Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quick Hits - August 22, 2012

A Congressional Budget Office report released today indicates that a significant recession is imminent for 2013 if Congress and the President do not act on 'Taxmageddon' or the fiscal cliff the country faces on January 1, 2013.

On that date, we will experience a major increase in taxes as the 2001/2003 tax reduction expires - subjecting everyone to a 10% across the board federal personal income tax rate increase in addition to substantial tax increases on capital gains, dividends, and estate taxes.  Furthermore, the Obama 2% temporary payroll tax reduction will expire.  Then we add a dozen or so new taxes being implemented via the President's Obamacare healthcare reform package in addition to the mandated $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, over half on the Defense Department, as required by the sequestration agreement in the 2011 Debt Ceiling increase agreement.

All told, this 'perfect storm' of tax increases is projected to send the the tenuous GDP growth we are now experiencing into negative territory as the CBO also rates the current economy as being far weaker than previously predicted.

In terms of addressing the fiscal cliff, President Obama remains perfectly willing to continue with his game of  'chicken' - refusing to budge on sequestration or the expiration of the 2001 / 2003 tax rate reductions without an agreement from Capital Hill Republicans to permit tax increases on the 'wealthy' - those earning over $250,000 per year - who already pay nearly 50% of the total federal income taxes collected.

From the blog 'Ace of Spades' we have this real, not photoshopped, picture taken by Reuters that encapsulates the 'phenonmenon of Obama'...

Big day in polling data - reflecting the impact on the race in the wake of the addition of Paul Ryan to the GOP ticket as the presumptive GOP VP nominee.

The pro-Obama paper, 'The Hill' has a featured article highlighting the latest AP-Gfk poll which remains based on registered voters (slight built in pro-Democrat bias) that indicates the President is holding onto a 1 point lead over Mitt Romney nationally.

But that is pretty much the limit of the 'good news' for the President in this poll.  He is trailing Mitt Romney on economic issues - and this is with a poll that features a D +8 sample.  Yes, that's right.  The poll oversamples Democrats by 8 points - and the best the President gets is a one point lead.

Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit at Hot Air have been very busy analyzing a number of new polls.  ABC / Washington Post, which has in the last few months trended D+7 to D+9 in their samples, is once again slow-releasing key elements of their latest poll.  The current release focuses entirely on the two VP candidates.  Joe Biden is at a 43% favorable / 43% unfavorable rating while Paul Ryan is at 41% favorable / 37% unfavorable.  The Ryan numbers reflect a swing of 10 points in the favorable rating from the last poll.  The last time this poll looked at Joe Biden was in April 2009 when he had 57% of the respondents have a favorable opinion of him and only 32% unfavorable.

NBC / Wall Street Journal, which in their July poll used an absurd D+11 sample has taken a step back towards reality (but not quite far enough) as the August poll uses a D+6 sample - which is only 1 point less than the D+7 vote that took place on Election Day, 2008.  Many suspect that 2012 will be far closer to 2010 than 2008 - so this sample still has challenges.  With the skew, Barack Obama leads by 4 nationally and by 3 across the 12 key battleground states.  Allahpundit makes this analysis:
Case in point: Although O’s lead over Romney technically declined from six points last month to four points now, that’s probably more of a sample artifact than any real movement. In fact, because a lot of the numbers this month are similar to what they were in July, this poll is good news overall for The One insofar as it means his lead is holding up even with a less forgiving sample.
I can't fully agree with that conclusion given the history of this poll. I will concede that the millions that the Obama campaign is spending June through the present - outspending Romney significantly in battleground states - is keeping the race close.

I also look at the breakout that Allahpundit does on the 'Ryan factor', and that also has me scratching my head and thinking that there are elements of this poll that don't quite reconcile (outlier?) or that there are some D's taking this poll and defining themselves as R's.

Left leaning pollster, PPP, released it's first Wisconsin poll since the Ryan VP announcement and it is showing that Mitt Romney has moved to a 1 point lead, 48-47.  This is a 7 point shift from PPP's July poll in Wisconsin.  Like the PPP poll in Missouri, this one also has a Republican skew - a R+2 sample.  In 2008, the state went D+6 while the Scott Walker recall vote earlier this year showed a R+1 breakdown.  Allahpundit thinks this skew is significant - but I will once again disagree.  Wisconsin is trending GOP and this is at worst a +1 oversample which shows that Wisconsin is clearly in play for November - and momentum on Romney's side.

The same link also offers a new look at Michigan - a Foster McCollum Baydoun poll conducted for Fox 2 News in Detroit.  In June, this poll had President Obama with a slim 1.14 point lead.  The August numbers, after the Ryan selection, has Mitt Romney holding a 3.8% lead.  Both of these polls were with likely voters - so this could be a real signal that Michigan is also very much in play.  There are no splits, so we can't tell if there is a Republican oversample or if the Romney / Ryan team has momentum.  Given Wisconsin, one can lean towards the latter.

A battleground poll in Florida by Foster MCollum White Associates is showing the Romney-Ryan team surging to a 15 point lead over the President.  But Hugh Hewitt, in noting this poll, also notes some questions being raised by Nate Silver in the NY Times over the measurement / sample particularly around seniors.  Hewitt notes:
Whether or not you buy Silver's arguments, the poll's data on seniors in Florida is enormously encouraging to Romney/Ryan, and given MSM's willingness to blast out absurd nonsense like the Quinnipiac results for the Times earlier this month that projected a Democratic turnout advantage of 7 or more points in the Sunshine State, we should be seeing this new staggering result reported breathlessly across cable land today with the same frequency as the Times' results were hurried into the news pool.

Or not. The MSM gets skeptical when the lead is Romney's in any given poll and then begin to worry through the demographics and turnout model. When Obama's got the lead in any particular poll, well, that poll gets reported without the skepticism about modeling or the explanation of weighting. That is how the game works.

This Michigan poll --same group as the Florida poll-- has Romney up by nearly four there. Hmmm. The firm has historically been tied to...Democrats. The Ryan impact has been profound and it is building.
Hot Air is noting that the Florida poll, like the Michigan poll, is based on likely voters - but the size of the lead, 15 points, has them thinking that this is an outlier as opposed to a real snapshot.

Vodkapundit, blogging with PJ Media, is out today with his latest analysis of the Presidential race's electoral map based on the latest polls.  He concludes that the current picture is 'why Team Obama went so nasty so early - and why they'll get nastier still'.

This snapshot by Vodkapundit looks in depth at a comparison of the states won by Obama and McCain and then where those states are today.  Of the states won by John McCain, only one is in question today...
There is just one McCain state in play this year. Just one. Missouri. And the only reason it’s in play is because Clair McCaskill really knows how to pick her own opponent, who just happens to have too much ego and too little sense stuffed into an otherwise empty suit.
Of the states won by Barack Obama in 2008, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin are listed in the 'too close to call' category.  I agree with that at the present, but I also am thinking that all of them, with perhaps the exception of Michigan, will break towards Mitt Romney.  I need to see more date from Michigan to see if the above poll is on the mark or an outlier.

Of the states now leaning to Barack Obama, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, I think NH has the best chance to move into the Romney category with Nevada and Pennsylvania in the 'too close to call' category.  PA remains a real tipping point - particularly with the Obama Administration's war on coal.  Can Obama, the unions, and the NBPP generate enough turnout in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to offset the rest of the state?

Illinois is a bit of a surprise addition to this category by Vodkapundit.  He cites a Cook County (Chicago) poll that only has Barack Obama at 49% - far less to overwhelm the rest of the state's GOP vote.  If this is accurate, then we are on the path for a 1980-like election result.

I'll be doing an update to my own series just after the Democrat National Convention - and then a final pre-election update after a couple of debates have taken place.

Ace of Spades has a post here that offers a glimmer of sunshine towards the GOP hopes of gaining control of the US Senate - even after Missouri has solidly moved from likely gain to likely loss thanks to Todd Akins' ego and arrogance.

Offering even more sunshine is a Rasmussen poll showing GOP Senatorial candidate Linda McMahon up by 3 points!  If this was anyone other than Rasmussen, one of the most accurate pollsters, I would have some real questions with the poll.  Is this another leading indicator to a 1980 style election?  Here's Ed Morrissey's take on the poll - and the sample...
This can’t be right, can it? Rasmussen must be using a Republican-friendly sample, people will assume … but they’d be wrong. In fact, the sample D/R/I (46/32/22) more closely resembles the 2008 Democratic wave exit polls (43/27/31) than the 2010 exit polls (39/28/33) for Connecticut. Remember that Republicans lost the Senate seat in 2010 even with the narrower gap in turnout, too. Murphy has a seven-point lead among women, which Rasmussen oversamples (56/44) in comparison to 2008 (53/47) and 2010 (49/51). The poll sample, if anything, might be tilted a little in Murphy’s favor.
... and in our final look at a poll, in Massachusetts, GOP Senator Scott Brown has opened up a 5 point lead over 'Fauxcahontas' Elizabeth a poll by PPP.

Townhall's Guy Benson highlights today comments from both ABC's Jake Tapper and Time / MSNBC's Mark Halperin, that the media is actively trying to tip the scales for Barack Obama.
In an interview with Laura Ingraham, White House reporter Jake Tapper said that the media is failing the country. "A lot of people are hurting out there. Unemployment is 8.3 percent. That doesn’t even take into account the underemployed,” he said, arguing that too much time has been spent not talking about the economy. Tapper also criticized the media for not giving enough attention to the war in Afghanistan. "We are spending a lot of time in the last few weeks, those of us in the political world, political journalists and also politicians, talking about things other than the economy," said Tapper. "[A] lot of people are hurting out there. I’d like to see more action taken and more emphasis given to this issue. I have said before… [that I] thought the media helped tip the scales. I didn’t think the coverage in 2008 was especially fair to either Hilary Clinton or John McCain," Tapper said. On the 2008 coverage, he noted, "Sometimes I saw with story selection, magazine covers, photos picked, [the] campaign narrative, that it wasn’t always the fairest coverage." is busting the MSM once more - showing that the MSM is devoting four times the coverage to Todd Akin's asinine statement over Joe Biden's asinine statement...
A week after giving relatively light coverage to Joe Biden's "chains" smear, the broadcast networks eagerly dove into the Todd Akin controversy, giving over four times more coverage to an uproar involving a statewide (conservative) politician than a controversy involving a national (liberal) politician. NBC, CBS and ABC's evening and morning shows have devoted an astonishing 88 minutes (or 40 segments) of coverage to Congressman Akin's "legitimate rape" remark. Over a similar three day period, the networks allowed a scant 19 minutes (or ten segments) to a racially charged gaffe by the Vice President of the United States.

CBS This Morning reporter Norah O'Donnell on Tuesday pronounced, "If Akin is still running for the United States Senate, everybody is going to be asking about Akin, abortion rights, women's rights, etc., during the Republican convention." CBS journalists certainly did their best to make sure "everybody" would be talking about the Republican. The network hyped the story the most, pushing the controversy for 13 segments and 37 minutes.
The RNC and the Romney campaign are fighting back.  First, an advertisement from the RNC highlighting why Barack Obama doesn't like holding WH Press Conferences....
“Stephanie Cutter did not accuse Mitt Romney of committing a felony on a lark. The campaign organized a teleconference with reporters to lobby that specific charge. Campaigns don’t set up teleconference by accident, and they don’t levy serious charges against opponents that haven’t been authorized by the candidate. In this case, the Obama campaign based its accusations on flimsy, inaccurate and ill-informed reporting by Josh Marshall at TPM. The only question is where did that reporting originate, with Marshall or with the Obama campaign itself?”

Then there is the reminder - that 'Nothing's Free'...


The Department of Labor spent nearly half a million dollars in federal stimulus funds to generate jobs with a PR firm to run more than 100 pro-Obama Administration commercials on two MSNBC cable shows...
The Labor Department paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal stimulus funds to a public relations firm to run more than 100 commercials touting the Obama administration’s “green training” job efforts on two MSNBC cable shows, records show.

The commercials ran on MSNBC on shows hosted by Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann in 2009, but the contract didn’t report any jobs created, according to records reviewed recently by The Washington Times.

Spending reports under the federal Recovery Act show $495,000 paid to McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations LLC, which the Labor Department hired to raise awareness “among employers and influencers about the [Job Corps] program’s existing and new training initiatives in high growth and environmentally friendly career areas” as well as spreading the word to prospective Job Corps enrollees.
A Federal Court yesterday struck down yet another EPA abuse of power....
A major component of the Obama Administration’s regulatory crackdown on fossil fuels was struck down Tuesday by a federal appeals court panel that ruled the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule “transgressed statutory boundaries.” The decision vacates a measure that otherwise jeopardized thousands of jobs and the reliability of the nation’s electricity supply.
This is the 6th time Federal Courts have struck down an EPA regulation, and the 15th time the Administration has been rebuked...
According to a scoreboard by the American Action Forum, Tuesday's rebuke from the D.C. Circuit marks the 15th time that a federal court has struck down an Obama regulation, and the sixth smack-down for the Obama EPA. This tally counts legally flawed rules as well as misguided EPA disapprovals of actions by particular states.

As for this latter category, last week the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals saved Texas from an arbitrary and capricious EPA rejection of its permitting process for utilities and industrial plants. In that case the court found that "the EPA based its disapproval on demands for language and program features of the EPA's choosing, without basis in the Clean Air Act or its implementing regulations."

See a pattern here? Mitt Romney and House Republicans are making the case that Obama regulators have been punishing U.S. business in violation of the law and beyond what Congress intended. Tuesday's ruling proves their point and underscores how much more damaging the EPA could be without re-election restraint in a second Obama term.

The court's decision states it plainly: "Absent a claim of constitutional authority (and there is none here), executive agencies may exercise only the authority conferred by statute, and agencies may not transgress statutory limits on that authority."
Another Federal Judge ruled yesterday that Texas can cut off funding for Planned Parenthood... a move that President Obama strongly opposed - to the point that he issued an executive order cutting off federal support to 100,000 women and 2,400 providers in Texas because Texas declined to use state funds to support 44 Planned Parenthood facilities.

Senior White House adviser and long-time Obama friend / confidant, Valerie Jarrett seems to be doing quite well with the 'other' Chicago Way - crony corruption...
Senior White House adviser and long-time Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett’s role in a number of controversial Chicago housing developments has garnered her investments worth millions of dollars while highlighting the administration’s extensive business ties to presidential donors.

Before joining the Obama administration in 2009, Jarrett was president and chief executive officer of the Habitat Company, a real estate development firm founded by major Democratic donor Daniel Levin. Before that, she served three years as commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development under Mayor Richard Daley.

Jarrett currently owns an 11-percent equity interest in Kingsbury Plaza, a 46-story luxury apartment complex developed by Habitat between 2005 and 2007 at a cost of more than $100 million.

She valued the investment at between $1 million and $5 million on her 2011 financial disclosure form, up from $250,001 in 2010. A Jarrett spokesman told the Washington Times that the investment was “a direct result of her 13 years working for Habitat.”

Cook County records show the Kingsbury property is worth around $27.2 million, but thanks to a series of legal appeals beginning in 2003, the land and building are assessed at a much lower value for tax purposes. Since 2008, the property has been designated a “special commercial structure” and is taxed at a value of just $6.8 million, or 25 percent of the actual value.
Czech President Václav Klaus on Global Warming...
As someone who personally experienced central planning and attempts to organize the whole of society from one place, I feel obliged to warn against the arguments and ambitions of the believers in the global warming doctrine. Their arguments and ambitions are very similar to those we used to live with decades ago under Communism. The arrogance with which the global-warming alarmists and their fellow-travellers in politics and the media present their views is appalling. They want to suppress the market, they want to control the whole of society, they want to dictate prices (directly or indirectly by means of various interventions, including taxes), they want to “use” the market. I agree with Ray Evans that we experience the “Orwellian use of the words ‘market’ and ‘price’ to persuade people to accept a control over their lives”. All the standard economic arguments against such attempts should be repeated. It is our duty to do it.
President Obama, when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, is clearly on the side of the Palestinians - sending them tens of millions in funding and pressuring Israel to accept them as 'peace partners'.  When the President of the Palestinian Authority says this...
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas denied the Jewish connection to Jerusalem on Tuesday, the same day he spoke by phone with both Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s envoy Yitzhak Molcho.

Abbas issued a statement Tuesday, marking the 43rd anniversary of an attempt by deranged Australian Christian Denis Michael Rohan to set fire to al-Aksa mosque, saying that Jerusalem’s Arab and Islamic identity was a Palestinian red line.

Highlighting the necessity of the protection of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites, Abbas said “the fire, set by a criminal under the eyes of the Israeli Occupation Authorities, was the first [attack] in a series aiming to demolish al- Aksa mosque and build the alleged Temple in order to uproot its citizens, Judaize it and eternalize its occupation.”

The statement read that all Israeli excavation work in Jerusalem, and tunnels underneath the mosque, “will not undermine the fact that the city will forever be Arabic, Islamic and Christian.”
The Jewish claim to Jerusalem is far stronger and deeper than the Islamic claim to the city.  But when the President of the PA makes comments like this, he differs little from the Persian nazi - Ahmahwhackjob.

Today in History

1485 - The War of the Roses ends with the death of England's King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field.  King Henry VII succeeds as the new monarch.

1642 - The English Civil War begins with King Charles I calling Parliament and its soldiers 'traitors'.  Charles I raises his royal standard at Nottingham and begins raising an army around the 2,000 cavalry that accompanied him to Nottingham.

1770 - Australia is claimed for the British crown by English explorer Captain James Cook.

1846 - The United States annexes New Mexico.

1851 - The schooner America outraces the schooner Aurora off the English coast to win a trophy that would become known as the America's Cup.

1973 - President Richard Nixon names Henry Kissinger Secretary of State.

1996 - President Bill Clinton signs the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act into law.  This bill adds a work requirement to existing welfare legislation marking a fundamental shift in federal cash assistance to the poor.  The legislation was a major component of the Republican contract with American.  [President Obama, via executive order, negated the work requirement this summer.]

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