Date ►►► October 29, 2012

Dem Polls, Dem Polls...

Hatched by Dafydd

I was skimming yesterday's AP story that confidently prophesies Barack Obama will cruise to a narrow victory in November, and I was arrested by two claims, shifty predictions on which it bases its conclusion:

President Barack Obama is poised to eke out a victory in the race for the 270 electoral votes needed to win re-election, having beaten back Republican Mitt Romney's attempts to convert momentum from the debates into support in all-important Ohio, according to an Associated Press analysis a week before Election Day....

Without Ohio's 18 electoral votes, Romney would need last-minute victories in nearly all the remaining up-for-grabs states and manage to pick off key states now leaning Obama's way, such as Iowa or Wisconsin.

I found both suppositions puzzling; is Obama really so far ahead in those three states that AP can declare victory now, even as momentum surges towards Mitt Romney? Or is the press organization just whistling past the gravy train? Let's take a look.

Start with Ohio. This 18-EV state is a biggie. It's more and more likely that Romney is going to win Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia; that would give him 248 electoral votes (which you can see by playing with RealClearPolitics' interactive electoral-college map).

Now toss in the Buckeye state. If Romney also wins Ohio, he will have 266 electoral votes (evs) of the 270 required, and every other "toss-up" state has at least 4 evs. So if Romney wins Ohio, Obama would have to "run the table" of all remaining toss-ups, else Romney wins. He could not afford to lose a single state.

As it's manifestly unlikely that Obama would lose Ohio but win every other toss-up, the president cannot allow Ohio to go to Romney in the first place. We used to say that, since Republicans have never won the presidency without winning Ohio, that makes Ohio a "must win" for the GOP. But in 2012, it's actually a must-win for Obama; Romney has many paths to victory that don't roll through Ohio, but Obama has only one: total victory everywhere else.

So let's take a look at the polling in Ohio. The RCP average is currently Obama + 2.1, well within the margin of error; but that includes the Democratic poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP). This poll is simply a joke. Its turnout model is D+8, meaning 8% more Democrats than Republicans (D - 43%, R - 35%, I - 21%), and it gives women an 8-point advantage as well. Just toss this one in the fiery furnace; the actual average is thus Obama + 1.9.

Additionally, the Ohio average includes the most recent Rasmussen poll, which shows a dead heat -- as do the most recent Cincinnati Enquirer/Ohio News poll and the Suffolk poll (all had polling within the last week). Of the remaining six polls in the RCP average, four have Obama up by less than the margin of error (MoE) of each poll.

That leaves just two of them that show Obama ahead by more than the MoE: The CNN/Opinion Research poll (Obama + 4) and the Time Magazine poll (Obama + 5)... both of which have turnout models showing unreasonably large Democrat advantages.

The CNN poll has a turnout model of 35% Democratic, 33% Independent, and 32% Republican; these are self-reports from the respondents (I think Ohio doesn't have official party registration). CNN sees a D+3 turnout model -- and they come up with Obama + 4... hardly surprising.

But the Time poll just beats the cake. Its turnout model (page 26) predicts a Democrat advantage of plus 9! (D - 37%, I - 29%, R - 28%. The unweighted sample the pollsters obtained was even worse at plus 10.) That's even sillier than the PPP poll.

Bear in mind that in the 2008 election, Barack Obama only won Ohio by 5 points, 52 to 47. Does Time really believe that Obama is going to do just as well this year as four years ago? Yeesh!

In addition, they oversampled women (as did PPP) -- 47% male, 53% female; and they found a staggering gender gap of 10 points: Men favored Romney by 9 points, while women favored Obama by 19!

With a turnout model of D+9, the only surprise is that Obama is ahead only by five points. This poll is also clearly an outlier, in my opinion.

As a reality check, let's compare to the most recent statewide elections in Ohio. In 2010, Republican challenger John Kasich defeated incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland; while in the open-seat Senate race, Republican Rob Portman utterly crushed Democrat Lee Fisher by more than 18 percent... hard to square with a supposed D + 9 (or even D + 3) turnout just two years later.

So it seems a bit unreasonable, on its face, to assume that Democrats will outnumber Republicans by 9 points this year, or even 3, for that matter. If I had to guess, I'd say the turnout will be pretty even.

If we knock out the wonky Time poll and one of the polls where Obama and Romney are tied in Ohio (the "Bulgarian Olympics judge" rule, KOing the best and worst poll numbers), then the polling looks much dicier for the president; he is only ahead in Ohio by 1.5 points, not 1.9. Not only is that inside the MoE, it's easily inside the general Democratic poll-bias. More than likely, if the rest of the polling was more realistic about turnout, the polling average would show a tie or even an edge to Romney.

This hardly comports with AP's airy claim that Obama has "beaten back Republican Mitt Romney's attempts to convert momentum from the debates into support in all-important Ohio."

The debates started on October 3rd; in the week before the first debate, there were three polls, averaging Obama + 7 points. Now it's Obama + 1.9 (counting all the polls except the PPP Democratic poll); and if we toss the risible Time Magazing poll, it's Obama + 1.5. I'd say a five and a half point movement towards Mitt Romney qualifies as "converting momentum from the debates into support." Does anybody seriously dispute that, other than the DisAssociated Press?

It's clear that the momentum in Ohio is moving strongly towards Romney in the closing days, meaning he has an excellent chance of taking the state. So let's turn our attention to Wisconsin -- which AP also pooh-poohed as a potential Romney pickup.

Wisconsin polls -- all but one -- are likewise in a virtual dead heat, which means it will all depend upon turnout (unlike, say, California, where an Obama victory is predestined by God). And I believe that Romney's ground game will beat Obama's this year.

Measuring "enthusiasm" is tricky, because nearly everybody who expresses a preference for a candidate claims he is at least somewhat enthusiastic about said candidate; but that doesn't mean he will actually vote for the guy or gal. It's just the thing to say when someone asks you that stupid question.

There's really no good way to make an objective measurement before the fact; and after the fact, we will have the vote results themselves. But I don't think anyone in his right mind imagines that enthusiasm for reelecting Barack "Leading from behind" Obama will be anywhere near as high as it was the first time in 2008.

Since Romney's enthusiasm is huge and still growing, I see an excellent chance that Romney's "get out the vote" (GOTV) push will swamp Obama's. If that is true, then Romney will outperform his polling, while Obama will underperform his. In the case of Ohio and Wisconsin, that means Romney takes both states and is assured of being the next President of the United States.

But let's look at the Cheesy-Badger state polling in more depth. RCP has four polls up: Rasmussen has it a tie, Marquette University has it Obama + 1, and Mason-Dixon has it Obama + 2, all so close it's a statistical tie. The only bubbles in the swimming pool come from the Marist poll -- which incongruously has Obama up 6 points.

Is Marist an outlier? Let's take a look at the infernals. Marist's turnout model has D+5 (Independent 38%, Democrat 33%, Republican 28%). They don't give us cross-tabs; but we know that Mitt Romney is strongly winning independents and doing just about as well among GOP respondents as Obama is among Democrats, both nationally and in the swing states. That makes me highly skeptical that, with so many indies, Romney could possibly be so far behind.

Looking back to the most recent regular statewide elections, Republican Scott Walker beat Democrat Tom Barrett by five points, and Republican newcomer Ron Johnson beat long-time incumbent Russ Feingold, also by five points. That doesn't sound much like a deep-blue state, does it?

In any event, the Marist poll is clearly an outlier, because it's so out of whack with the other polls taken recently. In fact, out of whack with polls all the way back to the first debates, when the RCP Wisconsin average dropped from Obama + 11.5 just before the debates to Obama + 2.5 just after.

Finally, what about Iowa? Another swinger, the Trapper John state's polling is kind of all over the map: Two polls (Rasmussen and ARG) find a tie; WeAskAmerica finds Obama + 3; Gravis has Obama + 4; and PPP, a Democratic polling firm, actually finds Romney + 1, funnily enough. But the weirdest poll is, once again, Marist; despite having almost equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, they nevertheless find Obama to be up 8 points! It all adds up to an average of Obama + 2.3 -- still eminently possible.

I don't know what to make of the scattershot spread for the Hotlips Houlihan state; but applying the Bulgarian Olympics judge rule, we get an average of Obama + 1.8. Again, even a small enthusiasm advantage for Romney will turn Iowa into a victory. And for the reality check, in 2010, Republican challenger (and former governor) Terry Branstad pounded the incumbent Democratic Gov. Chet Culver by nearly 10 points; while long-time Republican incumbent Sen. Chuck Grassley cruised to reelection against Democrat Roxanne Conlin (R + 30 -- yes, thirty points).

So much for "key states now leaning Obama's way, such as Iowa or Wisconsin;" they're only "leaning" in the most facile and technical sense, where one or two points is called a "lean" instead of a "toss-up." Each of these so-called leads can evaporate in the blink of a GOTV campaign.

The reality is that this election is "Romney's to lose" -- and let's hope he doesn't! If he can keep up the momentum he already has, then not only is Mitt Romney going to win, but he's going to win big... a lot bigger than Republicans are willing to suggest, and a lot bigger than Democrats are able to fathom.

Courage, Camille!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 29, 2012, at the time of 2:01 AM | Comments (3)

Date ►►► October 27, 2012

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Cry Racism

Hatched by Korso

Picked up this headline from the Associated Press on the NBC News website: "Poll: Majority harbor prejudice against blacks." Now, I'm certain that the timing of this study -- a scant week before the first black president makes his stand for re-election -- was just a happy coincidence, but that didn't stop the kind folks at NBC from sharing with us the obvious political implications:

Racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president, an Associated Press poll finds, as a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not.

Those views could cost President Barack Obama votes as he tries for re-election, the survey found, though the effects are mitigated by some Americans' more favorable views of blacks.

Racial prejudice has increased slightly since 2008 whether those feelings were measured using questions that explicitly asked respondents about racist attitudes, or through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly.

Did you catch the money quote? In case you missed it, here it is: "A slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not." That's right, folks. You may be a racist and not even realize it! So how will all this affect Barack Obama?

Overall, the survey found that by virtue of racial prejudice, Obama could lose 5 percentage points off his share of the popular vote in his Nov. 6 contest against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. However, Obama also stands to benefit from a 3 percentage point gain due to pro-black sentiment, researchers said. Overall, that means an estimated net loss of 2 percentage points due to anti-black attitudes.

Of course, the study has nothing to say about the contigent of the electorate that will be voting for Obama primarily because he's black, because as we all know only white people can be guilty of racism. Still, even if you take all this hoo-hah at face value, you end up having to ask yourself: If whites are so racist, how is it that so many of them voted for Barack Obama the first time around?

You might think that what we have here is a gen-u-ine paradox -- until you look at the purpose of this study, as seen through the cynical lens of racial politics. First off, it's a naked effort to delegitimize Mitt Romney's election if Obama loses. Secondly -- and most importantly, in my view -- it's an attempt to guilt trip people who voted Obama in 2008 and who might now be considering Romney. That whole line about how people might not even be aware of their own prejudice? It practically screams out for them to prove to themselves that they're not bigots.

And what better way to prove you're not a bigot than to vote for Barack Obama?

Pretty sick stuff, I know, but I expect nothing less from the mainstream media. So deperate is their desire to see Obama re-elected -- and so desperate is the state of his campaign right now -- that they will try every ploy they can, no matter how damaging to the fabric of the nation. Compare that to the hope and change of 2008. What a crock it all seems in retrospect.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 27, 2012, at the time of 11:33 AM | Comments (1)

Date ►►► October 26, 2012

Spooky Smackback!

Hatched by Dafydd

Fox News reports that American consular agents under atttack at the Benghazi consul and the nearby CIA annex on September 11th repeatedly pleaded for reinforcements and close air support, which were readily available less than 500 miles away at Sigonella Air Base... but that they were turned down by somebody up the chain of command. Fox News reports that "somebody" was within the CIA chain:

Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command -- who also told the CIA operators twice to "stand down" rather than help the ambassador's team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to "stand down," according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to "stand down...."

[T]hey called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex, according those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters. In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Spectre gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights.

A CIA spokeswoman hotly denies the allegation, however:

CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood, though, denied the claims that requests for support were turned down.

"We can say with confidence that the Agency reacted quickly to aid our colleagues during that terrible evening in Benghazi," she said. "Moreover, no one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate. In fact, it is important to remember how many lives were saved by courageous Americans who put their own safety at risk that night-and that some of those selfless Americans gave their lives in the effort to rescue their comrades."

On the other hand of the coin, the evidence seems quite solid that defenders at the two compounds repeatedly begged for air support or reinforcements; why would the security officer atop the CIA annex be pointing a laser at the mortars, other than to facilitate tracking by a smart bomb?

Yet, it is demonstrable that no air support responded during the entire seven hours of combat, despite the presence of Spectre gunships at Sigonella; the only force to arrive from outside the immediate area was "a Global Response Staff or GRS that provides security to CIA case officers" (which included Glen Doherty, later killed in the attack):

The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours -- enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.

A Special Operations team, or CIF which stands for Commanders in Extremis Force, operating in Central Europe had been moved to Sigonella, Italy, but they were never told to deploy. In fact, a Pentagon official says there were never any requests to deploy assets from outside the country. A second force that specializes in counterterrorism rescues was on hand at Sigonella, according to senior military and intelligence sources. According to those sources, they could have flown to Benghazi in less than two hours. They were the same distance to Benghazi as those that were sent from Tripoli. Spectre gunships are commonly used by the Special Operations community to provide close air support.

So how do we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory claims?

  • CIA and consular officials repeatedly asked for reinforcements, especially close-air support to take out the mortars, but nobody ever arrived.
  • "[N]o one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need."

Assuming neither Fox News nor CIA Director David Petraeus is lying, there are only two possibilities:

First, that CIA and military personnel actually moved heaven and earth to get forces into Libya to turn the tide against the radical-Islamist terrorists; but somehow everything fell to pieces, and nobody could make it all the way to Benghazi. (And mysteriously enough, those mighty forces streaming towards the consulate and the annex left no trace whatsoever in the communications or logistical records.)

Or alternatively, the requests for support were denied... but not by the CIA. That can only mean the denial came from higher up the great chain of being than the cabinet-level CIA Director, which narrows it down to a single suspect: If both Fox News and the CIA spokeschick are honest and accurate, then Barack Obama himself must have made the lethal decision to abandon our personnel to their fates.

We await the expected sputtering denial from la Casa Blanca that they put the kibosh on our own Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three slain defenders: Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. I cannot imagine that it's not on the way, if not already issued before I publish this blogpost.

That will give us a difficult choice to make; who should we believe -- the CIA, led by four-star Gen. David Petraeus, who almost singlehandedly flipped the Iraq war from defeat to victory, and who has undoubtedly called in thousands of air strikes and air support in Iran and Afghanistan?

Or the notoriously vacillating and indecisive Commander in Chief, who has a crystal-clear record of repeatedly evading, dissembling, ducking, and flatly lying to the American people about this very subject?

It's a toughie, a real quandry. But I reckon most folks will figure out who, between those two, is forswearing and perjuring himself.


Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 26, 2012, at the time of 5:01 PM | Comments (0)

Date ►►► October 23, 2012

Best -- Headline -- Ever!

Hatched by Dafydd

(Or at least, ever in this election cycle: Let's not be too lexiphanic -- just moderately lexiphanic.)

Via Jim Treacher at the Daily Caller, captioning the pettiness and small-ball into which the Obama campaign has sunk:

Big Bird, binders, and bayonets

...The succinctest!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 23, 2012, at the time of 3:42 PM | Comments (0)

Debate and Switch

Hatched by Korso

Around halfway through last night's debate, I turned to Mrs. Korso and said:

"ABC pre-empted Castle for this?"

That's not to say that the affaire de blah was a complete waste of time, but I have concluded that having Bob Schieffer moderate a presidential debate is like having your Great Uncle Morty deejay your daughter's sweet sixteen party: Sure he may work cheap, but by the time he spins "The Hokey Pokey" for the fifth time most of the guests will be beating a path to the door.

Well, at least the questions ol' Bobbo asked weren't quite as asinine as the gems Candy Crowley picked from her audience of "undecided" voters last week; but it does seem as if we reached the wheel-spinning stage of the debates, where not much new was said. In other words, as in the second debate, Barack Obama spent his time clawing to make up lost ground while Mitt Romney maintained his position as the credible alternative.

For his part, Obama thought this meant serving up more of the aggressive, condescending twaddle so beloved of the MSNBC crowd in the last debate. News flash, Barack: Only Clint Eastwood knows how to pull off a scowl like that, so stop trying. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, stayed above the fray -- and even if he didn't get in as many zingers as we red-meat right wingers would have liked, he definitely appeared the more presidential throughout. Such is the difference between kids and grown-ups.

So did the last debate make a difference? It's doubtful. The first debate was the only one that counted. In those ninety minutes, Mitt Romney demolished the caricature that the Obamans had spent months -- not to mention millions of dollars -- trying to build, and firmly cemented his image as a leader in the voters' minds. People who were looking for a reason to leave Obama finally got one. Now that they've crossed that line, it's highly unlikely that they'll go back.

Let's just hope that we got enough of them to make a landslide.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 23, 2012, at the time of 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

Debate III: Winners and Wieners

Hatched by Dafydd

Everyone (even Democrats) roundly agrees that Mitt Romney trounced President Barack "Small ball" Obama in the debate -- the first debate, I mean. It's a no-brainer, one of several events that upended this presidential campaign. After the first debate, Mitt Romney gained in stature, in fundraising, and very strongly in the polls; he reversed the trend of a rising Obama virtually overnight and moved back to parity.

In the second presidential debate, most of the snap polls showed Obama had won; but the two focus groups whose results I saw, the Luntz group on Fox News and the MSNBC focus group, unambiguously showed Romney as the winner. As I wrote earlier, those whose business is necessarily adversarial -- meaning the Progressivist, activist press, political pundits, and even a smattering of conservative lawyers -- saw the second debate through very different eyes from the rest of the country:

Maybe attorneys tend to view a debate as they would a legal argument in court, scoring on specific points and authorities, on argument and who "wins" it, on who can best use objections to keep his opponent's evidence out of the record, and on who does the best job of submitting juror instructions that the judge accepts.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are looking for something very different: We want to see a candidate who can supply genuineness, sincerity, empathy, reassurance, a hopeful vision of the future, and a leaderly demeanor. We don't want glibness, aggression, or menacing body language; we're unimpressed by well-memorized talking points we've heard a hundred times before. We can taste defeatism and faux enthusiasm in a candidate the way you can taste overcooked barbecue even before you bite into it.

I suspect the laity look, more than anything, for nominees with a plan to get from here to there; one that is specific without drifting into the tall grass; plausible without sinking into logical lemmas and ponderous proofs; and gradual enough that we don't have to suffer radical dislocations and the upending of everything we believe into something foreign and frightening.

Watching the polls since then tells us "the rest of the story," as Paul Harvey was wont to say; post-Debate II, Romney continued to rise in the polls, both national and the determinative state polls. So punditry, jounalism, instant polling, and grumpy lawers aside, we must conclude that Romney won the second presidential debate as well; it was then two to nothing, GOP leads.

This time, however, the signs aren't as clear as in the first debate; they're not even as clear as in the second: Snap polls show that Barack Obama won on "points;" in the Luntz focus group on Fox News channel after the debate, a little more than half of the panel thought that Barack Obama won that portion of the debate about foreign policy, the ostensible subject.

But hold on thar, Hoss; regardless of the listed subject matter, this debate was not about foreign policy. It was about the economy. How do we know? Because that's what the whole election is about, who can fix the economy and bring jobs back to America by getting the blasted, rent-seeking gummint out of the dadblamed way.

Foreign policy is vitally important... to about 3% of the electorate. The rest just want to be reassured that the candidates aren't idiots (Poland isn't dominated by the Soviet Union) or crackpates (let's bring home all our troops stationed abroad, line them up along the southern border, and have them link arms to stop all them Messakins sneakin in!) Show the voters that much -- reasonably bright, not obviously gibbering -- and they're satisfied enough to turn back to the real $16 trillion donkey in the dining room: the economy, stupid.

And guess what? The Luntz focus group also found that whenever Romney managed to drag the economy into the conversation, he won those portions of the debate, big time.

Bottom line, Paul Mirengoff was technically right that Romney was not "playing to win" the debate, but right for the wrong reason: Romney was playing to win the election instead.

That has been the core misunderstanding among both conservatives and liberals all along, though the moderate and undecided voters "got it" way back: Mitt Romney gamed these three debates brilliantly, moreso than did any other presidential candidate in the entire history of the "debate" era. He never intended to "win" any particular debate, if by win we mean rank higher on the judges' scorecards; he always intended to win the goldurned election. You know, the real goal.

That was where Obama made his critical mistakes in the second and third debates; he was persuaded that you win an election by winning the debates on points. Well, that and spending a Zeppelin-ful of money to convince voters that Romney was a rich, bloody-handed Koch-sucker.

Obama was misinformed.

So how do you win an election? Ultimately, by capturing the hearts and minds of the electorate -- for which you will surely need a number of resources, including money, campaign adverts, position pages, time spent personally campaigning, surrogates to plead your case, endorsements, and the fierce urgency of a ground game to get out the vote (GOTV).

Did I mention money? Yeah, Zeppelins-ful, on both sides, for a change. But Romney never took his eyes off the real goal: Not zinging your opponent in a nasty commercial, not a premature victory lap, and not winning debates by the crabbed rules of college debate teams... but being elected President of the United States of America.

Romney carefully painted a portrait of presidential bearing and gravitas, knowledge and wisdom, specificity and the political chops to carry it out, and the courage to point out that Emperor Obama has no clothes. Since that last clause was demonstrably true, the end result is -- well, not quite inevitable; it ain't over till the fat lady votes -- but extremely likely: Mitt Romney is going to win this election.

The presidential debates were part of that portrait, but only a part. They had a goal; they fulfilled that goal, and then some.

Romney's campaign by far out-organized the bewildered, flustered, inconstant, panicky, and now desperate Obama campaign. And that is why he's going to prevail on November 6th... and why he deserves it.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery (when they actually get around to approving it!)...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 23, 2012, at the time of 1:33 AM | Comments (1)

Date ►►► October 22, 2012

Republic, Hold the Banana

Hatched by Korso

You know things are going badly for Barack Hussein Obama and those Wascally Democwats when they start calling in the Blue Helmets:

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a United Nations partner on democratization and human rights projects, will deploy 44 observers from its human rights office around the country on Election Day to monitor an array of activities, including potential disputes at polling places. It's part of a broader observation mission that will send out an additional 80 to 90 members of parliament from nearly 30 countries. Liberal-leaning civil rights groups met with representatives from the OSCE this week to raise their fears about what they say are systematic efforts to suppress minority voters likely to vote for President Obama.

Because everybody knows that when it comes to voter fraud, it's the Republican Party that's been standing in the way of needed reform. Oh, wait...

It should be telling to anyone with sight past his nose and a brain capable of operating on more than one-quarter impulse power that voter fraud tends to work primarily in the Democrats' favor. That's why they take such extraordinary pains to block measures aimed at decreasing the number of fraudulent ballots cast. Voter ID laws? Nah, don't need 'em. Purge the rolls of ineligible voters? That's racist. In places like Chicago where the Dem machine wields power like Al Capone swings a baseball bat, The Walking Dead is more than a TV show -- it's an actual demographic.

So it makes sense that the United Nations, what with its high moral standards and a membership that faithfully upholds the principles of freedom and liberty, should send observers in to make sure that the United States of America is conducting its election fairly. Perhaps Jimmah Carter could lend a hand -- assuming he's not to busy lavishing praise on Hugo Chavez over his recent "re-election" as el jefe of Venezuela.

Boys and girls, what we're really seeing here is a sneak preview of how the Democrats are going to litigate the election should Wacky Baracky lose by a slim margin. All of this U.N. observer stuff is simply them putting their chess pieces into place. The only way we're going to avoid turning this whole thing into a reality show version of Woody Allen in Bananas is if the good guys win by a decisive margin -- dead voters notwithstanding.

So if you're an American citizen, if you have no felony record, and if you have a pulse, please consider voting Mitt Romney. Your nation is depending on you.

I'm Korso, and I approved this message.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 22, 2012, at the time of 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

Date ►►► October 17, 2012

Change the Voters Can Believe In

Hatched by Dafydd

I have noticed an interesting response-pattern develop in the most recent debate:

  • Lawyers and journalists who watched this debate were generally disappointed (if on the right), seeing it as a tie at best, more likely a small win for President Barack Obama.

So for your Hinderakers and Mirengoffs, to a lesser extent your Scott Johnsons, and to a greater extent your Beldars. Ditto for your Brit Humes and Charles Krauthammers, and of course for the leftstream media darlings, who sincerely believe their guy won the debate. That is, the adversarial professions, which put a premium on combative argument driven by a need to win, not to accomodate, saw a victory for Obama in yestereve's debate.

(I leave aside those who are more activists than anything else, such as Hugh Hewitt and Sean Hannity.)

  • But those not involved in either the practice of law or the malpractice of journalism -- those historians, doctors, contractors, people who work with their hands, administrative personnel, bankers, and stay at home moms -- they sure look to be responding to Mitt Romney, big time, in this last debate.

Maybe attorneys tend to view a debate as they would a legal argument in court, scoring on specific points and authorities, on argument and who "wins" it, on who can best use objections to keep his opponent's evidence out of the record, and on who does the best job of submitting juror instructions that the judge accepts.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are looking for something very different: We want to see a candidate who can supply genuineness, sincerity, empathy, reassurance, a hopeful vision of the future, and a leaderly demeanor. We don't want glibness, aggression, or menacing body language; we're unimpressed by well-memorized talking points we've heard a hundred times before. We can taste defeatism and faux enthusiasm in a candidate the way you can taste overcooked barbecue even before you bite into it.

I suspect the laity look, more than anything, for nominees with a plan to get from here to there; one that is specific without drifting into the tall grass; plausible without sinking into logical lemmas and ponderous proofs; and gradual enough that we don't have to suffer radical dislocations and the upending of everything we believe into something foreign and frightening.

If I'm correct, then those whose entire professional life is adversarial by nature really are seeing a different debate than those of us whose work or profession is far more about consensus, comity, and agreement than about conflict. (You know, an ordinary workplace.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 17, 2012, at the time of 6:22 PM | Comments (1)

Debate II: Electric Boogaloo

Hatched by Korso

As is the case with most sequels, this one wasn't as good as the original. But whereas most of the time studio execs blame the writer, this time most of what was bad about last night's debate was squarely the fault of the director. Like Ralph Bakshi butchering The Lord of the Rings by turning it into a rotoscoped acid trip, Candy Crowley seemed to be trying her level best to make sure everyone in America understood that this debate was all about making Barack Obama look good by making Mitt Romney look bad.

Did she succeed? Meh. I think most Americans don't like to see a deck unfairly stacked against anyone, so in terms of her overall impression with independent voters, Crowley only made herself look foolish. How that translates into goodwill toward Romney remains to be seen, but in the end I believe it will only underscore the impression of weakness around Obama. In spite all of the bluster and his attack puppy demeanor, it always seems like the president can never quite make it on his own -- that he always needs the press to give him a leg up. Romney, by contrast, was out there on his own, operating in a tricky environment and answering questions cherry-picked by a hostile moderator from voters in a reliably liberal state.

Given the huge handicap, I'd say that Romney did remarkably well. Granted, the punditry this morning largely agree that he missed a huge opportunity by not going after Benghazi as much as he could have; but he did land some very effective jabs, particularly in regards to how oil production on federal lands has plummeted and Obama's running off to Vegas after Chris Stevens was killed. He also brought up Fast & Furious in response to the gun-control question -- though I wish he had spent more time on that, rather than going on about better education will reduce gun violence.

The lowlights? That equal pay question. Out of all the issues we face, Crowley picking that one to discuss only proves that she was completely in the tank for Obama. Same goes for bringing up contraception. Honest to God, who cares? But it gave the president another softball, and that was the point.

Bottom line: Democrats will say their guy had a great night, Republicans will say theirs did well (though not as good as the first debate). In that respect, it was rather like last week's vice-presidential debate. Sure there were some sparks, but ultimately independent voters will probably be more turned off by Obama's aggressiveness than turned on by it. Obama also didn't say anything new, and offered no real vision for a second term. As they say, you can wrap a pretty bow around a turd but that doesn't make it Godiva chocolate. And four more years of the same isn't exactly an enticing pitch for voters.

So call it a draw, if you want. Romney may not have helped himself, but he didn't hurt himself either. I do, however, think that he learned a few lessons last night, so come the next debate he'll be even more prepared. And given that the next one is about foreign policy, Romney will have a lot of juicy targets. That's when the gloves will really come off.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 17, 2012, at the time of 7:48 AM | Comments (0)

Date ►►► October 15, 2012

Obama's October (yawn) Surprise?

Hatched by Dafydd

The "October surprise" is a favorite tactic of the Left; because they see a presidential campaign as a game to be won by any means necessary -- vice Republicans, who see it as an opportunity to highlight differences in philosophy and policy between the two major parties -- they naturally gravitate to the eleventh-hour punch at the candidate of the Right, whether he is incumbent or challenger, as the linked Wikipedia article demonstrates.

During George W. Bush's reelection, Democrats dropped the "bombshell" that munitions were allegedly looted from al Qa'qaa, supposedly under American control (October 27th, 2004); although it turned out to be false, it likely made Bush's victory smaller. Four years earlier, the October surprise (OS) was the revelation by Algore's campaign that Bush was arrested for drunk driving twenty-four years earlier (last week before the 2000 election).

Bill Clinton sought endlessly for an OS in 1996; he pushed for a peace treaty in Bosnia, an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, and finally, in desperation, a massive sting against the Russian Mafia in the United States. Four years earlier in 1992, when Clinton was running for his first term, leftist Democratic "Independent" Counsel Lawrence Walsh saw fit to announce the indictment against George H.W. Bush's Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, just four days before the 1992 election! (Even more obvious: The grand jury had actually indicted Weinberger four months earlier; Walsh sat on the indictment until the week before the election. Subtle, Larry.)

Michael Dukakis didn't manage to pull off any OSs, and he lost. (To be fair, I think he would have been walloped just as hard even if he had produced one.) Finally, back in 1980, President Jimmy Carter tried desperately to forge a last-minute deal with the Ayatollah Khomeini and his wild-eyed mullahs to release the American hostages from Iran before the election. The deal fell through... then when the Iranians released the hostages the very day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, the Left was so enraged it immediately accused Reagan of having concocted a "secret deal" to keep the hostage in custody until after the election -- likely the most bizarre and vile accusation ever leveled after a presidential campaign had already lost. (Much more plausibly, the Iranians were (a) more afraid of Reagan than Carter, and (b) wanted to take revenge for Carter's failed attempt to rescue the hostages by force in April, 1980.)

Barack Obama himself received the best of all "October surprises" in September, 2008, with the economic meltdown -- inadvertently served up to him on a golden platter by a cohort of liberal Democrats, via their legislation and regulation that effectively forced banks and S&Ls to lend money to poor people who could not possibly meet the payments.

So what's Obama's OS going to be this year? I think the odds are darn near 100% that his campaign is cooking up something (or has already set something in motion).

More and more "pundants" have suggested that the president's "October surprise" is going to be some kind of assault on Libya, to retaliate for the assassination of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other embassy personnel.

This could easily happen; it's entirely in the hands of the Commander in Chief to order such an attack, at a time of his choosing. However, the most likely vehicle for this attack is -- a drone with a Hellfire missile, or maybe several. Such a remote attack, just one more in a long line of dubious drone attacks on purported high-value targets, would hardly change the dynamic of the race; in fact, it would lay the Obama campaign wide open to ridicule for having "fired a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt." Only a real assault, at least a successful raid with boots on the ground, could possibly be dramatic enough even to get a few minutes of airtime on the network news.

The only way that boots would hit the ground would be one of two possible scenarios:

  1. If the administration could (a) definitely prove who was responsible for the attack, and (b) demonstrate that said person or persons was/were still in Libya, and (c) positively determine exactly where they were, and (d) convince Barack "Third time's the charm" Obama that the targets were in a vulnerable place, so we wouldn't lose any troops at all. Only then would he have the huevos to send in some Special Forces to take out the bad guys. Unless...
  2. Unless, in the alternative scenario, Obama becomes utterly desperate. Even if the administration knows none of the above, they might nevertheless send in the SF to attack something, anything, any target randomly selected by the administration. The assault in this case would be without regard to any military objective; it would be purely as political stunt to show Obama's "resolve."

The actual result would be irrelevant, so long as the assault came just a few days before the election: just long enough for Obama to spin it as a historic victory (even if it meant lying, a prospect that evidently holds no existential terror for the president), but not long enough for Mitt Romney's campaign to unearth the reality and bring it before the American people.

It takes a lot less time to trumpet a victorious Obama "winning the war against terrorism" (I mean against "man-caused disaster") than it takes for voters to discover the truth, readjust their conclusions, and realize how they have been duped by the master debater. If the Obamunists time it just right, they might well get a five-point bump in the polls that drops to a three-point bump on election day... just as it happened in George W. Bush's first presidential campaign. That one resulted in the gut-biting tie in Florida.

In this year's potential October surprise, the attack would be timed to occur sometime in the last week before the vote -- say Thursday, November 1st, at about five o'clock PM New York time, for maximal live-feed ratings impact. (They would do it closer to the election, except they need several days for people to start thinking Obama is a great wartime leader, but they can't rely on coverage over the weekend when people are out doing their own things.)

Commercials touting Obama's historic victory over al-Qaeda ("It's D-Day all over again!") would hit the airwaves just a few hours after the assault.

Would such an absurdity work? My own opinion is: No, it would not. In fact, I expect we'd see a massive backlash against such shameless politicking of war. But we'll see.

It's possible that if Obama can't get actionable intel, the administration and the permanent campaign might be too afraid to pull the trigger, fretting that it'll be like Geraldo Rivera drilling open Al Capone's vault: We go charging in, live on camera, only to find nobody home (except a camel with a convenient butt); and our troops -- and by extension the Commander in Chief -- end up looking foolish, with egg dripping from their faces.

So, having neatly set up my prediction so that I'll be right whether he does or doesn't pull off an October surprise, your ivory-headed correspondent retires to his villa compound to await confirmation, if not coronation.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 15, 2012, at the time of 6:01 PM | Comments (1)

Date ►►► October 13, 2012

Obama's Orwellian Binge and Purge

Hatched by Sachi

This post is a Sachi-Dafydd joint.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever." George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, chapter 3.

One would imagine that to "know your enemy" is common sense, and nobody would gainsay it. If we're ignorant of whom we're fighting, how can we hope to out-think, surprise, resist, and defeat him?

Knowledge is our most powerful weapon: knowledge of strategy and tactics; of how to maintain supply lines and other logistical necessities; of actionable intel on what the enemy is going to do next; of how to transport combat units quickly hither and thither; and of course, knowledge of who the enemy is (so we know who to attack), how he fights (so we know what signs to look for), and how he thinks (so we understand what the enemy will do even before he himself knows.

One would imagine. But under President Barack "Ve knew nussink, nussink!" Obama, our military is systematically purging that valuable weapon of knowledge, word by word and concept by concept, from our military, intelligence, and political agencies... and all in the name of sensitivity and political correctness.

This Orwellian loss of language, like the "Newspeak" of Nineteen Eighty Four, has one obvious and ominous consequence. Since language evolved, human beings have learned to think primarily in terms of words; so when all the words that describe an idea are banned, it becomes impossible even to think it, because we have no verbal hook to hang it on.

That is precisely what the Obamunists have done... and now it even has its human face. Meet LTC Matthew Dooley, a West Point graduate and decorated combat veteran... a once and perhaps future instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College at the National Defense University, teaching such courses as "Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism."

His courses were popular among students and colleagues. Nevertheless, Dooley was relieved of his position NDU. He and his course was adjudged "unprofessional" and "against our values," by no less a personage than Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Chillingly, this is no isolated case; it has become Department of Defense policy to remove from training materials and even military-university textbooks and course outlines any word or concept that is declared objectionable by Moslem in general or even by Islamists in particular.

In October 2011, a cohort of Islamic and Islamist individuals and organizations -- including a number of radical Islamist groups, including unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial -- the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, and the Islamic Society of North America, ISNA -- jointly signed a letter to a number of federal, state, and local agencies, including the Pentagon, Homeland Security, the FBI, the CIA, and local law-enforcement. The Islamist letter complains about supposedly offensive, bigotted, and religiously discriminatory documents and training courses, and its authors demand that the Obama administration purge all such material.

The letter was taken seriously by the administration, which responded, as instructed, with a sweeping purge of all military training documents. Page after page of materials were ruthlessly cut from the curricula of training and education courses, simply because the passages contained certain expressions that angered radical Islamsts and their co-dependents. Much of the purge was less surgical and more like an overwrought lumberjack. Sometimes, every single word that could describe a concept was rejected, leaving the concept itself inarticulable.

The purge policy did not arise from a vacuum; oddly, it began under the administration of George W. Bush... and initially was a misguided effort, not to shelter Moslem terrorism, but rather to avoid glorifying, aggrandizing, and popularizing radical Islamists.

In April of 2008, the Bush administration sent a global memo to American embassies; the memo listed specific words that should not be used, such as "jihadist" (holy war or struggle) and "mujahedeen" (holy warriors, warriors for God):

  • "Never use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahedeen' in conversation to describe the terrorists. ... Calling our enemies 'jihadis' and their movement a global 'jihad' unintentionally legitimizes their actions."
  • "Use the terms 'violent extremist' or 'terrorist.' Both are widely understood terms that define our enemies appropriately and simultaneously deny them any level of legitimacy."
  • On the other hand, avoid ill-defined and offensive terminology: "We are communicating with, not confronting, our audiences. Don't insult or confuse them with pejorative terms such as 'Islamo-fascism,' which are considered offensive by many Muslims."

I understand the Bush State Department's intent. But any word can be misused or corrupted and be turned into an excluse for the chronically violent to act violently. That cannot mean we should purge such words from our lexicon, particularly when those most anxious to censor our speech are those who ally themselves with our enemies and routinely engage in Dawa -- jihad and the imposition of sharia law through means other than actual combat.

Dawa includes direct propaganda; "lawfare" (using our own civilized legal system against us); calling mass protests; appealing to the eager and pliant "fourth estate," the press; teaching Islamism in liberal universities as gospel; producing or at least influencing the production of movies and television shows, and other ostensible entertainments, that portray sharia and Islamism in a positive lighe; or alternatively, using methods such as boycotts, protests, and political persuasion to prevent the production of movies or tv shows that depict radical Islamism in a critical light.

And of course Dawa includes persuading military leaders, up to the Chairman of the JCS, to do their dirty work for them by purging "objectionable" words, phrases, and understandings in the name of diversity, tolerance, and inclusiveness. Leftist totalitarians are already in the censorship groove; it doesn't take much to get them all het up about "religious bigotry" or "hate speech."

Our Founding Fathers had a different approach: Rather than try to prevent speech considered "bad," they allowed it; and they likewise encouraged counter-speech that was "good," or at least allowed speech aggressively supporting and attacking every conceivable proposition. We now call that our sacred right to freedom of speech; and the religious nature of the phrase is no accident: Such universal freedoms come ultimately from the Hebrew and Jewish side of our American Judeo-Christian heritage, and are utterly rejected by the same radical Islamists who use freedom of speech here to support the imposition of sharia. (Their love of free speech ceases the moment sharia law is established, naturally.)

Rather than purge words from teaching materials lest some Islamist get huffy, we should redouble using those very "forbidden" words; but using them in an accurate, correct, and complete context. We enrich our ability to think by having more word arrows in our vocabulary quiver; and we do not further corrupt the English language by transforming it into Newspeak, trying to bludgeon Americans into concensus by whittling their tongues down to size.

Ever since Obama went on his Middle-East apology tour, Americans have suspected something strange was going on. He called it his "smart diplomacy," but we sensed something more sinister: The president was not simply apologizing for America's sins, he was kow-towing to radical Islamists and changing the language of our official documents -- and by extension through the establishment media, of our very way of thinking about radical Islamism.

Like Obama's Fast and Furious scandal, Purgegate had its earliest roots in the Bush administration; but also like Fast and Furious, the bad seed sprouted a far more poisonous fruit when Obama took office. From the Washington Times piece:

By 2011, Obama’s Counterterrorism and Deputy national security advisor John Brennan was urged by Muslim, Arab, and South Asian organizations to begin an “independent, effective investigation into the federal government’s training of its agents and other law enforcement” and institute a “purge” of any material that the undersigned organizations deemed unacceptable.

In an October 19, 2011 letter to Mr. Brennan, the groups criticize for anti- Muslim bias the FBI’s 2011 training manual, the books at the FBI library in FBI training academy in Quantico, Virginia, specific FBI trainers and analysts, and a report made by Army Command and General Staff at the Fort Leavenworth School of Advanced Military Studies."

Swiftly thereafter, Tom Perez, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division, made his final recommendations to John Brennen:

In response to these recent disclosures, federal officials across the country—particularly FBI field offices—have been reaching out to local Muslim communities to state that the offensive training materials do not reflect the opinion of the FBI, its field offices or the federal government. Until the following steps are taken to remedy this problem and to prevent it from recurring, we will not be confident in these assertions. We urge you to create an interagency task force, led by the White House, tasked with the following responsibilities:

We paraphrase the so-called "following steps" that Perez recommended:

  1. Review all FBI, DoD, and Homeland-Security trainers and training materials at government agencies;
  2. Purge all biased materials;
  3. Install mandatory re-training programs;
  4. Ensure all trainers who used "biased" training materials are effectively disciplined (Adios, Col. Dooley);
  5. Ensure that bigoted trainers and biased materials are purged;
  6. Make clear that religious practice and political advocacy are protected under the First Amendment, are not indicators of violence, and shall not be subject to surveillance or investigation.

The recommendations concluded:

The interagency task force should include a fair and transparent mechanism for input from the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities, including civil rights lawyers, religious leaders, and law enforcement experts.

But not, it appears, any military, intelligence, or even diplomatic personnel or organizations that might harbor "bigoted trainers and biased materials." Presumably this would include anybody who saw a connection of some sort, however tenuous, between radical Islam and murderous terrorism.

How significant was the ideological purge of inconvenient military, diplomatic, and intelligence truths? Is there any basis to conclude that this was a deliberate effort to expunge certain ideas from the American mind, so that better and more "flexible" understandings, perhaps more anti-colonial, could take their mental slots? Consider this point from the Washington Times:

In December of 2011 Congressman Dan Lungren, California Republican, questioned Paul N. Stockton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, at a joint session of the Senate and House Homeland Security Committee. After much back and forth, Stockton would not say the United States was “at war with violent Islamist extremism.” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, had a similar experience in May of 2010, when he questioned Attorney General Eric Holder at a House judiciary hearing about the issue of radical Islam.

The FBI training manual changed. Nearly 900 pages of training that was considered offensive were deleted. Members like Congressman Allen West, Florida Republican, and Congressman Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, were critical of the purge.

Gohmert questioned FBI director Robert Mueller in May 2012 about the deleting of FBI material. Rep. Gohmert went to the House floor and compared the number of times certain terms (at 22:40) were used in the 9/11 Commission report as opposed to the now purged FBI training manual. For example, according to Gohmert, the 9/11 report mentioned the word “Islam” 322 times. However, Gohmert discusses that the FBI training manual can no longer mention the terms: Islam, Muslim, jihad, enemy, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, caliphate, Shariah law.

Now we know why "the fierce urgency of now" demanded Dooley's course be thrown into the ashheap of history and his head on a pike: As far as the Obama administration is concerned, there are some things Man is not meant to know; and among those unknowable things is the absurdity of Obama's perverse foreign policy, where we cast off our allies and bitterly cling to our adversaries and enemies.

Dooley himself is fighting back, trying to regain his job. But the real issue here is not whether one man can stop the boot from stamping on his face, but whether the American electorate can bring itself to believe just how anti-American is the American president... and can find the spine to do something about it on November sixth.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, October 13, 2012, at the time of 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

Date ►►► October 12, 2012

Young Turk vs. Grinning Jerk

Hatched by Korso

To be perfectly honest, what I expected from last night's VP debate and what I got were two markedly different things. In one of my tweets, I characterized the contest as "Forrest Gump vs. Clarence Darrow" -- but in reality, it seemed more like Mr. Furious vs. Mr. Rogers. At one point, I actually thought that Joe Biden's hair plugs might pop right off the top of his head and spray Paul Ryan like a hail of birdshot. I got two words for you Joe: anger management. Check it out.

But, apparently, it must've been what the focus groups told David Axelrod that the liberal base wanted -- and in that respect, at least, ol' Smokin' Joe delivered in spades. He was loud, arrogant, nasty and condescending (and that was just to the moderator), and proved once and for all the campaign still has some feistiness left to it. I'm quite sure that Obama voters loved it. I'm just not so sure it gave them what they needed.

Here's why. In sending out Joe Biden to be his designated pit bull, Barack Obama has only underscored his own weakness (already telegraphed to obvious effect in last week's presidential debate). He's a lot like the kid who gets pushed around on the playground, cries like a baby in front of everyone, and then sends his big brother in the next day to finish things up. Whatever the outcome, it won't buy the kid any respect because it's clear he can't fight his own battles.

And that's assuming big brother can actually beat the other kid up. In Paul Ryan's case, Biden got in a couple of punches but never landed anything hard. In the process, though, the vice president came off as a real jerk -- laughing derisively, constantly interrupting, living up to the Democrat mascot and making a complete ass of himself -- which, from most of the press coverage today, seems to be the one thing that everybody remembers. How this plays with the almighty swing voters remains to be seen, but I don't think it'll be good.

Ryan, meanwhile, kept his cool and stayed above the fray. He seemed a bit shaky on some of the foreign policy questions, but when it came to economic issues he came across as firmly in command of the numbers and full of new ideas on how to turn things around -- something that the Obama administration (four more years of the same!) is sorely lacking.

Moreover, Ryan continued to project the image from last week of a reasonable alternative to Obama's tax and spend regime. Some conservative pundits may complain that he didn't soar the way Mitt Romney did, but to me that's rather the point: Ryan's job first and foremost is to do no harm and further the goals of his boss. Ryan got that job done -- in workman like fashion, to be sure -- but he did it nonetheless. That he didn't allow Biden to rattle him was also proof that the young man knows how to handle himself.

Bottom line: You could call the debate either way, depending on your leanings. However, Biden with all his huffing and puffing probably didn't help the ticket with independents -- and with the trends moving in Romney's direction, that's bad news for Obama.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 12, 2012, at the time of 7:16 AM | Comments (0)

Date ►►► October 11, 2012

The Victory of the Normal

Hatched by Dafydd

John Hinderaker -- my favorite blogger on my favorite blog -- was crushed by what he sees as Paul Ryan's "weak and submissive" debate performance:

I thought Paul Ryan’s performance was highly disappointing. He came across as weak and submissive. There were many opportunities for him to turn to Biden and say, “Joe: shut up! It’s my turn.” But he never did it. I can’t imagine why. Maybe Ryan and his advisers thought Biden would come off poorly because he was such a jerk, but this strikes me as a poor strategy. No one votes for a presidential ticket out of sympathy.

Frankly, I expected much more from Ryan, and he let us down.

Whaddya mean "we" Rocket Man?

Did anybody here really want to see Mad Dog Paul in the Veepbate? I know I'm awfully glad he didn't turn the debate into a steel-cage smugfest. What I saw was a candidate for Vice President debating in the normal way that such candidates always used to debate... until the Left, starting in the 2000 election, developed the delusion that Democrat domination of government was an entitlement program, like Medicare, Social Security, or crony kickbacks from green energy.

For the entirety of the third millennium, Democrats have acted as if the levers of power are theirs by divine right (provided we allow the worship of socialism to count as "divine"). When they lose, they wail, gnash their teeth, and set up a yowling that can be heard all the way to the dog star Sirius, notwithstanding the eight and a half lightyears of hard vacuum in between. The safest prediction a "pundant" could make would be that, when Barack "Video victim" Obama loses the November vote, he will immediately commence re-litigating the election... in federal court.

Paul Ryan represents the "normal style" of candidates running for high office: They have deeply held core beliefs, from which they generate policies, present them to voters, and argue that their ideas, policies, and leadership are better than their opponents'. Under the normal style in American politics, after the election, voters generally accept the outcome and consider the election to have been legitmate. Citizens, even those who opposed the winners and voted for the losers, can nevertheless come together to try to help the new government going forward; because they believe that regardless of political differences, all candidates are acting in good faith and sincerely want America to succeed.

But since the 2000 contest, we have increasingly seen, not the "paranoid style" (as Richard Hofstadter put it in 1964) but the Apocalyptic style in American politics: Democrats, liberals, and the leftover Left cast every election as Armageddon, the final battle betwixt the forces of Ultimate Evil (the "extreme, radical Right") and those of Pure Good (take a wild guess). It is an existential, all-or-nothing struggle that is so vital, so infused with the fierce urgency of Now, that it can never end unless the Left utterly conquers the world.

Small wonder they get on so well with radical Islamists!

The Left must win every vote, every debate, every exchange of "mal mots" on cable TV, no matter how trivial; else it's irrefutable evidence of corruption and skulduggery so monstrous that investigation by a United Nations committee is the very least that should be undertaken.

(Barack Obama is the ne plus ultra of that trend; he has achieved apotheosis, and a new religion of Obamunism has sprung up among his enthused acolytes. Who but a god could promise the cool the Earth and quiet the waters, and a host of other such vows? Who but a little tin god with feet of clay could so cavalierly break all of his pledges without a scintilla of shame?)

Tonight, the Normal Style fought the Apocalyptic Style... to mixed results. On the plus side, despite Joe Biden's 316 years in the U.S. Senate, Paul Ryan easily held his own against the Delaware Dirt-Devil. My gut reaction was that Ryan won by a nose, on points; this was confirmed by the CNN snap-poll that showed Ryan winning 48 to 44.

On the minus side, he merely held his own; Ryan was unable to do to Biden what his principal, Mitt Romney, did to President Obama.

But what if Paul Ryan had taken Hinderaker's advice and gone after Biden hammer and tooth? Might he have won more decisively? Perhaps, but probably not: Being an ambulatory incendiary is Joe Biden's holy calling; it would be tough to outsnide, outsmirk, and outboor a man so perfectly bred to the task. (No matter how learned and clever you are, you'll never outstink a skunk.)

But even if Ryan rose -- all right, plummeted -- to the challenge, the real losers would be the American people... because the Apocalyptic Style would score a default judgment, having coöpted both Left and Right into amoral self-immolation; and the war of all against all would win by technicality. (The Left's favorite way!)

Instead, the American people were reminded that it doesn't have to be this way. They were jolted into remembering that political campaigns and national elections used to be intellectual choices between two futures, often starkly different but nevertheless comprehensible. (As opposed to racking up ten of trillions of dollars in debt, impoverishing the nation, emasculating the military, socializing medical care, and accelerating Obama's determination to lead from behind by pronunciamento, diktat, and decree.)

By not pulling a Howitzer out of his pants and cannonizing Biden, Ryan may have failed to annihilate the enemy tribe; but he did save us from the bestial specter of tribalism. And I count that as a very significant battlefield victory in the ongoing holy war of the Normal against the Apocalypse.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 11, 2012, at the time of 11:50 PM | Comments (1)

Date ►►► October 9, 2012

Reality Bites

Hatched by Korso

I'm not one to read Andrew Sullivan much. After all, he is Andrew Sullivan, the man for whom blogging isn't so much of a job as a way to self-medicate. Might I suggest he take a cue from the Ramones and try a sedative instead? Whatever he's been popping lately clearly doesn't agree with him:

I've never seen a candidate self-destruct for no external reason this late in a campaign before. Gore was better in his first debate -- and he threw a solid lead into the trash that night. Even Bush was better in 2004 than Obama last week. Even Reagan's meandering mess in 1984 was better - and he had approaching Alzheimer's to blame.

I'm trying to see a silver lining. But when a president self-immolates on live TV, and his opponent shines with lies and smiles, and a record number of people watch, it's hard to see how a president and his party recover. I'm not giving up. If the lies and propaganda of the last four years work even after Obama had managed to fight back solidly against them to get a clear and solid lead in critical states, then reality-based government is over in this country again. We're back to Bush-Cheney, but more extreme. We have to find a way to avoid that. Much, much more than Obama's vanity is at stake.

This is just the end of the article, but if it seems as if Sullivan is darting around like Remy trying to escape Chef Skinner's kitchen in Ratatouille, then you've got the right idea. What's funny about all of this is how predictable the outcome of the debate was for all of us who have been watching Obama for the last four years. We all knew that the guy was the proverbial empty suit, inflated by a bunch of mainstream media puffery. What was less obvious, however, was the extent to which the people who invented the Obama legend actually believed what they were peddling.

And boy, did they ever believe it. After shielding the president from any serious questioning, after covering his butt on everything from Fast and Furious to Libya, after making believe that anemic growth and chronic high unemployment were signs of an economic recovery, somewhere along the line the media lost more than their objective hold on Barack Obama -- they lost their objective sense of reality.

That's why the debate hit them the way it did. Like a junkie coming down off a four-year high, they crashed. And when they crashed, they crashed hard. Of course, that's the problem with worshipping a false god: sooner or later, he's got to perform a miracle, and when that doesn't happen there ain't much left but lamentations and the gnashing of teeth.

More problematic, however, is that Barack Obama also seems to have believed his own press. But, like the kid who thought he could gain the knowledge of the ages by sleeping with a history book underneath his pillow, he discovered too late that there really is no substitute for actual preparation. Again, for those of us who knew about the real man -- Obama the high-school stoner, Obama the mediocre college student, Obama the fabulist -- none of this came as any surprise. That it came as a shock to Obama the president...well, should scare the living bejeezus out of everyone.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 9, 2012, at the time of 12:53 PM | Comments (2)

Date ►►► October 4, 2012

Hope -- Change

Hatched by Dafydd

The conventional wisdom is this: No bout adout it, Mitt "I like being able to fire people" Romney slew Barack "You didn't build that" Obama last night. The president was old, gray, and tired. Mitt the drag-on slayer! But (still conv. wisd.) it ain't over 'till it's over, and one debate does not a game change make. Obama will come roaring back in the next debate with fire in the belly and steam pouring out his ears. It will still be a razor close race; and the odds are still with the president to reconnect, reinvigorate, and regain his lead! In the end, it's anybody's race; but reelection is the way to bet it -- if you're a Republican "leader."




Let me be clear: The conventional wisdom is a load of capybara ca-ca. It's as meaningless as last year's polls. Wednesday's debate was a game changer, and Obama will never recover.

Really? Isn't the president going to take that kick in the pants to heart, and come out fighting? Won't he put on his manly gown, gird his loins, and pull up his socks?

Oh yes, assuredly: In truth, he'll perfectly emulate the last Democratic Master Debator, Albert Arnold Gore, Jr.

That is, Barack Obama will swaller three power-bars whole, chug a 64-ounce can of Rock Star, and smoke an entire pack of Marlboros simultaneously. He'll burst out of the starting gate with eyes as wide as millstones, face as red as a replacement referee, and his hair literally on fire. Half the audience will suspect he's been toking that crystal meth again.

And he'll come across as a madman, a raving lunatic ranting about signs and portents and Cassandra-like warnings of Armageddon if he's not reelected. He'll swerve back and fro on a drunkard's walk; he'll overcorrect like a Don Knotts on his first solo flight.

And Obama will lose the next debate even more decisively than last night's.

That'll be it; game over.

To put the president's dilemma in a nuthouse, Obama has never been challenged like that before; and now we know he's a little tin god with feet of clay. The great impostor has no clue how to handle such impertinence and lèse majesté; he'll bolt onto the stage next debate and explode before our very eyes, victim of Phandaal's Gyrator spell. From one extreme to the other, from somnambulance to mania, he will prove himself completely void of the temperment, humility, and stability to be America's chief executive.

So quoth the Prophet Dafydd. And if my new prediction turns out to be as wildly off the mark as my last one, I'll eat my... well, I'll eat my Reuben sandwich. So there.

'Nuff said. Excelsior!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 4, 2012, at the time of 8:02 AM | Comments (3)

And The Winner By Knockout...

Hatched by Korso

After last night's debate, I'm firmly convinced: Mitt Romney really is Batman.

Unfortunately, at least for Barack Obama, Mr. Hope 'n Change was far from a worthy adversary. Rather than playing the Joker to Romney's Conservative Crusader, he more resembled one of those lame-o villains like Crazy Quilt. I'm tellin' ya, when you've lost James Carville and Michael Moore, you know you've got problems.

Mitt Romney came out swinging from the very start, and never let up. He was in command of the facts, and used them to very good effect against Obama's tired talking points. My favorite line of the night was when the president prattled on about companies getting tax credits for shipping jobs overseas, to which Romney shot back, "I've been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you're talking about." Another fine moment was when Obama insinuated that Romney was looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. Romney slammed the door hard on that one too, telling Obama he never said any such thing.

But, without a doubt, the money shot came when Obama went on his rant about Big Oil and complained about the $2 billion in tax credits they get. Romney correctly pointed out that most of those credits go to smaller subsidiary companies to help fund new exploration and drilling -- and then zinged Obama with the inconvenient fact that the president had thrown $90 billion at so-called "green energy" companies, most of which had gone bankrupt! Romney also slipped in an aside about how some of those companies were owned by Democrat contributors, a brilliant move that really put Obama on edge.

From there, Obama just seemed to slump into a pit of despair. Not used to being called on his bogus talking points, I think he got a little gun shy for fear of turning another whopper loose and having Romney shoot it down. Without a teleprompter to fall back on, Obama didn't have much left to throw back at his opponent. He spent the remainder of the debate dissembling about this and that, meandering all over the place. He looked like a guy trying to run the clock out just so he could get the hell out of there.

Romney, on the other hand, looked like he was having fun -- and I imagine he was. The man has made a fortune out of going into failing businesses, studying every detail about them, and then coming up with a plan to turn them around. You can't be good at that without really loving it, and you could really tell that Romney has put that same passion into his plans for fixing the economy. He knew his stuff, backwards and forwards. Obama, on the other hand, is the kind of man who leaves the details to others -- and it showed.

What'll be interesting to see is how the president reacts in the next debate. You remember back in 2000, when Al Gore came off as huffy and petulant against George W. Bush in their first encounter, how Gore seemed like he had popped one too many Ambien in the second debate? Look for the opposite to happen with Obama. After the savaging he took over his performance last night, he'll come out as hyper-aggressive in the next round -- which, I think, will make him look even worse. Obama has a tendency to get petty when he's hacked off, and petty will not endear him to undecided voters.

On the other hand, it should make for some entertaining television.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 4, 2012, at the time of 5:58 AM | Comments (0)

Date ►►► October 3, 2012

Free Advice, Cheap at Twice the Price

Hatched by Korso

Since everybody else is armchair quarterbacking what Mitt Romney should say in tonight's debate, why should I deny myself a little bit of fun? With regards to the economy, when (as it's inevitable) Barack Obama says that he just needs a little more time for his policies to kick in, here's a plain folks way to respond:

"Mister President, with all due respect -- the idea that businesses are just going to pick up and start hiring again is wishful thinking at best, a dangerous fantasy at worst. Businesses need a reason to hire -- and right now, as far as they can see, there's nothing on the horizon to make them think that the economy is going to get better any time soon.

"Now I could go on and on about market forecasts, corporate taxes, what have you, but it really is a lot simpler than that. You see, businesses react a lot like people do. Right now, far too many of them are in the same position as families all across America. They haven't had a raise in years. Even worse, some of them have seen their pay cut or their hours slashed because business has been so slow. They're not sure of how much income they'll have next year, because of taxes and regulations.

"On top of that, they've seen the price of gas and food take bigger and bigger bites out of their paychecks. In short, they're scared because they don't know what's going to happen. Now a typical family when faced with a situation like that -- do you think they're going to take that trip to Disney World, or put an addition onto their house, or buy a new car? Or are they going to hold on to as much money as they can, and ride out the storm until they have a better idea where things might be going in another year or two?

"That's where we are with business in America. And no matter what the president says, no matter how many speeches he gives or how many wishes he makes, things aren't going to change -- not until our leadership changes, and people have a reason to be confident again. It doesn't have to be this way. And God willing, after November 6th, it won't be that way anymore."

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 3, 2012, at the time of 12:35 PM | Comments (0)

Date ►►► October 1, 2012

State of the Debate

Hatched by Korso

I still think that we could really make an extravaganza out of the event if we got Don King to promote it, but this Wednesday's upcoming debate between Barack "The Stick" Obama and Pretty Boy Romney looks to be generating a good deal of heat all its own. For political junkies, it's like the Rumble in the Jungle and the Thrilla in Manila rolled up into one epic match. How this didn't make the cut on pay-per-view I'll never know.

It's pretty interesting, though, how the Obama hacks are already positioning our pugilist president as the anti-Muhammad Ali in this fight. At least so sayeth David Plouffe on ABC's This Week when giving his assessment of Mitt Romney's combat skills:

He's prepared more than any candidate I think maybe in history, certainly in recent memory. He’s been a good debater in the past. He’s very prepared. He’s got all these clever zingers and lines in his pocket, so we understand he’ll probably have a good night on Wednesday night.

Yeah, kind of like when Clubber Lang went up against Rocky Balboa for the first time. Plouffe is pretty much saying the same thing that Mickey Goldmill grumbled before that fight: "He'll knock you into tomorrow!" Of course, that was because fame, money and a fawning press had turned his champion into a flabby, lazy pretender who wasn't hungry like his opponent. Oh, and the same thing happened to Sly in the movie too.

So what does it say about you when your own people are downplaying expectations for your performance? Well, for one thing it shows how great the fall has really been for Barack Obama. The man who once stood astride the world, godlike and omnipotent, is now revealing how much of that was just plain hooey. But, a bit more insidiously, it also sets up the narrative that the media will use to explain away any mediocre showing on Obama's part. Romney, they'll say, may have won on style and "zingers," as Plouffe mentioned, but it was Obama's arguments that had more substance.

On top of that, they'll also try to cast Obama as the new underdog -- an outsider who met so much hostility from the Washington establishment that he simply couldn't push through the needed reforms to get the economy moving again. Contrast that with Mitt Romney, the consummate insider -- a slick and packaged product, more of the same old same-old, a political robot who looks perfect in the debates but lacks heart. Now, how the media will square this with their other narrative -- Romney the non-stop gaffe machine, too dumb to know why airplane windows don't roll down -- remains to be seen, but don't sell them short. After all, they do write creatively for a living.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 1, 2012, at the time of 8:17 AM | Comments (0)

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