Monday, November 05, 2012

Election Prediction: Obama Hangs on 281-257. Romney Wins Popular Vote.

It's not going to happen this year.  At least I don't think so.

 I know that some conservatives are extremely bullish about Mitt Romney's prospects in Tuesday's election. many have gone as far as to predict a Romney landslide that includes carrying Pennsylvania and Michigan.  But, I just don't see it.

 I see it as very likely that Mitt Romney loses on November 6th. But I think there is a very good chance that he wins the popular vote, which would make the election a no confidence vote in President Obama while at the same time keeping him in office for another 4 years.

 I hope I'm wrong, of course.  If Romney pulls this off I'll be so happy that I wo n't even mind eating crow on Wednesday. But the current polling in the swing states suggests an Obama victory.

If , the polls are to be believed, that is.

Among my co-workers there is a conventional wisdom that the polls are overestimating the Democratic turnout on Election Day while not taking conservative enthusiasm into account.  This may be true.  I hope it is.  The polls that have the election essentially tied: CNN,  ABC/Washington Post, NBC Rasmussen and CBS/NYT are each using a sample estimates a 4 or 5-point Democratic turnout advantage on Election Day. (A poll released by CNN this afternoon uses a Dem +11 sample) 

Why they are doing so is unclear.  We really have no way of telling whether these polling firms skew their polls using specific turnout models or whether their polling is simply finding a consistent party identification advantage for Democrats.

Either way, each polling firm has a vested interest in getting the final prediction as close to the actual vote as possible.  There's no reason for them to inflate the sample group intentionally in order to favor one party or another.

Some who are confident of  a Romney win point to his lead among self-described "Independents,"  a lead that he has held consistently in every poll. Some have been saying that even if there is a four point turnout advantage for Democrats, there's no way that Romney could win Independents by more than 8-points and not win the popular vote. 

But I view the independent number as being slightly misleading.  First of all, the terms "Independent" and "moderate" are not necessarily interchangeable.  In fact, my guess is that an unusually large percentage of these Independent voters are very conservative. 

Starting in 2008, there was a visible swing of self-identified Republicans abandoning the GOP label and moving to the Independent column.  This group of conservatives had no love for President Obama, to be sure.  But they also pinned a significant amount of blame for the nation's troubles on what they saw as profligate spending by Republicans during the years of George W. Bush.  This group of self-described "Independent" voters is now better known as the Tea Party. 

Because of this I'm guessing that the sample size of "Republicans" in these polls is lower than the number of conservatives who would never even consider casting a ballot for Barack Obama.  This lowers the expected "Republican" turnout, but raises Romney's numbers among "Independents." 

Another sign that the polls may be off and that Mitt Romney may be in for a big night is that he seems to be running more strongly than expected among early voters.

The Obama campaign put a great deal of effort into getting as many of their supporters as possible to the polls prior to election day. At this point, though, it would appear that Obama's early vote totals are down compared to 2008 while Romney's are well above John McCain's--This despite a far greater emphasis on early voting from Team Obama than in their previous electoral win.

Despite these outliers, I still view a victory for Mitt Romney as unlikely.  Republicans would have to absolutely swamp the Democrats in voter turnout in the swing states for Romney to win.  As it stands now,  it might be close.  But it won't be enough.

The truth is that Romney could have very well won this election, particularly after his dominant debate performance on October, 3.  Unfortunately, Obama got extremely lucky in the "October Surprise" category.  

The mainstream media absolutely refused to cover the myriad of contradictory statements and changing storylines coming from the Administration on Benghazi.  It may be the most blatant example of media bias by omission in our nation's history.  Had media outlets--other than Fox News--covered the story as the grave failure of leadership that it actually was, Obama would be packing his bags tomorrow night.

Then Sandy hit. 

It wasn't as if Obama or his administration actually did anything substantive in response to Sandy.  But Obama showed up for the photo-op.  This gave Obama an idiot-proof opportunity to do something that he hadn't done in a long time: Appear presidential. 

The storm response was probably enough to push Obama's surly debate persona out of people's minds.  This likely sealed the deal for him in the swing states that were leaning towards him anyway, but where Romney was still polling within the margin of error. 

So my prediction is that Romney gets very close in the popular vote and may win it.  Percentage wise I'm guessing:

Romney 49%
Obama 48.5%

But the Electoral Map looks like this:

Incumbency is a powerful force in presidential elections.  Only twice in the 200 years since the two party system has been the norm, has an incumbent party been kicked out of the White House after only four years.  The first time was when Grover Cleveland lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888. (We all remember that crazy race.)  The next time it happened was, of course, in 1980, when Reagan beat Carter.

But defeating an incumbent president is extremely rare. Conservatives should keep that in mind and realize that Romney is trying to accomplish something that almost never happens in American politics. 

As much as I hate to say it, my guess is that this election is going to look a lot like 2004 in which the incumbent hangs on in a divided electorate. 

Of course, I could be wrong.  For the country's sake, let's hope that I am. 

- Dan

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Some Thoughts On Debate #2

Here are some thoughts on what to watch for in tonight's' debate.

Despite the fact that the race is a virtual tie--yes the polls are accurate, and I'd argue they always have been--the momentum is still in Romney's direction.  If Romney gives a performance as dominant as the one he gave two weeks ago, the election may be over.  Every point in the polls is so valuable right now that a lead of 2 or 3% will be very difficult to overcome.  Undecideds are just LOOKING for an excuse to vote for Romney.  But they are still not entirely convinced.  A second, clear debate win could seal the deal for them.  

That being said, a repeat performance of the first debate will be difficult to achieve for several reasons.

First, everyone expects for Obama to come out swinging.  He's going to go on offense.  Obama may pull a Biden and simply filibuster, interrupting and talking over Romney thus, preventing him from responding to his attacks.  This tactic is rude and is not at all presidential, but it may work. Aggressiveness is often mistaken for strength and can shift focus away from the substance of what a candidate is saying.  Romney needs to keep the energy at Obama's level while at the same time avoid appearing mean or unlikable.  That's a tall order for Romney who has likability problems, but made huge strides in overcoming that negative perception in the first debate. Keeping Obama on the defensive over Benghazi for as long as possible will help as well.

Next, the debate format favors Obama.  This president does one thing well.  One thing.  He gives great speeches.  That's it. It's his only discernible talent. The town hall format allows a candidate to grab the mic and talk directly to the people in the audience.  So he can rely far more on the prepared talking points that failed him in the last debate.  He doesn't have to respond to a moderator or directly to Romney.  He can give a series of short speeches and that plays to Obama's strengths.  It is unclear how Romney will perform in this environment.

Finally, assuming a draw or a slight Romney victory,  Romney's spin team must be super-aggressive in getting the word out on why their candidate prevailed.  Obama surrogates and allies in the MSM understand that their guy is on the ropes. So even if Obama spends the entire debate drooling on himself while reciting nursery rhymes--which would be awesome--expect Team Obama to go over the top in proclaiming how great he was and how badly he beat Romney.  Even if it's not true.

If an incumbent president stumbles in the first debate, the second is usually where he regains his footing.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan knocked out Walter Mondale after having a poor first debate with one line.

George W. Bush put forth a solid performance against John Kerry in the second debate vastly improving on his lackluster performance a week earlier.

But neither of those second debates were preceded by one in which the challenger dominated the sitting president the way Mitt Romney did two weeks ago.  

If Romney get's lucky and Obama stumbles or doesn't bring his "A" game, he could gain more steam and build a nearly insurmountable lead by weeks end.  But the bar is super-low for Obama tonight.  If he improves on his performance, the bleeding will be stopped and we're back to dead heat.  If he dominates Romney, Obama could get his post-convention lead back.  If that happens, then Romney is in big trouble.

- Dan Joseph

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Reading Presidential Polls

Obviously there's a long way to go. But there's no reason why you can't have some fun watching the trends in terms of who has the advantage between Obama and Romney.

 Real Clear Politics has a nifty little tracker that shows the results of every major poll that has been taken that week.

But which polls are the most accurate? Well, if you take the results of the 2008 election where Obama won the popular vote by 7.3% and then compare them to the last polls taken before Election Day, here's the breakdown.

 Rassmussen/Pew - Obama by 6%
 Fox News/CNN/Ipsos - Obama by 7%
 NBC/WSJ/IDB - Obama By 8%
 CBS/Marist/ABC - Obama by 9%
 Gallup/Reuters/CSPAN/Zogby/NYT - Obama by 11%

 If you want a historical perspective examining how all of the incumbent president's were faring during their days in office, this USA Today gadget is awesome.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Obama’s Greatest Failure is Leadership. Not Policies.

Ask yourself this. Can you think of a single time over the course of Barack Obama’s three year presidency, when he has shown true leadership?

Do a quick inventory of the major events that occurred on his watch. Ruminate over the fights he has waged and the way in which he has waged them. You may like the president personally. You may be ideologically simpatico with him. However, I would guess that even his most ardent apologists would have to ponder for quite a while before they could come up with an example of true, executive leadership in this president’s record.

Never has Barack Obama successfully rallied the American people behind one of his policy initiatives. To the contrary, when it came to selling his signature piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act, there appeared to be a noticeable negative correlation between the number of speeches Obama would give in support of the bill and the percentage of the American public who supported its passage. Every time Obama talked, fewer people liked his ideas.

What made the president’s inability to rally support behind Obamacare even more staggering was that he was selling it to the American people based on blatantly false talking points, such as the idea that ACA would reduce the deficit and that anyone who liked their current health care plan would be able to keep that plan after the bill went into effect. If you’re going to lie you might as well do it convincingly enough so that it achieves your desired goals.

Despite a federal debt rapidly approaching Athenian levels due to out of control entitlement spending, not a single time has the president proposed a serious policy solution or even sounded a much needed alarm concerning the future of Social Security and Medicare.

Instead, the president has put his public focus on tax increases that would not come anywhere close to solving the problem.

He allowed his party, which had huge majorities in both houses at the time, to punt on its basic responsibility of passing a budget, simply to protect the party from electoral losses which ended up happening anyway. Gridlock is a reasonable excuse for inaction. Cowardice is not.

At the beginning it was almost understandable that a president taking over in the midst of economic uncertainty would focus on the fact that he didn’t cause the initial problem. But to continue to blame your predecessor three years later—whether warranted or not—is poor leadership no matter how you slice it. Particularly from a president who campaigned on promises to bring America together.

If Obama had divided the nation unintentionally, simply by standing on principle, that would be understandable. However, this president has pitted Americans against each other intentionally and for no other reason than to gain a political advantage over his opponents. How else can one characterize firing rhetorical bullets at straw men labeled “Republican” who would leave children with Down syndrome to “fend for themselves” and creating a fantasy narrative in which the gains for those at the top have come at the expense of the poor and in which the fortunes of the poor would rise if only those at the top were not so selfish.

There are arguably two occasions on which President Obama has flirted with something that could arguably pass as courageous presidential leadership. The first was his speech following the Gabby Giffords shooting, in which he rightfully admonished the Left for politicizing the tragedy. Of course, this only came after giving his allies on the Left a full, uninterrupted week to push the false narrative that right wing rhetoric had caused the tragedy.

The other example was authorizing the successful assassination of Osama Bin Laden--a call that was a no-brainer, regardless of the political risk that came with it, which in that case was minimal.

Perhaps it’s time to reassess what the office of the presidency is supposed to be. Is it simply another co-equal branch of government aimed at achieving narrow ideological goals or is it something more? Does the president have a responsibility to rise above the permanent campaign and take the political hits that come with making unpopular but necessary decisions? Does the chief executive have a responsibility to mend rifts, solve real problems and unite a country behind a common purpose or is the office of the presidency simply a means to achieve a place in history by doing as little harm as possible over the course of an 8-year period?

Right now we are a nation with no common purpose. As much as some would like to blame the two-party system for this fact, the truth is that the President of the United States is the only political figure in the nation with the power to move us towards that goal. Whether you agree with his ideological bent or not, there is little doubt that President Obama has failed the leadership test in almost every measure.

- Dan Joseph

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Whopper That Should Have Been Politifact's "Lie of the Year"

I don’t envy the journalists responsible for choosing Politifact’s “Lie of the Year.” Sifting through an entire year’s worth of remarks from the mouths of elected officials is undoubtedly a massive undertaking. I’m sure this year was no exception.

Then, once the “lie” in question is decided upon, Politifact’s editors must deal with the inevitable whining from the individual or group which propagated the winning “lie” in the first place and who now come forward to defend the original statement.

This year Politifact chose well.

As this year’s biggest whopper Politifact chose the patently false assertion, repeatedly made by Democratic politicians and liberal groups, that Republicans were going to “end Medicare” and that Republican policy proposals would reduce benefits to today’s senior citizens. By highlighting this falsehood Politifact brought attention to one of the great political lies, not just of the year, but of the last half century.

But as outrageous as it is, that particular lie--often accompanied by a video that shows an actor portraying Rep. Paul Ryan throwing a wheelchair bound grandmother off of a cliff--isn’t the one that should have received the “Lie of the Year” distinction.

The “award” should have been bestowed on the following statement by socialist Senator Bernie Sanders:

“This country does in fact have a serious deficit problem. But the reality is that the deficit was caused by two wars — unpaid for. It was caused by huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country. It was caused by a recession as result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street. And if those are the causes of the deficit, I will be damned if we’re going to balance the budget on backs of the elderly, the sick, the children, and the poor. That’s wrong.”

Sanders wasn’t the first leftist to promote this baseless theory, but his face is attached to a widely circulated internet meme featuring his quote, so for the purposes of this article we’re going to use him as the lie’s symbolic godfather.

In actuality, the lie that our soaring debt was caused by the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq really began with this New York Times chart and was soon adopted by the White House. It then rapidly became a standard liberal talking point and the basis for excusing away the rapid accumulation of debt under president Obama.

And why not? Over the last three years the Democratic Party has sustained itself almost exclusively using the big lie that all of our current problems stem from the actions of the prior administration. Why stray from this demonstrably successful formula?

Of course, the claim is totally bogus.

The reality is while there was a slight uptick in the debt immediately after George W. Bush entered office, the debt as a percentage of GDP remained remarkably stable for the majority of Bush’s two terms. It flat-lined at around 60% of GDP and stayed that way until the economic crisis hit in 2008. That’s pretty much the area the debt had remained since the presidency of George H.W. Bush. In fact, the Bush II debt level remained lower than the debt-to-GDP ratio that existed for the majority of Bill Clinton’s two terms in office.

Only when the financial crisis hit did the debt soar to nearly 80% of GDP. Both the Bush tax cuts and the War on Terror have been in effect since 2001. If the Left’s claims about the debt were true then we would have seen a steady increase in the debt as a percentage of GDP prior to the financial crisis. That didn’t happen.

The truth is that America’s newfound debt comes almost exclusively from the rapid decline in growth that came with the financial crash of 2008 as well as the implementation of TARP, the Obama stimulus, automatic spending increases that occur when more Americans qualify for government benefits and across-the-board, long-term spending increases generated by President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

But this accurate narrative didn’t fit the Democrats’ simplistic class warfare strategy. So they cherry-picked the two Bush-era policies they liked the least and pinned the bulk of the debt increase on the impact of those two policies.

Of course, if we’re going to use the Bernie Sanders standard, it would also be logical to claim that ANY government expenditure over a certain amount that occurred prior to the large debt increase was in fact responsible for the debt increase itself.

Why not blame the spike in the debt on the expenditures which are our nation’s largest to begin with? Those would be Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the annual interest of the debt itself. Every single one of these eats up a far greater chunk of government cash on an annual basis than ten years of the War on Terror or the Bush tax cuts. But that wouldn’t fit into the Left’s ‘blame it on the Republicans at all costs’ narrative, now would it?

Therefore, given that the debt has been the focus of the national political conversation over the last three years, THIS was the lie that Politifact’s editors should have labeled with the “Lie of the Year” distinction.

Awarding this dubious honor to the debt claim would have been particularly appropriate since it appears that the lie has worked.

According to polls by the Pew Research Center, those who blame our debt problem on the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan far outnumber those who blame the recession or the Obama Administration’s feckless spending increases.

Politifact deserves credit for finally calling out the Democrats for their perennial lies concerning Republican plans for reforming entitlements. But they really should have considered the debt lie fire, which has spread from the pants of one liberal to another over the past year.

- Dan Joseph

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Cain Train Wreck

When Herman Cain won the Florida Straw Poll, I updated my Facebook status to read: “Herman Cain has officially peaked.” Over the next few weeks, Cain rose to frontrunner status and it appeared that I had grossly miscalculated Cain’s appeal. Despite Cain’s recent surge, I stand by my initial statement. Ever since his Florida victory, Cain has performed dismally as a candidate. He has made a series of gaffes and missteps that should give serious pause to every conservative considering casting their vote for Mr. Cain.

One week after winning in Florida, Cain found himself rising quickly in almost every opinion poll. It appeared that his rising numbers were coming at the expense of Texas Governor Rick Perry, whose poor debate performances had disappointed many conservatives who had viewed him as the GOP’s best hope to unite Tea Party activists and establishment conservatives.

On October 1st, those intrepid reporters at the Washington Post decided that an old rock at the Perry family hunting ground that once had a racially insensitive name etched on it was front page news. It was a typical hit piece from a typical left-wing media outlet. But, when Cain was asked about the matter, he decided to play the race card--seemingly out of instinct.

"Since Gov. Perry has been going there for years to hunt, I think that it shows a lack of sensitivity for a long time of not taking that word off of that rock and renaming the place,”
he told ABC's This Week.

Yes, it was painted over," he said. "But how long ago was it painted over? So I'm still saying that it is a sign of insensitivity."

Time after time over the last three years conservatives have been demonized with accusations of racism by defenders of President Obama. We don’t like it. For Cain to adopt this tactic with such ease, when there was no evidence of any racial insensitivity on Perry’s part, was a sign that Cain shared the reflexive, race based world view that has outraged conservatives for decades.

But little was said by conservatives concerning Cain’s attack. This was disheartening but understandable given that the Tea Party’s honeymoon phase with Cain had just begun.

A few days later in an interview with the Wall Street Journal Cain said this in response to a question about the Occupy Wall Street protesters who had recently converged in Zuccotti Park.

"Don't blame Wall Street. Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself. It is not someone's fault if they succeeded, it is someone's fault if they failed.”

Still enjoying the honeymoon, conservatives did not bat an eye at this boneheaded and insensitive statement. Despite the fact that Cain had just handed an incredible piece of general election fodder to the Obama campaign. But, conservatives defended the statement, either as being mostly true or as an example of Cain’s refreshing propensity not to mince words as more polished politicians so often do.

In his first debate as a top tier candidate, Cain was put on the defensive concerning his 9-9-9 economic plan. The plan itself is undeniably an improvement over the status quo. But Cain seemed incapable of defending it against the barrage of attacks and downright misrepresentations launched by his fellow candidates. Cain drifted into a confused non-defense of the plan citing “apples and oranges” instead of numbers and failed to illustrate the simplicity that he had previously bragged about as 9-9-9’s most attractive feature.

Given the fact that 9-9-9 is the centerpiece--and really the sole talking point—of the Cain campaign, his inability to defend it should have once again caused conservatives to reassess their consideration of Cain as the best candidate to face Barack Obama. They did not. Cain’s meteoric rise in the polls continued.

He performed a similarly confusing dance around the abortion issue in an interview a little more than a week later week, waffling horribly on when he would support exceptions to his pro-life stance in a way that would make Mitt Romney blush.

Next came the bizarre commercial starring a cigarette puffing Cain campaign advisor and ending with a bizarre profile of a smiling Cain, set to patriotic music that sounded as though it was recorded in the early 1980’s. While the video went viral, the video made Cain’s campaign look amateurish and weird.

Fast forward to the last few days. The recent sex scandal plaguing Cain may be an irrelevant smear leaked by a political nemesis. But, despite having ten days notice that Politico was going to run with the story Cain appeared to have no idea how to handle it when it broke.

The man, who had built his campaign on not being a typical politician, repeatedly evaded the question exactly the way a typical politician would when asked about the matter. His inconsistent answers have given the appearance of a cover up which is almost always worse than the actual crime in the political world.

Then, when speaking at the National Press Club about this scandal, Cain inexplicably burst into song. A move that can only be described as clownish for someone running for the nation’s highest office and undeniably a bizarre spectacle, far outside of the realm of what most Americans consider to be “presidential” behavior.

Finally, on Tuesday’s edition of Special Report with Brit Hume, panelist Charles Krauthammer decided to test Cain. Krauthammer lobbed a softball at Cain asking him if he thought the sexual harassment charges were racially motivated.

Cain took the bait and once again played the race card. He played it unabashedly and with no regard for the facts.

“I believe the answer is yes, but we do not have any evidence to support it,”
Cain answered.

It’s understandable that after years of having the race card played against us, conservatives would want to give the left a taste of its own medicine. But, despite this urge, Cain’s answer makes us all look like hypocrites and needs to be roundly condemned. Conservatives should not resort to Democratic tactics and this is one of the most egregious and maddening. An African American running for president must not use race as a crutch when attacked. It is a divisive and usually dishonest way of slandering one’s opponents. Shockingly, Barack Obama was quite disciplined in his refusal to cite racism as a factor when asked about attacks leveled against him in 2008. Cain could learn a thing or two from Obama’s successful campaign in which he appeared “post-racial”—a trait that was very appealing to Independent voters.

Herman Cain is a fascinating and likeable guy. He is certainly not a politician and yes, his popularity among the most conservative members of the Republican base completely debunks the myth of a racially insensitive GOP that has been a left wing narrative for so long.

But these are lousy reasons to support a presidential candidate. At this point, Cain’s lack of political polish is becoming more of a liability than an asset. It will almost certainly be a problem if Cain is faced with the unrelenting attacks of a desperate Obama machine next year.

After a month of gaffes and mistakes, it’s time for conservatives to jump off the Cain Train.

-Dan Joseph

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Friday, September 09, 2011

Debate Tips For Rick Perry

On Wednesday night Rick Perry took a huge step toward becoming the Republican presidential nominee. While his performance in his first GOP debate will not become the stuff of conservative legend, it was good enough. He did not embarrass himself with gaffes. He was articulate and there were no signs of the below-average intellect that those on the left have been telling us about for the last few weeks. Simply put, he appeared presidential.

It is worth noting that Rick Perry does not have much debate experience. Some of his past gubernatorial campaigns in Texas have not even included debates. He can be forgiven if he is rusty in the debate limelight the first time around. However, he can not survive if he does not improve on Wednesday’s performance as it included gaping holes that could easily be exploited. Not necessarily by Mitt Romney, but almost certainly by President Obama.

The defining moment of the Perry debate performance was when he took on the issue of Social Security. Perry restated his position from his oft-cited book ‘Fed Up’ calling the program as it now stands a Ponzi scheme(it is) and insisting that the plan absolutely must be reformed if it is to survive (it must).

Generally, any time a Republican so much as mentions possible changes to America’s most beloved entitlement program, Democrats are quick to demagogue that statement and use it to beat the GOP over the head until the political career of the person who said it is over.

Perry bravely and openly talked about the flawed nature of the program and sure enough, within minutes of his statement the Romney campaign issued a press release claiming that Perry was “…committed to abolishing Social Security.”
First and foremost, Mitt Romney should be ashamed of himself for twisting Perry’s position and politicizing this important issue. That’s the kind of behavior that we expect from Democrats and from the “career politicians” that Romney has been railing against in his stump speeches as of late.

But Perry needs to be very careful on this subject. Even if he beats back Romney, the Obama campaign will undoubtedly engage in even more vicious and misleading assaults on Perry’s position in the general election campaign.

Over the next few months, Perry must drive home the idea that he does not want to abolish the program and that the baby boomers will not see any changes to their benefits. Furthermore he must be careful not to give any specifics about his plan to reform the program. At least not until Barack Obama does the same, which is unlikely to happen at all. Any specifics, no matter what they are, will be twisted and deformed by Obama until every senior in the nation has been so terrified that there is a nationwide shortage of adult diapers.

Slightly less consequential was Perry’s answer on global warming. Like a growing number of Americans, Perry is skeptical of the nature and severity of climate change. Due to the current economic situation and legislative realities, no significant action on global warming is likely to occur any time soon. It’s a largely moot issue. Nonetheless, Perry’s skepticism will be used by Democrats—and Jon Huntsman apparently—to brand Perry as anti-science.

The next time the issue comes up, instead of countering with the issue of jobs as he tried to do on Wednesday night, Perry should specifically address some of the reasons for his skepticism.

He could bring up the now infamous East Anglia emails in which scientists were discussing the possibility of rigging global warming data in order to cover for the inaccuracy of climate models.

He might also mention the new findings of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) whose scientists have demonstrated a relationship between cosmic rays, solar variations and changes in the Earth's surface temperature, which could be proven to far exceed the impact of carbon emissions.

Or he might simply point out the consistent failure of climate models to back up the predictions of climate alarmists throughout the years.

Bringing up these points will not only allow Perry to appear thoughtful and informed on the matter, but will also force the Obama campaign to either address these uncomfortable inconsistencies on AGW theory or simply ignore the issue altogether.

But one way or the other, it is not enough for Perry to simply tout his skepticism without explaining in some detail why he is skeptical Failure to do so will lend undeserved credibility to the Left’s claim that Perry lacks intellectual curiosity, when in reality this label better describes those who fail to question the inconsistencies of the claims of the climate change alarmists.

Finally, while no one will deny Perry’s ability to look and sound presidential, there were moments in the second half of Wednesday debate where Perry’s answers were broken up with long pauses. These pauses made it appear that Perry was either tired or simply didn’t know what to say Whatever the reason, the habit was reminiscent of some of George W. Bush’s more uncomfortable unscripted moments.

If he hopes to go toe-to-toe with President Obama, Perry needs to be as consistently eloquent in off-the-cuff situations as he has proven to be when giving prepared speeches.

GOP primary voters are looking for a reason to abandon Mitt Romney completely and move their support to the Texas governor. But they will hesitate if they don’t believe that Perry can match Romney when it comes to making a coherent and convincing case for the conservative cause.

- Dan Joseph

Quiet. Grown-ups are talking.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rick Perry and the Secular Center

When Governor Rick Perry threw his hat into the presidential ring, three things happened in quick succession.

First, Perry almost immediately shot to the top of the GOP polls in the race for the Party's nomination.

Next, sensing that Perry was a serious threat to Obama, the Left began trying to discredit Perry’s economic record in Texas. This failed miserably due to a lack of legitimate economic criticisms capable of sticking to the governor. It will continue to fail given the perceptions about the economic record of the current administrations.

Finally, the left and their allies in the media, quickly turned the focus to Perry’s views on social wedge issues.

Global warming, creationism, prayer rallies, gay marriage and abortion are going to be very popular topics of conversation over the next few months and the focus will come about as an effort by the Left to diminish Rick Perry’s appeal to the secular center.

The “secular center”--a term that you are probably unfamiliar with since I just coined it -- are an increasingly important group of independent minded voters who tend to be young and came out in big numbers for Barack Obama in 2008.

This group—along with 75% of their fellow Americans—have determined that Barack Obama has failed miserably in his economic stewardship. Understandably, they have begun to instinctively tune out Obama when he begins to talk economics in the same way that they tuned out George W. Bush when he was talking about Iraq after 2005.

But, on certain matters, the secular center is still capable of being swayed or, scared really, into putting a clothespin on their nose and voting for Obama a second time, despite all the evidence that Obama is about as competent as president as some of us expected a former community organizer would be.

Like I said before, the secular center is largely made up of young adults.

They attend church rarely, if at all.

They find the idea of creationism absurd.

They do not see any adverse affects to society if gays are allowed to marry each other.

They may sympathize with the pro-life point of view but don’t feel that abortion is tantamount to murder.

In recent years, the secular center has become very wary and at times annoyed by Americans who wear their religion on their sleeves. In a society increasingly driven by science and technology, they view the idea that a 2000 year old book written by men who claimed to speak to God via shrubbery is not necessarily a reliable source. At least not from a fact based, analytical perspective.

So when an individual running for our nation’s highest office starts talking about these matters in the same breath as economic and foreign policy, it’s a big turn-off to the secular centrists.

But in reality, the decision to vote against a candidate based on his or her belief in creationism is as backwards as the belief in creationism itself.

Whoever gets elected president in 2012, the likelihood of substantive changes to controversial social policies that come from the federal government is slim to none.

There will be no constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The national debate on this matter has effectively ended and any further changes to the definition of marriage will be determined on a state by state basis.

Even if Roe V. Wade is overturned, under the most extreme scenario, abortion will remain legal in most states, particularly in more secular states.

Whether Global Warming is a true threat to humanity or not, the issue is dead. There will be no significant action taken on climate change regardless of who holds the White House. There is no appetite in this country for any of the proposed changes. The Climate alarmists have lost.

Is it possible that some schools will teach creationism in conjunction with evolution? Sure. But, so what? The President of the US has no say in what our children learn on this matter to begin with.

One could argue that the religious views that evangelicals tend to hold on this matter will set a bad example for children across America if one of their own is President. However thus far into the Obama presidency, children have not adopted the view that AIDS was introduced into the black community by the US government, a theory for which Barack Obama’s pastor of 20 years was a strong advocate.

On the opposite side of the coin, the president has great power to alter economic policy which affects these secular centrists and every one of their fellow Americans in a very direct way.

As president, Perry can, and will dramatically alter the economic agenda set down by the current administration.

His record as governor is better than that of any other executive in the country in terms of job creation, which is our nation’s most pressing problem and one which has the current president completely and utterly flummoxed.

He will dismantle Obamacare, thus saving the nation trillions of dollars in the long term.

He will overturn the onerous regulations put in place by the various agencies under Obama’s control, which are already crippling American businesses.

And this is where secular conservatives and even social conservatives who understand the importance of the upcoming election need to begin making a pro-conservative case to those on the secular center, who will play a significant role in deciding this election.

The secular centrists need to understand that the decision to base their vote on cultural wedge issues rather than on substantive economic policy matters in this election could very well doom the United States to four more years of economic malaise. Malaise which will be increasing difficult to emerge from, even after the Obama era has passed.

It will postpone action on entitlement and tax reforms that are absolutely essential if we are to get the debt under control and ensure that Social Security and Medicare survive for the next generation.

Rick Perry and his fellow Republican presidential contenders understand that they must win over socially conservative voters in order to win the nomination. I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that at times this means saying some things about the origins of the Earth and human sexuality that they know not to be true.

But these candidates must pay lip service to those who are true believers in these ideas, or sacrifice any chance at receiving the Republican nomination, thus also sacrificing their chance to right the current administration’s wrongs and save the nation.

Every secular voter should consider that before eliminating someone from consideration solely based on their religious dogma. Or what a candidate SAYS is their religious dogma.

- Dan Joseph

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Obama's Debt Ceiling Dishonesty For Beginners

It's getting really difficult for me to listen to President Obama give speeches--and it was tough to being with. As his poll numbers drop lower and lower it seems that his talking points become more and more dishonest. Last night he was true to form.

It was a short speech, but it wasn't short on whoppers and misleading statements. Here's a sampling:

"For the last decade, we have spent more money than we take in. In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nation’s credit card. As a result, the deficit was on track to top $1 trillion the year I took office."

While it's true that the debt has grown since the year 2000--and before that-- neither the Bush tax cuts or the war in Iraq were the reason that the deficit was " on track to top $1 trillion the year [Obama] took office." The reason for that staggering number was a combination of lowered revenues due to the recession and the money spent on TARP. Prior to that, revenues had been spiking upward and the annual deficit had been dropping for several years.

When touting his own debt reduction "plan" and getting ready to make the comparison to the GOP plan that actually exists, Obama said:

"The first approach says, let’s live within our means by making serious, historic cuts in government spending. Let’s cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President."

This is only true if one views those cuts in the context of the increases that this administration has already made. The administration has hiked annual spending levels. The cuts that are now being proposed simply adjust the spending to levels lower than they are at now. However, the levels will still be higher than they ever have been before. When the President mentions Ike, he is referring to the precipitous drop in spending following World War II. This comparison is misleading and completely irrelevant to our current situation.

"Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach."

At this point, anyone who fully understands the situation should know that even if the deadline passes, America will not default on it's debt obligations. There are more than enough revenues coming in to avoid this scenario and there is no doubt that paying our creditors will be the government's number one priority should the deadline hit.

But, it terms of solely blaming the GOP's "approach" for possible default, it takes two to tango. One could just as easily blame the Administration's seemingly intractable demand that taxes be raised if default were to occur. Which it won't.

"If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks."

Same scare tactic, only this time aimed at scaring a specific constituency. Social Security checks will most certainly be a funding priority should America pass the deadline. Whether the checks go out is the president's decision, but they most certainly will. Again, there will be plenty of revenues to cover this item.

"I realize that a lot of the new members of Congress and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But we were each elected by some of the same Americans for some of the same reasons. Yes, many want government to start living within its means. And many are fed up with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few."

While it's probably true that the president was elected by people who think this way, members of the new GOP congress were elected by people who reject this type of class warfare and realize that the economic problems of the American middle-class are not in any way related to what the tax-rate is for wealthy Americans.

Call me crazy, but I think honesty in times of crisis is an important trait for the leader of the free-world to have. What we have now is something far different. But he still has the bully pulpit. One has to hope that he is as ineffective in using it to sway public opinion in this case as he was when attempting to sell health care reform.

All politicians play loose with the truth. But not to the extent that this one has in such a relatively short period of time.

- Dan Joseph

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Bachmann Trap

Barack Obama is imminently beatable. There’s no question about it. His supporters who claim differently are doing so in an attempt to convince themselves of the president’s invincibility. Not the public at large.

The 2012 election will, almost certainly, play out as presidential elections always do when a sitting president is running for a second term. It will be a referendum on the incumbent. If the economy is weak, voters will be much less likely to give the incumbent an automatic renewal. They will look at the republican alternative and if that alternative is acceptable, many voters and particularly Independents will swing towards the challenger and put him or her in the White House.

Actually, scratch that. Not “her.” No female will be moving into the White House in 2013. The failure of some party members to understand this simple truth is generating big problems for Republicans at the moment.

Tea-Party conservatives are flocking to Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. Bachmann is intelligent, attractive and a rock solid conservative.

She is also gaffe prone, a favorite target for media ridicule and running 14-points behind Barack Obama in her home state.

But Bachmann supporters don’t want to hear it. While they admit that the media is attempting (successfully) to make her seem mentally unstable and radically right wing, Bachmann fans counter that the GOP should not allow the left-wing media to dictate who we choose as our candidate. They also claim that the reason that the media is attempting to demonize Bachmann is because they fear that she would beat Obama. They also theorize that the primary reason that so many “establishment” Republicans dislike her is because she is too conservative.

While, it is unfortunate that the media should have the power to devastatingly vilify politicians who don’t deserve it, the awful truth is that they do have such power. We don’t have to like it, but denying that character assassination actually has an impact on how voters see candidates is akin to believing that a morbidly obese woman could win a bikini contest because she has a wonderful personality.

Because of who Bachmann is, even her slightest most insignificant mistake will be magnified and be given legs in the media. Fair or not, the steady drip of tiny gaffes--some of which would be ignored if uttered by other politicians--will bury Bachman quicker than you can say “John Quincy Adams.”

Sadly, Bachmann is damaged goods. Worse still she plays into the character that the media has painted of her due to a host of inopportune statements and a manner that some find grating. For Republicans to take a pass on Bachmann for these reasons is not allowing the MSM to pick our candidate. It’s understanding the reality that she’s already been rendered unelectable.

In the long run, the Left may live to regret how quickly they set their sights on Rep. Bachmann. Had they gone easier on her when she first appeared on the scene they would have minimized the risk of the conservative movement coming to its senses and realizing how weak of a general election candidate she would be--a message that Democrats got just in time to avoid a disastrous Howard Dean candidacy in 2004.

While no polls are available on the subject, talk to liberal Democrats around the country and their eyes light up when presented with the prospect of a Bachmann nomination. Whether they are right or wrong, Democratic insiders and grassroots liberals alike truly believe that Bachman—in the absence of Sarah Palin-- would be among the easiest GOP candidates to beat. I’m guessing that they’re right.

When presented with this particular argument Bachman supporters make a legitimate point, but for the wrong reasons.

The Tea Party would have us remember that the conventional wisdom was that Ronald Reagan had no chance against Jimmy Carter in 1980--wisdom that proved to be wildly inaccurate.

But, at the time, the reasoning behind the conventional wisdom was that America would not elect someone as conservative as Reagan--thinking that was based on the success of moderate conservatives like Eisenhower and Nixon and the massive defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964.

But, Reagan proved that a true conservative could indeed win and today Republicans almost unanimously believe that another trueconservative could duplicate Reagan’s feat. The objections to Bachmann among conservatives arise not because of her staunch conservatism, but because of all of her other qualities.

Some conservatives--most notably Rush Limbaugh--would have us believe that left-wing media types are so terrified of certain candidates--like Bachmann and Sarah Palin-- that they attempt to destroy them so that Obama can avoid having to face them in a general election. Additionally, Limbaugh thinks that the MSM talks up candidates that they think are the most beatable--guys like Romney, Huntsman and Mitch Daniels.

It’s quite a conspiracy theory. But in all likelihood, Rush is giving liberals in the media way too much credit. It’s far more likely that the folks over at MSNBC or the New York Times simply can’t help themselves when a hated target like Bachmann trips up--the same way that conservatives can’t resist going on the attack anytime Al Gore or Barney Frank open their mouths. It’s like catnip for their audience and these media organizations need to satisfy their base, because it’s pretty much all they’ve got at this point.

In the end, Tea Partiers will hopefully come to understand that while they can change the national conversation and the ideological direction of the GOP, they cannot control the effectiveness and reach of the mainstream media. Nor can they control much of the narrative that gets fed to independent voters who, unfortunately, are not listening to conservative talk radio or tuning into the Fox News Channel in the numbers conservatives would like.

In the end, the best candidate for the GOP is the most conservative candidate who can win the general election. It would be imprudent to nominate a candidate who would cause a huge internal fight between the various segments of the party base at a time when the White House is in reach--particularly if that fight is centered on a candidate’s ability to get elected. A party can withstand an internal ideological battle, but the resentment that would be aimed at the Tea Party if it insists on Bachmann and she proceeds to get trounced would be seismic. If, despite warnings about her electability from party leaders, the base stubbornly goes with Bachman and we lose big, the Tea Party will be blamed and its credibility will evaporate. This would be one of the worst things that could possibly happen if we truly want the conservative ascendancy to continue and prevail.

The message of the Tea Party is vitally important to the future of the conservative movement and to the nation as a whole. Unfortunately, many of the candidates that the Tea party has chosen as messengers have proven incapable of generating mainstream appeal--the kind of appeal that those individuals who have been elected to the White House over the last 50 years have enjoyed. A divisive, three-term congresswoman who has had a huge target on her back for the last two-years is a very unsafe bet.

- Dan Joseph

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Young Voters Sticking with Obama

Bad news. It appears that young voters are sticking with Barack Obama.

Despite the mass exodus of independent voters supporting the President in the two years since his inauguration he has not lost much support from voters between the ages of 18 and 34 over that period.

A recent Quinnipiac poll shows that 57% of voters between the ages of 18-34 currently approve of the president’s job performance. That number has not fluctuated much over the last two years. The same poll shows Obama’s approval among all voters at 46% and his approval among self-described Independents at a dismal 43%. Those numbers have declined significantly since the president took office.

While Obama’s approval rating among younger voters is a bit lower than the 66% of this demographic that voted for him in the 2008 election, the difference is almost insignificant. In a presidential election, voters don’t necessarily have to “approve” of an incumbent president’s job performance in order to support him over his rival.

Even so, at first glance, these latest statistics don’t make a lick of sense. When you examine our country’s current economic situation, young people should be more upset than anyone else about the consequences of the Obama agenda.

The youth unemployment rate remains much higher than the national average. The Democrats’ recent spending binge promises to saddle Generation Y with heaps of new debt and the outlook for the future solvency of Social Security and Medicare looks grim, with the president showing no interest whatsoever in tackling the entitlement behemoth.

So what the hell is going on here?

Are young people such huge supporters of cowboy poetry festivals and stimulus-funded turtle tunnels that they are simply willing to overlook the long-term negative impact of Barack Obama’s harmful economic policies and their disproportionately negative impact on their own demographic?

Not exactly.

The issues have a little bit to do with it. Young people tend to gravitate towards easy to understand issues that have a big emotional component. So Obama’s support for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and his appointment of two, pro-choice women on the Supreme Court have helped.

But in reality Obama’s popularity with young people remains largely intact, not because young people agree with the president on specific issues, but because they are not sufficiently engaged to know that they disagree with him.

The election of 2008 undoubtedly energized young people in an unprecedented way and Obama was the beneficiary of almost all of that energy. It was a season of “American” Idol where the future of the country was at stake and Obama was the star.

Presidential elections are exciting and dramatic. They are filled with larger-than-life characters and come with the prize of leading the greatest nation on Earth (or as liberals call it “America.”). They spark an emotional reaction in the voter that a midterm or local election simply cannot evoke. They are special, occurring only two or three times each decade. Yes, presidential elections are sexy. Policy is not.

The election’s crescendo came when California was called for Obama and thousands of young voters gathered to celebrate in Grant Park. They filled the streets, cheering for the hope and change that they had helped create by working for Obama and endlessly promoting him on Facebook and My Space.

But, once the election was over and sanitation workers were done picking up the heaps of garbage that Obama’s revelers left on the National Mall after the inauguration, most of the young voters who had been so pumped up for the better part of 2008 decided to take a nap.

It was like, ‘Hey! Great party, Barack! See you in four years!’

This disconnect was most evident during the national debate over health care reform. Here we had Obama putting on a full court press in an effort to sell his signature program--the centerpiece of his domestic agenda! But the hordes of young voters who once swooned at the sound of Obama’s majestic oratory and chanted “Yes, We Can” in unison were nowhere to be found. Despite the growing opposition to the bill being expressed at town hall meetings around the nation and the growing Tea-Party movement, Organizing for America was unable to reassemble the masses of young activists who had once constituted Obama’s most loyal apologists.

Instead, the Administration was forced to rely on the same big labor elements and lifelong members of the Democratic Party base that they had used to do the leg work for liberal causes for the past 40 years. As we have seen recently, union members are not necessarily the best spokespeople for complex laws as they tend to yell a lot and get arrested frequently.

When it came to the campaign to sell a massive and difficult-to-understand piece of transformative legislation, Obama's throngs of young supporters were nowhere to be found. Not anywhere near as engaged as when the focus was a simplistic message of “hope and change” emanating from the first African- American with a legitimate chance to win the presidency.

Generation Y’s failure to become actively involved in the health care debate may seem like a positive development on the surface as it could be a sign of Obama losing the support of a dedicated part of his base. But given his approval rating among this group, it is dangerous for conservatives to assume that young voters will not be back in force to support Obama’s coming re-election bid.

The health care debate showed us that Obama’s young foot soldiers are almost entirely disengaged. That’s very dangerous, because if they’re only paying attention during presidential election years, they are not aware of all of the damaging policies that Obama is pushing on the nation. As a result, they will see no reason not to defend their 2008 investment and vote for Obama once again in 2012. Lacking a frame of reference, they will hear the charismatic president tout the realized “change” that he promised four years earlier and not give a thought as to whether that “change” has been positive or not.

For all of his faults, Obama is still a cool character with a ton of charisma. A rockstar, if you will. That’s a very powerful influence on the voter who knows little to nothing about the issues being debated.

And what do Republicans have to offer in response? It’s unclear at this point, but looking at the current slate of prospective candidates there’s no one who can come even close to matching Obama in terms of a style that will intrigue young people.

Gingrich? No way.

Mitch Daniels? Boooooring!

Tim Pawlenty? He’s got all the personality of a piece of toast. And not an interesting kind of toast like rye or pumpernickel. Plain white dry toast.

Romney’s ok, but I don’t think he’s going to get through a GOP primary, carrying the albatross of his Massachusettes health care debacle.

Herman Cain? Who? The pizza guy? You’re dreaming!

The only individual I can think of who would be able to appeal to the young the way Obama has is Senator Marco Rubio and it’s more likely that he will be on the bottom of the GOP ticket than the top.

In 2008 Obama won young voters by a whopping 33% over the elderly John McCain and a running mate who turned off younger voters almost as much as Obama turned them on.
Had McCain and Obama simply split the youth vote 50%-50%, Obama would have only won the popular vote by one-half of one percent putting the Electoral College up for grabs.

It is incredibly unlikely that the GOP candidate will come close to splitting the youth vote with Obama this time around, but with the right candidate and the right message, we may be able to improve on the dismal performance of four years ago.

In the meantime, it’s up to you to get out there and update the young, currently disengaged, Obama voter on what has been going on in Washington for the past two years and why they should “change” once again in 2012.

At this point, it’s not electorally essential that we chip away at Obama’s support among these voters. We can win without them. But in the long run it would seriously behoove us to begin taking appeal to young voters into consideration when we are choosing our standard bearers. If we don’t, we risk permanently ceding a generation of voters to the Democratic Party.

Dan Joseph is a writer for CNS News and the author of Generation Right: The Young Conservative in the Age of Obama. He lives in McLean, Virginia with his cat, Rocky.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Politics or Patriotism? Obama’s Big Entitlement Choice

Harry Reid is no patriot. I say that as one who almost always gives politicians on both sides of the ideological spectrum the benefit of the doubt. Even if I vehemently disagree with them, I assume that they ran for office and serve primarily out of love of country and a desire to make the nation a better place.

Not Reid.

Over the last few years Reid has shown himself to be a purely political animal. First came his 2007 comments proclaiming that the war in Iraq was “lost.” His seeming disregard for how this defeatist rhetoric coming from the leader of the U.S. Senate would affect the morale of troops who were in harm’s way in Iraq was shocking and morally repugnant.

Now Reid has emerged as the titular leader of the “do-nothing” caucus when it comes to Social Security reform. His strategy is two-fold. First, he and his associates hope to convince Americans that there is no threat to the future solvency of Social Security. Second, they seek to convince Americans that any action taken to change Social Security will result in complete destruction of the program immediately upon implementation and would put current retirees at risk.

Only someone blinded by partisanship could actually believe that there is no danger to the long-term solvency of Social Security and Medicare. All of the discussion of the debt and the risks it poses to America’s fiscal future is entirely meaningless unless both parties agree to tackle entitlement reform.

So the G.O.P. is going to try in their upcoming 2012 budget. But they will not be getting any help from Reid and the politically desperate congressional Democrats. It would appear that the only hope of achieving needed reforms is for the president to get on board and shame enough Congressional Democrats into supporting some kind of plan.

Because they are very familiar with the Democrat’s long history of successful demagoguery of the entitlement issue, Republicans are being understandably cautious. So, in an unprecedented show of pre-emptive bipartisanship, the Republican leadership has promised not to politicize entitlement reform for political gain if the President comes forward and is the first to propose a template for changes that would lead to long-term solvency.

There should be little fear of Republicans stabbing the President in the back if he does decide to put something on the table. The conservative base is demanding entitlement reform and has made it very clear that if Boehner and Company don’t take reduction of the debt seriously enough, the Tea-Party will simply stay home in 2012, regardless of the political repercussions. So the entitlement reform ball is now squarely in Barack Obama’s court.

With all eyes on his actions, President Obama, will soon be forced to make a decision that could come to define his presidency. He can either take the traditional Democratic route and shamelessly politicize any Republican efforts to make even minimal changes to Social Security and Medicare. Or, he can throw Reid under the bus and become the President who finally did something about the most serious threat to the nation’s fiscal future.

There is no doubt something very tempting about going with the less patriotic, purely political option. It has a history of paying off.

In 1995 President Clinton successfully vilified very modest cuts to the growth of entitlement spending proposed by Newt Gingrich. He turned the American people against the G.O.P. with dire warnings that Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress would "destroy Medicare" letting the program "wither on the vine." Playing on this fear, Clinton revived his ailing political fortunes and coasted to an easy re-election in 1996.

Coming off a close re-election victory in 2004, President George W. Bush proposed a similarly modest plan to allow younger workers the option of investing a fraction of their Social Security taxes into private accounts. Those classy guys over at the DNC responded to this proposal by creating a cartoon that had the president pushing an old lady off a cliff. Nice. They exhibited no signs of conscience and immediately began making false claims that the plan would rip Social Security benefits away from current retirees, when in fact, the impact of the Bush plan would not have affected any American under the age of 55. The Democrats’ efforts helped sink Bush’s approval ratings into the 30’s and boosted the Democrats chances of taking back the House, which they did in 2006.

Call me crazy, but I don’t believe that Obama is Harry Reid or Bill Clinton. Despite the myriad falsehoods that came out of the Administration during the health care reform debate, I think Obama genuinely cares about the well-being of the nation--even though his ideas for achieving it are usually counterproductive to the goal--and he must understand that no other issue will affect that long-term well-being like the out of control growth of entitlements in the wake of the mass retirement of the Baby Boom generation.

Despite the results of the 2012 election, the president is in danger of leaving behind a relatively empty legacy. The legal viability of Obamacare is in doubt. A big “green jobs” program and “card check” are DOA in Congress and it is highly unlikely that the GOP will lose control of the House within the next two election cycles. Repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” will soon be forgotten by all but a tiny wing of Obama’s base and on foreign policy matters, the president has largely continued the once controversial tenets of his predecessor.

But if Obama acts in good faith and works with the GOP on this most pressing of matters, not only will he receive most of the credit --one of the perks of being the Chief Executive (see Bill Clinton and welfare reform)--but he has a chance of turning his legacy into one that includes a huge bipartisan legislative achievement. Even his fiercest conservative critics would have to grudgingly admit that this would be a positive mark on the record of an ideological opponent.

So the choice for Obama is clear: shameless politicization and an easier path to re-election. Or, bipartisanship--a step towards a promised tone-change that has never materialized--and movement towards a solution to the entitlement problem. A problem that threatens to cripple our economy under a mountain of permanent, unmanageable debt and will destroy the dream of Social Security and Medicare for my generation and every generation that succeeds it.

The choice is his.

We are about to see what kind of president and what kind of man Barack Obama really is.

It is to be hoped that he won’t follow the cynical and dangerous path that Harry Reid has chosen to tread. If he does, then the last chance to win the entitlement war may very well be lost.

- Dan Joseph

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kristi Keck and CNN Keep the Liberal Spin Alive

Even after being thoroughly embarrassed with their debunked insistence that the Tea-Party was somehow complicit in the death of a 9-year old girl and the shooting of a sitting Congresswoman, the MSM continues to imply--with no supporting evidence--that it was our nation's "overheated rhetoric" that was responsible for the massacre.

Make no mistake. References to "rhetoric" of any kind in regard to this incident is code to suggest that conservative voices pose some type of personal danger to the political class.

In reality the "rhetoric" to which they refer has zero recognizable connection to violence of any kind. It was a fallback.

Once the Leftists in the media realized that the shooter wasn't a Muslim, they had high hopes that the culprit would be a small-government crazy of some kind. When his politics turned out to be impossible to attribute to any commonly held American ideological bent they shifted to feigned concern over the nation's political tone--something that the Left almost magically found religion on after nearly a decade of vitriolic displays during the Bush years.

Willingly the media obliged the spin and now, for some reason, our “heightened” political rhetoric has come under the microscope.

It's a clever straw man worthy of a Barack Obama speech.

There is no evidence that our national political tone or partisan media talking points influenced Jared Loughner in any way whatsoever. But after their electoral rejection and the passing of the gavel, it seemed that in its desire to become relevant again, the Left jumped the gun and the shooter.

This is quite possibly the single worst instance of Left-wing media Bias in modern history. If the nation has been paying attention since the tragic shooting occurred, the exodus away from MSNBC, the New York times and CNN should accelerate.

The smart thing for all news organizations, leftist columnists and Democratic Sheriffs to do right now would be to change the subject and try and avoid damaging your credibility any further. Might I recommend the healthcare reform bill as a topic.

-Dan Joseph

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Five Years

Today Falling Panda celebrates 5 years since our first post. I have not always updated as consistently as I should. Sometimes my political predictions have been way off. But I'm proud of my work here and want to thank every visitor and commenter who has participated in these debates over the last half-decade.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chillax America!

I have to be honest. I never imagined that the new screening procedures at U.S. airports would cause such enormous controversy. I really don’t see the problem with TSA screeners being able to see the silhouette of “my junk” when I’m walking through a security checkpoint. I’m not worried that my scan is going to end up on the internet and even if it did, with all of the non-airport related porn availiable online these days,why would anyone care? It would seem that our country’s qualms about nudity, stemming from its puritanical roots, are still deeply engrained. For all of the differences with the Islamic world that we tout as making us culturally advanced, we still get stuck on the humility thing.

Of course this controversy wouldn’t be necessary at all if not for the American Left’s infantile insistence that an 80 year old nun carrying a bottle of Gatorade is just as likely to blow up an airplane as a 25 year old Middle Eastern looking male speaking Arabic. We all know the Left doesn’t actually buy into the idea that profiling wouldn’t work, but adopting the policy would go against the Left’s longstanding goal of preserving equality, which, for them, consists of striving to make everyone in the country equally miserable.

The typical leftist response to calls for racial and ethnic profiling is to say that if we start singling out individuals who we know are most likely to have terrorist tendencies, then Al Qaeda will start recruiting elderly Jewish women, or other unlikely candidates, to carry out their underwear bombings. Of course, this Jihadist strategy hasn’t developed in Israel, where El Al airlines remains the safest in the world thanks largely to profiling. But no! According to liberals, it is a national security imperative that toddlers of Norwegian descent undergo an invasive series of “love pats” to make sure that they’re not carrying c-4 in their diaper.

In the wake of the videos of crying 3-year old girls, x-rated jokes, skyrocketing latex glove sales and C.A.I.R’s efforts to try and secure a waiver from the new screening procedures--which, if achieved would pretty much render the entire exercise pointless--the federal government’s incompetence in this whole matter has gone largely unnoticed.

Americans who pay attention have known for a while that these new scanners were on the way. The media--particularly Drudge--has been talking about them for two years. Yet, the administration and the TSA made no visible effort to raise awareness about what the American people could expect once the new procedures were implemented. As a result, this whole thing is blowing up two weeks before the busiest travel day of the year and will undoubtedly cause plenty of airport chaos before the holiday season is over. Great timing! We would have all been better off had Americans been given a few months over the summer to come to terms with the idea of being seen naked by a TSA screener and the possibility of being groped by a government employee. This entire debate would have had time to play itself out and then………ELECTION!!!!..............Oh. Right. Never mind.

Your government at work ladies and gentlemen. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Just make sure you bring something to read for the security line and eat something before you go. Unlike most dates, the TSA guy isn’t going to buy you dinner before he gets down to business.

- Dan Joseph

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Monday, November 08, 2010


Huffington Post provides a service. It allows actors and comedians--regardless of intellectually capacity or political knowledge--to vent on the issues of the day. HuffPo provides these celebrities with a big platform on the most popular left-leaning “news” site on the internet.

One of the sites regular contributors is former "Wings" star Steven Weber.

A particularly angry leftist, Weber was clearly upset by the Republican's smashing victory at the polls last Tuesday. Fortunately, HuffPo was there to let him blow off some steam. And blow he did. With a 444-word screed that would have conveyed just as much in two sentences.

"Conservatives are evil. They are also stupid."

That's basically what he said but, in typical leftist fashion, it took him forever to say it. Like a speech by Jesse Jackson, Weber's posts are filled to the brim with impressive vocabulary. But his clever wordplay never masks the fact that his writing is completely void of meaningful or original content.

His discombobulated thoughts are messily dumped on the page amounting to nothing more than an exercise in name-calling. There is no thesis. No organization. And yet Ariana Huffington has decided to give Weber a weekly column from which to rant wildly. One has to assume that he qualified for this valuable piece of Internet real-estate solely because of his life as semi-famous actor, because he’s certainly not a writer.

In his "article" Weber makes the following keen observations about conservatives and Republicans:

We are "twisting the truth."

We "Tread over the confused, abused, unknowing masses."

Our candidates are "trolls and drones."

We're "moronic," "frothing," "dirty" and "mean."

Our "scorched-earth approach to all things is like a nightmare!"

All this while the "Moderate Middle and its liberal allies" waste time with its "adherence to the rules of play in the face of an opposition which has dispensed with boundaries and absolutely, fundamentally loathes rules."

Weber has penned dozens of these rants. They are each the same. Take a news item. Mention it at the beginning of your piece then spend the next 400 words telling readers that conservatives are awful, dangerous, knuckle-draggers with a tendency towards "teabagging."

All the while "truth and decency have a liberal bias."

I don't want to give Weber too much attention. He's representative of the political discourse problems we've been having in this country since the Bush years drove the Left to the brink of setting themselves on fire in front of the White House like a bunch of depressed monks.

Arianna Huffington is really to blame here. Clearly she'll give just about anyone on the Left their own Huffington blog, while providing little to no editorial oversight. While she has hundreds of pseudo-political commentators blogging under her banner, quantity certainly trumps quality in most instances.

Keep in mind that Huff Po is the first place that a significant portion of the Left goes for their news every morning. I think we can all agree that reading a Steven Weber column and assuming that your mind is expanding in any way is insane.

And yet, it's Huffington herself who co-opted John Stewart’s rally in an attempt to secure the mantle of “sanity” for those on the left. Like Huffington, Weber has deluded himself into believing that the far-left is more ideologically in synch with the “moderate middle” than are conservatives despite the fact that conservatives just spent the last two years successfully reminding Independent voters of why they’ve always hated the progressive agenda.

A lot of decent journalism ends up on HuffPo’s homepage. But wasting quality bandwidth on Weber makes it difficult to take the site seriously. Ditto for celebrities like Russell Simmons, Alec Baldwin, John Cusack and of course, Hugo Chavez pal Sean Penn. But it was these very celebrities and their crazed rants against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney that made the site the powerhouse that it is today. Just goes to show you how powerful, uninformed celebrity anger can be when building a leftist coalition. Just make sure you cut them loose once you get the power you’ve been trying to achieve. For a good example of how to do this, see Barack Obama.

But please Arianna, for the sake of your less sophisticated readers. Don’t present celebrities like Weber as having any sort of above average insight into the American political scene. It doesn’t benefit anyone. Well, except Steven Weber, of course.

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