November 8, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 7:51 PM


Obama campaign attack ads appeared effective in defeating Mitt Romney (THOMAS M. DEFRANK, 11/.07/12, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

 The President who promised hope and change four years ago sealed another term by embracing the same old slash and burn.

Mitt Romney's fate might have been sealed over the summer, when President Obama's campaign carpet-bombed the Republican with attack ads.

The commercials hammered Romney as a craven capitalist who sent jobs overseas, refused to release his tax returns and would give zillionaires like himself even heftier tax breaks at the expense of the middle-class.

While demonizing Romney, the strategy also deflected attention from Obama's handling of the economy. Obama's subliminal message was stark: You may not like me much, but Romney's worse -- much worse.

It worked.

"That was the key strategic calculation, " said political scientist George Edwards of Texas A&M University. "Romney wanted a referendum on Obama's performance, but Obama made it a choice between two people.

"He was successful in arguing that Romney was not just an unattractive choice but a risky choice," Edwards added.

Mitt just never seemed like he cared much about average people.  And a shockingly high percentage of us are rather average.

Posted by orrinj at 7:49 PM


Obama should raise taxes on the middle class (David Callahan, NOVEMBER 8, 2012, Reuters)

Obama promised on the campaign trail that he wouldn't raise taxes on the middle class and implied that repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would yield enough revenue. In fact, more than three-quarters of all revenue lost by the U.S. Treasury because of the Bush tax cuts is due to cuts that benefit households making under $250,000, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Simple math suggests that as long as the vast majority of earners are paying the lowest tax rates in half a century, it will be hard to tame the deficit without deep spending cuts.

Forcing such spending reductions, of course, was a key goal of the Bush tax cuts - which stand as the crown jewel accomplishment of small-government conservatives over the past two decades. If Obama lets the bulk of these tax cuts stand in his second term, he will grant a permanent victory to that movement and its agenda of steadily downsizing a range of federal programs.

Tax their consumption.
Posted by orrinj at 7:46 PM


Vietnam Tech Exports Overtaking Garments Eases Trade Gap (Bloomberg News, Nov 8, 2012)

Vietnam's cost advantage has drawn investments from U.S. and South Korean technology companies, whose exports have overtaken garments and provided a bright spot for a government struggling to revive economic growth.

Intel Corp. (INTC), Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) and Jabil Circuit Inc. (JBL) are among a growing roster of companies setting up or expanding in Vietnam, spurring exports amid a global slowdown that has damped demand for goods from other Asian nations. Shipments of mobile phones and other electronics from Vietnam surged 91 percent in the first 10 months of the year to $16 billion, making them the biggest source of export revenue.

Posted by orrinj at 7:43 PM


Immigration Issue Hurts GOP with More Than Just Hispanics (Max Boot, 11.08.2012, Commentary)

Respondents were then asked what should happen to most illegal immigrants working in the U.S.-should they be offered a chance to apply for legal status or deported? Sixty-five percent of respondents said they should be offered a chance to apply for legal status-what Republican politicians normally characterize as an "amnesty for illegal aliens." Only 28 percent said that they should be deported. This suggests that Republicans' anti-immigration views hurt them not only with Latinos but with a broader electorate, which is more sympathetic to undocumented migrants than Republican leaders are.

A Christian party is naturally pro-immigrant.

Posted by orrinj at 7:38 PM


National Rifle Association shut out on Election Day (Rachel Weiner, November 8, 2012, Washington Post)

The Sunlight Foundation ran the numbers and found that after spending nearly $11 million in the general election, the National Rifle Association got a less than one percent return on its investment this cycle. That is, less than one percent of the money went toward the desired result. 

The group supported 27 winning candidates, but most of its money was spent targeting winning Democrats (including over $7 million against President Obama) or bolstering losing Republicans (including $1.8 million supporting Mitt Romney and $500,000 backing Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock). 

Posted by orrinj at 7:35 PM


Seatbelts on planes are pointless, says Ryanair boss  (Hannah Furness, 07 Nov 2012, The Telegraph)

Mr O'Leary, the chief executive of budget airline Ryanair, dismissed the notion seatbelts were an essential safety requirement, saying: "If there ever was a crash on an aircraft, God forbid, a seatbelt won't save you." reversing the seats so they face the back of the plane. But, then, he's not talking about safety.

Posted by orrinj at 5:32 AM


Republican leader Boehner may be ready to bargain (Dana Milbank,November 7, 2012, Washington Post)

[B]oehner's talk of common ground is likely to enrage the no-compromise wing of his House Republicans, who live in fear of the tea party, Grover Norquist, the Club for Growth and other enforcers of conservative orthodoxy. And tea party leaders have convinced themselves that Romney lost because he wasn't conservative enough. The Tea Party Patriots, for example, attributed Romney's defeat to his being a "weak moderate candidate, handpicked by the Beltway elites and country-club establishment."

More likely, the tea party itself bears the blame for Romney's loss -- just as losses of far-right candidates kept Republicans from taking over the Senate.

To survive conservative primary challenges from Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and others, Romney had to take positions that ultimately doomed him in the general election. His tough-on-immigration stance, in particular, helps to explain his loss of more than 70 percent of the Latino vote, which sealed his defeat.

Boehner knows this, of course, and that is why he was so careful when he made his remarks Wednesday afternoon, taking the rare precaution of using a teleprompter. He left without answering questions, and when reporters shouted queries at him, he only smiled.

"The American people have spoken," Boehner said somberly, his eyes glistening. "If there's a mandate in yesterday's results, it's a mandate for us to find a way to work together."

The President will force Democrats to accept more of what the GOP wants than it ever could have.

Posted by orrinj at 5:26 AM


Why left should seek a fiscal deal (Gabe Horwitz NOVEMBER 8, 2012, REUTERS)

[A] network of liberal groups, on Thursday, plan to demand a national day of action against a balanced, grand bargain that could pull the nation back from the fiscal cliff it faces. The beef of this progressive coalition is that a real budget deal would almost certainly cut Medicare spending and may possibly include a proposal to make Social Security solvent through the century.

Posted by orrinj at 5:12 AM


China: Worse Than You Ever Imagined (Ian Johnson, NOVEMBER 22, 2012, NY Review of Books)

Originally published in 2008, the Chinese version of Tombstone is a legendary book in China.1 It is hard to find an intellectual in Beijing who has not read it, even though it remains banned and was only published in Hong Kong. Yang's great success is using the Communist Party's own records to document, as he puts it, "a tragedy unprecedented in world history for tens of millions of people to starve to death and to resort to cannibalism during a period of normal climate patterns with no wars or epidemics."

Tombstone is a landmark in the Chinese people's own efforts to confront their history, despite the fact that the party responsible for the Great Famine is still in power. This fact is often lost on outsiders who wonder why the Chinese haven't delved into their history as deeply as the Germans or Russians or Cambodians. In this sense, Yang is like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: someone inside the system trying to uncover its darkest secrets.

Like The Gulag Archipelago, Yang's Tombstone is a flawed work that has benefited by being shortened in translation. The original work spun out of control, with Yang trying to incorporate everything he found and constantly recapitulating key points. This is one reason why the original was over 1,800 pages and published in two volumes. The English version is half the length and reorganized by Yang in conjunction with the translators, Stacy Mosher and Guo Jian, and an outside editor, the University of Wisconsin's Edward Friedman. The result is a much more compact book with Yang's most important work clearly showcased.

The original book started out with fourteen provincial case studies followed by six "policy" chapters and eight "analysis" chapters. The translation begins, like the original, with Yang's powerful chapter on Xinyang but then alternates provincial case studies with the broader chapters on policy and analysis. Only four of the fourteen provincial chapters are in the English translation but from my reading of both versions it seems that they have cut almost none of Yang's key findings, including interviews with victims and those responsible for the famine, and his best scoops from the archives. The English version retains all six policy chapters and five of the eight analysis chapters.

Yang's travails in piecing together the book are part of its lore.2 As a reporter for the government's Xinhua news agency, he had been a blindly loyal Party member. The turning point was the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre: "The blood of those young students cleansed my brain of all the lies I had accepted over the previous decades." That made him determined to write the history of the Great Famine, which had touched him directly: he had watched his father die in front of him, at the time thinking it was an isolated tragedy and only later realizing that tens of millions had also died.

The story Yang tells is by now familiar in broad strokes thanks to the work of earlier writers, especially for foreigners, notably Jasper Becker's 1996 book Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine, but also because of the findings of demographers, local studies specialists, and Chinese memoirists and researchers who have over the years pulled together the basic facts. Yang's contribution is to have written a large-scale history based on these works and his own pioneering research in Chinese archives.

His main point is to prove that the Party, from the village chief up to Chairman Mao, knew exactly what was going on but was too warped by ideology to change course until tens of millions had died. Like Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago, the book is a cry of outrage from a victim. Yang vowed to erect for his father an everlasting tombstone, one that would not crumble or fall with time, and he did so with this book.