Charlie Cook: Bad Decisions Haunt Democrats in Midterms

Charlie Cook, writing in the National Journal about the midterm drubbing the Democrats took last week. At the heart of it all? The economy, stupid:

Although some Democrats were content ito recite the improvement in the unemployment rate—which has dropped below 6 percent—and how many consecutive months the economy has created 200,000 or more jobs, in reality this election was not about the unemployment rate per se or what any economist says about how the economy is doing. Rather, it was about how Americans feel the economy is doing. The fact is that most Americans do not believe the economy is doing better. Specifically, they do not think their personal economy has yet recovered.

Stagnant wages and slow hiring doesn’t give people much confidence in their personal financial security. Cook suggests Democrats should have waited on health care reform and focused more the economy and job creation.

Also: Our Arkansas Business political columnists, Blake Rutherford and Robert Coon, dissect last week’s midterms. Former state legislator Steve Harrelson also weighs in here.

Election Day in Arkansas

It’s (finally) Election Day in Arkansas. Did you think it’d ever arrive? Looking forward to being able to watch TV again on Wednesday?

Lots happening today. If you’ve got a half hour or can stand something playing in the background, we’ve got a great Election Day podcast right here, right now on Our political columnists Blake Rutherford and Robert Coon weigh in on what we’ve seen in the final hours of the campaign and how things are likely to look the morning after. We talk U.S. Senate, Arkansas governor, a host of state races and more.

And tonight, I’ll join the folks THV 11 News for live election coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. Here’s hoping for early night. You can follow me on Twitter for updates, and will post final results as they come in.

Embracing the Chaos of Parenthood

Lance Turner, Laura Turner and Elizabeth
The Family

Here’s a little thing I wrote for Little Rock Family magazine about being a new dad. Thanks to editors Heather Bennett and Blair Neel for inviting me to share.

Our first child Elizabeth is only five months old, but so much has happened between her birthday and today that it was great to stop and get some thoughts down on paper. As every parent knows, things fly by fast. It’s good to take a few minutes and try to think about what it all means.

Here’s a snippet:

It’s been hard for me to think of myself as dad material. Measured against my own dad, I fall embarrassingly short. Sometimes I wonder, when Elizabeth gazes up at me, wide-eyed and quiet, if she knows this. Or at least suspects that I’m not ready.

I certainly wasn’t ready that first night, on no sleep and little patience, sequestered in recovery with my wife, Laura, and that new little stranger who required so much.

Between learning how to care for and feed a newborn and the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion of the day, that first night was tough. The next morning on the phone, I told Mom and Dad that I’d started rethinking this whole father thing. I was only half joking.

But nearly three months in, I’m feeling better about it. I’m settling into a role for which I am spectacularly unprepared and wholeheartedly determined not to screw up too badly.

You can read the whole thing here.

Bloomberg on What’s At Stake in Debt Ceiling Negotiations

Sobering story in Bloomberg on Sunday on just how bad things could be should the U.S. default on its debt obligations this month:

Failure by the world’s largest borrower to pay its debt — unprecedented in modern history — will devastate stock markets from Brazil to Zurich, halt a $5 trillion lending mechanism for investors who rely on Treasuries, blow up borrowing costs for billions of people and companies, ravage the dollar and throw the U.S. and world economies into a recession that probably would become a depression. Among the dozens of money managers, economists, bankers, traders and former government officials interviewed for this story, few view a U.S. default as anything but a financial apocalypse.

The $12 trillion of outstanding government debt is 23 times the $517 billion Lehman owed when it filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008. As politicians butt heads over raising the debt ceiling, executives from Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Warren Buffett to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Lloyd C. Blankfein have warned that going over the edge would be catastrophic.

Also in this story: some talk about how we might mitigate some of the damage should we go into default, including that it might be a “technical default.” As in, we’ve got the money, we just don’t want to pay. But that does little to allay concerns that the U.S. is no longer a safe haven for investments.

So yeah. Totally no bigs. Holding the debt ceiling hostage? A perfectly acceptable way to govern.

At Steve Jobs’ 2007 WWDC Keynote, the iPhone Barely Worked

Steve Jobs’ 2007 WWDC keynote is a must-watch for several reasons. First, it was when Jobs introduced the very first iPhone, changing the mobile devices and personal computing industries forever and setting Apple on path to becoming one of the most valuable and powerful companies in the world. Second, it’s Jobs at his absolute keynoting best: a fun, flawless product demo that ultimately delivered on nearly every promise. (Yep, the technology really was five years ahead of everyone else.) Even today, nearly seven years after the fact, it makes for compelling viewing.

It’s even more fun now that we know more about the story behind the demo. In Friday’s New York Times, Fred Vogelstein publishes an interview with Andy Grignon, a former Apple engineer in charge of iPhone connectivity (cellphone radios, Bluetooth, Wifi). And on the eve of Jobs’ now-famous iPhone demo, Grignon wasn’t feeling very good about the infant product:

It’s hard to overstate the gamble Jobs took when he decided to unveil the iPhone back in January 2007. Not only was he introducing a new kind of phone — something Apple had never made before — he was doing so with a prototype that barely worked. Even though the iPhone wouldn’t go on sale for another six months, he wanted the world to want one right then. In truth, the list of things that still needed to be done was enormous. A production line had yet to be set up. Only about a hundred iPhones even existed, all of them of varying quality. Some had noticeable gaps between the screen and the plastic edge; others had scuff marks on the screen. And the software that ran the phone was full of bugs.

The iPhone could play a section of a song or a video, but it couldn’t play an entire clip reliably without crashing. It worked fine if you sent an e-mail and then surfed the Web. If you did those things in reverse, however, it might not. Hours of trial and error had helped the iPhone team develop what engineers called “the golden path,” a specific set of tasks, performed in a specific way and order, that made the phone look as if it worked.

I’d be lying if I said my stomach wasn’t in knots reading this story. Awesome ending, though. Read the whole thing then watch the keynote again. Unbelievable.


Video: Jay Bradford on Obamacare in Arkansas on ‘Arkansas Week’

Above, this week’s edition of AETN’s “Arkansas Week.” On this week’s episode, state Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford talks to Steve Barnes about Obamacare, Week One, including the latest traffic numbers to the state’s sign-up website and what he makes of the legislature’s stance against a $4 million Obamacare advertising and outreach campaign.

Plus, the Arkansas Times’ David Ramsey, independent journalist Rick Fahr and I talk about the week that was in health care, the government shutdown and looming debt ceiling debate.