Thursday, October 27, 2011

Peter Schiff vs. #ows

Peter Schiff Takes On Occupy Wall Street Protesters

My hero. Vintage quotes:

"I didn't sign a contract with society."

"Buffett is full of it."

"Wouldn't you like to get into the 1%?"

"Why should I work for free?"

"Do you think I should work for you, or for myself?"

"I'm employing 150 people. How many do you employ?"

"I'm doing my share, why aren't you doing yours."

"I'm probably paying more income taxes than everyone around me, combined, so I'm doing my fair share."
Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Currently residing in the "where are they now file"...

or more specifically, the "where did it go" file...

I'd like to give a big reminder to all those who have forgotten (or consigned to the past) an important component of American history, a component that rests on a belief in our founding principles and destiny to improve the lot of mankind. That component: manifest destiny.

For the first half of our nation's history, we were not shy about stating our goals to expand. From Florida, to Loozana, to Tejas, to Alta California, to 54'40 (Polk sold us out!), Hawaii, Alaska, Gadsen, Philippines, Cuba, etc., we've had many forays into territorial conquest or purchase. To be fair, there was never a consensus definition of what "manifest destiny" really called for, in terms of territorial limits. Whether it meant simply reaching the Pacific; or as John Quincy Adams had it, all of North America; or something even bigger--was undefined and an item for debate. What is not open for debate was that, for this period of time, we consistently sought to broaden the reach of the American experiment; and spread the freedom and prosperity it brought our people and the world.

It's interesting to me that we've abandoned this philosophy. We're quite willing to fight far-flung battles that are incredibly expensive in both blood and treasure, in defense of principles, with no tangible gain to our national wealth.

At the same time, we're willing to spend tons of effort to secure our huge land borders, and do it ineffectively. This is not surprising, given our current land borders are not naturally defined and defensible, and hence are extremely difficult to police.

But in a world where resources are becoming increasingly scarce, and that scarcity (expressed in prices) will likely increase in an exponential way, why do we no longer seek to expand opportunity for the American people and economy, by growing our territory? And as a result, grow our natural resources and human capital?

I'd like to know why this thought is off the table.

Scouting trip coming up...

Brisk air this week. And I see that when we hit the woods, at 7 AM on Friday, the temperature in Hawley is set to be 29F, with snow on the ground.

Love it.

SHK, ManBeast, Beetz and Caribou are WEAK

for not participating in the Mad Money Challenge this year. Boo to you guys.

Here comes the howling

The Club for Growth:

“The big problem many conservatives have with Mitt Romney is that he’s taken both sides of nearly every issue important to us. He’s against a flat tax, now he’s for it. He says he’s against ObamaCare, but was for the individual mandate and susbidies that are central to ObamaCare. He thinks that collective bargaining issues should be left for states to decide if he’s Ohio, but he took the opposite position when he was in New Hampshire. This is just another statement in a long line of statements that will raise more doubts about what kind of President Mitt Romney would be in the minds of many Republican primary voters.” [link]
Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mitt on Kasich's Ohio reforms

I've been leaning more heavily towards supporting Mitt in '12 as the weeks have gone by. Largely, this is the result of my feeling that the gap between he and his opponents, when it comes to executive ability, is quite large. With each debate, that large gap comes into sharper focus. His command of the issues, both from a sound bite/elevator pitch standpoint, and from a more granular, under-the-hood standpoint, is robust. No one save Gingrich shows both the breadth and depth of knowledge.

But when it comes to ability to enact an agenda, I have more confidence in Mitt than Newt. Mitt's tenure in the private sector was legendary (see here for a well written explanation that is part critique but ultimately reinforces the strength of his bio). His record of enacting his political agenda in a hostile MA environment is underrated. And the effectiveness of his campaign, in terms of stability of personnel, fund raising, consistency of message, and lack of mistakes, has been a strong testament to his leadership.

Newt is a dynamo of policy ideas, but I honestly don't know what to expect from his as an executive. His tenure as the head of the House GOP was erratic. His campaign dissolved earlier this cycle, before being resurrected on the strength of his debating. I could readily support Newt as a candidate, but Mitt seems the safer play for the country (not for our platform, nor, necessarily, for the GOP's electoral chances). But for the day-to-day grind of running the country, and being up to the challenge of the never-ending media gauntlet, I'd cast my lot with Mitt.

All of that, however, is predicated on my notion that Mitt is conservative enough to make a meaningful difference in the direction of our country. And while I recognize he's not Marco Rubio, I've believed that he would meet the "conservative enough" standard for the following reasons:

-He's put himself on the record for the repeal of Obama care.
-He's clearly looking for lower taxes and a more business friendly regulatory environment.
-He wants to stem the tide of government growth, even if his cap on federal spending, and where the cuts will come from, haven't been defined in any real way (at least that I've seen).
-He's articulated a defense of marriage for the wellbeing of children, and a pro-life philosophy.
-His foreign policy pronouncements, both on paper and on the stump, show a well studied understanding of the issues and the players--even if his "American greatness" philosophy is a bit vague in practice. For instance, I'm glad he wants to reverse the tide of "mea culpa diplomacy", but I'm concerned he's overcommitting to an expensive ramping up of our long-distance military commitments.

But what if Mitt's campaigning is basically, how to put this...obfuscation? What if he's triangulating himself as just conservative enough for the right, and just moderate enough for the center, but he doesn't know where HE is? This, of course, has been the critics charge right along. I've always been somewhat dismissive of it. Just as W wasn't dumb because of his twang, Mitt's not a liar because he's a little stiff, well dressed, and sounds a bit practiced. To the contrary, Mitt's rigorously analytical nature (as evidenced with his tenure at Bain), his personal discipline and embrace of a received morality (as evidenced by his biography), and his traditionalist bent (stylistically, I'll admit) always led me to think he was probably more conservative than he lets on.

Every once in a while, though, some evidence comes along that makes you rethink your assumptions. This article, from the Washington Examiner, has given me a lot to ponder:

Campaigning in Ohio today, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney stopped by a Republican Party phone-bank making calls in support of Gov. John Kasich's government union reform referendum, but refused to endorse the actual referendum. CNN's Peter Hamby called the scene an "incredible moment in politics."

Kasich already signed his government union reforms into law in March of this year, not long after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker won his battle against government unions. But Democrats, with the help from the AFL-CIO, placed a referendum on next week's ballot Issue 2, that would repeal the new law. A vote for the referendum would keep the law, a vote against would repeal.

Kasich's new law: 1) bans government unions from bargaining over health insurance, 2) requires that all government union members pay at least 10% of their wages toward their pensions, 3) ends seniority rights as the sole factor in layoffs, 4) replaces seniority pay raises with merit pay raises, 5) bans government unions from striking, and 6) makes government union dues voluntary. But government unions would still be able to bargain about many other topics including pay and working conditions.

While entitlement reform is arguably a bigger issue for the long-term solvency of the nation, the public sector union issue is a crucial component of the battle over the size of government at all levels. If the influence of the "union dues->political contributions->union concessions->higher union dues" cycle can't be broken now, when our national credit rating has just been downgraded, and we are facing the clear prospect of a European path to insolvency; then the war over the size of government has been completely lost. The symbiosis between public sector unions and liberal elected officials provides an ever-present catalyst for more government spending. Scott Walker risked his career, and possibly his personal safety, because he understood the gravity of this political conflict. The House GOP leadership stood firm and carried the fight a long way (perhaps not as far as some would have liked, but still, a long way), because they did as well.

Mitt, apparently, wants to duck this battle, at least for the time being. I can only presume his reasons lie in his political calculation, and the good of his campaign.

I say this now, having only heard one side of the story. I anxiously await the Romney camp's retort to the howls of criticism that are surely coming his way. But I'm no longer as predisposed to brushing off the critics as I might have been yesterday.
Thursday, October 13, 2011

Moves Like Jabba | Break.com

Moves Like Jabba | Break.com

A great blog

Check it out.
Monday, October 10, 2011

Foreign Policy: Huntsman vs. Romney

An interesting contrast is developing. Read more about it here.

One key way in which their differing world views show up in policy:

Huntsman, unlike Romney, is open and eager to find cuts in the defense budget. The difference could create a powerful point of debate between the two given the economic focus of the election and the interest in cutting waste from government spending. When they were considering presidential runs, both Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels unapologetically favored thorough reviews of the defense budget and wanted to see cuts. Without the pair of fiscally conservative governors in the race, the primary has lacked much discussion of the issue. But with Huntsman’s and Romney’s differing visions, it could crop up on Tuesday.
Friday, October 07, 2011

Ain't it fun

when a band goes on well after their date of expiration? Guns N Roses should have packed it in decades ago. Here's the proof:

Their last two lead guitarists were named Buckethead and Bumblefoot.

I shit you not.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Fredo's Mad Money Challenge '12, Part 1

For round 1, you get $20 to pick all the contracts you want in the first four primary/caucus states. You can pick as many or as few contracts as you want in any primary. You could bet all your money on one race. You could bet all four races. You could play multiple candidates in the same state. You could play the same candidate in every state. The choice is yours.

Remember, each contract pays off $10 if it ends "in the money" (i.e., if the candidate wins that primary), $0 otherwise.

Best of luck, gentlemen! I'll go first in the comments, but I think it's best if you make your picks looking at mine, so we don't end up gaming each other picks. That would give the person who goes last an advantage over the person who goes first. Try to make your picks ASAP so the later pickers don't get the advantage of more info.

I'll provide an example below:

Joe Schmo could buy:

NH Romney x 1 (@ $7.79) = $7.79
SC Cain x 2 (@ $0.98) = $1.96
SC Bachmann x 2 (@ $0.35) = $0.70
SC Romney x1 (@ $3.00) = $3.00
NV Romney x 1 (@ $6.55) = $6.55

$20.00 and he's tapped out.

At the end of the first four primaries, Joe could win as much as $40. If Romney wins NH and NV, Joe gets $10 for each of those. If Cain or Bachmann win SC, Joe would get an additional $20, since he bought two contracts for each of the candidates.

Round 1: The First Four

Here are the Intrade prices for the first four GOP contests:

Iowa

Rick Perry $3.09
Mitt Romney $2.00
Ron Paul $0.60
Michele Bachmann $1.45
Herman Cain $0.90
Rick Santorum $0.09
Newt Gingrich $0.08
Jon Huntsman $0.04
Field $0.24

New Hampshire

Mitt Romney $7.79
Rick Perry $0.60
Jon Huntsman $0.60
Ron Paul $0.40
Herman Cain $0.20
Newt Gingrich $0.10
Michele Bachmann $0.20
Rick Santorum $0.02
Field $0.30

South Carolina

Rick Perry $3.75
Mitt Romney $3.00
Ron Paul $0.60
Jon Huntsman $0.20
Rick Santorum $1.20
Herman Cain $0.98
Michele Bachmann $0.35
Newt Gingrich $0.13
Field $0.60

Nevada

Mitt Romney $6.55*
Rick Perry $4.00
Ron Paul $1.20
Michele Bachmann $0.45*
Jon Huntsman $0.45*
Herman Cain $0.30
Newt Gingrich $0.10
Rick Santorum $0.10
Field $0.01*

All contract prices are shown are "last executed price", except for those noted with "*", in which no contract has yet changed hands. In this case, the price above is the midpoint between the bid and ask price.

Round 2 will be the next batch of primaries (if the race is not settled), and Round 3 the Veepstakes.

First place in each rd gets 5 points
Second place 3 points
Third place 2 points
Fourth place 1 point

Highest point total after all 3 rounds wins Fredo's Mad Money Challenge!

Palin to supporters: "Nyet!"

(when she's on her front porch)

Anyhow, that didn't take long. Yesterday I thought we might have weeks. We had one day.

The only semi-serious candidate yet to announce definitively is Rudy, but I'm not buying that he's even considering it. I think he's just trying to drum up some donations from ignorant supporters to help retire some debt from last cycle.

So....

here's our list of candidates (sticking to those still in the race who've been in at least one debate):

Romney (Fmr Gov. - MA)
Perry (Gov. - TX)
Cain (GA)
Huntsman (Fmr Gov. - UT)
Gingrich (Fmr Rep./Spkr. - GA)
Paul (Rep - TX)
Santorum (Fmr Sen. - PA)
Bachmann (Rep - MN)
Johnson (Fmr Gov. - NM)
Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The field is almost set

We just haven't heard from Sarah yet.

That means we can start our GOP primary soon!

I'm thinking this year, we can rank candidates in the order they will finish in terms of total delegates amassed. As a tie break, we can guess the percentage of the delegates that will be amassed by the top 3.

Just need to a wait a couple of weeks to see if the pitbull with lipstick is in or out.

For the 3rd straight cycle

it seems like the GOP has a candidate who is perfect for the situation, and will not get the nomination. The GOP devotion to primogeniture seems to get the best of the party, time and again.

McCain would have been perfect in 2000.

Mitt would have been perfect in 2008.

Christie would have been perfect in 2012.

I think the reasons are obvious, and I can elaborate in the comments if need be. But the point is, I'm disappointed.

Christie to announce his intentions at 1 PM

Well, my dream may finally come true. Here's hoping he runs.

I know he is squishy on some social issues and on gun control. I can live with that, so long as he couches his previous positions as "the right policies for NJ," and takes a strong pro-Federalism approach to his national policies. If he commits to appointing conservative jurists I can easily give him a pass on the policies I disagree with.

Why?

Because the man is a gifted politician. Because his priorities (combating the voracious public sector beast) are perfectly matched to our current perdicament. And because he's the kind of person who can change the national conversation, not just for years, but for decades. Just like with Reagan, when rhetoric crosses over into results, people notice. Christie WILL get things done, and the distinction between the GOP as courageous financial stewards and Dems as sellouts will be etched into the memory of generations of voters.

EDIT: Alas, as I was composing this, news agencies are reporting that Christie will not run. Drat.

All aboard the Mitt train.

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Always sniffing for the truth

Always sniffing for the truth

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