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PRESIDENT GOLDMAN SACHS HARDEST HIT: Wall Street’s latest panic: Trump could win:

The CEO of one large Wall Street firm, who declined to be identified by name criticizing the GOP front-runner, said the assumption in the financial industry remains that something will eventually knock Trump off and send voters toward a more establishment candidate. But that assumption is no longer held with strong conviction. And a dozen Wall Street executives interviewed for this article could not say what might dent Trump’s appeal or when it might happen.

“I don’t know anyone who is a Donald Trump supporter. I don’t know anyone who knows anyone who is a Donald Trump supporter. They are like this huge mystery group,” the CEO said. [Shades of Pauline Kael! — Ed] “So it’s a combination of shock and bewilderment. No one really knows why this is happening. But my own belief is that the laws of gravity will apply and those who are prepared to run the marathon will benefit when Trump drops out at mile 22. Right now people think Trump is pretty hilarious but the longer it goes on the more frightening it gets.”

The latest frightening broadside for the Wall Street class came on Sunday when Trump said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that executive pay in America is “a complete joke” and promised to raise taxes on “the hedge fund guys.” In a statement sent to POLITICO on Monday from his campaign, Trump relished in the attacks from Wall Street, singling out both Bush and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, another favorite on Wall Street.

“Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton will continue to let Wall Street and the ‘hedge fund guys’ rip off the people by paying no or very little in taxes,” Trump said. “They have total and complete control of Hillary, Jeb and others running. My campaign is self- funded. The only people that have control of me are the people of the United States.”

By the time of the 2008 election, Wall Street abandoned Republicans, preferring Michael Bloomberg’s nanny state and Barack Obama’s arugula to the GOP’s traditional values, as Kevin D. Williamson wrote the following year:

Wall Street isn’t politically agnostic, and there’s more to its politics than money. Culture matters, and you won’t find a lot of Pentecostal churches in Greenwich, Conn. Wall Street guys, for the most part, do not have time for social conservatives. “Of course these guys aren’t conservative,” says one longtime bond trader. “Why the [expletive deleted] would they be? We’re talking about guys who live in Manhattan, guys with manicures and eight-figure bank balances. And their wives–their wives aren’t showing up at parents’ day at Brearley with a Sarah Palin button. It’d be like showing up in flip-flops from Wal-Mart. Like showing up in a [rather lengthier expletive deleted] tracksuit.”

This cultural divide is particularly visible in New York City politics. “Ten to 15 years ago, half of the Upper East Side [officeholders] were Republican,” says John Mills, executive vice president of the Lexington Democratic Club. “There’s not one Republican there now. Abortion and gay rights are two of the biggest issues, and there are a lot of Jewish voters here not comfortable with Christian conservatives.”

Wall Street has no love for the southern, rural, and evangelical. But it’s not just the Jesus stuff–the southern and rural parts matter, too: Republican congressmen tend to represent places like Glasscock County, Texas, America’s most Republican jurisdiction, which reliably gives 90-odd percent of its votes to the GOP. Those districts are not going to feel the pain of the financial markets the way New York, New Jersey, California, and Connecticut are. The bailout is not very popular in farm country. Wall Street knew there was a gathering storm in the markets, and it didn’t want to find itself at the mercy of small-town and rural Republicans’ riding to the rescue.

And thus, the birth of the man Glenn likes to call “President Goldman Sachs.”

As Kevin noted, Wall Street abandoned the American heartland in 2008, so it shouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that someone showing up with an anti-Wall Street message resonates with voters there. I’m disappointed it’s a rather punitive and populist message than a conservative one, but historically, fire and brimstone populism has always allowed a candidate to position himself as the champion to a large group of disenfranchised voters.

THE BOY ON THE BEACH: OBAMA’S FOREIGN POLICY FAILURES GO VIRAL: At The Wilderness, Stephen Miller writes:

It wasn’t “the United States” that let Obama get away with declaring “I didn’t set that red line, the world did” only to have him to walk out the door like a dejected child needing an afternoon snack and media-induced nap. No, that was our media: rather than hold him accountable for his own declarations of removing Assad and setting a “red line,” they simply shrugged, muttered a word or two about how war Totally Sucks Anyway, and went back to writing think pieces on the cultural impact of the President’s NCAA tournament bracket.

Because of DC media’s nerd-prom infatuation at the thought of being a part, any part, of this socially cool West Wing Presidency, we have to turn to other sources in calling out this ridiculous clipboard hashtag foreign policy. Earlier this year in a brief appearance during Jon Stewart’s Night of Too Many Stars, and much to the horror of the crowd, stand up comedian Bill Burr tore into Michelle Obama over the White House’s penchant for doing nothing to stop these events except guilt-shaming us with puppydog eyes:

“She’s sitting there holding up those hashtags, Bring Back Our Girls.  Remember that hashtag #BringBackOurGirls? That blew my mind, like, why are you showing me that? I’m a stand up comedian. Like what am I going to do to get back the girls? Why don’t you look across the dinner table — you see that guy? That is the Leader Of The Free World. Tell him to pick up a phone, call some Navy SEALs and solve it….what am I going to do? Show up with a sharpened mic stand? HEY EVERYONE MICHELLE TOLD ME TO BRING THEM BACK”

The whole routine is worth watching, if for no other reason than to see an overly-sensitive politically correct crowd, saturated with social media activism for the past seven years, pucker helplessly in their seats. And yet that’s where we’re at. Using Twitter to hold up signs — it’s exasperating precisely because the one “Red Line” that actually seems to still exist is the one forbidding the media from holding the one guy who can do anything about these foreign policy meltdowns and humanitarian crises responsible.

Our media collectively demands accountability for these conflicts from every single person…except the one person who has any real power to stop or mitigate it. This has always been the anecdote in Obama’s foreign policy: 1) show up 2) demand the world follow him 3) world leaders balk at his demands 4) he shrugs his shoulders and goes and plays with his selfie stick somewhere.

Miller juxtaposes two viral photos in his article: one of the Syrian “boy on the beach” being carried by Turkish rescue worker as AP photographers click away, and our man-child president posing with a selfie-stick in Alaska. (As actor James Woods deadpanned on Twitter, “Because what else is there to photograph in Alaska?”) Obama’s selfie photo is even more damning knowing it was taken while the president was narcissistically goofing in front of a phalanx of White House photographers documenting his every gesture for the history books. In the mid-‘90s, Rush Limbaugh frequently chided Bill Clinton for turning on the mock tears when he spotted a network minicam pointed his way at Ron Brown’s 1996 funeral, but whatever Clinton’s boundless narcissism, he at least he made more of an effort at attempting to give an aura of a penumbra of looking presidential than Obama can be bothered with in the YOLO twilight phase of his presidency.

And he really doesn’t give a damn how badly he looks juxtaposed against world events — I created this Photoshop back in February for a Victor Davis Hanson article that ran shortly after Buzzfeed talked Obama into posing with a selfie-stick even as ISIS were concurrently burning men alive in cages and uploading their snuff-films to the Web:

obama_selfie_isis_2-15-15-1

Exit quote: “Sarah Palin to Obama: Carry a ‘Big Stick Instead of a Selfie Stick.’” Why would he start manning-up now?

UPDATE: Squaring the circle: “Do people leaving a bombed out village in SYRIA usually take their selfie sticks with them?”

IRAN SIDE AGREEMENTS VOID CORKER-CARDIN LAW: David Rivkin and Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) have a spot-on piece in the Washington Post, explaining how the “side deals” between Iran and the IAEA mean that under the terms of the Corker-Cardin law, President Obama has never submitted any “agreement” for Congress to review:

The act defines “agreement,” with exceptional precision, to include not only the agreement between Iran and six Western powers but also “any additional materials related thereto, including . . . side agreements, implementing materials, documents, and guidance, technical or other understandings, and any related agreements, whether entered into or implemented prior to the agreement or to be entered into or implemented in the future.” But the president has not given Congress a key side agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This document describes how key questions about the past military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program will be resolved, as well as the precise operational parameters of the verification regime to which Tehran will be subject.

This omission has important legal consequences. At the heart of the act is a provision, negotiated between Congress and the White House, freezing the president’s ability to “waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit the application of statutory sanctions with respect to Iran” while Congress is reviewing the agreement.

That review period was supposed to take 60 days and is triggered the day the president submits the agreement to Congress. However, because the president failed to submit the agreement in full, as the law requires, the 60-day clock has not started, and the president remains unable lawfully to waive or lift statutory Iran-related sanctions. Indeed, since the act also provides for the transmittal of the agreement to Congress between July 10 and Sept. 7, the president’s ability to waive statutory sanctions will remain frozen in perpetuity if Congress does not receive the full agreement Monday.

Since the time period specified in Corker-Cardin for transmittal of the agreement (and all side deals) has now expired, Congress is no longer bound by the law, and President Obama has accordingly not been authorized to suspend, waive, reduce, or otherwise limit existing statutory sanctions against Iran.

If the President ignores this legal reality and waives Iranian sanctions anyway (he is rather fond of ignoring laws and taking unilateral executive action), Congress or the States should sue to stop him.

RELATED: Trump storms D.C. to oppose Iran deal. A rally is slated for tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Capitol with Senator Ted Cruz, former Gov. Sarah Palin, and talk show hosts Glenn Beck and Mark Levin.

UPDATE:  Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) has introduced a resolution that says that President Obama has not submitted the “agreement” (which was defined to explicitly include side deals) as required by law. He will seek to present the resolution as a “privileged” matter, which would allow an immediate floor vote, bypassing committee consideration. Speaker Boehner would need to recognize the resolution as privileged, however, and there are indicators that he is not willing to do this (surprise, surprise).

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Crickets Chirp When Leftist Hate Inspires Violence.

A gay activist opens fire in a conservative organization’s offices, inspired by the steady drumbeat of leftist vitriol against those who value traditional marriage, and no one says a word.

You won’t hear any call for civil discourse from President Obama’s bully pulpit over the shooting and wounding of a security guard at the offices of the conservative Family Research Council (FRC) in Washington, D.C.

The alleged shooter was a volunteer at a community center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and the FRC favors traditional marriage.

Those who blamed Sarah Palin for the shooting of Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords or Rush Limbaugh for the Oklahoma City bombing are strangely silent.

At least the likes of ABC’s Brian Ross didn’t reflexively blame the Tea Party, as he did after a gunman shot up an Aurora, Colo., movie theater.

I’ll bet he Googled hopefully, though.

Related: Video: CNN takes almost 3 hours to report Family Research Council shooting.

Also: Paul Rahe: How Hatred Became a Liberal Value.

Politics is generational. Consider the thuggery practiced by the Democrats recently in Wisconsin. Force, intimidation, and openly partisan, unprofessional conduct on the part of judges, civil servants, physicians, and policemen became on the part of left-liberals the order of the day, and no one on the left stood up to denounce this conduct. Now, thanks to our President’s admiration for the tactics of Saul Alinsky, others in other states are imitating the deportment of the Wisconsin left-liberals – not only heckling Republican candidates but attempting to storm the platforms on which they speak.

I remember when left-liberals insisted on civility. I remember when they condemned the tactics of intimidation championed by the New Left. I remember when progressives insisted on impartiality on the part of judges, civil servants, policemen, and those who purported to be reporting the news (as opposed to espousing opinion). There were always exceptions to the rule. Dan Rather was playing tricks as early as 1963. But, when caught and exposed, these exceptions took it on the chin. Today they rarely even apologize.

I remember when liberals sported on their automobiles bumper stickers reading, “Hatred is not a Family Value.” Then, back in 2003, in The New Republic, Jonathan Chait wrote an essay explaining why it was legitimate to hate George W. Bush, and the dam burst. Civility is no longer a liberal ideal. And now – as yesterday’s armed attack on the Family Research Council in Washington, the five-hour delay in President Obama’s condemnation of the act as he calculated whether it was in his interest to comment or not, and the mainstream media’s initial reluctance to report on the event, much less highlight the activist LGBT connections of the shooter suggest – left liberals are willing to wink at violence. It may be regrettable, they think, but, like stealing elections, it is all in a good cause – and before figuring out how to respond to an outbreak of violence on the part of their allies, they pause to calculate the political consequences. You will not hear liberals arguing for a crackdown on the use of force by animal-rights activists, environmental activists, union thugs, and the Occupy movement. Instead, you will find in them a desperate hankering to pin on the Tea Party responsibility for conduct the Tea-Partiers abhor and a willingness to engage in race-baiting and talk of class warfare on a stunning scale.

True. And pathetic.

NEW YORK SUN: Sarah Palin For The Fed?

The big question as Chairman Bernanke gets set for his first quarterly press conference is how Sarah Palin was able to figure out sooner than everyone else that the Federal Reserve’s campaign of quantitative easing wouldn’t work. Disappointment in the Fed’s policies is being reported this morning at the top of page one of the New York Times. It reports that “most Americans are not feeling the difference” from the Fed’s “experimental effort to spur a recovery by purchasing vast quantities of federal debt.” It reports that “a broad range of economists say that the disappointing results show the limits of the central bank’s ability to lift the nation from its economic malaise.”

It’s a terrific story, and well-timed, given that on Wednesday Mr. Bernanke will break tradition and meet with the press. It is part of the Fed’s effort to get ahead of what is emerging as a public relations catastrophe, as gasoline is nearing six dollars a gallon at some pumps, the cost of groceries is skyrocketing, and the value of the dollars that Mr. Bernanke’s institution issues as Federal Reserve notes has collapsed to less than a 1,500th of an ounce of gold. Unemployment is still high. Shakespeare couldn’t come up with a better plot. But how in the world did Mrs. Palin, who is supposed to be so thick, manage to figure all this out so far ahead of the New York Times and all the economists it talked to?

She did this back in November in a speech at Phoenix, which the Wall Street Journal, in a laudatory editorial at the time, characterized as zeroing in on the connection between a weak dollar and rising prices for oil and food. “We don’t want temporary, artificial economic growth brought at the expense of permanently higher inflation which will erode the value of our incomes and our savings,” the Journal quoted Mrs. Palin as saying. “We want a stable dollar combined with real economic reform. It’s the only way we can get our economy back on the right track.” Now here is the New York Times quoting a raft of economists who have reached the conclusion that Mrs. Palin’s warning was right down the line.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Don Surber:

The Fed bet $900 billion it didn’t have — and it lost. . . . There should be severe penalties and frankly, not only should we fire Ben Bernanke, but we should strip him of his pension and sue him for economic malpractice. There should also be a federal grand jury investigating this monumental failure.

I think we’ll hear more sentiments along this line as the news of the Fed’s failure sinks in.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mike Cardwell writes:

Inflation is poorly understood, but let me submit a basic propositions. The much more obvious reasons for inflation are rising input prices due to increasing restrictions on supply of these key ingredients. There’s much to blame Obama and the Democrats for. They’ve made working more expensive (min wage, health care, etc) and crummy foreign policy is making oil more expensive. Labor and oil are basic ingredients to most every good created by our economy, and so we get price inflation.

Whatever the policy failings of the Fed are (and I could go on at length on them), this isn’t one of them. The simple truth is both easier to understand and more damning. But we have to understand it in order to fix it.

The test of understanding is predictive power. And reader Eric Schubert emails:

As much as it pains me, I have to strongly disagree with you and Sarah. I’m a financial historian by background whose doctoral study focused on financial crises. I strongly agree with the Fed Chairman’s choices in quantitative easing. He is more than aware of some of the inflation risk associated with his actions, but I agree with his assessment that the absolute devastation that accompanies real deflation more than offsets the well-know downsides of QE. The Chairman made his bones studying the Great Depression, and he is determined to avoid that death spiral. He should be applauded, not condemned.

If you need to blame someone, blame the President and former Speaker Pelosi who utterly wasted $800 billion on a rushed, ill-conceived, politically-driven stimulus package. Spending on public goods can be very beneficial when they complement the private sector, rather than focusing on consumption spending or social engineering.

The Fed Chairman was the only adult in the room in economic policy from the Fall of 2008 through the Fall of 2010. He can’t control the stalemate in Congress, nor can he be held responsible for the unwillingness of large portions of the public to face up to our poor long-term finances.

Well, that’s certainly true.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): CBS Poll: Americans Unconvinced Economy on Rebound.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN AND GLENN BECK (CONT’D): Gallup: January Unemployment Rises to 9.8%.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Nearly 11 Percent of US Houses Empty.

UPDATE: This post says the correct number is 2.7%, but looking at the discussion in the comments I’m not sure that’s right, and the more I read the less sure I became about what the numbers actually mean.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): IMF to US: Better Start Taking Care Of Business. Plus this: “Offering the discretionary-spending freeze as an answer to the IMF’s legitimate concern is akin to telling your mortgage holder that you’ve started an austerity program by deciding not to buy more pay-per-view porn each month than in the previous few years.”

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Foreclosure activity up across most US metro areas. “The foreclosure crisis is getting worse as high unemployment and lackluster job prospects force homeowners in an increasing number of U.S. metropolitan areas into dire financial straits.”

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Initial jobless claims jump 51,000.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): New-home sales in 2010 fall to lowest in 47 years.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): CBO: Social Security to begin running permanent deficits this year, not 2016. “This isn’t the only horrible news in the report by a longshot, either. CBO’s projected deficit for this year is a cool $1.5 trillion or 9.8 percent of GDP, which is just two-tenths of one percent less than last year’s all-time budget-buster. And there’s not much revenue relief coming from new jobs: CBO expects that unemployment will remain above eight percent through 2012 and won’t get back to a historic norm of 5-6 percent or so until 2016. This ship has already started to sink, in other words, and yet Captain Hope chose to use his annual megaphone last night to talk about stuff like high-speed rail.”

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Home prices fall in nearly all major cities, heightening fears of double dip.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Jobless Rise in 20 States as Workers Still Laid Off. “The unemployment rate rose in 20 states last month as employers in most states shed jobs. . . . Employers in most states didn’t add any net new jobs last month. The number of jobs on employer payrolls fell in 35 states in December, the department said. Only 15 states reported gains. Layoffs have slowed dramatically in the past year, but hiring has yet to pick up. Texas and South Carolina reported the biggest net job gains in December. Texas added 20,000 positions; South Carolina gained 9,000.”

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Price Drop Points to Likely Double Dip in Housing Market.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Potholes Gape From Detroit to New York as Funds Fade.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Higher pump prices coming your way this spring. “Gas pump prices that are around $3 a gallon now may seem like a bargain by the time your kids are on Easter egg hunts.”

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Global Price Fears Mount: As Food, Raw Materials Soar, Europe’s Central Bank Head Warns on Inflation.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): States warned of $2,500bn pensions shortfall. “US public pensions face a shortfall of $2,500bn that will force state and local governments to sell assets and make deep cuts to services, according to the former chairman of New Jersey’s pension fund.”

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): A Coming Municipal Bond Meltdown? Broke States Rattling Market.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Investors Have Been Fleeing Municipal Bonds. “A few factors can be blamed for this sudden retreat, but the one making all the headlines is the fear that cash-strapped states and municipalities issuing the bonds will renege on promises to investors.”

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): America: Paydown Problems.

As it stands today, the US borrows about 40 cents of every dollar it spends. Curbing the budget deficit has been the stated mission of Mr Ryan, a rising Republican star, for several years. But such calls for action have multiplied in Washington in recent months, igniting what some say is the fiercest debate over fiscal and budgetary policy in decades.

The risks are big. If the government rushes into austerity, cutting too much and too quickly, it could stunt economic recovery. But if the political system cannot forge some kind of consensus on steps to restore US deficits to sustainable levels, the danger is potentially even greater: a sovereign debt crisis in the world’s largest economy.

Fortunately, the country’s in the very best of hands.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Unemployment In The U.S. Is Actually Worse Than Pakistan. “The Eurozone is at similar levels to the US, but when most of the countries that have a higher unemployment rate than the US are collectively referred to as PIGS, it’s not very encouraging.”

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): “We’re fine at the moment, and we’re screwed long term.” Well, ordinarily I’d be worried. But with the best and the brightest at the helm, I foresee nothing but smooth sailing.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Soaring Global Food Prices.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Holiday Spending Record Not As Good As It Looks.

This past season’s revenue marked a 5.7 percent increase over holiday 2009. That’s the strongest gain since 2004. While encouraging, that doesn’t mean shoppers have recovered from the loss of $11 trillion in household wealth. From consumers’ perspective, the economy hasn’t improved dramatically from last year, as credit remains tight, unemployment hasn’t budged below 9 percent, and home values are still depressed. Consumer confidence is hovering at the same level as a year ago and well below the point that signals a stable economy. . . .

In several categories, spending on gifts fell short of shoppers’ 2007 outlay. In 2010, consumers spent $50.7 billion on clothing and accessories like shoes and scarves; in 2007, that figure was $51.3 billion even before adjusting for inflation. Holiday revenue at department stores was $45.3 billion last year, much less than the $50.4 billion that traded hands in 2007.

Read the whole thing. It’s better than last year, but it’s not exactly “Happy days are here again.”

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): U.S. Satisfaction Remains Near 12-Month Low. “Gallup finds 19% of Americans satisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time — essentially on par with the lowest level of the past 12 months, 17%, registered in December. . . . The current low level of satisfaction is likely tied primarily to the economy.”

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Munis Crashing For Third Straight Day, And This Is The Worst Yet.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): The Worst Combo: Consumer Spending Is Mediocre, Gas Prices Rising, And Retailers Have No Pricing Power. “Things are starting to look a little stagflationary.”

UPDATE: Consumer Confidence Slips Surprisingly on Jobs, Fuel Costs.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Inflation rate headed up? The impact of higher food, energy prices.

Related: Producer Prices Up the Most in 11 Months in December.

Americans frantically buying silver coins?

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): AP: Over 1 million Americans seen losing homes in 2011. “The bleakest year in the foreclosure crisis has only just begun. . . . Lenders are poised to take back more homes this year than any other since the U.S. housing meltdown began in 2006. About 5 million borrowers are at least two months behind on their mortgages and industry experts say more people will miss payments because of job losses and also loans that exceed the value of the homes they are living in.”

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): $5 a gallon gas? Washington insiders are wondering if the next real economic crisis facing President Obama is when gasoline prices spike to $4 or $5 per gallon. At today’s press briefing, a White House press spokesman rebuffed queries about the possibility saying ‘there are many people that would get upset at me if I started to opine on oil and gas prices, so I won’t.'”

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Jobless claims jump, wholesale food costs surge. More thoughts here.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): U.S. On The Way To Losing AAA Credit Rating.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): How a housing slump will slow the jobs train.

It seems impolite to ask, what with employment growth sucking wind already. Companies added just around 100,000 jobs a month over the past year, a rate Fed chief Ben Bernanke dismissed Friday as “insufficient to materially reduce the unemployment rate.”

Not a pretty picture.

But it gets worse. Economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch say one key to a jobs recovery is an improvement in housing — because so much job creation is driven by new businesses that have in recent years been financed in part by home equity borrowing.

This sort of job creation has been missing the last couple years, thanks to the housing crash. If U.S. house prices embark as expected on a new decline, the long-awaited hiring renaissance could be put on hold yet again.

“There has been an adverse feedback loop where low home prices lead to tight credit, hurting jobs and prolonging the housing recession,” writes economist Michelle Meyer.

Much of the concern about another housing downturn revolves around the banks. A sharp house-price decline could lead to more foreclosures, hammering profits and reducing lending, such as it is.

But Meyer points to another effect that could be equally powerful for the jobs market. She notes that falling house prices hit home equity, preventing small business owners from tapping a key source of financing.

It’s a reverse “wealth effect.” Hope and change!

UPDATE: Reader John Murrey emails:

I’ve been a real estate agent with my own business and now work for a Top 10 national bank. The other problem that’s going to occur is a drop in labor mobility that will limit job growth and full employment as workers are trapped in homes they can’t afford, can’t sell in areas where job growth is non existent or negative. This will go a long way towards making lending even tighter as people walk away from those homes or are locked in with few affordable resources to finance a business.

Yes, it’s a vicious spiral.

WHY THEY’D RATHER TALK ABOUT SARAH PALIN (CONT’D): Man the Lifeboats! Oil Prices Could Scuttle Recovery. I’m paying $3.25 for gas now. I notice that the big rise in gas prices hasn’t gotten much press attention, though.

CHANGE: HOUSING MARKET SLIPS INTO DEPRESSION TERRITORY. No wonder they’d rather talk about Sarah Palin.

BAD ADVICE: Mark Halperin, last seen musing that what Obama needed was a “horrendous act of violence” that would save his Presidency, is now advising people on the right that they should turn the other cheek when falsely accused of murder after the hoped-for “horrendous act of violence” occurred. To avoid “escalation,” don’t y’know.

Bah. As the man Halperin is struggling to save says, punch back twice as hard. But you can taste the desperation here. When the lefty talking-point assault hasn’t even convinced Barbara Walters and The Economist is calling it “toxic,” it’s a pretty major fail. So now it’s time for Plan B. It probably sounded good on some JournoList: Try baffling ’em with a bible reference — those Christianist tea partiers fall for that every time, right?

As I said, major fail.

The biggest worry after the November elections was that a lot of people on the right would declare victory and go home. The shameless attempt to politicize the Tucson shootings and scapegoat people on the right has generated a huge amount of anger. Tea Party folks being who they are, I suspect this will mostly manifest itself as grunt-level political work in preparation for 2012 — precisely the opposite of what the scapegoaters were hoping for: Don’t get mad, get even, by making 2012 an even bigger shellacking than 2010.

More from Ed Morrissey. “You know what would help us? The media actually doing its job rather than participating in the smear campaign. What exactly did Halperin and his magazine do to report that conservatives were being smeared, as he acknowledges three days later? If their Swampland blog is any indication, exactly zero.”

Halperin liked the idea of politicizing a tragedy to scapegoat Republicans when he wrote about it in December, and he helped push it along in January when the opportunity presented itself. And he’s still doing so. He’s a Democratic political operative. Just not a very good one.

Related: Poll: 57% of Americans don’t buy media spin on Tucson massacre.

TIM PAWLENTY DEMONSTRATES THAT HE’S NOT MAN ENOUGH TO BE PRESIDENT. Well, that was quick. These are the times that try men’s souls. Sometimes, they’re found wanting.

UPDATE: So Politico has updated its story and here’s the key bit:

“It would not have been my style,” Pawlenty said Tuesday on “Good Morning America,” referring to a map like the one posted last year on the Sarah PAC website showing crosshairs on the district of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other Democratic lawmakers who supported health care reform.

He was quick to add that he sees no link between Palin’s imagery and the shootings Saturday in Tucson that claimed six lives and critically injured Giffords.

Asked later in the morning on ABC’s “The View” if he thought the Tucson incident would mark the end of Palin’s political career, the former governor replied, “No, no, I don’t.”

“You can debate tactics and style,” he said, “but there’s no evidence that she or anyone else is at fault” for inspiring the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner.

“We have a mentally unstable, deranged individual,” Pawlenty said. “We know that sometimes they do senseless and irrational things. And to condemn or to judge based on those facts as we know them today is unfair.”

And here’s my problem. “It would not have been my style.”

Really? If some Web guy had done that map, Tim Pawlenty would have looked at it and said, pre-Tucson, “Oh noes, those look like crosshairs! Take them off!” Tim Pawlenty may say he would have done that, and for all I know may even think he would have done that. But to me, agreeing with Stephen Green, above, it looks like an instinct to separate himself from controversy, and ingratiate himself with the interviewer, that speaks poorly.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Pawlenty followup here. Also, more from Stephen Green:

I’m no Palin partisan. Far from it. In fact — and here I go starting trouble again — although I like her, there’s not much chance I would vote for Sarah in any primary. So I’m not tempted to scratch off Pawlenty because he supposedly dissed Palin. It’s clear to me that he did no such thing.

My problem with Pawlenty’s statement is twofold: It’s weak tea (no pun intended) and this is the exact wrong time to make even the smallest concession to the lefty narrative. By weak tea, I mean: Pawlenty didn’t say much at all, and I’d rather have a stand up guy sitting at the Resolute desk. As to his concession, it was tiny but it was there: Words, symbols even, can be bad naughty evil things that make otherwise nice boys shoot at congressmen.

No.

We fight the Left on this and we fight it hard.

And Pawlenty didn’t, says Stephen. That’s how it looks to me, too. Andrew Sullivan thinks this is about “subcultures.” I think it’s about submission to a media meme. Not what we need now, and ironic in a guy with a book out about having the courage to stand up.

MORE: Courage To Sit: “He had, of course, a different agenda, and the last thing he wanted to do in these appearances was talk about Sarah Palin. But he should have anticipated that topic number one would be Tucson, and that if he wants to be held in high regard by the party’s base, he should take advantage of the opportunity to be a hero by standing up to the pathetically weak left-wing narrative. That he didn’t do so, strongly enough to be perceived as doing so by conservatives, is unfortunate, to say the least. We are in a moment in time where most Americans are ready to turn away from the Democrats’ ghoulish opportunism in revulsion, and Pawlenty played it much too safe.”

MORE HOPE AND CHANGE: Wage Cuts Steepest Since Depression. This is why they’d rather talk about Sarah Palin.

JOHN FUND:

How worried are Democrats about the mid-term voting only 10 months away? “If the election were held today, we’d lose the House,” Democratic campaign consultant Tom King told the Huffington Post this week, expressing a view that HuffPo says is echoed by a number of Democratic strategists in off-the-record conversations.

Democrats are reportedly busy devising a strategy as a firewall against a citizen revolt at the polls. Rather than emphasize their party’s accomplishments, they will attack Republicans for wanting to restore the discredited Bush era. “The Republican party in Washington today is no different than the Republican party that ran the Congress before,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen, head of the Democratic House campaign committee, told the liberal Talking Points Memo.

Without delay, campaign strategists are advising Democratic clients to use bloggers, phone banks, direct mail and canvassers to try to create a negative impression of their GOP opponents. Labeling their GOP candidates as being part of the Sarah Palin or Tea Party wing of the GOP will be the key element.

Given that the Tea Party is currently outpolling both Democrats and Republicans, this seems ill-advised. . . .

EARLIER, I referenced a discussion by Slate’s “Dear Prudence” columnist where people complained about over-politicized workplaces. Numerous readers wrote in on the subject.

Steven Den Beste suggested that, since these were nonprofits, employees could complain to the IRS about politicization. And another reader emails:

A friend in a state government agency brought an official hostile work environment complaint against a co-worker’s left wing political harangues and won- in a very liberal state, too.

A gay man in her office – call him “Andy” -drifted into an over the top political activism during the Bush administration. He festooned his cubicles with political posters and never stopped haranguing co-workers with all that was wrong with Bush, their republican governor, etc etc. She’d worked with Andy for almost a decade, so at first she just politely told him she wasn’t interested. Then she flat out asked him to stop. It kept getting worse, not better-an endless barrage of snide comments to her face and inbox full of e-mails of articles and cartoons from left wing publications. Next she complained to their boss. He did nothing, perhaps because as the appointee of the Republican governor he feared being labeled a homophobe should Andy take it to the press. At wit’s end she filed a formal complaint with the state employees’ union that her agency had become a hostile work environment.

It turns out a great many other people in the office – including some as liberal as Andy- found the “this cubicle is a hate free zone” sign above his nameplate highly unprofessional and Andy’s political obsession a major distraction. Once my friend took official action they backed her up about the facts behind the complaint, especially about how Andy wasted their time.

To the expressed relief of more than just my friend, Andy was ordered to tone down the posters, desist with the e-mailing/ copying of materials that had no relation to agency activities and to stop talking politics while on the agency’s clock.

Also, reader Nancy Gubka writes:

Leading up to last November’s election, I thought about filing a complaint with my company’s human resources department over “political harassment” – as in “creating a toxic work environment”. People have a right to their own opinions, but they do *not* have the right to leave their office or cubicle and invade a co-worker’s space in order to harangue them. I’m also not sure that they have the right to gather around the water cooler or other common space and spew leftist hatred and misinformation so that everyone around them is subjected to their thinking and derision.

I did mention it to one more mature co-worker and I think he passed the message on, because I’m not hearing/ seeing this sort of behavior any more. Sometimes it can almost pass as a form of sexual harassment when you have a tall liberal man repeatedly berating a shorter conservative woman.

In any case, I do think this behavior is something that HR professionals will have to deal with sooner rather than later.

Reader Glenmore Shelton, meanwhile, thinks it’s a mistake to complain:

Push back, act offended, and threaten litigation.

And you will quickly find yourself out of work and blacklisted. And unable to get any but a desperate attorney to take your wrongful termination suit on contingency. Apostasy will not be tolerated in the religion of Progressivism.

I’m not so sure, as illustrated above. And reader David Johnson emails: “Regarding your post on Slate’s ‘Dear Prudence’ letter that addresses political comments at non-profits, you might suggest that those afraid to respond in person could use sites such as http://www.annoyingcoworker.com/ or http://www.nicecritic.com/ . These sites allow you to get a message to the person doing the ‘offending’ activity in an anonymous manner. Used judiciously, these are great tools for correcting, ummmm, less desirable habits of coworkers discreetly. Could be good for this as well.”

Of course, it’s fine for people to talk politics at work, and I don’t think that people should be fired for doing so. But some people seem to want to talk politics instead of work, or to turn workplaces into political cliques, which is generally a bad idea. Most people will put up with it out of fear of confrontation — but, on the other hand, those who don’t will find that fear of confrontation works both ways, and that most people will avoid too much politicking if they think someone will complain and make their own experience even mildly unpleasant.

UPDATE: Another reader emails:

I work in New York City. The day after the election was surreal – everyone was so happy and convinced that all problems would magically disappear. They had an inauguration party in the cafeteria and everyone (except me) attended (I pretended I had a lot of work to do). I can guarantee they did not have a party when Bush was inaugurated. During the election, inauguration and since – it is simply assumed that EVERYONE is for Obama. This includes stories in our weekly emailed newsletter. I keep my opinions to myself because my boss is a very argumentative (think Janine Garafalo) liberal who does not tolerate dissent. She’s actually come running out of her office the day after Sarah Palin was announced as VP to go into a tirade about ‘that woman.’ I found it amazing since she had only been in the news less than 24 hours. Everyone just LOVED Tina Fey’s impression of the ignorant version of Palin. I love my job as long as we don’t talk about politics, but most of the time I just listen to Rush or read Instapundit, Hot Air or NRO when they’re not looking.

Ah, the joys of being subversive.

BRENDAN LOY ON TONIGHT’S DEBATE: “This is presidential politics in America — fundamentally unserious, at a time of grave peril for the nation.” And it’s hard to argue with this: “It isn’t just that McCain and Obama are flawed candidates; it’s that there aren’t really any better alternatives. Who would you rather see up there? Hillary Clinton? Mitt Romney? John Edwards? Mike Huckabee? Joe Biden? Sarah Palin? Nancy Pelosi? John Boehner? Harry Reid? Mitch McConnell? George W. Bush? John Kerry? Dick Cheney? Al Gore? Please. Our political class is totally failing us, almost as much as we’re failing ourselves.”

Yes, the political class isn’t attracting the best talent in the nation. It’s not even attracting the second-best.

BILL STUNTZ on Palin, Obama, and the experience issue. “Perhaps the jobs she has held are too small to count in a national presidential campaign. But that isn’t obvious, not yet anyway. What matters more, to me and I bet to more than a few others, is what she’s done in those jobs. The fact that her approval rating among Alaskans is in Mark Warner territory suggests that she might be the kind of governor Warner was in Virginia. If so, that should count for a lot–even if she hasn’t had much time in office. Because time-serving won’t count for much in the offices these four candidates are seeking.”

Plus, fellow lawprof Ann Bartow on sexism: “The Supposedly Liberal Doods threw the most disgusting sexism at Hillary Clinton and her supporters during the Democratic primary. Then Obama picks Joe ‘no friend of women’ Biden as his running mate, rather than choosing somebody who would help build party unity. Now the Supposedly Liberal Doods are back in gear, throwing disgusting sexism at Palin. Why does it have to be like this? Hey Supposedly Liberal Doods, if you want Obama elected, stop burning bridges with women voters and start building some.” Good advice. But is Biden really “no friend of women?”

More on experience, from Ross Douthat (“Yes, Joe Biden has more experience than Sarah Palin. But there’s a not-implausible case to be made that Sarah Palin has more experience than … Barack Obama!”), Jonathan Adler (“Sure, Sarah Palin was a ‘hockey mom’ before her entry into politics, but Barack Obama has never held a single full-time job for more than three years.”) and Tyler Cowen (“Around the blogosphere you will see many left-wing writers criticizing Palin for lack of experience. Maybe this criticism is correct, but these commentators are falling into The Trap.”)

But from Ramesh Ponnuru, cold water. Eric Scheie, meanwhile, comments: “I wonder whether a media analysis would reveal whether ‘inexperienced’ Republicans draw more media criticism than ‘inexperienced’ Democrats.” Yes, as noted at TalkLeft, the Tim Kaine double-standard appears. Though that’s more a case, perhaps, of a gender double-standard.

UPDATE: Via Ann Bartow, this post on the Palin pick: “It will complete the alienation of the rest of the Hillary supporters from the Obama camp. How? That’s easy — the Obamabots will do it themselves. Go read the Washington Post blog or anywhere online where the Palin pick is being discussed, and you’ll see the trademark Obama misogyny already out in full force. She’s been on the ticket for two seconds and already the Obamabots are saying she ‘looks like a porn star,’ they’re making rude remarks about her childbearing, they’re ridiculing her intelligence.”

Yeah, Obama’s supporters are his biggest weak point. Including the ones in the media.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ann Althouse and Rachel Sklar on the Palin pick.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Swimsuit competition? Yeah, that’s a killer issue. “The Obamabots really aren’t going to try to reverse that reputation for misogyny any time soon.”

MORE: A different perspective: “Palin hasn’t been running for national office for 18 months. Obama has. Running a presidential campaign is a form of ‘executive experience.'”

THEY’RE SAYING THAT MCCAIN HAS PICKED SARAH PALIN. The Insta-Wife is ecstatic, which may bode well for that demographic. I’d like it if she had more executive experience, but to be fair, she’s got more than anyone else on either ticket. Is she too liberal on gay rights? Not for me, but maybe for some people.

UPDATE: Sissy Willis has more, including video of an interview of Palin by Larry Kudlow.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Judging from SayUncle, Palin will play well among the crucial bitter gun-clinger demographic. [They prefer to be called ‘blasty-Americans’ now — ed. Oh, good grief.]

Plus, the WaPo’s Ben Pershing on Sarah Palin’s Porkbusting.

The pick is getting good marks from Geraldine Ferraro.

And, Palin as the anti-Ted Stevens.“In an election where the Republican’s biggest liability isn’t Iraq but Ted Stevens and the Alaskan Bridge To Nowhere, McCain took his maverick mantle by the reins and just signed up the Anti Stevens to help him root out the corruption endemic in DC.”

This rather churlish response from the Obama campaign won’t help them — dissing small towns doesn’t fit well after Biden’s “nobody is better than anybody” talk. [LATER: McCain response: “I’d think the Obama people would have learned by now not to belittle the experience of women.”]

By contrast, I just saw Palin praise Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro as pathbreakers. And that “18 million cracks in the glass ceiling” line was delightfully sly.

MORE: Reader Kyle Griffin emails: “Did the Obama campaign just accuse the Republican campaign of having a VP with insufficient experience? Was that really smart? Will we see an ad about that tomorrow from the McCain youTube team?” Yeah, it did seem like an unforced error.

An “I told you so” from Katie Granju. [LATER: Granju emails: “I’m telling you. She’s got the goods. Of course, I disagree with her on, well, mostly everything, but she’s super impressive.” Yeah, I’d never seen her speak before, and I was wrong to discount her, though I thought she’d said she didn’t want the job.]

More on Geraldine Ferraro on Palin.

Roger Simon: Obama the stodgy, McCain the Maverick.

An interesting angle from reader Frank Martin:

Question: Which state borders the Former Soviet Union?

Hey, will you look at that?, 2 years of foreign policy experience.

Well, maybe. And reader Joel Mackey writes:

As a conservative, disenfranchised from the Republican party due to their pork barrel spending, I find myself excited at the prospect of Sarah Palin as VP. Her stands against corruption, her focus on fixing issues affecting America, instead of political manuevers to gain and hold power for power’s sake, make me excited to vote for her.

The only memes that grab my attention with the Obama compaign are when he talks about reforming Washington, but his statements are so vague and his friends are so leftwing, that I suspect his rhetoric is code for changing to a more socialistic model. Whereas Palin would bring reform which would more closely resemble what Reagan would enact.

McCain has hit a homerun, possibly a game winning homerun. Her introductory speech brought a positive emotional response from me, very very rare.

If this reaction is common, I guess it’s a better pick than I had thought. But not everyone’s happy. Reader John Shirey writes:

I just don’t get it – if they were going to pick someone with such limited experience, then why not pick Jindal, who to me is one of the few Republicans I actually like (other than his absolutist stance on abortion), and despite his tender age seems extremely competent and well-spoken. The Palin selection also shows how limited his choices really were in that he couldn’t come up with a Biden-type pick (experienced, ready to lead) that somehow wouldn’t piss of the base (Romney, Giuliani, Lieberman, etc.).

As I mentioned earlier, the GOP has a bench problem. Though the Biden pick wasn’t exactly a game-changer.

Lots of thoughts at Ann Althouse — just keep scrolling as she has multiple posts. I like this: “Earth to nameless CNN website commenter: Women are not a minority.”

From Paul Mirengoff, disappointment.

Beldar put up a big background post in June. Ahead of the curve!

David Post: Sarah Who?

Jeff Goldstein notes a rhetorical snare. Heh.

From Josh Marshall, a Palin scandal. Guess the McCain vetters don’t think it amounts to much, kinda like the Biden thing.

And Col. Douglas Mortimer emails that it’s no big deal: “What’s the point of the being the Governor of a whole state if you can’t even get your sister’s asshole ex-husband fired from a gub-ment job? After all, its not like she’s been caught in a sweetheart real estate deal with a convicted felon, you know.”