I’ve been getting emails about an election conspiracy — how could it be that Mitt got fewer votes than John McCain in 2008? First, Obama got fewer votes than in 2008.
But Team Romney flopped big time with its get out the vote software, named Orca.
It crashed along with millions of conservative hearts.
What is Project Orca? Well, this is what they told us:
Project ORCA is a massive undertaking – the Republican Party’s newest, unprecedented and most technologically advanced plan to win the 2012 presidential election.Pretty much everything in that sentence is false. The “massive undertaking” is true, however. It would take a lot of planning, training and coordination to be done successfully (oh, we’ll get to that in a second). This wasn’t really the GOP’s effort, it was Team Romney’s. And perhaps “unprecedented” would fit if we’re discussing failure.
The entire purpose of this project was to digitize the decades-old practice of strike lists. The old way was to sit with your paper and mark off people that have voted and every hour or so, someone from the campaign would come get your list and take it back to local headquarters. Then, they’d begin contacting people that hadn’t voted yet and encourage them to head to the polls. It’s worked for years.
From the very start there were warning signs. After signing up, you were invited to take part in nightly conference calls. The calls were more of the slick marketing speech type than helpful training sessions. There was a lot of “rah-rahs” and lofty talk about how this would change the ballgame.
Working primarily as a web developer, I had some serious questions. Things like “Has this been stress tested?”, “Is there redundancy in place?” and “What steps have been taken to combat a coordinated DDOS attack or the like?”, among others. These types of questions were brushed aside (truth be told, they never took one of my questions). They assured us that the system had been relentlessly tested and would be a tremendous success.
On one of the last conference calls (I believe it was on Saturday night), they told us that our packets would be arriving shortly. Now, there seemed to be a fair amount of confusion about what they meant by “packet”. Some people on Twitter were wondering if that meant a packet in the mail or a pdf or what. Finally, my packet arrived at 4PM on Monday afternoon as an emailed 60 page pdf. Nothing came in the mail. Because I was out most of the day, I only got around to seeing it at around 10PM Monday night. So, I sat down and cursed as I would have to print out 60+ pages of instructions and voter rolls on my home printer. Naturally, for reasons I can’t begin to comprehend, my printer would not print in black and white with an empty magenta cartridge (No HP, I will never buy (more…)
He’ll have leverage, skill at negotiation and a winning personality (that is, he’s not a snotty jerk).
Conn Carroll at the Washington Examiner
When President Obama was marshaling his $800 billion economic stimulus through Congress, his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had a pat answer for any Republican requests to change the bill, “We have the votes. F–k ‘em.”
With that tone set, it is not surprising that more than 18 months later, in October 2010, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., echoed Obama’s bipartisan tone, telling National Journal that after the 2010 election, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” No wonder Obama has completely failed at every turn to get any bipartisan support for any of his agenda.If Mitt Romney is elected president this November, he will not have the same luxury Obama did to vulgarly dismiss the opposition. From day one, Romney will need at least some Democratic votes in the Senate if he wants to get anything done. The good news is Romney will be in much better position to win those Democratic votes.
Despite his landslide election, there were only two Republicans senators who were running for reelection in 2010 in states that Obama won in 2008, Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Richard Burr, R-N.C. Neither senator faced an opponent who raised more than a few hundred thousand dollars. Both won reelection comfortably. In other words, no Republican senator had any reason to fear Obama would come in and campaign for their opponent if they didn’t play ball.
But, if Romney wins in 2012, there will be up to ten Democratic senators from Romney states up for reelection in 2014. They are:
Mark Begich in Alaska
Mark Pryor in Arkansas (+27 Romney according to RCP)
Mark Udall in Colorado
Tom Harkin in Iowa
Mary Landrieu in Louisiana (+23 Romney according to RCP)
Max Baucus in Montana (+9 Romney according to RCP)
Kay Hagan in North Carolina
Tim Johnson in South Dakota (+5 Romney according to RCP)
Mark Warner in Virginia
Jay Rockefeller in West Virginia (+21 Romney according to RCP)
Not all of these Democrats will face tough elections in 2014. But many of these incumbents, like Baucus and Begch, are likely to work with a Romney administration anyway. Throw in the other Democrats from red (more…)
The New York Times has unwittingly given GOP contender Mitt Romney a boost. In a recent editorial The Times contradicts Romney’s assertion that “Government doesn’t create jobs” – pointing out correctly that teachers, soldiers, park rangers – are all hired by Uncle Sam. The Times should have rested its case.
Of course, their salaries are paid by jobs in the private sector.
Instead, the paper goes on to report that government employment in the U.S. totals 22 million workers; they say that since the late 1980s, the “number of workers has averaged about 7.3 for every 100 people” in the U.S. “With the loss of 569,000 government jobs since June 2009” that ratio has declined to 7 today.
This drop concerns the editors at the Grey Lady who have apparently never heard of productivity. There is probably no sector of our economy in which we are using the same number of workers today for a given job, or unit of output, that we used in the late 1980s. Productivity gains, mainly from automation and technology improvements, have been startling over the past few decades.
Over time, it has been climbing productivity that has led to a rising standard of living and GDP growth beyond that of the population. The Labor Department reports that the productivity of the U.S. worker increased at an average annual rate of 2.1 percent from 1989 to 2011. That means that even if we had seen no growth in the number of workers over that 23-year period, we would still have turned out over 40 percent more goods and services.
Has the productivity of government workers kept pace? Doubtful. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out that our state and local workforce increased over the past three decades from 59 per 1000 people to 65 per 1,000. During the height of the recession that figure dropped to 61 per 1,000 in 2009. In other words, unless the government has vastly enlarged its activities, you could argue that productivity declined during this period.
Where have the extra workers been added? The Center reports that “All of that growth has been in education workers and reflects demographic changes and policy initiatives, such as efforts to reduce class sizes…” What do we have to show for this expansion? Good question.
In 2008, the U.S. spent $10,995 per student on secondary and elementary education – 35 percent higher than the average spent in all OECD countries. Despite this outlay, the most recent assessment of international reading capabilities from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study ranks the U.S. 18th, just behind Latvia and also trailing Bulgaria, Hungary and Russia…
Government, facing no competition, has no incentive to become more productive.
Quite the contrary, if you do business with a government agency nearing the end of its fiscal year with unspent funds, you can get very lucky: they’ll do whatever it takes to spend it lest they get less the next year.
Elizabeth Price Foley at Instapundit
THE WHITEST MAN TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT (BUT THAT’S NOT RACIST BECAUSE THE PERSON WHO SAID IT IS A PROGRESSIVE): And being a progressive makes it okay, of course, to say all kinds of outrageously offensive, racist things. You can’t make this stuff up, people: Stephanie Li, an English professor blogging over at the Huffington Post, says Mitt Romney “truly is the whitest man to run for president because he doesn’t realize how his whiteness has influenced his life and how his class standing provided him with remarkable educational and financial opportunities.” Further (as though she really needed to go further!):
This theme and the Romney’s repeated vow that they are the creators of their own success taps into long standing myths of the self-made American man, a man who is always implicitly white. But Romney’s narrative of rugged individualism is as false as the image of self-reliant colonists and frontiersman who made their fortunes in large part by relying on the slave trade and the exploitation of Native Americans. Romney’s blindness to his own racial privilege is a further function of his whiteness and its invisible entitlements.
So let me get this straight: The “myth” of being “self-made” can only be attained by white males– and specifically a subset of white males who “rely on the slave trade and the exploitation of Native Americans”?
This race-obsessed view of things is of course common in progressive circles, including the critical race theory circles in which former adjunct law professor Barack Obama ran. Consider also this incendiary op-ed by Lee Siegel that ran in the New York Times, in which Siegel said,
The simple, impolitely stated fact is that Mitt Romney is the whitest white man to run for president in recent memory.
Of course, I’m not talking about a strict count of melanin density. I’m referring to the countless subtle and not-so-subtle ways he telegraphs to a certain type of voter that he is the cultural alternative to America’s first black president. It is a whiteness grounded in a retro vision of the country, one of white picket fences and stay-at-home moms and fathers unashamed of working hard for corporate America.
Yes, you heard that right: Not only is Romney the “whitest white man” but this label means that such super-white folks have a “retro vision of the country” involving white picket fences, stay-at-home moms (watch those lady parts, y’all!), and fathers “unashamed” of working hard for “corporate America” (and what a shameful thing that really is).
Wow. Really– just wow. Can you feel the hatred?
Please Paul Ryan, bring this up in your debate. I want to see Biden squirm.
The release of Mitt Romney’s 2011 tax returns shows that he freely gave away more than $4 million to charity last year (about 30 percent of his income). In comparison, when Joe Biden was first running for vice president, his tax returns showed that he had given away just $3,690 to charity over the previous ten years (about 0.2 percent of his income). In other words, Romney gave away a thousand times as much to charity in one year as Biden gave in a decade.
That’s despite the fact that the Bidens earned well over $2 million over that decade. In fact, their income was$320,000 in 2008, thereby putting them comfortably over the $250,000-a-year line that marks the entry point for “millionaires and billionaires” in Obama-speak.
Last year, Romney freely gave away more than $10,000 a day to charity — an impressive sum by nearly any standard. Of course, it’s not too hard to beat Biden’s tally. Over the span of that decade, or 3,650 days, he gave away $3,690 — an average of $1.01 a day.
Democrats convened in Charlotte, NC, will double down on their claim that Bain Capital is really the Bain crime family. They will accuse Republican nominee Mitt Romney and Bain’s other “greedy” co-founders of stealing their winnings, evading taxes and lighting cigars with $100 bills on their yachts.
But Bain’s private-equity executives have enriched dozens of organizations and millions of individuals in the Democratic base — including some who scream most loudly for President Obama’s re-election.
Government-worker pension funds are the chief beneficiaries of Bain’s economic stewardship. New York-based Preqin uses public documents, news accounts and Freedom of Information requests to track private-equity holdings. Since 2000, Preqin reports, the following funds have entrusted some $1.56 billion to Bain:
* Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund ($2.2 million)
* Indiana Public Retirement System ($39.3 million)
* Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System ($177.1 million)
* The Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension System ($19.5 million)
* Maryland State Retirement and Pension System ($117.5 million)
* Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada ($20.3 million)
* State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio ($767.3 million)
* Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System ($231.5 million)
* Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island ($25 million)
* San Diego County Employees Retirement Association ($23.5 million)
* Teacher Retirement System of Texas ($122.5 million)
* Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System ($15 million)
These funds aggregate the savings of millions of unionized teachers, social workers, public-health personnel and first responders. Many would be startled to learn that their nest eggs are incubated by the company that Romney launched and the financiers he hired.
Leading universities have also profited from Bain’s expertise. According to Infrastructure Investor, Bain Capital Ventures Fund I (launched in 2001) managed wealth for “endowments and foundations such as Columbia, Princeton and Yale universities.”
According to BuyOuts magazine and S&P Capital IQ, Bain’s other college clients have included Cornell, Emory, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Notre Dame and the University of Pittsburgh. Preqin reports that the following schools have placed at least $424.6 million with Bain Capital between 1998 and 2008:
* Purdue University ($15.9 million)
* University of California ($225.7 million)
* University of Michigan ($130 million)
* University of Virginia ($20 million)
* University of Washington ($33 million)
Major, center-left foundations and cultural establishments also have seen their prospects brighten, thanks to Bain Capital. According to the aforementioned sources, such Bain clients have included the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Ford Foundation, the Heinz Endowments and the Oprah Winfrey Foundation.
Why on Earth would government-union leaders, university presidents and foundation chiefs let Bain oversee their precious assets?
“The scrutiny generated by a heated election year matters less than the performance the portfolio generates to the fund,” California State Teachers’ Retirement System spokesman Ricardo Duran said in the Aug. 12 Boston Globe. CalSTRS has pumped some $1.25 billion into Bain.
Since 1988, Duran says, private-equity companies like Bain have outperformed every other asset class to which CalSTRS has allocated the cash of its 856,360 largely unionized members.
Is Bain really a gang of corporate buccaneers who plunder their ill-gotten gains by outsourcing, euthanizing feeble portfolio companies and giving cancer to the spouses of those whom they fired? If so, union bosses, government retirees, liberal foundations and elite universities thrive on the wages of Bain’s economic Darwinism.
If, however, these institutions relish the yields that Bain Capital generates by supporting start-ups and rescuing distressed companies, 80 percent of which have prospered, then this money is honest — and Team Obama isn’t.
Now that he’s officially the Republican nominee for president and has an excellent chance of becoming the most powerful man in the world, I feel free to admit, in the full knowledge that nobody cares, that I never liked Mitt Romney. My distaste for him isn’t merely personal or political but also petty and superficial. There’s the breathless, Eddie Attaboy delivery, that half-smile of pitying condescension in debates or interviews when someone disagrees with him, the Ken doll mannerisms, his wanton use of the word “gosh”—the whole Romney package has been nails on a blackboard to me.
Evidently not many of my fellow Republicans agreed. I assumed I was missing something and resolved to dive into the Romney literature, which I soon discovered should post a disclaimer, like a motel pool: NO DIVING. By my count the literature includes one good book, The Real Romney, by two reporters from the Boston Globe. That’s the same Globe with the leftward tilt to its axis and a legendary anti-Romney animus—which lends authority to their largely favorable portrait. The flattering details of Romney’s life were so numerous and unavoidable that the authors, dammit, had no choice but to include them.
Romney once famously called himself “severely” conservative. Other adverbs fit better: culturally, personally, instinctively. He seems to have missed out on The Sixties altogether, and wanted to. As a freshman at Stanford he protested the protesters, appearing in the quad carrying signs of his own: SPEAK OUT, DON’T SIT IN! In 1968 the May riots stranded him in Paris. “The disorder appalled him,” the authors write. He left Stanford for BYU, where long hair, rock bands, and peace symbols were banned. As a young go-getter he liked to give friends copies of Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill—a Stephen Covey for the Coolidge era, sodden with moral uplift. (Even his anachronisms are anachronistic.) “There was nothing jaded about him,” a school friend tells the authors, “nothing skeptical, nothing ironic.”
At his wedding, he declined when the photographer asked him to kiss the bride: “Not for cameras,” he said. Since that day, Ann says, they haven’t had an argument; friends believe her. And their kids—we’ve all seen their kids. The (more…)
Today’s LA Times has a nice profile of Mitt Romney (Obama’s will come next week) that highlights his generosity and his ability to tackle problems.
There are numerous instances of Romney writing checks to help those in need, including loaning money to pay for a med student’s tuition, then forgiving the loan. Or the time he wrote a check for $250,000 to the man running Staples in its early days.
Then there’s this, about how handled refugees from Hurricane Katrina:
The Rev. Jeffrey Brown, who heads a faith-based gang intervention group in Roxbury, Mass., and spoke frequently to Romney during his governorship, saw two facets of the man — the executive and the spiritual counselor — come together after Hurricane Katrina when the Massachusetts Legislature provided shelter on Cape Cod for evacuees. Romney wanted members of the black clergy to attend to the arrivals — because he said some would rather talk to pastors than mental health professionals — and asked Brown to lead the effort.
Romney arrived a few days later, telling Brown he wanted to hear the stories directly from the victims, many of whom were from New Orleans’ hard-hit Lower 9th Ward.
“He wanted to make sure that their needs were being met,” Brown said. “He brought 50 state agencies down there, and everybody’s needs were attended to. I’m talking about people who left their houses in such a rush that they forgot their teeth. He had dentists down there to get them their dentures.… He was on it.”
But Brown was most surprised watching Romney interact with victims — praying with them, sitting with them on park benches asking about their families, scooping up children and asking for hugs.
“He was pastoral,” Brown said. “He was that person with those people.”
The writer has difficulty squaring this Romney with the one who, when asked about the mortgage meltdown crisis, said:
“Let it run its course and hit the bottom,” Romney said. “Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up, and let it turn around and come back up.”
This seemed cold and heartless, but it makes sense.
I remember cutting my finger as a kid and coming to my dad with a flap of skin I wanted him to bandage into place. To my shock, he ripped it off. It hurt, but it would have hurt worse had he let it fester.
So Romney is both kind and a realist.
The other puzzler for liberals is how to square his personal generosity with a call for cutting back certain social programs. They cannot fathom the difference between private charity and government charity.
Here’s a handy guide:
Public Charity vs. Private Charity
- Public charity is not charity because it isn’t voluntary. Taxes are not optional.
- Government handouts are seen by recipients as their due. Those getting help from their church or other organization understand that the money is coming from real people.
- Someone who must look a person (not a bureaucrat) in the face and ask for help is much more likely to alter their behavior. Unwed mothers once had to ask their church for help and face the shame that came with the request. Shame can be a force for good.
President Obama and Joe Biden proudly tout their concern for the poor.
But Obama, as far as we know, hasn’t given his African half-brother a dime in assistance. His aunt, an illegal immigrant, lives on the public dime in greater Boston.
And Joe Biden is a notorious cheapskate, having donated an average $369/year for a decade to charity.
A number of readers recently have asked us to fact-check a story about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The story, currently circulating on email, Facebook, and blogs, says that Romney helped a colleague of his at Bain Capital locate his missing teenage daughter.
“In July 1996, the 14-year-old daughter of Robert Gay, a partner at Bain Capital, had disappeared,” the story reads. “She had attended a rave party in New York City and gotten high on ecstasy. Three days later, her distraught father had no idea where she was. Romney took immediate action. He closed down the entire firm and asked all 30 partners and employees to fly to New York to help find Gay’s daughter. Romney set up a command center at the LaGuardia Marriott and hired a private detective firm to assist with the search. He established a toll-free number for tips, coordinating the effort with the NYPD, and went through his Rolodex and called everyone Bain did business with in New York and asked them to help find his friend’s missing daughter. Romney’s accountants at Price Waterhouse Cooper put up posters on street poles, while cashiers at a pharmacy owned by Bain put fliers in the bag of every shopper. Romney and the other Bain employees scoured every part of New York and talked with everyone they could – prostitutes, drug addicts – anyone.
“That day, their hunt made the evening news, which featured photos of the girl and the Bain employees searching for her. As a result, a teenage boy phoned in, asked if there was a reward, and then hung up abruptly. The NYPD traced the call to a home in New Jersey, where they found the girl in the basement, shivering and experiencing withdrawal symptoms from a massive ecstasy dose. Doctors later said the girl might not have survived another day. Romney’s former partner credits Mitt Romney with saving his daughter’s life, saying, ‘It was the most amazing thing, and I’ll never forget this to the day I die.’
“So, here’s my epiphany: Mitt Romney simply can’t help himself. He sees a problem, and his mind immediately sets to work solving it, sometimes consciously, and sometimes not-so-consciously. He doesn’t do it for self-aggrandizement or for personal gain. He does it because that’s just how he’s wired.”
Video and more at the link.
…Israel, a country with no natural resources, an economic backwater even in the Ottoman Empire, rose to the top of the developed world in a century on culture alone. The Arab nations, on the other hand, illustrate the necessity of a certain kind of culture: Even those with vast petrodollars still have among the least productive economies in the world.
Americans tend to assume that everyone shares their cultural attitudes—that everyone strives to get to “yes,” to positive-sum, win-win, voluntary relations; that everyone holds productive work in high respect and prizes the principles of fairness embodied in the meritocratic principle of “equality before the law”; that everyone encourages criticism, treasures intellectual capital, promotes risk-taking, prizes transparency and fosters innovation. With institutions built on such values—with a culture dedicated to making, not taking, money—a society can make use of whatever primary products a land offers.
But there are cultures whose favored mode is not voluntary but coerced and zero-sum relations, where the principle of “rule or be ruled” dominates political and economic life. The elites in such cultures hold hard work in contempt, and they distrust intellectual openness and uncontrolled innovation as subversive. They emphasize rote learning and unquestioning respect for those in authority. Protection rackets rather than law enforcement assure the public order and bleed the economy. Public criticism brings sharp retaliation. Powerful actors acquire wealth by taking, rather than making.
Few cultures on the planet better illustrate the latter traits than the Arab world, a fact outlined in painful detail by a 2002 United Nations report written by Arab intellectuals. As “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” points out, Arab culture intensifies these problems with its attitude of hyper-jealousy and misogyny toward women, which turns out entitled sons and cloistered daughters.
Even the huge influx of petrodollars did not change the basic contours of Arab economies: Rather than fueling economic development that benefited all, it bloated corrupt and opaque elites. Oil-rich countries like Libya and Iraq have social structures akin to those of oil-bereft Egypt and Syria. Change may occur, but it is hindered by an authoritarian culture that fears it. Such societies impoverish the masses, while elites thrive on their debasement.
ObamaCare’s illusions are starting to fall like autumn leaves, even among some liberals, and what they’re discovering are things that have happened over and over again in Massachusetts. Beacon Hill “reformed” health care four years before Capitol Hill, and ever since it has reliably predicted the national trend—on surging costs, price controls, physician shortages and so much else.
So Boston’s latest adventure deserves particular scrutiny, since odds are its methods are coming soon to a hospital near you. After more than a year and a half of debate, last week the legislature passed a far-reaching “cost containment” bill that Democratic Governor Deval Patrick is about to sign. It is the inevitable postscript to the model that Mitt Romney introduced in 2006.
Editorial board member Joe Rago on Massachusetts’s legislature passing price controls to hold down health costs. Photos: Getty Images
The claim then, as with the Affordable Care Act, was that health care would be less expensive if everyone had insurance. Soon Massachusetts Democrats leaked that their political strategy all along was to expand coverage only, because had RomneyCare seriously squeezed providers it never would have overcome industry opposition. “Bending the curve” on costs could be saved for another day, once a vast new government liability was locked in.
Sure enough, 79% of the newly insured are on public programs. Health costs—Medicaid, RomneyCare’s subsidies, public-employee (more…)
The chattering class was abuzz yesterday about Mitt Romney’s latest “gaffe.” Read the full text below.
Obama has never given any indication that he’s thought about what makes a prosperous society tick. He’s a clod that knows how to bollix.
A Palestinian spokesman called Romney’s critique racist, apparently not realizing that culture and race are different. Furthermore, Jews and Arabs are both Semites.
I was thinking this morning as I prepared to come into this room of a discussion I had across the country in the United States about my perceptions about differences between countries. And as you come here and you see the GDP per capita for instance in Israel which is about 21,000 dollars and you compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority which is more like 10,000 dollars per capita you notice a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality. And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States. I noted that part of my interest when I used to be in the world of business is I would travel to different countries was to understand why there were such enormous disparities in the economic success of various countries.
I read a number of books on the topic. One, that is widely acclaimed, is by someone named Jared Diamond called ‘Guns, Germs and Steel,’ which basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth. And you look at Israel and you say you have a hard time suggesting that all of the natural resources on the land could account for all the accomplishment of the people here. And likewise other nations that are next door to each other have very similar, in some cases, geographic elements. But then there was a book written by a former Harvard professor named ‘The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.’ And in this book Dr. Landes describes differences that have existed—particularly among the great civilizations that grew and why they grew and why they became great and those that declined and why they declined. And after about 500 pages of this lifelong analysis—this had been his study for his entire life—and he’s in his early 70s at this point, he says this, he says, if you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it’s this: culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference.
And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things. One, I recognize the hand of providence in selecting this place. I’m told in a Sunday school class I attended— I think my son Tagg was teaching the class. He’s not here. I look around to see. Of course he’s not here. He was in London. He taught a class in which he was describing the concern on the part of some of the Jews that left Egypt to come to the promised land, that in the promised land was down the River Nile, that would provide the essential water they had enjoyed in Egypt. They came here recognizing that they must be relied upon, themselves and the arm of God to provide rain from the sky. And this therefore represented a sign of faith and a show of faith to come here. That this is a people that has long recognized the purpose in this place and in their lives that is greater than themselves and their own particular interests, but a purpose of accomplishment and caring and building and serving. There’s also something very unusual about the people of this place. And Dan Senor— And Dan, I saw him this morning, I don’t know where he is, he’s probably out twisting someone’s arm—There’s Dan Senor, co-author of ‘Start-up Nation,’ described— If you haven’t read the book, you really should— Described why it is Israel is the leading nation for start-ups in the world. And why businesses one after the other tend to start up in this place. And he goes through some of the cultural elements that have led Israel to become a nation that has begun so many businesses and so many enterprises and that is becomes so successful.
Obama gave himself an A+ on foreign policy. Mitt disagrees. Excerpts:
“Has our ability to shape world events been enhanced, or diminished? Have we gained greater confidence among our allies, and greater respect from our adversaries? And, perhaps most importantly, has the most severe security threat facing America and our friends, a nuclear-armed Iran, become more or less likely?
“The President’s policies have made it harder to recover from the deepest recession in seventy years … exposed the military to cuts that no one can justify … compromised our national-security secrets … and in dealings with other nations, given trust where it is not earned, insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due…..
“Lives of American servicemen and women are at stake. But astonishingly, the administration failed to change its ways. More top-secret operations were leaked, even some involving covert action in Iran. This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a national security crisis…..
“This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence. Obama appointees, who are accountable to President Obama’s Attorney General, should not be responsible for investigating the leaks coming from the Obama White House…..
“It began with the sudden abandonment of friends in Poland and the Czech Republic. They had courageously agreed to provide sites for our anti-missile systems, only to be told, at the last hour, that the agreement was off. As part of the so-called reset in policy, missile defenses were sacrificed as a unilateral concession to the Russian government…..
“We can only guess what Vladimir Putin makes of the Obama administration. He regained the Russian presidency in a corrupt election, and for that, he got a congratulatory call from the Oval Office.
“And then there was that exchange picked up by a microphone that President Obama didn’t know was on. We heard him asking Dmitry Medvedev to tell Mr. Putin to give him “space.” “This is my last election,” President Obama said, and “After my election I’ll have more flexibility.” Why is flexibility with Russian leaders more important than transparency to the American people?..
Let’s say Romney becomes president, but without Congressional majorities sufficient to repeal ObamaCare.
Under the Obama theory of presidential authority, Romney could just announce that he’s ordering all federal agencies not to enforce or implement any aspect of ObamaCare.
That would sure frost the Democrats.
Just look at Japan, which in the 1980s seemed like it would end up owning everything.
…What would a wealthy industrialized economy look like without the dynamism encouraged by private equity? Noah Smith (“Noahpinion”), a popular economics blogger with an econ Ph.D. from Michigan, has a fascinating blog item about what that looks like in Japan, and it’s not pretty. He writes:
Fact 1: In Japan, there is no big private equity industry, because it is very difficult to do a leveraged buyout of a company. The Japanese government allows companies to defend themselves from takeovers in ways that are illegal in America. Also, Japanese companies often hold each other’s shares, a practice known as “cross-shareholding”, which tends to prevent hostile takeovers. Cross-shareholding creates huge financial risks; however, many of the Japanese companies that engage in cross-shareholding are big banks that are backed by the government (much as ours are here in the U.S., but more explicitly), so this risk is assumed by the Japanese taxpayer. For a comprehensive primer on Japanese corporate governance, see here.
Upshot: In Japan, private-equity firms cannot buy companies and force them to restructure.
Fact 2: Japan has a productivity problem. We think of Japan as being super-productive, and in fact some industries (and most export-oriented factories) are. But overall, Japanese productivity kind of stinks. Since at least the 90s, Japan’s Total Factor Productivity has lagged far behind that of the U.S. Nor is this due (as Ed Presott has tried to claim) to a slowdown in technology; it appears to be a function of how resources are allocated within and between Japanese companies.
Although it’s hard to measure white-collar productivity, anecdotally, it is horrendous in Japan. Employees sit idly in front of their computers waiting for the boss to leave so they can go home, or make busy-work for themselves, copying electronic records onto paper (yes, this is real!). Unproductive workers are kept on the payrolls because of lifetime employment, with high salaries guaranteed by the system of seniority pay. To this, add endless meetings, each of which must be exhaustively prepared for in advance. Layer upon layer of bureaucracy with poorly defined accountability. Pay based entirely on tenure rather than merit.
I have seen a little of this with my own eyes, but if I had to work full-time for a Japanese company for any extended period of time, I would probably quit and join the yakuza. It is baaad. Like, Brazil-the-movie-bad.
Would private equity shake up this insane little world? I think it would. In the U.S., Steven Davis, Josh Lerner, and their co-authors found that private equity firms have a positive impact on the productivity of the companies they buy out. Here is a survey of other research on the topic; basically it all agrees that productivity gets a boost when a firm gets acquired. It is my opinion that Japan desperately needs this sort of productivity boost.
He goes on to explain why the results of a more secure and sclerotic capitalist system (greater job security, lower productivity) aren’t necessarily good for workers at all. He notes, in fact, that private equity and its effects on corporate governance might even be a good thing for women. To think, Bain waging a war for women!
And I didn’t even mention women. Anyone who knows Japan knows how poorly Japanese women are utilized (and how poorly they are treated) at many Japanese companies. It is disgusting, and it is harming Japan’s economy big-time. One reason is the impossibility of winning discrimination lawsuits in Japan’s hidebound legal system. But I think a bigger reason is related to corporate governance; since there is no pressure on these zombie companies to boost productivity, there is no reason for them to hire more women or make better use of the women they already have. Private equity would change that, I think.
What private equity does is force companies to cut labor costs; one big way of cutting costs is to replace your existing workers with workers who are of similar quality but are paid less. In a country with a big gender pay gap, those alternative workers are known as women.
So I say: Japan should let the corporate raiders raid. Sic the pirates on the zombies.
And although American critics of private equity have valid points, I think they should look to Japan before they denounce the role that Bain Capital and company have played in our economic and social development. By all means, change the tax code to discourage private equity companies from over-leveraging their acquisitions. Close the carried interest loophole. Create re-employment services to help the workers laid off in restructuring. But for pete’s sake, don’t wish that our corporate culture was like Japan’s. You wouldn’t like it.
President Obama raised far more cash from hedge fund and private equity donors than any other candidate in the 2008 election cycle.
According to an analysis by the nonprofit group Open Secrets, Obama took in nearly $3.5 million from large private-equity donors that year — nearly twice what his general-election rival, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), pocketed.
The data bring into focus the thin line Obama must walk in attacking presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s background in the industry, which has sparked criticism from allies including Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker.
Obama is working hard to make the case that Romney’s background in private equity does not qualify him to be president.
It takes a lot of gall or gigantic ego (or both) for someone so manifestly unqualified to be president as Obama to make such a charge.
Isn’t that shocking? They’re rich. Oodles of moola.
Just like the Kennedys, except there’s no drug addiction, alcoholism, rampant infidelity, reckless behavior, hiring hookers, dating the girlfriend of a gangster while president, sexually harassing waitresses, rape charges or killing campaign aides.
Oh, and one more thing: Mitt actually earned his fortune.
Just in case we forgot that Mitt is rich, the LA Times brings us this non-story.
Ann Romney and dressage: A pricey private world
It was the end of a long day in a stuffy Simi Valley office building. Ann Romney had been under oath for more than four hours, testifying in a sometimes contentious deposition about a pricey horse she sold that may or may not have been afflicted with a condition that made him unrideable.
In the airless room, Romney was getting annoyed.
“That really is — that really is irritating,” she said when the opposing attorney implied she didn’t know who looked after her horse in Moorpark when she was at her home in Boston. “Of course I know who was looking after my horse. You’re just trying to irritate me.”
It was a rare moment of pique for Ann Romney, not meant for public consumption, and one that opened a window onto the private world of the would-be first lady.
The editors at the Washington Post are so transparent it’s comical.
Religion is supposed to be off limits in presidential campaigns. And God knows, don’t dare bring up Jeremiah Wright in polite company.
Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith tangles with a quirk of Arkansas history
On Sept. 11, 1857, a wagon train from this part of Arkansas met with a gruesome fate in Utah, where most of the travelers were slaughtered by a Mormon militia in an episode known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Hundreds of the victims’ descendants still populate these hills and commemorate the killings, which they have come to call “the first 9/11.”
Many of the locals grew up hearing denunciations of Mormonism from the pulpit on Sundays, and tales of the massacre from older relatives who considered Mormons “evil.”
“There have been Fancher family reunions for 150 years, and the massacre comes up at every one of them,” said Scott Fancher, 58, who traces his lineage back to 26 members of the wagon train, which was known as the Fancher-Baker party. “The more whiskey we drunk, the more resentful we got.”
There aren’t many places in America more likely to be suspicious of Mormonism — and potentially more problematic for Mitt Romney, who is seeking to become the country’s first Mormon president. Not only do many here retain a personal antipathy toward the religion and its followers, but they also tend to be Christian evangelicals, many of whom view Mormonism as a cult.
And yet, there is scant evidence that Romney’s religion is making much difference in how voters here are thinking about the presidential election and whether they are willing to back the former Massachusetts governor.
“I think the situation right now is more anti-Obama than any other situation,” said Dave Hoover, chairman of the Carroll County Republicans.
It is impossible to know how Romney’s faith will play out in the November election. Polls point to a persistent skepticism about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and not just among evangelical Christians. Thirty-five percent of Americans in a Bloomberg News poll in March said they had an unfavorable view of the church, while 29 percent had a favorable view…
What I know about Mormons is that they are very organized.
The efficiency of the Mormon welfare apparatus is really legendary. As early as the beginnings of the 20th century, an American writer said, “The Mormon Church operates with the efficiency of the German Weirmacht.” This efficiency is seen at its best in moments of natural disasters such as the Teton Dam disaster of 1976 when over a billion dollars’ worth of damage occurred, and almost overnight almost 35,000, 45,000 Latter-day Saints were marshaled into forces and deployed to make order out of chaos and provide emergency relief.
When Hurricane Andrew struck [in Miami-Dade County] in 2002, the stories went around that the Mormon relief trucks were on the way to Florida before the hurricane had even made landfall. In the Hurricane Katrina of 2005 we know that once again the trucks were there before the National Guard was even allowing relief through. So the response is incredibly fast, incredibly efficient.
In recent years especially, those relief efforts have been extended to not just members of the church, but anybody who’s in the midst of a disaster or crisis. In the past 20 years alone, the church has responded to over 150 major humanitarian crises around the world. They have provided relief and funds in locations as disparate as Kosovo, North Korea, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. There’s hardly a place on the earth where they haven’t been seen, providing relief and assistance, and it’s often through other, more established channels, like the Red Cross or the Salvation Army, but very often, as was the case in Africa, renting their own helicopters to speed relief to areas that were remote and hard to reach…
Isn’t being organized a good feature in a President?
The Washington Post has delivered 5,500 devastating words of investigative journalism. The piece is thoroughly researched, well-sourced and hard-hitting.
Is it about:
a) the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal that gave crates of grenades to Mexican gun-running criminals?
b) President Obama’s relationship with Tony Rezko, a man convicted of public corruption who helped purchase the Obama family home in Chicago?
c) how Obama campaign bundlers stand to benefit from the stimulus bill and Obamacare?
d) Mitt’s childhood as a prep-school prankster, bookended with claims of anti-gay bullying?
Yep, you answered correctly. So if you want 5,500 words on what a monster Mitt Romney was that one time at band camp, the Washington Post is your paper. I wanted to link to their investigative stories on Obama’s time at Punahou (and Columbia and Harvard and Chicago and, uh, D.C.), but I can’t seem to find them.
And what a coincidence that this story ran today, no?
Mitt Romney gave an excellent speech in Lansing, Michigan today. He went after President Obama’s record and cast him as a backward-looking, old fashioned liberal:
This wasn’t what we expected from President Obama. He promised change and hope, and said that he and we together could do anything. But rhetoric met reality, and reality won. His four years in office have been a disappointment for all of us, and they have been a catastrophe for some of us.
In his campaign kickoff speech last week, he asked us not to think about these last four years. Convenient, but not convincing. Ignoring his record would bind us to repeat it.
He is asking us, nevertheless, to look only to the years ahead, to consider how much better his policies will make things down the road. But in our hearts we know. As much as we’d like to believe him, we know that America is going in the wrong direction. Not forward, but sideways, or worse. We know that the mounting debt is a problem, not a blessing. We know that failing schools mean failing futures. We know that if more and more good jobs leave America, there won’t be enough good jobs to succeed in America.
The President’s plea that we simply ignore the last four years is his latest effort to escape responsibility for the failures. His earlier effort was to attempt to blame others – his predecessor, the Congress, the One Percent, oil companies, and ATMs.
But the failures were not caused by others, they were caused by wrong choices, the President’s choices.
President Obama chose to apply liberal ideas of the past to a 21st century America. Liberal policies didn’t work then, they haven’t worked over the last four years, and they won’t work in the future. New Democrats had abandoned those policies, but President Obama resurrected them, with predictable results.
But what I found most interesting was that Romney talked about “Julia,” the government-dependent woman who was featured last week in an Obama campaign slide show. Romney and his aides must have thought that many in the mostly student audience would know about the Julia controversy, most likely through Twitter and other venues (like this web site) where conservatives excoriated the Obama campaign for portraying Americans as helpless wards of the state. This is what Romney said:
Have you seen President Obama’s vision of the future? To help us see it, his campaign has even created a little fictional character, living an imaginary life filled with happy milestones for which she will spend the rest of her days thanking President Obama. It’s called “The Life of Julia.” And it is a cartoon.
Julia progresses from cradle to grave, showing how government makes every good thing in her life possible. The weak economy, high unemployment, falling wages, rising gas prices, the national debt, the insolvency of entitlements – all these are fictionally assumed away in a cartoon that is produced by a president who wants us to forget about them.
What does it say about a president’s policies when he has to use a cartoon character rather than real people to justify his record? What does it say about the fiction of old liberalism to insist that good jobs and good schools and good wages will result from policies that have failed us, time and again?
So far, the Romney campaign has been impressively agile and aggressive. This seamless transition from Twitter to the stump reinforces that impression.
The actual Republican Establishment –- political consultants, The Wall Street Journal, corporate America, former Bush advisers and television pundits — are exhorting Mitt Romney to flip-flop on his very non-Establishment position on illegal immigration.
Both as governor of Massachusetts and as a presidential candidate, Romney has supported a fence on the border, E-Verify to ensure that employees are legal and allowing state police to arrest illegal aliens. He is the rare Republican who recognizes that in-state tuition, driver’s licenses and amnesty are magnets for more illegal immigration.
These positions are totally at odds with Establishment Republicans who pander to the business lobby by supporting the cheap labor provided by illegal immigration, and then accuse Americans opposed to a slave labor class in America of racism. If this continues, America will become California and no Republican will ever be elected president again. Big business doesn’t care and Establishment Republicans are too stupid to notice.
If you’re not sure how you feel about illegal immigration, ask yourself this: “Do I have a nanny, a maid, a pool boy, a chauffeur, a cook or a business requiring lots of cheap labor that the rest of America will have to subsidize with social services to make up for the wages I’m paying?” Press “1″ to answer in English.
If the answer is “no,” illegal immigration is a bad deal for you. Cheap labor is cheap only for the employer.
Today, 70 percent of illegal immigrant households collect government benefits — as do 57 percent of all immigrant households — compared to 39 percent of native households.
Immigrant households with the highest rate of government assistance are from the (more…)
…This President is putting us on a path where our lives will be ruled by bureaucrats and boards, commissions and czars. He’s asking us to accept that Washington knows best – and can provide all.
We’ve already seen where this path leads. It erodes freedom. It deadens the entrepreneurial spirit. And it hurts the very people it’s supposed to help. Those who promise to spread the wealth around only ever succeed in spreading poverty. Other nations have chosen that path. It leads to chronic high unemployment, crushing debt, and stagnant wages.
I have a very different vision for America, and of our future. It is an America driven by freedom, where free people, pursuing happiness in their own unique ways, create free enterprises that employ more and more Americans. Because there are so many enterprises that are succeeding, the competition for hard-working, educated and skilled employees is intense, and so wages and salaries rise.
I see an America with a growing middle class, with rising standards of living. I see children even more successful than their parents – some successful even beyond their wildest dreams – and others congratulating them for their achievement, not attacking them for it.
This America is fundamentally fair. We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; we will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends’ businesses; we will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.
In the America I see, character and choices matter. And education, hard work, and living within our means are valued and rewarded. And poverty will be defeated, not with a government check, but with respect and achievement that is taught by parents, learned in school, and practiced in the workplace.
This is the America that was won for us by the nation’s Founders, and earned for us by the Greatest Generation. It is the America that has produced the most innovative, most productive, and the most powerful economy in the world.