Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Is Obama smart? How can we measure his intelligence?

Here’s a very interesting assessment of Barack Obama’s intelligence from the Wall Street Journal. (H/T Melissa)

Excerpt:

When it comes to piloting, Barack Obama seems to think he’s the political equivalent of Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager and—in a “Fly Me to the Moon” sort of way—Nat King Cole rolled into one. “I think I’m a better speech writer than my speech writers,” he reportedly told an aide in 2008. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m . . . a better political director than my political director.”

On another occasion—at the 2004 Democratic convention—Mr. Obama explained to a Chicago Tribune reporter that “I’m LeBron, baby. I can play at this level. I got game.”

[...]Then there is Mr. Obama as political tactician. He makes predictions that prove false. He makes promises he cannot honor. He raises expectations he cannot meet. He reneges on commitments made in private. He surrenders positions staked in public. He is absent from issues in which he has a duty to be involved. He is overbearing when he ought to be absent. At the height of the financial panic of 1907, Teddy Roosevelt, who had done much to bring the panic about by inveighing against big business, at least had the good sense to stick to his bear hunt and let J.P. Morgan sort things out. Not so this president, who puts a new twist on an old put-down: Every time he opens his mouth, he subtracts from the sum total of financial capital.

Then there’s his habit of never trimming his sails, much less tacking to the prevailing wind. When Bill Clinton got hammered on health care, he reverted to centrist course and passed welfare reform. When it looked like the Iraq war was going to be lost, George Bush fired Don Rumsfeld and ordered the surge.

Mr. Obama, by contrast, appears to consider himself immune from error. Perhaps this explains why he has now doubled down on Heckuva Job Geithner. It also explains his insulting and politically inept habit of suggesting—whether the issue is health care, or Arab-Israeli peace, or change we can believe in at some point in God’s good time—that the fault always lies in the failure of his audiences to listen attentively. It doesn’t. In politics, a failure of communication is always the fault of the communicator.

Much of the media has spent the past decade obsessing about the malapropisms of George W. Bush, the ignorance of Sarah Palin, and perhaps soon the stupidity of Rick Perry. Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart and considerably more successful.

Obviously, you can’t really measure a person’s intelligence using their statements about their own intelligence in speeches read from a teleprompter. And it’s hard to assess the intelligence of someone who refuses to release any of his university transcripts. The WSJ article is right to imply that a more important way to measure intelligence is by measuring success. And we certainly are capable of looking at raw numbers to measure Obama’s success – like the unemployment rate:

The Five Worst Job Creation Presidents

The Five Worst Job Creation Presidents

And the budget deficit:

Obama Budget Deficit 2011

Obama Budget Deficit 2011

It’s pretty easy to assess someone’s intelligence from those two numbers alone. Obviously, none of these numbers are going to matter to people who get their news by watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Obama is the Comedy Channel president. If provoking laughter is your standard for measuring intelligence, then Obama is very smart indeed.

What are Obama’s smart policies?

Who voted for Obama?

I notice that some people in the mainstream media have begun to pick on Texas Governor Rick Perry. It turns out that Perry is also a dastardly Darwin-doubter. (H/T Mary) For the mainstream media, if you believe in traditional Christian views on theology and morality and free market capitalism, it doesn’t matter that you created more jobs than all the other states combined. You’re still “stupid” because you value prayer and doubt materialist explanations of the origins of life.

But the mainstream media thinks that secular leftists are smart regardless of practical measures like job creation. If you are a secular leftist, and you support abortion and same-sex marriage, and you spend 864 billion taxpayer dollars on things like building underground turtle tunnels, and you actually raise the unemployment rate instead of lowering it, then you are are “smart”. Understand?

So who is smart?

Thomas Sowell is smart in the traditional sense of understanding how things work in the real world.

Thomas Sowell is smart: he understands economics

If you want to understand the realities of economic policy, why not pick up some books by an actual economist?

Here are some of his books that I recommend:

Disclaimer: I have only read the first editions of Applied Economics, Economic Facts and Fallacies, A Conflict of Visions, and The Housing Boom and Bust. And I’ve only read the second edition of Basic Economics.

I have male and female friends who go through multiple Thomas Sowell books per month. It’s impossible to read just one. The first Thomas Sowell book you should read is Intellectuals and Society. That one is an introduction to his thought over a wide range of topics.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Are the Bush tax cuts to blame for Obama’s 1.6 trillion dollar deficits?

Obama Budget Deficit 2011

Obama Budget Deficit 2011

From the Wall Street Journal, the raw numbers on the Bush tax cuts and the deficit. (H/T Paul Ryan)

Excerpt:

But what about the liberal claim, repeated constantly, that the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 caused today’s deficits? CBO has shown this to be demonstrably false. On May 12, the budget arm of Congress examined the changes in its baseline projections from 2001 through 2011. In 2001, it had predicted a surplus in 2011 of $889 billion. Instead, it expects a deficit of $1.4 trillion.

What explains that $2.29 trillion budget reversal? Well, the direct revenue loss from the combination of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts contributed roughly $216 billion, or only about 9.5% of the $2.29 trillion. And keep in mind that even this low figure is based on a static revenue model that assumes almost no gains from faster economic growth.

After the Bush investment tax cuts of 2003, tax revenues were $786 billion higher in 2007 ($2.568 trillion) than they were in 2003 ($1.782 trillion), the biggest four-year increase in U.S. history. So as flawed as it is, the current tax code with a top personal income tax rate of 35% is clearly capable of generating big revenue gains.

CBO’s data show that by far the biggest change in its deficit forecast is the spending bonanza, with outlays in 2011 that are $1.135 trillion higher than the budget office estimated a decade ago. One-third of that is higher interest payments on the national debt, notwithstanding record low interest rates. But $523 billion is due to domestic spending increases, including defense, education, Medicaid and the Obama stimulus. Mr. Bush’s Medicare drug plan accounts for $53 billion of this unanticipated spending in 2011.

The last GOP budget was in 2007, and the deficit was $160 billion, ONE TENTH of Obama’s budget deficit. And that was WITH the tax cuts. The cause of the current trillion dollar deficits is Barack Obama’s spending.

Remember what the unemployment rate was under Bush:

Comparison of unemployment rates - Bush vs Obama

Comparison of unemployment rates - Bush vs Obama

I think that looking at the budget deficit numbers and the unemployment numbers is a good way to judge how capable a President is. It gets away from the media spin, the gaffes, the jokes on those liberal Comedy Channel shows. Just look at the numbers, because we all have to care about jobs and spending. Politics is about our freedom, prosperity and security. Not about making us laugh or feel superior to others.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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