It’s Thursday, October 13th, 2011….but before we begin, we interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a crass commercial announcement.  Though we truly appreciate the support you’ve given us to date with our revised format, we would like to remind those of you who’ve opted to receive The Gouge in the standard email format the website offers additional material, not only on the home page, but other sections featuring a number of regularly updated video clips.

And, if we’re allowed to be selfish for a moment, the more hits we get on the website, the better to attract not only advertisers but other sites as well.

Now, here’s The Gouge!

First up, an insightful bit of observation from David Moore, chairman and CEO of Moore Holdings, who the WSJ adds is a trustee of several New York City charities:

The Panhandler and the President

I do not recall another president whose negative drumbeat about large segments of the population has been so relentless.

 

Walking down New York’s 55th Street near Park Avenue last Friday evening, our group of seven men in suits and ties was approached by a panhandler asking for money. “Here are a bunch of Wall Street guys,” he said, straight out. “Give me some money.”

Although we were not all “Wall Street guys,” all except one kept walking, ignoring the panhandler as we typically do, as instructed by “experts.” Yet over the past 30 years of living in the city, I often have disregarded this advice, and so once more I gave instinctively. I pulled out a dollar, handed it to the man, smiled, and resumed walking.

But next came a revelation. “A dollar?” the man shouted. “You Wall Street fat cats! This is what the problem is with this country. Take your damn dollar.” With that, he threw it on the sidewalk.

Apparently, street charity now has a minimum.

Not only have I never had anyone refuse my donation under such circumstances, but recipients are generally quite appreciative regardless of the amount. Not this time. It was as if the class-warfare rhetoric of the left had surfaced on 55th Street, while I was just trying to show some goodwill and help a guy out. He didn’t even ask for a little more, as sometimes happens. (“How about $5 for a meal? . . . $20 for a bus ticket?”) He simply judged that my $1 gift was not sufficient and threw it on the ground. I had not given my “fair share.”

Where did this script—and its concomitant anger—come from?

Like most people I know, I think President Obama’s tax increases on the wealthy would make sense if we believed he was sincere about—and could be successful at—reforming Washington’s overspending, out-of-control entitlements and regulation. Instead, his attacks on Wall Street bankers (“fat cats,” a phrase Mr. Obama now owns and was eloquently repeated by the panhandler on Friday night), Las Vegas, oil companies, jet manufacturers and “millionaires and billionaires” are inflaming both sides and placating no one. They seriously undermine the chances for reasonable compromise.

The president’s incendiary message has now reached the streets. His complaints that rich people must “pay their fair share” have now goaded some of our society’s most unfortunate, including one who felt compelled to refuse money because it was not enough. President Obama has become the “Great Divider” instead of the “Great Unifier” that we all hoped he would be. (Though many of us knew him for what he was from the start.)

I do not recall another president in my lifetime whose negative drumbeat about large segments of the population has been so relentless. I do not recall another president (even those similarly frustrated by congressional gridlock and the stifling of their agendas) repeatedly targeting a specific economic class, complaining as loudly and using his bully pulpit so consistently for bashing those who disagree with him. (A trait he perhaps learned at the feet….

….of his spiritual mentor!)

Presidents, once elected, instantly become president of all the people. They are the ultimate parental figures who should show no favoritism while always reaching across the dinner table to keep the family together. Even when they are confident their plan is the right one, they must communicate it such that everyone in the family knows they care equally about each of them. Painting important parts of our economy and population with such a negative brush is not only un-presidential, it is destructive to the fabric of our nation.

An isolated incident on 55th Street? Perhaps. But in a sample of more than a dozen people I know who have collectively given money to panhandlers well over 1,000 times in New York during the past few decades, not one could recall ever being turned down, much less having their money tossed away as insufficient. The rhetoric of class warfare has now invaded spontaneous charity.

Hey, The Obamao promised was “change”; he claimed, nor in our opinion ever intended it would be for the good!

And if you think emboldening bums is bad, just be thankful cooler, wiser heads prevented The Obamao from even greater faux pas, as this story, courtesy of John Bills and Investors.com, details:

Apologies Not Accepted

 

Leadership: Leaked cables show Japan nixed a presidential apology to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for using nukes to end the overseas contingency operation known as World War II. Will the next president apologize for the current one?

The obsessive need of this president to apologize for American exceptionalism and our defense of freedom continued recently when Barack Obama’s State Department (run by Hillary Clinton) contacted the family of al-Qaida propagandist and recruiter Samir Khan to “express its condolences” to his family.

Khan, a right-hand man to Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed along with Awlaki in an airstrike in Yemen on Sept. 30. We apologized for killing a terrorist before he could help kill any more of us.

It’s yet another part of the world apology tour that began with Obama taking the oath of office to protect and defend the United States and its Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, something he immediately felt sorry for.

One stop on his tour was Prague in August 2009. There he spoke of “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” ignoring that before 1945 we lived in such a world and it was neither peaceful nor secure.

Another stop on the tour was in Japan, where Obama in November 2009 bowed to the emperor, something no American president had ever done. It could have been worse if plans to visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima to apologize for winning the war with the atom bombs had come to pass.

A heretofore secret cable dated Sept. 3, 2009, was recently released by WikiLeaks. Sent to Secretary of State Clinton, it reported Japan’s Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka telling U.S. Ambassador John Roos that “the idea of President Obama visiting Hiroshima to apologize for the atomic bombing during World War II is a ‘nonstarter.'” The Japanese feared the apology would be exploited by anti-nuclear groups and those opposed to the defensive alliance between Japan and the U.S.

Whatever Tokyo’s motive, Obama’s motive was to once again apologize for defending freedom, this time for winning with devastating finality the war Japan started.

While Obama envisions a world without nuclear weapons, and moves steadily toward unilateral disarmament of our nuclear arsenal, we envision a world without tyrants and thugs willing to use them against us. We do not fear nuclear weapons in the hands of Britain or France, countries that share our love of freedom and democracy.

Britain, yes….but the French?!? Seriously, we’d be shocked if Jimmy Carter doesn’t get down on his knees every day and give thanks this dipstick conned his way into the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch with The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, the WSJ‘s Dan Henninger comments on the recent GOP debate:

The Unsinkable Mitt Romney

This candidate will have to be pushed a lot harder to make him a good president.

 

Watching Rick Perry in the Republican debate at Dartmouth say that the answer to every aspect of economic revival is to “get our energy industry back to work,” and watching Herman Cain say that the answer to virtually anything is “my 9-9-9 plan,” one’s thoughts of course turned to John Belushi’s immortal Greek diner owner, Pete Dionasopolis, who defined his world in three words: “Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger!”

Perhaps destiny brought these GOP candidates to Dartmouth. After the debate, Gov. Perry attended a Dartmouth frat party. A Dartmouth fraternity was of course the inspiration for “Animal House,” an apt metaphor for the GOP nomination process.

Newt Gingrich’s variation on cheeseburger is to repeatedly attack Ben Bernanke. This is slightly weird, but the former House Speaker apparently has decided that if he talks too much about Washington, he’ll be fingered as one of them. So his strategy is attacking the Fed.

Incredible to behold, the Federal Reserve offered the evening’s one, genuine comic highlight. After Julianna Goldman elicited from Herman Cain his view that the best Fed chairman in the past 40 years was Alan Greenspan, all the synapses in Ron Paul’s brain fired in a straight line to assert: “Alan Greenspan was a disaster! Everybody in Washington—liberals and conservatives—said he kept interest rates too low, too long . . . and ushered in the biggest [housing] bubble.”

We all know the meaning of the saying, It isn’t over until the fat lady sings. A few hours before the Dartmouth debate, Chris Christie endorsed Mitt Romney. Gov. Christie’s sudden and awkwardly timed endorsement may only reflect his belief that the process is over, we have a candidate and it’s time to get on with the campaign to defeat Barack Obama.

We see his point, but what’s the rush? The election is 13 months away. No voters in any primary have had a chance to provide a verdict on the candidates more real than these hapless debates or another opinion poll.

By this early, imperfect measure, Mitt Romney’s status is weak. Despite running against this field, he never rises above 25% in GOP preferences. At best, Mr. Romney is running as the party’s Unsinkable Molly Brown.

A week ago, Mr. Christie seemed to understand that the reason so many wanted him to run wasn’t merely dissatisfaction with Mr. Romney. It had to do as well with the clear sense that the 2012 election is historic, a moment for the American people to choose decisively between Barack Obama’s Americanized version of a flatlined European social democracy or the steady upward path of the nation’s past two centuries.

The enthusiasm flowing to Mr. Christie came from the same people who had hoped to see Congressman Paul Ryan in the race, or Mitch Daniels or Jeb Bush. All of them made clear they understood we had arrived at a big moment for the nation. Mr. Romney, by contrast, leaves the impression that the country has arrived at hisbig moment.

Before any primary vote, Mr. Christie and others are falling in behind a former Massachusetts governor whose message is both very good and very bad. It would help the Romney candidacy a lot—or a Romney presidency—if he were under more pressure now from his peers in the party.

Mr. Romney was at his best in the debate when pressed to bow to the conventional Beltway wisdom that any deficit compromise demands tax increases. He ran his questioner through total government spending’s rising share of the economy, heading toward 40%, and said merely matching revenue to that share would mean “we cease at some point to be a free economy.”

That’s true and well said. But Mr. Romney also said: “You have to stand by your principles.” Doubts about that statement are the main reason Mr. Romney, in the current RealClearPolitics average, is polling at 21.7%, a level that gives new meaning to front-runner.

The health-care problem has been widely discussed. There are two other troubling policy areas, both on display in the debate: taxes and China.

Newt Gingrich rightly asked Mr. Romney why his capital gains cut stops at incomes above $200,000—a total economic absurdity, especially for anyone who purports to know “how the economy works.” Mr. Romney’s standard reply is that the “rich can take care of themselves” and he’s all about “the middle class.” But that’s Barack Obama’s divisive view. And despite two bipartisan commissions explicitly calling for lower individual rates, Mr. Romney’s tax reforms are “in the future.” So he sits below 22% support.

China is hacking into the Pentagon’s computers, grabbing the South China Sea, offering little help on nuclear proliferation, and Mr. Romney’s big proposal is “on day one” to file a complaint against China with the World Trade Organization for currency manipulation. But that’s proto-Democrat Chuck Schumer’s issue. If one can glean a commonality in the Schumer-Romney complaint, it would be campaign contributions.

Mitt Romney has undoubted gifts. He could be president. But in the current Obama morass, so could 100 other people. What voters, including Republican voters, want for the United States now is the best president possible. Mr. Romney isn’t there yet. Only more competition or criticism will get him there.

But what’s to keep him there once he’s elected?  Mitch McConnell and John Boehner?!?

In a related item, the WSJ reports….

Cain Vaults to Lead in Poll

Ex-Businessman Passes Perry, Romney Among GOP Voters

 

Former restaurant-industry executive Herman Cain has catapulted to the lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, as GOP voters grow disenchanted with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and remain wary of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds. Drawn by Mr. Cain’s blunt, folksy style in recent debates, 27% of Republican primary voters picked him as their first choice for the nomination, a jump of 22 percentage points from six weeks ago.

Mr. Romney held firm in second place at 23%, his same share as in a Journal poll in late August, while Mr. Perry plummeted to 16%, from 38% in August.

The poll of 1,000 adults, conducted from Oct. 6-10, comes as many Republican donors and officials have begun to rally around Mr. Romney as the party’s likely nominee, despite a continued lack of enthusiasm for him documented in the new poll.

For Mr. Cain, the question is whether his newfound prominence, driven in part by his signature “9-9-9” plan to overhaul the tax code, will be a lasting phenomenon in a campaign that has seen many others surge and then fade. Since the spring, conservatives have given short-lived bursts of support for a string of contenders, including Donald Trump, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Mr. Perry.

“Will I be the flavor of the week?” Mr. Cain said Wednesday in New Hampshire, where reporters followed him as he addressed the state legislature. “Well, the answer is an emphatic, ‘No,’ because Häagen-Dazs black walnut tastes good all the time.”

And for those unfamiliar with Cain’s “9-9-9” plan, here’s a brief discussion on the subject:

 

We agree the biggest risk inherent in Cain’s plan is the potential for future Congresses to push those 9’s well north of 20.  But at least Cain’s had the guts to force the subject into fore, followed, we can only hope, by honest debate and eventually real reform.  Besides, has Congress EVER needed a reason, or excuse, to raise taxes?!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Lighter Side….

Finally, in the “That Was Then, This in Now!” segment, we’ll call it a day with this telling photograph from the Drudge Report, forwarded by Carl Polizzi:

Candidate Obama in Pittsburgh, October 27, 2008
Candidate Obama in Pittsburgh, October 11, 2011

The Titanic didn’t sink this fast!

Magoo