Posts tagged ‘Karl Rove’

Cat's Out of the Bag

This story has pretty much shifted from "I predict" to "I told you so" to "duh."  But everyone from Karl Rove to the Teamsters now recognize that Obamacare is on a path to destroying full-time employment in the retail service sector.  Via the WSJ, in an editorial by Rove:

These union heads charged that unless Mr. Obama enacts "an equitable fix," the Affordable Care Act "will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week."...

Union leaders are correct that ObamaCare "creates an incentive to keep employees' work hours below 30 hours a week." After all, employers can avoid a $2,000-per-worker fine if they don't provide insurance as long as employees work fewer than 30 hours a week. Union leaders have realized—too late—that ObamaCare will affect the livelihood of millions of workers who wait tables, wash dishes, clean hotels, man registers, stock shelves and perform other tasks that can be limited to shifts of less than 30 hours a week. The White House take on this concern? Press Secretary Jay Carney said it "is belied by the facts."

But the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that, in 2010, the year ObamaCare passed, full-time employment grew at an average monthly rate of 114,000 while part-time employment dropped an average of 6,000 a month. So far this year, as ObamaCare is being implemented, full-time employment has grown at an average monthly rate of 21,700 while part-time employment has increased an average of 93,000 a month.

Quick Observations about the NFIB

The Wall Street Journal editorial page had a piece on the "smearing" of small business.  Apparently, in the political battle over Obamacare, the NFIB has become the new target of the left.

I have not seen these attacks on the NFIB, but after the bizarre joint attacks on ALEC, I certainly believe they exist.  The WSJ summarizes these attacks this way:

According to the smear campaign against the National Federation of Independent Business, or NFIB, small businesses are thrilled with the Affordable Care Act and the trade group betrayed the 300,000 companies it represents. Among the dozens of media outlets publishing anti-NFIB op-eds disguised as reporting, Reuters recently asked in a headline, "Who truly speaks for small businesses?" The question mark was superfluous.

The chairmen of the House Progressive Caucus, Democrats Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, chimed in with a letter accusing the NFIB of acting against "the best interest of small business owners" and "the popular opinion of the American small business community." They suggest Karl Rove is behind the suit, as he is everything else.

As a member of the NFIB  (I joined several years ago specifically due to their work on health care) I believe the NFIB addresses issues that really concern our company better than any other group I have found.  Certainly they are far better than the Chamber of Commerce, which tends to be a group of large companies more interested in crony handouts than free competition.  Members get polled constantly to see what issues we care about and to see what positions we would like the NFIB to take.

This latter process makes the NFIB among the most virtuous of the organizations to which I have belonged.  Certainly the Sierra Club, way back when I was a member, never polled me on whether I preferred them to focus their efforts, say, on political activism or true conservation efforts.

I am exhausted by journalists and politicians on the Left who have barely even worked in a profit-making venture, much less run one, who speak with great authority on what small business owners should or should not want.  Our company is in the business of making long-term operations bids.  For the last three years, we have had to bid two numbers for our expenses, one with Obamacare and (a much lower one) without.  Never in 25 years of our history has any external factor, government-drive or not, made this much contingent difference to our bids.  So it is simply insulting to be told that it should not make any difference to me, or that its effects will be universally cost-reducing.

Further, it is really, really hard for a small business to parse the impact of Obamacare because it is #$&*#$ hard to figure out just what its provisions are.  McDonalds can afford to hire a team of experts to figure it out, and to start gaming it by using its political clout to seek special exemptions and treatment from the Obama Administration.  We cannot.  The NFIB is the only organization, public or private, in the country that has actually helped us understand the law's requirements.  For several years running, they have sent an expert, at their expense, to our industry gatherings to help educate companies on the law.

I Feel Like I'm Taking Crazy Pills

Just as a brief aside, it is sometimes entertaining to be a libertarian without an affiliation to either the Coke or Pepsi party.  It's amazing, from the perspective of standing off to the side on a point of the political spectrum that most civics books don't even acknowledge exists**, how much of political discourse is team-loyalty politics rather than meaningful policy discussion.

The posts that happened to set me off down this path were a pair from Kevin Drum about poor Barney Frank having to meet rowdy protestors and a lament on the frustrations of cloture in the Senate, but I am not particularly singling him or the left out.  In fact, I read Drum because he is less bad on the team politics angle than others.  I force myself to read a couple of political blogs on the left and right to see what they are saying.  A few observations:

  • Both teams are absolutely convinced that they are occupying the high ground and it is the other side that is resulting to personal attacks, negative campaigning, astroturfing, whatever.  Seriously, its really hilarious -- I see exactly the same posts written about "our side is losing because we don't resort to the low tactics of the other side" written by bloggers on both sides of the political spectrum on the same day.
  • Both teams are absolutely convinced that the media does not give their side the coverage or respect they deserve.
  • Both teams are guilty of trying to block dissent through clever rhetorical games without having to actually answer policy critiques.  Team red did it with the Iraq war, saying it was wrong to criticize a President in wartime, a useful concept when it is combined with the theory that the President can declare any time to be wartime.   Team blue takes a different approach, by claiming any opposing argument on subjects like climate or health care are being raised as part of plots funded by nefarious interest groups, and so therefore don't deserve a response.
  • Both teams hold up wacky members of the opposing team's fringes and attempt to portray them as representative of the mainstream opposition.  (OK, I may have been guilty of this once or twice myself)
  • Both teams can be loud and strident where they are energized and ticked off (this is a good thing).  Both teams have recently compared the opposition president to Hitler.   Both teams have been "obstructionist" as the minority in Congress.  Both teams have dreamed of changing the filibuster rules in the Senate while in the majority.  Both teams have freaked at suggestions the filibuster rules in the Senate would be changed while in the minority.  Both teams have promised bipartisanship when they were in the majority and not delivered on it.  Both teams have members who are corrupt.  Both teams have members who have had affairs.
  • Both teams have supposed evil genius schemers in the background (Rahm Emanuel meet Karl Rove).  Both teams have found it convenient to make concerted personal attacks on individual opponents (Sarah Palin meet Bill Clinton).
  • Both teams have promised respect for the Constitution in the Executive office and not delivered on it.  Both teams have promised a less interventionist foreign policy and never delivered on it (people forget GWB first campaigned almost as an isolationist against Clinton's Kosovo interventions).  Both teams have Presidents who are addicted to signing statements.  Both teams have really gone after selected Supreme Court nominees.
  • Both teams have Congressmen who support ethanol subsidies, which thoughtful people agree are stupid.  Both teams have Congressmen who support farm subsidies, which thoughtful people agree are stupid.  Both teams have Congressmen who support trade interventions (e.g. sugar tariffs) which thoughtful people agree are stupid.  Both teams have actively supported ratcheting up the war on drugs, which some thoughtful people may agree with but I think is stupid.  Both teams have voted in the last 15 years for major government interventions in medicine, education, and limitations on personal freedoms in the name of security.  When team blue was in power, it supported a law that was basically the Patriot Act, but had it voted down due to team red opposition.  When team red was in power, it forcefully pushed through the Patriot Act which it had previously opposed, this time against the opposition of team blue members who had previously supported it.

All this is not to say that libertarians are necessarily better people.  If we had a real team that wasn't a political joke, we'd probably engage in similar behaviors.  Of course, the difference is that we would be trying to lower the stakes of the political game rather than continue to raise them.

** Footnote: I don't know about you, but my civics textbooks in elementary school described a 2-dimensional political spectrum that ran from "fascism" on the political right to "communism" at the extreme of the left.  How does a libertarian even place himself on a spectrum that ranges from totalitarian statism to totalitarian statism?   I haven't seen such textbooks lately, so I don't know if this "heads statism wins, tails freedom loses" approach to the political spectrum still exists.

By the way, I have been reading a book called The Vampire Economy by Gunter Reimann, published in 1939.  It is a description of the economic policy of Nazi Germany, a subject that gets very little coverage because, frankly, later Nazi atrocities are such a magnet for attention.

I challenge anyone to read that book and find any substantial point of differentiatoin between Hitler's economy and a strongly socialist country.  And the section on strong-arming the banking industry for political goals was especially entertaining the context of the last 2 administrations.

Hitler approached his later war with Russia as an ideological war to the finish between polar opposites, but in fact it was really a feud between blood brothers.

Full Quote Referenced in the Title from Zoolander: "The man has only one look, for Christ's sake! Blue Steel? Ferrari? Le Tigra? They're the same face! Doesn't anybody notice this?  I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!"

Rumsfeld Out

Donald Rumsfeld is resigning.  About time.  In the NFL, a head coach with his track record would have been fired a couple of seasons ago.  And I don't think any plan for Iraq going forward, no matter how enlightened, would be trusted at this point under his leadership.

Update:  Better and better, Hastert out too, at least from a leadership role.  Elections do matter.

Update 2:  It appears the Rumsfeld thing was in the works for a while.  Why didn't Bush drop him 2 months ago, a move that might have helped the Republicans in the elections?  I know everyone thinks Karl Rove is an evil genius but I just don't see it.  I don't see any brilliance in how the administration has communicated or the moves they have made.

Valeria Plame Affair and the Law of Unintended Consequences

I must confess to being at a loss over the whole Valerie Plame leak affair, which strikes me as mostly a political battleground between the two parties, so I have not really tried to figure it out. 

However, one thing struck me reading a story about it the other day:  The only thing that was clear to me was that folks on the left seem to envision an ultimate goal of bringing down either Karl Rove or Dick Cheney.  From a short-term political standpoint, I suppose this might be satisfying.  From a longer-term view, say out to 2008, it seems stupid to me.

Let's take Karl Rove first.  I have to take the left's word for it that he is an evil political genius.  But if so, why would you want the guy out on the street.  Right now he is wasting his talents on a lame-duck president who can't run in 2008, and neither can his VP.  Why do you want to put this powerful piece of electioneering artillery out on the street, available to a Republican candidate several years in advance of 2008?

The backfire from bringing down Cheney seems even worse.  As I pointed out a year ago, 2008 will be the first election in 50+ years where there is no incumbent VP or president running for either party.  There is nothing Republicans would love to do more than have a VP spot they could fill with a 2008 candidate.  The GOP Party apparatus would love it, because both Parties secretly long for a return to the day of smoke-filled rooms (rather than primaries) for selecting their candidates, and this would give Party leaders more control of the outcome.  There is nothing either party hates more than having Iowa select its candidates from an open slate - being able to choose a new VP would allow the GOP to effectively choose a front-runner.  The GOP would benefit no matter who is put in the position, because the suddenly have an incumbent running, with the advantages of being an incumbent, in 2008.  Does anyone doubt that the VP would suddenly get extra visibility over the next few years, as Clinton did for Gore?  Finally, Bush would love it, because it would give him another Miers-type opportunity to reward a friend (or crony, as your perspective may dictate) such as Condoleeza Rice.

CBS has lost it, part II

OK, Uncle Walter no longer does much for CBS other than act as their sort of hood ornament, but his statement on Larry King, via Drudge, is even wackier than Dan Rather:

Former CBSNEWS anchorman Walter Cronkite believes Bush adviser Karl Rove is possibly behind the new Bin Laden tape.

Cronkite made the startling comments late Friday during an interview on CNN.

Somewhat smiling, Cronkite said he is "inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing."

Um, right. I am sure Bin Laden is sitting in his spider hole waiting to do everything the Bush Administration asks him to do. And, if Bin Laden is in custody, why would Bush use that fact only to generate this tape, and not just trumpet to the world that the US has, in fact, captured Bin Laden, which would have far more impact. It is incredible to see Cronkite saying things that Michael Moore might even think twice about. And, to have Larry King just let it slide - no followup question or anything, as if Cronkite's statement was the most natural and obvious thing in the world.


It was pretty funny to watch Dan Rather last night during the election coverage. Brokaw at the end of the evening looked like he was going to cry, but Dan really lost it a couple of times. He really lost all pretense to objectivity. I wish I had a transcript. It would be hilarious to put up a montage of video clips from network anchors from 7PM EST (when exit polls were signaling a big Kerry win) and midnight when it was pretty clear Bush would win. I know the differences in body language and demeanor would be startling, and would go well beyond what is explainable just from being tired.