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Sunday, October 09, 2011

Gingrich and Cain on the Vital Issues

Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich appeared on Face the Nation October 9, 2011 (see #1) to tackle three vital issues affecting the future of every American over the next five years:

* Can Mormons be considered sufficiently Christian to a bunch of religious fundamentalists in Dallas, Texas?
* Why are a bunch of economically under-achieving ingrates making it difficult for the people on Wall Street to get to work so they can create more jobs?
* Are subpoenas for federal judges issuing rulings I don't like the best way to get rulings I like?

Let's see how they did.

My Religion's Older Than Yours

The first round of questions involved recent comments about Mormonism versus Christianity and each discipline's proper place on the sliding scale between "cult" and "legitimate faith".

Schieffer: Do you think that Mitt Romney is a Christian?

Gingrich: I think he's a Mormon and Mormons define themselves as a branch of Christianity.

Schieffer: Do you think Mormons are Christians?

Cain: I believe that they believe that they're Christians based on their definition but getting into whether or not they're more Christian than another group, I don't think that's relevant to this campaign.


Both attempted to put the politically correct number of rhetorical miles between themselves and the inflammatory comments of the leader of one religious sect about the beliefs of those in another religious sect. It's a delicate balance, really. One cannot just come right out and label the comments for what they are -- ignorant, moronic and UNRELATED to anything actually happening in the country -- cuz after all, one still needs the votes of a lot of religious conservatives to win the Republican nomination. However, one cannot exactly high five the people supporting those comments without alienating another thirty percent of independent voters needed in the general election.

What both failed to directly address is the Grand Canyon sized fissure within the Republican base that could tank the party in 2012 and beyond. If the larger party cannot prevent an ever-shrinking minority from restricting the candidate pool to a subset of the population pure enough to satisfy the dogmatic preferences of some religious nut in Texas, social and fiscal moderates will leave the party and independent voters will flock to Democratic candidates or those from some future separate party. On the plus side, future Republican primaries will be a cinch. The only ten people pure enough to decide who gets to run will be the only ten left in the party so it will be the same ten candidates for office every election.


I Thought Small Business Created All Jobs In America

Bob Schieffer quickly turned to the protests on Wall Street and in many other American cities. He started by playing a clip of a prior comment from Herman Cain:

And to be angry at somebody because they're successful is anti-0American in my opinion. Secondly, this is a distraction from the failed policies of the Obama administration. Why be mad you don't have a job at the bankers on Wall Street? They're the ones that help create the jobs.

BZZZZZT.

Cain may have won a few style points with the true believers occupying the Cxx level offices in the TBTF banks but earned zero content points with anyone with a brain with an answer that ignores the following facts:

* the executives and traders on Wall Street were spectacularly UN-successful, hence TARP
* all of the failed policies involved with the meltdown (including TARP, if you're so inclined) were all executed during the Bush Administration
* the meltdown of 2008 was so steep that statistics on the collapse took over two years to re-calibrate to the true number -- a drop in GDP of negative 8.9% in 4Q2008 and a net drop of 5.1 percent between 1Q2008 and 2Q2009, the worst performance since 1947 (see #2)
* Who said bankers create jobs? I thought small businesses and entrepreneurs created the majority of jobs in America. At least, that's what the Republican platform says when it's touting the "small-town America, mom-and-pop business and small farmer as the backbone of the economy" tripe every election season.

After Cain's answer, Gingrich rang in with this answer:

I think the sad thing is, this is the natural product of Obama's class warfare. We have had a strain of hostility to free enterprise and frankly, a strain of hostility to classic America starting in our academic institutions and spreading across this country and I regard the Wall Street protesters as a natural outcome of a bad education system teaching them really dumb ideas. I was with 35 realtors in Buford, South Carolina on Wednesday who are looking at a disaster in housing but they know that it's the Dodd-Frank bill, it's the Obama administration, it's Bernanke and Geithner and they're focusing their anger on the people who are causing them pain. They're not angry about other people being successful, they're angry about an Obama administration stopping them from having the chance to be successful.

BZZZZT. BZZZZZT.

Real estate agents are angry? Real estate agents think the Obama Administration is preventing them from being successful?

Real estate agents are right up there with bankers in personal, DIRECT culpability for the meltdown that hit their profession. They ARE professionals, right? Highly versed in the long term trends of local markets and the mechanics of home financing and affordability? Location, location, location and all of that, right? That's what the CEO of ReMax kept telling me in TV ads -- "there's never been a better time to buy a home."

Or are they merely one of many players extracting their cut for merely being present during a very complicated, expensive financial transaction? Shouldn't they have known that prior to 2004, families earning $70,000 per year didn't typically qualify for a $300,000 mortgage unless something was awry in the market? What were those real estate "professionals" telling their clients in 2002 when this started happening with home prices?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shiller_IE2_Fig_2-1.png

Shouldn't they have known that prior to 2004, long term home price increases never outpaced inflation by more than 0.4% except during WWII after recovering from the Depression? I supposed those 3% and 6% commissions on extra volume on inflated prices paid for a lot of Xanax and Ambien to let them sleep at night.


Newt Explains the Balance of Powers

The final portion of the conversation focused on comments Gingrich recently made about the relationship between the Supreme Court and the Legislative and Executive branches and one particular case involving a judge in San Antonio. You can believe what you want about the San Antonio ruling which barred a prayer at a public school but you should also know that the judge's ruling was OVERTURNED -- in a few days -- by a superior court. Think about that. A case was brought to a judge, the judge reviewed the arguments presented, made a ruling, citizens objected, appealed the case to a higher court and the higher court ruled on this issue of VITAL importance to the future of Texas teenagers in a matter of days. I presume the only way the issue could have been resolved any faster is if it somehow involved the school football team.

Gingrich has his own solution to the problem of out-of-control judges whose decisions are "corrected" in a matter of days. In his speech to the Value Voters summit, Gingrich jokingly (???) suggested punishing "out of control" judges and courts by simply denying them funding for clerks. Or subpoenaing judges issuing rulings with which he doesn't agree to appear before Congress. Intrigued by this novel approach to checks and balances, Bob Schieffer asked Ginrich how such a plan would work. Here's how the dialogue went:


Schieffer: Well how in the world would you do that? They 're in one branch of government...

Gingrich: You subpoena them.

Schieffer: But one branch of government can't subpoena people in the other branches of government..

Gingrich: Of course you can.

Schieffer: They don't have to honor the subpoenas.

Gingrich: Bob if that's true, then the court can't say something to the Congress either can it? By your standards, this Supreme Court cannot dictate to the President and cannot dictate to the Congress. But they do. And there are clear provisions in the Constitution to re-balance it.


BZZZZT. BZZZZZT. BZZZZZT.

I think the Ouija board Gingrich is trying to use to channel the minds of Jefferson, Adams, Paine, Madison and the other authors of the Constitution has been hijacked somehow to the mind of some guy trying to sell term papers for hire on the web to high school civics students destined for Ds trying to steal a C.

The checks and balances in the Constitution don't always provide one branch direct (dictatorial) power over another. Many of the checks are more akin to each branch controlling some of the oxygen supply to the others, giving each an incentive to seek a middle ground allowing all three to continue functioning and serving the public. Before appearing in public again, Newt might want to calibrate his planchette pointer thingy so the board spells out the following basics when asked questions about the balance of power in the Constitution:

1) The Legislative branch gets to MAKE the laws and authorize spending.
2) The Executive branch gets to EXECUTE the laws -- faithfully and consistently -- and SPEND the money.
3) The Judicial branch gets to INTERPRET the laws when disputes arise about meaning or intent.
4) The Executive branch can check the Judicial branch through appointments.
5) The Legislative branch can check Executive appointments to the Judiciary via "advise and consent."
6) The Judicial branch can check the Executive and Legislative branches by declaring laws un-Constitution and hence unenforceable.
7) The Legislative branch can check the Executive branch via the power of the purse, veto overrides and impeachment.
8) The Legislative branch can check the Judicial branch by working for changes to the Constitution and by impeaching judges.

---------------------

So after the final round of this edition of Republican Primary Jeopardy, the scores are Cain minus $4000, Gingrich minus $8000 and the American public an even $0.


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#1) http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/10/09/ftn/main20117827.shtml

#2) http://www.bea.gov/faq/index.cfm?faq_id=1004