Barack Obama: He's Come Undone
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The majority of economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics believe that the federal deficit should be reduced only or primarily through spending cuts.
The survey out Monday found that 56 percent of the NABE members surveyed felt that way, while 37 percent said they favor equal parts spending cuts and tax increases. The remaining 7 percent believe it should be done only or mostly through tax increases.
Except for the Porsche 911, no vehicle has preserved its purity of essence like the Jeep Wrangler, an original creation as American as jazz and Kim Kardashian's rear end. Now its new Italian don has blessed it with the latest corporate power parts. Could change actually make the Jeep better?
The new 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, now the go-to power for all things Chrysler, sports 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, weighs 90 pounds less that the boat-anchor 3.8. Changes for Wrangler duty include new intakes, exhaust and an alternator that will give mechanics a "hey, lookit" moment: To ensure the engine could survive the Wrangler plowing into 30 inches of water, the alternator was not only raised but reversed, with its pulley facing the block. Behind it is Chrysler's five-speed automatic transmission, the one 80% of buyers will take, along with the carryover six-speed manual for those who want to keep the mule whip in their hands.
On pavement, the Wrangler now gallops to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds — a full three seconds faster than the previous edition. Combined with last year's extreme interior improvements and some additional soundproofing, no longer does driving a Wrangler on a freeway resemble marshaling mountain goats through a windstorm. There's still more noise than a family sedan, and the Bridgestones' chatter comes through the floor, but it's at a dinner-table level, not "Bad Girls Club." The five-speed plays well with the V6, blipping the throttle before downshifts and letting it brush redline under a full boot.
The steering still remains more truck than car, but the suspension doesn't attempt to exhaust passengers with urgent updates about road seams; it also tracks towards just slight understeer. The weakest link is the brakes; soft as a deep-fried butter stick, you find the pedal down a few inches before the orders arrive to the wheels…
It's situations like this where the utter genius of Jeep engineering kicks in. At 2,000 rpm, the new 3.6 is pumping 96% of its total torque. Thanks to the extra lubed ring in the five-speed gearbox, a 2012 Jeep with the standard 3.73 rear axle sports a better crawl ratio — the measure of how that torque is multiplied through the axles to the rocks — than last year's Rubicon with the heavy-duty 4.10 axle. With the front sway bars electronically disconnected, the catawampus tires simply took an extra swig from the accelerator and moved on. Yes, the track was arranged by Jeep for Jeep — but few vehicles can survive crawling through holes large enough to swallow a Smart.
The good news on prices is that Chrysler held the base sticker at par with the old model, around $22,000. The bad news is that fully loaded varieties quickly ascend to heights of $34,000, and since Chrysler is setting sales records for Jeep Wranglers and struggling to keep up with demand, there's no plans to either adapt the four-cylinder diesel those sooty Europeans get or build a pickup truck at the factory.
THE ANNOTATED RICK PERRY. He’s the son of penniless tenant farmers? I thought all Republicans were born-rich fatcats who went to prep schools and private universities.
Plus this: “When he reads a speech without his teleprompter, as in Charleston, he is more fluent and natural than when President Obama reads a speech with his.”
UPDATE: The intellectually incurious Barack Obama. “Obama’s just-released ‘summer reading list’ doesn’t offer a lot of evidence even for the ‘reads very widely’ thesis. It’s heavy on the wrenching stories of immigrant experiences, something the President already knows quite a bit about. … Maybe the release of this list is a bit of politicized PR BS designed to help the President out. If so, it’s sending the wrong message. Which leads me to suspect it might actually be real.”
As I’ve said before, for all the talk there’s not much actual evidence that Barack Obama is especially bright.
AN EPIDEMIC OF FALSE RAPE ACCUSATIONS IN BALTIMORE? “More than 30 percent of the cases investigated by detectives each year are deemed unfounded, five times the national average.”
THE BUSH DEMOCRACY AGENDA ROLLS ON, ACCOMPANIED BY BOMBS:
W’s Third Term In The Middle East. “That truth is that the United States has become more powerful in the Middle East today than at any time since the early 1950s. Perhaps not since President Eisenhower’s CIA helped restore the Shah in Iran has the US loomed this large in the political calculations of Middle Eastern regimes. . . . President Obama is pushing a democracy agenda in the Middle East that is as aggressive as President Bush’s; he adopts regime change by violence if necessary as a core component of his regional approach and, to put it mildly, he is not afraid to bomb. But where President Bush’s tough guy posture (‘Bring ‘Em On!’) alienated opinion abroad and among liberals at home, President Obama’s reluctant warrior stance makes it easier for others to work with him.”
Plus this: “In many ways we are living through George W. Bush’s third term in the Middle East, and neither President Obama’s friends nor his enemies want to admit it.”
...Among litigators, there is no presidential candidate who inspires the same level of hatred – and fear – as Perry, an avowed opponent of the plaintiffs’ bar who has presided over several rounds of tort reform as governor. … That’s a potential financial boon to a president who has unsettled trial lawyers with his own rhetorical gestures in the direction of tort reform. … Democratic Houston trial lawyer Steve Mostyn – who, along with his wife, Amber, donated nearly $9 million to Texas candidates and party committees in the 2010 cycle – said he’s in the process of forming “some federal PACs” to take on Perry. That will likely include a federal super PAC that could take in the kind of massive donations that are permitted in Texas.
Giving an interesting insight into the President's decision to not call Congress back from its summer break to tackle the problems facing the nation was New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd who wrote Sunday:
Americans are rattled and want action. They don’t know or care what Congress’s schedule is. They just see the president not doing anything.
Cruising white Midwestern hamlets in his black bus, Obama tried to justify not calling lawmakers back to D.C. by saying they’d just continue to bicker. But what does he think they’ll do in September? The truth is, he doesn’t want them back in the capital any more than they want to be back. It would have screwed up his vacation and upset Michelle, who already feels trapped in the Washington bubble.
“He is a moron.”
After graduating from the climbing walls of his late teens in California to the nomadic lifestyle of an international climber, Alex Honnold, 26, claims fear has become irrelevant to him. His achievements include climbing the iconic north-west face of the Half Dome in America's Yosemite National Park and tackling the 2,500ft cliffs near to Borneo's Kota Kinabalu peak. Mr Honnold made his name at the age of 23, when he free climbed Yosemite's Half Dome in just two hours and fifty minutes, an ascent which usually takes between one or two days.
Freddy Nock took 90 minutes to edge to the top of the Zugspritze mountain in south Bavaria - without any safety equipment. The Swiss-born tightrope artist now plans to submit his feat to the Guinness Book of Records as the 'longest and highest wire walk above sea level without a balancing pole.'
Demand In China Slopes Downward
Geely Automobile Holdings Co., whose parent owns Volvo Cars, fell to its lowest in almost two years in Hong Kong trading after saying demand for vehicles in China is showing signs of slowing. Geely dropped 6.1 percent to HK$2.15 at the 4 p.m. close, the lowest since Oct. 5, 2009, and extending this year's decline to 37%. The benchmark Hang Seng Index gained 0.5%. The automaker's shares dropped even after reporting first-half profit today that beat analysts' estimates. Inflation and economic policy tightening in the world's second-biggest economy pose "significant" threats, and demands for sedans in the country is "slackening", Geely said in a statement today
“The post-war era witnessed not only the triumph of Keynesian economics, but also the establishment of public pensions throughout the Western world. Almost all these pension plans were set up on a pay-as-you-go basis that provided high rates of return to the first generation of pensioners (which, perhaps not coincidentally, was the generation that voted them into existence) at the cost of an unfunded commitment to later generations. Public pension plans are the biggest element in the off-balance-sheet obligations of states, which also include unfunded health-insurance liabilities and the 2008 guarantees to the banking system. In most countries these ‘implicit’ public debts dwarf their traditional obligations traded in the bond market. In the United States, the total long-term commitments for Social Security, public sector pensions, and Medicare have been estimated at over 300 percent of GDP on the basis of current policies.”
Debts that cannot be paid, won’t be. Commitments that cannot be honored, won’t be. Guarantees that can’t be followed through on, won’t be.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Social Security disability program on verge of insolvency.
IT’S ALL OVER for the University Of Wisconsin Teaching Assistants’ union. “The TAA was central to the protests that took place at the Capitol last February and March.” They will not be missed.
Plus, from the comments: “The nail in the coffin was no longer having ‘union dues …automatically deducted from the paychecks of the 2,700-2,800 graduate teaching assistants at Madison’.” Yep. Without the government to collect their cash for them, they’re not viable.
After a morning of heavy fighting near Muammar al-Qaddafi's Tripoli compound, rebel forces control at least 95 percent of the capital city, though the whereabouts of the Libyan leader remain unknown.