff dog whistle.”

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2012 at 10:44 am

              Could you back that up with specific evidence other than YouTube videos of someone talking about free stuff?

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 29, 2012 at 3:51 pm

              Easy, right from the horse’s mouth:

              http://ecards.barackobama.com/wont-go-back?source=ecards-hub#

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm

              The link didn’t work properly. The one that says “Dear Mom, can I borrow $18,000 to pay for my birth control.”

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2012 at 4:40 pm

              $18,000? Is that to buy condoms woven from silver?

              That eCard needs to be fact checked. :)

              Birth control is not actually free stuff, since the requirement is that insurance cover it, not that birth control is just handed out to everyone for free. This is comparable to health insurance covering viagra or wellness checks. I get a “free” checkup each year, in the sense that I don’t pay for the check up beyond what I pay for my insurance.

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 29, 2012 at 7:11 pm

              The girl thinks it’s free. Really, of course, someone else is paying for it.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm

              Which girl? Also, if someone buys insurance, then they are presumably paying for what they get. When I get my “free” yearly checkup, I’m paying for that.

              Unless you mean that insurance is such that the people who do not have to use it are paying for the people who do. If so, that is true of all such systems and not unique to the coverage of birth control.

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm

              The girl who is asking her mom for $18,000. The point is that the birth control is free to her, and in return she should vote for Obama.

          • T. J. Babson said, on September 29, 2012 at 9:12 am

            Romney: vote for me if you want the opportunity to work hard and make something of yourself.

            Mike needs to realize that Romney’s message has limited appeal to a whole swath of voters.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2012 at 10:52 am

              Do you mean that he will improve the wage situation? That is, he will change the situation outlined by Business Insider namely that while corporate earnings are at record highs, wages are at record lows? This would presumably require increasing the minimum wage significantly and compelling the corporations to pay better.

              The vast majority of us work for wages, so the opportunity to work hard and make something of ourselves would seem to require better wages. Wage earners are the big swath.

              Or do you mean that he will make things even easier for businesses, you know the ones making record profits, so they can set more records? These are a small swath.

              Or do you mean something else?

              What, exactly, will Romney do? What reasons are there to logically accept the claim that these plans will give us said opportunity? Or are you just noting that this is what he is claiming?

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm

              Mike, it is really very simple. The following from the Huffington Post lays it out clearly. We need to increase our economic freedom. This is what leads to economic growth and prosperity.

              The United States is rapidly losing its status as one of the freest economies in the world. Economic freedom has decreased in the United States substantially since 2000 and lately its ranking among countries is plunging downward even faster. This spells trouble since economic freedom promotes growth and a higher standard of living.

              Economists James Gwartney, Robert Lawson, and Joshua Hall publish an economic freedom of the world report annually. Their latest report, released this week, shows that the United States, which was ranked the second freest economy in 2000, now ranks 18th. Economic freedom increased from 1980 to 2000 in the United States while it was generally ranked behind Hong Kong and Singapore as the third freest economy in the world. Today it ranks behind European welfare states like Finland and Denmark, and places traditionally more hostile to economic freedom like Qatar.

              The declines in freedom have occurred because the federal government has grown larger and more intrusive. It has been a non-partisan affair. Approximately two thirds of the decline in economic freedom occurred during Bush’s presidency. But pace of decline doubled during the first two years of Obama’s presidency. In fact, the new index is based off of data from 2010. If the rate of decline has remained unchanged over the last two years the United States has already fallen to 40th and ranks behind places like Romania, Sweden, and Panama. Unfortunately the data needed to investigate that is not available yet.

              http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-powell/economic-freedom-index_b_1891240.html

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2012 at 10:20 am

            On the one hand, if there are people in need, then helping them would be good. When it is in my power, I will not let people go hungry or without shelter. I expect my government to have a similar code of ethics.

            On the other hand, it would be preferable if everyone could earn a sustainable wage. Unfortunately, the economy is in rough shape and even in good times the economic system is grotesquely unbalanced and unfair.

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm

              “When it is in my power, I will not let people go hungry or without shelter.”

              Sure, just snap your fingers and say “let there be food” and “let there be housing.”

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm

              Well, no. It mainly involves things like donating food, doing charity events, and helping out people. I’ve had friends in need stay with me, which is something within my power.

              In life, many of us get beat down at one point or another. We owe each other help in those situations. Just as I would not wish to be abandoned, I will not abandon others.

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm

              “On the other hand, it would be preferable if everyone could earn a sustainable wage.”

              Everyone can earn a sustainable wage if the government would realize that flooding the market with cheap labor does not help those on the bottom.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm

              What cheap labor? Are you talking about immigrants? Or something else?

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 29, 2012 at 7:16 pm

              Of course I’m talking about immigrants. Let’s look at roofers. Climbing up on a roof and installing shingles is difficult, dangerous work. I suspect you would have to pay an American $40/hr to do this kind of work, but an illegal will do it for $20/hr. If the immigration laws were enforced more Americans would have a sustainable wage.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 30, 2012 at 6:34 pm

              Assuming that Americans would not work for $20 an hour, at least in the case of roofing. Interestingly, the agriculture states that worked hard to boot the illegals ended up with crops rotting in the fields since Americans would not do the work. So, while simply booting illegals would remove competitors who will work harder for less (thus making the invisible hand cry invisible tears) it would also remove the only people who will do certain jobs. As such, these unintended costs would need to be considered as well.

            • biomass2 said, on September 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm

              ” I suspect you would have to pay an American $40/hr to do this kind of work, but an illegal will do it for $20/hr. If the immigration laws were enforced more Americans would have a sustainable wage.”
              TJ: Is a sustainable wage like a living wage? Is a living wage a just wage?

              No doubt, if I were an employer, I’d want to pay the lowest wage I could for the best quality work . But I wouldn’t hire an illegal immigrant under any circumstances, because, you know, well, he’s illegal. Yet American employers across this country, from the food industry to the construction industry, do just that. To their shame and ours.

              If we expect the unemployed to pick up and move to get jobs that meet their skills and expectations, and we expect them to do it without bitching, I expect we should expect the same of our employers ,the small and large businessmen who are the backbone of this nation, to be adaptable as well. I would hope that adaptability would not entail moving their businesses offshore.

  8. WTP said, on September 28, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    And now from the Romney that isn’t:

  9. magus71 said, on September 28, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Obama’s policies killed the economic recovery:

    “What we find is that the recovery from the bottom of the recession in January 2009 through June 2009, the official end of the U.S. recession, can only be attributed to policies implemented during the Bush administration, as no policy implemented by the Obama administration could have had any meaningful effect upon the economy during these six months.”

    http://politicalcalculations.blogspot.com/2012/09/applying-technical-analysis-to.html#.UGZbck3O3g-

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2012 at 10:34 am

      A few points worth considering.
      1. The post does not seem to identify Ironman properly. As such, it is rather hard to assess his/her/its qualifications.
      2. The author begins by casting doubt on his/her own methodology: “For us, that’s a fun question because while we don’t put much stock in technical analysis, we do consider it to be a very weak form of statistical analysis, so it’s not as completely useless as astrology in divining data.” and “In practice, there’s really not much more to technical analysis other than arbitrarily connecting the dots between the peaks and troughs of data points within a trend, combined with trying to divine patterns from the data, like the infamous “head and shoulders” pattern or the equally fun “dead cat bounce”.
      3. The analysis rests on an assumption about the time to impact of policies and this is based on citing one authority.
      4. I’ll use an economic expert to provide an alternative hypothesis: “But my own view is that if we– if– if– if we win on November 6th there will be– a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. And we’ll see capital come back and we’ll see– without– without actually doing anything, we’ll actually get a boost in the economy.”

  10. T. J. Babson said, on September 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Get your free colonoscopies right here! Obama’s strategy is to offer free stuff to select constituent groups in return for their votes.

    Biden promotes free colonoscopies to seniors in Florida

    In Florida this afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden reminded supporters that thanks to President Obama, they could now get colonoscopies without a co-pay.

    During his speech, Biden reminded the audience that some of their Republican friends would distort Obama’s record on Medicare.

    “Everyone knows, everyone in this room knows that President Obama has increased the benefits available to people on Medicare by the action he took,” Biden said. “You are now able to go get a wellness exam, and guys, if you conclude you need a colonoscopy because of the feeling you had or you need a breast health examination, you don’t have to pay a co-pay for that.”

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/biden-promotes-free-colonoscopies-to-seniors-in-florida/article/2509330?custom_click=rss#.UGjUPFHa_j9

    • biomass2 said, on September 30, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      I can see any number of ways that providing colonoscopies or breast exams free would benefit the country—you, me, and the next guy (or gal). Do we want to identify and deal with potential physical problems in the earliest stages, when they perhaps could be successfully dealt with , or would it be less expensive, if we paid the likely considerably greater costs of treating the cancers once they’re more advanced?

      One point of view, I presume, would be that it’s cheaper to just wait a while and let’em die. . . . . .(shrug)

    • T. J. Babson said, on September 30, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      I have nothing against colonoscopies, biomass. I do have a problem with bleeding young people dry so that some wealthy seniors can avoid a co-pay.

      Social Security and Medicare, which provide retirement and health insurance benefits for senior Americans, generally without regard to need, are funded by taxes on the relatively meager wages of younger Americans who will never enjoy anything close to the same benefits. From any serious fiscal or moral viewpoint, and particularly for the sake of helping those truly in need, Social Security and Medicare should be ended.

      The demographic math is irrefutable: Entitlements are killing the safety net. They should be replaced with social welfare programs that cover all citizens, regardless of age, but only those who are too poor or incapacitated to take care of themselves. Focusing on those truly in need instead of automatically shoveling out larger and larger amounts to well-off senior citizens is the best way to avert looming fiscal catastrophe and restore some morality to an indefensible system.

      http://reason.com/archives/2012/07/23/generational-warfare

      • biomass2 said, on September 30, 2012 at 11:33 pm

        TJ Be aware that Social Security covers the disabled, survivors, and the elderly poor as well as “some wealthy seniors”. ” . . . bleeding young people dry so that some wealthy seniors can avoid a co-pay.” Don’t you think that’s strongly biased and highly misleading? Where did you get that?
        Social Security and Medicare ‘are’ the safety net. When you can convince the public to replace those programs with a means-tested version of the same thing, come back to me and we’ll talk about “entitlements are killing the safety net”. Why? See the following.

        ” Entitlements are killing the safety net. They should be replaced with social welfare programs that cover all citizens, regardless of age, but only those who are too poor or incapacitated to take care of themselves.”

        I have some problems with these sentences. By many definitions of ‘entitlement’ that I have seen,. the approach you recommend, i.e. “social welfare program[ ] that cover[s] all citizens, regardless of age, but only those who are too poor or incapacitated to take care of themselves” ‘is’, itself, an ‘entitlement’ :
        “An entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits based on established rights or by legislation. A ‘right’ is itself an entitlement associated with a moral or social principle, such that an “entitlement” is a provision made in accordance with legal framework of a society.” wikipedia
        “1b : a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract
        2 : a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also : funds supporting or distributed by such a program ” m-w.com

        • T. J. Babson said, on October 1, 2012 at 8:47 am

          Seems pretty clear, biomass. I am frankly surprised you are OK with the status quo.

          Social Security and Medicare, which provide retirement and health insurance benefits for senior Americans, generally without regard to need, are funded by taxes on the relatively meager wages of younger Americans who will never enjoy anything close to the same benefits.

          http://reason.com/archives/2012/07/23/generational-warfare

          • biomass2 said, on October 1, 2012 at 9:43 am

            I’d be surprised, too, if that’s what I actually said. In terms of Medicare, TJ, I’m just saying you’re suggesting replacing an entitlement with an entitlement, not that I’m “OK with the status quo.” If the status quo involves an adequate safety net for survivors, the disabled, and the elderly poor in the nation under God, then, yes, I’m OK with the status quo. But, as I’ve stated clearly above, I’d be quite open to means testing ,applying a higher wage ceiling to the payroll tax, and a later retirement age for wealthier seniors, . as possible steps to be taken to protect SS’s viability. You’ve been highly critical of “wealthy seniors” when looking for a flaw in the plan, so it seems my suggestions should be quite attractive to you.
            Yet, I admit I’m not certain what you mean by that phrase—”wealthy seniors”. If I look at your earlier statement about those “too poor or incapacitated to take care of themselves” as being the only beneficiaries of your program, .I begin to wonder what you mean by the terms “too poor” and “wealthy” and how you apply those terms to a solution to the current problems.

            “. . .funded by taxes on the relatively meager wages of younger Americans”
            I don’t get your math here. 6+% of “meager wages” doesn’t provide anywhere near as much to the fund as 6+% of the much more substantial wages of the 35-and-above wage earners who continue to contribute until they’re 62 or 67 or longer. May I suggest replacing “funded” with “partially funded”?

  11. WTP said, on September 30, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    The man who receives “what he has not
    earned and does not earn, the man who
    does not render service in full for all that
    he has, is out of place in a democratic
    community; and he is equally out of
    place, whether he be a man living in idle
    luxury on millions which he has not
    earned or which he has won in ways that
    represent no service to the State; or
    whether he be a man living in idle poverty, enjoying the luxury of squalid sloth,
    content to exist on some form of charity,
    or, what is still worse, on what is in its
    nature the plunder of the industrious.
    Effortless ease ignobly enjoyed and the
    avoidance of serious work render a man
    equally unfit for citizenship in a republic,
    whether he be a multi-millionaire or a
    tramp. The division between the worthy
    and the unworthy citizen must be drawn on
    conduct and character, and not on wealth
    or poverty. Arrogance and envy, the bitter
    scorn of the rich man for the poor man
    and the bitter hate of the poor man for
    the rich man, are merely the opposite
    sides of the same dark shield.


    The Roman Republic fell, not
    because of the ambition of Cassar or Augustus, but because it had alread};- long
    ceased to be in any real sense a republic
    at all. When the sturdy Roman plebeian,
    who lived by his own labor, who voted
    without reward according to his own convictions, and who with his fellows formed
    in war the terrible Roman legion, had
    been changed into an idle creature who
    craved nothing in life save the gratification of a thirst for vapid excitement, who
    was fed by the State, and who directly or
    indirectly sold his vote to the highest bidder, then the end of the republic was at
    hand, and nothing could save it. The
    laws were the same as they had been, but
    the people behind the laws had changed,
    and so the laws counted for nothing.

    - Theodore Roosevelt, Nationalism and Democracy The New Outlook, March 25, 1911

  12. T. J. Babson said, on October 3, 2012 at 8:07 am

    The Obama that is. Questions the USA Today wants answered:

    Shortly before you took office, your economic advisers projected that if Congress passed a major stimulus bill, the unemployment rate would stay below 8%. The bill passed, but the jobless rate quickly topped 8% and peaked at 10%. In fact, it hasn’t been below 8% during your presidency. Did you underestimate the problem, or did you oversell the stimulus?

    You’ve repeatedly proposed to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year while leaving the Bush tax cuts in place for everyone else. Soaking the rich might be good politics, but non-partisan tax and budget experts agree it won’t come close to producing the revenue the nation needs. That will require far more people to share the burden, including some of the nearly half of Americans who pay no federal income tax. Where do you plan to get the rest of the money? And how will you convince the public that sacrifice is necessary?

    You promised early in your presidency to cut the federal deficit in half, but your latest budget, the one for fiscal 2013, misses by about $200 billion. The deficit for the fiscal year that ended on Sunday topped $1 trillion for the fourth year in a row. You also gave the cold shoulder to your own deficit-reduction commission, the Simpson-Bowles panel. What evidence can you offer that you take deficit reduction seriously?

    You have said that Social Security doesn’t contribute to the deficit now. But Congressional Budget Office numbers show the program has been in the red since 2010 and is on track to borrow half a trillion dollars over the next decade. According to the Social Security Administration statement being sent to workers across America, the system “is facing serious financial problems, and action is needed soon to make sure the system will be sound.” Why do you deny there’s a problem, and what specific changes will you support to fix Social Security for the long term?

    Ballooning health care costs are threatening to bankrupt the nation. Medicare spending alone is forecast to rise from $560 billion this year to $987 billion in 2021. Though the Affordable Care Act sets up numerous cost-saving measures, health experts say it’s unclear any of that will be enough. The independent board that’s supposed to limit Medicare growth doesn’t have the tools to do it. You don’t like the Republicans’ voucher proposal for Medicare, but how will you contain costs if your experiments don’t work out as planned?

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2012/10/02/presidential-debate-obama-economy/1609445/

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on October 3, 2012 at 11:19 am

      Obama did break multiple promises, which puts him on par with all other presidents. While this is a problem, it cannot be cast as a special problem unique to him. Now, if you have proof that Romney will keep all his promises, then that could give him an edge (assuming his promises are worth making).

  13. [...] recognized this real world phenomenon and that its existence is widely accepted (except perhaps by philosophy professors who would seem to care more about credentials than thought.) var AdBrite_Title_Color = '0000FF'; [...]

  14. [...] recognized this real world phenomenon and that its existence is widely accepted (except perhaps by philosophy professors who would seem to care more about credentials than thought.) Here, the chart shows that the rate [...]


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