Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Decision Dilemma: In light of Obama's weak SOTU

I'm not sorry to admit that I didn't watch the State of the Union speech. I can't stand long speeches full of lies and never-to-be-kept promises. Last year's SOTU was a major disappointment, showing Obama was out of touch, so I dreaded this one.

I saved myself from an hour of distasteful labor, and figured I'd read the reviews afterward. So, what did I read:
  • Andrew Sullivan said that there were too many tax deduction--(one for every color of initiative I suppose).
  • A bunch of forgettable partisan stuff (which I've forgotten).
  • Obama never mentioned the deficit, as though it doesn't exist.
My heart sinks. I want Obama to embrace Simpson-Bowles and dare Congress not to pass it. So with this air of disappointment (self-inflicted), I search through the transcript, looking for his proposals for deficit reduction. This is typical:
When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it's not because they envy the rich. It's because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don't need and the country can't afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference - like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet.
So deficit-reduction will be accomplished by raising taxes on the wealthy. The already-agreed $200 billion per year, out of a $3+ trillion dollar budget, is all the spending cuts that Obama envisions.

A Candidate with Scissors
I'm serious about reducing the deficit. I think we have only a limited time left to do it before our debt service eats up too much of our economy. I'd like the largest part of deficit reduction (maybe 80%) to come from spending cuts. Why? To give people more money that they can control directly. To reduce waste and low priority spending.

So I start wondering if I need to support Romney to get any spending cuts. If I remember correctly, he has some fairly definite plans to drop federal employment by attrition, hiring one person for every ten who leave. I wonder about the other consequences if Romney were to be elected. There's the Supreme Court, the question on whether he would curb the crazy overreach plans of the Republicans in Congress. I think he would.

I'm beginning to think I might vote for Romney, though I'm glad the vote is a long ways off. I'll get a better measure of his intentions based on whom he chooses for VP and how he campaigns for the general election. I remember how MikeR, an occasional commenter at the Atlantic, challenged readers to support whoever would effect the most deficit reduction, even if it was Michele Bachmann. I was never going to go as far as that crazy lady, but Romney meets the sanity test, so he's a possibility. I realize some of the risks, but I'll be considering Romney if that's what it takes to reduce the federal budget in this country.

Then I remember-- Romney will maintain the Bush tax cuts. Those ridiculous 15% tax rates on capital gains and dividends will carry on, probably without a sunset next time. No matter that the deficit is as high as it is. That decides it. Obama is more serious about cutting the deficit because he'll take a scissors to those tax cuts. It's not the only fiscal change we need, but it's a major chunk of it. I'm back to supporting Obama.

Monday, January 30, 2012

End of newt

"I'm perfectly happy to talk about this in an interview on some TV show, but this is a national debate..."--Gingrich
I'm so tired of  politicians being two-faced. We should definitely being holding them accountable for the shit they say and they do. Newt wouldn't be on that stage if Republicans hadn't given him a pass on all his lies and corruption and grandiosity just for the enjoyment of watching him spew sizzling insults at conservatives' favorite targets.

Republicans, are you sated yet? Ready to seriously look at candidates, and not just vent your pent-up feelings? Gringrich, who's been encouraged by his high standing in national polls and win in S. Carolina, says he's staying in the race. Who let the dogs out?

Is Newt this gross? Maybe.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

How bad is Romneycare?

Someone needs to write an honest evaluation of the first health care system in this country that had an individual mandate, meaning you were required by law to have health insurance.

First, it's not the end of the world, or capitalism, nor has it turned Massachusetts into a socialist gulag, a place where the classes wage war, or where bureaucrats rule on every interaction with your doctor. For most people, the healthcare law has barely caused a blip.

Unlike most of my posts, this one won't discuss the financial impacts of Romneycare because I couldn't find clear sources for that information. I can't answer some important questions like how much it costs the state, and whether it has lowered or raised costs. I can report that it's pretty popular in Massachusetts, with 63% approval.

When it was first implemented, I heard complaints where I worked from people who were going without health insurance and now had to buy it. Maybe I should be more sympathetic or more libertarian, but I've been convinced by the economic argument behind the universal requirement. (Here's the capsule version: the pooling of risk doesn't work financially unless low-risk people are required to join the pool. So suck it up for the greater good. That's what we do with taxes.)

Now my 20-something daughter is benefiting from the program. She signed on to the health insurance exchange website, and figured out relatively easily which policy she wants. It's affordable, perhaps subsidized, and she didn't have the anxiety of being turned down. I'm glad she lives in a state that makes it this easy.

Some critics have decried that--what motivation will people have to get good jobs if there's subsidized health insurance? Probably nearly the same motivation as in the standard case (the paycheck, interesting work, self-sufficiency, being useful to society), but without the anxiety that a medical issue can send her into a modern version of the Minotaur's labyrinth.

So how bad is Romneycare? Well, I'm happy with it.


I'm aware that arguments based on anecdotes aren't reliable. Arguments that ignore fiscal concerns are even worse. It would be good to be able to report the extra savings or expense due to Romneycare, but I couldn't find the statistics. Perhaps that's because it's incredibly hard to sort out the confounding factors, such as unpaid medical bills, higher state costs, costs offset by federal Medicaid payments, a sweetened deal for MA by Medicaid, and personal costs of insurance premiums or patient-paid medical bills. So I'm left with only the anecdotal evidence, which is decidedly pro-Romneycare.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Massachusetts, not Taxachusetts

Salvaged from my draft bin, this is a straightforward defense of my adopted state.

Massachusetts is a good state. It doesn't deserve the nickname Taxachusetts.

I moved from New York to Massachusetts, and I can attest that I'm taxed less here. The state spends the money more wisely, with beautiful parks, reasonably good roads, and some money remitted back to towns and schools.

Back in 1980, Massachusetts passed a property tax cap, a conservative proposal that I feared at the time. But it has helped curb spending, weeding out some waste and ensuring that extra local spending is approved via referendum of the local voters.

The legislature has raised taxes in tough times to avoid slashing state and town budgets, then kept its promise and lowered them back. It hasn't been a one-way street, unlike with the 1970's Democratic Congress and the 2000's Republican Congress.

Right now, with the recession, we are in a higher tax mode. The state sales tax went from 5% to 6.25%. My New York friends can't remember taxes that low. The state has a rainy-day fund, as does my town.

With this sensible management, we won't have to sell our state house to balance the budget, as some states have (thank you, Daily Show). But maybe we'd sell Plymouth Rock, the sites of the first battle of the Revolutionary War, and the Old North Church first (except the church is probably owned by a diocese). No, we'd probably be boring and make some cuts, raise some fees, and get along. I just hate government that's too responsible. What could I write about?

Not For Sale

P.S. The state that sold its capitol building--Arizona. And they think they're patriots and we're a bunch of pansies. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Short:Analysis of Romney's 2010 taxes

Not by me (chuckle). Instead, it's by Robert A. Green in the comments section of a Wall Street Journal blog. This is the same comments page where someone says:
"Half of the country... pay no taxes at all to the federal government..."
I hope everyone knows how I feel about that kind of ignorant, biased comment.

Back to the topic. The analyst talks about loopholes Mitt doesn't use, and ones that he might be using. The analysis is short and mostly clear to an aware layman like me, so do read it.

I hope this tax return issue remains on the front burner in the campaign because we need tax reform. But do I want the next Congress doing it? Good question.

I am so fed up... (Illogic Edition)

Begin rant...

I am so fed up with people who construct their arguments to support the opinion they already hold. That means I'm pissed at about, say, 90% of the people on the internet. Actually, it's less because most commenters don't bother to build an argument--they just blurt out their insult or canned talking point.

This comment really irked me today:
You could blame Romney's Free and Strong America PAC for much of the Tea Party's 2012 failings. The PAC contributed to many local level Tea Party victories in 2010, amplifying and distorting their voice. Now he cashes in, calling upon those elected officials' endorsements, and the Tea Party finds itself bamboozled, nationally.
You can blame Romney's deeper 2012 coffers for buying the lackluster support of all rank and file conservatives who won't consider any candidate without an Obama-like war chest.

Blame Romney's book for obfuscating his A list advisers' plans long before he was out to shake hands with 2011 Americans...

The four years Romney has spent fundraising and engineering disingenuously conservative policy are at the root of this sour primary. Strike at the root: blame Romney.


Let's step back from the particulars of this argument, and characterize it.

This is a case of someone deciding it's all Romney's fault, and then finding a subset of facts that might, in a pinch, support that opinion.
  • So there are mentions of specific facts: Romney's PAC, Romney's book, Romney's large campaign fund.

What isn't here are all the facts that don't support the argument:
  • The other rich contributors
  • The likely hypothesis that maybe Romney doesn't control the Tea Party
  • The supposition that various Tea Party leaders make their own decisions and are personally responsible for them
Notice that you have to ignore all the facts and likely possibilities that don't support your argument.

To defeat such an argument, look for the facts that aren't there. Point out how they overwhelm the paltry facts that are there. And for good measure, call out a person who bases their opinions on a gerrymandered set of facts, as I did here:
XXX's argument is ludicrous. It is constructed with the sole purpose of bashing Romney, not gathering facts and trying to understand what is actually happening. In other words, it has nothing to do with seeking the truth.
/End rant

 More solid than his argument


Monday, January 23, 2012

Likeable Santorum

Family members who see this title aren't going to believe it. I've been a vocal opponent of Santorum because of his culture warrior stances against working women, non-nuclear families, gays, reproductive choice, and even the choice to have a small number of children or no children in your marriage.

I've seen in the debates that Santorum has learned to cool it with this kind of talk. Now, he'll love his son even if he's gay, he declares. I don't see sincerity in these statements because he's never come close to disavowing the intrusive policies he advocated as a senator.

So I'm flabbergasted to find myself liking some of Santorum's message. He wants to be a candidate for hard-working blue collar families "left behind by both parties." He says that the Dems just want to take care of them, which isn't what they want. They want opportunities to get good, respected work after completing a solid high school education.

Now, it's not as though Santorum has a realistic plan to make this happen against the tide of economic forces. But it's a contrast to the general Republican focus this past fall on mythical "job creators" whose taxes MUST NOT BE RAISED. It's also a contrast with Gingrich's message, also just after the South Carolina primary, where he spends most of the time bashing elites in this country and the "radicalism" of Obama.

Congratulations, Newt and Rick. Rick climbed up from lowest place in my estimation, and Newt rocketed himself down there. Is this what counts as progress in the GOP? Sigh.

Same day update: Santorum lets a questioner bash Obama as a Kenyan illegitimate tyrant, and then bravely ... agrees with her, in part. He never corrects her. He looks uncomfortable with his sin of omission, skipping a beat or two before he describes how Obama completely ignores the Constitution. Oh, the stream of lies from politicians' mouths!

Update 3/19/12. Santorum with equal cowardice stood by as a preacher told all non-Christians to leave the country. But he didn't clap, or presumably inhale either. Good job, Rick.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Funny moment: Politics trumps engineering

I had a chuckle (not LOL, but a bit of amusement) over this comment on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline:
"The president of the United States should have said, 'Yes, TransCanada is willing to start at the northern border and southern border of the U.S., go three states on both sides of (Nebraska) before they get to us, and we will be ready by the time they get here.'" --Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (R)
So this governor thinks a huge construction project should start before they know where the mid-section will go.  I guess he's not an engineer or a finance guy.

But he's trying really hard to be a good Republican.

Extra: This looked like a detailed article, though definitely from an anti-pipeline viewpoint. Also, I like what this commenter wrote:
"I have no problem with a “go slow” approach on a multi-billion dollar project with almost infinite variables. Let’s do it right the first time, even if that means making sure we’ve got the whole process defined before we begin."

The man who should be king

... actually, he should be president. That is my gut response to this video of Chris Christie. (Disclosure: I have a weakness for unvarnished talk, preferably with occasional profanity.)

At 10 minutes in, he gives Obama the same advice I'd give Obama if I could get on Meet the Press. Take Simpson-Bowles off the shelf (saying the politician equivalent of "I made a mistake"), and back it hard around the country and in Congress.

Watch the whole video. Highlights are that Christie would join the ticket with Mitt Romney, how he's handled canceling a huge transportation project, and how he's lowering New Jersey's highest-in-the-country state taxes.

This straight-shooter's pick out of this sorry bunch of GOP candidates: Romney. Republicans should be listening. Ron Paul supporters should be listening too.

Update 1/22/12. I love this guy. Partial headline from Google news:
Gov. Christie nominates two for state Supreme Court including gay African...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If you like Ron Paul...

...I think you'll like this interview with Alan Simpson. The same truth-telling, some self-effacement (so pleasant on a high-Newt day like today). Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An ecomonics question: Equity vs. debt

Business schools have been preaching that equity is equivalent to debt. I'm not an economist, so perhaps I shouldn't venture into this debate, but I can't avoid strong feelings on this. Equity is not equivalent to debt. They have distinctly different consequences. (Edit: See a more expert contradicting argument below. Not a surprise. As I said, perhaps I shouldn't venture into this.)

Equity doesn't drive you into bankruptcy or foreclosure.

If there's an equivalent disadvantage in equity, I hope someone will tell me what it is. However, I wonder what could be equivalent, since bankruptcy can be existential crisis that leads to the extinction of a business. Can equity end a business? Can equity force a foreclosure? I don't see how.

I know about "opportunity cost" and how debt can allow you to take advantage of promising opportunities, but that's not equivalent to the danger of bankruptcy. I'm open to an explanation, but it has to be a compelling one.

Your minority status: Political Edition

Over two months ago, I started writing about the fear of the long-time majority (in the US, it's whites) at becoming a minority. I really liked addressing the issue, because it's something visceral  in several ways. It's a thread that's underneath some of the surface issues, such as immigration. But it's also a powerful gut issue that's raw and emotional and not directly discussed.

This post was slated to be the political complement, focusing on how to behave civilly as a no-longer-majority. I thought it would be easy to write. After all, I'd figured out what I wanted to say about being a minority in the social sphere. Could it be that much harder to figure out how to be a minority in the political sphere?

As it turns out, YES, it is much harder. My rules for being a minority boiled down to:
  • Don't act like you own it (the town, the city, the country).
  • Live and let live.
This is good advice for political minorities, but it's not enough. Political groups need more operational guidance. For example, what does live and let live mean to political parties? Does it mean don't shoot your opponents or don't argue with them?

Live and let live isn't a rule that works in a zero-sum game, and some aspects of politics are zero-sum: I win the election and you lose. My group defeats the legislation your group wants.

So I failed to come up a set of rules for being a well-behaved political minority. But I had some interesting thoughts on the way to ultimate failure:
  • Pre-1994, Republicans had been the minority party in Congress for decades. They were used to it, and knew how to be a well-behaved minority. They could carp at Democrats, embarrass them, try to score points, try to block them, convert a few to their side, but it wasn't all out war.
  • Republicans have been in power more often than out of power over the past 30 years. However, it has been a tenuous hold. When they lose an election, it may feel like they're losing on two fronts--politically and demographically. This is probably partially mistaken, since the GOP is in no danger of slipping into permanent political minority status.
  • Don't picket the homes of political actors. Everyone, even a politician, deserves a quiet, unbesieged home. 
  • Elsewhere, making your voice heard is an important right. Progress doesn't usually come from excessive politeness. That's part of the reason I failed to formulate a set of rules. Too polite equals no results.
Not the homes... or funerals

What we want to say to political minorities: 
"If we want to fire Obama, then you social cons need to get in the back seat where you belong, stay quiet and don’t mess things up for us between now and election day. Just show up to vote…you had your day in the sun and it gave the Dimocrats a Senate super-majority. Maybe this time you’ll learn your lesson and in exchange Romney will nominate a pro-life HHS guy. Deal?" - Wall Street Journal comment

Update 2/9/12.  I remember some other tenets for political minorities.
  • Don't be the tail wagging the dog. If your views are in the minority, grow your cause. Don't try to prematurely force your views upon the group or the country. That doesn't mean you have to keep quiet (don't keep quiet), but don't hijack the organization, every discussion, or take hostages to force your issue.

Bipartisans in the Race

Hunstsman is a bipartisan, or at least was when he worked in the Obama administration as ambassador to China. Ron Paul doesn't seem to believe in partisan politics, his ideals put him above all that. Obama tried to be bipartisan, but we have to forgive him if he believes it was a vain attempt. Republicans have not only spurned his bipartisanship, they have accused him of being a socialist, Marxist, anti-American, a Muslim terrorist, the most polarizing politician in America. He hasn't gotten any love or respect for his real efforts.


I wrote that on November 17th. If anything, it's become more significant and poignant since then. Romney has upped his trashing of Obama, and Gingrich has upped his trashing of everyone. I didn't see any glimmers of bipartisanship during the Christmas recess, even though Congress will have to take up the continuation of the Social Security tax cuts. Oy vey!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Loyal opposition

I recall hearing by the British phrase "the loyal opposition." Being without a pinch of Anglophilia, I never found out what it meant, but I assumed it was a British ironic joke, like the parts of Monty Python I didn't comprehend either.

Here in the US, we don't have a "loyal opposition." We have our two-party system, in which the parties vie by any means to win elections. We have our history of election fraud, our gerrymandering of districts to help our side and stick to the other side, Nixon's dirty tricks, poll taxes, stealing debate prep books, etc. All's fair in an election except beating people up at the voting stations. So we might be nasty, but we're not violent.

The election season has somewhat looser rules. After election, it's back to civilized behavior, and maybe division of the spoils. In the past there was more bipartisanship in Washington, maybe because policy outlook was more regional than party-based. The northeastern Democrats had more in common with the northeastern Republicans than with southern Democrats.

For the past 3 years, that bipartisanship has completely broken down. Now, the party that happens to be the majority now isn't working with their compatriots who are likely to be majority sometime in the future. Instead, we have bitter combatants who haven't laid down any weapons or accepted the outcome of the last election or the election before that.

It's always been true that the last election never settled questions for good, no matter how much the last winners wished for it. But the lack of truces now makes me wonder if all major legislation is doomed for the foreseeable future. It's hard to imagine this Congress agreeing on changes to the tax code, even though everyone's tax rate is set to increase significantly at the end of 2012. Not even this impetus is enough to get these bloody-minded opponents to negotiate.

We need to go back to the days when the election-season fighting ended with the election.

By the way, once I thought about it, I realized what "loyal opposition" means. It means that the party which lost the election isn't going to make war on the winners. They will be loyal to the elected government, and not take up arms, split the country, and start a civil war. As angry as people may get in Parliament, I think they consider how great a tragedy would occur without the loyalty of the losers. We need to take a lesson.

Loyalty, my arse!

Link: My guess about the origins of our current amped-up partisanship.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tax Advice for Obama

No, I'm not giving advice to Obama's on his personal income tax return. I'm looking ahead to the end of 2012 when the Bush tax cuts are ending. For a change, Obama can grab the initiative and propose tax reform before the cuts expire.

The legislation shouldn't come from Nancy Pelosi or the left side of the Democratic party. It should come centrists. If they aren't available in Congress, Obama's team will have to draft the tax reform.

Tax reform is necessary but dangerous. If you're honest about tax reform, and your opponent isn't, they can demagogue the issue and cost you critical votes at the next election.

What are the chances that the Republicans won't behave that way? Zero. So we are destined to see no reform proposals or just the vaguest outlines. Then, after the election, the lame ducks will be sorting out mess. They'll probably scream, moan, and grandstand their way to a one-to-two-month extension. Sigh.

Ron Paul reaches for the ceiling

What is the ceiling for support for Ron Paul? He's got a great campaign network, good fundraising, ads on TV, a strong message, name recognition, and no other candidate splitting his pool of voters. He should be running at his maximum level, at least for this campaign. These primaries are a test to see what his ceiling is and the maximum number of people who will vote for Paul's platform.

In a different post, I declared that Paul's ceiling is 15%. My prediction was too low since he's already gotten 21% in Iowa and 23% in New Hampshire. His libertarian platform may not play so well in the socially conservative south, but the rest of the country is pretty fertile ground.

Paul gave a great semi-victory speech after the New Hampshire primary. He's a good speaker in debates, interviews, and even sound bites. He doesn't suffer from many of the characterizations that plague other candidates. People don't see him as:
a Wall Street stooge, Wall Street raider, lobbyist, elitist, rich, dishonest, greedy, flip-flopper, philanderer, unethical, pompous, vindictive, opportunist, contemptible, theocratic, hypocritical, empty-suit, uptight, dumber than dirt, whiny, liar, insincere, or slick.  
His negative characteristics are usually variations on these: out-of-touch, dangerous to the GOP, crackpot.

If Paul ends up in a two-man race with Mitt Romney, we will all get to see what his ceiling is. But more important, the GOP will have a stark choice: they can embrace the candidate who actually follows their small-government ideals, or they can choose someone from Bush mold (but one who promises to do better on the finances).

With Romney polling at a national average of 34%, and Paul getting 12% to 20%, that leaves at least 46% who have to make that stark choice. Will Tea partiers, who were so outspoken on the constitution, gravitate to Paul? They should,  if smaller government is a more important message than being the top military power in the world.

I don't think the Tea partiers are that pure. They may say they love the constitution, but they want to be top dog with no apologies. Because of this, I think Paul is close to his max at 23% in New Hampshire. He'll do better in some western caucus state, but over all, his ceiling is probably 30%. That's better than 8% in 2008, and it becomes the floor for 2016*. We shall see.

* That's not really the floor for 2016. But it's a pleasant idea that 30% of the Republican party would be honest in their small-government goals.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lucky Santorum

Do you know the joke about being born on third base and thinking you hit a triple? We need a version for Santorum.

He was the least attractive of the not-Romneys, so he was the last to receive attention and the "bump." His luck was that his bump came so late it coincided with the Iowa caucuses. He's like a person in the last car on the roller coaster. He's only up there because everyone else has already been there and dropped.

Extra: If a ferris wheel metaphor would have worked, I'd use this pic. Let's see...
Santorum wins because he happened to be in the top car with the plane hit. ... 
See, it doesn't work. But enjoy the pic anyway. It's too good not to share.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The consequences of political overreach

In an earlier post, I wrote about how political parties have become aggregates of "intense policy demanders" (an idea that isn't mine originally, but sounds like a good description of the current situation). This post is about a corollary to that thesis. The information also comes from a news outlet, this time NPR.

According to the NPR piece (worth its 11 minutes), the US is in a cycle of political overreach and backlash. This is how it works:
  • The electorate becomes distinctly unhappy with the way the government is working.
  • They vote one party (the one held less to blame) into power in a wave election.
  • The winning party mistakes its election for a mandate. Or maybe it willfully misreads the election as a mandate.
  • The newly powerful party listens to its "intense policy demanders" (we can call them screamers) and enacts or tries to enact too extreme a program.
  • The electorate becomes distinctly unhappy with that party, and the cycle repeats, but with the former "in" party now out.
The problem is political overreach. The electorate wants moderate, well-functioning government without drama, but the party is pushed by (or full of) screamers. The agenda of these screamers provokes electoral repudiation.

One final point in the report. The swings in election results are speeding up. There was an electoral change favoring Republicans in 1994. The Republicans became stronger through 5 more elections until the pendulum started swinging back in 2006 towards the Democrats. In 2010, just 2 elections later, the pendulum swung again back towards the Republicans. We don't know yet whether the 2012 election will bring greater strength to the Republicans, or another shift in the pendulum.

The pendulum is changing directions so frequently because of obstruction. To remove obstruction, you need undivided government, but that also opens the door to the screamers in the party in power. Until one party or the other figures out how to restrain its screamers, we are trapped in this Catch -22. 

If one of the parties could stake out the middle ground, it could hold onto power for quite a while, unless boredom is part of the reason for the electoral turnovers (and that's a possibility).

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Fair Way to Report

The non-coverage of Ron Paul, and now the coverage of Ron Paul, give me an example of how badly the press reports on candidates. Here is my recipe for a fair, interesting, informative way to cover a candidate
  • Do your homework first--know the candidate's policy positions, their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Let the candidate present their positions and their strengths. Give them a fair chance to do this without interrupting with gotcha questions.
  • Follow-up on the policy weaknesses and professional/leadership weaknesses. Revealing these weaknesses is an important task for the press because the candidate isn't going to do it himself, and opponents will tend to exaggerate.
So what was wrong with the coverage on Paul?
  • First no coverage.
  • Then coverage only as a no-hoper.
  • Then coverage only of the newsletter scandal. 
  • No reporting on his policy proposals.
  • No critique of his policy weaknesses.
The first and the last are the biggest failures of the press. On second thought, they are all failures, and I'm not sure which is the worst, especially considering that the press could easily do a better job. If only they would divert some of their resources away from repetition, celebrity reporting, and media frenzy, they would have many more half-decent stories on this at-least-moderately-important presidential race.

 The only guaranteed airtime for Paul

I critique Paul's general policy approach here and "sound money" ideas here.

A New Year... minus the election jitters

Today feels more like Thanksgiving to me than Hangover Day. It's warm, so I took a walk with my honey in our historical downtown, and I just enjoyed the small pleasures like sunshine, well-built modest older houses, the smooth bark and twisty branches in an evergreen hedge. I thought about my kids at home (twenty-somethings) and how they are good-hearted and honest.

It's hard for me to worry too much about the fate of the US on a day like today. We aren't currently at our strongest, but we are a wealthy country with a lot of reserves. I don't believe anyone on the left or the right is trying to subvert and destroy our country. Of course we need to be vigilant, work hard, and make the best decisions we can. Maybe we also need to back down on the fear and suspicion.

I'm going to reveal something surprising--I used to be a pessimist. For many years, I was one. But then I noticed many aspects of my life turned out well, like my career, my relationship with my parents and siblings, my kids, my town. Now I'm an optimist because that's what life has taught me.

Thank you, God, life, nature, and everyone.

 A different town, but the same feeling