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The Transom: News and notes from around the web
October 20, 2011: Obama’s Economy, The Field, David Frum is Not a Serious Person, Gaddafi Reportedly Dead, Best Debate Yet, Infographic: How to Spot the Thing

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Gallup:  Majority now blame Obama for the economy.  Obama to ABC News: "All the choices we've made have been the right ones."
The drop in American standards of living.  “The standard of living for Americans has fallen longer and more steeply over the past three years than at any time since the US government began recording it five decades ago. The average individual now has $1,315 less in disposable income than he or she did three years ago at the onset of the Great Recession – even though the recession ended, technically speaking, in mid-2009.” Chart: Fewer jobs, less pay.
Harry Reid: “private sector jobs are doing just fine.” “Since the beginning of the recent recession (Dec. 2007), there have been 6,257,000 private sector job losses (a 5.41% decline) and 392,000 total government (federal + state + local) job losses (a 1.75% decline).”  1.5 million Private Sector jobs lost between February 2009 and September 2011. Meanwhile: Washington, DC becomes the richest town in America.
Roger Kimball on the 99 percent:  “The Democrats own, as a matter of political if not fiscal reality, Zuccotti Park. It will be interesting to see how that investment turns out for them. It’s getting to be lunchtime. The noise you hear is the tiger growling.”
Don’t tell Occupy:  “Obama has brought in more money from employees of banks, hedge funds and other financial service companies than all of the GOP candidates combined.” Occupy demographics:  “The sample of non-white people, according to Schultz, is too small to even analyze.”
Least surprising GAO report ever: Fed Directors benefited from bailouts.“Multiple directors or former directors of the Federal Reserve banks who played a key role in the 2008 bailouts had an apparent conflict of interest, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. These directors had business relationships with companies and banks that received large infusions of government money… The group of 18 people connected to both the Federal Reserve and a bailed out company included: the CEO of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt (who is now President Obama's jobs czar); Stephen Friedman of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.; and Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase.”
RELATED: VDH: The Obama Rule.  Biden doubles down on “rape” comments. TOTUS goes mainstream.  Throwback mistake comments.  Few Republican answers on housing.  Ron Paul: Blame the Fed.
From the email: "Look, you can't have any illegals working on our property,'" Romney said.  "I'm running for office, for Pete's sake, I can't have illegals." Is this the new version of Michael Huffington in 1994 on the illegal nanny? "Who among us hasn't broken the law?"
Body language. For a contrasting view to mine, let’s turn to Romney adviser Ron Kaufman, who called Perry "a petulant little boy" and said that Romney "put him in his place."  Jen Rubin: “This was [Romney’s] biggest victory to date.”  Podhoretz: “That looks like one of those moments when politicians reveal how hollow they are in their ambitions, but it played differently for Romney – oddly, it made him seem more human, nervous about making mistakes and making a bad impression.”
Flip side: Glass jaw? Romney came out with a web ad slamming Perry’s prior performances, but framed to make it look as if it was about Tuesday’s debate.  Rob Long: "Mitt Romney's problem isn't that he's got no personality. It's that people don't like the personality he's got."  “That immigration exchange last night got under Romney’s skin even more deeply than we thought, huh?”  Nate Silver wrote on Twitter: "Romney's new attack ad is the sort of thing a campaign puts out when it thinks it lost a debate." But! The Romney campaign pulled it down from YouTube late last night. Oh, Mitt. Perhaps next time he should insist on some key rules.
Steve Forbes is “elated” with Perry’s flat tax, which will roll out next week. “Gov. Romney does not like the flat tax, and his 59-point plan — even Moses only had 10,” Forbes said.  “I want to make the tax code so simple that even Timothy Geithner can file his taxes on time,” Perry said.
Herman Cain may have a serious problem on these abortion comments.  “No, it comes down to is, it’s not the government’s role — or anybody else’s role — to make that decision. Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidents, you’re not talking about that big a number. So what I’m saying is, it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president. Not some politician. Not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family. And whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn’t try to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive decision.”
RELATED: Cain preps to attack.  Conflicts on VAT.  Cain described in New York Times as “minstrelsy.”  Chuck Todd admonishes Andrea Mitchell on another race-based slam on Perry.  Callbacks to 2000.  FEC rules ding Perry on flights.  McCain’s 2008 file on Romney’s shifting views on abortion – I’d forgotten the 2002 brief flirtation with running in Utah.  Geraghty’s Obi-wan has thoughts on the debate.  Reason blasts Romney on health care.  Perry web ad hits Romney for misleading. Doubt they’ll pull that one.
Not that I expect David Frum, think tank of one, to actually read things before commenting on them. But for the past few days it's been amusing to watch his sudden transformation into an energy policy expert (even to the point of clashing on CNN with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who knows a thing or two about Gulf energy, by claiming "You know what Governor Perry proved today is he knows nothing about the energy industry.").  I have to assume he hasn't read Perry's energy plan and is just taking the talkers Romney's handing without even scanning them, because he continues to harp on the idea that the plan is based solely on the calculations of one Woods Mackenzie study (actually, Romney's is, Perry's isn't) – a claim belied by the actual studies cited within said plan, in a handy thing called footnotes.
Yesterday Frum claimed for the second or third time that problem at the core of Perry's plan is an assumption that his "calculation is premised on some assumptions, of which the most important is $180 / barrel (after inflation) for oil by 2030 and $12 per thousand cubic feet for natural gas." Not only is this an absurd claim on its face (or does David Frum control the laws of supply and demand at whim?), it is easily rebutted by reading the actual studies cited.  To whit:
UPenn's study on Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, which accounts for more than 1/5th of the jobs growth Perry’s plan anticipates, used a relative tightness in price assumption:  "This study assumes that recent tightness in primary fuel prices will continue into the future. Specifically, from 2010 averages of $79 per barrel for oil, $7.04 per thousand cubic feet for natural gas and $47 per ton for coal, real growth rates for oil, natural gas and coal, are 4%, 3% and 1% on average over the sample period, respectively." Very modest. But that’s just one study. Western Energy, the University of Texas San Antonio, and IHS CERA – cited respectively for the Western States, Eagle Ford, and the Gulf, accounting for the overwhelming portion of jobs under Perry’s plan – used the official government estimates:  and   "A forecast of oil and gas prices used to compute gross wellhead revenues came from the 2011 Annual Energy Outlook produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration at the US Department of Energy." That's the official government EIA projections, here, which offer high and low projections of oil prices.
Frum is cherry-picking the highest potential price in the furthest out-year, and not actually paying attention to what the studies themselves assumed. And what did they assume? Well, here's UTSA: “Using price information from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) we obtained estimation, in dollars, of revenues from oil and gas extraction for the year. This dollar-production amount was used with the software IMPLAN to obtain direct, indirect, and induced impacts in the area of analysis.”
On page 35, you'll see this assumes a 2020 price of crude oil per bbl at $132, not $180 in 2030, as Frum claims.
The rising tide of wisdom within the energy industry and the think tank sphere is that an energy boom holds the promise of not just independence from energy sources we dislike, but a far more consistent supply than what we’ve previously dealt with. Read Joel Kotkin,  The New York Times,  The Wall Street Journal,  and the folks who study this stuff for a living, and a pattern becomes clear. Thus:  “North America appears headed for an oil renaissance, with crude production expected to hit an all-time high by 2016... Combined, the U.S. and Canadian oil output will top 11.5 million barrels per day, which is even more than their combined peak in 1972... Goldman Sachs has estimated the U.S. could move from being the No. 3 oil producer behind Saudi Arabia and Russia to the No. 1 spot by 2017.”
You can dispute all of these studies if you will (and of course Frum will), but at least be honest about their methodology and their predictions. But I doubt Frum has the patience to engage in such things. And this is Frum’s problem, when you get right down to it. He goes against prevailing wisdom as a general matter. But his natural tendency to do so isn’t borne out of any principled or honest approach to questions of policy. It’s merely meant to satisfy market demands for someone who fills the role of the permanent critic. This is why so many of his arguments are so thinly based and so shrill, and why he is so irrelevant to legislative and internal policy arguments (versus media arguments, where he still has plenty of platforms). There’s no there there. And now that he’s moved from the think tank to the carriage house – and not of his own volition – his relationship to making policy is roughly the same as Harry Knowles’ to making movies.
In late 2009, I had coffee with Frum for the first and last time outside AEI. He made two claims which stick with me – one was that Dodd-Frank wouldn't really hurt business growth, and the other that small businesses would adore Obamacare. I disagreed on both counts, and strongly on the second. He rejected that idea thoroughly. Walking back to the office, his last comment to me was “Just you wait: two years from now, everyone will agree with me.”
Almost two years to the day, the NFIB filed the first petition in the Supreme Court case against Obamacare.
Miami Ghost in the second at Saratoga.  
Breaking: Gaddafi reportedly captured, dies of wounds.
Libya’s interim leader steps down.
Doubts grow on Euro fund.
A flat world? Not quite.
The free market in danger.
Population control in Beijing.
Polio in Pakistan.
The unpublished Thatcher interviews.
The future face of British politics.
DOE modified Solyndra loan related releases.  GOP demands Obama’s emails on subject.
Obama getting pressure from both sides on Keystone pipeline.
NPR employee also serving as spokesperson for Occupy DC.
Why does Maureen Dowd hate Harry Reid?
Al Gore’s faked experiment.
Rahm Emanuel and congestion pricing.
The best political ad of the year.
Microsoft works on Yahoo bid.
Type A parents, Type B kids.
Sad about the Ohio hunt.  The Politico headline is perfect.
The incredible Michael Winslow.
Here comes the Scorpion King.
Aaron Rodgers, photobomber.
“I see you.”  GLADOSiri:
Bake better biscuits.
Bourbon pumpkin pie milkshakes.
Infographic: How to Spot The Thing.
The Best Debate Yet.
The nation with the greatest moral power will win. Of that are born armies and navies and the resolution to endure. Have faith in the moral power of America. It gave independence under Washington and freedom under Lincoln. Here, right never lost. Here, wrong never won. However powerful the forces of evil may appear, somewhere there are more powerful forces of righteousness. Courage and confidence are our heritage. Justice is our might. The outcome is in your hand, my fellow American; if you deserve to win, the Nation cannot lose.” — Calvin Coolidge, 1918 letter to the Boston Post
Red in Tooth and Claw, by Pu Ning, $12. Find this and more recommendations at The Transom's Amazon Store:

This collection of news and notes from around the web is edited by Benjamin Domenech, research fellow at The Heartland Institute, co-host of the daily Coffee & Markets podcast, and editor in chief of The City, a journal on faith, politics, and culture published by Houston Baptist University. The views and opinions expressed within are his alone, and do not necessarily represent the views of his employers. If you like The Transom, by all means share it with friends, who can subscribe at:

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