Free Markets, Free People

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Obama Speech: Welcome to the role of world rent-a-cop

That’s essentially the role we’ve assumed according to President Obama.  We have a “duty” to respond to a potential humanitarian crisis like that which was developing in Libya.  Just not in Iran or Syria or, well, North Korea where the population is starving because of its government.

Let’s be clear about its application.  John Dickerson of Slate lays it out pretty well:

The statement that had sounded like a bold doctrine — that what guides a U.S. decision to intervene is not just threats to our safety, but threats to ‘our interests and values’ — came with an asterisk that led to some fine print at the bottom of the speech: Offer valid only if it’s a relatively easy military mission and we have a lot of allies and we only share a limited amount of the burden."

So the people of Iran, Syria and North Korea and other “potential humanitarian crisis” hot spots which may bring difficulties in other areas need not apply.

As for the claim that we’re stepping back and letting others run the show?  Pure artifice:

In transferring command and control to NATO, the U.S. is turning the reins over to an organization dominated by the U.S., both militarily and politically. In essence, the U.S. runs the show that is taking over running the show.

Lets look at a few facts about the matter:

The United States supplies 22 percent of NATO’s budget, almost as much as the next largest contributors – Britain and France – combined. A Canadian three-star general was selected to be in charge of all NATO operations in Libya. His boss, the commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples, is an American admiral, and the admiral’s boss is the supreme allied commander Europe, a post always held by an American.

So, as usual from this administration, we get words that just don’t really mean what you think they mean when you get into the details of the claim.  I know, you’re surprised.  NATO is and has been run by the US since its inception and this operation will be no different regardless of who they put in a figurehead role.

Obama also claimed the mission was “narrowly focused on saving lives”.   Pure nonsense to anyone who understand what has been deployed and what is being attacked:

Despite insistences that the operation is only to protect civilians, the airstrikes now are undeniably helping the rebels to advance. U.S. officials acknowledge that the effect of air attacks on Gadhafi’s forces – and on the supply and communications links that support them – is useful if not crucial to the rebels. "Clearly they’re achieving a benefit from the actions that we’re taking," Navy Vice Adm. William Gortney, staff director for the Joint Chiefs, said Monday.

The Pentagon has been turning to air power of a kind more useful than high-flying bombers in engaging Libyan ground forces. So far these have included low-flying Air Force AC-130 and A-10 attack aircraft, and the Pentagon is considering adding armed drones and helicopters.

AC-130s and A-10s are not aircraft used in the maintenance of no-fly zones.   They’re killers.   They hunt and kill vehicles and people.  There’s some conjecture out there that their deployment requires boots on the ground to produce targets for them, but that’s not true.  Both can operate independently without JTAC support on targets of opportunity.

The point, however is the introduction of those type aircraft have nothing to do with a no-fly zone and certainly nothing to do with a “narrowly focused mission” of protecting civilians.  They’re there to kill the opposition – Gadhafi’s soldiers and overthrow the existing regime.

In essence, he’s saying “"If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter," and then supporting action to do just that hoping the Arab League won’t notice what is actually afoot.

There was a lot of hypocritical nonsense in the speech as well.  The biggest barf line for me was this:

"Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."

Except for Iraq of course, where even with the well-know atrocities including images of slaughter, mass graves, rape rooms and reports of the regime feeding its citizens through wood chippers, he definitely wanted to turn a blind eye.   And he has turned a blind eye on the atrocities in Iran perpetrated by that regime and is presently turning a blind eye on those in Syria. 

Perhaps the president ought to go back and read his own book:

In his pre-presidential book "The Audacity of Hope," Obama said the U.S. will lack international legitimacy if it intervenes militarily "without a well-articulated strategy that the public supports and the world understands."

He questioned: "Why invade Iraq and not North Korea or Burma? Why intervene in Bosnia and not Darfur?"

Why indeed, Mr. President – why Libya and not Syria?  So we go back to John Dickerson’s addendum to the Obama Doctrine which in essences says “if its easy and I can score some political points, I might do it – otherwise you’re on your own”.  

So, perhaps understanding the hypocrisy of his position and how it must appear to the American people he said:

"It is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs," he said. "But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right."

Again see the Dickerson corollary and substitute “what’s easy” for “what’s right”.

Finally, completely missing from the speech is the end state and exit strategy.  We have no idea.  This could go on for literally years.  To this date it is estimated to have cost the US $600 million.  And, as noted, we may claim to be in the backseat now, but the facts of the matter – the command structure of NATO – point to a entirely different reality.

This adventure – this war – despite his claims otherwise, is not one started because of a threat to any vital interests of the US.   It is again a war that the president claims required our “unique capabilities” to prosecute.

That. Is. Not. A. Legitimate. Reason. To. Go. To. War.

The more we let our allies depend on our “unique capabilities” the less they’ll develop their own.  Why do it when they can “volunteer” the US into doing it?

That’s why:

Just 47 percent of Americans support the U.S. airstrikes, while 36 percent don’t and 17 percent don’t know, according to the Pew poll.

The Gallup Poll found similar results, the lowest level of initial support for a U.S. military action in at least three decades, and the first time in 10 interventions dating to the 1983 invasion of Grenada that a majority of Americans didn’t support the action at the onset.

American’s aren’t fooled by this sort of nonsense anymore.  They understand what is or isn’t in their own vital interests and they further recognize this action doesn’t rise to that level.  Some, who support it, are calling it “pragmatic”.  Others claim it is an eminently “centrist” approach to such problems.  But some are also saying that every word in last night’s speech could have come from George Bush.

Bottom line: this is not a role that the US needs to play and certainly can’t afford to play.  The world is full of inequities, violence and death.  And despite his high sounding rhetoric last night, President Obama had turned a blind eye to plenty of it.  The only time US troops should be deployed and committed to war, such as is now happening in Libya, should be when the vital interests of the US are at stake – a point the candidate Obama made many times prior to assuming the presidency.

Libya doesn’t meet that standard and Obama’s speech last night didn’t make any convincing arguments that it did.  He once said, “I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.”  Interestingly his first war as Commander in Chief is a “dumb war.”

~McQ

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Here’s a surprise–111th Congress has worst job approval rating since ratings began

Yeah, I know – you’re just downright shocked, aren’t you?

That’s what you get for doing the party’s business instead of the people’s business.

Here’s what Gallup had to say about their poll results:

Americans’ assessment of Congress has hit a new low, with 13% saying they approve of the way Congress is handling its job. The 83% disapproval rating is also the worst Gallup has measured in more than 30 years of tracking congressional job performance.

Frankly I think its rated too high at 13%.  Their performance has been abysmal.  And while I understand that we’ve had a financial crisis and are in a recession (or out of it, or … whatever) with high unemployment, it really doesn’t matter.  This Congress has done things that have received almost universal condemnation and has gone places where the American people clearly and forcefully said they didn’t want them.

Why wouldn’t they be at 13%.  And, as of today, they’re attempting to drive that rating even lower with their shenanigans.

There are a couple polls that left me shaking my head.  There’s an Washington Post-ABC poll that claims:

In the new poll, just 41 percent of respondents say the GOP takeover of the House is a "good thing." About 27 percent say it is a "bad thing," and 30 percent say it won’t make any difference. Most continue to say that the Republicans in Congress are not doing enough to compromise with Obama on important issues.

Except the GOP hasn’t taken over the House yet.  We’re stuck with the rump 111th Congress.  So I’m not really sure of the relevance of this poll.  Seems to me that regardless of who does or doesn’t think the GOP’s coming takeover of the House is a “good thing” or not really doesn’t matter.  It’s an opinion expressed without anything to base it in except, well, conjecture.  And of course the last sentence is nonsense since the present Congress is majority Democrat. 

Andrew Malcolm got a bit of a amusement from it as well:

With Republicans still 20 days away from taking control of one chamber of Congress, the House of Representatives, the Washington Post could no longer resist delivering the polling news that Americans are not yet convinced the GOP is the party for them.

The bold headline: "Public is not yet sold on GOP"

Imagine, waiting for the 63 new House Republicans to actually take the oath on Jan. 4 and perhaps find their seats before polling on what dismal failures they are. With Democrats controlling merely the presidency and the Senate, the newly elected Republicans have yet to accomplish a single meaningful thing. And clearly the public knows it.

There you go – the worst Congress in history trying to drive their approval rating even lower than it is now and WaPo/ABC are polling  and “analyzing” stuff that hasn’t even happened yet.

Yeah, we’re well served by today’s media (and all those editors), aren’t we? About as well as we’ve been screwed served by the 111th Congress.

~McQ

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Just funny–Bush approval rating now higher than Obama’s

I know it’s only a poll and I also understand in the big scheme of things it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, but for the humor factor alone, it’s worth a post.

George W. Bush’s job approval rating as president has spiked to 47 percent, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

That’s 1 point higher than President Barack Obama’s job approval rating in a poll taken the same week.

Of course, what’s obviously funny is that after the relentless attacks on Bush before and after the election by Obama he now leads the man by a point in job approval rating, at least temporarily.  A little schadenfreude at least, no?

Of course the claim is that Bush’s problems have faded in memory and Obama’s are painfully evident and aggravated by the current situation surrounding him.  Yeah, so.  At one point it was Bush in that situation, but I don’t recall him trying to constantly shift blame on others.  He didn’t talk about the horrible security situation he’d “inherited” from Clinton after 9/11.  In fact, he rarely if ever mentioned Clinton, and if he did it was usually respectfully.  Of course he was never accorded the same respect by Obama and the left.

So I can’t help but find this funny in a juvenile ‘thumb your nose at them’ kind of way as well.   He and the left deserve it.

The lesson, however, is more profound.  And while it may again change in Obama’s favor it is indeed one of those “teachable moments” he seems so fond of.  Humility is a virtue, as is grace.  They serve you well whenever you employ them.  And they keep you from having to suffer those situations where you words come back to bite you on the rear end.   Because by deploying them regularly, you never find yourself in those sorts of situations.

Unfortunately I doubt our current president will bother to consider any of that or learn anything from this quick snapshot of his standing.  It’s just not in him to do so.  But he could learn a lot about being a leader if he did – something for which he could use some lessons.

Bush’s rebound gives some credence to what he has long said — that history will eventually judge his presidency.

Indeed.  But it also never hurts when your successor is a bumbling fool either.

~McQ

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TSA and America’s attitudes

W have dueling polls concerning the level of anger/distress/rejection of the new TSA procedures being introduced in airports recently.  Zogby International and Gallup have come up with different results of polls they’ve recently taken about how the flying public feels about the “don’t touch my junk” controversy.

Gallup says that the overwhelming number of frequent flyers really don’t have a problem with the new procedures.  Since millions of flyers move through the system in a week and at the  last count I saw, only about 170,000 had been subjected to the advanced pat down, I have to wonder if that high number is a result of the fact that while they’ve heard about the pat downs, they’ve never experienced one.   And certainly, I assume a good number of them simply have no problem with the possible health care aspects of the back scatter x-ray or with some nameless bureaucrat ogling their “junk”.

TSA2

Anyway, per Gallup, frequent travelers are “largely” ok with full body scanners but not as enthused with the possibility of an advanced pat down.

They put the number at 71% who claim that the loss of personal privacy (through full body scan or pat down) is “worth it”  to prevent acts of terrorism.  27% say it is not worth it.  What’s the old saying?  A liberal is someone who has never been mugged before?  I get the impression that “in theory” they may find it to be “worth it” but I really have to wonder if they’d hold to that if they had to undergo the procedures.

As you get into the poll you find this:

The majority (57%) say they are not bothered by the prospect of undergoing a full-body scan at airport security checkpoints. The same percentage, however, say they are bothered, if not angry, about the prospect of undergoing a full-body pat-down. Still, fewer than one in three frequent air travelers are "angry" about undergoing either procedure.TSA3

Again, note the wording – they’re not bothered “by the prospect” of undergoing a full-body scan.  And it isn’t some “vast majority” like the 71% implies.  It’s 57% of which I’d guess most haven’t undergone either procedure (I believe the scanners are only in 70 or so airports at this time).

Zogby, on the other hand, come up with much different result than did Gallup:

Of the 2,032 likely voters polled between November 19 and November 22, 61 percent said they oppose the use of body scanners and pat downs.

Now that does wander into “vast majority” territory.  It also completely contradicts a CBS News poll that said only 15% were opposed to the full-body scanners.  Of course the poll was conducted November 7-10, before the “don’t touch my junk” controversy had really exploded in the media.TSA4

  The Zogby poll also mentions something that has gotten very little media attention.  The administration came out early saying that all their scientists say the x-ray scanners pose no health threat to the flying public.  But that’s not necessarily true.  I know, I know – you’re shocked, aren’t you?  But it is a matter of statistics that in fact someone will get skin cancer according to Dr. Michael Love of Johns Hopkins:

"They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these x-rays," Dr. Michael Love, who runs an x-ray lab at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said.

When you consider how absurdly far the government sometimes goes in order to minimize risk in other health areas, it seems a bit contradictory to me to see it now claiming safety for something that obviously will statistically cause cancer in those who undergo the procedure.

TSA1

Now as mentioned it may not be a major risk, but it is certainly something people must consider when submitting.  And how about their kids? 

If they opt out because of those concerns, they get the grope treatment instead.  Not exactly what you’d expect in the “land of the free and the home of the brave” in terms of choices which preserve individual liberty and privacy.

Zogby reports, contrary to Gallup’s findings:

The poll also found that men were slightly more opposed than women, with 63 percent of men and 60 percent of women opposing the TSA’s new checkpoint procedures.

In addition, 52 percent of respondents think the new security procedures will not prevent terrorist activity, 48 percent consider it a violation of privacy rights and 32 percent consider it to be sexual harassment.

Zogby looks at the politics of the issue – and guess who manages to find themselves on the wrong side of an individual rights issue?

Republicans and Independents are more opposed to the new body scans and pat downs than Democrats, with 69 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Independents opposing them, compared to only 50 percent of Democrats.

And finally, the business aspect of all of this.  Gallup somehow finds an increase in the number of frequent travelers (flew 2 or more times this year)  who choose to fly vs. those who would seek an alternate means of travel.  They note that in January of this year, 27% would seek alternate means of travel besides air travel while in this recent survey, only 19% would seek an alternative to avoid the “hassles” associated with flying.

Zogby found a much different result among those they polled:

"It is clear the majority of Americans are not happy with TSA and the enhanced security measures recently enacted," said pollster John Zogby. "The airlines should not be happy with 42 percent of frequent flyers seeking a different mode of transportation due to these enhancements."

Below I commented on the climate government creates in which businesses have to operate.  This is an interesting example of the point.  Although not exactly what I was alluding too below, it is indeed an example of government action effecting the financial health of a market sector.  And the moves are unilateral and obviously without consideration of the downside for that sector.  Not to mention all the liberty related problems any American should find with these procedures as well.

~McQ

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TSA and America’s attitudes

W have dueling polls concerning the level of anger/distress/rejection of the new TSA procedures being introduced in airports recently.  Zogby International and Gallup have come up with different results of polls they’ve recently taken about how the flying public feels about the “don’t touch my junk” controversy.

Gallup says that the overwhelming number of frequent flyers really don’t have a problem with the new procedures.  Since millions of flyers move through the system and at last count I saw, only about 170,000 had been subjected to the advanced pat down, I have to wonder if that high number is a result of the fact that while they’ve heard about the pat downs, they’ve never experienced one.   And certainly, I assume a good number of them simply have no problem with the possible health care aspects of the back scatter x-ray or with some nameless bureaucrat ogling their “junk”.

TSA2

Anyway, per Gallup, frequent travelers are “largely” ok with full body scanners but not as enthused with the possibility of an advanced pat down.

They put the number at 71% who claim that the loss of personal privacy (through full body scan or pat down) is “worth it”  to prevent acts of terrorism.  27% say it is not worth it.  What’s the old saying?  A liberal is someone who has never been mugged before?  I get the impression that “in theory” they may find it to be “worth it” but I really have to wonder if they’d hold to that if they had to undergo the procedures.

As you get into the poll you find this:

The majority (57%) say they are not bothered by the prospect of undergoing a full-body scan at airport security checkpoints. The same percentage, however, say they are bothered, if not angry, about the prospect of undergoing a full-body pat-down. Still, fewer than one in three frequent air travelers are "angry" about undergoing either procedure.TSA3

Again, note the wording – they’re not bothered “by the prospect” of undergoing a full-body scan.  And it isn’t some “vast majority” like the 71% implies.  It’s 57% of which I’d guess most haven’t undergone either procedure (I believe the scanners are only in 70 or so airports at this time).

Zogby, on the other hand, come up with much different result than did Gallup:

Of the 2,032 likely voters polled between November 19 and November 22, 61 percent said they oppose the use of body scanners and pat downs.

Now that does wander into “vast majority” territory.  It also completely contradicts a CBS News poll that said only 15% were opposed to the full-body scanners.  Of course the poll was conducted November 7-10, before the “don’t touch my junk” controversy had really exploded in the media.TSA4

  The Zogby poll also mentions something that has gotten very little media attention.  The administration came out early saying that all their scientists say the x-ray scanners pose no health threat to the flying public.  But that’s not necessarily true.  I know, I know – you’re shocked, aren’t you?  But it is a matter of statistics that in fact someone will get skin cancer according to Dr. Michael Love of Johns Hopkins:

"They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these x-rays," Dr. Michael Love, who runs an x-ray lab at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said.

When you consider how absurdly far the government sometimes goes in order to minimize risk in other health areas, it seems a bit contradictory to me to see it now claiming safety for something that obviously will statistically cause cancer in those who undergo the procedure.

TSA1

Now as mentioned it may not be a major risk, but it is certainly something people must consider when submitting.  And how about their kids? 

If they opt out because of those concerns, they get the grope treatment instead.  Not exactly what you’d expect in the “land of the free and the home of the brave” in terms of choices which preserve individual liberty and privacy.

Zogby reports, contrary to Gallup’s findings:

The poll also found that men were slightly more opposed than women, with 63 percent of men and 60 percent of women opposing the TSA’s new checkpoint procedures.

In addition, 52 percent of respondents think the new security procedures will not prevent terrorist activity, 48 percent consider it a violation of privacy rights and 32 percent consider it to be sexual harassment.

Zogby looks at the politics of the issue – and guess who manages to find themselves on the wrong side of an individual rights issue?

Republicans and Independents are more opposed to the new body scans and pat downs than Democrats, with 69 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Independents opposing them, compared to only 50 percent of Democrats.

And finally, the business aspect of all of this.  Gallup somehow finds an increase in the number of frequent travelers (flown 2 or more times this year) vs. those who would seek an alternate means of travel.  They note that in January of this year, 27% would seek alternate means of travel while in this recent survey, only 19% would seek an alternative to avoid the “hassles” associated with flying.

Zogby found a much different result among those they polled:

"It is clear the majority of Americans are not happy with TSA and the enhanced security measures recently enacted," said pollster John Zogby. "The airlines should not be happy with 42 percent of frequent flyers seeking a different mode of transportation due to these enhancements."

Below I commented on the climate government creates in which businesses have to operate.  This is an interesting example of the point.  Although not exactly what I was alluding too below, it is indeed an example of government action effecting the financial health of a market sector.  And the moves are unilateral and obviously without consideration of the downside for that sector.  Not to mention all the liberty related problems any American should find with these procedures as well.

~McQ

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As configured Federal Government is not popular with majority population

One of the points I continue to try and make when talking about Democrats, Republicans and elections is that which ever side is on the winning side this time or that, it’s mostly because the populace is more disgusted with the other side than enamored with their side.

The trend in the “are we on the right or wrong track as a country” has been in the negative for many years.  People aren’t happy in general with the direction of the country or how it is being governed in general, regardless of the party in power.

Gallup points to one of primary “specifics” that relate to that feeling – perceptions about the federal government.  And it isn’t pretty reading if you’re a big government fan:

Overall, 72% of responses about the federal government are negative, touching on its inefficiency, size, corruption, and general incompetence, with the most common specific descriptions being "too big," "confused," and "corrupt."

In fact in another recent Gallup poll, the federal government ranked next to last (only above the oil and gas industry which it has constantly demonized) with only 26% of those surveyed seeing it in a positive light.

This is one of the reasons the Tea Parties exist – they are the small minority of activists which vocalize what much of the population feels and is doing its best via the ballot box to correct.  What the TP does is give the issue the visibility it needs.   A voice to the frustration.

What you see in much of Washington DC is a bunch of government “addicts” (i.e. politicians and bureaucrats) in denial. 

I could go on a riff about all of this for thousands of words, but you’ve all read it before.  It is like the 800 pound gorilla in the room that neither party really wants to acknowledge.  Such acknowledgment would mean a) they’d have to actually listen to the people and that means b) giving up the power they’ve accrued to this point.  And in reality, neither party really, honestly wants to do that (oh certainly there are some in each who might be amenable, but not as a whole, no matter what they say). 

The relatively good news is you can tell both parties are worried about this, but for different reasons.  Democrats realize they’re almost completely on the wrong side of this.  They are, at heart, a big government party.  They see government as the primary means of accomplishing what they visualize as a utopian egalitarian society overseen by a large (costly and intrusive) government.  What is beginning to bother them is realizing how few buy into that vision and want it. 

The Republicans, on the other hand, supposedly embody the principles that the frustrated populace mostly embrace.  The problem is performance.  They haven’t lived up to their principles for decades.  That is why you see insurgent candidates running against establishment candidates and doing well.  The insurgents may be colorful and for the most part, not the choice of the establishment, but that’s the point.  However flawed the insurgent candidates are personally, they represent a message to the establishment.  It is about a type of candidate – philosophically.   They’re essentially saying “you count seats, we count principles” and they’re further saying “we’d rather chance losing the seat that putting someone in there that doesn’t represent our needs” because doing otherwise simply hasn’t worked out in the past, has it?

That is,to me at least, one of the more fascinating aspects of what is going on out there.  And these polls that Gallup and others do indicate this isn’t something which is going to be easily or quickly remedied.  However, it should warn both sides that business as usual is not an option.  And while that may manifest itself somewhat in this election, it is the 2012 political season that is going the be one of the most interesting in decades to watch.

~McQ

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A pox on both parties

Gallup’s latest poll shows that at least in the universe of those polled, neither the GOP or the Democratic party are held in very high esteem.  It’s something that I and Billy Hollis have been trying to get across for some time. 

What you’re seeing out there among the teeming masses isn’t necessarily a movement (I’m talking the Tea Party, etc) that wants to put the GOP in power.  It is a movement that is sick and tired of the way the country has been run and at the moment Republicans are considered to be slightly better because of their fiscal principles.

But, as Lisa Murkowski can tell you, not even all of them are acceptable.

I’m not speaking for the Tea Party, I’m not sure anyone can, but it appears to me to be mostly driven by a desire for fiscal conservatism and a return to Constitutional/limited government.  I don’t think it is much more complex than that, although with any mass movement you’ll see other minor movements with different causes try to attach themselves and claim to be mainstream in that movement.

But for the most part fiscal conservatism and limited government best characterize the Tea Party in my eyes.  And I’ve spoken frequently about how the “wrong track” poll – i.e. the fact that a huge majority of Americans, in the 60 percentile range, think the country is on the wrong track and have thought so for at least the last two administrations – speaks to the fact that they’re not happy with either party.

Gallup’s poll simply validates that point:

Americans’ frustration with Congress is directed at both sides of the aisle — with job approval ratings of 33% for the Democrats in Congress and 32% for the Republicans in Congress.

Interestingly those ratings are considerably higher than Congress’s approval rating (somewhere down around 11%) which I attribute to this specific Congress.   Americans don’t like the way Congress as a whole this session has done business and blame the Democrats for that, since they’re the majority party.  But in general, and for some time, they’ve not at all happy with the two parties (in fact, the cited poll numbers probably reflect approval by mostly partisan members of each party).

So here we are on the eve of  a mid-term with the GOP poised to make a return to power, at least in the House, and it is clear that they are nothing more than a “lesser of two evils” pick because, unfortunately, there are only two viable parties.

That is part of the frustration Americans are going through right now.  Movements like the Tea Party are trying to shape that a bit with its support of candidates that are much closer to the ideal they prefer.  And they’re having some success.

Of course the point is that the GOP shouldn’t think that there’s been a sudden mass acceptance of their brand or that they suddenly have some sort of mandate (the mistake the Democrats made and the result of that will be seen this November).  Instead they should understand that they’re grudgingly being given another chance to prove themselves, that the people that are supporting them have been very clear what they want, and if they don’t perform, they now have a movement that can find  – and back – someone who will. 

That’s quite a change from previous years, and who knows, if the Tea Party survives in some manner or form, it might be something that can indeed help us back along the road to fiscal conservancy and limited government.

~McQ

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"Recovery Summer" is a big "no sale"

Gallup’s latest poll brings us back to reality:

Gallup Daily tracking finds Americans’ confidence in the economy significantly lower so far in July than in June. And confidence in June was, in turn, down from May. The Gallup Economic Confidence Index for July 1-13, at -35, is lower than any monthly average in more than a year.

Recovery summer isn’t off to a very blazing start.  If the administration and its spinmeisters think they’re selling the recovery, they need to “reset” their calculation:

The decline in confidence seen in recent months is owing primarily to mounting public skepticism with the economy’s direction. Thus far in July, 30% of Americans, on average, have said the economy is getting better and 65% have said it is getting worse, for a net -35 economic outlook score. This is down sharply from -13 in April.

Economic confidence is a critical key to any recovery.  Once consumers are sold on the economy’s recovery, positive growth is usually the result.  The opposite is also true.  That’s because consumers who have lost confidence in the economy are more likely to put off buying anything but necessities.  The obvious economic repercussions of that sort of thinking is to slow growth and thus delay (or kill) any recovery. 

The political problem here (I think the economic problems should be obvious to all) is that the confidence of the consumer in the economy is heading down while all the spin is telling us we’re recovering quite well, thank you very much.

In other words, the political sales job on the economy and recover – critical to Democrats going into the mid-term elections – isn’t taking.  Consumers hear the pitch, look around them and not seeing what is said to exist, are rejecting it for the reality they are seeing and living.

Bad mojo for Dems looking at an election in 4 months.  That’s has caused all sorts of inter-party whining, wailing and fighting.  Meanwhile companies do what companies do when they lack confidence in the economy (and the policies of the government) – nothing.

Economically, without a true miracle, things will not begin to turn around sufficiently in the economy to be of any help to Democrats in November.  It appears it isn’t a question of whether or not they’ll lose seats, it is a question of how many.   With the numbers we’re seeing in various polls about how the electorate views the Democratic Congress and Obama administration’s economic policies, it’s clear that most have decided that giving the GOP another chance is the least of their bad choices for this coming election. 

Whether that has much of any impact, given the demonstrated obstinate nature of this administration, in the new Congress (and assuming they take control of at least on house in Congress) remains to be seen.  But if the Republicans take the House, the great blame-shifter in the White House will have a new entity on which to blame any continued economic failure.

Or, shorter for the GOP, be careful of what you wish for.

~McQ

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Polling the oil spill

And unfortunately, as Gallup points out, the news isn’t good.  But I can’t say it is unexpected:

Between March and today, with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill intervening, Americans’ preferences for prioritizing between environmental protection and energy production have shifted from a somewhat pro-energy stance to an even stronger pro-environment stance.

And the shift isn’t subtle nor are we talking a bare majority:

While Republican voters remained precisely the same in regards to the percentage who gave energy production the nod over environmental protection, the oil spill saw a 13 point swing (for the environment) from independents (58 v 34) and a 15 point swing for Democrats.

The unfortunate thing is this doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. One of the problems faced by BP with this disaster was the fact that it is a deep water well and they had no practiced and tested method of dealing with a blow out in deep water. They’ve been dealing with similar problem in shallower water for deacades, quite successfully I might add.

However, 97% of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is out of bounds, driving the producers of oil into deeper and deeper water. Although it may sound counter-intuitive, the best way to avoid problems like this in deep water is to open up more of the OCS. And no, I have no problem at all with requiring the oil industry to demonstrate their ability to quickly handle a similar situation in shallower water and the clean up as well as a condition of drilling in the OCS.

But at the moment, given the polls, BP and the oil industry in general have a hell of a public relations problem. The fact that the well appears to have been plugged doesn’t lessen the problem as now the massive clean up (and any fouled beaches and marshes) become the focus.

My guess is it will take quite some time to win public support back again. In the meantime, I’d further guess that an administration which has demonized Wall Street, health insurance companies, big Pharma and others, will use this swing in public opinion to go on the offensive against the oil industry as well – all in anticipation of a comprehensive energy bill which will see cap-and-trade as well as new and higher taxes on the oil industry to fund a “contingency fund” for any future problem like we’re experiencing today.

Hold on to your wallets

~McQ

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More fuel for the Tea Party discussion

As we do the back and forth on the origins of the Tea Party (TP) a poll has been published that gives us a peek at the demographics:

Diverse group:

The national breakdown of the Tea Party composition is 57 percent Republican, 28 percent Independent and 13 percent Democratic, according to three national polls by the Winston Group, a Republican-leaning firm that conducted the surveys on behalf of an education advocacy group. Two-thirds of the group call themselves conservative, 26 are moderate and 8 percent say they are liberal.

Tip of the iceberg:

The Winston Group conducted three national telephone surveys of 1,000 registered voters between December and February. Of those polled, 17 percent – more than 500 people — said they were “part of the Tea Party movement.”

Unified by fiscal matters:

The group is united around two issues – the economy/jobs and reducing the deficit. They believe that cutting spending is the key to job creation and favor tax cuts as the best way to stimulate the economy. That said 61 percent of Tea Party members believe infrastructure spending creates jobs. Moreover, given the choice Tea Party members favor 63-32 reducing unemployment to 5 percent over balancing the budget.

43% do not identify themselves as Republicans. That’s a large chunk – bigger actually than I thought it would be. And 13% self-identified Democrats. That diversity of politics tends to moderate the platform and explains why in some areas you hear Medicare cuts used as ammunition against the HCR monstrosity. What I would have loved to have seen is age demographics on this, because I’m also of the opinion that for the most part this is an older movement in terms of age of those identified with it. The poll says the make up is “male, slightly older and middle income”. I’m not sure what “slightly older” means. Someone will find a way to put “white” in front of male and revive the “angry white male” meme, I’m sure.

17% is a significant chunk of the population if that’s a good indicator of the size of the TP movement. Those we see out in the streets and attending TP rallies are indeed the tip of the iceberg if that’s true.

The unifying themes are economy and the deficits. Jobs and spending. But, as you can see the diversity of opinion is evident in the two issues cited in the poll. Neither reflect a “hard core” fiscal conservative theme. And both actually place jobs before spending.

So those points tend to reinforce my ideas about the Tea Party movement.

OTOH, reinforcing one of Jason’s primary contentions:

The group also vehemently dislikes President Barack Obama – even more so than those who called themselves Republicans in the survey. Over 80 percent of Tea Party members disapprove of the job he’s doing as president, whereas 77 percent of Republican respondents said they disapprove of Obama. The Tea Party members are also strongly opposed to the Democrats’ healthcare plan, with 82 percent saying they oppose it — only 48 percent of respondents overall were opposed.

Although dislike is high, it doesn’t yet point to Obama being the reason for their formation. What it does point out is much more than just the Republican portion (57%), if everyone of them voiced their dislike, weren’t the only one’s who dislike Obama. A good portion of the independents must feel that way as well – something I’ve been droning on about for some time.

And to my point about Congressional Republicans:

The group has a favorable view of Republicans generally but that drops from 71 to 57 percent if they’re asked about Congressional Republicans. Congressional Democrats are viewed very unfavorably by 75 percent of Tea Party members – a uniquely strong antipathy. An overwhelming 95 percent said “Democrats are taxing, spending, and borrowing too much.”

There is a good bit of anti-incumbent fever among this group. And I think part of it is they’ve seen the Congressional Republicans talk the talk so many times and then cave when given the opportunity to walk the walk.

Interestingly Gallup has done a similar poll to the Winston poll.  And they find a slightly larger percentage supporting TP but find the demographics to be very similar to the Winston poll:

Tea Party supporters skew right politically; but demographically, they are generally representative of the public at large. That’s the finding of a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted March 26-28, in which 28% of U.S. adults call themselves supporters of the Tea Party movement.

Their polling found a much larger independent percentage (43%) and slightly smaller Republican (49%) and Democratic (8%) slice. Men to women is 55% to 45%. Gallup did publish age demographics 50% are age 50 or older, however, when you look at the comparison to all of the US the TPs are very representative of national demographics.

What these polls tell us is while there is a rightward skew to the TP (which some would explain by saying the country is a “center-right” country) the demographics of these polls show a remarkably diverse group that are quite representative of the demographics of middle America. And, they’re finally fed up.

While we’ll probably argue till the cows come home as to the TP’s origins, but it hard to argue that the group isn’t diverse, has a unifying theme, and isn’t aimed at changing the way the federal government does business – and if that means firing every Congressional Rep up there, they seem more than willing to do that. The party most threatened is the Democratic party, however, Republicans that don’t meet TP criteria are subject to attack as well. And that’s entirely justifiable in my book.

~McQ

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