Friday, August 31, 2012

Perspective is Everything

    In response to Clint Eastwood's mocking monologue at the Republican National Convention Thursday night (noted by The Rhetorician and Legal Insurrection) where he addressed an empty chair as if President Obama were sitting there, the President's campaign tweeted a photo with the words "This seat's taken."

However, the White House's Flickr stream shows a wider angle shot of the same meeting:


President Obama may very well have been wishing his seat was empty.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Electric PenGate? Probably Not

    A story exploded on the internet Wednesday alleging that President Obama's letters to the families of servicemen killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in August 2011 were form letters signed by electric pen.  First reported by The Gateway Pundit, many blogs and news outlets, though not many mainstream ones, picked up the story.  ABC News reported today that the White House is denying that an electric pen was used, and a closer look at the signatures on the letters seems to back this up. (The Gateway Pundit story simply states the "electric pen" as fact; I could not find any statements citing proof.)  Here are screen shots of the signatures from the letters posted by Gateway Pundit:

    The bottom two examples are enough to show that the signatures on the letters are not identical.  Note the loop at the top of the "O" by the downstroke on the signature on the left; that loop is absent on the signature on the right.  The other signatures are difficult to make out due to the low resolution, but I believe it is possible to detect small variations there as well.
    The other reason I question the electric pen claim is that there is a well-known specimen of the president's electric pen signature.  In May 2011, the president was in France when an extension of the Patriot Act was passed by Congress.  As was widely reported at the time, and to some minor controversy, the legislation was signed into law by President Obama's authorization of the use of an electric pen.  CBS News reported this at the time, and had obtained a copy of the legislation with the president's electric pen signature:

This signature is obviously different than the clearest specimen from the letters to the military families:

The differences in the "B" alone are sufficient to show they are not the same.

However, missing in all this is whether or not the machine the White House uses for electric pen signatures is programmable to add variations to give the appearance of uniqueness.  The International Autopen Company refers to "signature templates" in their description of one of their products, so obviously it is possible to have more than one version of someone's signature available for use.  Comparing the signatures on all 30 military families' letters might shed some light since it seems unlikely the White House would store that many versions of the president's signature, so presumably some duplication would show up.  This, however, strikes me as overly conspiratorial and not worth the effort.
    The remaining issue, of course, is the use of form letters.  Although not unprecedented, as noted by Jake Tapper,  President George W. Bush generally eschewed their use when writing to grieving families and choose to write personal notes to the families.  Given that President Obama's letters are dated September 23, 2011, and he spent the following afternoon on the golf course with Bill Clinton and White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, it would be difficult for the president to plead lack of time as an excuse for the fill-in-the-blank condolence letters.

Thanks to Ed Morrissey at HotAir who linked to this post as his Obamateurism of the Day.

Obama's Latest Weapon: John Kerry's Memory

    John Kerry sent a fundraising email on behalf of the Obama campaign today that begins as follows [emphasis mine]:

I have one message burned into my memory for everyone who cares about the outcome of this year's presidential election:
Respond quickly and powerfully to attacks from the other side.
We've got to step up and fight back before it's too late.
What makes 2012 different from when I ran for president in 2004 is that the other side doesn't have to wait for an outside group to come along with false attacks.
Consider this: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth spent about $23 million on smear ads against me in 2004. 
    Kerry's reference to his memory immediately triggered something in my memory.  Here's the story from the Washington Post from 2004 [emphasis mine]:
Most of the debate between the former shipmates who swear by John Kerry and the group of other Swift boat veterans who are attacking his military record focuses on matters that few of us have the experience or the moral standing to judge. But one issue, having nothing to do with medals, wounds or bravery under fire, goes to the heart of Kerry's qualifications for the presidency and is therefore something that each of us must consider. That is Kerry's apparently fabricated claim that he fought in Cambodia.
It is an assertion he made first, insofar as the written record reveals, in 1979 in a letter to the Boston Herald. Since then he has repeated it on at least eight occasions during Senate debate or in news interviews, most recently to The Post this year (an interview posted on Kerry's Web site). The most dramatic iteration came on the floor of the Senate in 1986, when he made it the centerpiece of a carefully prepared 20-minute oration against aid to the Nicaraguan contras....
"I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared -- seared -- in me."
However seared he was, Kerry's spokesmen now say his memory was faulty. When the Swift boat veterans who oppose Kerry presented statements from his commanders and members of his unit denying that his boat entered Cambodia, none of Kerry's shipmates came forward, as they had on other issues, to corroborate his account. Two weeks ago Kerry's spokesmen began to backtrack. First, one campaign aide explained that Kerry had patrolled the Mekong Delta somewhere "between" Cambodia and Vietnam. But there is no between; there is a border. Then another spokesman told reporters that Kerry had been "near Cambodia." But the point of Kerry's 1986 speech was that he personally had taken part in a secret and illegal war in a neutral country. That was only true if he was "in Cambodia," as he had often said he was. If he was merely "near," then his deliberate misstatement falsified the entire speech.
Whatever good John Kerry might be able to do for the Obama campaign, it's a good bet a reference to "burning" or "searing" his memory linked to the Swift Boat Veterans and the Vietnam War won't get the job done.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How Long is a Short-Term Crisis?

    Based on my Twitter Feed and the comments from those watching the Republican convention, the Obama Truth Team has been playing the part of the smart aleck in the back of the classroom shooting spitballs from a straw while all the other students are trying to listen to a really good lecture.  But one of their "facts" may have the equivalent effect of one of the spitballs hitting the teacher.  Here's the errant tweet:
    Three and a half years into the Obama presidency and the country is still in a "short-term crisis"?  Just exactly how long is "short"?  If Obama is reelected, will candidate Joe Biden in 2016 be talking about the "mess we inherited back in 2008?"
    This administration has vainly sought to portray America on the road to recovery ever since the lost Summer of Recovery in 2010.  The Republicans should consider it a huge victory that the president has now explicitly acknowledged the crisis (ahem, short-term crisis) drags on.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Who Has the Keys to the Obama Campaign?

    The Obama campaign just tweeted out a link to a YouTube video that was published by the campaign last week on August 23, 2012.  Here's the full video:

    A partial transcript of the clip follows:

So basically here's what this election comes down to. They're betting that between now and November there going to come down with amnesia. They figure you're going to forget what there agenda did to this country. They think you'll just believe that they've changed. These are the folks whose policies help devastate our middle class they drove our economy into a ditch....

After we got it out of the ditch, and then they got the nerve to ask for the keys back. I don't want to give them the keys back. They don't know how to drive.
    This sounds like an appeal from the president to return him to the White House in November rather than turn "the keys" over to Mitt Romney.  But the curious thing is that this is an excerpt from a speech from September 6, 2010 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, about two months before one of the largest Republican landslides in history, not only returning control of the House to the GOP, but produced far-reaching gains on the state level as well.  NPR reported at the time:
Early Wednesday, Republicans were on track to hold more than 30 governorships — up from 24. Those GOP governors will be joined by new majorities in as many as a dozen legislative chambers. Republicans, in fact, appeared on course to win the most legislative seats they've held nationwide since World War II.
    President Obama's protestations notwithstanding, the voters indeed seemed to be grasping for those "keys" with both hands to put the Republicans back behind the wheel, and the effort seems to be paying off, as I have noted on more than one occasion.
    Is the 2012 Obama campaign so desperate for ideas that they're willing to replay losing appeals from 2010?  I say, bring it on!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Crazy As It Sounds

    Here's an exercise for you.  Compare the factual bases of these two statements:
Statement #1 - "It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." 
Statement #2 - "Crazy as it sounds, the fight to limit--or even ban--birth control is a key issue in the upcoming presidential election."
    The first statement is medically baseless, the phrasing offensive, and the claim is irrelevant to the underlying issue of an abortion exception in cases of rape.  Republican Todd Akin's words were roundly and universally condemned and repudiated, even by Akin himself.   In addition to rejecting the statement itself, most Republicans and conservative politicians and pundits went on record calling for Akin to drop out of his Senate race against Claire McCaskill to avoid further damage to Republican electoral chances as well as the pro-life cause.  After a week of collecting signatures on a petition of support for Akin to stay in the race, he has managed to get only 7,760 (as of Monday morning.)  Given that McCaskill herself has not even called for Akin to drop out (which would not be in her best interest,) it's unclear how many of those 7,760 signers would even be Akin voters.  Based on the 2006 Senate election in Missouri, Akin will need over a million votes to beat McCaskill, a long way to go from 7,760.  Clearly support among Republicans and conservatives (and even pro-lifers) for Akin is meager, and support for his absurd statement is non-existent.
    Statement #2 appeared in an article written by Gretchen Voss in the September 2012 issue of Women's Health Magazine.  This statement is as baseless as Akin's and truly is as "crazy as it sounds." There is no Republican or conservative candidate for national office (or any candidate anywhere that I am aware of, and Voss cites none in her article) calling for birth control to be limited or banned, and yet Voss has the temerity to call this a "key issue in the upcoming presidential election."  Voss takes the objections of religious institutions to being forced to violate their beliefs and consciences by providing insurance that covers contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients, and turns it into a "fight to limit--or even ban--birth control."  Opposition to government funding of the same is also part of the "fight to limit--or even ban--birth control."  This is akin to past accusations that Republican efforts to control welfare spending or EPA regulation amount to "killing children."  The leap of logic is outrageous and indefensible.
    And here's the difference in the reaction to the two statements.  As I noted, the first has been nearly universally condemned and rejected.  But the second statement?  It was tweeted over the weekend by the campaign of President Barack Obama to the objection of... no one.
    If they are willing to say this now, one wonders what statements the Obama campaign is holding in reserve for the last month or week of the campaign.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

So Many Fundraisers, So Little Time

    A fundraising email I received today from the Obama campaign contained the following line from the President:
I don't have as much time to campaign this time as I did in 2008, so this whole thing is riding on you making it happen. 
 This remark is amusing for two reasons.  First, there is this from CBS News's Mark Knoller, who keeps track of the president's fundraisers so you don't have to:
That was two weeks ago, so the number will now exceed 200.  Also according to Knoller, only 67 of the 200+ took place in 2011, so the tally for 2012 is now 133+.  It seems as though the president isn't as quite as short on free time as he lets on in the fundraising email.
    Second, does anyone recall what Barack Obama's job was when he was running for President in 2008?  Bingo!  He was a United States Senator from the State of Illinois.  While being President of the United States is arguably more time consuming than being a Senator, an analysis of the data at VoteSmart.org reveals that on 51 "key votes" in 2008 in the Senate, 30 of them, or about 60%, are recorded for Senator Obama as "did not vote."
    I guess the president has a point about not having "much time to campaign" as he did in 2008.  There are one hundred Senators, but only one President of the United States.  When you don't show up at the office, people start to talk.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

You Can't Handle the Truth... Team!

    Earlier this week, I wrote about the Obama campaign's magical reduction in the cost of higher education via a revision to their new Student Loan Reform page on their website.   Paul Bedard at the Washington Examiner, Scott Johnson at Powerline, and Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit all picked up the story.  However, the Obama Truth Team didn't get the memo.  As of this morning, their August 21st blog post on the subject still looks like this:

This of course is how the graphic looks now on the Student Loan page:

While I recognize the more significant changes are the cuts in "Expected Income" and "Expected Student Loan Debt", my personal favorite is still "My child wants to go to an expensive college."

    So how long will it take the Obama Truth Team's fact checkers to catch up with Julia's (it must be her, right?) reduced expectations?  I'll keep my eyes peeled.

"Shop Around?" Puh-lease!

   Recently, a college student asked Mitt Romney for advice on paying for college.  Romney told the young man that the best advice he could give him was to "shop around, get a good price" for a college he could afford.  The Obama campaign immediately pounced on the comment, along with "borrow money from your parents" as evidence Romney is out of touch.  The Student Loan reform page on the Obama website contrasts Romney's words with the president's declaration that “Higher education cannot be a luxury reserved for the privileged few. It is an economic necessity.”  The Democratic National Committee has even produced an web video ad called "Shop Around" mocking Romney for the advice:

    However, Romney is not the first politician to use the phrase "shop around" when discussing an area of policy affecting the American people.  Consider these words on...
 Housing: Third, there's going to be more competition so that consumers can shop around for the best rates.  Right now, some underwater homeowners have no choice but to refinance with their original lender -- and some lenders, frankly, just refuse to refinance.  So these changes are going to encourage other lenders to compete for that business by offering better terms and rates, and eligible homeowners are going to be able to shop around for the best rates and the best terms.
Medical Care:  I also think that we should -- hospitals should publish the cost of their basic procedures, what's an appendectomy or a colonoscopy or whatnot, to enable consumers to shop around, where's the best price.  We all know that there's a wide disparity in what hospitals charge for the same procedures.  I think the disinfectant of sunshine helps -- it helps consumers, it helps our people.
Health Insurance:  And you'll eventually see lower costs. And, if you lose your insurance for some reason or you're underinsured or you work for a small business that can't afford to provide you health insurance, you can shop around for a plan on the Insurance Exchange, which will have many, many options, many affordable options, and that's a choice that you absolutely don't have today. So you will have many more choices, not fewer choices. 
So who are these radicals, these out-of-touch elites who don't understand that competition chews up and spits out regular Americans?  Who are these people suggesting that top-of-the-line housing, medical care, and health insurance apparently are "luxuries reserved for the privileged few"?  How about, in order, Barack Obama, Democratic Senator Max Baucus, and Linda Douglass of the White House Office of Health Reform.

    Granted, in each case, these statements are accompanied by explanations of why government must be heavily involved in housing, medical care, and health insurance to ensure fair competition and affordability.  But when it comes to higher education, not only must the government be heavily involved (you can't expect the students themselves or their families to handle it, after all,) but price is no object.  As I wrote about earlier this week, even the Obama campaign seemed to realize perhaps they overdid it on their endorsement of educational extravagance.  But apparently in this case, they were unable to contain their disgust for that Walmartian-sounding advice "shop around."  Puh-lease.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Rebuild America from the Ground Up"

    The Obama campaign has just rendered the "You didn't build that" controversy moot.  Their latest ad featuring Bill Clinton announces that Barack Obama has "a plan to rebuild America from the ground up."

While most agree that this country is going through difficult times, does it really need to be rebuilt "from the ground up?"  The whole thing recalls Obama's infamous declaration that his election would mean "fundamentally transforming the United States of America."  The question is whether or not Clinton is seriously behind Obama, or if this is more sabotage.  Is Bill Clinton deliberately making a claim that is this outrageous, and then smirking behind Obama’s back as his campaign eats it up?  Go Hillary 2016!

The Great Student Loan Giveaway

    The last time President Obama talked about saving money for student loan recipients, it turned out to be a windfall of 25¢ a day.  This time around, eleven weeks from the election, the president is talking some real money.  Tuesday morning, this tweet went out from @BarackObama:

The link is to a new page set up by the Obama campaign to explain the president's Pay As You Earn proposal.  (I noted this page already in a post that was picked up by Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner.) The main feature of the plan is that it "caps monthly federal student loan repayment at 10% of monthly discretionary income[.]"  Here is one of the examples provided by the Obama campaign:

A savings of $8,841 per year certainly sounds good. But as it turns out, that's not the half of it.  This savings of $8,841/year translates into $737/month.  This means that without Obama's plan, this doctor's monthly student loan payment would be $737 + $644 = $1,381.  We can check this using the handy calculator also provided on the site (click to enlarge):

Working backwards, a $120,000 loan with a "standard 10-year payment" of $1,381 per month reveals an assumed interest rate of about 6.75% (apparently this is not based on the halved Stafford student loan rate that garnered so much attention two months ago.)  And what is the monthly interest at 6.75% on $120,000?  $675.  That's right.  The doctor earning $100,000 per year does not even have to cover the monthly interest on his debt.  Based on this payment, the debt will literally never be paid off.  (Yes, the doctor's income is likely to increase, but he could also lose his job.)  After 20 years, the balance on the loan will have actually increased to $135,667.  [Even using the artificially reduced, below-market Stafford interest rate of 3.4%, the doctor would still owe $15,712 after 20 years.] However, not to worry!  Another key feature, oddly missing from this website but included in the White House's explanation of the proposal, is that it "will forgive the balance of their debt after 20 years of payments."  I told you the Obama administration was talking real money this time.
    This example is not isolated.  If we run the same scenario with the teacher example provided, the $15,000 debt will have grown to an astounding $34,900 after 20 years. [With the reduced Stafford loan rate, the debt would still be $14,142.]  And what about the single college student who takes the president's advice and rejects Mitt Romney's advice to "shop around" for a college education he can afford?  Say our composite student goes all out and maxes out student loans at $150,000 and it pays off.  He lands a $100,000/year job:

While earning $100,000 per year, our single graduate only has to pay $8,328/year in student loan payments.  After 20 years of this, his debt of $225,683 can be forgiven by the government.

    One of the ironies of this plan is that while touting it, Obama often notes that he and his wife only paid off their loans 8 years ago, almost 20 years after leaving college.  Yet this plan gives no incentive to ever pay off the loan, much less do it before 20 years is up.  And for all the talk about "making education more affordable," this plan has the perverse effect of giving no one any incentive to reduce the cost of college.  The students do not have to worry because their payments are capped.  And the colleges do not have to lower costs to compete for students because the students do not have not worry about the cost.

    But the greatest irony of all might be this tweet from the Obama campaign:

"Reduce the deficit."  A plan that could turn out to be the largest debt forgiveness plan in history will "reduce the deficit."  The deception is audacious and staggering.  The CBO recently reported that the current fiscal year will see the fourth year in a row of one-trillion-plus federal deficits.  If this plan goes through, we may look back at one-trillion deficits with nostalgia.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Federal Department of Bad Metaphors

    No political points to be made here... I just find this funny.  From the White House website:

A ship analogy for drought response?  What's next?  "Pouring in relief" when there's a flood?  Wild fires "ignite a quick response from FEMA"?  Maybe someone in the White House needs to install the latest version of AnalogyCheck on their computer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Expensive College"? Who Said Anything About "Expensive"?

    While working on an analysis of the Obama campaign's new webpage devoted to President Obama's student loan Pay As You Earn plan, I noticed a telling revision from Tuesday morning to Tuesday night.  The first graphic below is the current version being used by the Obama campaign.  The second is a screen shot of the original graphic used:

Current version

Original version

    I guess it occurred to someone that "My Child wants to go to an expensive college" sounded just a tad snooty?   Mocking Mitt Romney for the responsible advice of "borrow money from your parents" or just "shop around" for a college education you can afford is one thing.  A perky "Yes, I can afford an expensive college because of Barack Obama!" is quite another.

    Note also that the expected income dropped from $50,000 to $45,000.  I guess $50,000 in the current Obama job market was a bit of a laugher since according to CNN, "Members of the Class of 2012 are being offered median starting salaries of $42,569."  Sometimes even a president campaign built on fairy tales ("Life of Julia") collides with reality.

Update:  Here's a screenshot of the original Google cache version since the Google cache has been updated and the original is no longer available.

Update 2: The Obama Truth Team still has the original graphic posted.  I posted this too.

Note: Here's a link to the post on student loans I was originally working on when I discovered the Obama website revision.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Wash That Blog Out With Soap

    Back in June, I noted how the Obama campaign seemed to be making foul language a conscious part of their campaign messaging strategy.  Jake Tapper of ABC News even picked up my story and wrote about it himself.  Well, it's back.
    On Sunday, Ann Marie Habershaw, Chief Operating Officer of the Obama campaign, wrote a blog post with a swear word both in the title and the body of the post.  Again, this is not a slip of the tongue, but a conscious decision.  Is this an attempt to be "edgy"?  
    The remarkable thing about this particular post is that it is promoting a contest which will allow the winner to sit with the First Lady at the 2012 Democratic Convention in Charlotte in September.  Is the First Lady OK with this gratuitous use of bad language on her behalf?  After all the talk from the Obama administration about civility and elevating the tone of political speech, it's a curious choice indeed.

The First Refuge of the Scoundrel

    If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, then surely the charge of "Racism!" is quickly becoming the first.  Although MSNBC's TourĂ© created the latest stir with his inexcusable and vulgar attack on Mitt Romney, Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast puts on a virtual smear clinic in his August 13th column entitled "How the GOP Plans to Block the Black Vote."  Rather than documenting evidence, a tedious task, Tomasky employs sweeping, unfounded generalizations based on his personal experience and apparent omniscience.  His use of superlatives is breathtaking: "every single election I’ve ever covered"; "a constant through every election I’ve seen"; "Every election come the warnings..."; "delegitimizes everything else about the Republican Party"; "in every single election in this country where the black vote matters"; "Republican Party operatives in every state in the country"; "yet everyone generally knows."  And he raises the argumentum ad populum fallacy to an art form:
I’ve seen the fliers, heard the robocalls, been at the polling places with the mysterious malfunctioning machines. No one ever knows exactly who does these things, and yet everyone generally knows. Republicans...
But we do know that in every single election in this country where the black vote matters, these mysterious things happen in African-American neighborhoods in the run-up to the election and on Election Day itself. We never know exactly who does it, but it’s pretty self-evident that it isn’t Democrats. 
    Needless to say, Tomasky is not exactly in possession of hard evidence, for instance, perhaps a photo of Republican voter  intimidation taking place.  Remarkably, Tomasky does not even bring up the recent high profile case of voter-suppression via robocalls in the 2010 Maryland gubernatorial election.  Could it be because one of the accused, Republican Paul E. Schurick, even after being convicted, was aided by "[s]cores of letters from prominent Republicans and Democrats [who] asked a Baltimore judge for extreme leniency"?  In his letter to the judge, Democrat State Comptroller Peter Franchot "wrote that while voter suppression is 'morally and legally unacceptable,' Schurick’s legacy in Annapolis is foremost that of a bipartisan solution seeker."  Schurick is apparently not the wild-eyed racist Tomasky would have us believe populates the GOP.
    In spite of the evidence to the contrary, how is the anonymous cabal of Republicans carrying out their dastardly work this election cycle according to Tomasky?
This is a conspiracy of thousands of people, Republican Party operatives in every state in the country (except those where the black vote is small enough not to matter), all of them agreeing that denying the most fundamental civic right to a group of citizens because they vote the wrong way is a good idea—and knowing that they can get away with it because, after all, it’s “just” “those people.”
It's a nice touch, using the quotation marks when he's not actually quoting anyone - gives a ring of authenticity to the smear.  But Tomasky nearly outdoes himself in his closing paragraph:
 I cannot understand how any individual can be anything other than abjectly ashamed to be associated with a political party so thuggish as to try to rig elections like this and then at its conventions have the gall to invoke Abraham Lincoln and hire lots of black people to sing and dance and smile, to make up for their absence among the attendees. A black mark indeed.
I would link to Tomasky's source for the hired-minstrels accusation, but of course, he doesn't cite any.  Perhaps he felt it would interrupt the flow of his parting shot to insert proof or facts.
    Despite Tomasky's penchant for relying on his own opinion unencumbered by corroboration, he does call upon two persons to support his claims, Former Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer and Attorney Mike Freeman.  But perhaps he'd have been better off sticking with pure opinion:
Greer—and I should say up front he’s under indictment... his credibility is open to question. He’s accused of funneling party money to himself, about $125,000. He’ll stand trial sometime this fall. Obviously, we don’t know whether he’s guilty of that...
Incredibly, as poor a source as Greer appears to be, Tomasky makes it worse by noting that Greer made his charges against the Florida GOP in an interview with Al Sharpton!  Does Tomasky really believe that invoking Sharpton, the ringleader of the Tawany Brawley hoax, adds credibility to his charges?
    But what about Mike Freeman, who challenged the notion raised in a new book that felons in part helped elect Democrat Senator Al Frankin in 2008?  Tomasky reports that "Attorney Mike Freeman rebutted their charges this week.  I can’t swear that Freeman is correct..."  I'm sure Freeman, writing at Alternet (!), appreciates the vote of confidence.

    So in the midst of all the broad-brush charges and dubious accusations against Republicans, how does Tomasky portray black voters, the alleged victims?
Every election come the warnings that if you haven’t paid your telephone bill yet or what have you, you won’t be permitted to vote. Something that like, which I saw all the time in New York City, can be pulled off by a handful of ne’er-do-wells, and the party leaders themselves can maintain plausible deniability.
 Tomasky's smoking gun, his coup de grace evidence of out-of-control thuggery committed by the "racists [who] left the Democrats and joined the GOP... in the late 196os [when] these voter-suppression efforts began," consists of "warnings that if you haven’t paid your telephone bill yet or what have you, you won’t be permitted to vote."  How stupid does Tomasky believe black voters are?  After decades of get-out-the-vote and voter registration drives, all it takes is a "you didn't pay your phone bill" to keep black voters home?  Does Tomasky have such a low opinion of “those people?”
    The paternalism of Tomasky and his ilk towards minorities is perfectly showcased in his column.  Without the Democratic party, voters, especially black voters and other minorities, are helpless.  True racism certainly still exists in this country.  But when is the last time an actual racist was called to account?  The race-baiters at too busy tilting at windmills and skewering the innocent to honestly deal with the issue.  To borrow Tomasky's words, "It’s a sick and sickening situation," but as President Obama tries to eke out a second term during these next eleven weeks, it's likely to get a whole lot worse.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Ruse By Any Other Name Stinks Just As Badly

    When it comes to recycling, the Obama campaign takes a back seat to no one.  Today, the folks at @BarackObama are trying to breath new life into the "President's plan" to save middle-class taxpayers $2,200 next year with this tweet:

The plan, of course, is to renew the Bush tax cuts again at the end of 2012, but only for the deserving 97%-98%.  But, also of course, no one is talking about letting those tax rates expire anyway - the only debate is about whether to raise the rates on the 2%-3% "rich" so they can once again pay their fair share (which, of course, will only be "fair" until the next time the Democrats want to raise their rates, at which point they suddenly will not be paying their fair share anymore.)
    The only sense in which the middle class will "save" anything in 2013 is the same sense in which politicians routinely claim to "save" money by increasing spending by less than what was planned.  As I wrote last time, the only answers the president should have received via Twitter should read: "I will spend the $2,200 on the same expenses I used it for in 2012 because my taxes are not being reduced."  It's fraud, pure and simple.  The responses to the president's tweets (#2200dollars) routinely show that often his supporters are under the impression this $2,200 is new, sometimes simply from lack of clarity, sometimes because of outright deception.  With the addition of Paul Ryan to the Romney ticket, panic is beginning to set in at the Obama camp.  No doubt as the election draws nearer, the ruses will only increase.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Paul Ryan Setting the Terms [Updated]

    The Obama Truth Team along with the rest of the Democrats have been flinging everything they can think of at Paul Ryan since he joined Mitt Romney on the GOP ticket.  The latest comes in a tweet on Monday night, and I believe it demonstrates the threat Ryan poses to the Obama campaign:

    Mitt Romney selects Paul Ryan as his vice-president and within three days the Obama campaign is conceding "President Obama['s]... Medicare cuts."  Who would have imagined the Truth Team would ever explicitly acknowledge how ObamaCare affects Medicare using those terms?  In January, the Truth Team went to great lengths (including an odd repetition of two whole paragraphs) to debunk the notions of ObamaCare's Medicare cuts.  Conservatives and Republicans should be encouraged that the Obama team feels the heat from Ryan enough to play on his home turf.

Update:  OK, panic has really set in.  Now the Truth Team is tweeting a link to an ABC News article titled:  FACT CHECK: Obama, Ryan, Romney Backed Medicare Cuts.  Obama bragging about backing Medicare cuts?  What's next, Obama backed Voter ID all along?  They are on the run!

Friday, August 10, 2012

And That? You Didn't Build That, Either!

    Drudge red-headlined this story (LET'S REPEAT AUTO BAILOUT SUCCESS 'WITH EVERY INDUSTRY'...) when it first hit Thursday and it was still on his site Friday morning.  Politico ran the original story on their Politico44 blog (their "Living Diary of the Obama Presidency"):
PUEBLO, Colo. – President Obama, while villifying Mitt Romney for opposing the auto industry bailout, bragged about the success of his decision to provide government assistance and said he now wants to see every manufacturing industry come roaring back.
“I said, I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back,” he said. “Now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.
“I don’t want those jobs taking root in places like China, I want those jobs taking root in places like Pueblo,” Obama told a crowd gathered for a campaign rally at the Palace of Agriculture at the Colorado State Fairgrounds here.
    The money quote that Politico and Drudge focused on was of course "Now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry."  Tacked onto the end of the Politico story, however, is a curious note:
Clarification: This post was updated to reflect the president's intent to express his support for manufacturing success. An earlier version was unclear about his intent.
    I have not been able to locate that earlier version.  I read the story about an hour after it was originally posted, so I do not know how long the unclarified story was up, and I was not able to find a cached or quoted version anywhere.  The curious part of the clarification is, how does Politico (or Donovan Slack, the writer) know what the president's "intent" was?  Did someone at the White House read the story and call Politico?  Or did someone else at Politico read Slack's story and say, "He can't really mean that!"  But the president's choice of words belie Politico's clarification.  He did not say, "Now I want to see the same thing with manufacturing jobs ... in every industry."  He said, "Now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs ... in every industry."  There's a big difference.
    When the controversy over the president's "you didn't build that" remark exploded, the president's supporters argued that the context of the remark made it perfectly clear what he meant.  So what is the context in this case?  From the White House transcript of the speech [emphasis added]:
When all of us share in prosperity, we all do better.  (Applause.)  That’s the choice in this election.  That’s why I’m running for President -- because I believe we’re all in this together.  (Applause.)

We’ve got a bunch of examples of the differences, the choice in this election.  When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse, more than 1 million jobs at stake, Governor Romney said, let’s “let Detroit go bankrupt.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo --

THE PRESIDENT:  I said I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back and GM is number one again.  (Applause.)  So now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.  I don’t want those jobs taking root in places like China.  I want them taking root in places like Pueblo.  (Applause.)

Governor Romney brags about his private sector experience, but it was mostly investing in companies, some of which were called “pioneers” of outsourcing.  I don’t want to be a pioneer of outsourcing.  I want to insource.  I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas; let’s give those tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the United States of America, making American products with American workers and selling them around the world.  That’s why I’m running for a second term.  (Applause.)
    Obviously the president never uses the term "bailout"in the speech, but the government bailout of GM is the example he makes a beeline for as the premier example of his economic approach versus Mitt Romney.  And then he cites targeted tax breaks:
I don’t want to be a pioneer of outsourcing.  I want to insource.  I want to stop giving tax breaks...
    To borrow the cadence of John F. Kennedy, President Obama is virtually saying, Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what Barack Obama can do for your business.  Time and again, this president returns to his default view that the typical business just can't get along without the active involvement of the government.  In his more guarded remarks, he stresses infrastructure (roads and bridges) as government's primary contribution to the smooth operation of the private sector.  But he was on a roll in this speech, perhaps spurred on by the Romney-induced "booos" and the frequent applause of the crowd, and bailouts and picking winners and losers via revoking and granting tax breaks rose to the surface.
    In any case, Media Matters immediately began the "context" defense, even though the full context underscores the meaning of the president's quote.  Whatever meaning can be squeezed of the president's phrases such as "you didn't build that" and "I want to do the same thing ... in every industry" by the president's defenders, it is clear that his attitude towards government and the private sector is not "get government out of the way and businesses can prosper."  It runs more along the lines of "my way or the highway - and by the way, government built the highway, too."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hey, It's Been Three Weeks. Let's Try it Again!

    On July 14th, I wrote about President Obama's distortion of the tax savings of the average family since he took office.  The president had said:
That’s why I’ve cut middle-class taxes every year that I’ve been President -- by $3,600 for the typical middle-class family. Let me repeat: Since I’ve been in office, we’ve cut taxes for the typical middle-class family by $3,600.
The problem is that the $3,600 was actually the accumulated savings over his term, not the yearly savings.  Soon the campaign adjusted the claim:
FACT: The typical middle-class family's taxes have been cut by $3,600 over President Obama's first term.
Apparently counting on short memories, the president relapsed today in a speech in Colorado.  The campaign just tweeted this quote:
POTUS: "The average middle-class family—their taxes are about $3,600 lower than before I came into office.”
Although he left off the explicit "per year," the impression given by the phrase "their taxes are about $3,600 lower than before I came into office" is that the number represents an annual savings.  To illustrate, if you'd been given a $1,000 raise in your salary three years ago, you would not say "my income is about $3,000 higher than it was 3 years ago."  The president's claim is similarly misleading.
    Even the Obama campaign seemed to recognize the president was straying into murky territory again, for later in the day, they tweeted:
A household making $50,000 saved $3,600 in taxes during President Obama’s first term. What about yours?
Is the president just talking off of the top of his head in these speeches and so he garbles the facts?  Or are these "gaffes" intentional?  Hmmm... if we could just get a look at that teleprompter...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

An "Empty Bag"? Wait, There's a Cat in There!

    In a late night hit-and-run, the Obama Truth team tweeted the following, doubtless hoping to score some quick, cheap political points:

    The link is for a YouTube video of a 20 second clip taken from a 3:42 segment on Fox Business's After the Bell.  The entire segment is available on Fox's website.  Paul O'Neill, Treasury Secretary during George W. Bush's first term, indeed says that when he asked for the Romney economic plan, "what they offered was an empty bag."  But fast forward to 2:22 of the interview and O'Neill says:
It's not at all clear that what President Obama would have us do is clear either, so I go back to what you said, David, we have a paucity of facts.
    Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Obama's economic plan over Romney's, is it?  And, by the way, you might recall this from July 2008 during the last Presidential campaign (ABC News):
ABC News has learned that two former administration officials for President George W. Bush will appear with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, at an economic meeting today, having signed up to be Obama economic advisers. 
Bush administration veterans former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and former Securities and Exchange Commissioner William Donaldson will join former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, and more traditionally Democratic economic advisers such as former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, billionaire liberal Warren Buffett, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, and SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger.
    So instead of labeling O'Neill "President Bush's former Treasury Secretary", the Truth Team could have just as well written "President Obama's former economic advisor."  And speaking of that, what was this former economic advisor of Obama's saying later in the 2008 campaign?  From the Washington Note:
I have not heard either candidate [Obama or McCain] talk about the $53 trillion worth of unfunded liabilities that we have as a nation, that we need to do something about, or we're going to have a problem that makes this current financial crisis look like child's plan not too far down the road.
I haven't heard anybody say in this campaign the 10,000-page tax code that we have is proof that we're not an intelligent people. And so what are the candidates talking about? They're talking about more credits, they're talking about more deductions, they're talking about more complication in the tax code.
Neither one of them are talking about, we need to fix this monster, which is also part of our problem.
    The Truth Team may want to think twice before encouraging supporters (and foes) to listen too closely to Paul O'Neill in the future.  Better to keep that cat in the bag where it belongs.

Some Things Speak For Themselves

    Posted today on the Washington state blog of the Obama campaign website:

Who’s In Wednesday - Bernard ABy OFA Washington on August 8, 2012 
It’s Who’s in Wednesday, Young Americans for Obama edition, and this week we’re joined by 11-year old Bernard A. 
Hailing from Vancouver, Bernard helps his mom phone bank every week, and has been a steadfast volunteer. At local phone banks, he makes calls like an old pro and he absolutely knows why he’s in for 2012. 
President Obama has made education a national priority. By investing in K-12 education, President Obama has worked to better prepare kids like Bernard for competing in the global workplace, and by doubling funding for Pell Grants, he has ensured Bernard can get the education he deserves. 
But that's not the only reason why he supports the President this election. 
“I like him because he can get everything he says done,” Bernard said. “I can look forward to the future and going to college [...] I like him because he’s modest.” 
If you, too, like the President and his modesty, then join Bernard in making phone calls, in volunteering, and learn why President Obama stands for and with the youth of this nation.
    I titled my post "Some Things Speak For Themselves," and as difficult as it is, I'm going to stick with that.  For now.

Passport to a Brave New World

    In a recent post, I wrote about how the Obama campaign has been touting the strides it has made on behalf of the "transgendered", the "T" in LGBT.  One such stride dates back to June 2010, and receives not one, but two mentions on the LGBT page of the campaign website under the heading "Trans Equality" [emphasis mine]:
  • Ended the Social Security Administration’s gender “no-match” letters and allowed for true gender passports
  • Ensured that transgender Americans can receive true gender passports without surgery
    It is unclear why this accomplishment is listed twice.  But even though the repetition would seem to indicate its level of significance, at the time the White House ignored this development.  There's no press release or statement about it on the White House website in June 2010 or since.  Even when President Obama addressed an LGBT Pride Month reception in the East Room at the White House on June 22, 2010, just 13 days after the State Department announced the rule change in a "Media Note," he made no mention of the new passport rule.  However, the change was reported more heavily in the media than the SSA's dropping of gender "no-match" letters that I noted in my previous post.  Time and CNN, for example, both covered this story.  So why the initial soft-sell from the administration?
    I believe it is part of an overall strategy (though not an organized conspiracy) to move the country leftward on social issues.  Conservatives and Christians must recognize that this slow but relentless push for amorality is not a slippery slope, but a carefully planned and staked out rainbow path to virtually complete sexual license.  Pioneers like Gore Vidal (as Albert Mohler wrote about the other day) are sometimes brash and confrontational, but the broader movement often follows a slow Obama-like"evolution", trudging down the path, dragging American culture and social mores behind them.  Unfortunately, the weak moral principles of much of American society and even American churches often do not even require dragging.  We simply lollygag back further on the path until fear of being completely left behind and labeled as intolerant haters goads us into reluctantly catching up.
    The increasing profile of transgendered issues follows President Obama's and Vice President Biden's switch on same-sex marriage.  Now that that bomb was dropped, it's time to deepen inroads in other areas.  The emphasis on the passport rule is a good example of the strategy.  The LGBTer have borrowed a page from the pro-choice handbook by couching transgender issues as "medical" matters best left to the individual and his/her doctor.  The State Department rule change says:
It is also possible to obtain a limited-validity passport if the physician’s statement shows the applicant is in the process of gender transition. No additional medical records are required. Sexual reassignment surgery is no longer a prerequisite for passport issuance.
Every type of abortion, from the earliest abortificents such as RU-486 to post-birth/partial-birth abortions, has been justified by a "health of the mother" exception.  "Health" has, of course, been expanded to cover mental, emotional, physical and any other type of "health" abortion advocates can squeeze in.  So labeling transgender as a medical/health issue says, "Hands off.  It's my body.  It's between me and my doctor."  As the faux religious compromise on the HHS insurance mandate shows, "medical" needs (birth control, abortifacients, sterilization) trump religious liberty in the Obama administration.  How long will it be before religiously affiliated institutions or even churches are barred from discriminating against the "medical" needs of the transgendered?
    While it was encouraging to see free speech and freedom of religion largely defended, even by some on the left, in the recent Chick-Fil-A dust-up, note this:  Chick-Fil-A and many of its defenders were quick to point out that Chick-Fil-A does not discriminate against customers on the basis of "sexual orientation," and regarding employment, Chick-Fil-A is "an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in employment decisions based on any factor protected by federal, state or local law."  But how far can those laws be pushed?  When will the North American Man-Boy Love Association break through and receive acceptance from the experts in the medical community?  Will we kick and scream for a few decades before falling into line?
    And does anyone think that "LGBT" is really the end of the line?  Try Googling "LGBTQIA".  That's right, 119,000 results as of today.  "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual."  And there are still 19 more letters in the alphabet.  Brave New World indeed.  But who will be the brave?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

If You Wrote a Letter to the Editor, You Didn't Write That

    President Obama continues to push back against the idea that he believes that small businesses are incapable of making it on their own without government help.  This is of course part of the fallout from the president's now legendary "If you own a business, you didn't build that" remark.  In what could easily be seen as doubling down on that dubious concept, the Obama campaign has launched a new page on their website, Letter to the Editor, which provides a sample letter to the editor, a checklist of desired recipients (LA Times, Miami Herald, Wall Street Journal, etc.,) talking points, and even writing tips!  The subject of the sample email is even helpfully filled in: "A Romney presidency will hurt small business."  The sample letter reads as follows:
I worked hard to build my small business. Though it took time, investment, and a lot of hard work, I've built a business I'm proud of.
The American economy is built on businesses like mine - that hire American workers and promote American innovation. If we are going to create an economy built to last, we have to support our small businesses.
But Mitt Romney's plan for the American economy would put business like mine at risk. His plan would gut investments that benefit small businesses - like education and infrastructure -  so he can give more tax breaks to millionaires like himself and to companies that ship jobs overseas. His top-down philosophy won't grow our economy for the long run - we already tried it for the past decade, and it crashed our economy and hurt the middle class. If Romney thinks his plan is the best way to grow our economy and help small businesses, then he must have forgotten how we got into this mess in the first place.
Mitt Romney believes we can afford to shower the wealthiest Americans with tax cuts, but that it's a bridge too far to rebuild the roads, runways and ports our businesses rely on to ship goods across the country and around the world. He believes we can afford to cut taxes for companies that ship our jobs overseas, but that we can't afford to invest in the training and education that American workers need to compete for those jobs in the global economy.
Small business owners can't afford the failed policies of the past. And Americans can't afford a Romney presidency.
    The page includes the wise counsel: "Revising the letter and making it your own greatly increases the chance that a newspaper will publish it." So never again let it be said that Barack Obama doubts the ability of the American business owner to build his own business.  But, hey, letters can be tricky.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Give Me an "L"! Give Me a "G"! Give Me a "B"! Give Me a "T"! What Have You Got? Evolution

    Recently Newsweek, in what may turn out to be one of its print edition's last spasms of rigor mortis, famously declared President Obama to be America's "first gay president."  If the publishers wish to go out with a bang, they could plan the final edition to declare Obama to be America's "first transgendered president."  Last week, the Obama campaign blog published the following post written by Kyle Albert, an "LGBT Vote Intern" for the campaign:
President Obama’s record on transgender equality in the workplace

Did you know that President Obama has taken pivotal actions to advance equality for transgender Americans in the workplace?
In addition to naming one of the first openly transgender Presidential appointees, President Obama banned discrimination in Federal workplaces based on gender identity, and his administration released guidance to help ensure safe work environments for transgender federal employees.
Nationally, the President ended the Social Security Administration’s gender “no-match” letters, stopping the practice of notifying employers about differences between gender markers on employees’ W-2 forms and Social Security records—a step toward ensuring that transgender Americans are not accidentally outed at work.
Barbra Casbar Siperstein, the first transgender member of the DNC Executive Committee, said:
"It's an understatement to say that Barack Obama has already done more for Transgender Americans than all other Presidents combined. It's time for ‘us’ to step up and help President Obama help us!"
If you support President Obama’s commitment to respect and dignity for transgender Americans in the workplace, join Obama Pride.
    So in the name of "equality for transgender Americans in the workplace," President Obama ended (in September 2011) what must be one the most common sense lines of defense against fraud, matching a person's sex on a W-2 with Social Security records.  To avoid "outing" the transgendered, we have doubled the resources for someone committing fraud since the fraudster need not even assume the identity of someone of the same sex. What a bonanza!  This is reminiscent of the recent decision by Argentina to allow anyone to choose his? her? (are the days of pronouns numbered?) own sex to list on official government ID cards without the bother of consulting a doctor, a judge or even basic anatomy.  Are we not on that same path now ourselves?
    As Barbra Siperstein said above, "Barack Obama has already done more for Transgender Americans than all other Presidents combined." Similar sentiments were heard regarding "gay Americans" after the president evolved on his same-sex marriage stance.   Keep a sharp eye on the campaign's blog: the "L" and the "B" of the LGBT community may be the next beneficiaries of the evolution of Barack Obama.

Friday, August 3, 2012

When is Not-a-Tax-Cut a Tax Cut? When It's President Obama's!

    On July 9th, President Obama made the following statement regarding the much-discussed Bush tax cuts:
[M]ost people agree that we should not raise taxes on middle-class families or small businesses -- not when so many folks are just trying to get by... And that’s why I’m calling on Congress to extend the tax cuts for the 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 for another year...  If Congress doesn’t do this, millions of American families... could see their taxes go up by $2,200 starting on January 1st of next year. 
The statement was repeated on the White House blog later that day, and now appears dozens of times on the website and continues to pop up in Obama's speeches as well.  Today, continuing a pattern I have noted before, the Obama campaign extracted a dollar figure from a policy proposal (what $40 means, $1,000 increase on student loans) and began to reshape and distort it to maximize its impact without regard for honesty:
Note the wording: "the President’s middle-class tax cut".  This is the same administration that has balked at referring to the current rates as "the Bush tax cuts," and now has appropriated that label for the President himself.  And it's not even a new cut, simply a continuation of current tax policy.  The only answers the president should have received via Twitter should read: "I will spend the $2,200 on the same expenses I used it for in 2012 because my taxes are not being cut."  However, the president's followers on Twitter were much more creative in their replies:

Was the creativity of the tweeters just an effort to make the president look good?  Or do these people, based on the president's own words, believe they've got a new $2,200 windfall headed their way in 2013?  One could hardly blame them for believing the latter.  But if they manage to get him reelected, it'll be too late in 2013 when Net Pay on their paychecks stays the same.  Unless the Social Security tax holiday is allowed to expire and Net Pay actually gets lower.  The president has been silent about that tax matter.  Could it be that the Social Security tax holiday issue is being reserved by the Democrats as a homemade October Surprise issue?  If so, look for a repeat of the pattern I detailed above.  Who knows, maybe they'll even resurrect What $40 Means.

Update:  Thanks to Ed Morrissey (Obamateurism of the Day on 8/8/12)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Obama Tax Calculator - Warren Buffett, Call Your Office [Updated]

    OK, can someone explain this?  The Obama campaign has a new tax calculator to let you see what your taxes will look like under Obama versus Romney.  I plugged in several different income levels to see what would happen (for now, I ignored the Romney side of things.)  Last I heard, the president wanted to "continue tax cuts for the middle class" and have the rich "pay a little more" so they are paying their "fair share."  So what gives?

There is an generic explanation given when clicking on the "Learn More" link:

So someone earning $1 short of a billion dollars will see a savings of $8,295 under Obama's plan?  Warren Buffett isn't going to be happy about this.

UPDATE:  Someone explained to me that the "savings" is in contrast to allowing ALL the "Bush tax cuts" to expire (which of course, no one is suggesting.)  But this allows the president to claim "savings" even for someone earning $999,999,999 because if the current marginal tax rates on the first $200,000 of income are renewed for 2013, everyone would "save" taxes on their first $200,000, whereas if the Bush tax cuts expire completely, everyone's marginal rates on all income would increase.  So even though the wealthy would be required by Obama's plan to pay their "fair share," he's graciously "saving" them $8,295 that they can apply to the enormous new amounts they will owe on income exceeding $200,000.  This is like the Godfather telling someone that he saved one of their kneecaps because he only broke one instead of both like he'd originally planned.  The "rich" don't appreciate how good the president is being to them.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

First Amendment-Fil-A

    How ironic.
On the same day conservatives (and from the sound of it, many of other political stripes) are celebrating the First Amendment and religious freedom in response to Chicago's and Boston's attacks on Chick-Fil-A and its founder Dan Cathy, the Obama campaign tweets out a reminder of the administration's filleting of religious freedom via the "contraceptive" insurance mandate.  Nice juxtaposition.