Thursday, May 29, 2008

In a slumping market, Mitt futures surge

New article from THE SLATE

It's another Slate attempt at snide humor, well they got the snide part right but forgot the funny. Anyways it had this to say:

Remarkably, the Romney plan seems to be working. While housing prices plunge, Mitt vice-presidential futures are soaring. On Tuesday, Romney stock hit its highest price on Intrade in six weeks, moving into first place ahead of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Why the rebound? One of Romney's greatest weaknesses may also be his greatest strength: He's always making up for his last mistake. When Politico asked leading Republicans how to save their party, Romney had the best answer: new ideas, a better agenda, and "a very clear set of principles."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A new contract with America?

The NY Times today reveals that there have been meetings in the House where congress members have been kicking around the idea of a new "manifesto" for the Republicans in Congress. According to the times:

Leaders of the Republican Study Committee intend to use a closed-door party meeting on Tuesday to present a seven-point proposal calling for a constitutional limit on federal spending, a new simplified income tax alternative and a proposal to require recipients of food stamps or housing aid to meet work requirements.

That's not a bad start, and I certainly like the idea of a new contract with America. It seems like 1994 was the last time Congress did anything that the American people approved of. I guess if we are going to keep the Republicans from acting like Democrats we are going to have to get it in writing and have them sign it. It's a shame that it's the only way they keep their word- but hey, whatever works! That being said, I have my own ideas about what could be included in this new contract. Some of it comes from the ideas on Newt Gingrich's website and Mitt Romney's website, and I really think that they should not create a new document wtihout consulting the two of them.

A seven point proposal doesn't seem bad, but I think 10 points might be easier for marketing. You know, 10 commandments, 10 amendments in the bill of rights, David Letterman's top ten list, etc. For the first 3, I am just going to go ahead and put in the ideas that they've already came up with.

1) A constitutional limit on federal spending (hopefully this means spending only what you have)
2) A new simplified income tax alternative (hopefully this means a flat tax option for those who choose it)
3) Requiring food stamps and housing aid recipients to meet work requirements

So far so good, these are the type of things that are going to get conservatives energized for the upcoming elections these are also common sense ideas that resonate with all Americans (or at least a strong majority). What else should be included in this contract? Glad you asked, these are the things that I would like to see included (not necessarily in this order).

4) Ending ear marks in congress. It boggles the minds of ordinary Americans to think that spending can be attached to bills in the middle of the night without any debate or vote on that particular spending item. It should boggle the mind, it makes no sense. This would be something that John McCain could help champion as well.

5) Require some form of valid ID for voting in federal elections. The recent supreme court ruling allows for this, and it definitely something the vast majority of American's support. 95% of Americans support this idea according to some polls. And it should sail through Congress.

6) Immigration reform. This is a hot topic, but the GOP is going to have to employ bold strategies if they want to really get something out of this contract. This part of the contract would be one of the most debated, but if you are in the right and the polls show that the vast majority of Americans want the immigration laws enforced (70-80% depending on the poll) - so I dare Obama to oppose it. This bill would consist of:

• finishing the border fence
• implementing an enforceable employer verification system
• cutting of federal funding to sanctuary cities
• encouraging legal immigration

7) Making health care more affordable - again this is a hot issue, and the GOP will not be rewarded for shying away from the tough issues (not in this election cycle) and of course the beauty of the contract is should they win a majority in Congress - they will have the political momentum to actually get all of their points passed into law. After all, they did spell out for the American people what they were going to do once elected and the American people voted for them - it's harder to think of a better referendum than that. Making health care more affordable would consist of:

• Deregulating state markets
• Making all health care expenses tax deductible
• Federal caps on non-economic and punitive damage awards to eliminate frivolous lawsuits
• Promote Innovation in Medi-caid. Letting states spend their money however if most efficient for them.
• Use some of the money currently spent on providing expensive "free care" for the uninsured at emergency rooms to instead help the truly needy buy private insurance.

8) Excellence in Education - this is a touchy issue for conservatives as most of us believe the way to improve education is to give more local control and have the federal government stay out of it. That being said there are still a lot of things that can be done at the federal level to improve education.

• promote school choice and encourage the use of vouchers and charter schools. 67% of African Americans and 60% of Hispanics support school choice for those in low-income or failing schools so this should be no-brainer to be included in the contract.

• promoting performance pay for teachers. 70% of voters support the idea of teachers getting pay based on performance. This is the type of thing that will have the teachers unions out against the Republicans, but they were against us to begin with so nothing has changed. But, it is an idea that most American's agree with and the Democrats will have to oppose because so much of their funding comes from the teacher's union. This puts the Dems at odds with the majority of Americans - again it's a no brainer to be included.

• tax credits for home-schoolers to help off-set educational costs. The vast majority of home schoolers support the GOP already, but this is just needed. It also helps to fire up a grass roots base across the country.

• Promoting excellence in Math & Science - whether it's Newt's "pay for an A" program or Mitt Romney's idea to establish solely math and science high schools these are the type of initiatives that America needs to succeed in the 21st century.

The GOP owns the educational reform issues as we are the only party with any ideas about changes to the education system. The only thing the Dems can counter with is they want to raise taxes to throw more and more money at failing programs. The Dems will get killed at the debates on this issue and it must be included in the contract.

9) Ending Energy Dependence This is something Americans have been crying out for ever since the 1970's and for some reason congress has never delivered. This would call for:

• Promoting Nuclear Power - nothing demonstrates the problem more than the fact that there are electrical plants in the US that burn oil to make electricity.

• Increasing Domestic Production - drilling in ANWR, off-shore and creating new oil refineries will all help increase the supply dramatically and lower the price of gas

• National Standard of Gasoline- currently there are 36 different types of gasoline that the oil companies have to refine - a national standard would not only simplify their jobs, but permit over-seas refineries to produce our gasoline for us. Again dramatically lowering costs.

• Improved smart-grid technology for power distribution

10) Restoring Fiscal Discipline This would consist of:

• Instituting the line-item veto- giving the president the power held by most state governors to veto individual elements of a spending bill and strip out unnecessary spending.

• restoring the supermajority requirement - impose congressional rule requiring a 3/5 super majority to pass any law that would raise taxes

All in all the contact could be the most brilliant move made by Republicans ever. Especially, if John McCain signs it and it is tied to the presidential election. That would keep the race focused on where the Republicans are strongest - on the issues. And it may force the Democrats to come up with their own contract to show what they would do if put into power - which could ultimately be their undoing. After all, if the Dems showing their proposals to improve education, health care, immigration and energy independence it's going to consist of one idea- TAX & SPEND.

Obama Leaves Romney Speechless

Mitt demonstrates yet again the ability to be unflappable under pressure. He makes some great points to Wolf, and was able to do this whole interview without making a joke about Obama getting assassinated.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Best Bob Hope movie line

Absolute classic line from an American great!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Romney talks up McCain, talks down Obama

Romney talks up McCain, talks down Obama

Email|Link|Comments (11)Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor May 7, 2008 06:15 PM
Mitt Romney may or may not be auditioning to be John McCain's running mate, but he was loyally on message today in his latest national TV appearance.

On CNN's "American Morning," the former Massachusetts governor, who dropped out of the GOP nomination race in February, said that Democratic front-runner Barack Obama would be easier prey for McCain than Hillary Clinton, who is barely hanging on. "I think she is flawed, but he is more flawed."

Repeating a line of criticism from the McCain campaign, Romney said of Obama: "He can read a prompter very well and energize a crowd, but he has not accomplished anything during his life in terms of legislation or leading an enterprise or making a business work or a city work or a state work. He really has very little experience, and, you know, the presidency of the United States is not an internship, and I honestly believe that you're going to see America choose somebody who has been tested and proven who has been able to demonstrate time and again that he understands how to make the economy work, he understands how our military works, he understands the needs of the country and the heart and passion of the American people."

Romney also said that there is a "bitter divide" in the Democratic Party and that he agrees with Clinton's and Obama's critiques of each other: "We were watching Hillary Clinton assert time and again that Barack Obama is a liberal elitist. On the other hand, you have Barack Obama convincing the American voters that Hillary Clinton is a product of the Washington special interests."

And pressed over and over again about whether he believed it was a good idea, Romney refused to criticize McCain's proposal for a gas tax holiday this summer -- a plan derided by nearly all economists.

The closest Romney came was to say he looked at the idea while Bay State governor, but did not propose it.

"Well, I think it's a good idea to help people and right now Senator McCain wants to help people see lower gasoline bills," Romney said. "Of course, we all recognize that if we're going to become independent of our dependence on foreign oil, it's going to take a long-term strategy to get us off of foreign oil."

Romney Gives Some Advice to Beijing

This one from The Council on Foreign Relations.

You’ve had first-hand experience with trying to “save the games.” You were called in to manage the Winter Games in 2002 when it was undergoing an image crisis as well as a financial crisis. What should China do to save its image before the Summer Games kick off in August?

The Olympics is a great opportunity for a nation to showcase its own culture and the beauty of its environment and the strength of its economy to the world. And this is an opportunity for China. The Olympics, of course, is about sport and about athletes. It’s not about China. And yet, in some respects, by virtue of the world coming there and China hosting the games, it’s an opportunity for China to put its best foot forward. Unfortunately, China has not done that at this stage. They’ve made great efforts in a whole series of ways—teaching people not to spit in public and not to cut in lines and so forth. Many things that they knew they wanted to improve to create a positive image.

But they did not think about the potential for the world to react negatively to their purchase of vast amounts of oil from the Sudanese and the repression of the Tibetans. And in my view, these are not issues which they should push aside, but rather are issues they should concentrate on and show that they understand the sensitivity and the importance of these issues to the world and to the interests of humanity. They should take some action—some symbolic action—that shows they are listening and they are trying to improve the relations in each of these settings. This, for instance, would mean such things as deciding to not provide military equipment and armament to the Sudanese. That would be a very powerful statement. A decision to sit down with the Dalai Lama, or some other symbolic event, would signal to the world that they, as a government, are willing to listen to the concerns of the world, and at the same time recognize the interests of their local population.

You can read the rest of the article

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A study in contrast

Transcript of her interview with Bill O'Reilly

O'REILLY: OK, oil prices. You want to suspend the federal gas tax, so does John McCain, Obama doesn't. But the Democratic Party is opposed to ANWAR drilling, you voted against nuclear energy seven times, and I'm saying to myself both parties have sold the folks out on energy. Where am I going wrong?
CLINTON: I think there is plenty of blame to go around. We have not done what we should have done. Consumers, drivers, political officials, the oil companies, you name it. We're not acting like Americans, Bill. We're not in charge, and I want to put us back in charge.
O'REILLY: So are you going to change your votes on drilling and nukes?
CLINTON: Well, here's what I'm going to do. In the short term I do want a gas tax holiday, but to pay for it by putting a windfall profits tax on the oil companies. There is no basis for them to have these huge profits. I also want to take on OPEC. OPEC is a cartel, a monopoly.
O'REILLY: They don't care what you say.
CLINTON: Nine of the thirteen biggest oil producing companies that are in OPEC are also members of the WTO. I would file complaints, I would also change the law so that citizens and businesses could file anti-trust actions. We're going to begin to hold them accountable. But at the same time we've got to change the was we behave, the way we drive.

So, let me see if I've got this right, her plan to reduce oil prices is comprised of the following:

• Gas tax holiday in the summer
• Raising taxes on oil companies
• File complaints to the WTO (World Trade Organization)
• File lawsuits against the oil companies
• Drive slower and drive less

Basic business sense tells you that 3 out of the 4 things in her plan would actually increase gasoline prices instead of lowering them. Compare that to the Romney plan for Energy Independence and the differences couldn't be more stark. Romney's plan includes:

• Oil drilling in ANWR Alaska (estimated to be the same amount of oil we'd import from Saudia Arabia in a 30 year period)
• Off-shore oil drilling
• Nuclear Power
• National Grade of Gasoline
• New Oil-Refineries
• Improved Smart-Grid Technology for Power Distribution
• Renewable sources, ethanol, biodiesel, solar, wind, and full exploitation of coal both solid and liquid.

One of these plans sounds like it would actually work, lowering oil prices as well as all other energy prices and be huge boost to our national economy. Or we could lower the speed limit and sue.

The other plans out there are the Obama plan and the McCain plan. At least I'm assumign they are out there, while Romney has "Energy Independence" as one of the main links on his website under his issues column- McCain does not. Although, he does list such important issues as "Human Dignity", "Environment" and "Ethics Reform". After some searching I did find something about oil on McCain's website under his link for the "McCain Economic Plan". It consists of:

• Gas tax holiday during the summer (same as Hillary)
• Stop filling the Strategic Reserve
• Ending Ethanol Subsidies

Wow. There is really little to argue with in McCain's oil ideas. There is also little that would change or give us energy indepence. In short there is really nothing there. While there isn't anything I would oppose, there is nothing worth really supporting. And, nothing that would have any long term affect on energy policy or pricing in this country.

That leaves us with Barrack Obama's plan. What is he calling for? Barrack's plan is actually marketed in the right direction with the description of "Set America on Path to Oil Independence".

• Double fuel-economy standards within 18 years

That's pretty much it. I'm serious. He has a section called "Set America on Path to Oil-Independence" and there is one bullet point underneath it! The amazing part is he doesn't explain how the technology would work - or how Detroit should double fuel-economy standards. Like they have some secret engine they haven't unveiled yet. Like the Detroit automakers secretly have a car that gets 68 miles per gallon and they haven't released it yet because they aren't interested in making BILLIONS of dollars and having the best selling car in America.

In case anyone out there is still wondering why conservatives are so adament that Mitt Romney be on the ticket, now you know why.