Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Here comes the landslide"

Dick Morris is even more optimistic than I am...
Voters have figured out that President Obama has no message, no agenda and not even much of an explanation for what he has done over the past four years. His campaign is based entirely on persuading people that Mitt Romney is a uniquely bad man, entirely dedicated to the rich, ignorant of the problems of the average person. As long as he could run his negative ads, the campaign at least kept voters away from the Romney bandwagon. But once we all met Mitt Romney for three 90-minute debates, we got to know him — and to like him. He was not the monster Obama depicted, but a reasonable person for whom we could vote.

As we stripped away Obama’s yearlong campaign of vilification, all the president offered us was more servings of negative ads — ads we had already dismissed as not credible. He kept doing the same thing even as it stopped working.

The result was that the presidential race reached a tipping point...
He addresses the Senate races and comes to the conclusion that the Republicans will take back the Senate. As I say, he's more optimistic than I am. But I said that Romney would win this election two years ago, and I've continued to say so...

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It's Time To Vote

The Romney campaign has done some good videos this year. Here's another...

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

What, exactly, are the "major issues of the day," Mr. Brooks?

This is the kind of thing that NY Times token "conservative" David Brooks does that makes so many conservatives detest him. From a conversation - a lament about how much better conservatives used to be - with Judy Woodruff and Mark Shields on PBS’s “NewsHour:"
“I went back. I said, ‘Am I imagining the way old campaigns used to be?’” Brooks said. “I went back and looked at some of the 1980 speeches, or the debates, Jimmy Carter versus Ronald Reagan. They actually were talking about the major issues of the day, the Soviet Union, and inflation and stagflation. If you look at the major issues of the day, well, widening inequality — well, that has not really been talked about. Wage stagnation that has barely been talked about, global warming — you go down the list of the big issues of the day, and this campaign I think more even than real-life campaigns, it’s not imagining some campaign, even more than recent campaigns, has ignored a lot of those issues.”
If you want to make the case that President Birth Control-Big Bird-Binders-and-Bayonets has neglected the "major issues of the day," well, yeah. That's true. But if you want to make the case that global warming is one of the major issues of the day, I suspect that you'd find a lot of dissenters. As to anything economic in nature - including "widening inequality" and "wage stagnation," well, those are a function of the sad state of the American economy. They are completely inseparable from discussion of the unemployment rate, the deficit, the debt, the tax code, the looming entitlement crisis - you know, all of the things that Mitt Romney has been talking about every day for the past year.

Has one of the campaigns "ignored a lot of" the major issues of the day? Sure. But they haven't both ignored them. This is the kind of false equivalence that's infuriating. And it's the kind of thing that tells conservatives that David Brooks is not one of them...

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Peggy Noonan - wrong again...

The October 3 debate in Denver, between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, was the seminal moment of this campaign. And Peggy Noonan, in her analysis, gets what happened there exactly backwards.
Why was the first debate so toxic for the president? Because the one thing he couldn't do if he was going to win the election is let all the pent-up resentment toward him erupt. Americans had gotten used to him as The President. Whatever his policy choices, whatever general direction he seemed to put in place he was The President, a man who had gotten there through natural gifts and what all politicians need, good fortune.

What he couldn't do was present himself, when everyone was looking, as smaller than you thought. Petulant, put upon, above it all, full of himself. He couldn't afford to make himself look less impressive than the challenger in terms of command, grasp of facts, size.

But that's what he did.
What happened in Denver had nothing to do with Barack Obama. It was never going to be - he's been the President for four years, with all of his speeches and actions, and their consequences. People's feelings about Obama and the job he's done are essentially set, not to be significantly changed by one more 90 minute television appearance. No, the debate was all about Mitt Romney.

The Obama campaign, recognizing that things are not going well, has spent the last year attempting to define Mitt Romney in such a way as to render him unacceptable to the majority of voters. The impact of Denver did not come from Obama's behavior, but from Romney's. In one night, he destroyed the caricature that the Obama campaign had spent a year building.

The threat to Obama's re-election was never the President's behavior. It was always the bad economy and an acceptable alternative. Mitt Romney's performance in Denver told the American people that there was not only an acceptable alternative, but one who knew how to deal with the bad economy. Obama's behavior - "petulant, put upon, above it all, full of himself" - didn't really show until the next two debates. And it's behavior that he's been demonstrating for his entire time on the public stage. The difference in Denver was that there was a contrast for everyone to see.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

"The President Sends His Non-Regrets "

The Wall Street Journal, on the excuse-making, pass-the-buck President...
As Mr. Obama likes to remind voters now, in 2009 the economy had suffered a financial heart attack and needed to be nurtured back to health. That required careful management and attention to reviving consumer and business confidence.

Yet rather than work with both parties to fashion a growth agenda, he went all-in for a Keynesian spending blowout and subcontracted the details to House Democrats. And rather than wait to see how strongly—and even whether—the economy then recovered, he dove headlong into fighting to pass 40 years of pent-up liberal social policy.

It wasn't merely ObamaCare. The President also tried to impose a cap-and-tax on carbon energy production, end secret ballots for unions via card check, while promising to raise taxes in 2011 until he was stopped when voters elected a GOP House in 2010.

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Some editor obviously screwed up...

It's trite and cliche to suggest that the press in this country favors the Democrats over the Republicans by a wide margin. Trite and cliche and true. And one of the ways in which that favoritism sometimes shows itself is through the art of juxtaposition - two superficially similar images side by side, with the Democrat beaming and the Republican scowling.

Years of that make this morning's edition of The Des Moines Register frankly shocking.

You can't buy that kind of publicity...

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Lies, scandal and politics: Benghazi"

Remember that classic statement of high moral indignation from the President during the second debate? About how outrageous it would be for anyone to suggest that he, or anyone else in his administration, might even consider the possibility of misleading the American people about terrorist attacks for the purpose of political gain?

Yeah. Right.

Danielle Pletka:
Luckily, Reuters now tells us what really happened before the President hit the Rose Garden on 9/12: Within minutes of the attack the day before, the White House received three emails. Here are the three subject lines for those emails, which spanned a couple of hours from the beginning of the terrorists’ move:

Email one: ”U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack” and the notation “SBU,” meaning “Sensitive But Unclassified.”
Email two: “Update 1: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi”
Email three: ”Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack.”

Bottom line? Barack Obama was willfully and knowingly lying to the American people. Why? To protect the meme that he had al Qaeda and affiliates/sympathizers like Libya’s Ansar al Sharia on the run.

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New Obama defense - "He's not lying - he just doesn't understand the budget..."

Among the items that the President lied about during Monday nights debate was the source of the sequestration component of the last budget deal, which is going to result in across the board budget cuts if there's not a new budget deal. But apparently, he's got defenders willing to argue that he really wasn't lying. About sequestration, anyway...

Bob Woodward:
What the president said is not correct,” Woodward told POLITICO Tuesday. “He’s mistaken. And it’s refuted by the people who work for him.”


During the debate, however, Obama said the idea originated on Capitol Hill.

“First of all, the sequester is not something that I've proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed,” Obama said, adding his strongest pronouncement to date on its future: “It will not happen.”

Woodward said there’s a possibility the president was unaware of how the idea came about.

“It’s a complicated process — and in fairness to the president — maybe he didn’t know that they were doing this because it’s kind of technical budget jargon,” Woodward said.
Well, that's a hell of a slogan for the campaign. "Four more years! He didn't screw up the budget intentionally, he just didn't know what he was doing!"

Of course, not knowing what he's doing, economically speaking, is a far more generous assessment of his term than the alternative...

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American Crossroads: "At Stake"

Clint's back, and there's nothing subtle - or amusing - about this one.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Clear Path

Mitt Romney's close:

It works.

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New Romney Ad - Apology Tour

Apology Tour

Yeah, that works...

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The Final Debate

As I've been saying...

Yuval Levin:
It was absolutely clear that both candidates understood that this debate was entirely about Mitt Romney. Romney’s only goal was to seem presidential, and Obama’s only goal was to make Romney seem not presidential. By that measure, Romney clearly achieved his aim and Obama clearly did not. Romney did this by treating this debate very differently than the other two. He didn’t really try to score points, and he wasn’t afraid to express agreement with Obama, which he did remarkably often. His goal was to answer every question with a calm, responsible attitude and convey sobriety and level-headedness. The calculation must have been pretty simple: voters are not greatly concerned with foreign policy this year, but they wouldn’t elect someone they don’t trust on foreign policy. So having clearly conveyed his differences with Obama on domestic issues and his own domestic agenda, Romney merely needed to be a plausible commander in chief—to convey deep knowledge and the right attitude, to avoid getting rattled, to deny Obama the chance to label him a war monger or an amateur, and to waive off attacks on himself by returning to his core domestic message and reminding voters that the president is running on nothing.

And Romney did not lose, so he won. Whether it was a tactical victory or not, it was clearly a strategic victory. The race is going Romney's way - has been since the first debate - and nothing that happened last night, or in the second debate, or in the VP debate, changed that.

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Presidential Debate 3

My live twitter stream (with a few morning-after thoughts interspersed)...
I repeat what I said before 2nd debate - Romney can hurt himself, but Obama can't help himself.

The only question tonight - is Mitt Romney a credible President?

1980s-1950s-1920s line was good. Wrong, but good. Romney needs a response.

Russia is a geo-political foe. 100% correct.

Not going to give Mr. Putin "more flexibility after the election." Instead, more backbone. Good.

[Morning after - This was a great sequence for Mitt, and a great line. But how many people are aware of the "flexibility" quote? It may be one of those lines that should draw blood, but doesn't, because the target audience doesn't recognize the reference. That's not something the mainstream press played up - after all, Obama's not a Republican.]
Saying Assad has to go... And that's accomplished what, exactly? Right, exactly nothing...

Does Obama really want to go back to Libya? Is Romney going to let him get away with that?

[Morning after - And the answer is, "yes, Romney let him get away with that." Clearly, the strategy for the evening was not to get confrontational on Libya. Whether to avoid another dose of indignant protestations of virtue from the President or for some other reason, I do not know.]
"Our debt is is the biggest national security threat we face..."

"America is stronger now than when I came in to office." What the hell are you talking about?

Math teachers. One of the men on that stage needed math teachers at some point. Or better ones, at the very least...

Obama: "Hey, have you heard that Romney's proposing $5 trillion in tax cuts for the rich?"

Fewer ships...also fewer horse and bayonets... Really? The President of the US thinks that sarcastic snark is a legitimate argument?

[Morning after - some people liked that sequence from the President, thinking that it was a reasonable analogy, because technology has changed. I thought it was a dreadful (and clearly scripted) line and that it made him look very bad as he delivered it, but maybe not...] 
15 more minutes without a collapse, and Romney wins the election.

Romney's comments on the auto industry in 2008. Romney right, Obama wrong. Or lying. Or both...[Romney's 2008 NYT Editorial about the auto industry]

[Morning after - The President has made this accusation in two debates, and the VP made it in his debate, and it's a blatant lie. Not a misstatement, not a mis-representation, a blatant lie. And the four fact-checkers of the apocalypse are apparently too busy attempting to pin down Paul Ryan's marathon time to pay any attention to it.
You know, if we had taken your advice, Governor Romney, about our auto industry, we'd be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China...You were very clear that you would not provide government assistance to the U.S. auto companies even if they went through bankruptcy.
- Barack Obama, last night
The American auto industry is vital to our national interest as an employer and as a hub for manufacturing. A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs. It would permit the companies to shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs. The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk.
- Mitt Romney, 2008
OK? The President is lying.]

The verdict? Good enough. Basically a draw on the evening, which is all that Romney (the next POTUS) needed...

Like Lehrer in the 1st, Schieffer let the candidates debate. That's a plus for the voters.

Obama's performance tonight didn't do anything at all to break Romney's increasing momentum.

romney looks/sounds like a president

Obama took more time than Romney. Again. Democrats get more time in each of the four debates...

Romney finished stronger than he started.

Chris Wallace fact-checks Obama on Iraqi status of forces agreement: Romney was right.


Romney demonstrated that he is Presidential in every way.

Krauthammer: I think it's unequivocal: Romney won, not just tactically but strategically.
Will media call Obama on lying - again - about Romney's position on the auto-industry bailout?

If Romney's tied or leading coming in, as seems likely, with the momentum, does tonight change that? No. Ergo Romney win.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

CBS on the real Mitt Romney

I am shocked to find myself linking to CBS News video twice in one week, but there it is...

How on earth did this make it on to CBS?

But again, this is exactly the reason that the Obama smear campaign against Mitt Romney has been so infuriating. (And trivial - the dog and haircut stories got coverage because there's no real dirt on Mitt.) I've got no problem with people wanting to vote against him because they think that Barack Obama's done a good job, or they disagree with Romney philosophically. But he might be the nicest person, who has lived his life to the highest moral standards, of anyone who has ever run for the office. There are many reasons to vote against him, but "he's a bad guy" isn't one.

And that has been pretty much the sole argument I've seen from many...

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Friday, October 19, 2012

"Obama Embraced by Catholics. Romney Dines with Rich People."

UPDATE: Well, that was an unfortunate typo. Obviously, Romney "dines" rather than "dies"...

One of the traditional events of the closing of a Presidential Campaign is the candidates appearing at the annual Al Smith dinner in New York, to poke fun at themselves and each other. I have not seen the President's performance, but Governor Romney was excellent. He found some good joke writers, and delivered the results well.

There were two or three times that he sailed a little close to the wind, I thought, but a very entertaining speech.

A couple of my favorite lines:
I'm pleased to once again have the chance to see Governor Cuomo who's already being talked about for higher office. A very impressive fellow, but he may be getting a little ahead of himself. I mean, let me get this straight, the man has put in one term as a governor. He has a father who happened to be a governor, and he thinks that's enough to run for president. President Obama surveys the Waldorf banquet room with everyone in white tie and refinery, you have to wonder what he's thinking. So little time, so much to redistribute.

I've already seen early reports from tonight's dinner, headline; "Obama Embraced by Catholics. Romney Dines with Rich People."

(The Chicago Sun-Times has the transcript.)

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Act of Terror"

How wrong was Barack Obama, and Candy Crowley to bail him out the other night?

American Crossroads: "Act of Terror"

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One of the differences between Austin and Boston... that you'd never hear a Boston radio guy make the following comment that I heard this morning:
The cold air is here now, and there's a big change today, with a high of 79, and a high of 81 tomorrow...


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When did Obama label consulate attack "terror"?

It's sad to praise someone for just doing the bare minimum in their job requirements, but CBS news is so in the tank for the left in general, and the Obama campaign in particular, and has been for so long, that it's shocking to see a news story like this from them.

Obviously, Barack Obama lied repeatedly the other night, but it's still shocking to see CBS, of all people, actually report it...

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The Choice on Jobs

The Choice on Jobs

I agree with those who think that this is another effective ad from the Romney campaign. And, in the established context, the overall effect is fair. Obama did promise change, and jobs, and he's obviously not delivered.

But the statement that he made the other night that "some jobs are not going to come back" is absolutely true, and does not represent "giv[ing] up hope." The US economy is not producing the number of buggy whips that it once did, and those jobs aren't coming back. It's going to be a long, long time before much of the low-skilled manufacturing jobs which have left for the far east are profitable to bring back. (And if it becomes profitable for Americans to do those jobs again, it's very bad news for the American worker, because it means our economy, and standard of living, have been effectively destroyed.)

So, yeah, there are a lot of jobs that aren't coming back. But even more relevant are the jobs that will come back once the Federal Government stops implementing the economic policies that this administration wants. So the ad is, if not perfectly fair (albeit much more honest and fair than most of the Obama campaign advertising has been), plenty fair enough...

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"No idea how the economy works"

The Manchester Union Leader has a "why don't you tell me something I didn't know" editorial endorsement of Mitt Romney this morning.
If the last four years were not convincing enough, President Obama proved during Tuesday night’s debate that he has no clue how the economy works...The President shows by his actions and policy proposals that he really believes the only way economies thrive is when they are directed by government policy-makers and bureaucrats...


For example, the first questioner Tuesday night asked how the candidates would assure that he has a job after he graduates college in 2014. Obama’s telling answer was that he would punish companies that offshore, further subsidize college loans, invest “in solar and wind and biofuels, energy efficient cars,” raise taxes on the rich, and increase spending on roads, bridges and schools.

He has actually accomplished all of those things except raising taxes on the rich. What are the results? The slowest economic recovery in U.S. history.
And there's more...

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2nd Presidential Debate tweet-stream

Here's what I was thinking, or at least tweeting, during the late afternoon and 2nd Presidential debate last night.

Left looking for a strong performance from Obama tonight. But Obama's performance is irrelevant.

He's already lost his "control" of the election. All about Romney now.

Romney could lose it tonight, but Obama can't win it....

How badly has Obama lost ground among women? Well, right now Romney is tied with the president among the eyeless "Julia" icons.

Can't be as forceful as what he's done last four @SalenaZitoTrib @ZekeJMiller Obama will make "very forceful four years"

Mitt in full pander mode. Because all of that federal money flowing to the colleges are guaranteeing affordability, right?

just isn't true! Mitt challenged him - finally! - on the GM bankruptcy. And Obama accuses him of lying.

As with Biden the other night, I'm sure the lefties are loving the class warfare they're hearing from the President

I'm used to being interrupted. By who, Michelle? Joe Biden? Not Romney, who's let him speak...

The top-5 five percent will still PAY 60% OF ALL FEDERAL TAXES. Nice way to sneak that in...

If we're serious about the debt... Yeah, sing it, Barack. Your credibility here is strong...

This has been a disappointment... Understatement of the night, so far...

Well, no, it's not... Sounded like Reagan to me...

I fear Republicans, but really, I'm undecided... "Thank you, what a great question...." Ugh...

Is Planned Parenthood really that beloved amongst the electorate that it's sacrosanct?

Obama: Flat economy explained low gas prices at start of term, but low illegal immigration flow is all about my great policies, not economy.

Just guessing here, but I suspect Obama thinks he won...

Essentially a tie. Strong points both sides. Doesn't change the trajectory, which is all Romney, so effectively a Romney win,

And why do we care what people who are too lazy or stupid or disinterested or careless to have chosen between these two yet think?

Or put it this way: Obama says it was an act of terrorism ... and then goes to a party in Vegas? That's their new story?

I'm skeptical that it was as good a night for Romney as Luntz' focus group makes it seem. Or the Fox coverage in general.

But it was good enough. Again Romney was good. Again, Romney was Presidential.

As I said earlier, Obama was irrelevant to this. This was all about Romney's performance. It was good, therefore success...

Obama wasn't doing that great until he touched rings with Candy and said, "Wonder Twins power activate!"
Frank J. Fleming

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Obama's performance tonight? Irrelevant...

The conventional wisdom, which crystallized within hours of the first debate, was that Obama had a  dreadful performance, and that was the source of the Romney win. 

I think that's wrong.  I believe that Obama was fairly typical Obama.  He is never particularly good when he doesn't have a teleprompter, and much of his appeal four years ago was a result of vacuous rhetoric and the ability of people to project on him the post-racial President of a post-racial America that they want to see.

So the issue in Denver was not Obama - it was Romney. Romney was excellent, demonstrating both a likeable persona and a detailed grasp of the issues.  The problem for Obama in Denver was not that he wasn't Presidential - it was that Romney was. 

All of the conditions on the ground - high unemployment, low job growth, almost non-existent economic growth, exploding deficits and debt, a wildly unpopular health care bill, the appearance of a collapse of diplomacy in the middle east, including the recent murder of a US Ambassador on US sovereign soil, and the accompanying lies and deception - make this a very bad environment for an incumbent running for re-election.  And you only have to look at the campaign that Obama has run to see that.  He has no accomplishments to run on, and he recognizes that.  (He does have accomplishments, as both the stimulus and Obamacare are significant accomplishments, but they're also both losing issues, so he can't run on them.)  So the entirety of his election campaign has been focused on Mitt Romney.  "Mitt's mean to dogs, he's going to take money from the poor and give it to the rich, he lays off people and gives cancer to their wives, he doesn't pay any taxes," yadda, yadda, yadda.  No pro-Obama, just anti-Mitt.  The strategy works as long as the challenger is never able to pierce the caricature.  It works as long as the incumbent can maintain the fiction that it's his election, and he's in control of it.  It works as long as you can maintain the air of inevitability and invincibility. 

That air was shattered in Denver.   That's why the conventional wisdom is that Obama had a horrible night (he did) and that it was Obama's performance that caused it (it wasn't).

That conventional wisdom, that Obama performed poorly, leads directly to the conventional wisdom going into tonight's debate, that Obama needs to be much better.

That's wrong, too.

Here's the reason that the Democrats are starting to reek of desperation: it does not matter, in the slightest, what Barack Obama does tonight.  It's irrelevant.  This election is, as it was always bound to be, a referendum on the first term Presidency of Barack H. Obama.  With no suitable alternative, the incumbent will be re-elected.  If a suitable alternative is discovered, the election hinges on the facts. 

And the facts are very bad for President Obama.

What happened two weeks ago in Denver was that Mitt Romney demonstrated to the American people that he is a suitable alternative.  So tonight's debate is not about Obama - it's about Romney, again.  It does not matter what Obama does.  He cannot change the trajectory of the race.  Oh, he'll try.  And the media will do all it can to assist him.  (You know that the "Barack Obama, The Comeback Kid" headlines are already written and set for the morning editions.)

But he can't.  Only Romney can change it, with some massive screw up, something that renders him unfit in the eyes of the soft supporters and undecided middle.  He could commit some glaring gaffe that's suitable for wall-to-wall obsession for the next week on the part of the press.  Absent that, though, the preference cascade continues.

Mitt Romney could do something to lose the election tonight.  But Barack Obama cannot do anything to win it. 

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Joe Biden Says What He Means

You had to know that this was coming, the instant that the bloviating gasbag uttered the line...

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Debate reaction roundup

Primarily from the right side of the internet...

Michael Barone
Joe Biden appealed to Democratic partisans, firing them up by attacking and, even more often, smirking at Paul Ryan’s arguments. But smirks only work when your audience starts off agreeing with you. That would be the case with strong Democratic partisans, but it’s not at all that clear that it appeals to Independents, or to those who are undecided or moveable. He was trying to dismiss Ryan’s arguments as ridiculous, in line with Democratic talking points that no rational person could possibly agree with him, but I think that only works with people who are already convinced. He may have increased Democratic voters’ enthusiasm—down in the dumps after Barack Obama’s performance eight days ago—but he didn’t do much in the way of converting those who are not already converted.
Fred Barnes
The only good thing about Thursday night’s debate for the Obama campaign was that it involved Biden rather than Obama. As a result, it’s not likely to have any impact in the election and may not even affect the polls over the next few days.

What were the Obama strategists thinking? Yes, Biden’s performance may have pleased the Democratic party’s liberal base. So what? Their votes are in the bag. Obama needs to attract the small bloc of undecided and swing voters. They’re not likely to lurch his way on the basis of the show Biden put on.


There’s a way to disagree with your opponent without acting like a jerk. The most recent example: Romney’s firm but polite disagreements with Obama in their debate last week. One can be assertive but affable, tough but cool. Come to think of it, that was Obama’s style in the entire 2008 presidential race. It worked brilliantly. Biden did the opposite in front of tens of millions of American voters. It didn’t work brilliantly.

Randy Barnett (quoted by Glenn Reynolds)
Ryan had to pass the vice president test tonight or the ticket would have suffered. He did, which against the hard charging Joe Biden was no mean feat. So there is no change in the current dynamic of the race.
Mark Levin
Joe Biden was off his meds, flailing with his hands, interrupting, repetitive, and whiny, which is what most of his base has wanted. And Paul Ryan was calm, cool, and collected, with a better second half in the debate.
Paul Mirengoff
Joe Biden was always going to be an attack dog tonight. After the presidential debate, the Democrats needed him aggressively to promote their post-debate excuse that Romney is all smoke and mirrors. Moreover, Biden is well suited for the attack dog role.

I didn’t expect, however, that Biden’s demeanor would be so off-putting. The ridiculous toothy smile didn’t come as a shock. But the smirking, mocking, laughter, constant interruptions of Paul Ryan, and cranky interaction with moderator Martha Raddatz, whom he chided at one point for allegedly misstating the facts, did.

My sense is that Biden’s demeanor cost him the debate.

Bruce Kesler
Quick reaction around the networks and websites: Both Biden and Ryan scored some good points. Biden's sneers and constant interruptions were a turn-off, disrespectful in the extreme, to those who value courtesy in personal communications. The CNN tracking of men and women Independents throughout the debate found women favoring Ryan over Biden. That's a reversal from the past leaning of women toward Obama (now, Obama and Romney are about even in the polls with women). Biden's condescending attitude came through as consistent with Obama's. That's a negative for those tired of being talked down to by those whose promises and self-regard are hollow.

Biden may have encouraged his base by his boorishness, and Ryan may have not met his base's expectations of being tougher on Biden's assertions -- even when wrong as to facts. But, for many Independents the comparison comes down to Ryan's civility Vs Biden's rudeness.
Wall Street Journal
So now we know what Team Obama's comeback plan was following last week's defeat in the Presidential debate. Unleash Joe Biden to interrupt, filibuster, snarl, smirk and otherwise show contempt for Paul Ryan. The carnival act contributed to the least illuminating presidential or vice presidential debate of our lifetimes.

From the opening bell, Mr. Biden seemed to take to heart the interpretation that President Obama offered this week of his debate performance—that he had been "too polite." That was not a problem for the Veep, whose marching orders were clearly to steamroll the overmatched moderator Martha Raddatz and dismiss everything Mr. Ryan said with a condescending sneer.

By unofficial media counts, Mr. Biden interrupted the Republican some 80 to 100 times. Mr. Ryan let the bully get away with too much for our tastes, at least until he finally pushed back on the interruptions or until Mr. Biden lost steam in the last half hour. But as anyone who's been in a tavern past midnight understands, it's hard to win a fight with a guy who is shouting from the corner bar stool.


But this 90 minutes wasn't about an exchange of ideas or a debate over policies. It was a Democratic show of contempt for the opposition, an attempt to claim by repetitive assertion that Messrs. Ryan and Romney are radicals who want to destroy "the middle class." Mr. Ryan's cool under assault was a visual rebuttal of that claim, and we certainly know who looked more presidential.
Mollie Hemingway
No one won this debate. And I suppose you could interpret that as me saying that Rep. Paul Ryan lost. But you'd be wrong. I think Vice President Joe Biden lost by being horribly belligerent and unserious. Ryan lost by not aggressively responding to Biden. And Martha Raddatz lost by interrupting at inappropriate times.


I'm even willing to give this debate to Biden, in the very short term. But in the long term, I bet he lost it. Think about what will stay with people after the debate. They'll remember a rude, interrupting man.

I have no doubt that these things will fire up the Democratic base. They were looking to get fired up and Biden showed some passion.

But think about how it comes off to women. Heck, think about how it comes off to average Midwesterners. Does that persona age well?


While the media might enjoy the narrative shift for a few hours, I think it's going to be hard to overcome Biden's many misstatements, his blustering persona, and his shocking lack of seriousness about the office he holds and the problems we face.

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Laughing at the Issues

That was quick. A strong new ad from the GOP...

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VP Debate

Collected here are my tweets from last night, some of which were retweets of other comments I liked. There are also a couple of comments which are retrospective, as I was on the road for the first half of the event.

Will be on the road, listening and not watching for most of tonight's debate.

I'm concerned that expectations are such that Obama gets a boost from Biden not falling asleep on stage. Or off it.

Only real question of the night is this - can Paul Ryan make people think, "I like these guys - they know what they're doing..."

If so, regardless of Biden performance, Romney/Ryan momentum continues...

(As noted above, I was not online or viewing when the debate started.  The next four comments are recorded afterwards, but they represent my thoughts at the time.  Let me just say that, while Biden's interruptions were beginning to grate, I was not happy with what I'd heard when I arrived at home.)
Listening to the first set of answers, on Libya, and Ryan sounds tentative.  Biden sounds forceful and knowledgeable. 

Biden got all of the class warfare buzzwords in there with the 47%, didn't he?  Given that he had to know it was coming, Ryan's response sounded weak.

Ugh.  Great story about the family in Northboro, but not at all responsive to the question.  GM shouldn't be an asset for the administration, and Ryan lets it stand as one.

Worse, he lets the accusation that R &R would have allowed American car industry to go down the tubes to stand.
I think that the Obama/Biden base is probably stoked right now. The independent middle that they need - not so much...

Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Ed Schulz - they're a lot happier tonight than they were last Wednesday.

Energetic class warfare, shouting down the Republican - the leftist base has got to be swooning...

I listened to the first 40 minutes or so. Biden did not sound obnoxious for the first 20 or so, but the interrupting got bad.

Did it wear thin faster with pictures?
John Dickerson on CBS: Obama said he was too polite; can't be said of Biden.
- Ramesh Ponnuru 
I like Paul Ryan... for a politician. That's like having a favorite mold.
- Frank J. Fleming 
 Lesson: liberal base hates civility. Loathes it.
- Dan McLaughlin 
Slow Joe clearly thought he was reprising Bentsen-Quayle. But Ryan's not Quayle and Biden's not Bentsen. Fail.
Biden claims state dept at fault over Libya cover up but we will know when Iran goes nuclear. Which is it? State dept is or isn't competent?
- Chuck Woolery 
Krauthammer: On radio, Biden won. On TV, Ryan won. I agree...

My takeaway - Biden was obnoxious, Ryan took a while to get started. Bottom line, no change in momentum, so that's positive for Romney...

Laughing at the Luntz focus group, so impressed by Biden's grasp of the facts. Easy enough if you just make it up as you go along.
A couple of next day thoughts:
  • If the fact checkers were truly objective, or "fair and balanced," they'd go to town on Joe Biden's "malarkey." I'm not sure that there's enough time left between now and the election to cover all of the misstatements and misleading statements he made last night. But he's Joe Biden, he's been doing it for years, and I don't expect much coverage of it. And it really doesn't matter, except that the Obama campaign has made such a commitment to the narrative myth of Romney mendacity. 
  • There was no Bentsen-Quayle moment.  (Biden thought that he could make one.  He was wrong.)  Paul Ryan came across, particularly as the evening went on, as knowledgeable, capable, intelligent, and prepared.  Oh, and polite, particularly compared to the gentleman on the other side of the table.What the Romney campaign needed was a performance without gaffes, a performance that prevented the narrative from turning, today, to "selecting a VP was the first big decision and he failed miserably."  Paul Ryan had to come across to undecided voters as a likeable person and a credible VP candidate.  Period.  While the expectations were cranked up unrealistically high, the actual requirements of the performance made for a relatively low bar, and Ryan crossed it easily.
  • It is depressing to consider that our political future is in the hands of the likes of the group of "undecided" voters that Frank Luntz had gathered for his panel last night.
  • One thing I can't be sure of is how much of a disparity there was between the radio and TV perceptions last night.  It could be that Biden was much worse, and Ryan better, on television than radio.  And it could also be that Biden was better during the first half and Ryan worse.  Since I listened to the first half and saw the second, either possibility would account for my perceptions. 
  • If Barack Obama thought that he was "too nice...too polite" in the first debate, what does he think about VP Biden's performance last night?  I suspect that he's not quite delusional enough - close, but not quite - to think that he should behave that way when the second Presidential debate takes place next week.  Though I'd love to see it.  It would effectively end the campaign (and not the way that the Obama fanboys want it to...)
Going in, the momentum and fundamentals were all on the side of the Romney campaign. Nothing happened last night to change that. Therefore, it was a net plus for the Republicans.

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The soft bigotry of low expectations...

... are on display in this Michael Kinsley endorsement of Barack Obama...
President Barack Obama navigated us through the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression in a way that (in my opinion) deserves a B+. He didn’t get us into any wars, and there were no major terrorist episodes on his watch. That, to me, seems like a pretty good record.
That B+ is a little ... generous, I think.

And not much else there to really pump up the crowd, is there?

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Freedom To Succeed

Thomas Peterffy, a Hungarian immigrant, believes in freedom. And is putting his money where his mouth is with this ad, which he produced and is paying to run.

I grew up in a socialist country and I have seen what that does to people. There is no hope, no freedom, no pride in achievement. The nation became poorer and poorer, and that's what I see happening here.
I have a friend who also grew up behind the Iron Curtain, in then-Czechoslovakia, and, while I haven't talked to him about this, I know that he's entirely in agreement with it. (And if you think I get worked up about the media in this country [and I do], you haven't heard anything until you've heard the people who grew up in the Pravda regimes get started on what the media in this country is doing to America.)

According to CNN,
Peterffy ... expects to spend $5-$10 million on the ad buy, depending on its effectiveness. The spot will run on CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, and test markets in Ohio, Wisconsin, and possibly Florida.

The one-minute spot, which began airing Wednesday and will continue through Election Day, has no mention of any specific politician or lawmaker. It's simply a plea for an end to what he sees as growing hostility to personal success - and to vote Republican.
To which I say, God Bless You, Mr. Peterffy. This is must-see viewing...

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More Libya...and Yemen...

Eric Cantor:
The American people need to understand why the Administration assessed the attack grew out of a spontaneous protest even though State Department officials in Libya apparently never reported any protest at the consulate facility in Benghazi. The American people need to understand why the Obama Administration didn't send additional security assets to Libya and Benghazi despite increasing reports of terrorist activity and evidence of weak Libyan government control. The American people need to know why it has taken the Obama Administration so long to secure FBI access to the site of the terrorist attack in Benghazi. The American people need to know whether the Obama Administration recognizes that the war on terrorism is not over, and whether appropriate steps are being taken to prevent the next attack before it occurs. And the American people need confidence that the Obama Administration is taking the appropriate steps to secure other facilities while bringing those responsible for these attacks to justice.
Speaking of that last point, we have another story breaking this morning:
A masked gunman assassinated a Yemeni security official who worked for the U.S. Embassy in a drive-by shooting near his home in the capital Sanaa on Thursday, officials said. Yemeni officials said the killing bore the hallmarks of an attack by the al-Qaida offshoot in Yemen, but it was too early to determine whether the group was behind it. The assassination resembles other attacks recently that have targeted Yemeni intelligence, military and security officials. Those attacks are believed to be in retaliation for a military offensive by Yemen's U.S.-backed government against Yemen-based Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which Washington considers the most dangerous offshoot of the global terror network.

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Will Ryan hit Biden hard on Libya scandal?

Byron York:
Though much remains unknown about the Libyan debacle, it is known that Ambassador Stevens and his staff feared terrorist attacks and asked for more security; that the State Department denied those requests; and that after Stevens and three others were murdered the administration, from the president down, spread an untrue and misleading explanation for the attack. Serious questions remain about the administration's behavior in the Libya episode, and a vice presidential debate seems as good a place as any to air some of them.
Serious questions indeed...

York doesn't think that the Romney campaign is going to go hard at Libya, though.

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Why the "tax cut lie" is Obama's, not Romney's...

The USA widget company has some serious problems. They've been running in the red for a couple of years, and they can't seem to get their costs under control. They've got a decent product, but their price list is quite complex, fairly high in nominal terms, with various discounts for volume purchase, and other things, and their market share is slipping.

Two of their Vice Presidents are the likeliest candidates to replace the outgoing CEO. One of them, VP Mitt, has a plan to increase market share by cutting prices across the board, and reducing or removing some of the deductions and sales bonuses that distort the pricing. He believes that these changes will increase market share, increase product moved, and be at least revenue neutral, and in the best case, better than that.

VP Barry disagrees, so he's tells everyone that he sees that VP Mitt has a plan to cut company revenues by $5 million. (He gets that $5 million number by looking at the price reduction, ignoring the removal of the deductions, assuming that the reduction in sales price results in no additional sales, and then multiplying by 10 to get a 10 year cost.) And sure enough, he assigns a member of his staff to do an analysis, and it "proves" that Mitt's plan results in $5 million of lost revenue. So he tells everyone about the plan, asking "how can we close our budget gap if we give away $5 million, mostly to our biggest, wealthiest customers?"

VP Mitt looks at the analysis, and has several other analysts address it. They all agree that the analysis ignores important facts, and that the plan Mitt has proposed is not only possible, but likely. 

The two candidates get up in front of the shareholders at the annual meeting, and three times, VP Barry accuses VP Mitt of planning a $5 million giveaway to the biggest customers. And three times, VP Mitt corrects him.

And yet the next day, VP Barry goes out to members of the board of directors, and not only repeats the $5 million analysis, he accused VP Mitt of lying about it, and of disowning his own plan during the shareholders meeting.

So who is the liar here?

That's what's happening in the Presidential campaign. Three times, during the first presidential debate, President Obama accused Governor Romney of supporting a "$5 Trillion tax cut." And three times, Governor Romney rebutted it.
BO: Governor Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut...
MR: I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale that you’re talking about. My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people.


BO: Governor Romney’s proposal that he has been promoting for 18 months calls for a $5 trillion tax cut...
MR: if the tax plan he described were a tax plan I was asked to support, I’d say absolutely not. I’m not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. What I’ve said is I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit.


BO: If you believe that we can cut taxes by $5 trillion and ... somehow you will not end up picking up the tab, then Governor Romney’s plan may work for you.
MR: I’m not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut. That’s not my plan. My plan is not to put in place any tax cut that will add to the deficit...So you may keep referring to it as a $5 trillion tax cut, but that’s not my plan.
In the eyes of President Obama's supporters, both inside and outside of the media, this makes Governor Romney a liar. And to cheers of acclaim, the President went out on the campaign trail the next day to continue pushing both the tax cut number and the "Romney lied" meme.
“We had our first debate last night,” Obama said at an outdoor event at Sloan’s Lake Park in Denver on Thursday. “When I got onto the stage I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney, because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country all year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy. The fellow onstage last night said he didn’t know anything about that.”
That?   That's a lie.


Oh, that last part is a lie, too.

Different analyses yield different results. And it's true that there is an analysis, from a partisan liberal source, suggesting that Governor Romney cannot put together a tax plan that meets the criteria he claims his plan will meet. But there are other analyses pointing out the holes in that one.  What we've got here is two different potential projections for 10 year effects of a plan that's not fully defined yet.  And one candidate (Obama) is calling the other (Romney) a liar because he disagrees with his projection. 

And the two candidates are talking in different terms, as well. 
  • Governor Romney is proposing a tax cut, defined as a reduction in tax rates.  
  • President Obama is talking about a tax cut, defined as a reduction in the revenues collected by the Federal government. 
The former may lead to the latter, but it is by no means certain.  It is Governor Romney's position that reducing rates while eliminating deductions will broaden the tax base and spur growth, resulting in no reduction of revenue.  It is President Obama's position that any reduction in rates has only one effect - lost revenues.  No broadening or deductions or growth to "offset," just lost revenue.

And it isn't enough for him or his supporters to disagree with the analysis.  No, they are so convinced of their position that Romney's not only wrong, he's lying.

Well, someone's been lying on this issue.  A lot.

And it's not Governor Romney.

Here's one thing that is clearly true.  It takes years to determine the end result of any change in tax rates or deductions.  And even hindsight is not 20/20, because nothing happens in a vacuum.  If Romney is elected and signs a new tax package in to law, we'll be able to say, with some confidence, what federal revenues actually are.  What we'll never be able to say with certainty, is what they would have been in different circumstances.

Note that, when challenged, even Obama's campaign admits that the "five trillion dollar tax cut" is a lie.
Well, stipulated, it won't be near five trillion dollars...
- Obama campaign spokesman Stephanie Cutter

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Obama Campaign Policy - New and improved, with Even More Lies!

On Sunday night, I walked out of the general store in Stockbridge, MA, site of so much Americana produced by the great Norman Rockwell, behind a couple who were discussing politics. And what caught my attention was their lament about Obama's debate performance. "Obama's just too nice," one said to the other. At which I chortled, and they moved away.

That followed two days in which my liberal Facebook friends were all overjoyed to have Obama out on the stump lying about Romney again, after getting called on it during the debate on Wednesday night.

So this piece in the WSJ amused me...

Obama Test-Drives a New Tone
During his California trip, Mr. Obama, who will spend the weekend preparing for the debate, got an earful of suggestions for how to approach the next debate. "After the debate, I had a bunch of folks come to me: 'Don't be so polite, don't be so nice,' " Mr. Obama told a San Francisco crowd.
Yeah, that's the problem. President "I won" is just too nice. President hey-he's-lying-and-he-abuses-dogs-and-causes-cancer-in-laid-off-worker's-wives is just too darned good for this cruel and imperfect world in which he finds himself.

Let me just say this - I think he could make his base really happy by going full-bore aggressive in attacking Governor Romney in the next debate. And achieve for himself a pyrrhic victory, by turning off all of the non-base voters that he desperately needs...

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An Incriminating Timeline: The Obama Administration and Libya

Another reminder of the Obama administration's peculiar relationship with the truth, as the hearings take place on Capitol Hill. This one, from The Heritage Foundation...
New evidence shows there were security threats in Libya in the months prior to the deadly September 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Despite these threats, the State Department left its personnel there to fend for themselves.

And when the terrorist attack did take place, the Obama Administration peddled the ridiculous story that an offensive, amateurish, anti-Islam YouTube video was to blame in order to avoid characterizing the murders of four Americans as terrorism.

Not only did the United States have an ambassador, and three other staff, killed in an entirely forseeable (and forwarned) Al Qaeda attack on 9/11, the administration spent two weeks peddling the ludicrous fiction that the attack was a "spontaneous" reaction to an internet video, and even condemned the filmmaker, who was then arrested, ostensibly for parole violations, but really for exercising his free speech rights in a manner disapproved of by the President.

But hey, he doesn't like (or maybe even understand) Governor Romney's tax plan, so that makes Romney the "liar"...

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Shocker: Recipient of PBS funds thinks PBS should receive taxpayers funds

In his "documentary" An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore (ironically, in my opinion) quotes Upton Sinclair in saying that "It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

I'm reminded of that again today.

Ken Burns:
Over the course of a year, 91% of all U.S. television households -- 236 million people -- tune into their PBS-member station. Federal funding accounts for about 15% of the money necessary to make public broadcasting possible. For every dollar in federal funding invested in local stations, they raise an additional $6 on their own, including contributions from millions of people who voluntarily support their community-based work. It's such a tiny, tiny part of the federal budget, approximately 1/100th of 1%, that you have to question, why pick on that?


In an increasingly difficult world to navigate, with multiple media outlets and a constant onslaught of viewpoints, PBS remains our shared space, one where we can experience the best in arts and education, public affairs, history, science and journalism.

It is a place where we can all feel at home.
Listen, I've loved a lot of Ken Burns' work. And I've supported it, with my dollars, that I've chosen to allocate towards copies of several of his films. And The Civil War is a seminal achievement.

And yes, the PBS portion of the federal budget hardly even qualifies as a rounding error.

All that said, in a world with 500 cable channels, including several dedicated to history and documentaries, if we can't even cut back on a luxury item like PBS, how can we even begin to think that we're serious about our budget?

I tweeted the following on Friday, as I saw that the President, and many of his supporters, seemed to think that Governor Romney's comments in the debate were a political plus for the President.
Fact: Sesame Street sells a ton of merchandise, does not NEED taxpayer support

Fact: PBS support in the Federal government is essentially a rounding error to the real financial crisis - eliminating is purely symbolic

Fact: PBS is a luxury frill in a budget as far out of whack as ours is. Even if the cut is purely symbolic, it's a good symbol...
Seriously, if the suggestion that we cut even something as self-evidently unnecessary as PBS generates enormous resistance, how do we start?

And what does it say about Barack Obama that, with all the momentous issues facing the next President, he chooses to spend a week campaigning in defense of spending taxpayer dollars on a childrens' television show that's wildly profitable even without them?

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Phony in Chief

So, did everyone get the message from the media, over the past couple of weeks, that the Obama speech at Hampton College in 2007, the unedited version of which was recently found, was old news? Already covered? Nothing interesting, nothing to see here, just move along?

If, that is, one heard about it at all?

Thomas Sowell begs to differ:
In his speech -- delivered in a ghetto-style accent that Obama doesn't use anywhere except when he is addressing a black audience -- he charged the federal government with not showing the same concern for the people of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina hit as they had shown for the people of New York after the 9/11 attacks, or the people of Florida after hurricane Andrew hit.

Departing from his prepared remarks, he mentioned the Stafford Act...Senator Obama, as he was then, pointed out that this requirement was waived in the case of New York and Florida because the people there were considered to be "part of the American family." But the people in New Orleans -- predominantly black -- "they don't care about as much," according to Barack Obama.

If you want to know what community organizers do, this is it -- rub people's emotions raw to hype their resentments.
[LB: As we now know, this is also what Presidents who were formerly community organizers do...]


less than two weeks earlier, on May 24, 2007, the United States Senate had in fact voted 80-14 to waive the Stafford Act requirement for New Orleans, as it had waived that requirement for New York and Florida. More federal money was spent rebuilding New Orleans than was spent in New York after 9/11 and in Florida after hurricane Andrew, combined.

Truth is not a job requirement for a community organizer. Nor can Barack Obama claim that he wasn't present the day of that Senate vote...The Congressional Record for May 24, 2007 shows Senator Barack Obama present that day and voting on the bill that waived the Stafford Act requirement. Moreover, he was one of just 14 Senators who voted against -- repeat, AGAINST -- the legislation which included the waiver.
Think about that the next time Obama, or anyone on his team, or any Obama supporter, accuses Mitt Romney - or anyone else - of dishonesty.

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A Modest Proposal

The always brilliant Walter E. Williams...
[T]here might be a way for California politicians to solve their fiscal mess. They can simply stop wealthy people from leaving the state or, alternatively, like some Third World nations, set limits on the amount of assets a resident can take out of the state. This would surely be within their jurisdiction and would not raise any constitutional issues, because it would serve a compelling state purpose. In other words, if California were to set up border controls to stop people, as East Germans did at Checkpoint Charlie, before they cross the state line, such action would be protected by the 10th Amendment...Were California to take such measures and have a modicum of success, one wonders how many Americans would be offended by such an encroachment on personal liberty. After all, how would forcing an American to remain in a state differ in principle from forcing him to purchase health insurance?

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Romney and the Seal

Mitt Romney, on the campaign trail, talks about a chance encounter with one of the Navy Seals who was killed in Benghazi on September 11.

Hmm... I don't know why the embed isn't working. So you'll have to click on the link to view it. Go ahead - it's worth it...

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Who is the Least Deserving Winner of a Nobel Prize?

Finally, a question to which the best answer is "Barack Obama."

Slate being Slate, of course, the article doesn't mention him...

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Obama 'believed he had beaten Romney'

As if we needed more evidence that President Dunning-Kruger doesn't know what he doesn't know, that he's completely oblivious to his own flaws and shortcomings, Toby Harnden breaks the stunning news that Obama thought he won the first debate.
When President Barack Obama stepped off the stage in Denver last week the 60 million Americans watching his debate against Mitt Romney already knew it had been a disaster for him.

But what nobody knew, until now, was that Obama believed he had actually won.
Delusional. Utterly delusional.

Here's the shocking thing - even his supporters are not delusional enough to think he won, but he walked off thinking that everything was hunky-dory.

And if you're running his campaign, I don't know how you fix that...

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So, I guess we know those answers now...

I was unsure what the impact of Clint Eastwood's performance at the RNC would be.

I was unsure what the impact of Mitt Romney's debate performance would be as seen through the media firewall.

I think that this says it all...

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Unintended consequences - not just a good idea: It's the Law...

Who'd'a thunk it?

Obamacare reducing full-time employment:
In an experiment apparently aimed at keeping down the cost of health-care reform, Orlando-based Darden Restaurants has stopped offering full-time schedules to many hourly workers in at least a few Olive Gardens, Red Lobsters and LongHorn Steakhouses.

Darden said the test is taking place in "a select number" of restaurants in four markets, including Central Florida, but would not give details. The company said there has been no decision made about expanding it.

In an emailed statement, Darden said staffing changes are "just one of the many things we are evaluating to help us address the cost implications health care reform will have on our business. There are still many unanswered questions regarding the health care regulations and we simply do not have enough information to make any decisions at this time."
Gosh, who could have seen that coming?

And, of course, no one could have done a better job in this economy than President Obama has.   No one could possibly, under these conditions, done more to keep unemployment down.

But hey, I'm sure that those restaurant workers who now aren't getting enough hours to get health care, and are forgoing that income, are proud "economic patriots," happy to forgo that income for the common good...

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Today's oxymoron - "Fiscally Conservative Democrats"

Roll Call News (in a piece titled "Blue Dogs Brace for Another Drubbing"):
The House Blue Dog Coalition, still reeling from 2010 elections that cut its ranks in half, looks likely to sustain additional losses this year that would cast doubt on the group’s influence in the 113th Congress.

The number of Blue Dogs grew steadily beginning in 1997, peaking at 54 members in the 111th Congress, when the fiscally conservative Democrats reached the pinnacle of their influence during the health care debate. That may have also been the coalition’s undoing: The unforgiving tea party wave of 2010 and opposition to President Barack Obama’s health care law decimated the ranks.

Now, the coalition faces the prospect of membership falling to its lowest ever, less than the 21 lawmakers it counted at the start of the 105th Congress. It ended that term with 25; currently there are 24 members of the group.
There is no such thing as a "fiscally conservative Democrat." Not in the United States Congress, in any event. There may be some Democratic Representatives who think that they are fiscally conservative, or would incline towards fiscal conservatism, or who want to be fiscally conservative, but they aren't. If they were really fiscally conservative, they would not be Democrats. There is nothing - nothing - that the national Democratic Party stands for which is "fiscally conservative" in any way, shape or form. If you are really a "fiscal conservative," you don't caucus with a party whose leaders are Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama and Harry Reid and Charles Rangel and Barney Frank. You're lying to yourself if you vote for Nancy Pelosi to lead your caucus and then think that you are a "fiscal conservative." You're lying to your constituents if you vote for Nancy Pelosi to lead your caucus and then call yourself a "fiscal conservative."

And if the health care debate represented the "pinnacle of their influence," then they never had any "conservative" influence whatsoever. 

So if their constituents really want "fiscal conservatives," let them vote for Republicans.  If they want Democrats, let them vote for real Democrats, and own the results.  But right now, at this stage in our nation's history, in this political climate, there is not such thing as a real "fiscal conservative" who is an elected official in Washington with a "-D" behind his name. 

So good bye to the blue dogs.  And good riddance.

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Obama - right on something...

A new infographic from the GOP:

...[I]f you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters.

If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.
You make a big election about small things.
Barack Obama, 2008

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Friday, October 05, 2012

"The Dinner Table"

This ad, from Americans For Prosperity, is inspiring praise. Well-deserved, I think. This one stands out, and quietly cuts through the clutter of the race...

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September Jobs Report

I am not an expert, but a significant drop in the reported top-line unemployment rate (from 8.1% to  7.8% - great timing for the President) in a month with only 114,000 jobs added does not smell right. (Of course, one way that the unemployment rate drops is if people give up looking for work, and leave the work force that way - unemployment rate only measures people who want a job AND are actively looking.  The people that want a job but are NOT actively looking don't count.  But you can expect to hear that 7.8% figure extolled repeatedly, saturating the mainstream press as evidence that everything's on the right track.) 

And I'm not the only one who thinks so. So I've gathered some commentary from people that know the numbers better than I do.

The Heritage Foundation
Job growth continues to sputter—this morning’s jobs report shows that 12.1 million Americans are still out of work.

Going against other economic indicators, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent. Economists are already looking into the drop, saying it seems to be a statistical fluke, because it doesn’t match up with the sluggish job creation and recent downward revision of GDP growth.

James Pethokoukis:
Only in an era of depressingly diminished expectations could the September jobs report be called a good one. It really isn’t. Not at all.

1. Yes, the U-3 unemployment rate fell to 7.8%, the first time it has been below 8% since January 2009. But that’s only due to a flood of 582,000 part-time jobs. As the Labor Department noted:

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) rose from 8.0 million in August to 8.6 million in September. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
4. The shrunken workforce remains shrunken. If the labor force participation rate was the same as when President Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.7%.

Kevin Hassett (American Enterprise Institute)
Today’s jobs report is a classic. The report, of course, reveals the results of two surveys, one of households, one of establishments. The professional economists and the press usually emphasize the establishment survey because it is viewed as less volatile. The establishment survey was terrible. The 114,000 number of jobs created on net in September is well below the average for this year (146,000) and the average for last year (153,000). This is wholly consistent with the story that the economy is decelerating sharply as we head into the fall.

The household survey, on the other hand, portrays a September that was booming, far more so than could possibly be true given the other indicators. According to it, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent, with total employment jumping by a whopping 873,000. I wish it were true, but it will likely be a blip when we have a few more months of data.

[W]hat was the reason for this epic jump in Household survey jobs? Simple, and those who have read our series on America's transition to a part-time worker society know the answer. The reason is that the number of part-time people employed for economic reasons soared by 582,000 to 8,613,000, the most since October 2011, and the largest one month jump since February 2009, when "restoring" confidence in the economy was all the rage... and just before the Fed announced the full blown QE1 in March of 2009. Odd symmetry.

Suitably Flip:
[T]his doesn't smell right. The household survey (the part used to calculate the unemployment rate, not official payroll growth, which comes from the establishment survey) shows a whopping 873,000 jobs added in September (seasonally adjusted).

How whopping? It's the best month of the millennium to date.

In fact, it's the best month since 1983 (excluding Januarys, which usually show crazy numbers, due to annual revisions, which is why they're removed from the chart).

That's just not remotely plausible. In the last 29 years, we've had 22 quarters of growth exceeding 5%. And never did the household job creation rate hit the ostensible peak we just experienced, with growth hovering in the 1-2% range.

We've either got a massively massaged seasonal adjustment in place, a drastic change in household survey methodology, or the number is real, the economy is booming, and ADP undercounted by 700,000.

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"Was Obama rattled by developing donor scandal story?"

In some areas of the internet conservative media, there was a big hue and cry over the Obama campaign's disabling of all security mechanisms on its online credit card giving site. This allowed, at least potentially, for huge amounts of illegal contributions, including overseas contributions, to make their way into the campaigns coffers. A big scandal being something that the press wasn't interested in (racist, no doubt), this concern was largely confined to the right-hand side of the blogosphere. It did briefly break, or sneak, into some corners of the mainstream press a week before the election, when his lead had pretty much become insurmountable. Too late and too tame to harm his campaign, but early enough to allow anyone trying to raise the cry for an investigation to be dismissed with "old story..."
Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor's identity, campaign officials confirmed.

Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its books for improper donations after the money has been deposited.
Having gotten away with it in 2008, is there any reason to expect them to have behaved any better in 2012?

No. There is not.
President Obama's reelection campaign, rattled by his Wednesday night debate performance, could be in for even worse news. According to knowledgeable sources, a national magazine and a national web site are preparing a blockbuster donor scandal story.

Sources told Secrets that the Obama campaign has been trying to block the story. But a key source said it plans to publish the story Friday or, more likely, Monday.

According to the sources, a taxpayer watchdog group conducted a nine-month investigation into presidential and congressional fundraising and has uncovered thousands of cases of credit card solicitations and donations to Obama and Capitol Hill, allegedly from unsecure accounts, and many from overseas. That might be
[LB:  Might be?  Try clearly is.]  a violation of federal election laws.

The Obama campaign has received hundreds of millions in small dollar donations, many via credit card donations through their website.
Have they done anything wrong? I'm quite certain of it.

Will there be any repercussions? I'm skeptical.

But it's something to keep an eye on...

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"The Undoing of Storybook Man"

The availability heuristic is making pieces like this one from Jonah Goldberg seem ubiquitous right now, but there's no question that Wednesday's events increased the spread of this view, that many of us have held for years...
I expected Romney to beat expectations and win the debate (though I had no clue how decisive his victory would be), not because I thought Romney was such a fantastic debater, but because Obama is the single most overrated politician of my lifetime.
For a guy who supposedly gives wonderful speeches, [Obama] rarely persuades the unpersuaded or inspires those he didn’t already have at “hello.” That’s partly the fault of his speechwriters, who always did him the disservice of producing the kind of pedantic and clichéd boilerplate that Obama mistook for soaring oratory. He thought he smashed through the Democratic primaries like a battering ram through concrete when he mostly pushed on open doors.
Preaching to the choir at this address...

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Odds and ends

A couple of stories caught my eye this morning.

Rand Simberg thought, as I did, that the Denver debate Obama was pretty much the usual Obama:
I guess I didn’t realize how poorly Obama was doing because he didn’t look any different to me. I’ve just never seen the Chicago Jesus that everyone else seemed to. It’s almost like the scales have fallen off everyone’s eyes, and I never had them. Was this the moment that everyone else finally noticed that the emperor was wearing nothing but his birthday suit?
I thought I wrote something about that yesterday - I know that I talked about it. But yes, I thought Obama was pretty typically Obama during the debate. I've never thought he was a great speaker, and I've commented on it before. Several times. But he's never been challenged. On anything. He's great at burning straw men, but when faced with a real man, he's considerably less impressive. As I did say yesterday, "The real Mitt, as opposed to the straw Mitt, is tougher for them to deal with..."

(There's also an interesting exchange in the comments on Simberg's post about Romney's proposed tax rate reduction proposals, and whether or not it can be revenue neutral, and, if it's revenue neutral, why you'd bother doing it.)

Whose tail could still wag? Eric Scheie notes that there are still Democrats pushing the Seamus story as making Mitt a bad man.
Now, I can’t ask Coco directly, but I know dogs, and if I put myself in the position of a dog, I think I would prefer to be in my crate on top of the family car I love, with them inside it below, than finding myself on a winding journey through a conveyor belt system leading God-knows-where, only to have the box grabbed and moved by total strangers, then driven in a strange vehicle to an even stranger thing, and then be crammed into a weird sort of room with a bunch of other humans’ suitcases and then have my ears assaulted with unknown noises, my sensitive ears feeling strange and hitherto unknown pressures, and a sense of enormous and rapid movement that cannot be seen towards places unknown and unimaginable.

I would far prefer the familiarity of the former to the terrors of the latter.

Yet had Mitt Romney placed Seamus on a plane, he’d have been entirely blameless, even if the dog had gotten sick in the air.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with putting dogs on planes, mind you. Only that this attack on Romney is so completely without logic that I cannot ignore it.
Yup. Obviously I'm in complete agreement with Eric, and have written about it.
As much as the incessant harping on that incident irritates me, as much as it is completely irrelevant to anything having to do with who should win the Presidency, as mind-numbingly irrational it is to keep harping on one candidate's non-cruel behavior to his dog when the other has actually EATEN DOG AS A MEAL...
I've actually asked people pushing this story what Mitt did wrong. What I've gotten back is, "I hope you don't own dogs." When pushed, the next response was, "would you do that with a child?" When I noted that no, I wouldn't, but children aren't dogs in any ways that I saw as relevant to this particular issue, so I still didn't see what the problem was, how the dog had been mistreated, I got just silence. They can't answer the question as to how it was cruel, because it's apparently self-evident. It's so self-evident, that they can't even formulate a basic rational sentence in support of that position. What it seems to come down to, based on all I've seen, is that it was cruel because Mitt did it, and they haven't come up with anything else to impugn him with.

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Another (liberal) racist self-reveals...

This time, it's Kevin Baker (Harper's Magazine):
Yet there he was, giving a presentation devoid of substance, vision, principle, or even basic coherence. He didn’t show a spark of anger, even when Romney slyly found a way to call him a boy, comparing Obama’s statements to the sorts of childish lies his “five boys” used to tell.

How the right’s hard-core racists must have howled at that! Mitt, at long last, has secured his base.
Um, Kevin - I hate to be the one that breaks this to you, but if you're the one that hears the "racist dog whistle," that means that you are the racist. If you are the one that hears the word "boy" in that context, and thinks, "hey, he's talking about the black guy!" then you are the racist.

So I guess we should thank you for sharing that with us...

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Thursday, October 04, 2012

Mitt clobbers Obama - in Taiwanese animation...

Not everyone will love this, but I laughed out loud...

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"Mitt Humiliates The Mainstream Media..."

John Nolte
[T]his morning the American people trust the media even less than they did the night before -- and for one very simple reason: they were lied to … again. Where was the bumbling, elitist, out of touch, awkward, wife-killing, gay-hating, corporate vulture who tortures dogs and stumbles through Europe like Chevy Chase in a "Vacation" sequel?

Well, he didn’t show up last night because that's not who Mitt Romney is. That Mitt Romney is a media creation manufactured out of lies and desperation by those who spend 24 hours a day crafting trip wires, fabricating gaffes, and standing before the elephant of Barack Obama's failures and asking, "What elephant?"
Yup. As some of us have noted. Lord knows that I had problems with Mitt Romney as a Governor, I've got problems with Mitt Romney as a candidate, and I'll have problems with Mitt Romney as a President. But there's not a hint of any reason to have problems with Mitt Romney as a man, and that's where the Obama campaign, with its willing accomplices in the press, has been trying to win this election. They've created a caricature of Mitt Romney to attack, and attack it they have.

The real Mitt, as opposed to the straw Mitt, is tougher for them to deal with...

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"The Chickens Come Home to Roost"

Paul Rahe explains a big part of the reason why the debate went the way it went...
Obama inherited a recession and, without bothering to disguise what he was up to, dedicated himself to exploiting it for the purpose of jamming through a radical program, dear to his party, that never had public support. About the recession, he did nothing, assuming that the economy would bounce back quickly, as it usually does, and that he would get the credit for the recovery. In fact, everything that he did do when he and his party were fully in control -- the looting bill thinly disguised as a stimulus bill, Obamacare, and Dodd-Frank -- retarded the recovery by running up the deficit, loading on new taxes, and making it more expensive to do business. To this the President added the threat of further tax increases -- targeted on the investing class: those especially apt, when future developments are exceedingly unclear, to be hesitant to risk their hard-earned capital in funding new ventures or in expanding old ones. The truth is that the programs passed by the Democrats, when they had the initiative, produced stagnation and prolonged and deepened the downturn.

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Another indicator...

This is apparently the best take that the Democrats can come up with on last night's Presidential Debacle (at least from the Obama point-of-view)...

Wow. Just wow.

That's some pretty weak tea...

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On the Romney Tax Proposal

I've been meaning to address the potential issues related to Mitt Romney's tax proposal for a month now. And I've got a chance to do so this morning, so...

Princeton economics professor Harvey S. Rosen addressed the Tax Policy Center's analysis of Mitt Romney's tax proposal (the source, or at least support, for much of the "Romney's cutting taxes for the rich and lying about it" accusation) with one of his own. And it's a good read.

But I stumbled upon a footnote this morning that I hadn't noticed when I first read through it a couple of weeks ago, and I think it's very instructive. It makes absolutely clear the folly of static analysis of potential changes to the tax code. Indeed, the folly of any static analysis of any change to any government policy.
In the early 1990s, Senator Phil Gramm, a Ph.D. economist, wanted to call attention to what he viewed as this critical flaw in the way that tax policies were analyzed. He asked the Joint Committee on Taxation to produce an estimate of the revenue consequences of a 100 % tax on income. Under JCT conventions, such a confiscatory tax would produce a huge revenue yield, because people would continue working even though their take home pay was zero.
I didn't know that Gramm had done that.  I love it...

I love my job (at least most of the time, I love my job) but the number of days a year that I'd work it if the government were taking 100% of my income is approximately zero. I suspect that's true for the vast majority of people. People respond to incentives.  Changing incentives and assuming that there's not a corresponding change in behavior is one hallmark of a bad analysis.

There's a lot of good stuff in the paper.
[I]t seems odd to assume away possible increases in incomes associated with a given tax reform proposal when its explicit goal is to enhance growth. This observation raises another reason that is given for excluding macro-dynamic effects—the impact of taxes on economic growth is uncertain. To be sure, there is a lot of disagreement on this issue among professional economists. But that is not sufficient cause to assume that the right answer is exactly zero.
Rosen's conclusion?
Governor Romney has proposed a personal income tax reform that would lower marginal tax rates and broaden the tax base. Critics of the proposal have argued that high-income taxpayers would receive a tax cut, and given that the proposal is meant to be revenue neutral, this would inevitably lead to increased taxes for families with low and moderate incomes...While this discussion has been illuminating in some respects, something seems to be missing. Relatively little has been said about the possible effects of the Romney proposal on economic growth. This is curious because increasing growth is the motivation for the proposal in the first place.

In this paper, I analyze the Romney proposal taking into account the additional income that might be generated by economic growth. The main conclusion is that under plausible assumptions, a proposal along the lines suggested by Governor Romney can both be revenue neutral and keep the net tax burden on high-income individuals about the same. That is, an increase in the tax burden on lower and middle income individuals is not required in order to make the overall plan revenue neutral.

By the way, Harvard economics professor Martin Feldstein (who is a Romney advisor) has also weighed in on the feasibility of achieving rate reductions without "losing revenue" or shifting the tax burden.
It is impossible to calculate the exact effects of the future reforms since Gov. Romney hasn't specified what he would do. [LB: And, of course, he can't do it anyway without Congress, which has to pass bills. His proposal is a proposal only, a framework of the issue as he wants it to be handled and the goals that he'll be working towards. It isn't a bill that becomes law when he's sworn in. The American Constitutional Republic does not work that way. As he specifically noted last night, during the debate, it requires cooperation between the President and Congress, it requires that the President negotiate with both parties, as he has done in his position as Governor of Massachusetts, and Barack Obama has signally failed to do in the White House.] But refuting the Tax Policy Center's assertions doesn't require that. It only requires knowing if enough revenue could be raised from high-income taxpayers to cover the $186 billion cost.

The IRS data show that taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes over $100,000 (the top 21% of all taxpayers) made itemized deductions totaling $636 billion in 2009. Those high-income taxpayers paid marginal tax rates of 25% to 35%, with most $200,000-plus earners paying marginal rates of 33% or 35%.

And what do we get when we apply a 30% marginal tax rate to the $636 billion in itemized deductions? Extra revenue of $191 billion—more than enough to offset the revenue losses from the individual income tax cuts proposed by Gov. Romney.

This does not mean eliminating all deductions.


Since broadening the tax base would produce enough revenue to pay for cutting everyone's tax rates, it is clear that the proposed Romney cuts wouldn't require any middle-class tax increase, nor would they produce a net windfall for high-income taxpayers. The Tax Policy Center and others are wrong to claim otherwise.

So when Barack Obama talks about "tax cuts for the rich," when the fact-checkers come out and award Pinocchios or pants-on-fire to Romney's defense against that charge last night, keep in mind that there are two sides to the story. Anyone claiming that Romney's lying about this is not "checking facts" but simply offering his or her own commentary, based on his or her own beliefs. Such assertions tell us much about the asserters but little about Romney or his proposal.

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