Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New York Times Mentions Benghazi For the First Time in Four Days

In its Libya Warnings Were Plentiful, but Unspecific, the New York Times broke its four day embargo on the use of the word “Benghazi.” Those expecting a discussion of a possible cover up by the administration and the curious sticking to the “video story” were due for a disappointment. The article was exclusively about security arrangements and the difficulty of gauging the security threat to our embassy facilities in Libya.

American voters know about the changing administration accounts in the month following the Benghazi attacks and are curious. They must look elsewhere from the Times to get answers.

There You Go Again: New York Times Trying to Save Obama in Ohio

 In its GOP Turns Fire on Obama Pillar, The Auto Bailout, the New York Times engages in a blatant distortion to prop up Obama’s waning fortunes in Ohio. 

The Times rehashes a November 18, 2008 Romney editorial entitled Let Detroit Go Bankrupt as follows:

“Mr. Romney wrote an Op-Ed article in the New York Timesgiven the title by the newspaper “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.’’ In the piece Mr. Romney wrote that in the event of a bailout, “You can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.”

Notice that the Times admits it chose the misleading headline (“Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”), which served as campaign fodder for Obama for the next three years.

Anyone who bothers to read the Romney piece knows he is arguing against a federal bail out (not bankruptcy) of GM and Chrysler. A bailout would leave both unable to compete, and, indeed, you could “kiss the American automotive industry good by.”

Instead, Romney advocated a court-managed Chapter 11 bankruptcy to realign GM and Chrysler’s costs with competitors to save GM and Chrysler.  The Obama administration agreed. Obama’s car czar pushed GM and Chrysler through Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Chrysler was, in effect, sold to Fiat.  The bankrupt “old” GM’s shares became worthless, and its assets were transferred to a “new” GM owned primarily by the unions and the federal government.

The Times somehow forgot to tell its readers that Obama agreed with Romney to “let Detroit go bankrupt.”

Romney wanted a regular bankruptcy preceding to put in place  “new labor (UAW) agreements to align pay and benefits to match those of workers at competitors.” Alarmed by his UAW allies, Obama rushed to strong arm through a political bankruptcy at taxpayer expense that shortchanged bond holders, preserved union contracts and gold-plated pensions, and made the federal government the largest single shareholder.

Do not take my word: The Washington Post’s Fact Check: Letting Detroit go bankrupt rejects Obama’s references to Romney’s  wanting Detroit to go “bankrupt.”  I quote:

“This statement is drawn from a headline — ‘Let Detroit Go Bankrupt’ (chosen by the Times)— on an opinion article written by Romney for New York Times. But he did not say that in the article…Although ‘bankrupt’ often conjures up images of liquidation, Romney called for a ‘managed bankruptcy.’ This is a process in which the company uses the bankruptcy code to discharge its debts, but emerges from the process a leaner, less leveraged company.”

Confronted with this truth, Obama’s supporters can only claim: “But there was no money for a regular bankruptcy.” Yes, there was. If the federal government could throw $80 billion at the GM-Chrysler bankruptcies, it could have put up the small amount of creditor-in-possession funds required for a regular bankruptcy.

Ohio remember:  Obama’s political bankruptcy of GM did not rescue jobs. It rescued union pay and benefits.

published in forbes.com 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Readers’ Manual on the GM Bailout:

Both Obama and Romney proposed taking GM through Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

GM went bankrupt. Its shares became worthless and its assets were transferred to a new company, which was called General Motors.

Obama used taxpayer dollars to force through a political bankruptcy that preserved union contracts and pensions, short changed bondholders, and made the unions and the federal government the new owners of GM

Romney favored a regular bankruptcy that would treat all GM stakeholders fairly. The government would be limited to providing bridge financing backed by GM assets to limit taxpayer exposure.
The federal government remains a major shareholder because it cannot sell its shares without revealing the extent of the taxpayer loss.

The old GM was an ideal candidate for Chapter 11. It had an established brand name, billions of dollars of revenues, and needed restructuring to lower its high labor and pension costs. It would have attracted numerous bidders. It would have emerged from bankruptcy with slightly fewer jobs, lower wages, and less generous union pensions.

Ohioans Are No Fools: Obama Did NOT Save Your Automotive Jobs

Barack Obama believes he can take Ohio voters for fools. His “I saved GM from bankruptcy” was his first whopper. As if that was not enough, Obama, aided and abetted by Bill Clinton in Charlotte, conceived an even bigger whopper: “I saved the entire U.S. auto industry.” These two claims were supposed to assure Obama Ohio’s electoral votes with its 76,000 jobs in motor vehicle assembly and manufacture of bodies, trailers and parts.

November 6 will show that Ohio voters have too much common sense to be taken in by Obama’s whoppers.

go to forbes.com

Friday, October 26, 2012

Wow! The New York Times Tells the Truth on the Benghazi Blunder (PS Obama Is Losing)

Op-ed writer Ross Douthat is a rare truth teller among the New York Times’s writers’ stable. Columnist Paul Krugman spouts daily left-wing fact-uninformed economics. Token conservative, David Brooks, pens trivia about the latest book he read. Maureen Dowd jokes about women’s issues. Only Douthat  questions the Times’ ueber-liberal party line and tells the truth.

In his Sunday October 14 Mystery of Benghazi, Douthat dissects why “White House officials continued to stress the importance of the ‘hateful’ and ‘disgusting’ video, and its supposed role as a catalyst for what Susan Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, insisted was a spontaneous attack” even as “it became clearer that the Benghazi violence was an al Qaeda operation” --- a narrative “pushed on Sunday morning programs, on late-night talk shows and at news conferences, by everyone from Rice to Hillary Clinton to the president himself.”  Per Douthat: “When Obama spoke at the United Nations shortly after the attacks, the video was referenced six times in the text; Al Qaeda was referenced only once.”

Douthat, for the first time on the pages of the venerable Times, clearly lays out the time line of what he terms the administration’s “strange denial” that the Benghazi consulate attack was a planned terrorist action.

Douthat rejects two common explanations for Obama’s “self defeating strategy,” before coming up with his own. 

go to forbes.com

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Obama’s World 2050: Read Good Intentions Before the Election

The success of 2016: Obama‘s America shows there is an audience for conservative movies. Many movie-goers missed the obvious conservative message of a billionaire hero who saves Gotham City from the Occupy Gotham mob in the mega-hit The Dark Knight Rises. That Hollywood could at long last make Parts 1 and 2 of Atlas Shrugged for a niche-market represents an under-appreciated accomplishment.

If we look back, the books that have best put across a conservative message (or an anti-statist) message in the most indelible fashion have offered a vision of a future socialist or statist society. The classics, of course, are Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Now we have Bob Zeidman’s Good Intentions, a satirical novel about a future America in which political correctness has run amuck. Zeidman pictures a society in which everyone works for the state, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World “primitives” are the few remaining entrepreneurs.

Zeidman’s protagonist is Winston Jones (the counterpart of Orwell’s Winston Smith of 1984). Winston Jones is chosen by the Fairness for EveryBody Society to be the president because he has the required makeup—ethnic, racial, religious, sexual orientation, etc.—to “fairly represent the diversity of America.” In his attempt to escape his destiny as President, Jones goes about a voyage of discovery of the true America and comes to an understanding that it has veered radically off course.

The future America has solved the diversity problem by pairing couples to produce a homogenous gene pool, where everyone is alike. If we are all the same, there is equal opportunity and the government assures equal outcomes.  

Zeidman’s future Americans work for the government, where they work for the good of all. To prevent conflict in child rearing, one parent families are encouraged and the state provides an “e-father” for young boys and girls.  Property rights are not enforced because we are obliged to share with the less fortunate. In one scene, Winston encounters a frantic homeowner, in which illegal immigrants have decided to live. They ignore the plea “but this is my house” with the admonition that she should take care of the less fortunate. Perhaps they can perform some odd jobs to pay their way.

Zeidman’s future America has evolved into the ultimate nanny state. The state places patches of rubber matting around fences on which children might play along with warning signs (which make illegal the removal of the warning sign). The state protects us from ingesting things that might harm our health. In theGovMintBucks coffee shop, a “caffeinator” must be bribed to give customers sugared caffeine. After all, sugar causes obesity and hyperactivity in children and caffeine requires a prescription. Police are posted in the coffee shop to enforce these rules.

In his reluctant adventure of discovery, Winston encounters “The Documented,” a group of legal aliens that refuse to break the law and turn down government entitlements along with the mysterious Freedman Group— “subversives” who believe in free market capitalism and secretly run businesses without government interference. At the other end of the spectrum, he comes in contact with Radical Femlamism, a bizarre blending of Radical Feminism and Radical Islam.

I’ll not divulge further secrets. Just read Good Intentions and pass it on, and read it before the election.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why Did British Investigators Prosecute Only the Murdochs When Everyone Was Doing It?

From the press coverage of the British tabloid hacking scandal, it seemed that only News of the World engaged in dirty tricks. All other British tabloids were clean as the fresh driven snow. This struck me as rather suspicious, and I wrote so at the time.

I knew that British tabloids compete against each other fiercely. If only one uses sleazy techniques to get juicier stories, the others would lose out in the competitive struggle.

As an economist, I posed a hypothesis: If only the Murdoch papers (News of the World and the Sun) used underhanded and illegal methods to get news scoops, their share of the tabloid market would be rising over time. Only they had the really salacious stories. Other tabloids would be boring in comparison.

British tabloid circulation statistics do not support the hypothesis. Both News of the World’s share of Sunday tabloids and The Sun’s share of daily circulation remained stable against a backdrop of declining overall tabloid circulation.

This statistical fact tells me that “everyone did it.” But why were only the Murdochs being investigated? I guess no one likes their power and politics.

Well, it looks as if the truth is finally coming out. According to a news report, a suit was filed against the Daily Mirror and covers the time when Piers Morgan was the editor. Morgan, CNN’s replacement for Larry King, previously denied involvement in phone hacking activity, but this scandal is spreading from Murdoch to the Mirror Group. The Associated Press reported late Monday: “Four alleged phone hacking victims have filed suit against the publisher of Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper, a tabloid once edited by CNN’s Morgan, prominent lawyer said late Monday.” An actress, a former nanny to David Beckham’s children and two sports figures are seeking damages due to alleged phone hacking.

It is rather late for the British public to learn that “everyone did it.” News of the World is gone. The Murdoch media empire has been under constant assault, while his likely-equally-guilty competitors have gone about their merry way.

I might also note that the fact that “everyone did it,” is not making headlines. In fact, the story is buried and will likely remain so.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How Obama Handed the Debate to Romney

President Obama handed the debate to challenger Mitt Romney on a silver platter, and few noticed it happening. Pundits debated the finer points and kept count of  body and face blows. They were looking for signs of a technical knockout and missed the fact that Obama lowered his guard for an upper cut that left him dazed on the canvass.  When he was led to his corner, he still did not know what had happened.

This was to be a debate on foreign policy – Obama’s supposed strength. Instead, it turned into a replay of earlier debates on the economy —Obama’s weak suit, and Obama fell into the trap.

Some  trivia enthusiast needs to do a word count, but I reckon about one quarter of the debate was on the American economy with Romney on the attack and Obama on the defensive. The foreign policy context opened the door: Without a strong economy, America cannot have a strong foreign policy.

In watching focus groups after the debate, that is exactly the point viewers took home: Obama gave us a weak economy and thus weakened us in  the international arena. Romney promises to fix our economy. He has a plan, so it is time for a change. The message is as simple as Johnny Cochrane’s “If the glove don’t fit, acquit:” Romney: “Weak economy equals weak foreign policy. Fire Obama.”

In a huge tactical blunder, Obama himself  interjected the economy into what was supposed to be a foreign policy debate:

go to forbes.com

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Appease, Surrender, Abandon, and Get Nothing: Obama's NaivePolitik

Obama’s superior foreign-policy acumen has been part and parcel of the Beltway narrative. “I killed Osama and I Got Us Out of Iraq” were supposed to offset the awful economy. Pundits were sure that youth-lived-in-Indonesia and college-traveler-to-Pakistan Obama could easily dispatch provincial “businessman” Romney in the  final debate – a fitting climax to the President’s inevitable reelection. As Obama whispered to Putin’s envoy: “Tell Vladimir to wait until the election. Then I will be flexible,” he could not even imagine a loss to such a weak opponent.

The Benghazi tragedy of 9/11 shook the foundations of this narrative. For weeks, the administration kept changing its story, as if in a panic. On the eve of the final debate, foreign policy has moved to the front burner to decide an election that was supposed to be about the economy. The rough-and-tumble of the last debate will swell an audience waiting for blood.

Obama entered the first two debates with weak cards, but he was supposed to contest the final debate from a position of strength. All that has changed. Romney can produce a devastating laundry list of Obama’s foreign policy defeats to an audience that is actually listening. And Obama will not have Candy Crowley, unless Bob Shieffer wants to join her in the tank.

go to forbes.com

Friday, October 19, 2012

Now Benghazi Is the Intelligence Community's Fault?

The administration is now releasing top secret intelligence memos to demonstrate that Ambassador Rice’s  September 16 talk show statements were the result of bad intelligence (Early Uncertainty on Libya Account, WSJ, October 19). 

If our intelligence community could not debrief consulate personnel, interview eye witnesses, examine the surveillance camera and drone satellite tapes, talk with Libyan officials within five days after the attack, this in itself is a national scandal of huge proportions. 

The New York Times October 16 Election-Year Stakes Overshadow Nuances of Libya Investigation had already completed this work within a day of the attack (but chose not to share its results with its readers). 
We must ask why exculpatory secret intelligence information is being released now to aid the President’s campaign and why our intelligence community purports to have been asleep at the wheel, especially after one of their top officials had already testified under oath that this was clearly a terrorist attack. 

Why is the intelligence community falling on its sword to help the President get reelected?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Candy Clearly Wrong on Benghazi, But No Instant Replay for Referee Error

During his September 12 comments on the killing of Ambassador Stevens the night before, President Obama spoke of “brutal killings,” praised the work of our diplomats, and called for religious tolerance. He ended on a general note that “no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation.”
Ignoring mounting evidence that the attack was planned, the Obama administration launched a full scale campaign to peddle a spontaneous-mob-incited-by-the video narrative on the next day. The most notable operation was Ambassador Rice’s September 16 statement on the Sunday talk shows: “Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous – not a premeditated – response to what had transpired in Cairo….”

The spontaneous-mob-video narrative continued until September 20, when the press secretary announced that it is “self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.”

As Romney explained this sequence of events at last night’s debate, Obama interrupted and told him to “get the transcript” of his remarks. When Romney persisted, Crowley interjected:  “He did in fact call it an ‘act of terror.” Crowley continued: “It did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.” On both counts, Crowley was outright wrong.


The Times Knew and Kept Silent

The New York Times deafening thirty-five-day silence on the developing Benghazi scandal ended today with its Election-Year Stakes Overshadow Nuances of Libya Investigation.

The article reveals that the Times knew almost immediately that the assault was carried out by an organized militant group and that there was no spontaneous demonstration of sparked by the anti-Muslim video. According to the Times:  a 20-year-old neighbor described the brigade he saw leading the attack. “There was no protest or anything of that sort.” Libyan guards at the Benghazi compound and other witnesses told Times journalists as early as Sept. 12 that the streets outside the mission were quiet in the moments before the attack without any prior protests.

The attack was planned and carried out by a local militant group, which may or may not have ties with al Qaeda, but U.S. intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they intercepted boastful phone calls after the fact from the attackers to individuals affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. In June the group staged a similar attack against the Tunisian Consulate over a different film, according to the Congressional testimony of the American security chief at the time.

During the onslaught, most of the attackers made no effort to hide their faces or identities, and during the assault some acknowledged to a Libyan journalist working for the Times that they belonged to the group. The Times reporter interviewed militants who claimed they heard of the video that day from the Cairo protests earlier in the day. Other Benghazi militia leaders said the militant group had boasted back in June that it could destroy the American Mission. The Times notes, however, that “in the days after the attack the Obama administration’s surrogates said it grew out of a peaceful protest against the video.”

The Times remained silent as the Obama administration peddled the spontaneous mob incited by the video to the media. It knew the truth but said nothing.

And there are those who deny the existence of media bias.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Krugman’s Malarkey: “Death by Ideology”

Paul Krugman argues in his Death by Ideology  that “lack of insurance is responsible for thousands, and probably tens of thousands, of excess deaths of Americans each year.” Romney and Ryan, he claims, “want to repeal Obama care and slash funding for Medicaid — actions that would take insurance away from some 45 million nonelderly Americans, causing thousands of people to suffer premature death.” Moreover, any plan to replace Medicare by vouchers “would deprive many seniors of adequate coverage, too, leading to still more unnecessary mortality.” And what if the amount of money in a “voucher care” program were not enough to buy a decent policy? Krugman lectures that “going to the emergency room when you’re very sick is no substitute for regular care, especially if you have chronic health problems.

It would be good if Krugman did a little gathering of facts before he writes.  If he had read my Krugman’s Sick Numbers, he would know that there are virtually no uninsured poor, that most of the uninsured are relatively young and can afford health insurance but choose not to. For them, health insurance is simply not a good deal. He seems not to know that those who substitute the emergency room for a regular physician are primarily those on the government Medicaid program. They are insured but few medical care providers want the measly fees the government offers them.

As an economist, Krugman should know that the real question is not whether there would be enough money in a voucher program “to buy a decent program.” Instead, he should ask, based on developing experience, whether government health insurance programs offer providers enough money so that they do not have to treat the government insured at a loss? If this is the case, the poor will not be able to get a doctor. Judging from the emergency room visit statistics, that is exactly what is happening.

Could it be that government insurance is “death of ideology?”

Monday, October 15, 2012

Obama on Benghazi: Believe Me or Your Lying Eyes (Or At Least Wait Until After the Election)

In Duck Soup, Groucho Marx pleads his innocence to his wealthy matronly fiancĂ©, who catches him smooching with a show girl: “Who are you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”

Since September 12, the Obama administration has been asking us to believe him, his press secretary, and his proxies that our Libyan ambassador and three other consulate officials were killed by a spontaneous mob driven into frenzy by an anti-Muslim film produced by an unknown Christian film maker.  He asks that we not believe his state department or top intelligence officials who testify that this narrative is false. Nor should we notice the coincidence of the attack taking place on 9/11 or that this was revenge for the fifteen top al Qaeda leaders killed by drones under Obama. Of course, Obama spiking the “I-killed-Osama” football at the Democrat convention had nothing to do with this either. Nor did the Libyan President warn of impending violence three days earlier.

go to forbes.com

Friday, October 12, 2012

Why Obama/Biden Cannot Possibly Win the Presidential Debates

If we cut through the surface images of the two presidential debates – aggressive confident Romney, subdued and passive Obama, jeering Biden, and polite Ryan – the Obama/Biden team has little chance of winning any of the four debates.  Despite recent improvements in survey numbers, the vast majority of Americans think the country “is headed in the wrong direction” and almost eighty percent are “dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States.”

Reduced to fundamentals, Obama and Biden must defend the status quo, which voters believe is a disaster. They cannot offer major makeovers because that would amount to admitting policy mistakes, and they must somehow make voters believe that they have done a good job or that the sorry state of the country is not their fault.  It goes without saying that this is a tough and almost impossible sell after three and a half years in office.

Romney and Ryan have their hands free to blast the status quo, focus on the policy errors of the past three and a half years, and explain what they would do to fix the mess we are in.

When the current team manager is having a losing season, fans decide it is time for a new one. Romney and Ryan can play the role of the new manager with new ideas which can turn the season around if given the chance. Obama and Biden are left with explaining why, due to weather, injuries, and other things beyond their control, they have lost so many games. Fans don’t want excuses. They want wins.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Krugman’s Sick Numbers

In his Romney’s Sick Joke, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman makes the sky-is-falling  claim that 89 million Americans under 65 “would be left out in the cold (without health insurance) under Mr. Romney’s plan…By the way, that’s more than a third of the U.S. population under 65 years old…. Another answer is 45 million, the estimated number of people who would have health insurance if Mr. Obama were re-elected, but would lose it if Mr. Romney were to win.”

I am surprised that Krugman did not tell us how many Americans Romney would allow to die so that he could “cut taxes on the wealthy.”

Politicians, especially liberals, have a nasty habit of creating government programs to solve problems, without knowing whether the problem exists, and, if it exists, how big the problem is. Obama Care was passed, without a Republican vote, to solve a long list of problems – the uninsured poor, those with existing preconditions, the lack of universal coverage, soaring health care costs, and so on – that seems to change with political convenience. According to Krugman, the health-care crisis now is preexisting conditions and Romney’s heartless cuts to Medicaid.

go to forbes.com

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Why The Shock That Obama Lost?

The Mainstream media and the Democrat Left are traumatized by Obama`s clear loss of the first presidential debate in Denver. Obama campaign operatives blame Jim Lehrer for letting the debate get out of hand.  Others use the excuse  that Obama`s famous debating skills are rusty. Both sides seem to agree that Obama played defense to protect the lead the polls are giving him. The most zealous Obama fans pulled their hair and asked “Where was Obama tonight?”

Being in Berlin, I watched the debates this morning on YouTube, immediately after reading the pundit consensus that Obama had an off night and had lost the debate. After watching the entire debate, my take was quite different. I saw the regular campaign-trail and White-House-press-conference Obama and a slightly energized Romney, not much different from his better primary debates. I would have judged the debates a tie, putting myself in the shoes of the average viewer. Obama made his usual points. Romney made his, although in a better prepared manner. Both Obama and Romney performed as I expected, except that Romney seemed more energized and comfortable.

If my impression that both performed up to capacity is on the mark, why the media and Democrat shell shock about Obama`s disastrous performance?

go to forbes.com

The Debate: Obama Still Overstates Preexisting Conditions

I watched the entire Obama-Romney debate on Youtube. In the health care discussion, Obama spoke of the 50 million Americas (if not 50 million exactly, he suggested a huge number of people)  threatened with the loss of health insurance coverage for preexisting conditions.

In my blog published right before the debate, I showed that preexisting conditions is not a problem for those on government health care programs and on company insurance programs. It affects those who buy direct private insurance, where one in eight might be affected either in terms of policy price or even denial.

The figure I come up with of those who have problems with preexisting conditions is 1.4 to 3.8 million -- far from Secretary Sibelius`s half the American population or Obama´s fifty million.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fact Checking False And Misleading Democratic Assertions About Obamacare

Obama Care is back, front and center, in electoral politics. The Obama campaign uses hyperbole to warn of medical disasters of untold proportions if Republicans win.
Among the deliberate distortions of the Obama campaign are:

Obama’s media collaborators warn that a Romney victory would make shameful America the only “rich nation in the world (that) fails to provide comprehensive health care that is free or inexpensive to its entire population.” Without Obama Care “roughly 50 million Americans, 16 percent of the population, have no health insurance at all; most of them are relatively poor ….” A Republican repeal will cause “45,000 deaths per year and limit (or) ability to enjoy a full life for fear of accident or serious disease.” (What drama!)
Obama, in a prime time interview stresses that he will ”make sure that the 30 million people who don’t have health insurance can get it.” (His advisors corrected the statement to say that Obama meant 36 million U.S. citizens without health insurance, after excluding non-citizens).
Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services  somehow manages to estimate that half the American population has preexisting conditions that threaten their access to health insurance. But do not worry: “Under the Affordable Care Act, these Americans cannot be denied coverage, be charged significantly higher premiums, be subjected to an extended waiting period, or have their benefits curtailed by insurance companies.”

go to forbes.com