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From: Glenn Petersen5/13/2012 9:36:18 AM
7 Recommendations   of 564962
 
Welcome to Walkerland Gov. Scott Walker’s dominant position in Wisconsin is a thing of wonder.

By David Weigel
Slate
Posted Friday, May 11, 2012, at 5:05 PM ET

OSHKOSH, Wis.—If you get bored in Wisconsin, play a game. Drive a few miles through any neighborhood. Count the signs that read “We Stand With Scott Walker,” or “I Stand With Scott Walker,” or “Scott Walker: Believe in Wisconsin.” Try and figure out what the houses have in common.

You won’t. There are pieces of Walkerian flair outside of barns on Highway 41, near working-class ranch homes in Appleton, and in the tony part of Oshkosh that Sen. Ron Johnson calls home. On one stretch of Highway 26, somebody’s propped up an unused toilet with a sign reading, “Deposit recall petitions here.” Next to that, a Walker sign that crosses out half of the phrase “for governor” and adds “president.”

The public displays of affection for Walker can put you in mind of October 2008, when placing a HOPE poster or Shepard Fairey print in your window told neighbors about your politics and taste. The Walker gear is easily attained at one of the 20 “victory centers” promoted by the campaign. I stopped by half a dozen of them—local Republican offices temporarily converted to the cause. In the front of the Winnebago County office, a digital sign counted down the days to the June 5 recall. A cardboard Walker stand-up faced visitors from behind a podium. A handmade sign portrayed two cartoon burglars looking around as they hauled bags of pilfered goods.

Inside, a 61-year-old grandmother named Diane Malecki was putting pro-Walker buttons in a tackle box. She would sell the gear at this weekend’s Republican conference in Green Bay. While we talked, a supporter bought one of the buttons Malecki had designed: A sheriff’s star with the legend, Walker, Taxes Ranger.

“The table and chair in this office—this came from my mom’s house,” said Malecki. “We had to rehab it. She wore down the wood, writing and reading and writing to Congress. She was like a one-person Tea Party! She’d even write on the backs of the envelopes. I’d ask her: ‘Why are you writing on there?’ And she’d say, ‘It doesn’t hurt the postman to learn something.’”

The Walker campaign—the one currently leading in polls—is what every Republican presidential candidate tried and failed to build. There’s a perfect link-up here between Tea Party, Republican Party, and megadonor. Walker’s TV ads run constantly; the Democratic ads don’t. Walker’s swag is everywhere, paid for by $25 million in donations, two-thirds of which dropped in from outside Wisconsin. Tom Barrett, Walker’s Democratic competition, has raised less than $1 million.

The yawning money gap grew out of a loophole in campaign finance law. From the start of the recall process until the date the election was official—five full months—Walker’s campaign was able to raise unlimited money from any source. Sheldon Adelson cut him a $500,000 check. Diane Hendricks, one of the state’s richest women, gave Walker $510,000, becoming the biggest donor to a single candidate in state history.

Democrats have responded the way that massively out-spent people must respond: They’ve made a vice out of it. On Thursday, they shot up flares about a video, from 2011, in which Walker confidently told Hendricks about his “divide and conquer” strategy. Walker’s been answering that sort of attack with the script he wrote back during the union-led Capitol coup.

“The reason we had to raise the kind of money we raised was because of the tens of millions of dollars that have come in from outside of the state from special interests in Washington,” said Walker at his Tuesday night primary victory speech, inside a packed Waukesha victory center. “They funded the protests to begin with. They funded the attacks in the Supreme Court race. [A 2011 retention election became a proxy fight over Walker’s labor and tax reforms.] You guys all know it well here—they spent tens of millions of dollars in the Senate recall election, and they’re going to spend tens and tens of millions of dollars trying to take me out.”

The “they” in any given Walker sentence is the labor movement. Labor isn’t shy about this: It beats Walker or it’s hobbled, probably for good, in power and in reputation. So Republicans aim to divide them. They point to the post-primary unity rally—labor locking arms with the victorious and defeated Democrats—that these guys were supposed to hold in Madison. Forty-eight hours before the election, Democrats scrapped the rally, announcing that their candidates would have breakfast at the winner’s house instead. Labor would go ahead and rally at the Capitol.

“That’s our big ace in the hole,” said Ben Sparks, spokesman for the Wisconsin GOP. “If you look at the Democrats, their ground game is normally a loose aggregation of outside groups. They’ve got a bunch of labor unions who have their own, little bitty grassroots run by each—We Are Wisconsin, United Wisconsin, and so on, and then the campaign itself. They’re chopped up into little groups.”

On the ground, there isn’t any real Democratic division. Organizing for America is pushing its staff and activists to work on the recall. But labor-backed Kathleen Falk blew $4 million on a campaign that lost to Barrett. The outside groups helping Walker haven’t wasted a cent. Americans for Prosperity, the national Tea Party group chaired by David Koch, has spent $3 million on ads bucking up Walker; it’s got grassroots organizers across the state.

Its last campaign ad went on air in conjunction with the MacIver Institute, a think tank that opened its offices in a Capitol Square high-rise just three years ago. MacIver sends video reporters to protests, often coming away with Breitbart-friendly proof of labor or Democrats behaving badly. One example from 2011: footage of pro-labor doctors offering bogus notes to protesters who wanted to take sick days. On Thursday, MacIver President Brett Healy met me for iced coffee on the square. The conversation was interrupted, occasionally, by the small-but-loud anti-Walker rally that happens every weekday at noon.

“It’s fascinating,” he said. “What kicked this all off, what kicked off all the turmoil and recalls, was Act 10 and the changes to collective bargaining. And those issues were largely absent from the Senate recalls in 2011. They’re largely absent from Gov. Walker's recall. I must assume that the left has done some polling and their data shows that the public isn’t with them on those issues. So, they have a big question: Is their enthusiasm waning?”

The Walker campaign and the supportive 501c3s don’t campaign on the reforms, specifically. Walker's ads repeat a few friendly numbers—the jobs added in Wisconsin this year ( he rounds up), the jobs that Barrett’s Milwaukee has lost (Walker no longer has to defend a record as Milwaukee County executive)—and sum up the Democratic record as “double-digit tax increases and record job loss.” Barrett attacks Walker for starting an “ideological civil war.” Walker just says that the war is over. “Do we want to go back and rehash the debates we had last year?” he asked at a campaign rally in La Crosse this week. “Or do we want to take the positive reforms we made and move this state forward?”

Walker’s supporters agree with a vehemence you rarely find in state elections. On Tuesday, as Walker—surprisingly— got nearly as many votes as the Democrats running against him, I visited a few polling places and met the people toting the free signs. Scott Perzentka, who runs a pier-building business, voted for Walker in Oshkosh, then headed back to his truck with Walker and biker’s-rights signs. Perzentka survived a horrific motorcycle crash in 2003. The experience made him a kind of activist. As he rebuilt his life, it also reinforced his belief that people had to earn what they had, and that unions existed to puff up the salaries of people who didn’t work.

“Seventy-five years ago they were out for the little guy,” he said, “and now they’re out for themselves.”

slate.com

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From: LindyBill5/13/2012 9:37:08 AM
6 Recommendations   of 564962
 
Yes, Arianna, We Have No Bananas
by David P. Goldman [SPENGLER]

Arianna Huffington, a liberal media prima donna and Internet purveyor of celebrity gossip, offers the silliest advice we have heard so far to the beleaguered people of Greece in today’s New York Times. Her advice sets a new high water mark for liberal stupidity, both for the author, and for the newspaper that chose to print it.

Greece should default on its foreign debt, she avers, like Argentina:

Argentina, which defaulted and restructured beginning in 2001, offers a point of comparison. The austerity crowd warned that Argentina would collapse if it stopped pegging the peso to the dollar and defaulted on its debt. There are many differences between Argentina and Greece. But Argentina’s default was followed by a few short months of economic crisis and then many years of steady economic growth — a dramatically different direction than the one Greece is now taking toward a potentially endless path of contraction that is destroying millions of lives and crippling the indomitable Greek spirit.

The trouble is that Greece is another banana republic without bananas. Argentina is a commodity exporter that won the lottery when commodity prices soared. In 2010 the country exported $68 billion worth of goods, mainly food, oil and metals, and imported $56 billion, with a trade surplus at about 3% of GDP. If you have a trade surplus, you don’t need the international lending market. You can pay cash.

Greece, by contrast, had a trade deficit in 2010 of $22 billion, equal to 7% of GDP. In 2011, both the deficit and GDP shrank, and the deficit remained at 6% of GDP. If Greece defaults, it will be unable to borrow the 6% of GDP it requires to finance this deficit, and it will be reduced to cash-and-carry trade–which means that it will cut imports by the equivalent of 6% of GDP. It appears that arithmetic wasn’t on the syllabus when Mrs. Huffington went up to Cambridge.

Her encomium begins with a sentimental portrait of her self-sacrificing mother, and concludes:

Greece, like my mother, has always been devoted above all else to its children. When the future of those children is diminished, the future — and life — of the country will be diminished, too.

If only the Greeks still troubled to have children, Mrs. Huffington’s sentiments would have more resonance. Greek fertility (number of children per female) fell to only 1.28 in 2005, the rock bottom of the European pile.

PeriodTotal fertility
1950-1955 2.29
1955-1960 2.27
1960-1965 2.20
1965-1970 2.38
1970-1975 2.32
1975-1980 2.32
1980-1985 1.96
1985-1990 1.53
1990-1995 1.37
1995-2000 1.30
2000-2005 1.28
Source: United Nations

The unfortunate Greeks, as it turns out, were not selling their jewelry to send their children to school, as Mrs. Huffington claims her mother did; in fact, they weren’t having many children at all. They were borrowing wildly from the rest of the world to live the good life. The average Greek owns six properties due to emigration and depopulation, because whoever is left inherited whatever there was to inherit. A large part of the population lives by renting or selling these properties to tourists (for payment in cash, or wire transfer to Lichtenstein). Taxi drivers take three-month vacations. A third of the economy is off the books. Corruption is endemic.

Greece well may default on its debt; the parties that favor cooperating with the European Community’s bailout-and-austerity plan did not get enough votes to form a government in last week’s election, and its political system presently is in chaos. If Greece does default, the result will be a vastly devalued currency, and a massive reduction of wealth for all Greeks. When Greek land and labor have become cheap enough, money will flow back in and pick up the bargains. And the Greeks will endure an economic dark age, a horrible example for feckless and spendthrift countries. Talented and educated Greeks (like Mrs. Huffington) will emigrate, and adverse selection will leave a rump population to gnaw on the bare bone of resentment. Infertility will hollow out the remaining population, and eventually turn Greece into a beachhead for impecunious North Africans seeking entry into Europe. At present fertility, the working-age population of Greece will fall by half over the present century.

If America is foolish enough to return politicians of Mrs. Huffington’s ilk in November, something similar will happen to us

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To: LindyBill who wrote (486897)5/13/2012 9:42:50 AM
From: D. Long
   of 564962
 
Standard Brown BS. Won't cut a dime from the public employees

He couldn't cut a dime if he wanted to. Remember the Governator in 2009 tried and Obama threatened to withhold federal money?

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To: D. Long who wrote (486928)5/13/2012 9:47:27 AM
From: LindyBill
9 Recommendations   of 564962
 
Brown rode into office in 1970 the first time as Governor and started the Destruction of Calif. Now he is presiding over the end of it. I love it.

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From: LindyBill5/13/2012 9:49:10 AM
3 Recommendations   of 564962
 
Update on the Higher Education Bubble
from Power Line by Steven Hayward
(Steven Hayward)
Seven years of student loan interest down the drain!


Today’s New York Times has a long front-page feature on student loan debt. Nothing really new here that anyone paying attention doesn’t already know, though there are a couple of brush strokes in the article that ought to provoke more than the usual chin-pulling among enlightened Times readers. One of them is the first example, Marlene Griffith, who graduates today from Ohio Northern University after having taken on $120,000 in debt to earn a degree in marketing, and is having to work two restaurant jobs and live with her parents to afford the monthly payments on her student loans.

“As an 18-year-old, it sounded like a good fit to me, and the school really sold it,” said Ms. Griffith, a marketing major. “I knew a private school would cost a lot of money. But when I graduate, I’m going to owe like $900 a month. No one told me that.”

Stop right there. “No one told me that”??? Is secondary education nowadays so bad that you can’t figure out the monthly principal and interest cost of a loan? Maybe my primary education was superior (though it was in a public school), but I learned how to do this, and the perils of compound interest on debt, in the seventh grade. And why don’t our “consumer-friendly” regulators requiring student loan vendors to provide a monthly cost estimate as all mortgage lenders are required to do?

On the other side of the coin is a generation of college executives who deserve the fiscal-educational equivalent of keel-hauling.

“I readily admit it,” said E. Gordon Gee, the president of Ohio State University, who has also served as president of Vanderbilt and Brown, among others. “I didn’t think a lot about costs. I do not think we have given significant thought to the impact of college costs on families.”

Easy for Mr. Gee to say, with his $2 million pay package at Ohio State. But remember, for Times readers it’s private-sector CEOs of major corporations that employ tens of thousands of people and do multi-billions in sales that are overpaid, and don’t you forget it. Seems to me there’s some easy budget items to cut starting in the executive suites of most colleges and universities.

Of course, economists and many parents say that the only thing worse than graduating with lots of debt is not going to college at all, since study after study has shown that graduates earn more over a lifetime. And most college students in the United States manage to eventually pay back their student loans.


Going Gaga: a metaphysical abyss


I wonder if this will remain true of the current generation of students graduating now. Especially if they’ve spent time in any of the courses the Fiscal Times identified as the ten craziest college classes that cost big bucks, such as “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame” at the University of South Carolina (course cost: $3,150 for out of state students); or “The Phallus” at Occidental College (course cost: $5,370); or “DJ History, Culture, and Technique” at New York University (course cost: $4,636). I’ll bet our own Scott Johnson could teach a better music class for half that amount. As for the various “oppression studies” departments like black studies, womens’ studies, etc, well I guess the irony is lost on all the folks who take out loans to study these rotten fields. Oops—I forgot; we’re not supposed to say that.

The cushioned world of higher education—the industrial-education complex anyone?—deserves to collapse flatter and harder than the housing sector. And it probably will.

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To: FUBHO who wrote (486911)5/13/2012 9:54:18 AM
From: average joe
12 Recommendations   of 564962
 
“They do not want to own your fortune, they want you to lose it; they do not want to succeed, they want you to fail; they do not want to live, they want you to die; they desire nothing, they hate existence, and they keep running, each trying not to learn that the object of his hatred is himself . . . . They are the essence of evil, they, those anti-living objects who seek, by devouring the world, to fill the selfless zero of their soul. It is not your wealth that they’re after. Theirs is a conspiracy against the mind, which means: against life and man.”

– Ayn Rand, “The Age of Envy”, in her book Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution


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To: LindyBill who wrote (486918)5/13/2012 10:20:26 AM
From: skinowski
1 Recommendation   of 564962
 
Due to the globalized rise of Asia, there are now a billion new consumers in China, India, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, with money to buy California fruits, nuts, beef, and fiber. And while the state’s students have never been more unprepared in science and math, California high tech farming—run by just a few thousand entrepreneurs—has never been more sophisticated and ingenious. Never have there been so many new hybrid species of trees, vines, and row crops, never so much mechanization and replacement of manual labor, never so much sophisticated computerized irrigation and fertilization. Just when I think no more production can be squeezed out of an acre, no more markets can be found for yet another 1,000-acre block of almonds or pistachios, no more new machines can figure out how to eliminate labor, prices keeps soaring and the profit margins keep growing—and in a government induced depression no less.


Agriculture is doing well. Next time when you are in the supermarket, getting upset about food prices going up, remember that nowadays the entire world is trying to buy the same food, and has the money to pay for it.

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To: LindyBill who wrote (486895)5/13/2012 10:28:27 AM
From: DMaA
1 Recommendation   of 564962
 
It isn't just the coal industry that they are trying to shut down. They begrudge a few already active mines but they fight every proposed new mine literally to death. There seems to be unlimited funds, unlimited regulations, unlimited lawyers to make sure of that.

Are we supposed to import ALL our minerals?

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To: LindyBill who wrote (486927)5/13/2012 10:35:29 AM
From: skinowski
1 Recommendation   of 564962
 
Spengler belongs to a rare breed -- he is a realistic and credible observer and commentator. And he knows what he is talking about.

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To: average joe who wrote (486931)5/13/2012 10:36:20 AM
From: goldworldnet
2 Recommendations   of 564962
 
That picture isn't real because you can tell the letters are computer font.

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