Thursday, July 19, 2012

Quick Hits - July 19, 2012

Normally, the mid-July timeframe can be considered in the doldrums of a Presidential campaign season.  While the candidates would be attempting to keep their names in the news, we would not see anywhere close to the intensity levels that we are now seeing. The fact that this is turning into an extremely intense phase of the campaign is, I believe, reflective on just how poorly the President is doing, and how desperate his campaign is feeling.

The campaign is, I believe, at a tipping point far earlier than anyone expected.  In the classic 1980 campaign, challenger Ronald Reagan did not begin to tip the scales in his favor until mid-October - coinciding with the Presidential debates.  Despite the dismal economy, soaring interest rates, petroleum costs, and inflation, and the ongoing Iranian hostage crisis, President Jimmy Carter was leading in Presidential polls over Ronald Reagan.  A June poll had Carter at 39% support, Reagan at 32% support, and Independent candidate John Anderson pulling 21% support.

But this year is different.  The Obama campaign has invested $100 million in negative campaign ads against Mitt Romney in the last two months attacking the candidate on his tenure at Bain and his personal wealth.  The campaign, sympathetic media outlets, and now the Democrats in the House, are trying to deflect attention from the economy and Obama's record by trying to make Romney's unreleased tax returns the BIG  ISSUE of the campaign.

But it appears not only has that not worked, but the President's candid honesty about how he feels about entrepreneurs, capitalists, and traditional American values, has fired up not only Conservatives and Independents, but a candidate who needed just what Obama gave him - a reason to get fired up.

“If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that, somebody else made that happen.”

This is phrase that ignited the tipping point for this campaign. From this, we have a number of hard hitting responses that are gaining traction...

And asking 'Where did all the money go?'

Then there is this advertisement - 'These Hands'

The American Crossroads PAC is running this effective advertisement in all of the major battleground states - including Michigan...

All of these are responses to the Obama statement from last Friday that highlight that according to this far left progressive President, success only comes from the government.....

Or, more seriously, in the words of one of the most astute political historians / commentators, Michael Barone....
In other words, Steve Jobs didn't make Apple happen. It was the work of a teacher union member -- er, great teacher -- and the government agencies that paved I-280 and El Camino Real that made Apple happen.

High earners don't deserve the money they make, Obama apparently thinks. It's the gift of government, and they shouldn't begrudge handing more of it back to government.

And that's true, as he told Charlie Gibson of ABC News in 2008, even if those higher tax rates produce less revenue for the government, as has been the case with rate increases on capital gains. The government should take away the money as a matter of "fairness."

How is the President doing in the most recent polls? Not well. Not well at all - and well behind the levels of support that Jimmy Carter had at this point in his reelection campaign.

Hot Air sets us up with their observations on the latest polls...
Meantime, three and a half months before election day, Republican enthusiasm about voting this year has shot up since Mitt Romney clinched the nomination in April, from 36 percent of Republicans saying they were more enthusiastic in March to 49 percent now.

President Obama was helped to election in 2008 by a wave of voter enthusiasm among Democrats, however this year, Democratic enthusiasm is down a bit since March. Twenty-seven percent of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting this year than they were in past elections, compared to 30 percent four months ago. And 48 percent of Democrats say their enthusiasm this year is the same as past elections, compared to 39 percent who answered the same question in March.

Independent voters’ enthusiasm is also up with 29 percent saying they’re more enthusiastic now from 22 percent four months ago.

The CBS/NYT poll isn’t exactly known for its sample quality, so it will be interesting to see how that overall enthusiasm number relates to the D/R/I split. If Republican enthusiasm increased by thirteen points and independents by seven points, the overall drop of only eight points seems a little low.

The big takeaway, though, is that 49% of Republicans and 29% of independents express increased enthusiasm for this election, while only 27% of Democrats say the same thing.

With regards to that CBS / NYT poll, we've now seen the internals. Guy Benson, at, notes that this poll, showing Romney at 47 and Obama at 46, within the margin of error, has internals that are brutal for the President. The poll skews Democrats at plus 6.5 points - which envisions an Election Day turnout identical to 2008 when all signs are that 2012 will be far closer to 2010. The President's favorability / unfavorability with Independents is 28/52 - and Mitt Romney is currently holding a 12 point lead with these Independents - and has the advantage in enthusiastic voters.

National Public Radio just released a battleground state poll that shows the candidates are tied at 46 each - but their poll also envisions a 2008 Election Day turnout at it oversamples Democrats by 7 points (and only has 29% Republican participation - well below the Republican turnout in 2008).

Fox News also has a new poll - but this one looks like it is in the outlier category as it is showing President Obama at 45 and Mitt Romney at 41. This poll also oversamples Democrats - 6 points higher than the 2008 Democrat turnout, but more importantly, severely undersamples Independents with only 18% of the respondents defining themselves as Independents.

There are also other significant signs that the Democrats are extremely concerned about this year being another 2010 - as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is telling House Democrats to skip the DNC Convention...

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi says that Democratic members should stay home and campaign in their districts rather than go to the party’s national convention in North Carolina.

“I’m not encouraging anyone to go to the convention, having nothing to do with anything except I think they should stay home, campaign in their districts, use their financial and political resources to help them win their election,” Pelosi said in an exclusive interview for POLITICO Live’s On Congress, a new weekly show to be streamed live on POLITICO’s website and broadcast on NewsChannel 8 on Wednesdays.

Which brings this observation about the DNC convention...
That’s one of the more minor problems with the Democratic convention — after a lack of funding, the outrage of Big Labor for holding it in a right-to-work state, and the use of Bank of America Stadium by a party that spent the last four years demonizing the banking industry, it falls well down the list. It’s still worth discussing, though; why did Democrats schedule their convention on a week when the pressure to be home campaigning would be strongest?

With this, I am suspecting that viewership might be up for the DNC convention in 2012 over 2008 - as more people tune in to watch the shipwreck in process...

Then there is also this from the Mad Red Queen of Haight Asubury - who is one of the few Democrat leaders backing off of demands that Mitt Romney release more of his tax returns. Of course, the reasons the House Minority Leader is backing off of these demands is because she doesn't want to release her own tax there is a limit to her hypocrisy.

A 14 month old solar company that received the praises of not only President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, but also $20 million of taxpayer funds courtesy of the Department of Energy, has gone belly up.
Amonix, only 14 months old, has failed…this time to the tune of $6 million in tax credits and $15.6 in grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Gov. Brian Sandoval were among the political leaders who lauded the company when it announced it would start making solar cells in the Golden Triangle Industrial Park.

And naturally, Obama has his fingerprints all over it:

The Amonix solar manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas, heavily financed under an Obama administration energy initiative, has closed its 214,000-square-foot facility 14 months after it opened.

Officials at Amonix headquarters in Seal Beach, Calif., have not responded to repeated calls for comment this week. The company today began selling equipment, from automated tooling systems to robotic welding cells.

A designer and manufacturer of concentrated photovoltaic solar power systems, Amonix received $6 million in federal tax credits and a $15.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to build the plant in North Las Vegas.

And here is the likely reason why Obama had to rush in where venture capitalists feared to tread:

"I don't think they had a lot of training," Kenerly said. "There were a lot of quality issues. A lot of stuff was coming back because it had some functionality issues."

With this being Thursday, it's time for the today's Department of Labor report on first time jobless benefit applications.

The DoL adjusted last week's new claims number from 350,000 to 352,000 - and announced that this week's number soared to 386,000 - well above the 364,000 to 365,000 consensus that was expected for this week's number. Tom Blumer, writing for in the above link noted that last week's numbers attracted attention for being artificially low with aggressive seasonal adjustments being made in 2012 that were 9% higher than the same timeframe in 2011. Blumer notes that even the AP inadvertently mentioned this in their 8:45am dispatch...
“Economics Writer Paul Wiseman was inadvertently correct when he wrote that "the figures may have been distorted by seasonal factors." Well yeah, Paul, but the seasonal distortion isn't the one you cited. As will be seen after the jump. today's number arguably should have come in at over 400,000.”

“The only reason the four-week average fell is that last week's figure (along with this week's) was bogusly low for the same reason -- but in that case, the 2012 seasonal deflation factor was almost 9% higher than the one used in 2011. Then, as seen above, Wiseman used the four-week average affected by that artificial calculation to imply that we're really not far from a claims level which might lead to a drop in the overall unemployment rate. “

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has gone on record defining what the primary agenda of Senate Democrats for the balance of the 112th Congress - Protecting Barack Obama...

OK - so the agenda of the Senate remains unchanged...

But, if he remains Senate Majority Leader, and if Barack Obama is elected to a second term, 'Pinky' Reid says that one of his first steps in January 2013 is to eliminate the filibuster to prevent Senate Republicans from disrupting the agenda for the President and the 113th Congress - increasing taxes.

Ernest & Young LLP has released a study that is examining the effects of the current efforts by President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats to enact 'social justice', 'economic fairness', and holding the nation hostage over 'Taxmaggeddon' in order to increase taxes on the wealthy (those earning more than $250,000 / year).
The U.S. would lose 710,000 jobs and economic output would decline by 1.3 percent [projected GDP is already crashing], or $200 billion, if tax cuts for high earners are allowed to lapse, said a report prepared for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other supporters of the tax breaks. 
The study by Ernst & Young LLP supports Republican efforts to extend all of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year. President Barack Obama called on Congress last week to pass a one-year extension of tax cuts for married couples making less than $250,000 a year while letting rates rise for higher earners. 
“The higher tax rates will have significant adverse economic effects in the long run: lowering output, employment, investment, the capital stock and real after-tax wages when the resulting revenue is used to finance additional government spending,” wrote the report’s authors, Robert Carroll and Gerald Prante.
GOP Senator Mike Lee (UT) also noted in the debate over the President's proposed plan to extend the current tax rates for one year for all those earning under $250,000, and increasing taxes on those earning above $250,000 as a deficit reduction step, that 'their proposal would leave 94% of this year's deficit intact, which makes it an inherently unserious proposal insofar as it relates to deficit reduction".

Yesterday, 5 Israeli tourists on a tour bus in Bulgaria, were killed in a terrorist suicide bombing attack. Israeli immediately looked towards Iran and Hezbollah as being behind the attack. The UK's Guardian newspaper is reporting that the bomber was carrying a fake US passport issued in Michigan, but other reports are referencing a different fake US identification document - a Michigan Drivers License issued to a person with an address in Baton Rouge, LA. In the latest information on the bomber...
The latest development in yesterday's Bulgarian bus bomb explosion, is the identification of the alleged bomber. According to Times of Israel he is Mehdi Ghezali, "reportedly a Swedish citizen, with Algerian and Finnish origins. He had been held at the US’s Guantanamo Bay detainment camp on Cuba from 2002 to 2004, having previously studied at a Muslim religious school and mosque in Britain, and traveled to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. He was also reportedly among 12 foreigners captured trying to cross into Afghanistan in 2009."
In other international news, Russia and China both vetoed (again) a United Nations Security Council vote to increase sanctions (and pressure) on the Syrian regime of Bashir al-Assad - upending four months of diplomatic efforts to stop the escalating violence in Syria which has resulted in nearly 20,000 deaths in the past 16 months. Reports are that al-Assad has fled the Syrian capital of Damascus to his home province as fighting is intensifying in the city - and after the suicide bombing attack yesterday which killed three of his top officials. Syrian military units, including attack helicopters are aggressively attacking rebel forces in and around Damascus.

Today in History

1799 - During Napoleon Bonaparte's Egyptian campaign, a French soldier discovers the Rosetta Stone - a black slab inscribed with ancient writing - Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and Egyptian demotic - and helped solve the riddle of hieroglyphics, a 'lost' language for 2,000 years.

1989 - Crippled airliner, United Flight 232, crash lands at Sioux City, Iowa.  With the aircraft's ability to maneuver damaged by a mechanical fault, and limited to being controlled by engine power, the airliner attempts to land at Sioux City.  In the crash landing, 111 passengers and crew perished, but 185 survived.

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