Thursday, May 24, 2012

Quick Hits - May 23 & May 24, 2012

Time to catch up on the posts....

Tuesday was another primary day.  The biggest news from the primary were not the results of the GOP primaries, but of the Democrat primaries.  Several weeks after a convicted felon garnered 41% of the Democrat vote in West Virginia, President Obama faced new challenges and signs of weakness in the Kentucky and Arkansas primaries.  In Kentucky, 42% of the Democrat voters selected 'Uncommitted' instead of voting for the President.  Meanwhile, in Arkansas, an obscure attorney running against President Obama, gained a similar share of the Democrat vote in that state.

Progressive spin merchants are hard at work trying to explain away this new trend of Democrat votes away from the President - and that these are not signs of real trouble for the President 5 1/2 months before the election.

More signs of trouble?  The levels that the progressive press are willing to take to redefine the President so that he and his policies have the appearances of being successful and popular.  There are three new major initiatives that are astounding in just how far they are willing to go to ignore reality and define a false perception as the 'truth'.

The first comes courtesy of the Washington Post in the guise of the latest Washington Post / ABC News poll.  As the WaPo breathlessly touts in their first article announcing the poll results...
After months of aggressive campaigning on jobs and the economy, President Obama and Mitt Romney, his likely Republican challenger, are locked in a dead heat over who could fix the problem foremost on voters’ minds, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The parity on economic issues foreshadows what probably will continue to be a tough and negative campaign. Overall, voters would be split 49 percent for Obama and 46 percent for Romney if the November election were held now. On handling the economy, they are tied at 47 percent.

Locked in a dead heat...but with Obama leading and apparently well positioned for another 4 year term as the President.

The problem is, like the last Washington Post / ABC News poll that project a tight race with an Obama victory, the poll offers a few head shaking details - and evidence of more shenanigans by the Washington Post to ensure that the results fit their agenda.

As the Investor's Business Daily noted in their review of this latest poll...
-- Only 16% of Americans say their economic situation has improved under Barack Obama's reign. Fully 30% say their situation is worse. Yet 49% of these 1,004 registered voters back Obama's reelection, while 46% prefer Mitt Romney.

-- Barely one-third of Americans (34%) blame Obama for the ongoing economic problems while nearly half (49%) blame George W. Bush, who hasn't been around the Oval Office in his tie and coat for 1,218 days.

-- The poll reports that the man having the better personal character to be president is Obama, 52%-38%, over Romney. Not kidding here.

-- Of those Americans who say the economy is "not so good," 58% still support the guy who added nearly a trillion stimulus dollars to the national debt to little noticeable effect.

-- In terms of who "better represents your personal values," Obama beats Romney 47% to 43%.

-- Unemployment has been above 8% for the longest period in three-quarters of a century. So in terms of better understanding the economic problems people are enduring, the Democrat president who's presided over the last 40 months beats Romney, 48%-40%.

But fundamentally, the Washington Post / ABC News poll has been rigged by the organizations...rigged by selecting a poll sample that has absolutely no relationship with reality. This is done via a huge oversample of Democrats compared to Republicans - where Democrats outnumber the Republicans 32 to 22....a 10 point oversample. Even in the perfect storm election of 2008, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 7 points. We're supposed to believe that this year, after 2010, and three years of economic stagnation, the enthusiasm for Democrats is a 45% higher?!

We're not supposed to 'see' this massive oversample...or factor the massive oversample in the end results of the poll, which shows that Obama is leading Romney 49 to 46 among registered voters. Left unsaid is - what would be the real results of the poll if the Democrats were sampled only 2 or 3 points higher than Republicans? Would it still show an Obama lead - and support a conclusion that he is likely to win in November? I don't think so.

Jumping on the same dishonest bandwagon is NBC News which is touting their latest NBC News / Marist poll which shows that Barack Obama is defeating Mitt Romney in three extremely critical swing states - Ohio (6 point Obama lead), Virginia (4 point Obama lead), and Florida (4 point Obama lead).  Their meme is that with the President apparently going to win in these states over Mitt Romney, his reelection seems well assured....and providing the Obama campaign with some good news that is more than welcome.

The problem is that like with the case of the WaPo poll, NBC News had to rig the poll in order to get the good news for the President...and did it pretty much the same way the WaPo did it.  By rigging the sample.

Rather than polling likely voters, NBC News focused on registered voters - which contains about a +4 Democrat bias. Then they rigged the party breakdown samples to weaken the Republican representation - in every case reflecting a lower Republican enthusiasm than was present in 2008 when even Republicans were tired of the Bush Administration.

In Florida, the party affiliation breakdown for the poll was Democrat 43%, Republican 35%, and Independents 21%.  This is an 8 point oversample of Democrats.  For comparative purposes, in 2008, the actual turnout in Florida was Democrat 37%, Republican 34%, and Independent 29%.  Sure makes that 4 point Obama lead look very very suspect...

Virginia's poll had a party breakdown for the poll of Democrat 31%, Republican 29%, and Independents 39%.  For comparative purposes, the actual 2008 voter turnout in the state was 37% Democrat, 33% Republican and 27% Independent.  Are we to believe that 4% fewer Republicans will participate in 2012, particularly with the Senate race there, than in 2008?  Again, that 4 point Obama lead looks very suspect.

Yes, the pattern continues with Ohio.  NBC News used a party breakdown of 37% Democrat, 28% Republican, and 34% Independent to generate a 6 point Obama lead.  In the actual breakdown of the 2008 election, Ohio voters were 39% Democrat, 30% Republicans, and 30% Independent.  Not only are Democrats oversampled by 9 points, but we are to expect that 2% fewer Republicans will participate in 2012 than 2008?

The President is facing some real challenges for his reelection campaign.  This remains the weakest recovery since the Great Depression.  Despite his rhetoric calling President Bush 'unpatriotic' for increasing the national debt by nearly $5 trillion during his 8 years in office, President Obama, increased the national debt by $5 trillion in his first 39 months in office - and it's still increasing.

Which brings us to something that will become a case study for journalistic malpractice, bias, and just plain moronic reasoning done in order to try to spin the perception that President Barack Obama is not a prolific out of control spender - and that all of the debt challenges we face are because of George W. Bush - as advocated by Rex Nutting writing in Marketwatch.

Nutting begins with the following - and then proceeds down the rails to (falsely) build a case to meet his preconceived conclusion...

Of all the falsehoods told about President Barack Obama, the biggest whopper is the one about his reckless spending spree.

According to Nutting, President Obama is not a reckless progressive government spender. The title of reckless spender is actually George W. Bush. To 'make the case' - Nutting does one simple (and massively dishonest) sleight of hand....he assigns all of the government spending, and the $1.3 trillion deficit of Fiscal Year 2009, to President George W. Bush because FY2009 started on October 1, 2008 when President Bush was still in the White House. He is not even willing to execute a minimal modicum of intellectual honesty by only assigning to the former President the accountability of FY 2009 through January 20, 2009 when he left office, and holding the current President accountable for the balance of the FY spending. No, it's all about trying to revise history to facilitate the reelection of the President.

This hasn't gone unnoticed or unappreciated at the WH - as the equally dishonest Press Secretary, Jay Carney, has been touting this 'analysis' by Nutting as proof that there is no basis to the GOP accusations that the President is an out of control spender.

Demonstrating just how blatant and irresponsible Nutting's revisionist history is, the fisking of Nutting's piece has been widespread. One of the best comes from James Pethokoukis, of the American Enterprise Institute. Ann Coulter today has a characteristically snarky and hard hitting fisking of Nutting's 'creative accounting'. With all of these fiskings of Nutting's slant, there is a common thread...facts and fairness as to where the 'blame' begins.

Let's visit back to the fall of 2008. There is a Democrat Congress and a lame duck President in the White House - a lame duck President who has shrinking popularity as even many Republicans are feeling 'Bush Fatigue Syndrome'. There is also a recession coming - and as a result of a bursting housing bubble, a major financial crisis.

With this, President Bush offered a budget for FY2009 that was based on $3.1 trillion in spending, $200 billion higher than what was being spent in the current FY2008 year. That's about 7.5% more spending than the previous year. But this budget was never passed by Congress. Why not, you ask? The Democrats who controlled Congress, and anticipated a VERY GOOD election year in 2008, wanted to delay defining and passing a budget until after they expanded their majorities in Congress and gained the White House.

Late September, the financial crisis hit full bore. The entire financial industry was reeling - and it needed some immediate assistance from the federal government in order to prevent its collapse. The solution was TARP - a program that would allocate up to $700 billion to provide assistance to financial institutions - but with some limits / controls. First was that the total amount was split into 2 groups. The first half was available to the President immediately to provide assistance to financial institutions. The second half was discretionary - to be used only on the discretion of the President. Before the end of 2008, President Bush had already announced that based on the steps taken and funds used in the first allocation - the second half of TARP would not be needed. Between it's passage and the end of 2008, about $247 billion was spent out of that first half of TARP funds. President Bush owns this.

On January 12, 2009, President-elect Barack Obama asked President Bush to release the remaining (second half) of TARP funds so that they would be available to him when it took office to take further action. This the President did (proving once again, no good deed goes unpunished when it comes to dishonest journalists). Once in office, and through October 1, 2009 (the start of the next FY), President Barack Obama spent another $200 billion of TARP money assisting not only financial firms, but other companies / industries.

Once in office, a FY2009 budget was passed and signed into law. On March 10, 2009, President Obama signed an additional $410 billion in spending that President Bush refused to do in his last months in office. Then there is the $825 billion Stimulus bill that was proposed and passed by the Democrat majority Congress and signed into law by President Obama - intending to 'jump start the economy' and prevent the unemployment rate from exceeding 8%. All told - what was actually spent in FY2009 was about $3.6 trillion. Government revenues were only about $2.1 trillion - leading to a deficit of $1.5 trillion...or $1.25 trillion if we exclude the $247 billion that President Bush contributed.

Despite the facts, the President is now running on the 'Nutting Accounting Rules'...

From the above look at history, let's look at some charts that highlight this President's economic and spending policies...

In the above link of James Pethokoukis' blog post, he uses this chart to measure the spending of President George W. Bush against that of President Obama by looking at spending as compared to a level of GDP.  During President Bush's term in office, his spending averaged 20.5% of GDP.  Under President Obama his spending in FY2010-12 has been basically 24% of GDP...and his FY2013 budget proposed 'only' 23.3% of GDP for its spending goal....but this budget was unanimously defeated in Congress over the last several months.

If we look only at what was proposed for federal spending by the President's for FY 2008-2011, we see the 2 that are 'owned' by George W. Bush ($2.9 trillion and $3.1 trillion) and compare them to the 2 that are 'owned' by Barack Obama ($3.55 trillion and $3.82 trillion).  Anyway you look at it, President Obama has increased spending by at least $700 billion (nearly 20%) over President Bush's proposed FY2009 level.

Let's look at it from a basis of whom added the most to the national debt.  Again, President Bush isn't without fault as debt nearly doubled during his eight years in office.  But we're on a pace to add nearly $6.5 trillion in the 4 years of the Obama Administration...this is not a sustainable the following graph illustrates....

The Heritage Foundation talks about the differences between a courageous budget and a dangerous budget....

First, in an increasingly dangerous world with a rising China, intransient resistance from Russia, and instability across the Middle-East, it makes no sense for the U.S. to spend less on defense now than it did in the late 1990s, when it saw fewer threats. Any defense budget should be driven by the threats the U.S. faces, which in the current world means making additional investments.

Specifically, after years of war, U.S. forces need recapitalization investments to restore them to full fighting strength and modernization investments to make sure they are armed with the most advanced weaponry on the planet. The current approach puts the U.S. at greater risk by weakening the military exactly when it needs more support.

Second, a true deficit reduction strategy would tackle the main cause of U.S. debt: entitlements. Entitlements currently consume around 10 percent of the U.S. economy; in 1965, they consumed around 2.5 percent. If nothing serious in done soon, by 2045—a mere 33 years from now—entitlements will consume over 18 percent of the U.S. economy. At that point, the federal government will spend every dollar it brings in on entitlements, leaving no room for defense, other discretionary spending, or even interest on the debt.

President Obama, and the Congressional Democrats (if they offered a budget) only offer dangerous budgets designed to appeal to their special interests.

Speaking of the economic recovery that we are stagnating through...the WSJ notes how the recovery went wrong despite Obama's massive spending...
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis tracks economic performance for each recovery and compares gross-domestic-product growth and job growth, the two most important indicators of economic performance. Over the past 60 years, there have been 11 recessions and 11 recoveries.

Sadly, this recovery is near the bottom of all 11. Cumulative nonfarm job growth is just 1.9% 34 months into recovery, the ninth-worst performance and well below the average job growth of 6.5%. Cumulative GDP growth is just 6.8% 11 quarters into this recovery, less than half the average (15.2%) and the worst of all 11.

But wouldn't things be even worse without massive fiscal and monetary stimulus? It's true that monetary policy by the
Federal Reserve has resulted in extraordinarily low interest rates, almost zero for the past three years. Normally, low interest rates would result in increased borrowing by individuals and businesses, generating increased economic activity. Its positive effects in this recovery, however, have mainly been to help the government borrow more cheaply, large banks recapitalize quickly, and homeowners refinance at low rates.

The president has said, over and over again, that he wants to increase taxes on businesses—small and large—and on financially successful individuals. He doesn't quite articulate the point that way, but that is the effect. After all, he says millionaires and billionaires aren't paying their fair share. He forgets, or simply does not know, that the top 1% of earners actually pay as much as the bottom 90%, and the bottom half pay no income taxes at all.

In this negative environment, businesses are less willing to invest in the future, and individuals are less willing to spend what they can. Meanwhile, savers and retirees have seen much of their income decline because of low interest rates. The massive costs of all the stimulus have been wasted because of the heavy counterweight put on the economy by the administration's antibusiness and pro-redistribution policies.

As we wind down for today - two quick videos....

'He promised change...but things changed for the worse....'

And the latest Mitt Romney ad....

This Day in History


1701 - British privateer, Captain William Kidd is hanged for piracy and murder at London's Execution Dock

1911 - The New York Public Library is dedicated in New York City. The structure, occupying a two block section of Fifth Ave between 40th and 42nd Street, was the largest marble structure ever constructed in the US.

1934 - Criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are shot to death by Texas and Louisiana state police near Sailes, Louisiana. During their 2 year crime spree, they were responsible for killing 13, including 9 police officers.

1945 - Heinrich Himmler, chief of the Nazi SS, commits suicide one day after being arrested by the British.

1949 - The Federal Republic of Germany is established as an independent nation.

1960 - Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion announces that Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann had been captured and would stand trial in Israel. His trial would begin in April 1961. He was found guilty in December 1961 and sentenced to death for his war crimes. He was hung on May 31, 1962.

1960 - A tsunami caused by an earthquake off the coast of Chile kills 61 people in Hilo, Hawaii.


1543 - Nicolaus Copernicus, known as the father of modern astronomy, dies.

1775 - John Hancock becomes the president of the Second Continental Congress

1883 - The Brooklyn Bridge, the first span connecting the cities of New York and Brooklyn, opens. Construction took 14 years, and 27 lives. When it opened, it was the largest suspension bridge ever built.

1941 - HMS Hood, the pride of the Royal Navy, is sunk in a brief fight with Germany's largest battleship, the Bismarck near Iceland. Only 3 members of the Hood's 1,500 man crew survived. The Hood, launched in 1918, was Britain's largest battlecruiser. HMS Prince of Wales, a newly commissioned battleship still carrying a number of workmen onboard, was also damaged in the engagement with the Bismarck and the German cruiser Prinz Eugen. The Bismarck suffered only minor damage - but the damage to a fuel tank would later prove critical.

1976 - Transatlantic supersonic passenger flight service opened with Concorde flights from London and Paris to Washington DC.

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