February 17, 2012

A Despicable Brad Wenstrup Ad in the OH-02 GOP Primary

Filed under: OH-02 US House,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:20 pm

I heard this Brad Wentstrup radio ad attacking Second District Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, whom Wenstrup is challenging in the Ohio primary, earlier this afternoon:

Lowlights:

Narrator 1 (“Bob”): Members of Congress are now greeting the President. There’s someone kissing the President. Who’s that?

Narrator 2: Looks like Congresswoman Jean Schmidt.

Bob: Ah, Congresswoman Schmidt. Is she a Democrat? She seems very close with the President.

Narrator 2: No Bob, she’s a longtime Republican politician, but she did vote for the Wall Street bailout. And she voted for the President’s debt-limit increase.

Bob: Seems that when you vote with the President so many times, he smiles when you kiss him.

… Brad Wenstrup: I’m Brad Wenstrup, and I approve this message.

Really, Brad? You approve of this borderline (actually, on the wrong side of the border) misogynistic crap?

And you want to serve in Congress?

Sadly, I see the influence of COAST in this outrageous ad. Every time it seems that the group might deserve the benefit of the doubt, it goes off the rails and does stupid things like endorsing Wenstrup over mostly solid and growing more solid conservative Jean Schmidt.

For the record, and to avoid writing a book:

  • Schmidt opposed ObamaCare, and advocates its repeal (later in the ad, Wenstrup says he also favors repeal, making it look as if Schmidt doesn’t).
  • Schmidt’s economic and fiscal rating at the Club for Growth in 2010 was 100%. In 2009, it was 91%. Her 2008 TARP vote was a mistake, but let’s not forget that it was made under conditions of outright blackmail (to be clear, she should still have voted “no,” but the pressure from business executives and bankers in her district was enormous). She also received a 100% rating from Americans for Prosperity.
  • Schmidt’s rating from the National Right to Life is 100%, as it is at Gary Bauer’s Campaign for Working Families and Family Research Council (HTs to Mark at Weapons of Mass Discussion). Speaking of Mark, he has chronicled Mr. Wenstrup’s prolife values-betraying agreement to give money to Planned Parenthood and grant administration weaknesses which have cost the City of Cincinnati a state grant which it had been receiving for decades.

If Brad Wenstrup had an ounce of decency, he’d pull and denounce this despicable ad. Betcha that he won’t, which will force me to conclude that he doesn’t.

AP’s Kravitz Makes It Appear as If Builders Started Almost 1.5 Million Single-Family Homes in Past Three Months

Yesterday, the initial one-sentence squib from the Associated Press on the Census Bureau’s monthly housing construction release stated that “(A) Surge in apartments offsets weak single-family homes, pushing housing starts up 1.5 percent” (the headline reads the same).

By the time AP real estate writer Derek Kravitz turned it into a full-blown report, the headline became “US housing starts rise modestly to start new year.” The opening sentence now reads: “Construction of single-family homes in the U.S. cooled off slightly in January after surging in the final month last year.” The word “weak” is not in the report. It won’t surprise anyone that the wire service’s initial unfiltered reaction was more correct. What may surprise even those who are used to AP misdirection is that Kravitz made it appear to those who don’t know better, which would include a large number of newspaper, TV, and radio journalists, that construction began on almost 1.5 million single-family homes during the past three months. Really.

(more…)

Obama’s Farcical Budget Betrays a Crisis-Driven Electoral Strategy

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:10 am

Reelection through orchestrated upheaval?

_____________________________

Note: This column went up at PJ Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Wednesday.

_____________________________

When looking at a document which is supposed to tell us about our president’s plan for the financial future of our government in what is still the world’s largest economy, my natural instinct is always to set aside the skepticism and try to take it seriously.

I attempted to do that with the budget proposal the White House released on Monday; what’s at stake in the coming months and years is too important not to. I deliberately avoided the potentially prejudicial blather and went straight to the administration’s ten-year projection. Before looking at future years, I saw a figure for estimated spending in fiscal 2012 — $3.796 trillion — which has almost no conceivable basis in reality. As I see it, the White House deliberately overstated that amount by $150 billion or more. All too conveniently, it makes mammoth increases in planned future spending look a bit less frightening.

Thus, the effort to give President Obama’s budget serious treatment as a national roadmap was over in less than a minute. That said, we ignore an electoral strategy the administration has given away at our peril.

The reason the spending figure is so obviously overstated is that outlays during the first four months of the fiscal year through January have “only” been $1.139 trillion. While that’s at least 15% above where it would be if Obama and Congress were even trying to rein in our runaway government, the currently relevant points are:

  • First, year-to-date spending is about 3% lower than it was through the first four months of fiscal 2011. (If you need to take a minute to find the smelling salts, I understand. You might want to keep them handy.)
  • Second, Uncle Sam would have to spend $332 billion a month for the next eight months for full-year outlays to reach the White House’s projected amount. That would require a 10% year-over-year increase for the rest of the year. Though you never would never want to completely rule that possibility out with this bunch, the failure of Harry Reid’s Senate to pass a real budget for over 1,000 days accompanied by his clear intention not to attempt one this year means that federal agencies are largely running on autopilot. Most of them couldn’t open the spending spigots by double-digit percentages even if they wanted to.

Pegging this year’s estimated outlays at $3.796 trillion makes the administration look as if it will actually be doing something to control spending in fiscal 2013, as that year’s projected total is a nearly identical $3.803 trillion. Horse manure. That amount would really be a ramp-up of 4%-8% over where this year’s outlays will most likely end up ($3.50-$3.65 trillion).

Last year, Investor’s Business Daily characterized the White House’s budget proposal as “gutless.” This year’s is a pathetic farce, partially explained in a cheerleading CNN email alert I received this morning: “Obama unveils $3.8 trillion budget that calls for tax hikes on the rich and increased spending on infrastructure and teachers.” Call the people who run the Guinness Book of Records; I think we’ve just discovered the world’s oldest political playbook: “Failed Stimulus and Rich-Bashing.” The Obama lovers at CNN somehow forgot to tell its email’s recipients that the White House’s proposal projects yet another $1.3 trillion deficit (that would mark four years in a row of $1.29 trillion or more), and that it increases spending by over 60% during the next ten years (from the credible midpoint estimate of this year’s spending) to $5.82 trillion (remember those smelling salts I suggested?) while deeply cutting outlays for defense.

It would be one thing if Barack Obama’s charade was occurring in a relatively tranquil economic and financial environment; but that is of course not the case. The federal government is already carrying an almost unfathomable level of debt. Obama’s budget not only betrays the fact that he could care less about endangering the nation’s long-term fiscal health; it also reveals the frightening likelihood that he and his party plan to ruinously run up the debt even further so it can be used as a political weapon in the fall election campaign.

Because it is so obviously based on artificially inflated spending, it would be tempting to believe that the White House is crying wolf when it predicts that the nation will hit its currently legislated debt ceiling of $16.394 trillion in October. But two other significant holes in the administration’s assumptions must be considered:

  • The first is that receipts during the next eight months will come in almost 9% ahead of last year’s comparable period. That won’t happen if January’s performance is any indication. Receipts during January 2012 were only 3.4% higher than January 2011. The two months are legitimately comparable; both had five high-collection days (mostly Mondays), and both were affected by payroll tax reductions. If receipts run only 4% higher than last year from now until September, there will be a shortfall of over $70 billion.
  • Far more important is the assumption that the government will incur no additional off-budget debt during the next eight months. It will be a real surprise if that happens. Through this year’s first four months alone, the $566 billion increase in the national debt far exceeded the same period’s reported $349 billion budget deficit.

Hiccups in receipts combined with significant increases in off-budget debt could indeed cause the government to run out of borrowing capacity just in time for general election balloting.

David Axelrod would probably consider it a perfect storm if a debt crunch inflicts fall mayhem. In combination with other worldwide events, hitting the ceiling before November could even create a pretext for another ginned-up “financial crisis.” These developments have the potential to motivate currently apathetic left-leaning voters and on-the-fence moderates to turn out in droves to ensure that Dear Leader saves them from the scary people who want the government to at least try to live within its means.

To say that the debt situation needs to be monitored closely by every Republican and conservative candidate for national office from this point forward is a huge understatement. Obama’s Republican challenger and his party had better have a unified rapid-response strategy ready for such a contingency. In 2008, John McCain clearly wasn’t prepared, and as a result lost any chance he may have had of defeating Obama. This time, the country literally cannot afford for Obama’s opponent to fail.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (021712)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:15 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

__________________________________________

Positivity: Amazing turns of late author Jeff Zaslow’s life introduced and endeared him to millions

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From a column by Neal Rubin at the Detroit News:

FEBRUARY 16, 2012 AT 1:00 AM

Here’s how random this world can be. How arbitrary. How absurd:

Jeff Zaslow almost didn’t go to Pittsburgh.

His three girls were his priority, and it looked like one of them was going to need a ride home from school. So instead of driving to hear Randy Pausch give his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon University, Zaslow figured he could just call.

In that alternate universe, there might never have been a column from Zaslow in the Wall Street Journal, or certainly not the same column, painting the scene as a professor with pancreatic cancer dispensed his final words of advice. No video to go viral, packing auditoriums as far away as India. No collaboration on a best-selling book.

Instead, a ride was found, Zaslow’s five-hour trip was completed, and “The Last Lecture” can be read in 48 languages. Advice resonated, tears were shed, kids were allowed to wildly paint their bedroom walls the way Pausch did when he was young.

Lives changed, including Zaslow’s. He wrote more best-sellers and spoke to morning show anchors and overflow crowds. And lives stayed the same: He’d come home to West Bloomfield Township, embrace his wife and kids, enchant his friends. …

Go here for the rest of Mr. Rubin’s column.