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The Trillion $ Coin

by Frank Schnittger
Sat Jan 12th, 2013 at 05:54:29 AM EST

I've been reading about and advocating the Trillion $ Coin option as a means of avoiding the US Debt Ceiling impasse on US Blogs for some time now, but have always sought to leave the lead role in writing diaries on the topic to legal or economic experts. And just when I finally decide to weigh in in a more substantial way Krugman decides to write more or less exactly what I wanted to write:
Barbarous Relics -
There will, of course, be howls from the usual suspects if that's how it goes [and the President decides to mint a Trillion $ coin]. Some of these will be howls of frustration because their hostage-taking plan was frustrated. But some will reflect sincere horror over a policy turn that their cosmology says must be utterly disastrous.

Ed Kilgore says, in a somewhat different way, much the same thing I and people like Joe Weisenthal have been saying: what we're looking at here is a collision of worldviews, one might even say of epistemology.

For many people on the right, value is something handed down from on high. It should be measured in terms of eternal standards, mainly gold; I have, for example, often seen people claiming that stocks are actually down, not up, over the past couple of generations because the Dow hasn't kept up with the gold price, never mind what it buys in terms of the goods and services people actually consume.

And given that the laws of value are basically divine, not human, any human meddling in the process is not just foolish but immoral. Printing money that isn't tied to gold is a kind of theft, not to mention blasphemy.

For people like me, on the other hand, the economy is a social system, created by and for people. Money is a social contrivance and convenience that makes this social system work better -- and should be adjusted, both in quantity and in characteristics, whenever there is compelling evidence that this would lead to better outcomes. It often makes sense to put constraints on our actions, e.g. by pegging to another currency or granting the central bank a high degree of independence, but these are things done for operational convenience or to improve policy credibility, not moral commitments -- and they are always up for reconsideration when circumstances change.

Now, the money morality types try to have it both ways; they want us to believe that monetary blasphemy will produce disastrous results in practical terms too. But events have proved them wrong.

And I do find myself thinking a lot about Keynes's description of the gold standard as a "barbarous relic"; it applies perfectly to this discussion. The money morality people are basically adopting a pre-Enlightenment attitude toward monetary and fiscal policy -- and why not? After all, they hate the Enlightenment on all fronts.

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Abortion in Ireland

by Frank Schnittger
Wed Dec 19th, 2012 at 03:10:32 PM EST

In the 1980's and 1990's there was a lot of political turmoil in Ireland in response to the economic changes wrought by globalisation and the liberalisation of social mores in response to Ireland's membership of the EU. In what many interpreted as a rearguard action, the Roman Catholic Church and associated pressure groups sought to introduce constitutional "safeguards" to prevent future Irish Governments from legislating for abortion with very counter-productive results (from the perspective of their proponents).

The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution (7 October 1983) sought to introduce a constitutional prohibition of abortion by giving "the unborn" an equal right to life to the mother. However, the Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling called the "X" case (1992), found that the "equal right to life" provision of the 1983 amendment meant that Irish women had the right to an abortion if a pregnant woman's life was at risk because of pregnancy, and included the risk of suicide as a legitimate risk to the life of the mother. In addition, the Supreme Court found that the Government had a duty to legislate to vindicate that right but for 20 years Irish governments have run away from that "hot potato" issue and the almost inevitable confrontation with the Catholic Church that any such legislation would entail.

Anxious to close the suicide "loophole" in the 1983 Amendment, the Government, under pressure from the Catholic bishops, introduced The Twelfth Amendment Bill (1992) to strengthen the constitutional ban on abortion further by stating that an abortion could not be procured to protect the health, rather than the life, of the woman, and specifically excluding the risk to the life of the woman from suicide as a grounds for an abortion. This was put to a referendum in November 1992 and was defeated by a resounding 65-35% margin.

However many anomalies remained. My late wife was forced to resign from her job as the administrator of the local community education centre when she refuse to remove leaflets from the community education information centre which gave advice on where further information on "options" for unwanted pregnancies could be obtained. The spectre of the police preventing pregnant women from obtaining information on abortion services abroad and from traveling to UK to have an abortion eventually resulted in two more amendments to the constitution being passed which further weakened the effect of the 1983 ban.

The Thirteenth Amendment (23 December 1992) specified that the prohibition of abortion would not limit freedom of travel in and out of the state (to have an abortion in abroad) and the Fourteenth Amendment (23 December 1992) specified that the prohibition of abortion would not limit the right to distribute information about abortion services in foreign countries. A second attempt to exclude the risk of suicide as a grounds for abortion was defeated in 2002 when the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution was rejected by the electorate.

In December 2011 the European Court of Human Rights (ABC v Ireland) ruled unanimously that Ireland's failure to implement the existing constitutional right to a lawful abortion in Ireland when a woman's life is at risk violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court unanimously found that Ireland’s abortion law violates women’s human rights and that Ireland must make life-saving abortion services available.

Coincidentally with the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar (2012), an "Expert Group" reported on what actions the Government should take to legislate for the X Case judgement, and now, 20 years after the Supreme Court directed the Government to make legislative provision for abortion, the Government has finally committed to introducing legislation and regulation for abortion in 2013. Cue a histrionic reaction from the Catholic Bishops and associated pressure groups.

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Of Monsters and Men

by Frank Schnittger
Mon Dec 17th, 2012 at 09:04:35 AM EST

It is a sure sign of having too much time on your hands when you start writings Letters to the Editor on the subject of sport. Perhaps it is that the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown or the continuing Eurozone dance of death are simply too depressing, and we need some light relief. Certainly sport has been one of the few highlights in Irish life in recent times, and rugby has been a large part of that success. However the prosaic truth is that I am sad enough to write Letters to the Editor on all manner of topics, and only the most trivial tend to get published (in an edited form).

Monsters needed - Letters, Opinion -

On a weekend of Heineken hell, all four Irish provinces were defeated in the Heineken European Rugby Cup. All were reasonably good performances against formidable opposition, but there is no hiding the structural flaws in Irish rugby: we were bullied up front in each match. We simply don't breed forwards big and powerful enough.

Who knows whether this is a steroidal deficiency or a genetic inheritance, but it is clear that small is no longer beautiful in top-class rugby. Short of a eugenics programme, it is not clear what the solution is.

Matches are decided by referees giving penalties to teams whose scrum is deemed to be trundling forward and by high kicks followed up by marauding beasts. Not the most exciting fare if you are looking for intricate running and handling skills, but the rules and their interpretation will hardly be changed to suit "smaller" nations unless TV earnings are effected.

Anyone got any 6ft 10in, 20 stone, muscle-bound monsters in their extended global family?

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Nobel Peace Prize for the EU

by Frank Schnittger
Mon Dec 10th, 2012 at 10:48:28 AM EST

The Nobel Peace Prize committee has a curious sense of timing: awarding President Obama the Peace Prize before he had accomplished anything much in office, and now awarding the EU the Peace Prize at a time when it seems intent on unraveling much of what has been achieved in European Solidarity in the past 60 years. Perhaps both awards can be described as a form of preemptive peace making: Instead of the more usual approach of rewarding a peacemaker for a life-times achievement of making peace long after it can do any good to help their efforts, it chose instead to reward Obama early in order to make it more possible for him to unwind the warmongering of President Bush. And now it is rewarding current EU leaders for NOT YET having unraveled most of what has been achieved in terms of EU solidarity in order to remind them of the rich peace making heritage bequeathed to them by the EU's founders, and thus make it more possible for them to reverse current negative trends.

In any case, that is the most charitable spin I can put on today's Nobel Peace Prize presentation ceremony in Oslo. Many readers here may view it as a study in the increasing irrelevance of both the Nobel Peace Prize committee and the EU: The establishment congratulating itself on how relevant, innovative and peace loving they are - whilst all the while destroying the efforts of their predecessors and taking and giving credit where none is due. However it seemed odd to me that a forum dedicated to European Affairs would let the day pass unremarked, so this is my attempt to get a conversation going. What relevance has the EU and the Nobel Peace prize got to peacemaking today? Are both still making a valuable positive contribution, or are both living off (and diminishing) past achievements?

Can we seriously look to the EU to make a further positive contribution to European and world Peace today, or must we look elsewhere, and if so, where?

Comments >> (34 comments)

Would an abortion have saved Savita Halappanavar?

by Frank Schnittger
Tue Nov 20th, 2012 at 05:49:09 PM EST

The death of Savita Halappanavar has provoked world-wide condemnation of the Irish health service and the social and legal infrastructure which underpins it. There have been allegations of Roman Catholic dogma determining the medical treatments  available to non-Catholics in Irish hospitals; allegations of racism; and allegations of a patriarchal medical system and culture that would rather have a woman suffer in acute pain rather than give her appropriate treatment and relief.

Some or all of these allegations may turn out to be true. Some have certainly been true in many other instances in the past, as the outpouring of personal reminiscences by Irish women which have appeared in print and in the media over the past few days testify.  The mass protests at her death seen in Ireland and abroad indicate that a very raw nerve has been touched.

But there is also an altogether more innocent explanation of what happened in this particular instance of which we should be aware before we jump to conclusions and condemn all involved. I have spoken to medical personnel with some knowledge of the hospital and staff in question (but with no direct knowledge of this particular case) who rule out the likelihood of racism and point to the possibility of a very different scenario:

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What right to life?

by Frank Schnittger
Thu Nov 15th, 2012 at 03:56:19 AM EST

Letter to the Editor
"The occasion of tragic death of Savita Halappanavar is not the time to be scoring political points or rushing to judgement as to the quality of care she received in University Hospital Galway. However the fact that she was apparently told that  "this is a Catholic country" when her pleas for an abortion of her dying unborn child fell on deaf ears tends to suggest that her own wishes and medical criteria alone were not allowed to determine her care and ultimate fate. Are Hindus not allowed to live and die by the precepts of their own faith in this allegedly tolerant and multicultural island of ours?"

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Turning the "Fiscal Cliff" to our advantage

by Frank Schnittger
Tue Nov 13th, 2012 at 04:15:14 AM EST

The Bowles-Simpson Commission sequestration of expenditures and the expiration of the Bush and Obama payroll tax cuts present President Obama not only with the greatest challenge, but also the greatest opportunity of his Presidency. The threatened economic melt-down could also be an historic opportunity to reverse the 30 year long trend in increasing income in-equality in the USA. Follow me below the fold for an analysis of how the President can turn this crisis to America's advantage and achieve one of the greatest progressive transformations of the political and economic landscape since the New Deal and Great Society of FDR and LBJ:

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Democrats have lessons to learn too [Updated]

by Frank Schnittger
Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 03:32:31 PM EST

President Obama has won a decisive victory, winning the popular vote by over 3% and winning all the states he won in 2008 except for Indiana and North Carolina for a 332-206 win in the electoral college. He has done so in the context of continuing difficulties in the economy, in the face of an absolute wall of dark corporate money facilitated by the Citizen's United judgement, and despite some absolutely disgraceful voter suppression tactics adopted by some Republican run local and state administrations.

Democrats also made some gains in the Senate and House and won ballot initiatives in some states to permit same sex marriage and restricted use of marijuana. Some unapologetic progressives were elected: Notably Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts,  Tammy Baldwin, the first openly LGTB Senator in Wisconsin, whilst Chris Murphy will be a big improvement on Joe Lieberman.

On the Republican side here has been much weeping and gnashing of teeth. Many seem in shock that they couldn't defeat the "black, Muslim, terrorist loving socialist from Kenya" in the aftermath of a severe recession and continuing economic difficulties. Some have begun to realise that you can no longer build a successful governing coalition on the basis of the conservative white vote alone: that you cannot win if you alienate minorities to the point that 80% vote against you - not to mention the gender gap exacerbated by some truly extraordinary comments and policies on rape, abortion, contraception and equal pay.

But there are also lessons that Democrats can learn from the election results, and chiefly from their failure to make any significant inroads into the Republican majority in the House. What Democratic successes we have seen have generally been due to some truly awful Republican candidates such as Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock in the Senate and Alan West in the House.  There has been little evidence of a systematic shift to Democratic candidates in the House despite 2010 being a high water mark for the Republican party. So why is this?

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SUN Voters to give victory to Obama?

by Frank Schnittger
Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 06:56:57 AM EST

Sporadic, Unlikely, and New Registrant (SUN) voters are the key to this and any other election in the US because the US does not have automatic registration or mandatory voting. The acronym is apt, because the weather can have a strong influence on turnout. However there are also many other structural factors at play. Turnout was as low as 49 to 55% of the voting age population from 1972 to 2000 through a combination of non-registration or nonvoting by registered voters. People who do vote tend to be disproportionately white, older and wealthier than those who don't, and thus political reality has tended to have a conservative bias. So how has the Obama campaign sought to overcome this systematic bias?

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Obama wins clear victory: MSM calls for more Bipartisan Government

by Frank Schnittger
Sat Nov 3rd, 2012 at 06:52:10 PM EST

When President Obama defeats Romney in a few days time, the MSM are going to have to engage in a major excuse management and damage limitation exercise, spinning the result as not really a win for Democratic values and arguing that Obama must now implement Republican policies. Here's a sample of what you can expect to hear:

  1. Obama won the most divisive campaign in history. It's time to heal the wounds and govern from the center.

  2. Obama only won because of Sandy. He doesn't have a mandate.

  3. Romney was a RINO candidate - the Republicans made a mistake in not nominating a real conservative.

  4. Obama must now lead and implement Simpson-Bowles (despite the fact that the party stressing debt reduction lost the election).

  5. Our pundits and pollsters only called the election wrong because there was a very late (and irrational) swing to the President

  6. Obama wins clear victory but must now be more bipartisan in his approach

  7. Obama has lost the trust of the white electorate and must now take urgent steps to win it back

  8. Minorities only voted for Obama because he is black. That's unAmerican.

  9. Women only voted for Obama because Romney is too old for them

  10. Young people only voted for Obama because they were misled and misinformed. Polls show only 5% of young people understand basic economics. (Note to Ed. we need to commission a Rasmussen poll on this quick).

  11. The less well off voted against Romney because they were envious of his success and want the Government to redistribute his wealth.

  12. It's all Chris Christie's fault for undercutting the standard narrative that Obama is incompetent and Government can't do anything right.

Please add your MSM excuses in the comments below. Be prepared!

Comments >> (40 comments)

Nate Silver is wrong on the electoral effect of Sandy

by Frank Schnittger
Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 06:11:17 PM EST

Nate Silver has expressed skepticism as to whether Hurricane Sandy will have any significant effect on the election one way or the other. I think he is a great numbers guy, but sometimes he just misses the big picture. I expect Hurricane Sandy to have a major positive effect on President Obama's reelection prospects for the following reasons:<p<p>
  1. The storm drowns out the electoral narrative Mitt needs to sustain his "mittmentum" and reduces his campaign appearances to a few school halls.

  2. It allows Obama to look Presidential whilst Mitt desperately tries to insert himself into the story with ridiculous attempts to hold sparsely attended election rallies re-branded as "Storm relief events" collecting laughable amounts of "relief supplies" no one wants.

  3. It draws attention to Mitts earlier statements that federal disaster relief is immoral and his pledges to abolish FEMA  - not to mention his poor track record of handling disaster relief as Governor in Massachusetts.

  4. It draws a stark contrast between Obama's competent handling of Sandy with Bush's handling of Katrina.

  5. It reminds people of what good government is all about and cuts through the Republican ideology that Government serves almost no useful purpose.

  6. It draws attention to Republican congressional attempts to defund disaster relief.

  7. Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, long time tea party favorite, potential Presidential candidate, and Romney's keynote speaker at the GOP convention has praised Obama's handling of the Crisis to high heaven and refused Romney a picture opportunity "helping the distressed" in New Jersey whilst extending an invitation to the President.

  8. It emphasizes the Democratic values of social solidarity rather than the Republican values of "you're on your own" and underscores and validates Democratic concerns about global climate change.

  9. The timing disrupts the (partisan) campaigns whilst not necessarily effecting election day itself. Most of the states in the storm path are solidly Democratic in any case, and those that aren't - Va, NC and FL - have much reason to be grateful for Federal Disaster relief.

  10. It MAY damage the Democratic attempts to build a big lead in early voting in some states - for example in NC, but there is little sign of that yet.

  11. There is a psychological phenomenon whereby people who have been through a stressful situation with someone come to bond with them in a very emotional way. We are not talking rationality here, but of unconscious processes which apply even in very negative situations such as kidnappings - see Stockholm syndrome. The best recent political example is perhaps President Bush's bump in popularity post 9/11, despite mounting evidence of his incompetence and inattention in the lead up to that tragedy.

Sandy may yet turn out to be a positive October surprise in political terms at least even if it has caused a lot of hardship on the ground. There's rarely a cloud without a silver lining...

Comments >> (17 comments)

The Romney Zombie Apocalypse

by Frank Schnittger
Tue Oct 30th, 2012 at 06:16:43 AM EST

Many outside observers find it difficult to understand why the US Presidential election is even close. On the one hand you have a President who has ended one war, is ending another, and has avoided entanglement in a few more potential wars so far. He has saved the US auto industry, reduced US dependency on imported oil, pulled the US out of the deepest recession since the Great Depression and has enacted the most comprehensive healthcare reform since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society introduced  Medicare and Medicaid - and all against the scorched earth policies of his Republican congressional opposition.

And on the other hand, you have a ZOMBIE who...

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The Republican war against women

by Frank Schnittger
Thu Oct 25th, 2012 at 05:14:48 PM EST

So what is it about Republican men which makes them so obsessed with and so expert on the subject of rape? And what is it about Republican male politicians who insist on raising the issue of no exceptions for rape in their anti-abortion legislation proposals even when it polls so badly and threatens  to hand winable Senate seats and perhaps the Presidency to pro-choice democrats? (H/T for charts below to Brainwrap on Daily Kos here and here)

More beneath the fold...

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A European perpective on the last US presidential debate

by Frank Schnittger
Tue Oct 23rd, 2012 at 08:10:17 AM EST

I watched the debate in Spain at 3.00AM so wasn't at my sharpest. Europe wasn't mentioned much except when Romney choose Greece as a metaphor for things going sour if the national deficit isn't tackled. I wonder how Greek US voters feel about that! Some impressions from a European perspective:

  1. Obama immediately started attacking Romney - didn't seem quite "Presidential", "above the fray" yadda yadda

  2. Obama was at a disadvantage in attacking Romney because Romney has zero actual foreign policy experience, so all Obama's criticisms seemed personal, almost petty. Romney could attack broad Government decisions or events or outcomes, and it didn't come across as quite so personal.

  3. Romney tacked so hard to the left on substance, it's hard to see how this could not hurt him with some of his thinking base - although the wingnuts were probably just keen to see him act "Presidential" and couldn't give a crap about actual policy.

  4. Romney's attempt to say he never would have "let Detroit go bankrupt" was so incredible it probably undermined his credibility on every other issue. Sometimes you just have to own up and admit you made a mistake - it hurts a lot less that coming across as totally unbelievable and dishonest - and improves your credibility elsewhere because everybody accepts you will make some mistakes and will be relieved that you own up when you do.

  5. Romney said the word "Peace" so many times in his closing - even where it didn't fit into the meaning of the rest of the sentence it almost sounded ridiculous - a palinesque word salad - as if some focus group polling told him that was the word which got the most positive emotional response from swing voters.

  6. Diehard Republicans will be satisfied that Romney looked Presidential compared to a carping President - some will worry that he tacked so far to the centre that his positions often seemed indistinguishable if not to the left of Obama. It will reassure some he is not a wingnut and others that he is "ready for office".

  7. On the Dem side Obama did what he had to do to reassure and bring out his base.

  8. My guess is that the few remaining undecideds will call it a near draw and go with the "devil the know" rather than an unknown and unknowable Romney who spent the night trying to show he is not Bush, but who is still too much of a reminder of the Bush years.

  9. If Romney were the incumbent and Obama the challenger, undecideds might have gone with Romney as the safer bet.

  10. If Romney loses narrowly he might yet become the GOP nominee in 2016. He has probably done enough to make Republican's feel he is their best hope in a contest they will be absolutely desperate to win after 8 years of Obama. He will then be regarded as "experienced" even though he will be 69 and won't actually have held down a real job in 14 years.

The MSM/polling reaction to the debate of a slight/pronounced Obama edge will probably also help swing those undecided voters who switched to the football long before the end of the debate. It will help create a narrative that Obama is back on his game and that the first debate was an uncharacteristic "blip".

Some voters need reassurance that the President still wants it badly enough to really fight for them. The setback at the first debate may actually help Obama in the long run - killing any complacency on the Democrat side and reassuring independents that Obama is not too aloof or arrogant to stop listening to them or caring about their concerns. Everybody likes a comeback kid. Romney had that going for him after the first debate - now that psychological edge is with the President.

It's better to have the late momentum rather than to peak too early and have the narrative saying your lead is slipping coming up to the polls. It's surprising how many voters make a very very late impulse decision almost after they enter the polling booth. In the privacy of that space the temptation is to play it safe - whatever fighting public positions you may have taken with your friends outside.

Comments >> (56 comments)

LQD: Poll shows vast majority back Obama

by Frank Schnittger
Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 11:47:46 AM EST

79% of Irish people back President Obama, while only 5% want Romney to win the election according to a new poll.

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October Surprise: War or peace with Iran?

by Frank Schnittger
Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 08:49:12 AM EST

It's a pity that Chris Cook doesn't post here anymore, but his latest piece on the front page of the Asia Times on secret US Iranian negotiations is an excellent discussion of what might yet become a positive "October Surprise" prior to the US Presidential election on Nov. 6th.

Asia Times Online :: Iran talks denial adds debate spice

Firstly, we saw an Iranian ex-Revolutionary Guard insider outlining - in remarkable detail - discussions he claimed had been held between the United States and Iran. These apparently culminated within the past three weeks in high level contacts in Qatar between a close confidante of President Barack Obama - Valerie Jarrett, who was actually born in Iran - and one or more high level Iranian officials.

The outcome of these talks, in respect of which the source was allegedly at the highest level in Iran, was that an agreement between the US and Iran would be announced before the US presidential election takes place on November 6, provided that Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei receives the written guarantees he requires from President Obama.

Given that Romney has made his hawkishness on Iran a centrepiece of his foreign policy, it might also give the President some ammunition for tonight's Presidential debate on foreign policy. However there is one point on which I would disagree with Chris. He goes on to state:

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Message to Europe: Ireland was never bailed out

by Frank Schnittger
Wed Oct 10th, 2012 at 04:51:09 AM EST

It's not often I praise the contributions of Irish politicians. However my local independent TD (Member of Parliament) deserves an honorable mention. Both in public and private he has offered a very cogent explanation of Ireland's currently very dysfunctional relationship with the EU. Here he is addressing Martin Schultz, President of the European Parliament.

The essence of his argument is that Ireland did not receive, and does not want a bail-out. It got €64 Billion from the Troika which it gave to banks which are now either defunct or intent on squeezing the remaining lifeblood from Irish consumers to cover their losses. This was done at the insistence of the EU Commission and ECB regardless of whether or not those banks were included in the Irish state bank guarantee scheme. These banks in turn gave that money to other (mostly European) banks, investors and bondholders - despite the fact that they were otherwise insolvent.

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by Frank Schnittger
Thu Oct 4th, 2012 at 05:14:27 PM EST

I have a plan. It has five points that are no more than aspirational bullet points and a few numbers that I never bother to add up or connect to one another. It says more or less what I say it says when it suits me to say something I want to say. One day it provides tax breaks for the wealthy, and the next day it does no such thing. One day it covers pre-existing conditions, and another day it doesn't. Sometime my plan includes €716 Billion in cuts to Medicare costs, and sometimes it doesn't. But mostly I just criticize the President for including it in his plan anyway.

But the real beauty of my plan is that it confused the hell out of the President in our debate. He didn't seem to realize how flexible my plan is. And anyway, since it is MY plan, who are the viewers going to believe knows more about it? ME or the President?

In a way it is a Creationist plan. It is going to create wealth because I say it is. And the more wealth it creates the bigger the chance that the numbers will turn out all right anyway. Never mind that it's all been tried before - particularly by President W Bush. (His father decried it as voodoo economics when Reagan tried the same thing). Never mind that it led to a great crash. Our people did alright by that, and capitalism is all about creative destruction.

But the main thing is my plan includes all the right buzzwords and sound-bites about FREEDOM, ENTERPRISE INNOVATION, EDUCATION, and MARKETS and it criticizes TAXES, GOVERNMENT, RED TAPE, ENTITLEMENTS, DEFICITS, DEPENDENCY, BUREAUCRATS and SOCIALISM. That's all that people really need to know. I am on the side of the angels, and that Obama guy is to blame for all our problems.

It's a beautiful plan really, and if it gets me elected, it will have fulfilled its primary purpose, and I can throw it into the kids homework and see if they can figure it out. It's so vague anyway, no one will be able to prove I didn't keep my word. And that Obama guy? He can go back to college where he belongs. If you can't make your own facts, you have no right to be President.

Comments >> (20 comments)

Why President Obama should compete in Arizona

by Frank Schnittger
Thu Sep 27th, 2012 at 08:18:27 AM EST

President Obama has been building a national lead of c.5% with bigger leads in all the battleground states except N. Carolina where he is roughly tied. However the key to a successful second term will be in his ability to broaden his support base beyond his 2008 map and in his ability to re-gain control of Congress.

In this regard, the benefits of his competing in traditionally red states states like Arizona which have become more competitive recently are numerous:

  1. It shows confidence and that he is competing for the support of all Americans.

  2. It takes away from the national narrative that he is running an overly cautious campaign and helps to excite his base everywhere

  3. There are proportionally more undecided in Arizona when compared to battleground states.

  4. Any improvement in polling in Arizona will have a marginal beneficial impact on his national polling and thus on the psychology of the race more generally.

  5. Arizona is relatively virgin territory and voters there are not fatigued with excessive adverting - so the impact of any ads will be far greater

  6. The surprise factor will make it newsworthy and multiply his actual investment in advertising on news/talk programs

  7. It will be demoralizing for Romney to have to actually compete on his own "turf" and will show he is in bad shape nationally if he has to do so - not to mention draining his resources from elsewhere.

  8. All Obama has to do is show up at a rally for a couple of hours and ask "has anybody seen Romney here lately?"

  9. It helps a key competitive senate candidate (Carmona) and in other down ballot races.

  10. It builds the Dem map for the future

  11. It gives Californian Dem supporters something positive to do in a competitive neighboring state.

  12. Depending on the structure of the media markets, any investment in Arizona may also have a spill-over effect in border regions of Nevada and New Mexico.

Ditto in Montana, Indiana, Missouri and South Carolina - the investment in time/money doesn't have to be huge to create a multiplier effect, force Romney further onto the defensive and have an incremental positive effect on national polls. There simply aren't enough undecideds left in the "battleground" states to make any further improvement possible there without huge incremental cost.

Sometimes fighting behind enemy lines can have a hugely disproportionate effect in damaging enemy morale when compared to the usual front-line pitched battle.

Comments >> (14 comments)

LLQD: Romney the abortion profiteer and death squad supporter

by Frank Schnittger
Tue Aug 14th, 2012 at 05:36:05 AM EST

Which presidential candidate is truly pro-life? | National Catholic Reporter
There is no doubt Obama is pro-choice. He has said so many times. There is also no doubt Romney is running on what he calls a pro-life platform. But any honest analysis of the facts shows the situation is much more complicated than that.

For example, Obama's Affordable Care Act does not pay for abortions. In Massachusetts, Romney's health care law does. Obama favors, and included in the Affordable Care Act, $250 million of support for vulnerable pregnant women and alternatives to abortion. This support will make abortions much less likely, since most abortions are economic. Romney, on the other hand, has endorsed Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan's budget, which will cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of the federal plans that support poor women. The undoubted effect: The number of abortions in the United States will increase. On these facts, Obama is much more pro-life than Romney.

But does Romney actually profit from abortions and death squads? Read on...

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