Thursday, September 6, 2012

Quick Hits - September 3-6, 2012 - Updated

Today's post will be a different format that usual as I am attempting to work around some challenges that make creating my normal style QH posts very difficult.  So, this commentary will be an alternative form of posting until these challenges, primarily technical, are resolved.

The big news to catch up on across these days are the first days of the Democrat National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Looking back at the GOP convention in Tampa, the main themes that resonated over the weekend were Hurricane Issac, which caused the cancellation of the first day of the convention, the rabid media bias which was clearest in the both the MSNBC rabid racism, projection, and angst as well as the efforts of the mainstream media 'fact-checkers' to define / control the message, and in the vision offered by the GOP speakers, ranging from strong Governors who have a record of success in turning their states around, and strong speeches by Mitt Romney, Ann Romney, and Paul Ryan.  Add to this, Clint Eastwood's memorable appearance - and the 'empty chair' theme.  This latter was the closest the RNC got to feeding the attendee's 'red meat'.

The DNC convention kicked off with the reverberation of Ronald Reagan's fundamental question to the American voter from 1980 - Are you better off today than you were four years ago? and the challenges that key members of the Obama campaign team and administration had in adequately answering it.

Large elements of the mainstream media tried very hard to highlight the RNC as something less than a success - ranging from the ripping of the primary speakers via 'fact-checkers', to ignoring the minority speakers, to the regular play of the race card, to the significant drop in television ratings (particularly on the alphabet networks who only allocated 1 hour per night for their convention broadcasts), the 'bizarre' Clint Eastwood address, and finally the 'lack of enthusiasm' among the convention delegates.

Expectations, particularly among the usual media pundits, was for a far more engaging and successful Democrat National Convention - with hopes of the organizers of repeating the success of 2008 - all the way to the acceptance speech of President Barack Obama at Bank of America stadium in front of 64,000 - 70,000 screaming fans.

By any objective measurement, it's tough to look at the first couple of days of the Democrat National Convention and see a successful, engaging, and election changing event.  In fact, the missteps, challenges, and message raise far more questions about the Democrats and the Obama / Biden ticket than they answer.

Ah, where to start with the challenges...

On the first day of the convention, after the delegates approved the party platform, questions immediately started to flood out regarding two major changes from the previous DNC platforms.  The first, the dropping of the plank that affirmed that the capital of Israel is the city of Jerusalem.

This was a cornerstone for a number of past conventions - and a major affirmation of support to the State of Israel by the Democrat Party.  In a campaign year where the President's actions vis a vis Israel have raised serious questions about the alliance we have - and Jewish voters are a key component of the party base - tossing Israel under the bus is no way to reconcile actions to rhetoric over the US commitment, friendship, and partnership towards Israel.

The second major change was the elimination of the word 'God' from the party platform.

Just as the media saw a real story around the Reagan question, they saw a story over these changes and spent a lot of time asking questions about the platform.  Combine this with some dismal performances by key Democratic leaders on interviews, in particular Senator Dick Durbin on the 'God' issue and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz regarding Israel (and in particular her lie around the GOP saying their pro-Israel approach was 'dangerous', her denial of saying that, and then the audio of her saying just that - proving she is a pathological liar) and this story started to overshadow the speakers - including the First Lady.

In damage control, on the second day, a motion was made to amend the party platform to restore these elements.  Under the rules of the convention, a two thirds majority via voice vote, was needed to restore the planks.  LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stood at the podium, center stage, and called for a voice vote to make the changes.... and was utterly dumbfounded that the 'nayes' were as loud, if not louder than the 'yeas'.  He then called for another vote - and the results were the same - well short of the two-thirds.  From offstage, an official came out and told Villlaraigosa that 'they will do what they will do' regarding the vote.  Despite this, he called for a third voice vote.

In this last vote, it was even more clear that the 'nayes' were louder than the 'yeas' and the two-third threshold was not met.  Still dumbfounded, Villaraigosa, announced that in his opinion, the 'yeas' had it, the platform was amended, and the bulk of the convention delegates booed the addition of 'God' to the party platform.

Which is worse?  The booing of the term 'God"?  The clear decision by Villaraigosa to ignore the will of the delegates and do what Obama wanted?  [Ironic isn't it - Republicans have complained long about Obama's unilateral dictatorial decisions - and now the delegates of the convention are the victims of The One's arrogance.]

Strike One.

As this drama was taking place, we also had the drama over the change of venue for President Obama's acceptance speech from Bank of America stadium to the indoor arena where the bulk of the convention is taking place.  The official reason was concerns of a major thunderstorm striking the event.  This time of year, the Charlotte area has pretty much a constant 20-30% chance of thunderstorms each evening.  So, the DNC announced that in the interests of public safety, the President's acceptance speech would be moved indoors.

But there is more to this story.  One of the challenges the DNC has faced was filling the 64,000 - 70,000 seats of Bank of America stadium for the President.  This year is not 2008.  Unions were unwilling to bus thousands in - and there were real concerns that more than 30,000 - 35,000 would attend.  The Obama campaign was stung early on with smaller crowds than expected at many venues - and not filling the stadium was seen as unacceptable.

One approach would have been to continue to hold the event at the outdoor stadium - and blame the empty seats on those who were 'concerned' about the weather.  But this had risk- if they stadium was 75% or more filled, this would work.  But if not - it would be a hard sell even with the sympathetic media.  So the decision was made to move the venue because of the risk.....which as of this morning is based on a 0% (ZERO%) chance of rain / thunderstorms.

Spin as they might, they can't dodge the implication that this decision was based entirely on an underwhelming attendance for The Dear Leader's acceptance speech.

Strike Two.

This now brings us to the speakers - those at the podium, and those speaking to the press.  Over the last two days, 4 party officials have compared the GOP and key members, including VP candidate Paul Ryan, to Nazis.  Godwin's Law anyone?  Then we have the soon to be out DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz clearly lying to the press - and being exposed as a liar.  How bad was that?  Since the Washington Times released the audio of her saying something she denied saying - DWS hasn't spoken to anyone in the press.  Every single interview, even those with 'friendly' media elements, has been either cancelled or she was a no-show.

From the podium - who did the DNC bring forward to speak to the delegates?  For a party that is supposedly against special interests - many of the speakers over the last two days were members of special interests.  These ranged from Union officials who spend hundreds of millions (billion +?) of dollars to elect Democrats, to the head of a major pro-Democrat Super-PAC (Planned Parenthood's Super-PAC), to open pandering to the minority special interests (Mayor of San Antonio / Congressional Black Caucus), to a vapid 30 something law student who believes that the Catholic institution she voluntarily attends for law school and the American taxpayer are obligated to pay for her $9 / month contraception.

We have the supposed 'party for women' debasing their pro-woman agenda by promoting it as being entirely and completely based on a woman's reproductive rights.  The right to unrestricted abortions, including what many will call infanticide, combined with taxpayer funding of abortafacients, sterilization, and contraceptives are the only issues which apparently reflect a real 'respect' towards women - and damn any who have a religious or moral objection to these requirements.  Equal pay?  Lip service only - particularly since we already know that women employed in the WH / Democrat staffers in Congress are paid substantially less than their male counterparts.

One of the most common themes of the speakers remain the hard core embracing of the progressive ideals - bigger government is better government, government is the sole solution to all problems, and the elite intellectuals of the progressive caucus need to be in government to make all of the right decisions.  We heard this from 'Fauxcahontas' - Elizabeth Warren who recited a dull progressive screed that in an university lecture hall would have put half the class to sleep as she redefined history.

But the main speakers thusfar were Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton.

From the mainstream media, we have nothing but 'tingles' running up / down legs as they rush to outdo each other in their accolades over both of these speeches.  Both speeches were filled with 'red meat' for the hard left Democrat base.  Michelle spoke of Barack Obama's background - revising history to try to recreate the excitement and enthusiasm towards 'The One' as existed in 2008 - as if his hard left bonafides didn't exist.  It was appeal for the beatification of Barack Obama with the next step being the granting Barry a second term in the White House.  None of the failures of this Administration are the fault of Obama - they are all the fault of circumstances outside his control.

This speech was a harsh counter to the speech offered by Ann Romney....which is not much of a surprise since Michelle is as hard left, if not further left, than Barack.  She remained a person who only had pride in her country when it was ready to elect a hard left progressive invested in fundamentally changing the country.  She also is someone who is nearly as narcissistic and thin-skinned as her husband.  There was a bitterness that resonated in Michelle's speech towards those who do not / can not embrace the hard left as the only and best solution for our challenges.

Then we have Bill Clinton.  As with Michelle, much of the mainstream media orgasmed over his nominating speech for Barack Obama.  As with Michelle, the majority of the fact-checkers were missing in action - or soft-pedaling the words / facts offered by Bill Clinton.  During Clinton's term in office, he was known as 'Slick Willie' - not only for his ability to escape trouble, but for his willingness to spin a tale to his own advantage - facts be damned.

There are two real takeaways from Bill Clinton's nomination speech.  One was the length - even longer than his much reviled 1988 DNC speech which set records - to the point that one of his loudest recognitions from that audience came when he said, 'In conclusion....'.  The other was that this was little more than a slick defense lawyer's closing argument intended to get a guilty client acquitted.  It was 'red meat' to the DNC audience - but more about  Bill Clinton than about Barack Obama....touting his record as President as being the greatest thing since sliced bread.

In some of his defense of Barack Obama, Clinton went right off the rails.  The appeal that no President would have been able to address the economic conditions Barack Obama inherited is incredibly vapid and only believable if one ignores Ronald Reagan.  Bill Clinton, after being crushed in 1994 midterms, moderated and triangulated - taking credit for the actions of the Republican Congress, attempts to defend Barack Obama who, facing an even larger smackdown in 2010, doesn't moderate, but rather trebles down on his hard left policies and agenda and making the economic crisis even worse.  Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush are castigated for their deficits - but is there any mention about Barack Obama exceeding Bush 43's 8 year record in 38 months - and adding over $6 trillion to the national debt in 44 months?

Any mention of Barack Obama's 2013 budget plan, totally ignoring Simpson-Bowles, and continuing through nearly the next 4 years annual deficits exceeding $1 trillion, not getting a single vote - Republican or Democrat - in Congress this year?

Charles Krauthammer, appearing on Fox News, correctly called Bill Clinton's long winded nomination speech a 'giant swing and a miss' with a speech that appealed only to the far left of the Democrat base.  It was not a speech to promote Barack Obama - but more a speech to appeal to the ego of just one person - Bill Clinton.  It was a 1992 Bill Clinton - not a humbled 1996-998 Bill Clinton.  It was a vintage Slick Willie message to appeal for a third term of Bubba - not a second term of Barack Obama.

Strike Three - in more ways than one.

The thing is - bookended by Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama - Bill Clinton can't help but look good - despite the fact that his record owes more to Newt Gingrich and the Contract With America than it does for Bill's vision and agenda.

Tonight - the DNC will wrap with Barack Obama's acceptance speech. Will he lay out the plan for a second agenda?  Doubtful.  We'll hear more about how the past four years weren't his fault - that conditions and the GOP conspired against him.  We'll hear that despite his own words, he needs 4 more years, in particular 4 more unaccountable years, to complete his effort to 'fundamentally change' the country.


How big will Clinton's speech be?  Probably not very - as the TV numbers / ratings from last night are dreadful - Football dominates nightly ratings - DNC, not so much.

The first night's ratings of the DNC were on par with the lowered ratings experienced by the RNC.  But these numbers from last night - and headliner Bill Clinton's long winded 54 minutes appeal to his own ego - do not match the orgasms of the progressive mainstream media.  20.65 million tuned to NBC to watch the Dallas Cowboys defeat the Super Bowl champion NY Giants.  All of the other networks combined, which televised the DNC, did not surpass NBC's viewership.  CBS had 5 million viewers, Fox 4.1 million, ABC 3.6 million, and Univision 3.76 million.

Will tonight's viewership be any better?  Slightly, but not much is going to change.   Dump the skewed polls, and Barack Obama is very much in trouble - in far more trouble than Jimmy Carter was at this point of his 1980 campaign...and unlike Carter, Obama's not running against a Reagan....

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