Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Some FBI agents unhappy with J. Edgar

Clinton expected to be in Myanmar soon. What is to be expected?

Longboarding Down Capitol Hill

Hey everyone, here's a fun video I made while Longboarding Down Capitol Hill! Turns out the Hill has more to offer than just politics!

Joe the Puppeteer

Possible 2012 Election Showdown: The new media King vs. Gingrich?

As I was doing some more research for my paper I came across this interesting article.
According to the author Obama dwarfs republican candidate when using twitter.

As for the Newt Gingrich Campaign, which trails many other rivals in fundraising and is more than $1 million in debt, is the most active on twitter!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Is Newt anti-intellectual?

"OCCUPIED" constitutional amendment

Good idea?

Obama's Job Approval Rating Worse than Carter's

Presidents Carter, Ford & Truman have held approval rating averages similar to Obama's. Truman is the only president of the three to win re-election.

OWS's underlying ideology

Very interesting and sophisticated piece from the Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti.

The key insight, I think - and this fact is clear the minute one visits an Occupy tent city (I've visited four) - is that the protests are not just about income inequality. They're thoroughly subversive. They're anti-middle class - not in the economic sense, but in the cultural sense. They haven't taken part in normal political processes because they reject those processes wholesale - that is, they oppose republicanism, whereby elected representatives determine policy within a defined sphere of activity, and seek to replace it with direct democracy, which is glorified mob rule and is antithetical to the constitutional order.

In any case, it's an interesting look at a very radical - but enduring, if never overly popular - political theory.

Tea Party v. OWS

What's your flavor?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Jon Huntsman, Nuclear Option

If the sole goal of Republicans for 2012 is to make Barack Obama a one-term president, they already know how to do it: nominate Jon Huntsman.

I was talking with a friend of mine over Thanksgiving break who is normally pretty non-political and somehow the topic of the primary came up. He was bemoaning the lack of "a non-crazy fiscal conservative". He'd watched one or two of the debates, and Huntsman was the only candidate saying anything that made any sense at all; why, my friend wanted to know, was the media not paying him any attention? Well, because his polling is terrible and the media focuses on the winners, I explained. But wouldn't most people like him if they heard what he had to say? Why was his polling so bad? "Because Tea Party," was my eloquent response.

But to be serious: short of a sudden and miraculous economic recovery, a major foreign policy crisis on par with 9/11, or a significant third-party bid from the right, I don't see how Obama could possibly beat Huntsman in the general election. Obama's policies are quite unpopular and Huntsman's policies are centrist enough to be largely inoffensive to the general electorate. Huntsman could easily sweep independent voters like my friend from the last paragraph and even pick up some disgruntled Blue Dogs along the way. If voters are looking for someone who will fix our economy without dragging our country to an ideological extreme, Huntsman can make a serious argument that he is that someone. And he is almost uniquely well-qualified to be president in that he has a great deal of experience with both domestic and foreign policy, boasting successful tenures as Governor of Utah and Ambassador to China.

In addition to these strengths, he doesn't have a glaring weakness in the way that the rest of the Republican field does. Romney can't seem to shake his characterization as a chronic flip-flopper, Perry is bumbling and inarticulate, Gingrich's personal history is an albatross around his neck, Paul is an uncompromising ideologue with limited appeal, and Cain is just a mess.

Huntsman has none of these obvious issues for the general election. That doesn't mean he's perfect by any means, of course. His debate answers are occasionally overly glib (e.g. his propensity for out-of-place '90s references) or overly technical. His actual campaign organizational skills remain mostly untested, because he has not managed to rise much in the polls. And his campaign's messaging has been a bit unfocused. But none of these things are deal-breakers, and all could be fixed relatively easily by skilled advisors and staffers.

Obviously, though, Huntsman has yet to show any real signs that he could win the Republican primary. His moderation, which is one of the things that would make him such a terrifying opponent in a general election, is what makes him a non-starter in today's Republican party and prevents him from rising above 2-3% in polls. If the newly conservative GOP is finding it difficult to stomach Romney, they would find it impossible to deal with Huntsman. Indeed, to the new conservative Republican core, nominating Huntsman would be akin to a Faustian bargain: their soul for the White House.

Huntsman, then, is the nuclear option for Republicans. He presents an option of mutually assured destruction to both the Democratic base and the Republican base. The likelihood of this scenario actually happening is very low; even in New Hampshire, where he is betting the farm on all-or-nothing strategy, his polling is stagnant at about 6%. But if the GOP ever does decide it wants to get deadly serious about beating Obama, Jon Huntsman will be there waiting for them.

Is this a winning coalition for POTUS?

"Professors, artists,designers,editors, human resource managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers, and therapists."

Debt Issue

Showdown this December!

Republicans have been unenthusiastic about Obama's payroll tax break?

In the wake of the recent supercommittee failure, lawmakers from both parties moved quickly to frame the looming budget debates that will dominate the rest of the year and reverberate through next year's elections.
Neither side, however, is straying far from its well-worn policy priorities — the same entrenchment that sunk the deficit super-panel — setting the stage for what could easily be another long December of high-stakes battles over federal spending and tax policy against a backdrop of voter unrest and the threat of a government shutdown.

Europe to determine US 2012 elections?

The article is old, but the basic theory is still cycling through the media—like Ezra Klein, Charles Krauthammer now believes the Eurozone crisis will determine our 2012 elections.

The future looks bleak for the region. France’s AAA credit rating is under pressure, the German economy is showing signs of fatigue, and Greece’s condition may have spread to Portugal, Spain, and Italy. To make matters worse, OECD predicts a double-dip recession for the UK economy and negative economic growth for the Eurozone, shrinking the economy by 3.7% in 2013.

While some experts maintain that a sudden crisis is not likely, others believe this past week has taken the Eurozone towards a new phase of the crisis—total collapse. What experts do agree on is this: if the Eurozone crisis goes unresolved, it will stall U.S. economic growth and keep unemployment rates high. As Geithner puts it, Europe’s financial crisis could pose a “central challenge to global growth.”

Assuming the economy is a major factor in the 2012 elections, it may well be that the Eurozone economy, something President Obama can’t hope to change, will determine the results come November.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Interesting Statement by Schumer Regarding Deficit Deal

Interesting article on Politico about Schumer's optimism regarding a deficit deal. I found the part describing the likelihood of a deficit deal being more likely once the Republican candidate has been picked to be quite intriguing. Though I typically don't agree with Senator Schumer, I think that he brings an interesting perspective to the table in this analysis. I am curious to see if after the choice of a Republican candidate, we will see more cross-the-aisle deal making. What are your thoughts on this analysis?

J. Edgar Review

The idea behind Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar was great: chronicling the nearly 40 controversial years of J. Edgar Hoover as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. However, the film's execution lacked in comparison. The biggest problem I had with the film was that it was too choppy and all over the place, discontinuously moving between events in Hoover's life. Having read Richard Hack's Puppetmaster, it wasn't too difficult to follow the story line, though I think I would have quickly lost interest if hadn't done so.

In terms of choosing which events in Hoover's life to depict, Eastwood did an excellent job. Since Hoover ran the FBI for 37 years, we all are aware of the numerous scandals, controversies, and affairs that transpired during this time. Eastwood managed to skillfully depict Hoover's development from young man working at the Bureau of Investigation during the Palmer Raids into the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Ultimately, the film did not leave me feeling like there were aspects of Hoover's that I needed to know more about.

Another testimony to Eastwood's directing is his handling of aspects of Hoover's life that I had never learned of before This includes the scene in which Hoover dresses in his mother's clothes and jewelery just before bursting out in mournful cries for his matriarch. I found scenes such as these to be consistent with Hoover's life even though we may not necessarily know they happened, unless we were in Hoover's immediate company at the time.

As for the acting, I thought Leonardo DiCaprio was an excellent Hoover. He was able to capture the strict, dominant, and determined elements that Hoover displayed in his public life, as well as the emotional, lonely, and dark aspects that defined his private life. As for rest of the supporting cast (Judi Dench, Naomi Watts, and Armie Hammer), their performances surprisingly equaled how I had imagined they would be, while reading PuppetMaster.

Overall, it was a good movie (if you ignore its irregular flow) and I am glad that I read Hack's book prior to seeing it. B/B+

Newt Inc.

DC: A city of transients?

Romney winning endorsement race by a landslide

Does it matter?

Is PR replacing MSM?

Read this before our Wednesday evening meeting.

Citizens United gone wild

Even Jon Huntsman doesn't know who bought $650,000 worth of adspace for his campaign through a SuperPAC, "Our Destiny PAC." Though of course he could be lying, as the New York Times recently reported his father is infusing cash into his fledgling campaign. Family or self- financing generally does not work out well for candidates, a la Meg Whitman or Ross Perot.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Yet another J. Edger Review

To sum the movie up, I would say the filmmakers made a valiant effort to capture the enigma that was Hoover, yet for a person who had just read a several hundred page biography on the man, I left the theater confused on several fronts - not a good sign for a biographical film.

HOWEVER, i think it is important to note that real-life Hoover in himself was a confusing character. Perhaps it was not the film falling short but rather the insurmountable task of providing an all encompassing portrayal of Hoover that led to the more confusing parts of the film.

Everyones a critic though, so here are my suggestions if they plan to put out a director's cut of the movie.

1. As mentioned, the flashbacks combined with the present day plot may have been a good idea on paper, but on screen it was not helpful in organizing the film. I think this is largely due to a lack of consensus as to where the film's plot was centered. At first, I thought Hoover writing his biography in the present was serving as a frame for the past events but that slowly unraveled as his flashbacks took on lives of their own, and the present day became less and less about the biography.
Suggestion: Minimize the present day moments, focus on the flashbacks. End the film with one longer present day scene of him dying. Or better yet, structure the movie like the book and start with Hoover's death and then go back through his life.

2. Hoover's emotional scenes were too isolated. The scenes of romantic tension with Tolsen or the now infamous mother's dress scene were powerful moments, but they were largely inconsequential for the rest of the film. The result: Hoover's emotional state seemed to have little impact or influence on the important events. Perhaps this was reflecting the man in real-life but as a filmmaker, these events came across as disjointed episodes with no real bearing on the rest of Hoover's life or the rest of the film.
Suggestion: Do a better job of showing how Hoover's emotions affected his life and career. Or, if this is not the case, do a better job of conveying how isolated Hoover kept himself from everyone else and how that affected his life.

These two suggestion taken into account, I think J Edger could have been a much better film. Still enjoyable though. I would recommend the film but with a prior requirement of reading up on the man in order to avoid being completely lost.

AT&T says uncle

in case we discussed at DOJ.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Occupy Black Friday?

One reading of tea leaves

about the fate of obamacare in SCOTUS.

J. Edgar Review.

While watching J Edgar, I could not help but be reminded of The Godfather Part II. In the latter film we watch as Michael leads the family business, interjected with past vignettes of his father's rise to power. I think Clint Eastwood was going for a similar effect in J Edgar; trying to build up the character and personality that was J Edgar Hoover through flashbacks and narrative.

Unfortunately it did not work. It was hard to find a cohesive plot between the back-and-forth from the 1970s to the 50s to the 60s to the 20s and back to the 30s. While there was certainly a point to be made about Hoover's lying and exaggerations, without a steadily rising plot the climax fell flat. As did some of the character development, such as Gandy's flurried introduction and the not-so-subtle allusions to Tolson's sexuality ("His record shows... he shows no interest in women.")

But the acting was great. Where Leonardo wearing women's clothing could have been quite laughable, it came off as serious and sad. Overall DiCaprio's Hoover came off as more socially awkward and insecure than power hungry, which diminished how awestruck we should have been thinking how someone like Hoover could have served in the government. And there was a nice selection of events from the book in the film, though some events such as Dillinger's murder went unexplained despite constant references. Overall, C+.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

J. Edgar Hoover Movie Review

First off, contrary to popular opinion, I think that the movie was largely good as it did a fantastic job of portraying most of the things I read in the book.  Of significance to me was the way it very well demonstrated Hoover’s closeness to, and extreme love/affection for, his mum—who was very key to his success.  Like many other people though, I think the movie could have done without the scene where Hoover wore his mother’s clothes after her death. That was a bit too dramatic.

Additionally, as previous reviewers have stated, the movie would have been more enjoyable without the constant flashbacks. For me, the flashbacks distorted the plot to a point, and sought to make comprehension difficult for those who had not read the book.  I was also quite disappointed that there was a lack of significant emphasis on the way Hoover handled the Civil Rights Movement, and in particular, his frosty relationship with the legendary Martin Luther King Jnr. I believe more could have been told of that story.

On the whole, I think the content was solid: B+/A-

J. Edgar Movie Review

Personally, I thought the movie was pretty good. I was impressed by the way Leonardo DiCAprio was able to portray the rough and tough side of Hoover while also showing how paranoid he really was.

However, there were a couple of things I thought the movie could have done better.
Personally, I feel that the movie could have been better if it avoided the constant flashbacks. I am glad we read the book before hand, since it helped me organize the events in my head. I can see why some viewers might have given this movie a bad rating.

Another issue I had with this movie was the way it focused more on Hoover’s heroic side than his dark side. Throughout the whole movie I was waiting to see the part where Hoover betrays the German spies, the ones who helped him prevent national disasters.

One thing that surprised me was learning that Hoover had some strong feelings for Ms. Gandy at the start of his career.

I was also struck by the way the Hoover’s house looked. It’s exactly what I envisioned it to be when I read the book.

Lastly, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Tolson. I feel the movie did a great job showing how much affection he had for Hoover.

Overall, I would give this movie a B+

GOP debate recap

Monday, November 21, 2011

Power up on LinkedIn

The Thanksgiving Family Forum: Gingrich tells OWS to take a bath & get a job

Investigation launched into OWS related pepperspraying.

The University California at Davis has put some of its officers on leave after an incident in which students peacefully demonstrating on the school's quad we're pepper sprayed at close range.
Students have continued to protest and call for the school's chancellor to resign as the incident has spread across the internet.

My Review of J. Edgar

First off let me say that the movie was not as bad as critics would have lead me to believe it would be. Rottentomates gave J. Edgar a rating of 40% but I would have easily given the movie anywhere between a 75% to 80%. I was thoroughly impressed with Leonardo DiCAprio's portrayal of Hoover, despite what many critics have described as a lackluster performance with too much makeup. I thought Clint Eastwood and the screenwriters did an excellent job of showing Hoover as a paranoid, egotistical, showboat. The final scene with Tolson and Hoover where Tolson confronts Edgar about his distortion of the truth in the lead up to Hoover's first "arrest" highlighted a lot about the Hoover character and was done in a compelling manner. I think the film did a good job of showing Hoover's continual obsession with the FBI's image and his own personal reputation. As far as character development goes this movie was done very well and did justice to a very confused, bewildering character.

I had a lot of problems with the basic story-telling structure of the movie plot. I think telling the story through anecdotal flashbacks was overdone and the plot became too convoluted because of the continuous transition between "present" day and Hoover's past. The story was somewhat difficult to follow as a result. But apart from general plot intricacies that were confusing, I was thoroughly impressed with the whole supporting cast (with the possible exception of Helen Gandy) and the general setting/choreography of the film. All in all a very fun excursion and an entertaining enough movie.

Recent debate on constitutionality of obamacare

Epstein on Commerce Clause

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

GE's 57,000 page tax return

$14 billion in profits, zero taxes.

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez charged with attempted assassination of Obama

An Idaho man who federal investigators say considered President Barack Obama to be the “Antichrist” was charged Thursday with attempting to assassinate Obama last week by firing shots at the White House.

Governor Walker on the Ropes

Don't know if many of you remember but way back in September we had a debate about a Wisconsin law that banned public sector unions in the state (with the exception of law enforcement and firefighter unions). In only 48 hours, 50,000 citizens in Wisconsin have signed a petition demanding the recall of Governor Walker. I do not know what else could clearly be a repudiation of Governor Walker's reign in office. If successful the recall election would be held sometime early next year and Wisconsin may elect a new Governor.

What's your PVP?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Individual Mandate Unprecedented and Unconstitutional

This article was written before the passage of the bill, but many of the legal arguments still hold true.

U.S. to Review Cases Seeking Deportations

Homeland Security will begin an accelerated review of all deportation cases before courts. They will also start a training program to start a nationwide training program for agents and lawyers to speed deportation for convicted criminals and slow those without a criminal record.

The Obvious Constitutionality of Health Care Reform

Here is a scholarly article laying out a very detailed case for the invididual mandate.  Gripping stuff, I know, but fear not; Joe and I will make it all make sense tonight.

Housing lobby strikes again

Lessons not learned?

Occupying Themselves?

As this article states, a new group has rushed to Capitol Hill this week to endorse higher taxes on the richest Americans. Is the 99% approaching 100%?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Article from August, where the Individual mandate was ruled as Unconstitutional

Here's an article that quotes much of the legal language of the court's decision to rule the IM as unconstitutional.

The constitutionality of that portion of Obamacare is the focus of tomorrow night's debate.

The J. Edgar was great! As for Twilight Breaking Dawn, PART 1 Both our leader and I agree it gets a thumbs down!

Lachlan's latest

SNL Subprime Scheme Skit

Here's the link to an entertaining skit SNL did back in '08, poking fun at Democrats' responsibility for the mortgage meltdown. It's unavailable on NBC/Hulu websites. Bloggers/internet folk suggest that NBC employees have censored it for political reasons.

Newt's $$$$$ from Freddy Mac

Negative review of J Edgar

What I learned after I read: Puppetmaster: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover

Students of the Hamilton-Semester-In-Washington Program were required to read about the life of J. Edgar Hoover in the book, Puppetmaster: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover. After reading the book, here are three things that I learned/realized:

1. All "big men" have soft spots.

Normally, we see our leaders (or people with authority) act with grotesque bravery. This sometimes leaves us wondering whether these people ever have moments of deep introspection, and behave like 'cry babies' when things are not going well.  Even if they do, is there that one person who they don't show that brave face to? Yes there is. Hoover with all the intrepid things that he did (coming up with 'false' lists of communists, persecuting criminals, etc) had a mother he 'cried' to when things didn't go his way.  There is a story in the book where Hoover appears at a Senate hearing before its Committee on Appropriations. At this hearing, a Senator (who wasn't really a fan of Hoover's methods) 'exposed' the fact that Hoover never made a personal arrest.  My thinking was that the 'brave' Hoover would have taken the comments as 'one of those things.' But guess what?...he was so distraught by the Senator's comments that he complained bitterly to his mother just like a 5-year old would do when a kid from his school says something uncomplimentary about or to him. Key quote from book: "Hoover's mother was his best friend, his confidante, his disciplinarian, and his rock."

2. There is nothing really like a "rags-to-riches" story.

I've been reading Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers. A very good book, I must say. I'll encourage all to read it. That said, one of the main themes of the book is that there is typically nothing like "rags-to-riches stories."  In other words, stories of successful people, painting the picture that they rose from nothing to something.  These stories, more often than not, describe successful people as having attained that feat only by sheer dint of hard work, and/or talent. To quote Gladwell: "the idea of a lone hero battling overwhelming odds."  According to Gladwell, in as much as those people worked hard (or were very talented), there were some hidden opportunities they had that facilitated their success. The story is not different from Hoover––the renowned FBI director who outlived 8 US Presidents.  Hoover's success at the FBI could, in large measure, be attributed to the opportunities he had when growing up. For instance, he worked at the Library of Congress while pursuing a masters degree in law at the George Washington University. According to the book: "it was Hoover's first direct exposure to the inner workings and a primer on politics from a superb administrator." Coupled with this, he was in the cadet corps, rising to become the Captain of Company A of his high school cadet. This opportunity inculcated traits of discipline and 'professionalism' in him, which he arguably used to run the Bureau.  So yes, Hoover was very talented (reciting alphabets at an early age, printing words by the age of three, etc.), worked hard, and used various tactics to succeed. However, there is no denying the fact that his affiliation with the cadet corps, and his job at the Library of Congress greatly inured to his success.

3. America has come a long way.

Duh!!!...everyone knows this.  I wouldn't really say this is a new thing I learned/realized per se. Rather, after reading the book, this has been largely reinforced. Just reading the book, and realizing that about a century ago, as a result of Washington, DC being a segregated society, I could not have been able to rub shoulders with most of my friends today makes me acknowledge the how far America has come. Also, the unconventional methods of surveillance (illegal wire tapping, etc) used by the Bureau are now things of the past. Well that is kinda arguable now...but you get the general drift. (At least if at all, it's not done with the same impunity as Hoover did). Furthermore, legislation, such as the Sedition Act–which served as a perfect cover for Hoover to persecute innocent people he believed to be communists–have long been repealed, and may never ever be reconsidered ever! Finally, I don't think anyone would have a dog's chance becoming an FBI director today if s/he's known to be a "White Supremacist."


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fannie and Freddie Still Up to the Same Old Tricks

Fannie and Freddie are up to the same old tricks. Last week Fannie needed another $7.8 billion bailout and Freddie $6 billion to cover abysmal third quarter losses. Since 2008, the two companies have required $169 billion in bailouts. Despite these losses, in 2009-2010 top executives have earned $35.4 billion in bonuses. Only now is Congress pushing to end excessive compensation for these executives. By 2014, the government estimates that these companies will require $220 billion in bailouts. Should the government continue to bail them out?

How useful has the Supercommittee been? Reid and Boehner possibly working as a team to get things moving!

Double standard or simply an inept politician?

Herman Cain has been taking more criticism because of his delayed response to a question about Libya, with various news sources calling it his "Rick Perry moment." Why exactly has this video gone viral? Is it because opponents see his inability to compose himself as another attack against Cain's campaign? Or is this an example of Cain being too ill-equipped to handle foreign policy?

In June 2008 at a town hall event, Obama had a "Rick Perry moment" when discussing health care, but that didn't seem to garner critics.

Personally the one thing I've admired most about Cain is that he's always been honest if he's not an expert on a subject matter.

Barack Obama's Supreme Court health care gamble

Obama is so confident of the constitutionality of his health care law that he does not appear worried of its SCOTUS fast tracking, resulting in a ruling in the middle of his 2012 campaign. However, this is no small gamble. If the Affordable Care Act is struck down it invalidates his titanic health care struggle, it could hurt his presidential campaign. His lawyers could have filed motions that would have delayed the ruling until after 2012. Will this gamble be worth it?

No Hope, No Vote?

Unlike 2008, Obama's 2012 campaign will probably be without strong student support. Former Obama enthusiasts find it difficult to be apart his new campaign. Fear has crushed their spirits. Now that many students who were apart of the campaign have graduated, and are struggling with the job market, it is hard to imagine they will be apart of his reelection as they were before. Read some of the student's stories.