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  • Why did Romney lose ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on November 9th, 2012 (All posts by )

    I swear this will end my ruminations about the election.

    Accounts from the Romney camp have described him as “shellshocked” by his loss. The enthusiasm and huge turnout for rallies must have given him a sense of victory but it was snatched away by Obama’s professional organization. The Huffington Post is not exactly a source of wisdom on this topic but it is useful to see what the left believes. There is, of course, a lot of nasty comments following that article but I don’t believe they have seen the truth.

    Peggy Noonan seems to think she knows the answer and maybe she has a piece of it.

    Mitt Romney’s assumed base did not fully emerge, or rather emerged as smaller than it used to be. He appears to have received fewer votes than John McCain. The last rallies of his campaign neither signaled nor reflected a Republican resurgence. Mr Romney’s air of peaceful dynamism was the product of a false optimism that, in the closing days, buoyed some conservatives and swept some Republicans. While GOP voters were proud to assert their support with lawn signs, Democratic professionals were quietly organizing, data mining and turning out the vote. Their effort was a bit of a masterpiece; it will likely change national politics forever. Mr. Obama was perhaps not joyless but dogged, determined, and tired.

    OK but why ?

    She quotes someone else but this doesn’t sound right to me. At least I hope not.

    “A majority of the American people believe that the one good point about Republicans is they won’t raise taxes. However they also believe Republicans caused the economic mess in the first place and might do it again, cannot be trusted to care about cutting spending in a way that is remotely concerned about who it hurts, and are retrograde to the point of caricature on everything else.” She notes that in exit polls Republicans won the “Who shares your values?” question but lost on the more immediately important “Who cares about people like you?” “So it makes sense that many . . . are comfortable with the Republicans providing a fiscal brake in the House, while having the Democrats ‘who care’ own the Senate and the Presidency. And that is what we got.”

    Speaking of caricatures… We have a president and a party, the Democrats, who have ignored economic realities for four years and more. The cause of the financial meltdown began with a Democrat initiative. They wanted to make home ownership more available to minorities regardless of their credit worthiness. It resulted in a housing bubble and a disaster somewhat similar to that of 1929.

    I will agree that Bush did not recognize the danger and make it an issue. Some of his administration did, however. We know what happened. It has been explained. Alan Greenspan also played a role by keeping money too loose. This resembles 1929 again.

    Congressman [Barney] Frank, of course, blamed the financial crisis on the failure adequately to regulate the banks. In this, he is following the traditional Washington practice of blaming others for his own mistakes. For most of his career, Barney Frank was the principal advocate in Congress for using the government’s authority to force lower underwriting standards in the business of housing finance. Although he claims to have tried to reverse course as early as 2003, that was the year he made the oft-quoted remark, “I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation toward subsidized housing.” Rather than reversing course, he was pressing on when others were beginning to have doubts.

    “It is government’s fault for offering a housing finance program without making an effort to maintain underwriting standards.”–Peter J. Wallison

    His most successful effort was to impose what were called “affordable housing” requirements on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 1992. Before that time, these two government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) had been required to buy only mortgages that institutional investors would buy–in other words, prime mortgages–but Frank and others thought these standards made it too difficult for low income borrowers to buy homes. The affordable housing law required Fannie and Freddie to meet government quotas when they bought loans from banks and other mortgage originators.

    This was the beginning of the bubble and ended with the collapse.

    At first, this quota was 30%; that is, of all the loans they bought, 30% had to be made to people at or below the median income in their communities. HUD, however, was given authority to administer these quotas, and between 1992 and 2007, the quotas were raised from 30% to 50% under Clinton in 2000 and to 55% under Bush in 2007. Despite Frank’s effort to make this seem like a partisan issue, it isn’t. The Bush administration was just as guilty of this error as the Clinton administration. And Frank is right to say that he eventually saw his error and corrected it when he got the power to do so in 2007, but by then it was too late.

    There are you tube videos of Bush officials being berated by Democrats as they try to press for better standards for mortgage loans. Paul Gigot identified some of the villains.

    Angelo Mozilo was in one of his Napoleonic moods. It was October 2003, and the CEO of Countrywide Financial was berating me for The Wall Street Journal’s editorials raising doubts about the accounting of Fannie Mae. I had just been introduced to him by Franklin Raines, then the CEO of Fannie, whom I had run into by chance at a reception hosted by the Business Council, the CEO group that had invited me to moderate a couple of panels.

    Mr. Mozilo loudly declared that I didn’t know what I was talking about, that I didn’t understand accounting or the mortgage markets, and that I was in the pocket of Fannie’s competitors, among other insults. Mr. Raines, always smoother than Mr. Mozilo, politely intervened to avoid an extended argument, and Countrywide’s bantam rooster strutted off.

    Notice that the executives of Fannie Mae are all Democrats and left with hundreds of millions. Mr Gigot goes on:

    I recount all this now because it illustrates the perverse nature of Fannie and Freddie that has made them such a relentless and untouchable political force. Their unique clout derives from a combination of liberal ideology and private profit. Fannie has been able to purchase political immunity for decades by disguising its vast profit-making machine in the cloak of “affordable housing.” To be more precise, Fan and Fred have been protected by an alliance of Capitol Hill and Wall Street, of Barney Frank and Angelo Mozilo.

    I know this because for more than six years I’ve been one of their antagonists. Any editor worth his expense account makes enemies, and complaints from CEOs, politicians and World Bank presidents are common. But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are unique in their thuggery, and their response to critics may help readers appreciate why taxpayers are now explicitly on the hook to rescue companies that some of us have spent years warning about.

    My battles with Fan and Fred began with no great expectations. In late 2001, I got a tip that Fannie’s derivatives accounting might be suspect. I asked Susan Lee to investigate, and the editorial she wrote in February 2002, “Fannie Mae Enron?”, sent Fannie’s shares down nearly 4% in a day. In retrospect, my only regret is the question mark.

    Mr. Raines reacted with immediate fury, denouncing us in a letter to the editor as “glib, disingenuous, contorted, even irresponsible,” and that was the subtle part. He turned up on CNBC to say, in essence, that we had made it all up because we didn’t want poor people to own houses, while Freddie issued its own denunciation.

    The companies also mobilized their Wall Street allies, who benefited both from promoting their shares and from selling their mortgage-backed securities, or MBSs. The latter is a beautiful racket, thanks to the previously implicit and now explicit government guarantee that the companies are too big to fail. The Street can hawk Fan and Fred MBSs as nearly as safe as Treasurys but with a higher yield. They make a bundle in fees.

    At the time, Wall Street’s Fannie apologists outdid themselves with their counterattack. One of the most slavish was Jonathan Gray, of Sanford C. Bernstein, who wrote to clients that the editorial was “unfounded and unsubstantiated” and “discredits the paper.” My favorite point in his Feb. 20, 2002, Bernstein Research Call was this rebuttal to our point that “Taxpayers Are on The Hook: This is incorrect. The agencies’ debt is not guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury or any agency of the Federal Government.” Oops.

    At one time, Paul Ryan, as a Congressman, was being stalked by a Fannie Mae functionary who sent telegrams to his constituents telling them that the Congressman was trying to raise their mortgage payments.

    Such a debacle after so much denial would have sunk any normal financial company, but once again Fan and Fred could fall back on their political protection. In the wake of Freddie’s implosion, Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida held one hearing on its accounting practices and scheduled more in early 2004.

    He was soon told that not only could he hold no more hearings, but House Speaker Dennis Hastert was stripping his subcommittee of jurisdiction over Fan and Fred’s accounting and giving it to Mike Oxley’s Financial Services Committee. “It was because of all their lobbying work,” explains Mr. Stearns today, in epic understatement. Mr. Oxley proceeded to let Barney Frank (D., Mass.), then in the minority, roll all over him and protect the companies from stronger regulatory oversight. Mr. Oxley, who has since retired, was the featured guest at no fewer than 19 Fannie-sponsored fund-raisers.

    Of course, Sarbanes-Oxley was the Congressional response to Enron that has driven new investments offshore and Dodd-Frank is now to regulate banks. Fox and hen house here big time.

    Or consider the experience of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, one of the GOP’s bright young lights who decided in the 1990s that Fan and Fred needed more supervision. As he held town hall meetings in his district, he soon noticed a man in a well-tailored suit hanging out amid the John Deere caps and street clothes. Mr. Ryan was being stalked by a Fannie lobbyist monitoring his every word.

    On another occasion, he was invited to a meeting with the Democratic mayor of Racine, which is in his district, though he wasn’t sure why. When he arrived, Mr. Ryan discovered that both he and the mayor had been invited separately — not by each other, but by a Fannie lobbyist who proceeded to tell them about the great things Fannie did for home ownership in Racine.

    I don’t want to belabor this further but the Republicans did not drive the mortgage meltdown that led to the financial crisis.

    More Peggy Noonan.

    America has changed and is changing, culturally, ethnically—we all know this. Republican candidates and professionals will have to put aside their pride, lose their assumptions, and in the future work harder, better, go broader and deeper.

    We are a center-right country, but the Republican Party over the next few years will have to ponder again what center-right means. It has been noted elsewhere that the Romney campaign’s economic policies more or less reflected the concerns of its donor base. Are those the immediate concerns of the middle and working classes? Apparently the middle class didn’t think so. The working class? In a day-after piece, Washington Post reporters Scott Wilson and Philip Rucker wrote: “As part of his role, [Paul] Ryan had wanted to talk about poverty, traveling to inner cities and giving speeches that laid out the Republican vision for individual empowerment. But Romney advisers refused his request to do so, until mid-October, when he gave a speech on civil society in Cleveland. As one adviser put it, ‘The issues that we really test well on and win on are not the war on poverty.’”

    That is the authentic sound of the Republican political operative class at work: in charge, supremely confident, essentially clueless.

    I’m not sure anymore if we are a center right country. I know the Tea Party, which Ms Noonan treats with contempt, is still center right, or more likely libertarian. I see Fred Barnes write about Congressman Akins who made the notorious gaffe about rape not causing pregnancy as a “Tea Party backed candidate.” I always thought Fred Barnes was pretty sharp. I do know that he is an evangelical Christian and that may be warping his judgement a bit. Akin was NOT supported by the Tea Party in Missouri, which supported Sarah Steelman not Todd Akin.

    Anyway, I am very interested in why the white voter turnout was way down this year. Romney has gotten, to this date, fewer votes than McCain in 2008.

    As of this writing, Barack Obama has received a bit more than 60 million votes. Mitt Romney has received 57 million votes. Although the gap between Republicans and Democrats has closed considerably since 2008, Romney is still running about 2.5 million votes behind John McCain; the gap has closed simply because Obama is running about 9 million votes behind his 2008 totals.

    Of course, there are an unknown number of ballots outstanding. If we guesstimate the total at 7 million (3 million in California, 1.5 million or so in Oregon and Washington, and another 2.5 million or so spread throughout the country), that would bring the total number of votes cast in 2012 to about 125 million: 5 million votes shy of the number cast four years ago.

    With this base line, and armed with the exit-poll data, we can get a pretty good estimate of how many whites, blacks, and Latinos cast ballots in both 2008 and 2012. Assuming the 72/13/10/5 percentage split described above for 2012, that would equate to about 91.6 million votes cast by whites, 16.6 million by blacks, 12.7 million by Latinos, with the balance of 6.3 million votes spread among other groups.

    Compare this with 2008, when the numbers were 98.6 million whites, 16.3 million blacks, 11 million Latinos, and 5.9 million from other groups.

    In other words, if our underlying assumption — that there are 7 million votes outstanding — is correct, then the African-American vote only increased by about 300,000 votes, or 0.2 percent, from 2008 to 2012. The Latino vote increased by a healthier 1.7 million votes, while the “other” category increased by about 470,000 votes.

    This is nothing to sneeze at, but in terms of the effect on the electorate, it is dwarfed by the decline in the number of whites. Again, if our assumption about the total number of votes cast is correct, almost 7 million fewer whites voted in 2012 than in 2008. This isn’t readily explainable by demographic shifts either; although whites are declining as a share of the voting-age population, their raw numbers are not.

    What is going on ?

    So who were these whites and why did they stay home? My first instinct was that they might be conservative evangelicals turned off by Romney’s Mormonism or moderate past. But the decline didn’t seem to be concentrated in Southern states with high evangelical populations.

    He has a state map with counties indicated as blue or red. Look at the link.

    Where things drop off are in the rural portions of Ohio, especially in the southeast. These represent areas still hard-hit by the recession. Unemployment is high there, and the area has seen almost no growth in recent years.

    My sense is these voters were unhappy with Obama. But his negative ad campaign relentlessly emphasizing Romney’s wealth and tenure at Bain Capital may have turned them off to the Republican nominee as well. The Romney campaign exacerbated this through the challenger’s failure to articulate a clear, positive agenda to address these voters’ fears, and self-inflicted wounds like the “47 percent” gaffe. Given a choice between two unpalatable options, these voters simply stayed home.

    Maybe this is the answer but I would like more information. The Frank Luntz focus groups showed people switching to Romney from Obama. Maybe these people are so discouraged that they think no one can help. I just don’t know and hope I see a better explanation. I just don’t buy Peggy Noonan’s theory.

    That’s why this election is a worse psychic blow for Republicans than 2008, when a confluence of forces—the crash, dragged-out wars, his uniqueness as a political figure—came together to make Barack Obama inevitable.

    But he was not inevitable after the past four years. This election was in part a rejection of Republicanism as it is perceived by a sizeable swath of the voting public.

    Yes, Mitt Romney was a limited candidate from a limited field. Yes, his campaign was poor. It’s also true that the president was the first in modern history to win a second term while not improving on his first outing. He won in 2008 by 9.5 million votes. He won Tuesday night, at last count, by less than three million.

    The minority vote increased a bit but does not explain what happened. I fear we have a country that has given up and passively waits to see what will happen next. They had a chance to get back to some sound principles and with a man who has a good record. For some reason, they chose failure again. I thought Romney ran a good campaign, certainly better than the McCain campaign in 2008. Maybe Marco Rubio would have drawn Latino votes but Rush Limbaugh has pointed out that Reagan’s amnesty in 1986 did not increase the Republican share of the Latino vote in 1988. George HW Bush got 7% fewer Latino votes than Reagan had gotten before the amnesty.

    It will be a tough four years. Sorry for the long piece but much of those quotes are behind a pay wall. I think they are worth reading.

     

    98 Responses to “Why did Romney lose ?”

    1. frankly Says:

      The meme “the financial crisis was caused by the Bush tax cuts and two Bush wars” was successfully implanted into millions of low information voters. The Republicans never fought back against this.

      It’s similar to the Depression being blamed on the libertarian free market policies of Hoover. Millions still believe that to this day.

    2. Bill Brandt Says:

      I heard something interesting on Rush today – a Mexican immigrant (20 years) called in – a small businessman – and explained the reason for such a huge Hispanic turnout for Obama.

      They are improvised and come from a culture that believes that wealth comes from Government – and which party promises them all things?

      Sounds like Ryan’s instincts were correct – as Sarah Palin’s desire to keep campaigning in MI when the McCain people to her to leave.

      Hispanics share our values – family, hard work –

      With all the fighting Romney had to do – and prevail – in the primary I thought he would have been the likely winner.

      But he wasn’t apparently reaching out. To me with tall these high powered political people undoubtedly working for him – how could they have been so blind sided?

      Reagan went to people considered “hostile” to Republicans – union people – and got a huge percentage.

      Heard something else – that while the Gen X can blame a lot of the country’s problems on us – they will have only themselves to blame for the upcoming 4 years.

    3. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Frankly, I disagree that Hoover was libertarian. He was as Progressive as Roosevelt. FDR ran against him promising a balanced budget. Some joke, eh?

    4. Frankly Says:

      Mr. Kennedy,

      Agreed, Hoover was a progressive. My poorly worded point is that he is perceived as a free market extremist.

    5. Bill Brandt Says:

      Michael – Frankly – what I got out of the book The Forgotten Man was that Hoover was perceived as an engineering whiz kid – made his fortune in mining – was big in relief at helping in a big flood in Mississippi – mothers even named their babies “Hoover”.

      But he was just as much an interventionist as FDR when it came to the Depression – and their policies helped prolong it.

      The unsung hero – a President that is largely ignored – was Coolidge – he believed in letting the market sort itself out.

    6. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Argentina is pioneering America’s future:

      “This is just another turn in the cycle of failure that Argentina watchers have seen again and again: Populist leaders proclaim an unrealistic economic plan (they’re usually members of the Peronist party, which continues to attract votes despite regularly bringing Argentineans into poverty and ruin). At first, these reforms go well, but then problems creep in: budget deficits, inflation, the flight of smart foreign and domestic capital. To stop the bleeding, leaders try ever cruder and crazier methods: confiscating assets, nationalizing companies, repudiating debts, implementing wage and price controls, and so forth. But the problems keep getting worse until, finally, a popular outcry brings a merciful end to the regime.

      “Unfortunately, savage depression usually sets in, as all the bad decisions taken by the departed rulers come to fruition and foreign and domestic investors shun a country that has made itself a pariah. Then new leaders step in to make promises based on yet another set of crackpot ideas, and the cycle repeats.

      “We hope things go differently this time, but we wouldn’t bet on it. The Kirchner cycle seems to now have passed into the early stages of mounting protests against crippling policies. Don’t cry for me, Argentina, the words Andrew Lloyd Weber put in the mouth of Eva Peron, don’t really apply this time around. The Argentines aren’t crying for President Kirchner; they are crying because of her — and it looks as if plenty more tears must fall until her era comes to an end.”

      http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/11/09/argentinians-cry-once-again/

    7. Joe Citizen Says:

      “I thought Romney ran a good campaign, certainly better than the McCain campaign in 2008.”

      After the terrible and unpopular Bush presidency, in the midst of a financial collapse, and against the fresh, young, attractive Obama, John McCain got 60 million votes.

      Romney, running in difficult economic times, in what must be considered a potentially very good year for the out party, got 58 million votes.

      How does the latter stack up as better than the former?

    8. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I don’t respond to trolls.

      “The unsung hero – a President that is largely ignored – was Coolidge – he believed in letting the market sort itself out.”

      Why do you think I spent time reading and posting about him ? He was a libertarian before there was such a thing.

    9. Thers Says:

      We have a president and a party, the Democrats, who have ignored economic realities for four years and more. The cause of the financial meltdown began with a Democrat initiative. They wanted to make home ownership more available to minorities regardless of their credit worthiness. It resulted in a housing bubble and a disaster somewhat similar to that of 1929.

      Pretty sure you guys lost because you believe your own nonsensical propaganda so passionately you’ve utterly rejected reality. By all means, keep doing this.

    10. Joe Citizen Says:

      “I’m not sure anymore if we are a center right country”

      That is really the question for all of you, and it leads to an existential problem.

      The activist base of the GOP does not want the party to be center-right. Center-right equals squish, its RINOland. People in the center are not hard-line, by definition. They also tend to seek compromise – a dirty word for the modern GOP.

      Can we agree – the US is not a hard-right country?
      So the people who have all the energy in the GOP, and whose ideas fill almost all the rightwing discourse – they want to align your party FAR to the right of wherever it is that America is.

      I am sure that from your perspective Barack Obama is a far-leftist, but in fact, of course, he is, at most, slightly center-left. He would not have won a majority of the American people’s votes, twice, otherwise.

      Obama won for a simple reason. He is aligned closer to the center of gravity of the American electorate than is the Republican party.

      The tragedy for you guys is that Romney, in his true nature (whatever that is – I am totally guessing here, like everyone else), is probably just as close to that center of gravity as Obama, on the other side of course. Moderate Mitt, the governor of Mass. probably could have won this election. Forcing him to kiss the rearend of the Tea Party for a couple of years in order to get the nomination doomed him in the general.

      It ain’t any more complicated than that.

    11. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “Pretty sure you guys lost because you believe your own nonsensical propaganda so passionately you’ve utterly rejected reality. By all means, keep doing this.”

      Another troll.

    12. Thers Says:

      Another troll.

      I’m certainly not going to try to talk you out of anything. For one thing, if you really believe that AEI fairytale, you’re hopeless. For another, the systemic epistemological failure of “conservatism” ensures your continued irrelevance. Keep on truckin’, Boyz.

    13. Jeff the Bobcat Says:

      Michael, I don’t think your question about southeastern Ohio has a simple answer. I happen to live in southeastern Ohio and I know a lot of people. This part of the state is generally conservative, think Obama’s “Bitter Clingers”. The first day of deer gun season is practically a holiday. It is also home to a large number of union or former union members. Think coal, steel, pottery and manufacturing. Lots of farmers, cattle, sheep, pigs, as well as corn and soybeans. The schools provide a solid though very basic education. You are correct about the economic situation. It has been bad for many years. Most people have an unsophisticated understanding of economics. Basically, living paycheck to paycheck. They have been hurt time and time again by shifts in the economy. First the pottery industry moved to China, Mexico etc. Then the steel mills closed. Next it was the Tier I & II auto suppliers. But you could still work in the coal mines. Now Obama through the EPA is going after them. Fortune smiled upon us recently with the Utica Shale gas & oil development, but I fear the EPA will come after them next for the fracturing process.

      The people around here are resilient though, mostly of hardy Irish/Scottish/German stock. They should have been primed for a record turnout. In my recollection, the whole quadrant of the state tends to go for the Republicans anyway, except for Athens County, where Ohio University is located (GO Bobcats!). I don’t know if Romney’s campaign could have had more favorable conditions, but they didn’t seem to ever explain in very simple terms how things would change for the better under his Presidency or how 4 more years of Obama could lead to disaster. I don’t know if it possible to make the case adequately in sixty second commercials. To this, you can add in confusion from all of the messaging we received and voter fatigue.

      Also, many people receive public assistance of some sort and fear for the loss of those programs. We have some families that have been receiving benefits for multiple generations. The kids learn the tricks of the trade from the parents. I fear these people are lost to us as productive members of society.

      If yard signs can be used as any kind of a gauge then Romney should have won the area by about 20 to 1. I can tell you that of the people I know, only 2 openly say they voted for Obama. So it is a mystery to me.

    14. John in KC Says:

      Bill,

      I have heard boomers lambasted for many of our problems, some of it quite well deserved, however what middle/upper middle class GenX/GenY voters have done by electing Obama is well past any of the (many) errors of my misspent youth and if not corrected will have a direct effect on their own prospects, not only by limiting their avenues for success but also the extent of that success. They’ve also guaranteed that whatever inheritance they are due will be substantially smaller.

    15. Joe Citizen Says:

      “I swear this will end my ruminations about the election.”

      And probably most everyone else on the right will stop with this kind of “analysis” as well.

      No real self-critique – just a tortured attempt to blame everyone else, especially the stupid voters.

      Hey, I sympathize, really… I remember that terrible November 28 years ago. I am guessing that you guys will need what the Dems needed back then.

      A third defeat….

    16. setbit Says:

      Thers,

      Protip: The word “epistemological” is only useful for self-identifying as someone desperately in need of intellectual validation, and even then it only works if you use it in such a way as to suggest that you know what it means.

    17. Bill Brandt Says:

      John – if they even have an inheritance left.

    18. Anonymous Says:

      Romney lost because of three things.
      1. He was out-organized. The Chicago model is now a national one. It is thorough: data mining on an e-scale that makes Facebook seem misanthropic has replaced the little notebook the Chicago Democrats gave every precinct captain. In that book were the details of every registered voter in the precinct. They will also steal every vote they think they can get away with.
      2. He was massively defamed for months on end, and did not fight back. This was the same tactic IL Dems used to defeat Republican Judy Topinka when she ran against former IL Gov Rod Blagojevich. A long summer of unanswered negative ads created massive negative poll numbers in the Fall for Topinka. She never found traction against a seriously flawed (!) opponent.
      3. Finally, the way Dems get away with these antics is a news media that is 100% for them. Any Republican gaffe is covered wall-to-wall. Any Dem gaffe goes right into the memory hole with nary a word. The only counter to this is an expanded conservative media. One that includes broadcast TV and print media. Fox News and the web and talk radio is not enough. A threat to boycott advertisers of the news shows on the nets might have some effect, too. Read that carefully-a boycott threat to advertisers. Just consider it.
      This will require the dismantlment and abandoning of the DC Repub media stranglehold, which does nothing except perpetuate itself. Give money to local candidates, not PACs.

    19. Brent Says:

      Men voted for Romney. Women voted for Obama. There are more women than men.

    20. David Foster Says:

      Setbit…”he word “epistemological” is only useful for self-identifying as someone desperately in need of intellectual validation, and even then it only works if you use it in such a way as to suggest that you know what it means.”

      Reminds me of something Daniel Dennett wrote several years ago:

      “When I was a young untenured professor of philosophy, I once received a visit from a colleague from the Comparative Literature Department, an eminent and fashionable literary theorist, who wanted some help from me. I was flattered to be asked, and did my best to oblige, but the drift of his questions about various philosophical topics was strangely perplexing to me. For quite a while we were getting nowhere, until finally he managed to make clear to me what he had come for. He wanted “an epistemology,” he said. An epistemology. Every self-respecting literary theorist had to sport an epistemology that season, it seems, and without one he felt naked, so he had come to me for an epistemology to wear–it was the very next fashion, he was sure, and he wanted the dernier cri in epistemologies. It didn’t matter to him that it be sound, or defensible, or (as one might as well say) true; it just had to be new and different and stylish. Accessorize, my good fellow, or be overlooked at the party.”

    21. Joe Citizen Says:

      Over 25 million men voted for Obama.
      I don’t think you find enlightenment in extreme over-simplification.

    22. Joe Citizen Says:

      I realize that you guys are quite enamored of the insult as argument, but could you flesh this out a bit? Thers used the phrase “the systemic epistemological failure of “conservatism””. Now, I am sure that y’all think that there is no such failure, that his charge is utterly false. But it is not an incoherent phrase. Why do y’all think that the charge, as written, gives evidence of a lack of understanding of the meaning of the word “epistemological”?

      “The word “epistemological” is only useful for self-identifying as someone desperately in need of intellectual validation…”

      Really?
      There is nothing of interest that could be said on the subject?
      Does everyone here agree with that?

    23. Dan from Madison Says:

      The only thing I think everyone here agrees on, Joe, is that it is amusing to rag doll you and the other trolls around on occasion.

    24. Peter Says:

      Anonymous makes a valid point about the Chicago-ization of the election process. Having lived in Chicago for the bulk of my life, it has amazed me how the machine has created an disinterested and desensitized electorate in order to maximize its GOTV apparatus.

      Seems that the incessant negative ads in places like OH achieved the goal of lowering turnout.

      I have family in eastern OH, and visited on two occassions during this election period. I can attest that the state was bombarded with political ads and that the region is in dire straights. It would not surprise me in the least if many voters, who may not like Obama, held their nose and voted for him because their livelihood depends on transfer programs like unemployment/disability payments.

    25. Death 6 Says:

      From wikipedia:
      Epistemology:

      It addresses mainly the following questions:
      What is knowledge?
      How is knowledge acquired?
      To what extent is it possible for a given subject or entity to be known?
      Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to connected notions such as truth, belief, and justification.

      “I’m certainly not going to try to talk you out of anything. For one thing, if you really believe that AEI fairytale, you’re hopeless. For another, the systemic epistemological failure of “conservatism” ensures your continued irrelevance.”

      How we know what happened, the causal factors is not the issue in this discussion. They were presented in some detail in the original and subsequent posts. Therefore, for this discussion, epistemological issus only apply to the poster who apparently believes the use of “fairytale” negates the evidence. I think most of us are pretty comfortable with our episemology. As Reagan put it most clearly, “Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so.” So you now want to highjack this discussion into epistemology. No thanks.

      Mike

    26. Ginny Says:

      Anonymous summed up much. At base Obama appealed to fears that his campaign manipulated. The libertarians, too, complain that Romney wasn’t “good” on social issues. Well, he didn’t agree with them, but that doesn’t mean he indicated in any way, shape or form that he was going to interfere with their lives. These arguments often assume that if the government doesn’t finance something than they are forbidding it. Strangely, libertarians seem to buy into that as well and is the rather dismal place to which our society has come.

      Anyone listening to Romney understood that life was likely to be more bracing under his plan. And his description of the capping of deductions (a blow at once to lobbyists and high end wage earners but one that would encourage reinvestment in companies) was not clearly or repeatedly given. That would, it seems to me, have been a major selling point to the middle class – and perhaps to those who aren’t really interested in running an alpaca ranch.

      Hardy women but mostly men settled the west, got us to the moon. I suspect men can live with more uncertainty than women, certainly men like risk. The left offered familiarity (Romney will change your comfortable lives – he will expect you to make the choices that in Julia-land are made by others.) The offer, of course, is spurious and built upon the idea free lunches are possible and the goose we just ate is going to keep laying golden eggs. But things will continue as they are until they can’t. The only justice is that we are already reaching the “can’t” and will more and more during the next four years. And we will see what so many unfortunate nations have in the past – Greece today, but what has widely been the lot of countries that threw in their lot with redistributionists. It has not been pretty.

      Representative of our culture: One of my female students wanted to write her term paper on making condoms more accessible (I assume not only free but everywhere and I assume paid for by the government) to men. (Mind you, our nurse on campus hands them out at no cost.) It is a stupid (and rejected) argument, but that it would pass her mind struck me as bizarre. (And perhaps an insight into conversations when she’s hanging out with some guy.)

    27. phwest Says:

      I have noted this before elsewhere, but when the final vote tally is counted Romney is going to outpoll McCain. I managed to google up some post-election results (+2 days after) rather than final tallies, and Romney is significantly (+2 MM) ahead of what McCain had counted at that time.

      There are two levels of work in a campaign – the highly visible PR part and the field work that is the ground game. It is entirely possible that Romney did a better job on the former than McCain – particularly in the immediate run-up to the election. But McCain’s organization may have done a better job in the field – that kind of thing is really hard for an outsider to evaluate. I’ll make an analogy to a baseball manager – everyone focuses on the game-level tactical decisions a manager makes because they are visible – but managers are paid more for what they do in the clubhouse, which outsiders don’t get to see, and where what information they do get is filtered through the press and manipulated by the agendas of the various parties that provide reporters with their information.

      The one thing I think is clear from the last two elections is that Obama had made a significant change in the voting population when it comes to the younger demographics. In this, he is being greatly aided by the revolution in social networking, which his campaign has utilized effectively from the beginning. Republicans do not benefit as much from this because their votes are older, as are their volunteers and the technology helps them less. IMHO the ethnic vote is a distraction for Republican – the real issue is how to deal with this change. Republicans used to be able to get away with losing the youth vote because in the end, they didn’t. It was just too hard for Dems to mobilize enough of them to be decisive. (one simple reality – young singles move a lot, so they are harder to keep track of and it takes work just to keep them registered). Facebook has changed this and Republicans have to come up with an approach to this demographic.

      I would be interested to see how the election results would project if the youth turnout was at 1988 levels. My guess is that it would look a lot like 1988.

    28. Joe Citizen Says:

      “How we know what happened, the causal factors is not the issue in this discussion.”

      Oh? The title of the thread is “Why did Romney lose?”. It seems to have been quite the surprise for Mr. Romney, and for conservatives in general. Why you DON’T know why it happened seems to be exactly the issue.

      “I think most of us are pretty comfortable with our epistemology.”

      Well, good. I am your political opponent – I would be happy to see you misunderstand the political landscape in future elections as you have in this one.

      ” “Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so.””

      Is this what passes for an argument in your circles? Find a Reagan quote?

      Let us take one simple example of knowing things that are or are not so. Contrast the conclusions arrived at, in the days before the election, by Nate Silver, on the one hand, and Peggy Noonan, or Michael Barone, on the other. Obviously one set of conclusions about the state of the electorate “was so”, and the other “was not so”.

      But the deeper question is about how the conclusions were arrived at. On the one side you had a comprehensive analysis of all relevant empirical evidence and the construction of a statistical model, with the usual process of trial and error over a number of years to refine all the parameters of the model. On the other hand you had a process that included entrails, atmospherics and anecdotes.

      You don’t think this is an epistemological question? And, for your side, a problem? Especially since y’all believed it? To the extent that Thers was correct in characterizing the problem as systemic – as infecting your entire worldview, I would think that addressing it would be absolutely crucial to the future of your movement.

    29. Nicholas Bretagna Says:

      }}}} The meme “the financial crisis was caused by the Bush tax cuts and two Bush wars” was successfully implanted into millions of low information voters. The Republicans never fought back against this.

      Agreed. It’s unbelievable the number of people who parrot this absolute garbage without any comprehension of anything.

      Side note, Not exactly OT — actually related by my own observation, below.

      The One’s media sycophants are throwing Petraeus under the bus as responsible for Benghazi

      Now, allow me to ask a question:
      Look at the commentary below that, including replies. Skim it, no need to really read for content. Just notice if the comment itself is openly pro-liberal or pro-conservative. Then notice the associated Thumbs-up/Thumbs-down values.

      Does that look like a 50/50 divided electorate to you?

      Where were all these conservatives on Tuesday?

      Something’s rotten and it’s not in Europe.

    30. Tim Says:

      Trolls notwithstanding, every member of the House had to run for office. The GOP won by a wide margin. This is the body politic closest to the people. President and Senate are largely a function of personalities. I think there is less here than meets the eye. It should be the Democrats who are reexamining themselves.

      The Obama years have been characterized by failure, graft and corruption. Few Democrats have been willing to stand up to this. History, I suspect, will not look kindly on this administration and this version of the Democrats. Troll away boys.

    31. Nicholas Bretagna Says:

      }}}} 3. Finally, the way Dems get away with these antics is a news media that is 100% for them. Any Republican gaffe is covered wall-to-wall. Any Dem gaffe goes right into the memory hole with nary a word. The only counter to this is an expanded conservative media. One that includes broadcast TV and print media. Fox News and the web and talk radio is not enough. A threat to boycott advertisers of the news shows on the nets might have some effect, too. Read that carefully-a boycott threat to advertisers. Just consider it.

      Indeed, it’s how this:

      }}}} The meme “the financial crisis was caused by the Bush tax cuts and two Bush wars” was successfully implanted into millions of low information voters. The Republicans never fought back against this.

      Came to be.

      Combine this with the failure to appeal to the damnfool idiots “protest voting” for Johnson like morons (I haven’t looked at final numbers but Johnson voters appeared to be greater than the vote difference in at least two swing states), and you have a recipe for disaster, if there actually was one, something that I expect I will always wonder about.

    32. Joe Citizen Says:

      “Trolls notwithstanding, every member of the House had to run for office. The GOP won by a wide margin. This is the body politic closest to the people.”

      Actually Tim, although the GOP won significantly more seats, the Democrats collectively won more of the votes cast in all the House races. By about half a million overall.

    33. Joe Citizen Says:

      “The meme “the financial crisis was caused by the Bush tax cuts and two Bush wars” was successfully implanted into millions of low information voters.”

      I never heard anyone make any such argument.

      That the _budgetary crisis_ was caused by the Bush tax cuts and the two wars that were not paid for -is an argument I have heard a lot, and it is clearly true.

    34. Jason in LA Says:

      Re: Organization And Youth Vote

      The right has no equivalent to how good the left is in this matter. In September I dropped my daughter off at a northern California public university for her freshman year. While checking into her dorm for the first time in orientation she was handed her door key and a voter registration card with a wink and a nod. No doubt if you do not vote for Ca’s Proposition 30 tax increase, this four year gravy train will be less gravylicious for you, was the implication.

    35. citizen eagle Says:

      I’m from Ohio. I am grateful to President Obama because he played his commercials two or three times every hour for a month.

      Obama always explained Romney’s positions and he made it clear that Romnety wanted to destroy the American auto industry and get women pregnant by cancelling birth control – and then he made it clear that he (obama) would never do that.

      Romney’s commercials were filled with women and said that Romney was a lot like Obama, but not as much.

      I didn’t vote, but my wife and daughters voted Obama. My son took his boys hunting.

      All I know about where Romney stands on the issues is what Obama said about him. Romney commercials said he loved women and women loved him – but in a Christian sort of whey.

      I like Joe Citizen. He uses really big words and his ideas are so dense I’m not smart enough to understand them. I imagine he breaks his arm a lot patting himself on the back. He might have problems getting Obamacare to give him coverage for this habit.

      A friend told me ‘Roe v Wade’ and ‘Dred Scott’ are very similar decisions. They both argue that certain people aren’t really people.

    36. setbit Says:

      Joe,

      Really?
      There is nothing of interest that could be said on the subject?
      Does everyone here agree with that?

      Perhaps some clarification is in order.

      My objection to the terminology of epistemology centers not fundamentally on vocabulary qua vocabulary, but on terms divorced from their textual embedding.

      As an example of an truly epistemological question in the present context: when does a comment qualify as troll baiting versus troll feeding?

      From a rigorously solipsistic perspective, the intent to bait exists only in the mind of the trollee. If the result of a comment is to encourage a troll to post repeatedly and at length, has not that troll been fed?

      But such a question cannot ever be definitively answered, since trolling itself exists not as objective fact, only as textual intent.

      The critical conundra go even deeper than that.

      As more and more posters join the “off-topic” discussion, “wasting” their “time”, responding to “smug idiots” posting “self-satisfied pseudo-intellectual bullshit”, the language and intent of Critical Theory itself becomes subjective and therefore inadequate. Who is the Troll? Who is the White Knight? Why am I spending a beautiful fall Saturday on the internet?

      Therefore, send not to know
      For whom the post trolls,
      It trolls for thee.

    37. ErisGuy Says:

      The red diaper babies, boomers, and epigone wanted to destroy AmeriKKKa and institute Socialism. (I have many, many people who have for *decades* longed for Socialism in America.) They wanted to destroy the family, which they regarded as oppressive.

      And by hard work they have succeeded. Most children never know their father. News networks like NBC no longer use the terms “mother” or “father” (as I learned when trapped into watching a morning show). Most subjects are on the dole, which is regarded as deserved rather than shameful, whether is an EBT or Pell Grant or DARPA grant or farm subsidy.

      America, the last country to oppose socialism has collapsed.

      The world has changed: the goals of the fascists and communists have been achieved. The Age of Enlightenment and humanism is over. Henceforth, there will be only more of the same.

    38. PenGun Says:

      “I like Joe Citizen. He uses really big words and his ideas are so dense I’m not smart enough to understand them. ”

      The right’s problem in a nutshell.

    39. citizen eagle Says:

      Perhaps the imigration question can be solved by granting all the people living in north and south america the Right of Return. almost all the people who live in the Americas are descended from someone who lived in the United States in the last 50,000 years.

      What would be ideal is to let every American (North, South & Central) immigrate to the US. Indeed the countries of the Americas could be invited to join our union as states.

      OF COURSE, each new state would keep the laws and culture it has. Each new state would get 2 senators and a share of the house of representatives. The Federal Government would be limited to regulating inter-state trade. This means that the State of Brazil would keep all its laws and nothing would change except that there would be no limits on trade and investments. US labor unions could sign up Brazilian workers and Brazilian unions could sign up workers in New York.

      If the federal governmemt got out of the way, the United States of North and South America will be enormously prosperous and colorful.

      This is a great plan that can make our half of the world very happy.

      BTW, Cuba can join and Cuba can be just as communist as their rulers want – although I suspect all their people will leave. Indeed, the states wwill be able to choose what ever form of government they want. They can even have kings and queens.

    40. Sgt. Mom Says:

      PenGun, you don’t really get this whole satire thing, do you?

      Pity … must be a lefty thing, I guess.

    41. Frankly Says:

      Joe Citizen: “That the budgetary crisis was caused by the Bush tax cuts and the two wars that were not paid for is an argument I have heard a lot, and it is clearly true.”

      This is clearly false. Obama spent more in 4 than Bush in 8.

      http://alturl.com/o5i9r

    42. Scotus Says:

      I suggest that, from now on, Joe C. and other trolls de jour be met with stony silence. Don’t even read their posts or other posts responding to them. (This is what I do.) Words, reasons, and logic are wasted on them. Anyway, besting a fool is hardly worth the effort. Let them spew their idiocy. Evenutally, they will realize they are only talking to themselves. They will then go someplace else and continue to talk only to themselves.

    43. Frankly Says:

      It’s funny that Joe posts here with echo chamber false memes such as the epistemic closure charge. This is pure projection. No one can avoid liberal opinions, yet conservative thought must be sought out.

    44. Thers Says:

      How we know what happened, the causal factors is not the issue in this discussion. They were presented in some detail in the original and subsequent posts. Therefore, for this discussion, epistemological issus only apply to the poster who apparently believes the use of “fairytale” negates the evidence. I think most of us are pretty comfortable with our episemology. As Reagan put it most clearly, “Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so.” So you now want to highjack this discussion into epistemology. No thanks.

      Precisely my point. You want to believe in a stupid economic history, because it flatters your preconceptions. The AEI account of the 2008 financial crisis as linked above is hilarious garbage.

    45. Jonathan Says:

      Thers,

      Why is the argument made by Wallison et al “stupid”, a “fairytale”, “hilarious garbage”, etc? Labeling is not explaining, and explanations are true or false regardless of anyone’s motives.

    46. PenGun Says:

      “PenGun, you don’t really get this whole satire thing, do you?

      Pity … must be a lefty thing, I guess.”

      Satire:
      the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.

      Pretty well describes my post.

    47. ErisGuy Says:

      Americans, who these days are primarily Republicans (Democrats are ashamed of and hostile to the American flag, believe AmeriKKKa is irredeemably corrupt–it is they’re in it–, etc.), believe everyone wants a fair and honest government. Democrats have learned well from the excesses and victories of their Communist masters (whom they admire: Castro, Chavez, Mao, etc.): whoever counts the votes wins. That is the dead vote in Chicago and 110% of residents vote in Florida.

      Republicans are like Kerensky, Bruning and Rathenau, and, yes, Chamberlin. They cannot fathom or imagine the depths of their opponent’s depravity, though the Democrats’ depraved natures are on public display, celebrated, and for which campaigned on every corner. The universe is not kind to ignorance. And they will be destroyed.

      “Pretty well describes my post.”

      It does indeed. You mocked their pretense of stupidity ironically, because you know they are better and smarter.

    48. broken arrow Says:

      Progressives dream of holding government jobs, becoming commissars and eventualy having a dacha. They dream of creating an orderly society somewhat like those apple commercials but without the readtionary right winger pretending to be an athelete.

    49. broken arrow Says:

      obama won because voters were told they would lose the obamaphone if Romney won. They were told to photograph their ballot to prove they voted for Obama. Minorities in Philly voted 98% Obama. Turnout was 99%.

      Better turnout and better support for Obama and the party than even the Soviet Union had in its glory days.

    50. Frankly Says:

      Here’s a link to the AEI article:

      http://alturl.com/4o9xa

      What specifically do you object to?

    51. Cosima Says:

      Most people think Bush caused the housing debacle. People also think that Romney was and is a vulture capitalist that doesn’t have a charitable bone in his body. How untrue! People believed all the negative ads, and Romeny never responded to these charges. Romney thought it noble not to talk openly about the nice things he has done to help people, so no one heard the tree that fell in the forest. Republicans do this ALL THE TIME. They think that the truth speaks for itself, or they think it is better to ignore the lies and smears, but this is obviously NOT a tactic that has worked. McCain refused to fight back, and Romney did not fight back. Instead, Obama relentlessly smeared Romney and the average voter bought it. I know people that think Romney is a Gordon Gecko type just because they read one article. We do not have the media, so the only thing we can do is take out ads in the very publications that print these lies. We also need to get more conservatives in education and in the history departments of our universities. The business men need to start taking an active role in how they are being portrayed in the greater public forum. They need to realize that they are the torch bearers of free market capitalism, so any criminal activities like Madoff or Enron will only be exploited by the left. We need to put our ideas out there in other languages, especially Spanish. Why isn’t there a Spanish conservative publication? Why isn’t there a conservative Spanish speaking talk radio host? If we do not educate, we will lose the country to leftist radicals that are working very hard day and night to destroy economic freedom.

    52. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I’ve continued to read articles on the topic and think I know what happened. White voters in many states, but especially Ohio, did not vote. They were either convinced that Romney is a bad guy or decided that there was no material difference between the two, a common theme of libertarians who should know better.

      Here is Andy McCarthy from NRO.

      The key to understanding the 2012 election is simple: A huge slice of the electorate stayed home.

      The punditocracy — which is more of the ruling class than an eye on the ruling class — has naturally decided that this is because Republicans are not enough like Democrats: They need to play more identity politics (in particular, adopt the Left’s embrace of illegal immigration) in order to be viable. But the story is not about who voted; it is about who didn’t vote. In truth, millions of Americans have decided that Republicans are not a viable alternative because they are already too much like Democrats. They are Washington. With no hope that a Romney administration or more Republicans in Congress would change this sad state of affairs, these voters shrugged their shoulders and became non-voters.

      I’m not sure I buy this. It is a fact that Reagan signing amnesty in 1986 did not increase the GOP share of the Latino vote. Th outreach to illegals is a fool’s errand, I believe.

      The brute fact is: There are many people in the country who believe it makes no difference which party wins these elections. Obama Democrats are the hard Left, but Washington’s Republican establishment is progressive, not conservative. This has solidified statism as the bipartisan mainstream. Republicans may want to run Leviathan — many are actually perfectly happy in the minority — but they have no real interest in dismantling Leviathan. They are simply not about transferring power out of Washington, not in a material way.

      As the 2012 campaign elucidated, the GOP wants to be seen as the party of preserving the unsustainable welfare state. When it comes to defense spending, they are just as irresponsible as Democrats in eschewing adult choices. Yes, Democrats are reckless in refusing to acknowledge the suicidal costs of their cradle-to-grave nanny state, but the Republican campaign called for enlarging a military our current spending on which dwarfs the combined defense budgets of the next several highest-spending nations. When was the last time you heard a Republican explain what departments and entitlements he’d slash to pay for that? In fact, when did the GOP last explain how a country that is in a $16 trillion debt hole could afford to enlarge anything besides its loan payments?

      This is better. He could have added the share of the defense budget that is made up of pensions and medical care.

      So as not to go on too long, I will just direct the reader to Mark Steyn who is at about the level of despair that I inhabit.

      If you add up the total debt — state, local, the works — every man, woman, and child in this country owes 200 grand (which is rather more than the average Greek does). Every American family owes about three-quarters of a million bucks, or about the budget deficit of Liechtenstein, which has the highest GDP per capita in the world. Which means that HRH Prince Hans-Adam II can afford it rather more easily than Bud and Cindy at 27b Elm Street. In 2009, the Democrats became the first government in the history of the planet to establish annual trillion-dollar deficits as a permanent feature of life. Before the end of Obama’s second term, the federal debt alone will hit $20 trillion. That ought to have been the central fact of this election — that Americans are the brokest brokey-broke losers who ever lived, and it’s time to do something about it.

      But we won’t.

    53. Earl of Effingham Says:

      “This is clearly false. Obama spent more in 4 than Bush in 8.”

      I know this for a fact: Dubya had forced the Democrats to vote for the wars, with such cruel and unusual methods that Biden had to repress the memory during his debate.

      Then the evil Bushitler stuffed all the bills for the wars in an old mattress in Lincoln´s Bedroom. Our soldiers didn´t get paid and nothing!

      That´s where poor old Obama found them after he had invited Andy Stern to sleep over on account of the great blizzard of 2009. Imagine his surprise! So this is how the infernal Shrub had managed to keep his deficits under 3.5% of gdp and even coming down between 2004 and 2007.

      And Obama immediately got to work. All through the night he went line by line through the unpaid bills so that the soldiers and sailors and ammo makers and gas stations all got paid. It was like a second christmas and there was much rejoycing in the land.

      And that´s exactly how it went down.

    54. Cris Says:

      There may be something to this white people didn’t vote thing. I have a neighbor, a white, Christian male, who opined, a week before the election, that he could not tell which candidate was telling the truth.
      He doesn’t read books, prefers CNN to Fox and is an expert on “The King of Queens” whatever the hell that is.
      That’s who didn’t vote.

    55. Joe Citizen Says:

      “What specifically do you object to?”

      You must admit that it is rather funny that an explanation for the financial crisis makes no mention of the finance industry. Or very little.

      Yes, Democrats tried to make home ownership more available. So did Republicans. Ever hear of “the ownership society”? It was not just a policy proposal of the Bush administration, it was far deeper than that. Give poorer people a stake in the capitalist system, so they come to appreciate and understand it, and become more responsible citizens. I will acknowledge that there is one buried line in the AEI article which states the bipartisan nature of the problem.

      But subprime mortgages to poor people was hardly the core problem causing the financial crisis. Consider, for example, that the percentage of subprime mortgages doubled after 2004 when the SEC allowed the megabanks to greatly increase their leverage in mortgage-backed securities.

      The article also seems to completely avoid mention of the predatory lending practices that caused so many people to acquire mortgages they did not understand and to end up with adjusted rates they could not afford.

      But at its heart, the financial crisis – playing out to the extent that it did – can be attributed to both criminality and simple irresponsibility in the financial products industry. Over-leverage, by itself, is probably the biggest factor, a deeply corrupt ratings industry, financial product “innovation” that led to trillions of dollars of worthless paper that no one really understood in the first place, and constant efforts to avoid oversight and regulation.

      And yes, Bill Clinton signed the repeal of Glass-Steagall, so there is blame to go around.

      The Wall Street money boys are human beings – subject to the same temptations as any other. Moreso perhaps, because they, as a group, have been selected for their ambition, their aggressiveness, and their greed. Take the cops off the beat and people will generally start to try to take advantage of the situation, and to see what they can get away with.

      Perhaps the greatest responsibility for the crisis lies with those who always and everywhere argue that the big money boys should be free from as much regulation as possible. That is what created the environment where all this irresponsibility and criminality was able to flourish.

    56. Earl of Effingham Says:

      Cris, it’s a sitcom. A sitcom that ended in 2007. When federal debt was 6 trillion lower.
      You think he knows what a trillion is?

    57. Frankly Says:

      The financial crisis happened because it was government policy, not because these markets were unregulated.

      Lending institutions were coerced into making bad loans. They wouldn’t have done this if Freddie & Fannie hadn’t guaranteed these loans and the ratings agencies hadn’t blessed them. Some of these loans went to deserving poor; many went to speculators.

      The financial industry through mortgage derivatives spread the bad loans throughout the world markets. They did this with the collusion of the ratings agencies. The ratings agencies are licensed by the US government.

      The mortgage market is probably the most regulated market in the US. Fannie & Freddie are quasi-governmental agencies. There was nothing illegal about most of this; government policy created moral hazard, i.e., it encouraged bad behavior.

      With regard to the “ownership” society:

      “The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.” “Reynolds Law” – Glenn Reynolds

      As a side note, this fallacy still exists in educational loans, which Obama has effectively nationalized. That bubble will burst also.

    58. Joe Citizen Says:

      “The ratings agencies are licensed by the US government. ”

      What the ell is your problem boy? Why do you contort yourself like this in order to excuse the inexcusable?

      I am licensed by my state to operate a motor vehicle. If I get drunk and run someone over, is it the government’s fault?

    59. Frankly Says:

      There are only a handful of ratings agencies. Their ratings are required by the US government for many transactions. You might think they would be responsible for getting ratings wrong, but you would be wrong. Court decisions have held that they have no responsibility. So yes, its the government’s fault, and you are a troll.

    60. broken arrow Says:

      Inflation is too much money chasing too few goods. If the supply of money increases and the supply of goods and services does not, then prices go up.

      The opposite is true. If the money supply decreases but the supply of goods and services does not, prices go down.

      Lord Keynes argued (in the 1930s) that prices went down during the Depression because people were hiding their money under the bed or burying it (nobody trusted banks). The money supply went down because people hid it instead of spending it.

      Keynes argued that the government should borrow the money hidden under the bed and should spend it. The money supply will go back to where it was, prices will return to normal, and the depression will be over.

      However today people keep their money in banks because the FDIC guarantees they will get their money back if their bank fails. Savings no longer cause a drop in the money supply because saved- money stays in the banking system.

      Federal borrowing from US citizens no longer increases the money supply. It merely drives up interest rates and causes businesses to fail because they cannot afford higher interest rates.

      Now that the FDIC exists Keynesian theory no longer works to cure depressions. Federal borrowing only drives small businesses out of business because interest rates go up. Furthermore, if foreignors buy US bonds, their foreign money increases the money supply and causes inflation.

      Bernanke has found a way to keep interest rates low by printing bonds which are used as cash. This also increases the money supply and causes inflation.

      However reported inflation did not go up because the inflation rate of 1% is calculated under new rules (under the old rules it is 15%).

      If true inflation (under the old rules) is 15%, then GDP has fallen at a rate of 13% every month since Jan 2009. These means the recession never ended, there never was a recovery, and we have Jimmy Carter style Stagflation. Electing Romney would have done no good because he is as clueless as Obama.

      Obama has done exactly what FDR did and he is getting the same results. The European economy is collapsing. Soon Germany and Japan will re-arm. Russia and China are expanding. WW3 starts in 3 years.

    61. xj Says:

      @Frankly:

      Not to mention that the Fed’s _own research_ suggests that the Panic of 2008 was the result of Fed policy failures.

      http://www.aei-ideas.org/2012/08/fed-study-says-bush-and-banks-didnt-cause-the-great-recession-the-fed-did/

    62. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Frankly, your comment at 3:23 was excellent. You hit the nail on the head.

      I don’t engage trolls but “predatory lending practices” is a joke to anyone who understands human psychology. “The devil made me do it”, was pretty funny when the comic on TV used to say it but the real causes of the mortgage crisis was not a result of evil bankers. Certainly Countrywide was evil but it wasn’t a bank and, without Fannie and Freddie run by Democrat politicians instead of bankers, it would have gotten no where.

      My ex-wife worked for Countrywide briefly in the early 80s and she told me they were crooks then.

    63. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Flip Wilson was one of my favorites on TV. A lot of you may be too young to remember.

    64. Ginny Says:

      You all do realize how depressing this is, don’t you?
      And I don’t really remember Flip Wilson but a few years ago my kids happened upon a rerun on Nick or something. It was full of allusions to Shakespeare, etc. Those writers used to be literate – and they used to assume a literate public. We threw out the canon and with it a common culture. I don’t think that is unrelated to the level of economic illiteracy we see everywhere – or even practical budgeting.

    65. broken arrow Says:

      “I came to sieze her berry, nit to praise it”.

      And of course the time he had a blow out in his sneekers at 89 mph.

    66. Joe Citizen Says:

      “I don’t engage trolls but “predatory lending practices” is a joke to anyone who understands human psychology.”

      How childish Michael. So, we have to speak through third parties because you can’t deal with anyone disagreeing with you, but ya gotta get in a few shots anyway? Pfffft.

      Perhaps you could flesh out your defense of lenders who many people consider to be “predatory”. Address your comments to Frankly, or to whomever, if you need to. Are you saying that such practices did not occur? Or that they are simply to be expected from businessmen, and thus no cause for complaint, no matter their legality or morality? Even so then, do you deny that they played a role in deepening the financial crisis by leading to many thousands, if not more, people ending up underwater with their mortgages, or bankrupt?

      Enlighten us all – even if I choose to offer some further comments, I promise not to acknowledge that it was my question you were answering….

    67. Joe Citizen Says:

      Xj,

      That is not the “Fed’s own research”. It is a book written by someone who happens to work for one of the Fed branches.

      And if you can’t see the absurdity of it – that the financial crisis apparently was not caused by either the housing bubble bursting, nor the out-of-control, over-leveraged financial sector, but merely by the fact that the Fed didn’t lower lending rates in July ’08…

      I would not know how to even begin with you…

    68. martin Says:

      It is enormously racist to suggest that black borrowers are helpless victims of white bankers because they don’t understand large financial transactions. I have many minority friends – black, yellow, brown and red – who make loans and buy and sell agricultural imports profitably and pay no taxes because of special loopholes.

      The idea that whites can cheat minorities via preditory loans is racist because it is based on the idea that a white man can outsmart a minority.

    69. Joe Citizen Says:

      Martin,

      Now this takes the prize for bizarre comment of the week.
      Who said anything about the race of borrowers or bankers?
      I am sure there are bankers who happen to be black who are ripping off borrowers who happen to be white.
      What kind of a trip are you on?

      So your argument is that there are no predatory loan practices? Pure denial of the existence of the problem?

    70. Nicholas Bretagna Says:

      }}}} I never heard anyone make any such argument.

      Then you are living in a libtard echo chamber. I’ve heard that claim so many times I got sick of refuting it, then having my refutations ignored and/or silenced by liberal twits censoring them.

      ))) That the _budgetary crisis_ was caused by the Bush tax cuts…. is an argument I have heard a lot, and it is clearly true.

      See the above. The existing financial crisis, still operating five years later thanks to idiotic Keynesian economic responses, was the fault of the HOUSING bubble, which was entirely the result of Democratic policies from the 1990s onward.The GOP does bear some limited fault, as they did have sufficient majorities to override the Democrat committee obstructionism, but failed. This is called a sin of omission, not a sin of commission, and is generally ranked as a far lesser sin.

      As far as any “budgetary” crisis, that’s also ridiculous. While Bush’s spending was clearly well beyond proper — and few people deserving the classification “conservative” would disagree — they were never substantially unfunded, since the deficit spending was never substantially more than the revenue taken in under Bush in contrast to Obama’s absurdly profligate spending — MUCH OF WHICH IS STILL YET TO STRIKE, as it includes a vast array of new mandates timed to strike AFTER the 2012 election.

      The money spent was never substantially greater than the revenue level.. within 20%. Few true conservatives LIKE that kind of spending, but ack that it isn’t ridiculously out of line… unlike spending a TRILLION more than your revenues amount to… much of it on entitlements and other zero-long-term-benefit drags on the economy.

    71. Nicholas Bretagna Says:

      }}} So your argument is that there are no predatory loan practices? Pure denial of the existence of the problem?

      So your intellect is incapable of grasping that any predatory loan practices which do not directly and somehow EXPLICITLY (against all law) target “the brothers” are not racist practices?

      He’s not claiming that there are none. He said there was nothing RACIST about them, they target everyone equally. If certain racial groups are more likely to fall for them, then it’s pretty much up to the members of that group to self-educate.

      I’m sure there are online scams which the elderly are more likely to fall for. That doesn’t mean they are actually targeting old people with them because they don’t like old people. They just don’t CARE if they are old people. Not the same thing.

    72. Nicholas Bretagna Says:

      }}} Lord Keynes argued (in the 1930s) that prices went down during the Depression because people were hiding their money under the bed or burying it (nobody trusted banks). The money supply went down because people hid it instead of spending it.

      Keynes argued that the government should borrow the money hidden under the bed and should spend it. The money supply will go back to where it was, prices will return to normal, and the depression will be over.

      Keynes argued for a lot of idiotic bullshit. Any arguments that Keynes was even vaguely correct disappeared when the 70s US economy happened, as “stagflation” — a stagnant economy with double-digit inflation — occurred — abjectly IMPOSSIBLE by Keynes’ theories… A lot of idiot “NeoKeynesians” tried to tweak his theories to adjust for this issue. Their correctness was demonstrated by the Japanese economy of the 90s… Zero**.

      What’s that saw about how “insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”?

      Q.E.D.: Anyone who believes in Keynes or Marx is, by definition, utterly insane. Judge those around you by those two principles alone, and you will be well off with that quick and easy a triage.

      ===================

      **It should be noted that Krugman is a Keynesian. Given that I’ve seen Krugman openly advocate, in his column, the Broken Window Fallacy, something that is shown in basic, bonehead EC101 to be economically FLAWED to the point of “utterly defective”, it’s clear that Krugman is either insane or a lying POS, either of which mark him as someone to ignore.

    73. Joe Citizen Says:

      “He’s not claiming that there are none. He said there was nothing RACIST about them,”

      You are not making any sense Nicholas. No one made any claim that there was anything racist about them. Where did he get this racial aspect? And why are you defending him? He is the one introducing race into the discussion, and I can only imagine that it is because, lacking any rational grounds to defend the practices, he needs to create a strawman to knock down.

    74. Joe Citizen Says:

      “The existing financial crisis, still operating five years later thanks to idiotic Keynesian economic responses, was the fault of the HOUSING bubble,”

      You can scream all you want Nicholas, but that is only one part of the story. Everything about your tone makes it perfectly clear that you have no real interest in exploring all the factors at play here, and how much weight each deserves in the overall result. You think you know the answer, it is a massively partisan one, and your only interest is in shouting your “truth” as loud as you can and insulting anyone who differs.

      “The money spent was never substantially greater than the revenue level.. within 20%”

      The Bush administration proposed a budget for FY2009 (coming into effect in Oct. 2008) with 3.1 trillion in spending. Actual spending was 400 billion higher, but lets leave that aside for now, because one would have to argue over how much of that Obama was responsible for.

      Bush estimated revenues as being 2.7 trillion, thus starting with a proposed deficit of 400 billion. But actual revenues were only 2.1 trillion.

      So the overall deficit was 1.4 trillion (3.5 minus 2.1), but if we set aside the excess spending over original proposal, the deficit that can unambiguously be attributed to Bush was 1 trillion. Which is spending of 50% over revenues.

      The main driver of the budgetary crisis is a shortfall in revenue. Consider this – it is not until 2014 that the federal government expects to have revenues that would be sufficient to pay for even the pre-crisis spending plans of the Bush administration (the 3.1 trillion).

      Bush inherited a balanced budget. At minimum, he should have done what is necessary to maintain that balance. Of course he should have first paid down a substantial part of the national debt. Then, if it would not upset the balance, tax cuts would be great. But he cut taxes first, immediately throwing the budget out of balance. And then waged two wars without asking for any additional revenues to pay for them, plus Medicare part D.

      Another way to look at this – your man Romney spent the year campaigning to get federal spending down to 20% of GDP. That would be some radical cutting, but guess what. Federal revenues last year were 17% of GDP. So even under Republican plans, federal revenues are insufficient.

      The continued effect of the Bush tax cuts accounts for the largest part of the ongoing deficit. LINK

    75. Jonathan Says:

      JC:

      Everything about your tone makes it perfectly clear that you have no real interest in exploring all the factors at play here, and how much weight each deserves in the overall result. You think you know the answer, it is a massively partisan one, and your only interest is in shouting your “truth” as loud as you can and insulting anyone who differs.

      Project much?

      BTW, your deficit chart is misleading, as one might expect since it comes from a pro-tax group. A better deficit chart is the one that Glenn Reynolds has been promoting.

    76. Joe Citizen Says:

      Jonathen,

      “Project much?”

      Actually, I think that I have proven over and over again that I am interested in discussing the details of the various issues at play. Yes, I have a different take on things and I present my views straightforwardly. But I don’t shout and I don’t simply repeat simplistic spin. And I never insult anyone who has not already insulted either me, or people like me.

      The chart that Reynolds displays comes from where? And when? I don’t think it is accurate. And his comment about the deficit declining while waging the two wars is obviously false. The deficit increase during 02, 03, and 04. Then it decreased again, but never got back down to the levels it was before the war. You can read that right off the chart he provides, but he states the contrary.

      As to the chart that I provided, the fact (even if it were accurate) that it comes from a “pro-tax” group wouldn’t change the facts that it presents. This is so typical of the modern right-wing. You see evidence you don’t like, you find some way to hang a negative label on the presenter, then you feel justified in ignoring the evidence. May I suggest you add this to the list of why y’all have lost touch with the reality of this country?

      No one is disputing the fact that the deficits have been very large these past four years. They were hiked up to a “new normal” level with the last Bush budget and its interface with the reduced revenues from the “Great Recession”. The simple explanation: Bush had been running roughly 400 billion dollar deficits. The recession caused a drop in Federal revenues of 600 billion. Voila – we arrive in the world of trillion dollar deficits.

      If the Bush tax cuts had been repealed – if we went back to the tax rates we had when we balanced the budget and had the longest expansion in our history – and if we had raised revenue to fund the two wars, then our deficits would have been a few hundred billion at most. And that deficit would have been largely a function of the continued revenue shortfall from the recession, a shortfall that would have been melting away even quicker, if all those other deficit-producing factors were absent.

    77. Jason in LA Says:

      “If the Bush tax cuts had been repealed – if we went back to the tax rates we had when we balanced the budget and had the longest expansion in our history – and if we had raised revenue to fund the two wars, then our deficits would have been a few hundred billion at most.”

      Using that type of static analysis of tax rates with an assumed amount of government tax revenue never impressed me much. I suspect I am hardly alone in this forum on that.

      As for those halcyon Clinton days of the very late 90’s that you allude to; that’s all fine and dandy if one assumes the pyramid scheme dynamic of Nasdaq 5,000 takes hold and maintains. But as we all know it was unsustainable. Drkoop.com, pets.com, space.com et al employed multitudes who for a few years paid an assortment of taxes and fees as they worked and consumed. Investors in those firms paid additional taxes too. Once the share markets dried out and the cash burn rates of these firms became apparent, the party was over and so too were those robust tax revenue streams that your argument so very much hangs on.

      A bubble is a bubble no matter who the President is.

    78. Frankly Says:

      http://alturl.com/trobn

      The President’s media apologists are attempting to carry water for Obama and shift the blame for the budget mess squarely at the feet of President George W. Bush. Specifically, they argue that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, and the recession are all to blame for today’s deficits. It’s an argument we heard before from Obama since the days of his campaign, and it’s an argument that is as flawed today as it was then. One simple number explains it well: the budget deficit figure in 2007, the last Bush year prior to the recession. The tax cuts were in full effect, both wars were raging, and the recession had not yet struck, yet the budget deficit in 2007 was $160 billion, or about a tenth of Obama’s deficit this year.

    79. Joe Citizen Says:

      Wow, thats really impressive argumentation there Frankly. Lets ignore all but the best year of the Bush administration. 2008, 2009? Oh, they don’t count, because there was a recession. I bet you wouldn’t give Obama a pass like that….

      How does this work? Bush is not responsible for budgets that muddy your narrative, even though they were his budgets?

      Why don’t you deal with the substance of the issue? If the Bush tax cuts were repealed, what would the deficits be? What would they be if the wars had been paid for?

      Yeah, maybe 2007 would have had a healthy surplus, and we could have paid down some debt. You are not really contradicting anything I said….

      “Specifically, they argue that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, and the recession are all to blame for today’s deficits”

      Show us some numbers. Show us how if these three factors you list were not in place, that we would still be having some budget crisis. You seem utterly convinced that these factors have nothing to do with the crisis. I gave you a chart that showed otherwise. What is the argument behind your assertions?

    80. Thers Says:

      Why is the argument made by Wallison et al “stupid”, a “fairytale”, “hilarious garbage”, etc? Labeling is not explaining, and explanations are true or false regardless of anyone’s motives.

      Because it is berserk, that’s why. The moon landing wasn’t faked, either.

      You are quite seriously at that level if you accept that version of the cause of the 2008 collapse.

    81. Jonathan Says:

      Repeal of the Bush tax cuts = instant recession. See what that does to tax revenues and deficits.

      OTOH, if the economy picks up there’s a strong possibility of an eventual rise in inflation or at least inflationary expectations. An inflation scare could pop long-term interest rates by several hundred basis points in a short period. See what that does to govt borrowing costs and deficits.

      We are in this mess because of too much govt spending. Bush spent too much, Obama is spending much more, treating debt as free money to be used to further his personal political goals. He and his advisers and supporters are rationalizing this reckless course of action by using blame to distract, by pretending that there is no risk, by asserting that Bernanke will manage the situation and bring the economy to a soft landing for sure, by insinuating that the critics are unpatriotic, etc. It’s all bullshit. We are sitting on a powder keg and Obama is playing with matches, and idiots like JC are saying that if Bush spent too much and some of us supported Bush, even though we supported him as the lesser of evils and thought he was spending too much, then we mustn’t complain if Obama spends much more.

      It is most unfortunate that Romney, an imperfect candidate who at least recognized that our current fiscal course is unsustainable, lost to the guy who refuses even to acknowledge that there is problem and is doggedly pursuing policies that are certain to make the problem worse. It is doubly unfortunate that so many Obama supporters are committed to a ruinous national fiscal policy out of blind partisanship, crass self interest, psychological dysfunction or economic/historical ignorance.

    82. Jonathan Says:

      Re: Thers

      QED

    83. Xennady Says:

      I think you guys defending George Bush are missing the boat. The GOP establishment vastly underestimates the damage George Bush did to the Republican party, if they notice it at all, and have no idea what to do about it.

      Not noticing that Bush policies failed, and were unpopular, doesn’t help. Blame Barney Frank as you should, but note that the buck stopped with Bush. There was a lot more he could have done to stop the housing bubble, but he chose not to. I’ve read that part of the reason was that certain establishment figures- Karl Rove, for example, believed that if you put democrat-voting poor people in houses they would magically become republicans, because people who owned houses tended to vote republican. The stupid, it burns.

      The relentless overspending didn’t help either. I remain amazed as to why US taxpayers had to pay a trillion dollars to rebuild Iraq, when that country is awash in valuable petrochemicals. Why couldn’t Bush have sold Iraqi bonds to rebuild that country? Instead of US bonds? Perhaps there was a good reason, but I’ve never heard it.

      I’d say a vast portion of the voting public had soured on Bush and his GOP by mid-2006, myself included, and Romney looked very much like an incipient Bush third term. There were even a couple Bush-era retreads running for the senate this year. The public said no thanks, and millions of potential GOP voters simply stayed home.

      Hey, I blame Bush. He earned it.

    84. Jonathan Says:

      Bush had many flaws. The problem for your argument is that there wasn’t a better alternative. Gore would have been worse, Kerry would have been worse, Obama is worse. Much of the analysis that concludes that Bush was very bad is made from hindsight and ignores the lack of better alternatives. Bush was elected and reelected, and there was overwhelming popular support for the Iraq war for the first couple of years, so it’s not as if he was imposed on us. At least Bush made decisions, and he had the balls to stick with them, in some important cases against conventional wisdom that later proved to be wrong. What do you think Gore, or God forbid, Obama, would have done after 9/11? I’m glad we’ll never find out. My guess is that Bush was about as good as we’re going to get in the current political environment. If someone much better were going to come along why haven’t we seen him yet? It seems to me more likely that our political system now selects for personal qualities that are incompatible with effective leadership. Obama is another symptom of the same systemic rot, though I assign much more blame to him because he is thoroughly dishonest and IMO has bad motives.

      Both parties are to blame for the real-estate collapse but the Democrats are much more to blame. The CRA was initially their project, they expanded it, they ran the key Congressional committees that blocked reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and they ran Fannie and Freddie as Democratic Party slush funds. Bush attempted some modest reforms, made no progress in Congress and gave up. It was no secret that Fannie Mae was recklessly overleveraged and that a market debacle was possible once housing prices stopped going up. The WSJ wrote editorials saying this in the mid-2000s. Congressional Democrats savaged them in the media for saying this, and Fannie Mae’s lobbying operation intimidated Congressional and media critics. (Watch the YouTube videos of Barney Frank and Maxine Waters attacking critics on this issue.) Anybody with a clue could see that a financial meltdown was a significant possibility, just as anybody with a clue can make similar predictions today about FHA, the govt-sponsored student-loan system and the US budget.

      BTW, of all recent presidential candidates Mitt Romney is the only one who appears to have a sophisticated understanding of the financial issues behind the housing crisis.

    85. Ginny Says:

      This may be both off topic and not widely assumed, but both Bush and Romney had a respect and affection for history and a gentleness. These give the leader of a democracy humility and perspective, a sturdy base from which to act. If these are not effective politically, it does not bode well for a country which needs a breadth of vision in its leaders.

      What bothers me most about the election was that the smallness Krauthammer noted won. And the next was that that win signals at least a lost battle if not a lost culture war. I suspect our culture has deluded itself into a belief that populist redistribution is altruistic, that crony capitalism and a welfare state is moral. Convincing Orwell’s citizens that black is white is no more difficult a sell to someone with eyes to see and a sense of history, but it has been done.

    86. Joe Citizen Says:

      “We are in this mess because of too much govt spending”

      That is obviously ideology, not analysis. When you have a deficit, it exists because spending is higher than revenue. You could solve the problem by either raising revenue, or lowering spending. Those are policy choices. You could do either one, and solve the problem. Obviously you prefer cutting spending, but that does not mean that excess spending is objectively the cause of the situation.

      As I pointed out in an earlier comment – Bush proposed a budget for 2009 that was obviously prepared before the big crisis hit. It proposed spending 3.1 trillion dollars. It will not be for a couple of years yet before the government has any expectation of taking in 3.1 trillion in revenue. Clearly the American people, through their legislative processes, have made clear that they have certain desires for spending, such that even the more frugal party proposed 3.1 trillion in spending. That being the case, it seems pretty clear that tax rates should have been calibrated to yield 3.1 trillion in revenue in 09, at least.

      If rightwingers were truly the fiscally responsible people that they pretend to be, they would be at the fore insisting that the country raise the necessary revenue to pay for the spending that the people clearly want. You could hope that when people are forced to actually pay for all the things that they want, that maybe they would moderate their demands for spending. You could obviously continue to try to persuade people to want less from government. But you should demand of the people that they actually pay for whatever level of spending they agree to.

      The “right”, through the GOP, has been, by far, the more irresponsible party on fiscal matter. Liberals and democrats may always demand more spending, but at least they also demand more taxation to pay for it. The GOP has been arguing that taxes should be cut irrespective of whether or not spending is cut. It was Cheney after all, who said – “deficits don’t matter”. Its the Norquist strategy that y’all have been following – “starve the beast” – i.e. just focus on cutting taxes so that you provoke a crisis. Maybe, hopefully, even bankrupt the government. That way you can turn people away from any support for governmental programs.

      ” Bush spent too much, Obama is spending much more,”

      More ideology over analysis…
      Lets fact check that

      “and idiots like JC are saying that if Bush spent too much and some of us supported Bush, … then we mustn’t complain if Obama spends much more. ”

      Actually, idiots like JC never said that Bush spent too much – the criticism is that he refused to raise the revenues necessary to pay for what he spent (although yes, he spent too much by going to war in Iraq, but that is a separate point – once he won approval for the war, he had a responsibility to raise the money to pay for it). I repeat – clearly you have every right to argue that we should spend less. Just don’t pretend that spending is objectively the problem – the disconnect between spending and taxing is objectively the problem. And you should not maintain this hyperpartisan attitude that utterly fails to see the reality of what Obama thinks, what he does. I realize your audience here wants red meat, not intelligent analysis, but…don’t you have any standards for yourself?

      “… lost to the guy who refuses even to acknowledge that there is problem and is doggedly pursuing policies that are certain to make the problem worse.”

      Blatantly false, and you know it. Have you seen the reports that came out yesterday, through Woodward, of the positions that Obama was prepared to take in the negotiations with Boehner? LINK

    87. Xennady Says:

      “That is obviously ideology, not analysis.”

      No, it’s the obvious truth. If the government spends less than it takes in than there will be no deficit. This is obvious, except to a leftist.

      You’ve made it clear you prefer more spending and higher taxes- amazingly, even defending George Bush’s spending- but the bottom line is that the base of the GOP had real trouble accepting both. And vast numbers have essentially given up on the GOP. That’s why Romney lost, which was the topic of this thread.

      Your idea that leftists “demand” higher taxes to pay for all their spending is just hilarious. The left- Barack Obama and his chosen instrument,the democrat party- had complete control of the government from roughly January 2009 until January 2011. Yet by their own words no tax increase ever appeared. Why, they cut taxes just ask them.

      Sure. And if the supposedly fiscally responsible left really objected to the Iraq war and Bush’s spending than they had the duty to block the war- which they had the power to do, but which they did not. At the very least they should have forced Bush to put the spending on the budget, as a condition of their approval of the war.

      But since they can’t even own up to that- instead bleating that Bush “lied” to them to fool them into voting for it- I have no doubt at all that whatever happened would always be someones else’s fault, generally the last Republican within range.

      And believing that, I have no interest at all in any sort of leftist “fact-checking” that always and forever assigns any real blame to republicans, even while attempting to attach a fig leaf or two to the partisan objective.

    88. Joe Citizen Says:

      “No, it’s the obvious truth. If the government spends less than it takes in than there will be no deficit. This is obvious, except to a leftist.”

      huh? Of course it is obvious. I just said that myself. But I also said that if the government takes in more, so as to pay for what it spends, there will be no deficit. That is obvious too. “Leftists” see both sides of the ledger. You see only one. That is because your ideology demands of you that you only consider one solution. But there are other solutions that would work as well.

      That is why I am correct in charging you with spewing ideology, not engaging in analysis.

      “The left- Barack Obama and his chosen instrument,the democrat party- had complete control of the government from roughly January 2009 until January 2011.”

      You know that is not true. The arcane rules of the Senate allow a minority to block any action unless 60 Senators agree to overcome a filibuster. The Democrats had 60 votes only for a few months in ’09, between the very late seating of Al Franken (after Coleman’s court challenge failed), and the incapacitation and death of Ted Kennedy.

      “Yet by their own words no tax increase ever appeared. Why, they cut taxes just ask them.”

      Yes – under the conditions of the Great Recession, increased deficit spending was temporarily necessary to provide some greatly needed demand in the economy. No one denies that.

      “And if the supposedly fiscally responsible left really objected to the Iraq war and Bush’s spending than they had the duty to block the war…”

      Many on “the left” did all they could to block the war. There obviously were enough Democrats who decided to go along with Bush such that “the left” was not united enough, and not successful in blocking the war.

      “At the very least they should have forced Bush to put the spending on the budget, as a condition of their approval of the war. ”

      I agree with that. There were far too many on the left that went along. But also, as you well know, the Republicans controlled all of Congress at that time.

      “I have no doubt at all that whatever happened would always be someones else’s fault, generally the last Republican within range.”

      That is absurd. “The left” blamed and went after those Democrats who failed to block the war. Hillary Clinton would be starting her second term as President in a few months if she had not supported the war. “The left” has always blamed everyone who was responsible – including our own.

      “I have no interest at all in any sort of leftist “fact-checking””

      I know. Y’all create your own little reality bubble and “facts” are an unwelcome guest. I guess it hasn’t struck you yet, but this really is an unsustainable course. This might be the core lesson to be learned from this election – live in the fantasy bubble for long enough, and the real world out there starts to look like a foreign country. So much of what I read on this blog seems to be written by people who have such a feeling about America – they no longer feel at home here. They think it is some problem with the country, but it is their problem – their addiction to life in the bubble.

    89. Xennady Says:

      JC,

      We just ain’t gonna agree, and at this point there isn’t much point in discussing it. Water under the bridge, etc.

      But I will note that the latest leftist talking point- that people who obtain information from sources other than the leftist “mainstream media”- are living in a “bubble” is just too precious.

      I have no doubt that it’s an idea being pushed by whatever has replaced “journalist” and hence will get a lot of airplay. Likely the dimwitted republican establishment will swallow it hook line and sinker, just like they believe everything they see in the new york times.

      But in reality very few conservatives see only conservative media because the left is so heavily into indoctrination that you can’t avoid the bovine excrement no matter how hard you try. It’s everywhere. It is certainly heavily discussed on conservative blogs and news sites, which is why I know not to trust leftist “fact checking”.

      It’s just more lies. Yawn. The left lies, and the sun rises. What’s for breakfast?

      So I think you’re the one living in the bubble. For a long time people who doubted the veracity of the leftist-dominated media could only wonder, and or quit reading.

      Now, there is an entire new media devoted to countering the nonsense. Telling people they live in a bubble- and hence should go back to watching the network news or reading the new online-only newsweek- just isn’t going to work.

    90. Anonymous Says:

      }}}} That is obvious too. “Leftists” see both sides of the ledger. You see only one. That is because your ideology demands of you that you only consider one solution. But there are other solutions that would work as well.

      Amaze us all by showing us a single, solitary time when the Democrats actually CUT spending on anything that wasn’t military… or a time when any military spending they DID cut wasn’t also accompanied by still more spending on some other pet cause that was greater than the cuts in the military….

      Go on… we can wait, while you search for an example.

    91. Anonymous Says:

      BTW, on the original topic, I consider this to be strongly worth reading (H/T: neo-neocon):

      How Conservatives Can Win in Blue-State America: Lessons from South Africa’s Opposition
      http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/11/11/How-to-Win-in-Blue-State-America-Lessons-from-South-Africa-s-Opposition

      We need to stop trying to move towards the left.

    92. Joe Citizen Says:

      Xennady,

      You just can’t help yourself (like most rightwingers) and you end up undermining your own argument:

      “But in reality very few conservatives see only conservative media because the left is so heavily into indoctrination that you can’t avoid the bovine excrement no matter how hard you try.”

      What this says, rather clearly, is that you have prejudged anything and everything that comes from sources other than the conservative propaganda machine to be “bovine excrement”. Thus it really makes no difference whether conservatives “see” all this stuff. Not only the opinions, but the inconvenient facts can never make any impression, since they have been dismissed before they are even read. This is exactly how the bubble is maintained.

      I realize (for these very reasons) that my words here cannot possible have any affect on you. Personally, even though your continued marginalization works to my political advantage, I do think it is a tragedy for the country. The country would be healthier if we could argue on top of a base of some common understanding, but oh well….

    93. Scotus Says:

      The best way to deal with Romney’s loss is not to “debate” trolls, but to put on some Frank Sinatra and have a little scotch (or other adult beverage). For the song may I suggest Jimmy Webb’s wonderful “Didn’t We.” Of course, the song is really about a love affair that didn’t quite work out, but it will serve our purposes too.

    94. Xennady Says:

      JC,

      I see you’re a concern troll. I’m touched.

      As I already said your assertion that I am “marginalized” because I’ve given up on any sort of good faith argument from the left simply doesn’t interest me. I also suspect that there is an organized effort to disseminate this idea, of which you are perhaps a participant.

      No matter. But I will add, just in case anyone else reading this fails to notice your bad faith, that by “see” I meant “exposed to the leftist argument” obviously implying some understanding and familiarity. In fact as leftist doctrine is essentially taught in public schools and universities as dogma, with dissent from leftist orthodoxy punished, I have no idea why you would bother to make the claim that conservatives aren’t familiar with it. Except bad faith, that is. Plus, vast numbers of conservatives are ex-leftists, as you should know.

      Personally, I used to read many leftist magazines- as many as my local public library happened to have- and I also used to be an avid watcher of political roundtable shows. So, yes, I have “seen” leftist arguments- and noticed that too often the “inconvenient facts” turn out to be nothing more than “baldfaced lies”.

      Alas. But I just couldn’t keep ignoring that. So, eventually, I lost interest in what the left had to say. Your silly assertions do nothing to change that.

    95. seaninsf Says:

      As a former reader of this blog (and most likely one considered “leftist”, although I personally consider my views to be center-left, if that) I was curious about the Boyz reaction to Obama’s victory. After reading through, I was going to post something but I think JC has expressed much of what I was going to say, at least about epistemic closure. So I’ll say something else.

      I have no love for the Republican party and would just as soon see it die. I think it’s proved itself to be a cancer on the American soul. America, and not just the Democratic party, deserves a better opposition. Given the demographics of our country and the current Republican platform, I think that would have a chance of happening, but I don’t think Republican elites will let it happen.

      The base, not to put too fine a point on it, has shown itself to be too radical and too uninformed to be entrusted with controlling the direction of the party. The Tea Party will be coopted – it has been already, we’ll see how those conservative idealists withstand the temptations of power and being mugged by reality – and the party elite will regain control and moderate the platform enough to make a future Republican nominee electable. It wouldn’t take very much: stop demonizing women/minorities/gays etc., basically drop the social right nutjobs and focus on fiscal responsibility soundbites instead, that will probably give you a fighting chance. Stop playing identity politics by trying to appeal to the Southern/white base the way Romney did – as Lindsey Graham inconveniently pointed out, there just aren’t enough angry white men around any longer to actually win that way.

      That’s my prediction anyway. Honestly, I hope it doesn’t happen and the base continues to cling to its guns, religion and (at least in the Republican party) power. That way I’ll never have to worry about a Republican president anytime soon.

    96. Death 6 Says:

      Trolls are amazing. Identity politics? So if the progressives specifically target groups like low income, GLBT, single women, students, Latinos, blacks, union members, alternative energy sector, public employees that is not identity politics? If conservatives do not support the progressive programs that result in the dependency and advance the social objectives of these groups that is demonizing those groups? Terms such as “angry white men”, “tea party radicals”, “social right nut jobs”, “Southern white base” and “cling to its guns, religion” are neither identity politics nor demonizing when used by a leftist troll?

      A “better opposition” would be the path to electability by competing in pandering to a wider group of group identities rather than trying to define and communicate a different vision of how our country is to be best governed? That is exactly what I would expect from a leftist who wishes the “cancer on the American soul” all the best on its way to a final death. No thanks, we got a pretty good grasp of the tint of your glasses through which you imagine you understand the world. If, for example, there aren’t enough support of voters for election of national candidates with a vision of limited government and individual responsibility flies in the face of the closeness of the popular vote, especially in the contested states.

      Turnout was a much more important factor than popular support. The Romney campaign was significantly flawed tactically, but enjoyed general support on the major issues. The politics of personal destruction employed by the Obama campaign and surrogates and the lack of effective response was a major factor in many of the contested states. The computerized and centralized Romney ground game crashed when it mattered most. But you guys go ahead and ignore those major tactical issues and continue it believe couldn’t have been otherwise due to a lack of “angry white men.” Heck, I’m not even angry.

      Mike

    97. seaninsf Says:

      Death6: Am not sure I follow you. The Democrats big tent consists of not picking on people – like gays, minorities, women, and union members. The Republican idea, consistent since the late 1960s with the “Southern Strategy”, has been to play on the fears of the shrinking white male majority, by picking on one or more of these groups. The “Southern Strategy” is identity politics, although I’ll freely admit that treating people with respect is identity politics too, merely of a more pleasing(in my opinion) variety.

      The issue is that morality and ethics aside, the Southern Strategy doesn’t cut it any more because it does not garner enough votes to actually win. And by the way, I’m not angry either. Bill O’Reilly/Rush/etc. on the other hand…

    98. Frankly Says:

      The “southern strategy” is yet another bogus liberal meme and is easily discredited with the slightest knowledge of history, unless you believe Carter (who won all the southern states), and Clinton (who split the southern states) ran as racists. You would also have to believe 44 states were racist in 1980, growing to 49 in 1984.