Is Ted Cruz 2016 for real?
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Texas is home to the biggest lode of GOP donor money in the country. If Cruz can successfully woo this money, he becomes a serious presidential candidate: not necessarily a winner in the general election (see Romney, Mitt), but at least somebody who can be nominated. If he fails to secure substantial contributions from the Texas Big Donors, then he's Rick Santorum: a candidate with base appeal, but no hope for the prize.
The Financial Times (paywalled, but if you register, you can read 8 stories a month for free) reports on efforts by a pair of United States Senators - Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Republican David Vitter of Louisiana - to force stricter capital requirements on our biggest banks.
Last week Mr Brown and Mr Vitter unveiled their latest draft legislation on the topic, which would sharply increase the capital requirements on the largest banks with assets of more than $500bn, forcing them to hold 15 per cent equity against their assets.
Analysts at Goldman Sachs calculate the increased capital is worth about $1.2tn, which would equate to the largest banks forgoing dividends and share buybacks for up to 15 years. If shareholders accepted that, they would also have to accept a permanently lower return on equity. Many in the industry believe the economics would not work: the biggest banks might have to break up to escape the tougher regime. Mr Vitter and Mr Brown could live with that – and believe others can, too.
They acknowledge they're at least 20 votes shy (remember, it effectively takes 60 in today's Senate because of the filibuster) of being able to pass such legislation, so don't get too excited/worried just yet.
National Review's Robert Costa has some terrifying news for moderate Republicans: Texas Senator Ted Cruz is flirting with a 2016 presidential run.
Wary of potential candidates like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican so squishy he might be able to win 270 electoral votes, hardliners are falling behind the Senate's most abrasive new member.
Enter Cruz. His supporters argue that he’d be a Barry Goldwater type — a nominee who would rattle the Republican establishment and reconnect the party with its base – but with better electoral results.
No jobs questions were asked at today's presidential news conference. If elite interest in joblessness has collapsed, however, it's not because the emergency has been resolved. On the contrary, Thomson Reuters reports that
More than 40 percent of recent U.S. college graduates are underemployed or need more training to get on a career track, a poll released Tuesday showed. The online survey of 1,050 workers who finished school in the past two years and 1,010 who will receive their degree in 2013 also found that many graduates, some heavily in debt because of the cost of their education, say they are in jobs that do not require a college degree.
By the way, let's not be sexist about this. It's not only men who get drunk and shoot their wives … sometimes wives get drunk and shoot their husbands.
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Here's a story from Pennsylvania, yesterday:
PARKSIDE — A borough woman allegedly shot and killed her husband early Saturday as he was teaching her to use a gun for the first time while they were drinking in their home, according to police and documents supporting her arrest on involuntary manslaughter and related offenses.
School shootings are rare. Gun use against violent intruders is also rare.
The real world of American gun use looks more like this:
You buy the gun to protect your home and family. But one day, your wife gets sassy. Maybe you've had a drink or two. And then … bang.
A Columbia [Tennessee] man accidentally shot himself in the knee while drawing a gun during a domestic dispute with his wife and was jailed four days later after being treated for the injury, according to an incident report.
And despite all the Malthusian nonsense, we've still got plenty of oil and natural gas, reports the National Journal's Amy Harder.
The United States has double the amount of oil and three times the amount of natural gas than previously thought, stored deep under the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana, according to new data the Obama administration released Tuesday.
In announcing the new data in a conference call, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell also said the administration will release within weeks draft rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing, technology that has come under scrutiny for its environmental impact but that is essential to developing all of this energy.
“These world-class formations contain even more energy-resource potential than previously understood, which is important information as we continue to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil,” Jewell said in a statement.
The Washington Examiner's Tim Carney takes up the question at the Atlantic, and I think you'll find his conclusions quite fascinating.
Voters despise government officials who get in bed with corporations. But what about corporations who cozy up to government? Are companies who use cronyism to grow their profit acting unethically?
The question makes some free-marketeers uneasy. After all, we not only tolerate the fierce pursuit of profit, but also we defend it against taxes and heavy-handed regulation. Milton Friedman famously said, "The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits."
But in the age of crony capitalism, libertarians must declare that some means of pursuing profit are immoral and call on executives to reject them. This would create a positive case for capitalism -- arguing that the pursuit of profit, in the context of fair and open competition, helps the whole society. The new corporate social responsibility, redefined for libertarians, must stand athwart crony corporatism yelling "stop."
Jamelle Bouie writes at the Washington Post that if Mitt Romney had secured the same percentage of the African-American vote as George W. Bush, he'd be president today.
[H]igh African American turnout — coupled with average white turnout — means that black voters have an outsized effect on the popular vote, relative to their percentage of the population. This gave Obama a great advantage in last year’s election. Essentially, he could win by substituting new black voters for lost white ones. And that’s what he did. His popular vote margin in Ohio, for example, can be explained solely by higher black turnout.
The flipside of this is that Republicans can greatly improve their position in presidential elections by just winning more black voters. Without near-unanimous support from African Americans, states like Virginia and Florida become much harder to win for Democrats, while North Carolina falls out of reach completely.
Republican renewal starts by returning to the baseline.
National Review's Betsy Woodruff profiles Infowars' Alex Jones:
There are two forces in Jones’s world. The battle for souls is between the corrosive forces of the New World Order (who have infiltrated everything from the Obama and Bush White Houses to MTV) and the indefatigable human will. Jones is a latter-day gnostic. He wants his audience to wake up from their sleep, emerge from their Platonic cave, and see the world as it truly is. That’s the conversion moment. The next step is walking with Alex Jones in the new life of the spirit. That means getting a filter to remove fluoride from your water (don’t even get him started on fluoride), stocking up on seeds for your emergency garden, and pushing the government to mandate that genetically modified foods have labels. It also means that you might want to live near Austin, Texas, an optimal place to start anew when the New World Order — and, along with it, the American government and the West — crumbles. You also might want to sign up for an online dating profile on his website so you can find another freedom-lover to bunker down with outside Austin. You’re awake now, and that means some things have to change.
Click on the picture below for a fascinating (and brief!) explanation of what today, April 30, 2013 means in the context of global history:
David Brooks on the state of American political think tanks:
Look at most think tanks. They used to look like detached quasi universities; now some are more like rapid response teams for their partisan masters.
It's a good joke, but there's a serious question here: why are think tanks allowed to issue tax receipts if they function as, effectively, either communications operations of existing political parties or else outright lobbying & PR organizations?
You've heard a million times that "the path to citizenship" for former illegal aliens will require payment of back taxes. Like so much in this debate, that turns out not to be true, as the Center for Immigration Studies reports today:
[T]he bill provides that amnesty applicants must have “satisfied any applicable federal tax liability” that has previously been “assessed” by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). A tax is “assessed” only when the IRS officially records that it is owed which occurs after a tax return has been submitted or after the IRS has conducted an audit. Since illegal immigrants working off the books do not submit tax returns and are generally not the subjects of IRS audits, it is unlikely that this provision will have any impact on the majority of amnesty applicants.
The bill also does not address employers’ federal payroll tax liability (e.g. Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes), nor does the bill address liability for state and local taxes.
There's one born every minute. Dzhohar Tsarnaev seems to have acquired something of a Facebook fan base.
I doubt this will change many minds, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the Boston bomber is also a throat-slitter.
Suspicions are growing stronger that the Tsarnaev brothers were the culprits in a gruesome murder of three of their closest friends, two of them Jewish, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
More evidence of America's hardening class lines, per Sean Reardon of Stanford University:
Before 1980, affluent students had little advantage over middle-class students in academic performance; most of the socioeconomic disparity in academics was between the middle class and the poor.
But the rich now outperform the middle class by as much as the middle class outperform the poor. Just as the incomes of the affluent have grown much more rapidly than those of the middle class over the last few decades, so, too, have most of the gains in educational success accrued to the children of the rich. ...