Thursday, November 1, 2012

Quick Hits - October 24 - 31, 2012

The blog has been dark for a week - with the highlight on my last post of the 'Wargaming the 2012 Election' where provide my analysis and prediction for next Tuesday's national election.

In the past week, there have been three primary stories.

First is the devastation that hit New Jersey and New York, mainly the New York City area, courtesy of a direct hit from Hurricane Sandy.

The pictures coming from the Jersey shore are just stunning.  Having lived in NJ and spent a lot of time in the Jersey shore - the damage brought by Sandy is almost beyond what one can imagine.  The barrier islands have been hammered - and in a number of cases, completely and fundamentally changed by the fury of the storm.  Adding to this are the pictures of not only the massive flooding in Hoboken as well as lower Manhattan, but the complete battering the Queen's community of Breezy Point received from the storm and the firestorm that ignited which destroyed blocks.  This is the same community that paid a very high price on 9/11/01 and then a few weeks later was where an American Airlines jet crashed after losing it's tail section in turbulence as it left JFK airport.

Our thoughts and prayers need to go out to all of those affected by Sandy's hit - and the families of those who lost their lives during the storm.  I know from experience that it takes time to recover from natural disasters  - and those storms / disasters pale in comparison to what Sandy delivered.

As in every disaster, there are also those who add to the challenges that those affected are struggling to overcome.  As the storm waged - first responders had to risk their lives to rescue those who refused to evacuate the area.  No lives were lost in the Breezy Point firestorm - because those residents wisely decided to evacuate.  But in other areas - there were those who refused to evacuate.

I've read over the last couple of days stories about the utter cluelessness of too many nimrods who are boasting on social media their looting activities - stealing from those impacted by the storm and providing all of us a clear view of their lack of character and integrity.  Hopefully that as the immediate challenges lessen, the police will find the time to visit these people -and charge them to the full extent.

From Al Gore to others, we're hearing that this storm is the latest proof of man-caused climate change and demanding we spend billions / trillions towards social / political programs favored by progressives and socialists that somehow will result in the end of man-caused climate change.  Frankly these calls are as asinine and void of scientific credence as those made by enemies of the US in the Middle East who alternately say that they caused the storm or God, working in their service, guided the storm as if he were delivering a weapon onto its target.

Then there are those within the GOP who are embarrassing not only themselves, but the entire GOP as they castigate NJ Governor Chris Christie for touring the devastated shoreline by air with President Barack Obama - and speaking kindly of the President for his efforts and encouragement for the US Government to rush aid and assistance to these communities.  These range from the cynics who say that Christie is trying to use this disaster as a campaign tool for his 2013 reelection bid - to those who look at Christie's comments as a change in loyalty.  As Christie himself noted - there is nothing political about his touring with Barack Obama - his responsibility is to work to get as much aid and assistance to those in need across the state. His duty is not to a political party a week before national elections - but to his fellow residents in NJ and in particular those residents in need.

If one wanted to, one could make a case pointing out the hypocrisy of Barack Obama and the President's decision to use Sandy as a political prop to try to gain a little momentum in his floundering reelection campaign.  President Obama could not wait for the photo op to appear 'in charge' from the WH Situation Room as the storm hit - or for the photo op to be seen flying over Seaside Heights or landing in another devastated NJ community.  It's surprising he decided to stay away from NYC after NYC Mayor Bloomberg told him not to visit - but perhaps Obama knew that Bloomy wasn't angry and would endorse his reelection effort.

I'm wonder if there are those near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Joplin, Missouri, New Orleans, LA, or along the Gulf Coast who are asking why President Obama didn't visit their communities as promptly (if at all) after they were devastated by tornado or hurricane or massive oil spill?  Of course, none of those events were a week before Election Day where the President is in real trouble.

In the past week, we've seen dozens of polls at both a national as well as a swing state level.  Rasmussen and Gallup continue to offer what appears to be the most reliable and common sense approaches towards modeling the election turnout - using a D+0 to D+2 turnout model that is a little down from the 2010 midterm turnout.  But the bulk of the remaining polls, from the mainstream media and Democrat pollsters, are showing turnout models for next week that are at or above that we saw in 2008 for the Democrats - all to the benefit of the President.

The pattern remains unchanged in almost all of these.  The hype offered by the mainstream media remains the top line number - usually with the President holding a 1 to 6 point lead of likely voters either on a national level or in a particular swing state.  Partisan hacks like Bob Beckel, Chris Matthews, Chuck Todd, and Nate Silver bloviate about these leads, trying to demonstrate their 'fairness' by citing the RealClearPolitics average (which is tainted by the numerous tainted polls) as 'proof' that Obama will sweep many of the swing states and win his reelection.

But there are other patterns which have remained unchanged not only over the last week, but over the last month since the first Presidential debate.  These are the patterns of the internals of these polls that rarely get the light of day shone on them - except by the new media and commentators on Fox News.

The momentum swing that Mitt Romney gained from that first Presidential debate turned into a preference cascade - and has lost little of it's momentum on either a national or state level.  Even very safe states for President Obama are showing gains in Mitt Romney's numbers - and decreases in the President's numbers from his 'high point' of 2008.  Crowds appearing at Mitt Romney campaign events are starting to approach the numbers seen in 2008 at Barack Obama events - while the President is drawing a fraction of what he did during that campaign.  The enthusiasm of the GOP, and Independents, to vote next week far closer to 2010 than it is to 2006 or 2008 levels.

In the states with early voting, where Barack Obama built huge leads in 2008, we're seeing the Democrat early voting numbers trailing badly behind the 2008 levels - while GOP early voting in Ohio and other states are at levels well above that of GOP early voting in 2008.  All of this points to a turnout model that is far closer to 2010 than 2008.

Another internal of note in most of these polls is the size of the lead that Mitt Romney has in terms of gaining support of Independents / unaffiliated voters.  In many polls, this is a double digit lead - and a huge change from 2008 where Barack Obama won Independents by 8 points on his way to a 53 - 46 popular vote victory.

The gender gap is also showing a major change from 2008 to the present.  This is another area where Barack Obama built a huge lead on the way to his victory - but in most polls today, the gender gap is just single digits - well below the 2008 levels.

I've often asked the question about these polls - how can Barack Obama be ahead by 1-3 points if he is losing Independents by 10 or 15 without some serious questions around the modeling / weighting used by the pollster.

That's the condition we are in today - particularly as the internals of polls around the 'firewall' states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Ohio are showing the same patterns.  It is why I remain very confident towards my last analysis - and still a little surprised with how quickly Michigan and Pennsylvania are turning against the President.

The President, despite the confidence being projected by his campaign team, is in real trouble.  They are focusing on trying to maximize the turnout of their base - the union members and minorities - to counter the cascade towards changing direction in the WH.  But the motivation is all about fear - fear of what a Romney Administration will do - and a fear that got widely reduced from Mitt's strong debate performances and his focus on the future vision as opposed to continued negative attacks on the President.

This may surprise many and be far closer to 1980 in terms of a rebuttal of Obama's leadership.  I don't think this will be a squeaker in any measure - despite the hype being offered by the media.  Mitt Romney and the GOP are going to outspend Barack Obama and the DNC by at least 3 to 1 this last week - and much of that message will be on the President's failure to lead us out of the economic challenges and on Romney's vision and plan to do just that.

Where my worries are the largest remain in the Senatorial races - and the importance for the GOP to get 51 seats in the Senate.  Without this, and putting Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer on the back bench, little will change as they will be in near open war with a Romney White House and the House of Representatives.

There are going to be three main focuses that historians will have regarding the Barack Obama Presidency.  One will be on the hubris and cult of personality that grew over the last 4 years.  Another will be regarding the President's agenda and policies which promoted and damaged the economy.  But the final note will be the number and scope of scandals around this Administration which touted itself to be the 'most open and transparent' in the history of this nation.

Nearly every major department in the Executive Branch has had at least one scandal - with the Department of Energy, Department of Justice, EPA, Department of HHS, and Department of Homeland Security leading the way.  But the latest scandal is also going to rank right there with 'Fast and Furious' as one of the most contemptuous.  This is the scandal related to the Administrations actions before, during, and after the September 11, 2012 terror attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya which resulted in the death of the US Ambassador to Libya, a State Department official, and two former USN Seals who were members of a private security team in Benghazi.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, the 'official' line from the Administration that this was just like the public demonstration against the US that took place earlier in the day in Cairo - allegedly prompted by an obscure 14 minute You Tube video that was claimed by fundamentalist Muslims to be blasphemy.

More than once, Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State released / made statements that the video was the cause - that the US did not condone the video, but that our principle of free speech permitted such a video to be made.  According to the father of one of the victims, the SecState promised him that the person responsible for the creation of the video would stand trial for his act which directly resulted in death of the 4 Americans.

The UN Ambassador to the UN, did the dog and pony trip through all of the Sunday morning talk / news programs just 5 days after the attack vehemently denying that the attacks were terrorism against the US, and that the violence came from a demonstration motivated by the Mohammed video that 'got carried away'.

Barack Obama also promoted this line - referencing 5 times during his speech to the United Nations the following week the video which 'ignited' the angst of Muslims.  As late as September 25th, while appearing in a fluff interview on The View, the President persisted in denying that the attack was premeditated and insisting that it was the result of Muslims being insulted by the video.

All this time, senior members of the Administration also promised that the country would work to bring those responsible for the death of the four Americans to justice - and that a full and complete investigation would be undertaken over the event.

But none of the Administration's stories or promises are honest or accurate.

Not only were the US Consulate grounds in Benghazi not immediately secured in the aftermath of the attack - but investigators did not arrive on the scene for over three weeks.  Visa problems we're told.

On August 15 and earlier in the day on September 11, cables were sent from the US Ambassador to Libya that referenced the Benghazi facilities were under-protected - and without adequate security.  Libyan security was inexperienced and unreliable - with evidence that several members were apparently collecting intelligence for a potential attacker.  The cables noted two specific terror organizations that were comprised of Muslim fundamentalists and anti-US - including the direct connection of one of these to al-Qaeda.  They also noted intelligence that an attack was imminent and likely to take place - and that Libyan government forces would not be able to assist - as they couldn't defend their own interests in the town.  Finally, there was the history of previous attacks against the US and other Western nation's interests in the previous months.

With all of this, not only was no action taken to increase security or protection, but security forces in Libya were reduced.

On the night of the attack, we were told that the information was confusing - a demonstration from which unknown attackers emerged.  But now we know that the Consulate was in real time contact with Washington DC.  An unarmed Predator drone circled overhead observing.  That the attack took place over nearly 8 hours - from 9:40pm at night to nearly 5am at the Consulate and an Annex building about a mile away where survivors from the Consulate fled to.

We now know that between 150 and 200 armed persons (terrorists) supported with mortars, RPG's, and machine guns made the attack on the Annex.  During this attack, 2 former USN Seals took to the roof to defend the facility - manning a heavy machine gun and on the radio with both US forces in Europe and Washington DC - calling for assistance, calling for air support, and even using a target designator on the enemy mortar positions to facilitate an accurate air support strike.  These warriors died on that roof - still fighting when wounded and until their ammunition was exhausted.

We've got pictures of Barack Obama in the WH Situation Room during Sandy - but none of the President during this terror attack.  The WH and Defense Department claims that the State Department never shared with them the request for the additional security forces.  We have reports that the WH / DoD ordered local forces to stand down - not go to the rescue or support of those being attacked...but who actually issued that order?  During the attack, the CounterTerrror group was not mobilized - and their situation room was not utilized.  Aircraft and fast response teams only 480 miles away were told to stand down.

According to the WH / Obama campaign, Libya is one of the successes of the 'Arab Spring'.  They've elected a democratic and non-Islamist government.  US military units along with those of France and Britain, played a major role in ending the Qaddafi regime.  No US lives were lost in assisting the replacement of the Qaddafi regime.  This is, therefore, also one of the major successes of the Barack Obama foreign policy.

But for political purposes - to continue the facade of this 'major success' - US security was decreased.  Warnings by our own people, our diplomats, on the ground, were ignored - for political expediency.  Just as this Administration calls Major Nidal Hassan's terror attack in Ft. Hood, TX 'workplace violence', this was yet another Islamic terrorist attack on the US by a reconstituting al-Qaeda.  But admission of a reconstituting al-Qaeda or of a successful terror attack against the US, works against the political aims of Barack Obama.

So for several weeks, senior Administration members tried to spin the attack as something it was not.  All for political expediency.

Since 9/11/12 - the Administration has been withholding information and refusing to answer the few questions being asked of them regarding the Benghazi terror attack.  Not only that - but our Administration also issued orders not to assist those under attack and is covering that up.

This goes beyond simple incompetence - of which there is plenty based on bad decisions, or myopic decisions affected by a rose colored glasses view of the world.  This Administration let people die - who might not have otherwise needed to die - and then are actively trying to cover their complicity up in this all for political expediency.  Then on top of this, we have the vast majority of the Fourth Estate, drinking the Administration's kool-aid and ignoring their responsibility to the American people - and the victims - to demand the truth and accountability.

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