Politicians ignore consequences

Many politicians talk about global warming and say they want to mandate cars getting 35 mpg or more very soon. These people live in fantasy land – and I should know because we just got back from Disney a couple weeks ago.

Let’s suppose these monkeys actually passed a law mandating 35 mpg cars. This would mean that the only new cars available would be smaller and less pleasant than a Honda Civic. No minivans. No SUVs. No large sedans or station wagons either.

The only kind of car you’ll be able to buy is something along the lines of the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, or smaller. Below is a picture of reality, from Edmunds.com:

That’s a car that gets only 27 mpg city. It’s tiny! That’s with a 1.6 liter engine and a 5-speed manual transmission. Below is a Honda Fit – a little better:

Now we’re down to a 1.5 liter engine and up to 33 mpg city. Tiny and slow. Still not good enough. We’ll have to drive smaller cars with smaller engines.

Even if you are genuine and you plan to drive a more fuel-efficient car, or are already doing so, do you really think your neighbors will too? A lot of my neighbors drive SUVs and minivans. Sometimes it’s not selfish – they have three kids and need something to carry all of them.

Reality is what will happen if the feds mandate 35 mpg or higher. People will stop buying new cars. We will do our best to maintain our old cars. Older cars will stay on the road longer, and cause even more pollution than the real alternatives.

The real alternatives (from the Stop Wasting Money guy, anyway) are encouraging the private sector to develop mass transit, and (gasp!!) higher taxes on gasoline and other fuels. Before anyone chokes on the last part, this can only be done by lowering other taxes at the same time so the change is revenue neutral. That way the people have the same amount of money in their pockets, and they can save money if they choose to use less fuel.

You see, mandating higher fuel economy encourages people to keep old polluting cars. Higher gas prices encourages everyone to use less gas.

Politicians want you to believe you can have your Corvette and drive it too. It ain’t so.

Ron Paul: Packaging the Message?

In my last post I predicted 14% for Ron Paul in New Hampshire. He got 8%. Oops.

I think the campaign is encountering a problem I mentioned in an earlier post about the Ron Paul message.

Ron Paul now has a base. It’s about 8-10% of the voters in Republican primaries. Not bad for a start, but it’s not going to win anything. To take the campaign to the next level, I think they have to do something that is very difficult for libertarians. They have to package the message.

I do not mean the message should be changed, or anyone has to change their principles. What I mean is that the Ron Paul team has to find a way to put the message into 7 words or less so it fits on a billboard. They have to use microtargeting, emphasizing different elements of the message to different groups. Use focus groups to test out different phrases that are consistent with the underlying philosophy to see what works best with voters.

I’ve been a Ron Paul fan for years now. I’m a defense lawyer and I love the Constitution. But I’ve been a candidate a few times and it’s rare to meet a voter for whom “the Constitution” strikes a chord. I hope the campaign figures this out soon.

Ron Paul – Poll Analysis – other candidates too

Taking a second look at the Iowa result and the Iowa polls, I think Ron Paul may actually bag third in New Hampshire. See the pdf file reviewing poll numbers in both states:

These numbers are from the Wikipedia page on Republican state polls.

In the Iowa caucus, Ron Paul got 10%. This was equal to his maximum poll result (Zogby, the day before the caucus). It was also about 40% above his average poll result and 2.5 times his minimum result.

In New Hampshire his maximum poll result (on 1/4/08) is 14. His average poll result is 8. The minimum is 6, though that is from the overtly biased Fox News, which refused to include Ron Paul in their debate even though he is polling far higher than Fred Thompson in New Hampshire — in their own poll no less.

Ron Paul just might pull that 14% in New Hampshire. This would put him roughly in a tie with Mike Huckabee for third. It should be noted, however, that Huckabee did better than his maximum poll result in Iowa. An explanation for that is the high evangelical turnout, which is unlikely to happen in NH.

By contrast, the explanation for Ron Paul’s poll numbers being low (that his voters often have cell phones and are not on pollster lists) would be repeated across states. Also, Ron Paul may get a bump from his appearance on Jay Leno last night, just as Huckabee did in Iowa.

Regarding the other candidates in Iowa, Rudy Giuliani’s actual result equalled his minimum poll number and was well below his average. Mitt Romney polled near his minimum and below his average. Fred Thompson and John McCain both outperformed their average poll numbers.

Also a general note — candidates who polled high had more consistent poll numbers, which is to be expected.

Immigration, the Republican Candidates for President, and Ron Paul

I watched the Republican presidential debate on ABC, and was struck by how most of the candidates lack any grip on reality with regard to immigration (except, of course, for Ron Paul).

A substantial dispute was what to do about the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in our country. The extreme view is that all 12 million should be deported immediately. Anyone who thinks that has absolutely no clue what’s going on. I had a client who was caught bringing an illegal into the country. After serving his time, my client wanted to be deported back to Canada. The frontline immigration people wanted him sent back. I’m pretty sure the judge who sentenced him to time-served wanted him sent back.

It took about two months to get him sent back, and the cost of keeping him in jail was around $10K. I’d estimate the total cost of this process at around $20K. Imagine how long it would take and how much it would cost if he had actually fought deportation. Now imagine that 12 million people fight deportation. That’s assuming there’s only 12 million. I’ve seen estimates as high as 30 million illegals living in the US.

So we’re really talking about $1 trillion to do this, and it would take years. During the decade or two that it takes, other illegals will surely sneak into the country.

One of the sillier things I heard was a few of the candidates saying that we should only deport the estimated 2 million who have been convicted of crimes. First of all, anyone who is convicted in federal court is already deported, through the process I mentioned above.

Those convicted in state courts are generally not deported. State courts are not in the business of determining whether someone is an illegal immigrant, or what to do about it. I’m pretty sure it does happen with most felony convictions, because that kind of review would take place before sentencing. Most crimes are not felonies, and most criminal courts that I’ve seen would not bother going through the review necessary to even find out if someone is an illegal immigrant. The courts are just too busy with all these speeding tickets, DWIs, drug cases, and also the real crimes that they should be handling.

Ron Paul was the only dose of reality on the stage, mentioning something about the bureaucracy that the others would have to create in order to carry out their idiotic plans (he didn’t use the word idiotic though – he’s got more class than me).

For those who want to read more about immigration on this blog, check out my previous posts about wasting money on immigration and immigration and homeland security.

Ron Paul and Media Bias in the Times Union and Fox News

I posted way back in April of 2007 (remember way back then?) about the Times Union bias against Ron Paul. I have to admit that Fox News took the cake on this one by keeping Ron Paul out of their televised debate tonight. That one’s pretty unbelievable. Many have discussed this, but in short, Paul beat Giuliani 10-3 in Iowa and outpolls Fred Thompson in NH, yet somehow Fox News decided he wasn’t worthy.

Getting back to the Times Union, in my April post I compared news coverage in the TU for Ron Paul as compared to Sam Brownback, who was mentioned in 47 stories versus 8 for Dr. Paul.

Well now I can update the numbers for the year 2007 and even for the first week or so of 2008. Note that I’m using my Lexis account for better accuracy than the TU archives.

Ron Paul was mentioned in the Times Union 46 times in 2007. This number is deceptive, as it includes listings for a Ron Paul Meetup in the community calendar. Taking those out brings him down to only 25 mentions. This is the lowest among almost all the presidential candidates, though Duncan Hunter did get fewer mentions.

Going up the scale we see Mike Huckabee with 64 mentions, Fred Thompson (83), and Mitt Romney (151). On the Republican side the most covered were Rudy Giuliani (256) and John McCain (214). On the Democratic side John Edwards (207) was not far behind Giuliani and McCain. Hillary Clinton got more coverage with 231 mentions. The stunner here is Barack Obama, whose name was mentioned no less than 362 times in the Times Union in 2007.

The Ron Paul suppression is not merely an accident. Unlike many major news sources, the Times Union did not cover the November 5th and December 16th money bombs. There’s been no mention of all the activity by Ron Paul supporters in the area, with sign waving events at key locations, etc. These get mentions in other papers like in New Hampshire, but not here.

For 2008 so far, Hillary (9) and Edwards (13) are well behind Obama (21). Huckabee has taken the limelight on the GOP side with 20 mention, just ahead of McCain (19) and Romney (17). Trailing are Giuliani (9) and Thompson (4). Ron Paul actually surged ahead of Thompson with 6 mentions, but that’s not meaningful. None of the Ron Paul mentions have any substance to them, either mentioning that he’ll be in a debate or listing his results in poll numbers.

Perhaps the best example is the AP article describing the ABC debate, where Ron Paul got mentioned as follows:
Former Sen. Fred Thompson, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Texas Rep. Ron Paul also shared the stage, but they were largely eclipsed for significant portions of the 90-minute debate as Romney, McCain and Huckabee struggled for advantage.

Funny. I watched the debate and I thought Ron Paul stood out (for better or worse) in stating very different positions than the other Republicans. When he did so they attacked him and a couple of times could be seen laughing at him. This was downright disrespectful and adolescent, but maybe that’s what wins elections.

The Times Union apparently agrees with Fox News and its biases, as it did not cover the decision to keep Ron Paul out of the debate. Again, this is something that has been covered by a quite a few national media sources like the NY Times and LA Times. I’m not letting those others off the hook by any stretch though. When I was out there last week the LA Times ran a section with photos of the candidates on the trail, with a little “human interest” side of their stories. Ron Paul was not included in the section, though Fred Thompson was.

Most people watching think Thompson is about out of the race, with little money and not much success in polls or otherwise. At least Ron Paul has the money to go forward. But I guess Ron Paul isn’t as good at using cliches like “The bottom line is ….”

And did anyone notice when Mitt Romney described Pakistan as a moderate government in the debate? I was not impressed with that comment. Despite that, Romney might actually be my second choice. Of all the candidates on both sides, he’s most likely to govern from the middle instead of polarizing everything.

But getting back to the point, Rudy Giuliani was mentioned more than 10 times as often as Ron Paul in the Times Union in 2007. Results in Iowa? Ron Paul got 10% and Rudy got 3%. The New York Times has had a number of substantial articles covering Ron Paul. The Times Union sometimes runs articles from the New York Times, but has had literally no

Look. The guy’s now in double digits. He’s raising more money than any other GOP candidate, and apparently more in the 4th quarter than any other candidate. He was just behind McCain and Thompson in Iowa and he’s crushing Thompson in the polls in NH. When is the Times Union going to cover Ron Paul?

Maybe if he wins the GOP nomination. Maybe. :-)

Best Ron Paul Quote

I just saw this in the New Hampshire Union Leader, a newspaper in Manchester, NH.

If you want freedom, you have to assume personal responsibility for yourself, Paul said. If you make bad decisions, it’s your own fault.

Statements like that are why Ron Paul scares the crap out of the political establishment. They spend all their time helping their constituents avoid responsibility for their actions, while sticking the rest of us with the consequences. Federal flood insurance is a great example. The establishment way encourages people to build in flood zones. To quote a Hyundai commercial — “Duh”.