Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March 19, 2013

Sarah Palin at CPAC 2013: "We don't have leadership coming out of Washington. We have reality television."
by John Hayward
March 18, 2013

Former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin served up so much red meat at CPAC 2013 that paraphrasing any of it would be like asking someone to eat a photocopy of a double bacon cheeseburger.  Wait till you hear the crack she makes about President Obama’s enthusiasm for background checks on gun owners.  And I think Marco Rubio’s water bottle has now been officially upstaged by Sarah Palin’s Big Gulp of Liberty.

Also on the subject of beverage consumption, Palin’s timeless advice to college Republicans was: “You’ve gotta be thinking Sam Adams, not drinking Sam Adams.”

Her overall theme is the difference between “leadership” and “campaigning,” which Palin sees as mutually exclusive.  ”Never before have our challenges been so big, and our leaders so small,” she said.  ”Leaders take risks for the good of our country.  Campaigners make promises they can’t keep.  Leaders reach across political differences, campaigners double down on those differences.  Leaders seek to bring Americans together to confront our challenges, and campaigners seek to divide and to conquer and to orchestrate crisis after crisis after crisis to exploit.  Mr. President, we admit it, you won.  Accept it.  Now step away from the teleprompter and do your job.”

In a similar vein, she criticized those – including many Republicans – who “focus on the process of politics, instead of the purpose of politics, which is to lead, and to serve.”  She mourned the way stiff, heavily scripted Republicans have a habit of “reading their stage directions.”

And she wasn’t impressed with all the consultant talk of “re-branding” the GOP.  ”Let’s be clear about one thing,” she told the CPAC audience.  ”We’re not here to re-brand a party.  We’re here to rebuild a country.”  She encouraged Republicans to look past reams of data, and government statistics, to join her out in “flyover country” and see what things are really like.

Years of economic malaise have put a lot of stress on middle-class budgets… while, as Palin noted, Democrats in Washington have felt free to skip budgeting altogether for years.  ”No budget for four years is not just bureaucratic bungling,” she said.  ”Refusing to pass a budget is Washington refusing to declare what it intends to do with the people’s money.  Barack Obama promised the most transparent Administration ever.  Barack Obama, you lied.”

Palin called for conservative cooperation on the common ground of liberty, encouraging the audience to look past disagreements on certain issues to make common cause against government overreach.  ”Those who may disagree with us on some issues – they’re not our enemies.  They’re our sisters, and our brothers.  Our neighbors, and our friends,” she said.  ”America already has one party that’s expert at pitting groups against one another.  We’ll never win a contest of identity politics.  We shouldn’t even try.”

She spoke out against crony capitalism and “too big to fail” bailouts, and professed herself no greater fan of “top-down politics” run by consultants.  She encouraged conservatives to seek out grass-roots candidates and support them against Establishment bullying.  ”The last thing we need is Washington, D.C. vetting our candidates,” Palin asserted, wryly inviting the “Architects” (a nickname commonly given to Karl Rove) to try heading back to the grassroots and winning a couple of elections before they dish out any more edicts.

Nothing seems to have shaken Palin’s belief in the capability of the American people to overwhelm the challenges facing them.  She looks across the land and sees an abundance of both tools and willing hands.  It’s the willpower and confidence of Americans that has too often been shaken by political machines that have a vested interest in doubt and uncertainty.  She still has enthusiasm to spare, and she gives it away with a smile.

Read more: http://goo.gl/GM9OK

by the Editors
March 19, 2013

The Republican National Committee’s “Growth and Opportunity Project,” the widely commented-upon 100-page autopsy of GOP defeat released on Monday, is quite the technical feat, as the report itself is wont to boast: “52,000 contacts made,” “800+ conference calls,” “50+ focus groups,” “3,000+ group listening sessions” with project co-chairs, extensive polls of women and Hispanics, and so on. But for all the analytic exertion, has the document lighted on the source of the GOP’s recent electoral woes, or plausibly plotted a course correction? Unfortunately, the answer on both counts is, not really.

The report opens with a précis of the agglomerated conventional wisdom of the last several months: The Republican party is out of touch; people think it “doesn’t care”; it preaches to the choir instead of appealing to potential converts; it needs to reach out to minorities, women, and young people. There is truth in each of these, which is how they got to be platitudes. But the action items recommended to address these issues are heavy on committee formation (e.g., a “Growth and Opportunity Inclusion Council” with representatives from the African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic, Native American, and “other” communities) and tokenism (the report’s No. 1 recommendation for reaching out to minorities is to put minorities in charge of outreach). To implement this aspect of the document, RNC chairman Reince Priebus has promised to establish dialogues with groups such as LULAC, La Raza, and the NAACP, which strikes us as unhelpful and willfully blind to the fact that such groups are ideologically opposed to Republican principles. A truly conservative minority-outreach strategy would severely weaken these groups by challenging their claims to represent their respective ethnicities.

In reality, selling the Republican party’s appeal is more about the appeal than about the selling. And there are narrow limits on what organizational rejiggering can do to make the party more attractive. The heavy lifting is going to require imagination and an appetite for risk, and it is going to have to be done by strong candidates and policy entrepreneurs.

Where the report does get into policy — most notably on the issue of immigration reform — its analysis is shallow and its recommendations opportunistic. Much is pinned on the empirically dubious claim that George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, and a nexus is drawn between this factoid and the former president’s conciliatory rhetoric on immigration. But nowhere does the document offer a substantive argument in favor of the kind of comprehensive immigration reform on offer in Washington, or even come close to demonstrating that support for such a program would accrue Republicans more votes than it lost them, considering that Hispanics are often ideologically liberal for reasons beyond immigration.

Still, the party’s proposals for consolidating the primary calendar and erecting reasonable limits on the number and frequency of debates are worthy of close consideration. The 2012 primary was unwieldy — its sheer length exacerbated the Democrats’ incumbent advantage in fundraising and organization, and the debates produced diminishing returns. Moreover, the report’s extended look at campaign mechanics, data collection, and new opportunities for fundraising marks the start of a critical retooling process for the party. The good news about the fact that the size of the 2012 loss was significantly due to technological and organizational disadvantage is that this is correctable. And in the end, the most important contribution of the national party apparatus may be to correct it.

Whether it can do more than that is a much bigger question. But little in the report suggests it can.

Read more: http://goo.gl/zq6XZ

Cypriot Quantitative Easing
by Bruce Johnson
March 18, 2013

Remember JFK standing before the throngs of Germans and declaring "Ich bin ein Berliner"?

Now imagine Ben Bernanke standing before the throngs of Cypriots and declaring that he was a Cypriot, a Cypriot politician sticking his hand into your savings account.

Or maybe it was the other way around. Maybe the Cypriots knew the short cut to Bernanke's Quantitative Easing end game. They just bluntly proposed taking the money from the accounts rather than fiddle with the cover up of printing money and devaluing the currency in question. Quicker, shorter and to the point.

Simplicity is poetic, isn't it? Recall the old joke about foreplay. "Bertha, are you ready?"

Milton Freidman many times said Inflation is the invisible tax.

And the oldest game on earth is knicking a multitude (dollar holders) just a little, so they don't notice immediately. Raise large sums of money with just a few drops of blood at a time. Bernanke's way. The Cypriots will just take a pint and leave a thank you note. Take your pick. The blood level drops either way.

It also helps when the demon you are supposed to guard against, inflation, is measured by you and conveniently by your own metrics, inaccurate as they may be. (Let's leave food and energy out).

Bernanke is trying his darndest to implement that" invisible" tax by killing interest rates, ignoring Federal Reserve mandates of maintaining "moderate interest rates," disincentivizing savings and encouraging Federal deficit spending.

The Cypriots have it correct. Just do it. Don't lie, pretend, feign, and deliver tepid speeches at conventions in Jackson Hole and Davos. Just take it and quit pretending.

And quit lying.

Bernanke, the most powerful man in the world without an army, is the artist. Ben does the Fed Astaire across polished waxed floors. The Cypriots do the John Wayne saunter as they reach out and declare, "I'll take that." Who would suggest that those who simply take a per cent age of savings from the savers is somehow more dishonest in their machinations than the slow dance from the Federal Reserve? The net results are equivalent.

Maybe not saving your money is a good idea after all. Especially, when those savings can be raided to pay for the ineptitudes, greed and graft of those in the upper strata. Or should I say Wall Street and Congress?

Read more: http://goo.gl/iAutv

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