Monday, October 26, 2015

Benghazi hearing round-up

Nope, I didn't watch the Benghazi hearings where the GOP hoped to embarrass Hillary Clinton. I caught up with the news later. It seems that Clinton did pretty well and the committee was blah, as befits a newstory that's been raked over for three years already.

When I first checked Google News for stories, I noticed the lack of stories from conservative sites like Breitbart and Daily Caller. Oh my, they didn't have any stories to trumpet. Looks like it was a bad day for the Hillary-haters all over the US internet.

That seems to be the consensus--no big moments going against Hillary. A bust for the committee, if we are to guess what their real objective is.

Extras. The MSM reviews the conservative media (3 stories). Politico's top moments. Very pithy and readable analysis. I sought out a bit of video.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The liberal blogosphere misread Paul Ryan

I'm not sure why, but most of the liberal-leaning blogs I read incorrectly predicted what would happen with Paul Ryan. In a previous post, I referred to this Bernstein article where commenters were overwhelmingly wrong in understanding the situation.

Here is Ezra Klein, also not understanding the situation:
"Ryan should hope he doesn't get the job."
No, Ryan hoped that he would get the job. He hoped that he would bridge enough of the divides in the House GOP caucus. It was important (to him) that the various factions would look like they can unite and actually accomplish something. It presents a horrible picture when people within the same party can't decide on a leader. Why should such people be entrusted with any more power, like, say, the presidency?

This was the grim picture facing Republicans. Most Republicans knew it. They knew that their chances of winning the presidential election were dropping if the House GOP continued to joust and wound one another.

Of course some House Republicans are so blinded by their principles that they don't acknowledge that shutdowns and default threats hurt their standing. You can't make the willfully blind see, and no one can convince some of these hardliners to stop the tactics. (Well, unless their money dries up.) But enough of the hardliners saw that, and accepted Ryan. And of course, Ryan would want the GOP to have good chances for the 2016 election, so of course he wanted this infighting to end. So it wasn't that hard to predict it would happen.

Blind to the signs

... or maybe it's harder than I thought. The hardliners were strong enough to oust Boehner and nix McCarthy. Was it predictable that they would accept Ryan? The conservative press was pushing against Ryan with stories about him being for bailouts, and especially amnesty--that most heinous of sins in the hard-conservative world.

Maybe I could see the signs that, despite the barrage, Ryan was on track. Others couldn't see those signs. They were fixated on the idea that this hard rump of the caucus wanted to run things, or that no sane GOP rep would take the thankless task. They didn't see any hardliners as seeing or being wary of the major negative consequences of the GOP House not being able to choose a leader.

Also ignored were signs that hardliners were moving to Ryan. Jason Chaffetz dropped his candidacy and endorsed Ryan. The Freedom Caucus was split. While pressure was put on those to stay strong and keep the fight, the number declared against Ryan was conspicuously low, only 9 or 10 out of a purported 40 members on the day I checked, which was 10/21. I could read this as a likely victory for Paul Ryan, but most commenters (or pundits) couldn't. Why so blind? I don't know. Of course, I was tipped off by Harry Reid, so I had that advantage.


Extras. I didn't survey much of the huge liberal blogosphere to see who else was wrong, but I checked two favorites. In these three posts from Washington Monthly, no one mentions the threat to GOP presidential chances, ignoring this huge motivation to settle the issue. Jonathan Chait has a very good take on the situation. The GOP needs the presidency, and Ryan knows this. It's just a question of whether enough of the Freedom Caucus can see that Ryan is the best chance they have.

Of course, none of this is a guarantee that the wingnut factions of the GOP won't do something to ruin or greatly lessen the GOP's chances in 2016. I wouldn't ever rule that out.

Short: Trump insults former supporters. Surprise!

I haven't written about this before, but I expect Trump to lose the GOP nomination, and I expect he'll get very nasty when that's happening. He's already complained about being treated 'unfairly' while he was rising. Now imagine what he'll do when he's dropping.

So, what was likely to happen when Trump stopped being the frontrunner in Iowa? Something like this:


But NEVER MIND. It was the mistake of a 'young intern.' Not the first mistake, though.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Harry Reid tries to doom Paul Ryan with reverse psychology

This trick worked so well for Claire McCaskill when she ran a campaign ad asking if Todd Akin was too conservative. The primary voters in Missouri fell for it, but our Washington pols are supposed to be more sophisticated, right?

So, will Paul Ryan become toast after the blessing by Harry Reid? I don't actually think so. Harry Reid runs Hail Mary political plays with some regularity. Remember the super-secret confidence about Romney's taxes? It didn't work, but he tried it anyway. This is just another example of a Harry Reid desperate move. I'm guessing Paul Ryan's chances are pretty good, and Harry Reid won't be able to change that. But he stills tries.


Update 10/21/15. I looks like I'm doing pretty well in my analysis. In a comment at Bernstein, I wrote this:
[Ryan's candidacy for Speaker] is a serious offer, and I think it's going to go through. He's the best hope for the House GOP. If it isn't him, they'll have weeks or months of turmoil, with debt ceiling problems during that time.
He'll probably be able to peel off enough of the hardliners... He's playing hardball by demanding a public endorsement, which might mean getting over half to endorse him. That's a pretty high bar. He might back away from that requirement if he gets enough support.
I also wrote that it wasn't a worrying sign if some Freedom Caucus reps were loud in their rejection, as long as the number didn't go above 20. According to this report, Ryan got support from 70%. I guess that means most are not as dumb as they seem. They can do some (political) calculus.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Ted Cruz, he's my man!

A commenter on Bloomberg who's occasionally sensible linked to a website that compares your views to the candidates, and tells which ones you're closest to.

I'm 78% with Bernie Sanders, aside from electability, tax policy, escalating social programs, and maybe a few other dealbreakers. But that's not the biggest surprise.

At the same time I'm 78% with Bernie, I'm also 56% with Ted Cruz!

Maybe it was the lack of questions about whether I personally detest any particular candidates. I could hate Bernie for being an Eastern commie-leaning Jew. Maybe I hate Hillary for being a fat, bitchy, pantsuit-wearing liberal woman, Maybe I loathe Ted Cruz being a conniving, political con artist.

Without questions like these, the website's algorithm concludes that I agree with Cruz over half the time. But I still have to wonder why. Luckily, the website states the reasons. For example:
Should the U.S. reduce corporate income tax rates? 
Ted Cruz: Switch to a flat tax with no deductions. 
[My] similar answer: Yes, but eliminate loopholes and require corporations to pay a minimum tax.
I can't report all the times that the algorithm thought I and Ted were somewhat on the same page just because I'm not a total liberal with major socialist leanings. Here's a supposed partial similarity between Ted and me:
Should foreign terrorism suspects be given constitutional rights?
Ted Cruz: No, they are not U.S. citizens and should be subject to enhanced interrogation methods.
[My] similar answer: No, they should be tried in military tribunals but not subject to torture.
I'm adamantly against torture, Ted Cruz seems to be adamantly pro-torture, but you couldn't tell from the way this question was weighted. Thank God for the explanations, where I could see how far I actually am from that despicable charlatan.

If you want to good laugh, take the test and see how much you have in common with your most hated presidential candidate.


Hillary being stupid on Syria

I think I'm hitting my limit with Hillary. She is making one pandering bad decision after another.

This time it's calling for a no-fly zone in Syria. As a candidate, she can do this without political cost to herself, as she isn't the president who'd have to deploy forces, order missile attacks, order shots fired at Russian aircraft, and deal with the consequences.

She should shut up and rethink her position.

Syria has proven to be a no-win situation. We dislike Assad, but we dislike ISIS even more. The only people we half-way trust have failed and/or been crushed. We should chalk this up as a short term loss, with the long term not visible at all at this point. Unfortunately, the hawks in the US aren't able to accept this loss, and they seem to want to throw more into this no-win situation. BAD IDEA!!! I don't know how much clearer it could be.

You want a piece of this?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hillary panders on the Cadillac tax

This is disappointing but not surprising. Hillary Clinton is calling for the repeal of the Cadillac tax provision of ACA. And like many repeal proposals, she's vague on what she'd do to make up for the lost revenue. Actually, she's silent on what she'd do.

This is just bad, typical pandering. Some unions want to protect their benefits as much as possible, and they don't want members hit with the punishing 40% excise tax on the primo health benefits. However, the premium must be over $27K for a family. That's pretty damn high. How many people really have such generous health benefits?

I couldn't readily find any numbers. Companies have been trying to change their plans in preparation for the Cadillac tax starting in 2018, but also to rein in health insurance costs and to get employees to share the burden. I don't think that's at all bad. It's better for employees to be aware of healthcare costs, rather than treating it like a perk that someone else pays for.

The arguments for repealing the Cadillac tax aren't very strong. Opponents claim that it will hit 82% of all employers by 2023 because of the indexing (if they don't make adjustments, which they are). That leaves plenty of time to adjust the indexing if needed. Opponents also don't answer about how to make up for the lost revenue, which is just so typical.

Extras. Forbes complains about higher cost or lack of choice, ignoring responsible decision-making. The Fiscal Times seconds that. A different author calls it 'modest.'  The typical economist response here.

Friday, October 2, 2015

McCarthy and the real purpose of the Benghazi committee

For laughs and for posterity, here is what Kevin McCarthy, a House GOP leader and probable next Speaker of the House, said about the Benghazi investigation committee on Tuesday:
"Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping."
This is what he said on Thursday:
"This committee's sole purpose is to find the truth why four Americans were killed that night, and that is the work they have done, that is the hearings they have done, they have been applauded on all sides of the aisle, so it was never my intention to say that."
And some people think politicians, some of them at least, aren't regular and habitual liars. This shows how truth is the exception and must be 'clarified' or contradicted post haste.

I'll say it again--all politicians are liars. It's completely ridiculous to claim a politician is a liar and therefore no one should vote for him or her. There would be no one to vote for. So, go ahead and vote for the liar of your choice, even McCarthy, but don't claim he's not a liar.

Liars to the left of us, liars to the right