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Romney-Biden 2012?

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

The most interesting presidential election in U.S. history may have been the fourth, wherein Thomas Jefferson won. Sort of. How Jefferson got to be president may be relevant in this election, which is now so close that some wonder what would happen if there were an Electoral College stalemate, 269 votes for Romney and 269 for Obama. (Remember, it’s the electors who count, not the popular vote.)

In 1800, because of a constitutional glitch, Jefferson and his running mate Aaron Burr got the same number of electors, and the whole issue went to the House, which the Federalists still controlled, and it took a lot of negotiations and in-fighting to put Jefferson in office as the president.

The 12th Amendment settled the VP glitch, and cooked up a solution to the possibility of an Electoral College tie, as well. It’s never been used.

If, this Tuesday, the distribution of the popular vote forces the Electoral College into stalemate, the 12th Amendment would kick in, and the House would vote in a peculiar fashion (one vote per state), to select the President — Romney, considering the complexion of that body. Then the Senate would select the Vice President — Biden, considering the complexion of that body.

A wild finish, but it could get even wilder. In 1972, an elector jumped ship, voting for the Libertarian Party’s John Hospers/Tonie Nathan ticket (making Nathan the first woman to receive an electoral vote). Even against state laws forbidding it, a similar jump for Libertarian Gary Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein — or Ron Paul — might complicate further. Or simplify.

Happy voting.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

China Syndrome, 2012

Monday, October 8th, 2012

The two major presidential candidates, incumbent Obama and challenger Romney, must spend their final weeks of the campaign appealing to

  1. Members of their respective parties disappointed enough to stay home on election day — or vote the dreaded “Third Party” ticket;
  2. Independent voters apt to find something distasteful about both candidates;
  3. The apathetic and the uninformed.

How to appeal to all three groups simultaneously? Well, go for the old standby: fear and hatred of foreigners.

This year, it’s the Chinese.

Romney started the China-bashing by calling our Chinese trading partners “cheaters.” Apparently he is much vexed about how the Chinese don’t respect established intellectual property rights, “stealing” our technology, “everything from computers to fighter jets.” Of course, this mainly happens after “we” set up manufacturing plants for that technology there. He charged that President Obama has not deigned to “stand up to China.”

Earlier, he had accused China of manipulating its money in its favor. He seems to have dropped that, perhaps out of embarrassment — our own Fed’s monetary manipulations, after all, dwarf China’s.

The Obama campaign responded by avoiding the intellectual property issue just as Romney now avoids the monetary one, calling Romney himself a “cheater.” You see, in his Bain Capital days, Romney invested in firms that relocated jobs to “low wage countries like China.” Romney, we are told, has “never stood up to China.”

By which is meant: Romney engaged in globalism and opposed protectionism.

Is Mr. Obama really suggesting that prosperity will come if we shrink from global competition and enact barriers to international trade in goods and services?

The biggest problem the U.S. economy faces isn’t Beijing; it’s Washington.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Waste, Fraud and Abuse

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

There are few things less inspiring than listening to Republican and Democratic Party candidates and their flunkies discuss entitlement reform.

Last weekend, the Romney camp defended its newly acquired reform high-ground from assaults by the current administration. Rep. Paul Ryan had famously charged that the Democrats’ health care reform package of 2010 had “raided” nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars to help extend Medicare-like benefits to younger populations. The Obama camp swears on a stack of, uh, Bibles, that all it did was cut waste and fraud and, yes, expanded services to seniors in the process and . . .

I don’t have the heart, or stomach, or liver (which organ is it that deals with bile?) to diagnose all this with scientific scrutiny, but I will say, off-hand, both sides look pathetic.

Who can believe that politicians and their hangers-on in the bureaucracies have actually honed in on — much less will actually cut —nearly a trillion dollars of waste, fraud and abuse?

Not that they aren’t there. It’s just that waste and fraud seem awfully stubborn, given that even those spending a lifetime in politics have made no progress against them.

Except during campaign speeches,

Washington politicians seem much friendlier to the wasters, fraudsters and abusers than to taxpayers. And the former are better organized, too.

It’s all preposterous.

And the supposed Republican reformers? They are “defending Medicare” so that older people don’t have to lose anything. But if the system is falling apart, it may be that the only fair thing is for every current recipient to lose something, so as not to lose everything.

The unmentionable truth? Waste is part of the system, and the programs are themselves fraudulent and abusive.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

The A-Word

Friday, August 17th, 2012

The n-word got dropped on MSNBC’s The Cycle this week. The show’s co-host [No First Name] Touré called Mitt Romney’s use of the word “angry” to describe some of the rhetoric coming out of the White House as “the ‘niggerization’ of Obama”:

“You are not one of us, you are like the scary black man who we’ve been trained to fear.”

Naturally this led to a battle between Touré and conservative co-host S.E. Cupp. She took particular issue with the fact that Touré admitted that VP Joe Biden‘s “chains” comments were divisive, but is now calling Romney a “racist” for saying the Obama campaign is “angry.”

“Do you see how dishonest that is?” she asked.

Good question. But here’s a better one: Doesn’t talk of race and code-words obscure the real issue here, anger?

Romney shouldn’t be calling for the Obama administration to be less angry. He should be angry himself, and castigating the president and his crew for being angry at the wrong things.

We should be angry at the continuation of wars, foreign (the Middle East) and domestic (on psychoactive drug use), to the detriment of fiscal stability as well as our civil liberties.

We should be angry that the nation’s pension system has been systematically stripped of its surpluses for 77 years — by politicians in Washington.

We should be angry that federal (along with state) policy has interfered with medicine to such an extent that the most idiotic ideas around — nationalization/socialization — almost seemed plausible to a sizable minority of Americans.

We should be angry that the Democrats pushed through yet another expensive entitlement, “Obamacare,” while the rest of the federal government sunk further into insolvency.

And yes, we should be angry that our leaders can’t stick to decent issues.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Blame Policy

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Petroleum-based fuels are going up in price, so naturally people start looking for someone to blame. Call up the Usual Suspects:

  1. Speculators. These futures market folks never get credit for lowering the prices of gas, but they can always be counted on to serve as easy “bad guy” targets when prices go up. Same this time. You’ve heard the rumors, the rancor. (It’s nuts.)
  2. President Obama. You know, for not allowing drilling and pipelines and such. Go to a meeting of conservatives and you’ll hear someone yell out “Drill, baby, drill!” Now, I’m all for drilling, and it’s stupid to clamp down on future supplies of oil — indeed, investors in the futures market for oil see these political and bureaucratic restrictions on exploration and mining and refining, etc., and no doubt bid up the price of oil — but really, don’t blame just Obama, blame, also,
  3. Romney and Santorum and Gingrich. All these presidential candidates have engaged in hysterical, belligerent rhetoric about Iran, threatening warfare in the Persian Gulf region. War is bad for supply lines. Compromising supply lines means compromised supplies. Which means less oil. Which means rising prices.

So of course futures traders will bid up those prices — they would lose money if they didn’t — and in so doing they make the likely future conditions palpable to contemporary decision makers.

That’s their economic function. Don’t blame the messenger.

So, if you think the U.S. should bomb Iran to prevent that country from bombing the U.S. in a few years (after which the U.S. could easily make the populous nation, full of innocents, a sea of irradiated glass), don’t gripe.

One consequence will be (must be) rising prices.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.