Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Who has control of the budget, stupid?

Supporting article here

Sunday, May. 02, 2004
Where Presidents Have No Power
By Charles Krauthammer

We are the home of the brave and the land of the free, but our elections are an exercise in irrationality. Presidential races are won and lost largely on the state of the economy. War is the only larger issue, and of course this year Iraq looms large. But bad news from Iraq appears not to be altering the presidential race. John Kerry certainly seems to think the election will hinge on the economy, which is why he just spent three days riding 427 miles through the economically hard-hit Midwest on a bus called the Jobs First Express.

The last challenger to unseat an incumbent President, Bill Clinton, ran on the axiom that it's "the economy, stupid." He won, but that does not make the assumption — that Presidents control the economy — any less fictitious. They do not. The idea that they do, the central motif of most every presidential election, is crazy.

"Bill Clinton and Al Gore created 22 million new jobs." So says Democratic National Committee chief Terry McAuliffe and just about every Democrat alive. How can anyone believe this? Clinton did not create any jobs. Bill Gates (Microsoft) did. Andy Grove (Intel) did. Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com) did. In fact, they created an industry. The '90s were a decade when the silicon chip met the "peace dividend" -- billions saved by the ending of the cold war -- and gave us an economic boom. Clinton deserves credit for not getting in the way. He fulfilled the economic Hippocratic oath: first do no harm. Not screwing up a boom going on around you, however, is not the same as job creation.

The fact is that Presidents have very little effect on the state of the economy. Sure, they can affect trade policy, regulation, the environment and, of course, foreign policy. But the economy? With globalization, trillions of dollars flow daily in and out of financial markets. One dollar in 10 is now involved in foreign trade. All advanced economies are subject to huge outside forces beyond a President's control. Moreover, U.S. Presidents have even less economic control than most other democratic leaders. The President does not control the money supply; the Federal Reserve does. Presidents cannot dictate their own budgets (as Prime Ministers can in parliamentary systems like Britain's); here, Congress has the ultimate say. Even worse, more than half the federal budget goes to entitlements and "transfer payments" like Social Security, where government is merely a conveyor belt transferring money from younger workers to older folks. What is left, "discretionary" spending, is a mere 8% of the $11 trillion economy Presidents are reputed to control.

All of which makes American presidential elections a competition in mythmaking. What exactly did the first George Bush do that made him responsible for the mild recession of 1991 that cost him the election of 1992? Today the Democratic mantra is that the second George Bush has cost the economy nearly 3 million jobs. (The numbers keep changing. It is now down to 1.8 million jobs lost.) However, 94% of net job losses to date occurred during the first year of the Bush Administration. Can anyone seriously argue that an Administration that had barely come into office and whose economic plan had barely been enacted caused those job losses? If they are to be attributed to anyone it should be to Clinton, who had "run" the economy for the previous eight years. But that too would be unfair and irrational. The losses were a result of autonomous economic forces — the Inter-net bust and the subsequent recession — followed by autonomous political events like 9/11 and the war on terrorism.

Yet this election is likely to be decided largely on the economy. And even more narrowly than that. The dominant domestic issue in the past six months has been job creation — a single number, released monthly, that nearly monopolizes political debate and media coverage. When it is up, as it was in March, Republicans rejoice. When it is not, Democrats start measuring for curtains for their White House offices.

This is odd in the extreme. There are a dozen other measures of economic health. Democrats understandably do not want to talk about them because they happen to be positive: the fastest growth rate in the West (now settling in at a healthy 4.2%), historically low interest rates and mortgage rates, record high productivity, record high homeownership, booming home values and low inflation. Why, even the unemployment rate, the traditional measure of the job market, is significantly below the average for the past three decades. Nonetheless, the burning political issue is job creation, a thin slice of the economic picture, which in turn is but one slice of the country's overall well-being — and almost entirely outside a President's control. Bizarrely, that number, and the rhetoric it generates, will have an unprecedented effect on who gets to be President — in other words, who gets to pretend to control the economy for the next four years.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin vs. Obama: A resume comparison

--- Sarah Palin vs. Barack Obama

Don't forget, by the way, that they're running for different positions

Sarah Palin

Barack Obama

Office being sought

Vice President

President of the United States and Leader of the Free World

Full name

Sarah Louise Heath Palin

Barack Hussein Obama II


Sarah Barracuda

Barry Obama; "The One"

Public opinion

Attractive in a "naughty librarian" sort of way

May be The Messiah (or the anti-Christ)





5: two sons, three daughters

2: two daughters

Religion/Church attendance

Evangelical Christian;

attends Juneau Christian Center when in Juneau and grew up attending Wasilla Assembly of God

Attended Trinity United Church of Christ for 20 years, a "black liberation theology" church formerly led by Rev. Jeremiah Wright and governed according to the Black Value System

Current Job

Governor of Alaska

Junior Senator from Illinois

Previous Public Jobs

Mayor of Wasilla, AK (1996-2006); President of Alaska Conference of Mayors;

City Council member (1992-1996)

State Senator (1997-2004);

Community Organizer

Executive Experience

Governor for 2 years;

Mayor for 10 years


Foreign Relations experience

Governor of state that borders two foreign countries (Canada and Russia)

Chaired Senate subcommittee on Europe but never called it into session;

once gave a speech to 200,000 screaming Germans

Military Affairs experience

Commander in Chief of Alaska National Guard;

Son is enlisted Infantryman in U.S. Army


Private Sector Experience

Sports reporter;

Salmon fisherman

Associate at civil rights law firm

Speaking ability

Beautifully executed initial stump speech in Dayton, OH hockey arena without a teleprompter

Also gave a speech in Texas after her water broke before flying home to Alaska to give birth

An enter...wait- -did you say without a teleprompter??

Spouse's name

Todd Mitchell Palin

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama

Spouse's occupation

Salmon fisherman;

Former North Slope production supervisor for BP Oil

Vice President for Community and External Affairs at University of Chicago Hospitals;

former Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago;

former Executive Director for the Chicago office of Public Allies;

former Assistant to the Mayor of Chicago;

former associate at Sidley Austin law firm

Reaction to spouse's political success

Quit 17-year BP oil job when BP became involved in natural gas pipeline negotiations with wife's administration

Promoted and given 160% pay raise by UofC hospitals within months of husband's election to U.S. Senate;

Employer received $1,000,000.00 federal earmark, requested by husband, after her promotion

Coolest thing about Spouse

Tesoro Iron Dog Snowmobile race champion (longest snowmobile race in the world);

In 2008, while defending his championship, was injured when he was thrown 70 feet from his machine. He was sent to the hospital but still finished in fourth place

Sister of Oregon State University head basketball coach Craig Robinson

Most Courageous Moment in Public Service

Resigned in protest from position of Ethics Commissioner of Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in order to expose legal violations and conflicts of interest of Alaska Republican leaders, including the former state Attorney General and the State GOP Chairman (who was also an Oil & Gas Commissioner) , who was doing work for the party on public time and supplying a lobbyist with a sensitive e-mail.

Gave an anti-Iraq war speech to a crowd of anti-Iraq war demonstrators in Hyde Park in 2002

In Current Office Because...

Upset sitting Governor in GOP primary due to public support for her efforts to clean up corrupt government establishment

Republican opponent, who was leading in the polls, was forced to leave race after unsealing of divorce records exposed a sex scandal


Change and Clean Government

Hope and Change;

"Bringing Change from Outside Washington"

What they've done to live that theme:

Replaced entire Board of Agriculture and Conservation because of conflict of interest;

Resigned from position of Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in order to expose corruption among members of own party

Selected 36-year incumbent Senator as running mate

Family Affairs

May have removed State Public Safety Commissioner as part of effort to protect sister in messy divorce and child custody battle

Often says, "I am my brother's keeper";

Brother lives in a hut in Nairobi on $12 per year

Union affiliation

Union member, married to Union member

Endorsed by a union

Iraq and Troop Support

Formerly (pre-surge) critical of apparent lack of long-term strategy for Iraq;

Visited wounded U.S. soldiers in Germany;

visited AK National Guard soldiers deployed to Kuwait;

Son deploying to Iraq on 9/11/08 as Army infantryman

Gave an anti-Iraq war speech to a crowd of anti-Iraq war demonstrators;

almost visited wounded troops in Germany, but decided to go shopping in Berlin instead

Bipartisan/" maverick" credentials

Married to a non-Republican;

Exposed corruption within own party;

Campaigned for Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell against corrupt GOP congressman Don Young;

Called out Sen Ted Stevens (R-AK) to "come clean" about financial dealings that are under fed investigation

Talks about bipartisanship

Legislative Record

Passed a landmark ethics reform bill;

Used veto to cut budgetary spending;

Prevented "bridge to nowhere" that would have cost taxpayers $400 million dollars.

Voted "present" over 100 times as IL state senator

How they dealt with corrupt individuals in home city/state

Exposed legal violations and conflicts of interest of Alaska Republican leaders;

Campaigned against corrupt GOP Representative;

Ran against and defeated corrupt incumbent governor in GOP primary

Launched political career in home of unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers (and still refers to him as a part of "mainstream Democratic Chicago";

Purchased home with help of convicted felon Tony Rezko


Lifetime member of NRA and avid hunter;

video can be found on YouTube of Palin firing an M4 at a military firing range

Worked to pass legislation in Illinois that would prevent all law-abiding citizens from owning firearms


Opposed "Bridge to Nowhere" project;

Said Alaska should avoid relying on federal money for projects;

Campaigned against porker Don Young (R-AK) in 2008 primary

Secured federal earmarks for wife's employer and for campaign bundlers


Pro life; gave birth to 5th child knowing that it would have Down's syndrome


only IL state sen. to speak against the Born Alive Infant's Protection Act, which required medical care to be given to live infants who survived abortions


Believes energy independence is a matter of national security;

For drilling in ANWR, which is in her state

Says Americans should "get tune-ups" and "check tire pressure";

Says "we can't expect the world to be okay with" our use of heating and air conditioning


Chair of Alaska Conservation Commission (2003-4);

Announced plans to create sub-cabinet group of advisors to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in AK

Talks about the environment a lot

Athletic prowess

Runs marathons

Has reporters tailing him to the gym

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Let the race begin

This is my first blog and Election Day is just around the corner. Tonight the RNC is on day two and I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed because I wonder about the continuance of the the United State's greatness.

This election appears to be the most important in my lifetime. Fuel costs are high, the dollar is weak, there are concerns over home ownership and mortgage industry solvency, we worry about the overall physical health of Americans. The mind-numbing posturing of politicians preaching their opinions while waving the flag makes me wonder what is more important - America, aka We The People, or they open their mouth simply to hear their own voice.

Right now Joe Leiberman is touting a message of putting America first; which seems to be the best thing I've heard today regarding this election. I watched some of the DNC and I saw a prom of sorts. Barrack Obama is a celebrity. He's supported by celebrities such as Oprah and others in Hollywood. The media love him. I think of Bill Mauer and how he has smugly lampoons about the Bush Administration as if he is a duty expert in America and her politics and I'm reminded of a commercial where a soap opera star states, "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on television." Bill, if you ever get wind of this... kiss my ass. And bring Ben Affleck and Sean Penn along too.

All over the news today there are criticisms of Sarah Palin, John McCain's VP choice. Rhetoric is bouncing all over the media and the Internet about her inexperience and making an issue of her daughter's pregnancy. When it comes to experience, let's all be remineded - Democrat and Republican - the Oval Office has been occupied by a former state governor (Clinton-AR and Bush-TX). And as for the sensationalist nonsense over Bristol Palin's pregnancy... detractors actually have the audacity to discern because of this, Sarah Palin is an unfit mother, which by default, means she can't lead. How is this any more or less relevant than Bill Clinton's marital infidelity as governor of Arkansas, his affair with Monica Lewinsky, and the claims of "I didn't inhale." Stick to the business of running the country, I say.

It isn't a secret. Obama can deliver a speech. Damn, that man know how to stir an audience. I've always said people eat with their eyes. How many times have you looked at a menu and chosen a meal because the picture looked appealing? If you go solely on photogenic charisma, Obama looks better than McCain. If you go by oratory skills, Obama sounds better than McCain. By profession I'm a salesman, a marketer. I look for problems that my product or service can solve. I do not claim to be the greatest the salesman on the planet but I understand branding, packaging and presentation. As my girlfriend jests, quoting a movie line, I say the same, "What's in the bo-o-o-ox?" When I peel away the minutia disquised as substance I see Obama as a well-intentioned guy but not one that will serve my country. I see a man that is trying to sell my country his message of "change we can believe in" and qualifications based on his charisma and charm. Subsequent posts will demonstrate I feel Obama is the wrong choice for us.

Let the race begin.