Free Markets, Free People

Elections


Ukraine and the Upcoming Elections

As we quickly approach our own election here in the US, a first of sorts will occur this weekend in Ukraine.  Shaking off the soviet chains has proved difficult, but through fits and starts a truly representative democracy is developing in Eurasia.  The next big step will be the parliamentary elections (to the Verkhovna Rada) held this weekend.  Ukraine has held free elections before, but this time they will occur under the watch of thousands of international and domestic election observers:

On October 22nd the Central Election Committee of Ukraine registered the final batch of 666 international observers for the parliamentary elections in Ukraine, which will take place on October 28th. The total number of foreign monitors reached 3,797 persons – they represent 28 countries and 35 international non-governmental organizations. Moreover, more than 130,000 domestic observers will also work at the elections.

A major impetus for the observers being present is that Ukraine is seeking to possibly join the European Union, a prerequisite for which is to improve the election process.

… the current government has expressed great interest in being integrated into the European Union, going so far as to ink an Association Agreement in March:

The Association Agreement creates a framework for cooperation and stipulates establishing closer economic, cultural, and social ties between the signees. Moreover, Brussels officials expect the document to promote the rule of law, democracy, and human rights in Ukraine.

This first step to entering the EU (which still needs to be ratified) requires a concrete demonstration from Ukraine that it is moving towards “an independent judicial system, free and fair elections and constitutional reform.”

The other potential option is for Ukraine to strengthen its traditional alliance with Moscow by entering Russia’s Customs Union:

… for the past several years, both the EU and Russia have courted Ukraine to form long-lasting trade partnerships. The EU wants to include Ukraine in its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) while Russia is pushing to join its Customs Union. Because of the way these agreements are set up, Ukraine has to choose one or the other, placing the country in a pitched economic battle between East and West.

Ukrainians are apparently quite ambivalent about which partnership to join, although the current leadership and most major parties have expressed greater interest in aligning with Europe:

The Party of Regions, which is the current party in power, is led by President Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov.  Originally, the party was supported Russian President Vladimir Putin but, to his disappointment, the Party of Regions has turned out to be more pro-Ukraine than pro-Russia.  As previously noted, Yanukovych and Azarov have been working hard to achieve energy independence that is more beneficial to the people of Ukraine.

[…]

The United Opposition party is led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (who is currently in jail for the gas deal she brokered with Russia) and Arseniy Yatsenyuk from the Front for Change party.  Despite the fact that the party can be seen as being largely pro-Russian, they recently joined forces with the more pro-Western Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR) in the hopes of increasing their chances of winning against the popular Party of Regions.  UDAR is the newest political party in Ukraine and is led by heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko.

As it turns out, these three parties (Party of Regions, United Opposition and the UDAR) are leading in the polls (which haven’t changed dramatically over the past month) as we head into this weekend’s vote:

The latest opinion polls now show Yanukovych’s Regions Party finishing first with between 23% and 33% of the ballot, which would require the formation of a new coalition to lead parliament.  That could make a kingmaker out of Udar (Punch), a brand-new party started by political novice and heavyweight boxing superstar Vitali Klitschko as an agent for change that has no obvious links to past incidents of corruption.  Udar appears to have caught on with the more opposition-minded voters and has edged ahead of Tymoshenko’s block in some polls with 16%-17% of the vote.  “My methods in politics are the same as in sport: teamwork and confidence in yourself. And they work,” the 41-year-old Klitschko told AFP in an interview.  The election rating for Tymoshenko’s coalition varies from 15% up to 24% — still ahead of the fourth-placed Communist Party (9% to 13%) and the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) group (3% to 6%).

Although we don’t really know what the resulting administration will look like, or what concessions will have to be made in order to form a governing coalition, it at least appears that, whatever the result, a more pro-EU Ukraine will emerge.  And that would be a very good thing:

So why care about the Ukraine?

The simple answer is because Ukrainians have had a taste of freedom, and liked it, and we should encourage that journey towards liberalization to continue. We have an interest in such development – via free and fair elections, open markets and greater legal protections in its reformed court system – because this is how individuals become personally invested in the growth of the nation, and thus how liberty spreads. As President Reagan emphasized in 1981, “only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success — only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free.” The more societies like that in the world, and especially in the Eurasian region, the better. And this is exactly where Ukraine is poised to go.

Hopefully, that journey will continue this Sunday.


Polling, preference cascades, etc.

I wanted to make a quick point here. First this:

Mitt Romney has taken a narrow national lead, tightened the gender gap and expanded his edge over President Barack Obama on who would best grow the economy.

A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Tracking Poll of 1,000 likely voters — taken from Sunday through Thursday of last week — shows Romney ahead of Obama by 2 percentage points, 49 percentage to 47 percent. That represents a 3-point swing in the GOP nominee’s direction from a week ago but is still within the margin of error. Obama led 49 percent to 48 percent the week before.

A lot of discussion on polls this time around. We talked about them extensively in the podcast. The thing to realize is regardless of how the polling concerns have set up their split among self-identified Republicans and Democrats, the one thing that has been fairly consistent in each of them is Romney trending up. So while they may all show different percentages and even an Obama lead, the fact remains that the challenger has continued to gain even while the incumbent was declared the winner of the last debate.

That, my friends, signifies, at least as far as I can tell, a preference cascade beginning to swell.

As we’ve pointed out repeatedly, the most important debate this year was the first debate. In that debate, the challenger had to appear to be an acceptable alternative/replacement for the incumbent. Romney was able to exceed expectations in that department. That’s when the tide began to turn. The second debate, while somewhat important, but only if the challenger really goofed it up, just didn’t carry the weight of the first. And as hard as the left has tried to make the debates about Big Bird, binders of women and an alleged “Libya gaffe” (as I see it, there was no gaffe at all, we saw an incumbent President pretend/allege he said something he didn’t say). They’re not selling except among the partisan base.

We’ll see if this debate this evening adds momentum to the challengers upward trend or whether the incumbent is somehow able to slow or stop it. I’m not sure what the President could say or do that would accomplish that given his dismal foreign policy record (and his previous declaration that his lack of foreign policy experience just wasn’t a show stopper).

Like Dale says, I think, as far as Romney is concerned, we’re in “dead girl or live boy” territory.

~McQ


Has the preference cascade begun?

As I’ve been saying for months, the “atmospherics” which surrounded the Obama win in 2008 just don’t exist in 2012. They’re just not there.  The excitement has vanished, the “hope” has been dashed and the “change” – well, it’s not at all what those who hung their own meaning on the word thought they’d see.

In other words, the President is and has been in deep electoral trouble for some time.  The only thing that has really helped him and propped him up is the media.  Many in the media have spent an inordinate time trying to explain away or cover up very serious failings on the part of his administration.  The media has also constructed a strawman Mitt Romney which they used to “help’ Obama as well.

Two events have sort of tipped the scales against the incumbent, however.  The first debate (Romney unfiltered, Obama unenthused) and Benghazi.  It is those two events which have, in my opinion (note the word), started the preference cascade toward a Romney win.

Indicators?  Well there are quite a few.

One, for instance, is a newspaper endorsement from a very liberal paper.  That would be The Tennessean.  Why is that significant?  Well, as Glenn Reynolds points out, it provides “social permission” to deviate from the Democratic norm.  And that sort of permission is necessary to begin a preference cascade.  Today the Orlando Sentinal also endorsed Romney.  Expect to see more of these sorts of endorsements in the coming days.

Another is found in polls showing the unexpected.  For instance, Romney with a chance in PA? Really?  Well apparently, if this poll is to be believed, it’s more than a chance.  And that may have downstream effects if true.  Meanwhile, in MO, the odious Todd Aiken has gone ahead of equally odious Democrat Claire McCaskill (great choice you have there, MO).  That’s important for a very good reason – it has do with enthusiasm and which side appears to have it.

Additionally, both the Romney and Obama campaigns are pulling out of NC. Why?  Because it appears the state’s results are no longer in doubt.  It will not go to Obama this time and, apparently, that’s not even iffy.  Florida seems to be going that way as well and my guess is VA too.

In OH, coal miners are mad as hell.  While that may not put OH in total jeopardy, it doesn’t make a state that was comfortably Obama’s in 2008 the same in 2012.

Other indicators?  How about the defection of this one-time solidly Democratic demographic?

Romney’s surging poll numbers in the crucial state of Florida reflect his growing success with Bubbie Molly and her unemployed grandson Adam, who both thought their right hand would wither if it ever pulled the lever for a Republican.

The signs and portents are everywhere, beginning with the special election of a Republican in Anthony Weiner’s heavily Jewish, New York congressional district one year ago. Now a startling new poll even has Romney performing the ultimate miracle: the parting of the blue states, winning the Jewish vote by a healthy 44% to 40%!

Florida activist Alan Bergstein described his recent experience advocating for Romney in the Jewish stronghold of Delray Beach. “Of about 100 entering and leaving the Bagel Tree eatery in that plaza, we ran into only two Democrats and loads and loads of Romney supporters. They stopped to talk to us, to congratulate us and to support us with their views of the Ryan/Biden debate. They were militant and fearless.”

Why?  Well, for every effect there is a cause.  In this case, it’s pretty clear:

The Democratic Party booing God and Jerusalem: At their national convention, Democratic leaders attempted to do undo the political damage of stripping all mention of God and Jerusalem as Israel’s capital from their party platform. But when they asked for a floor vote to add God and Jerusalem to the platform, the delegates loudly booed – three times. As the cameras revealed the hate-filled faces of the jeering delegates, some Jews felt frightened by the ugly scene.

Obama’s open contempt for Prime Minister Netanyahu: From the beginning of his presidency, Obama has seemed to enjoy humiliating Israel’s elected leader. He walked out on Netanyahu in the White House, claiming he had to eat dinner, and refused to pose for an official photograph with him. Now, as Iran races to complete a nuclear weapon, Obama rejected Netanyahu’s request for a meeting in New York, choosing to appear on The View instead. And when Netanyahu spoke at the United Nations, Obama instructed both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice not to attend.

Fawning over the Jewish people’s enemies: Obama bowed to the Saudi king, gave a high-profile speech in Cairo, apologizing to the Muslim world, and ordered NASA to make “Muslim outreach” its foremost priority. Over the objections of Congress, he gave at least $1.5 billion to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which advocates for “holy jihad” against Israel. And when Muslim terrorists murdered our Libyan ambassador, Obama responded with a speech at the UN, in which he stated, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

Appointment of anti-Semites to high government positions: Obama just appointed a Muslim leader who blames Israel for the 9/11 attacks to serve as US delegate to a Warsaw human rights conference. Salam al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), openly supports Hizbollah and Hamas. Al-Marayati is only the latest of Obama officials hostile to Israel, including foreign policy advisor Samantha Power and UN Ambassador Susan Rice.

Obama’s long association with anti-Semites: Obama spent 20 years in the Chicago church of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who maintains, “The state of Israel is an illegal, genocidal…place.” Obama’s biggest contributor is George Soros, who is a prime funder of anti-Israel NGOs. And Obama’s close association with Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi is still being kept under wraps by the Los Angeles Times, which refuses to release a video of a reportedly inflammatory toast to Khalidi by Obama at a 2003 dinner. Breitbart News is offering a $100,000 reward to anyone with a copy of the tape.

Iran’s Growing Nuclear Capabilities: Obama has seemed more interested in deterring Israel from defending itself than in stopping Iran. His Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff explicitly stated he doesn’t want to be “complicit” in an Israeli attack on Iran, implying such an attack would be criminal. Now counter-terrorism expert Reza Kahlili is reporting that Obama’s emissaries have struck a secret “October surprise” deal with Iran, in which Iran will announce a halt to their uranium enrichment, in order to enhance Obama’s presidential prospects. The deal reportedly was negotiated in Qatar with former Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Velyati, who’s wanted by Argentina for the Jewish community center bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 85 people. If Obama has lost the trust of Jewish voters, they may not dismiss these reports as completely impossible.

That’s a very long and compelling list.  Long and compelling enough to see a usually reliable demographic begin to seriously question their support for the incumbent.

And other reliable demographics are either deserting Obama or just not very enthused about his re-election.

Indeed, what Obama is facing for the first time in his life is having to live up to his real performance.   No excuses.  No BS hype and pretending.  No Nobel prize his first day in office.  He is being judged on performance, merit and judgement.  He’s apparently being found less that adequate in all three by a huge part of America.

Add to that the fact that he seems to have no discernable plan to alter or correct his deficiencies or those of his administration and policies.  That’s probably because he doesn’t think he has any (remember, he thought he won the first debate).  How does one “change” if there’s nothing that needs changing?

So, all that being said, it is my opinion (again note the word) while reviewing the evidence at hand that the preference cascade we’ve talked about for months is beginning if not well underway.  Look for a lot of “whistling past the graveyard” as the Obama campaign and their surrogates downplay and ignore the gathering bad news.

But in the meantime, watch the indicators. At the least, they promise an excruciatingly tight vote.  And, if they say what I think they’re saying, Obama will be back in Chicago on January 21, 2013.

And what a mess the new president will inherit from him.

~McQ


How Obama’s claim (and Crowley’s intervention) will likely backfire

Why? Because it sets up a question to be answered which will give proof to the nonsense of both Obama and Crowley’s claim about Obama’s supposed Rose Garden acknowlegement that the Benghazi attack was an act of terrorism:

If Obama knew it was terrorism on Day Two, then why did his administration continue to blame the video for days afterward?”

Answer?

Anyone?

~McQ


2012 California Ballot Propositions

Once again, it’s time to take a look at the biennial crap that various idiots try to foist on us here in California at election time, known as the ballot propositions. This election there are ten of them. Let’s see what they’ve cooked up for us this year.

PROP 30: TEMPORARY TAXES TO FUND EDUCATION. GUARANTEED LOCAL PUBLIC SAFETY FUNDING. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

Increases taxes on earnings over $250,000 for seven years and sales taxes by ¼ cent for four years, to fund schools. Guarantees public safety realignment funding. Fiscal Impact: Increased state tax revenues through 2018–19, averaging about $6 billion annually over the next few years. Revenues available for funding state budget. In 2012–13, planned spending reductions, primarily to education programs, would not occur.

NO: California already has incredibly steep income taxes. The top rate of 9.8% hits at $38,000 per year. And the sales tax rate is already over 7%. This is just insane, and they want to make it…insaner. Hey, here’s an idea, how about we stop cops and CDF firemen retiring at 50 with 85% of their top salary? How about we randomly fire half the Administrators in our schools, who ,in many districts, outnumber the actual teachers? Or, how ’bout weekly tarring and feathering of state legislators until they figure out how to cut spending?

PROP 31: STATE BUDGET. STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.

Establishes two-year state budget. Sets rules for offsetting new expenditures, and Governor budget cuts in fiscal emergencies. Local governments can alter application of laws governing state-funded programs. Fiscal Impact: Decreased state sales tax revenues of $200 million annually, with corresponding increases of funding to local governments. Other, potentially more significant changes in state and local budgets, depending on future decisions by public officials.

NO: The California Democratic Party opposes it. I can’t imagine anything the California Democratic Party opposes that I would not automatically be for. Except maybe this. This seems like a disaster in the making. It’s so fricken’ complicated and gives so much power—including tax power—to unelected bureaucrats, that I can’t see how this could possibly do anything but make things worse. The GOP is for it, but the California Federation of Republican Women and some TEA Party groups are against it. This one is just all over the map. Absent something clearer and less complicated, I’m saying "No". There’s a way to fix Sacramento, but this ain’t it.

PROP 32: POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS BY PAYROLL DEDUCTION. CONTRIBUTIONS TO CANDIDATES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees. Fiscal Impact: Increased costs to state and local government, potentially exceeding $1 million annually, to implement and enforce the measure’s requirements.

YES: This is a similar bill to the one that Gov. Scott Walker got passed in Wisconsin. The unions that currently own Sacramento HATE it. They can go screw.

PROP 33: AUTO INSURANCE COMPANIES. PRICES BASED ON DRIVER’S HISTORY OF INSURANCE COVERAGE. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

Changes current law to allow insurance companies to set prices based on whether the driver previously carried auto insurance with any insurance company. Allows proportional discount for drivers with some prior coverage. Allows increased cost for drivers without history of continuous coverage. Fiscal Impact: Probably no significant fiscal effect on state insurance premium tax revenues.

YES: Right now, if you have auto insurance, and you switch companies, your new company can’t offer you a discount for being continuously covered. Now, this could mean that if you voluntarily stop driving for a while, your new rates won’t be discounted. The opponents act like this is a Big Deal, and the Democrats shriek in horror at the very idea. I, on the other hand, would like to be able to switch companies without having a big premium increase.

PROP 34:  DEATH PENALTY. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

Repeals death penalty and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Applies retroactively to existing death sentences. Directs $100 million to law enforcement agencies for investigations of homicide and rape cases. Fiscal Impact: Ongoing state and county criminal justice savings of about $130 million annually within a few years, which could vary by tens of millions of dollars. One-time state costs of $100 million for local law enforcement grants.

YES: I don’t have any philosophical problem with the death penalty. Some people need killin’. On the other hand, I have no great respect for the system of criminal justice here in California, either. For whatever reason, we just don’t have a very good system for ensuring that the only people we execute are people who actually need killin’. Until we do, we probably shouldn’t be killing anybody.

PROP 35: HUMAN TRAFFICKING. PENALTIES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

Increases prison sentences and fines for human trafficking convictions. Requires convicted human traffickers to register as sex offenders. Requires registered sex offenders to disclose Internet activities and identities. Fiscal Impact: Costs of a few million dollars annually to state and local governments for addressing human trafficking offenses. Potential increased annual fine revenue of a similar amount, dedicated primarily for human trafficking victims.

NO: First, we already have stiff penalties against human trafficking. We’re pretty serious about it. But this goes way too far. It reminds me of the Federal law in place for the military, where if you go to a strip club, and it’s later found to be engaged inn human trafficking, you could go to jail for many, many years. It’s draconian, and unnecessary, and will result in a lot of innocent people getting labeled as sex offenders and human traffickers who never actually engaged in human trafficking. It’s a wild over-reaction to an admittedly serious problem.

PROP 36: THREE STRIKES LAW. REPEAT FELONY OFFENDERS. PENALTIES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

Revises law to impose life sentence only when new felony conviction is serious or violent. May authorize re-sentencing if third strike conviction was not serious or violent. Fiscal Impact: Ongoing state correctional savings of around $70 million annually, with even greater savings (up to $90 million) over the next couple of decades. These savings could vary significantly depending on future state actions.

YES: OK, I’m starting to come off like some bleeding heart, soft-on-crime, 60s liberal here, but this is a better application of the three strikes law. Right now, a guy with two strikes could a life sentence if his third strike is having an ounce of weed on him. Any third felony counts as a third strike. This would limit the third strike to a violent felony, which is who we really want in prison, anyway. There’ve been some ridiculous third strike convictions here in CA, and this would stop that, while ensuring violent offenders get put away.

PROP 37: GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS. LABELING. INITIATIVE STATUTE. 

Requires labeling of food sold to consumers made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. Prohibits marketing such food, or other processed food, as “natural.” Provides exemptions. Fiscal Impact: Increased annual state costs from a few hundred thousand dollars to over $1 million to regulate the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Additional, but likely not significant, governmental costs to address violations under the measure.

NO: More costly green crap. It’ll be a boon for trial laywers, make food in California more expensive, and will drive farmers out of the state, and small grocers out of business. Sheer idiocy.

PROP 38: TAX TO FUND EDUCATION AND EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

Increases taxes on earnings using sliding scale, for twelve years. Revenues go to K–12 schools and early childhood programs, and for four years to repaying state debt. Fiscal Impact: Increased state tax revenues for 12 years—roughly $10 billion annually in initial years, tending to grow over time. Funds used for schools, child care, and preschool, as well as providing savings on state debt payments.

NO: I don’t have any kids. Give ‘em gruel, and let ‘em know in no uncertain terms that children are to be seen, not heard. Preferably with beatings. And get Sacramento’s hand out of my pockets. This state wastes a shocking amount of money, then when they come up short, somehow it becomes my problem.

PROP 39: TAX TREATMENT FOR MULTISTATE BUSINESSES. CLEAN ENERGY AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY FUNDING. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

Requires multistate businesses to pay income taxes based on percentage of their sales in California. Dedicates revenues for five years to clean/efficient energy projects. Fiscal Impact: Increased state revenues of $1 billion annually, with half of the revenues over the next five years spent on energy efficiency projects. Of the remaining revenues, a significant portion likely would be spent on schools.

NO: Another tax. This time on out of state businesses, to force them to pay CA income tax if they do business here. Well, guess what, they just won’t do business here, you dolts. So, A) you won’t get the tax revenue you say you will, B) people in CA who work for those companies will join the ranks of the unemployed, losing us even more tax revenue, and C) if you do get any revenue, you’ll blow it on wind-powered solar sails, or some such nonsense. And if there’s another Solyndra-style black hole to pour money into, you can bet the rocket scientists in Sacramento will unerringly find it.

PROP 40: REDISTRICTING. STATE SENATE DISTRICTS. REFERENDUM.

A “Yes” vote approves, and a “No” vote rejects, new State Senate districts drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission. If rejected, districts will be adjusted by officials supervised by the California Supreme Court. Fiscal Impact: Approving the referendum would have no fiscal impact on the state and local governments. Rejecting the referendum would result in a one-time cost of about $1 million to the state and counties.

YES: Even the sponsors of the proposition have withdrawn their sponsorship. The CA Supreme Court has already kept the old Senate districts in place for 2012, thwarting the will of the people on getting the redistricting out of the hands of the Democrats in Sacramento.  They’ll do it again in 2014 without it. Jeebus, this is such a corrupt state.

Well, that’s the run-down for this election. Now that you know how to vote properly, do your duty.

~
Dale Franks
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Biden and the VP debate: Effective or Gore 2.0?

In answer to the title’s question, it depends on what Biden saw as his mission.

Many of the election experts out there believe there are only 4 to 5% of the people left to convince they need to vote for a particular side. And through the years, VP debates have had little effect in that regard.

So, was Biden’s mission to convince those few percent of voters still deciding or was it something else?

If it was to convince, I think Joe Biden did a very poor job. As you’ll see in various news stories where polls and interviews with independents are included, he was considered to be rude, condescending and kind of weird, laughing at inappropriate times, etc.

But what if the mission was to fire up his base … a base that has been devastated by the performance of President Obama in the first presidential debate?

If so, he was likely effective. The base doesn’t care if he’s rude or condescending … in fact, that’s what they demand. What others call rudeness and condescension, they’re already calling “passion”. No great surprise there.

I think Jokin’ Joe’s job last night was to go out there and try to again rebuild some enthusiasm within the base. And with that mission, no matter how distasteful or disturbing his performance was to others, he probably succeeded. He wanted to fire up a little “Joementum”. Facts and figures? Hey, who cares, throw whatever against the wall and see what sticks. His job wasn’t to be right or wonky … his job was to be aggressive, overbearing and loud. Apparently that’s what many on the left equate with a good debate performance.

Remember, as we’ve mentioned any number of times, in close elections it’s about “enthusiasm”. Obama’s debate performance threw cold water on already waning Democratic enthusiasm. Joe Biden has attempted to relight the fire under the enthusiasm pot.

Performance wise, it depends on where you come from, politically, as to how you rate their performances. Most of the instant polls, less CBS, gave a slight margin of victory to Ryan. Both sides are claiming victory today. No great surprise.

Substance? Was anyone even paying attention to substance. Numbers and stats flew willy-nilly. There were a few good barbs from both sides. And, of course, the fact checkers will be out in force today. But does it matter?

I’m going to be interested to see the numbers of viewers for the debate as opposed to those who chose Thursday night football or a MLB playoff game. My guess is they’ll out draw the debate.

I was sitting at my grandson’s concert last night and I overheard two women behind me talking. One said someone had ask her if she was going to watch the debate and she’d answered “no”. “I already know who I’m voting for”, she said. And, incidentally it’s not the incumbent. The other woman agreed with her.

Another thought. Perhaps the Biden performance was his way to displaying to Obama what he thought he should do in his next debate. If so, it’s bad advise (something for which Biden is somewhat infamous). While Biden can sort of, kind of, get away with it because, well, that’s what you expect from Biden, it would be horribly out of character for Obama. It would also show a level of desperation that I don’t think Obama wants to portray. And, given the Biden performance, my guess is Romney would be ready for it.

Anyway, an interesting if mostly inconsequential debate. Ryan got to present himself to the American people unfiltered by anything but Biden’s sarcasm and sometimes loony laughing and he seems to have done fairly well if the insta polls are to be believed.

I think that’s pretty well the best he could have hoped for.

Biden? He did his job as he understood it and he probably succeeded as well. How this will all translate come November 6 is anyone’s guess, but if history is to be believed, it won’t have much effect at all.

~McQ
Twitter: @McQandO
Facebook: QandO


Obama loves the perks of office, but he’s not too crazy about the job

Alana Goodman provides some validation to my assertion that Barack Obama likes the perks of being President, but really isn’t that crazy about the job itself.

First though, some interesting info on debates and Obama:

According to the Times, Obama also deeply dislikes debates. It might be understandable if this was because he found them challenging and outside of his comfort zone. But that’s not what the Times reports. Obama apparently dislikes debates because he views them as “media-driven gamesmanship… something to endure, rather than an opportunity.” In other words, debates are below him. It’s not that he’s a weak debater, it’s that the debate format is too trivial for the likes of Barack Obama.

And, of course, he holds Romney in “disdain”, which likely makes it even harder.  What will be interesting is whether someone who dislikes debates and the person he has to debate can rally and do what is necessary in the next two debates.  Ummm … probably not.

But on to the main point.  Goodman talks about Obama as President failing at the very personal level, a level that requires an ability he just doesn’t seem to have the self-discipline to exercise.  And it isn’t in just one sphere or area.  It is an across the board inability to form relationship with critical demographics and people.

This isn’t the first major aspect of the presidency (and campaigns) that Obama reportedly disdains. George W. Bush wasn’t a fantastic debater, but he was considered a great communicator in person. Obama, in contrast, doesn’t appear to enjoy personal interaction in general. He knocks debates as “gamesmanship,” but he also doesn’t like socializing. And as the New Yorker reported, he’s alienated major donors because he hasn’t been able to build relationships with them.

Obama’s interpersonal struggles have also caused him problems in the policy realm. He dislikes working with members of congress, and his disengagement from the legislative side of the political process has been criticized routinely by both Republicans andDemocrats. The same goes for foreign policy. The New York Times reported that Obama’s difficulty dealing with the Arab Spring has stemmed from his “impatience with old-fashioned back-room diplomacy” and “failure to build close personal relationships with foreign leaders.”

According to Game Change author John Heilemann, Obama is one of those rare politicians who “don’t like people…[and] don’t like politics.”

Goodman asks, “so why is he running for re-election”.  Here’s a politician who doesn’t like politics and doesn’t like people?

See title.  It’s good to be the top dog and enjoy all the perks.  Work?

Yeah, see, that’s for the little people.  I mean he’s never had to work before, why would he want too now?

But give him 4 more years, will you?  He hasn’t had all the Wagyu beef he wants at this point.  And it’s cool having your own airplane at your beck and call if you want to jet off somewhere for dinner.  How cool?  $1.4 billion cool … the cost to taxpayers to keep the president in the style to which he’s become accustomed.

The more we learn about this guy, the less he seems right for the job.  Of course the past 4 years have pretty much proven that, despite Andrew Sullivan’s claim that his record is just sterling, he’s been an abject, incompetent failure.  He hasn’t grown in the job, he’s shrunk.  The debate performance was just his version of a shoulder shrug.  He doesn’t know his job.  How can he debate it?

I got a laugh out of Sullivan’s melt down though (a few actually):

And we are told that when Obama left the stage that night, he was feeling good. That’s terrifying.

It should be.  The guy (and Sullivan) actually thinks he’s done a good job.  Yet, as  Sullivan goes on to say,  somehow in one night, Obama managed to lose the 18 point lead he had among women.  Gee, you think they figured out that he’s still not ready for prime time, even after 4 years of OJT?

But Sullivan does manage to ask the pregnant question of the moment:

How do you erase that imprinted first image from public consciousness: a president incapable of making a single argument or even a halfway decent closing statement?

You don’t.  Not if that image is indeed the first image of the political season like it likely was for many of the almost 70 million who tuned in.

What they saw was a guy on one side who was energized, engaging and articulate.  On the other side they saw the guy who is President.  My guess is they concluded he really didn’t want to be President after that performance.

I think they’re probably right.

~McQ
Twitter: @McQandO
Facebook: QandO


Debate: If it had been a prize fight, they’d have called it in the 9th round (update)

Or, as Michael Moore said, “that’s what you get for having John Kerry as a debate coach”.

It appears the debate went pretty much in Mitt Romney’s favor last night, and, as you would see if you watched MSNBC’s Morning Joe, they’ve suddenly “discovered” MItt Romney. I know it must be a shock that their made up Romney didn’t show up last night.

Interesting.

More interesting? There appears to have been a clear winner last night:

According to a CNN/ORC International survey conducted right after the debate, 67% of debate watchers questioned said that the Republican nominee won the faceoff, with one in four saying that President Barack Obama was victorious.

“No presidential candidate has topped 60% in that question since it was first asked in 1984,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

And:

While nearly half of debate watchers said the showdown didn’t make them more likely to vote for either candidate, 35% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney while only 18% said the faceoff made them more likely to vote to re-elect the president.

More than six in ten said that president did worse than expected, with one in five saying that Obama performed better than expected. Compare that to the 82% who said that Romney performed better than expected. Only one in ten felt that the former Massachusetts governor performed worse than expected.

Now the poll only reflects debate watchers and not all Americans, but then the debates are aimed at, well, debate watchers, aren’t they?

One of the things I take away from the numbers is the 82% that say Romney performed better than expected actually got to see and judge Mitt Romney for themselves last night and not through the filter of the media.

We talked about that sort of thing on the podcast.  How America watched the debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, when Reagan was lagging in the polls, and apparently decided that night that Reagan was acceptable as President.

Did that happen last night for those that tuned in?

Did Romney get a check-mark beside “acceptable” for the job?

Probably so.  As for Obama’s performance?  Well, here are a few words from his supporters:

  • Commentator and blogger Andrew Sullivan might have captured the collective reaction best with this tweet, “Look, you know how much I love the guy, and how much of a high-info viewer I am, but this was a disaster for Obama.”
  • On MSNBC, talk show host Chris Matthews asked incredulously, “Where was Obama tonight?” He suggested that the president take some cues from the liberal voices on the cable channel. “There’s a hot debate going on in this country. Do you know where it’s being held? Here on this network is where we’re having the debate. We have our knives out. We go after the people and the facts. What was he doing tonight? He went in there disarmed.” Obama failed to put any points on the board by not bringing up Romney’s controversial “47 percent” remark or his work at Bain Capital, Matthews complained, while Romney “did it just right,” keeping a direct gaze on Obama as he spoke, ignoring moderator Jim Lehrer’s mild-mannered attempts to cut him off and treating he president like “prey.” Matthews said, “What was Romney doing? He was winning.”
  • Comedian Bill Maher, who takes regular hard jabs at conservatives on his television show and who gave $1 million to a super PAC supporting Obama’s reelection, tweeted, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Obama looks like he DOES need a teleprompter” — a reference to Obama’s critics who say he relies too heavily on teleprompters.

Not pretty.  Not pretty at all.

Now we’ll go through the obligatory fact checks that no one will pay attention too.  But the impression has been made.  The only question is, was it enough to tip the election to the Romney side.

And here’s another point to ponder.  If Americans were waiting on the first debate to determine whether Mitt Romney was acceptable, will they bother tuning in to any of the other debates.  Or said another way, was this first debate performance enough to convince them that he can do the job and would probably be better than the incumbent.

If I had to guess, I’d say yes.

And if last night made the undecided comfortable with a Romney presidency,  that should worry Democrats.

Update: From CNN of all places:

It was the biggest question coming into this first showdown: Could Romney seem presidential standing next to the Obama?

The answer appears to be yes.

Wow.

Also from CNN:

“I don’t think anyone’s ever spoken to him like that over the last four years. I think he found that not only surprising but offensive. It looked like he was angry at times,” added CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen, who has advised both Democratic and Republican presidents.

Heh … what, no Nobel Peace Prize for just showing up?!

~McQ
Twitter: @McQandO
Facebook: QandO


MSM – the traditional Democratic ally?

I’m sure you’re watching the MSM give a huge collective yawn concerning the Obama video that has been surfaced showing an Obama that most of America hasn’t seen.

“Old news” they’re saying.  “We’ve covered it,” they claim.  Funny, I don’t remember it (oh, it was on MSNBC?  No wonder no one has seen it).

Meanwhile the MSM is fixed on 1985 videos of Mitt Romney and his stance on … Vietnam?

Ed Driscoll, via Instapundit, sums up a couple of points that are pretty much true.  First, he quotes Andrew Ferguson at Commentary, who makes a good point using the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as a basis:

Heisenberg’s principle can be crudely generalized (it’s the best I can do) as follows: An observer can change the nature of a thing or an event merely through the act of observation. Observation all by itself can become an intervention. Heisenberg was describing how reality works at the level of quantum mechanics, where a wave becomes a particle and vice versa depending on how it’s being measured. But it applies, too, at the level of political journalism, where reality is even stranger. There, facts can become interpretations, interpretations can become facts, and events of no significance can achieve an earthshaking importance simply by virtue of being pawed over by a large number of journalists.

A typical journalist, if he’s any good, insists at least theoretically on the iron divide between observer and participant. At its best the press corps sees itself as a squadron of Red Cross workers, wandering among the combatants in a battle zone and ensuring their own safety with a claim of strict neutrality. The Heisenberg Principle of Journalism puts the lie to all that. You see it at work whenever a news anchor announces that “this story just refuses to go away” or a headline writer insists that “questions continue to be raised” about the conduct of one hapless public figure or another.

The story refuses to go away, of course, because the anchor and his colleagues won’t let it; and the questions that continue to be raised are being raised by the headline writer and his editors. Reporters create more news than anybody, just by pretending they’re watching it unfold.

How often have we seen the absolute over-kill by the media on stories most would consider trivial.  It seems to always depend on who is involved, doesn’t it?   But, as Bengazi and Fast and Furious are proving, the inverse is also true.  The MSM can blatantly ignore what most would consider important stories as well.   Driscoll lists the exceptions:

Let’s.  And that’s precisely what the media is doing.  I’d also add to that list a litany of economic failure that is simply being ignored.

Or to put it another way, as the Washington Examiner notes tonight in an editorial, “To believe Obama is to forget the last four years.” That’s what both the Obama Administration and their palace guard are hoping.

It has gotten so obvious that even Howard Fineman has criticized the press for its obvious bias and its selective coverage.  Pat Caudell went off on the media just the other day.

The intent of the media?  To drag their chosen one across the finish line regardless of how poorly he’s done.   There seems to be no attempt to hide it anymore.  Simply peruse the stories of the day, identify what should be the stories of the day (a useful tool is to identify something not being covered and say to one’s self “if that were a Republican president …”), and it becomes clear which side, literally, the press is on.

Tonight is going to be interesting as well.  We’ll see how subtle the “moderators” of the debate are going to be about their bias by the questions they ask.  Will they focus on the economy, the unfulfilled Obama promises, the disaster his foreign policy has become, ObamaCare and its cost, etc.  Or are we going to talk about “lady parts”, what Romney said in 1985 and the evil Bain corporation.

My guess?  Not much economy, not much Obama record, lots about Mitt’s past (with the excuse that we know about Obama, but this is an opportunity to introduce America to Romney).

~McQ
Twitter: @McQandO
Facebook: QandO