"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." — Benjamin Franklin
I am writing this blog while jumping between the DNC’s Vagina Monologues and a more serious program — the Giants/Cowboys football game and the opening of the 2012 NFL season.
Before the game begins and Bill Clinton speaks there are a few things I would like to point out a few things the Democrats will and will not say at their convention.
They will continually focus on their war on women theme, a theme that is losing ground, especially among married women who have to run households. While abortion and free contraceptives may be high on the list of younger, single women but married women have to worry about the price of groceries and gas.
They will continue to trot out progressive women such as the presidents of Planned Parenthood, N.O.W., NARAL, and Sandra Fluke, all in favor of the government paying for the killing of babies.
According to an article in the Weekly Standard the 2012 Democratic party will officially adopt an extreme position on the issue of abortion on Tuesday. According to a copy of the party platform, which was released online just before midnight on Monday, "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay."
“That last part--"regardless of ability to pay"--is an endorsement of taxpayer-funded abortions, a policy that President Obama has personally endorsed. Obama wants Medicaid to pay directly for elective abortions, and ObamaCare will allow beneficiaries to use federal subsidies to purchase health care plans that cover elective abortions. According to a 2009 Quinnipiac poll, 72 percent of voters oppose public funding of abortion and 23 percent support it. In other words, public funding of abortion — a policy President Obama actively supports — is as unpopular as banning abortion in the case of rape, a policy on which the media have focused their attention over the past two weeks despite the fact that neither presidential candidate supports it.”
They will continue to focus on the theme that it’s not Obama fault that we are in the fix we are in. They will blame George Bush, the Tea Party, the weather, and ATMs.
They will continue to hype the 4.5 million jobs Obama created, but they will not get into the weeds of the details in explaining the jobs that were created. According to a CNN fact check the number may be correct but there is much more behind those numbers that are not so favorable to Obama:
The number Castro cites is an accurate description of the growth of private-sector jobs since January 2010, when the long, steep slide in employment finally hit bottom. But while a total of 4.5 million jobs sounds great, it's not the whole picture.
Nonfarm private payrolls hit a post-recession low of 106.8 million that month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figure currently stands at 111.3 million as of July.
While that is indeed a gain of 4.5 million, it's only a net gain of 300,000 over the course of the Obama administration to date. The private jobs figure stood at 111 million in January 2009, the month Obama took office.
And total nonfarm payrolls, including government workers, are down from 133.6 million workers at the beginning of 2009 to 133.2 million in July 2012. There's been a net loss of nearly 1 million public-sector jobs since Obama took office, despite a surge in temporary hiring for the 2010 census.
Meanwhile, the jobs that have come back aren't the same ones that were lost.”
“The figure of 4.5 million jobs is accurate if you look at the most favorable period and category for the administration. But overall, there are still fewer people working now than when Obama took office at the height of the recession.”
Here are a few things they will not talk about.
1. The National Debt. Now exceeding $16 trillion, the national debt and our debt to GDP ratio has never been worse despite the fact that Obama ran on a platform of debt reduction.
During the 2008 campaign he roundly attacked President Bush for borrowing from China to spend money we didn’t have. Now it seems that as long as Obama is spending the money, the national debt doesn’t matter. Under his policies it is projected that the debt will be 200% of GDP by the 2030’s. Obama has already presided over a more than 25% increase in government spending in just three and a half years. Unlike the RNC convention in Tampa, there surely won’t be a National Debt Clock hanging in the arena in Charlotte.
2. The Real Unemployment Rate. Everyone knows the unemployment rate is hovering over 8% and the president has to deliver his message to a nation that hasn’t seen the employment bounce-back promised from the $1 trillion in stimulus. However, what you won’t hear at the DNC are the real numbers — 23 million people unemployed or underemployed making the real unemployment rate, including those who have stopped looking for work at a staggering 14.9%. Unemployment is also being concealed by the between 3-4 million people who have been added to the Social Security disability insurance program since Obama took office.
3. Gas Prices. Obama hit President Bush hard for rising gas prices in 2008 and promised Americans relief at the pump. When he took office, the national average for a gallon of gas stood at $1.95. Today, on Labor Day, it’s nearly double, and yet he scarcely mentions it. How could he after appointing an Energy Secretary that believes it would somehow be good to have gas prices similar to Europe or after spending $1 billion on a failed so-called green jobs program? Obama’s stonewalling of the Keystone XL pipeline is also further evidence that the president is too focused on making the Chevy Volt viable rather than doing anything to lower gas and energy prices for Americans.
4. More than one third of Americans are on Government Assistance. Obama seems to be all for the culture of dependency, but don’t expect him to trumpet the idea that more than one third of the country is now receiving some form of means-tested government assistance. That number is up from about 24% under Bush. Of course, this welfare state isn’t a creation of the President, but between ObamaCare and his recent gutting of the work requirement for welfare recipients, Obama is well on his way to building his progressive utopia. The Romney camp should emphasize this point. Americans will find it depressing and distasteful.
5. The Federal Jobs Created. For all the talk about the unemployment rate and sluggish private sector growth, Obama has presided over the creation of nearly 150,000 new unionized government jobs during his term. This included thousands of new workers to manage ObamaCare at the IRS and the Department of Health and Human Services. This is a big slap in the face to the unemployed in this country when you consider that the average salary for a federal worker is now in excess of $70,000 plus benefits. Federal workers who benefit from union protection are often doing far better than their private sector counterparts these days. And while GOP governors have been reducing the public payrolls on a state level, Obama has continued to grow the federal bureaucracy.
A majority of voters believe the country is worse off today than it was four years ago and that President Obama does not deserve reelection, according to a new poll for The Hill:
“Fifty-two percent of likely voters say the nation is in “worse condition” now than in September 2008, while 54 percent say Obama does not deserve reelection based solely on his job performance:
Only 31 percent of voters believe the nation is in “better condition,” while 15 percent say it is “about the same,” the poll found. Just 40 percent of voters said Obama deserves reelection.
The results highlight the depth of voter dissatisfaction confronting Obama as he makes his case for a second term at this week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
They also strongly suggest Democrats need to convince voters the election should be a choice between Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, rather than a referendum on the president.
Obama’s biggest problem remains voter unhappiness with his handling of the economy.
Fifty percent of voters said they were “very unsatisfied” with Obama’s stewardship of the economy. Another 8 percent said they were somewhat unsatisfied.
More voters in The Hill’s poll think Romney will win the fall election than think Obama will win — despite state-by-state polls that suggest the president would have an edge in a number of swing states if the election were held today.
The poll found 46 percent of voters believe Romney will win the Nov. 6 election, compared to 43 percent who said they expect Obama to win.”
There is a great article from across the pond in the Telegraph on why we should tune into the Romney-Ryan show and how the debate in America is beginning as to whether or not democratic socialism with its cradle to grave benefits can continue to be funded by free market capitalism. In the September 1st article Janet Daley writes:
“Whatever the outcome of the American presidential election, one thing is certain: the fighting of it will be the most significant political event of the decade. Last week’s Republican national convention sharpened what had been until then only a vague, inchoate theme: this campaign is going to consist of the debate that all Western democratic countries should be engaging in, but which only the United States has the nerve to undertake. The question that will demand an answer lies at the heart of the economic crisis from which the West seems unable to recover. It is so profoundly threatening to the governing consensus of Britain and Europe as to be virtually unutterable here, so we shall have to rely on the robustness of the US political class to make the running.
What is being challenged is nothing less than the most basic premise of the politics of the center ground: that you can have free market economics and a democratic socialist welfare system at the same time. The magic formula in which the wealth produced by the market economy is redistributed by the state – from those who produce it to those whom the government believes deserve it – has gone bust. The crash of 2008 exposed a devastating truth that went much deeper than the discovery of a generation of delinquent bankers, or a transitory property bubble. It has become apparent to anyone with a grip on economic reality that free markets simply cannot produce enough wealth to support the sort of universal entitlement programs which the populations of democratic countries have been led to expect. The fantasy may be sustained for a while by the relentless production of phony money to fund benefits and job-creation projects, until the economy is turned into a meaningless internal recycling mechanism in the style of the old Soviet Union.
Or else democratically elected governments can be replaced by puppet austerity regimes which are free to ignore the protests of the populace when they are deprived of their promised entitlements. You can, in other words, decide to debauch the currency which underwrites the market economy, or you can dispense with democracy. Both of these possible solutions are currently being tried in the European Union, whose leaders are reduced to talking sinister gibberish in order to evade the obvious conclusion: the myth of a democratic socialist society funded by capitalism is finished. This is the defining political problem of the early 21st century.
Mitt Romney had been hinting, in an oblique, undeveloped way, at this line of argument as he moved tentatively toward finding a real message. Then he took the startling step of appointing Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, and the earth moved. If Romney was the embodiment of the spirit of a free market, Ryan was its prophet. His speech at the convention was so dangerous to the Obama Democrats, with their aspirations toward European-style democratic socialism, that they unleashed their “fact checkers” to find mistakes (“lies”) in it. (Remember the old Yes Minister joke: “You can always accuse them of errors of detail, sir. There are always some errors of detail”.) When Romney and Ryan offer their arguments to the American people, they are, of course, at an advantage over almost any British or European politician. Contrary to what many know-nothing British observers seem to think, the message coming out of Tampa was not Tea Party extremism. It was just a reassertion of the basic values of American political culture: self-determination, individual aspiration and genuine community, as opposed to belief in the state as the fount of all social virtue. Romney caught this rather nicely in his acceptance speech, with the comment that the US was built on the idea of “a system that is dedicated to creating tomorrow’s prosperity rather than trying to redistribute today’s.” Or as Marco Rubio put it in his speech, Obama is “trying ideas that people came to America to get away from”.
So it would be deeply misleading to imply that this campaign will be a contest between what Britain likes to call “progressive” politics and some atavistic longing for a return to frontier America where everybody made a success of his own life with no help from anybody but his kith and kin. In the midst of the impassioned and often nasty debate about the future of health care, in which Ryan was depicted as a granny-killer, there has been some serious Republican thinking about the universal provision of medical care for pensioners (or “seniors” as they are called in the US). Because, you see, the debate over there has gone way beyond welfare reform: the need to restrict benefit dependency among the underclass is an argument that has been won. What is at issue now is much more politically contentious: universal entitlements such as comprehensive Medicare and social security are known to be unaffordable in their present form. Ryan, the radical economic thinker, suggests a solution for Medicare in the form of a voucher system. Patients could choose from competing health providers, with a ceiling on the cost of procedures and treatments, instead of simply being given blanket no-choice care. Thus, the government would get better value for money, and individuals would have more say in their own treatment. Now why doesn’t anybody here think of applying that mechanism to the NHS? Oh, yes, some people have – but nobody in power will listen to them.”
It takes a Britt to see what is happing in the United States and why this election is boiling down to one simple question — can we afford democratic socialism anymore?
As mentioned earlier I did not watch Bill Clinton’s speech while the football game was on, but I did catch the reply later on Fox. I guess I an somewhat of a masochists that after watching the team I had picked in the football pool lose I chose to continue the pain by watch Bill Clinton.
It's a fact of life in Washington that what one party considers a principled stand, the opposition considers pigheadedness. Compromise? That's the other guy's problem.
But when former President Bill Clinton took the stage at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, he portrayed President Barack Obama as a pragmatic compromiser who has been stymied at every turn by Republicans. There was no mention of the role that the president and the Democrats have played in grinding compromise to a halt on some of the most important issues facing the country.
That was among the lines by the former president and others Wednesday that either cherry-picked facts or mischaracterized the opposition. Here is what AP had to say about a few of Clinton’s remarks:
CLINTON: "When times are tough, constant conflict may be good politics but in the real world, but in the real world, cooperation works better. Unfortunately, the faction that now dominates the Republican Party doesn't see it that way. They think government is the enemy and compromise is weakness. One of the main reasons America should re-elect President Obama is that he is still committed to cooperation."
THE FACTS: From Clinton's speech, voters would have no idea that the inflexibility of both parties is to blame for much of the gridlock. Right from the beginning Obama brought in as his first chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel, a man known for his getting his way, not for getting along.
One of the more high-profile examples of a deal that fell apart was the outline of a proposed "grand bargain" budget agreement between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner in 2011.
The deal would have required compromise from both sides. It slashed domestic spending more than most Democrats wanted and would have raised some taxes, which most Republicans oppose.
Boehner couldn't sell the plan to tea party factions in the House or to other conservative activists. And Obama found himself accused of going too far by some Democratic leaders. The deal died before it ever even came up for a vote.
In another instance, Obama appointed a bipartisan group, known as the Simpsons-Bowles Commission, to recommend ways to fix major fiscal problems like Social Security and Medicare. The commission issued its recommendations but fell three votes short of formally endorsing them. And Obama mostly walked away from the report. He later incorporated some of the less contentious proposals from the report into legislation he supported.
But that ensured the tough compromises would not get made.
The problem with compromising in Washington is that there are few true moderates left in either party. The notion that Republicans are the only ones standing in the way of compromise is inaccurate.
CLINTON: Clinton suggested that Obama's health care law is keeping health care costs in check.
"For the last two years, health care spending has grown under 4 percent, for the first time in 50 years. So, are we all better off because President Obama fought for it and passed it? You bet we are."
THE FACTS: That's wishful thinking at best. The nation's total health care tab has been growing at historically low rates, but most experts attribute that to continued uncertainty over the economy, not to Obama's health care law.
Two of the main cost-control measures in Obama's law - a powerful board to keep Medicare spending manageable and a tax on high cost health insurance plans - have yet to take effect.
Under the law, Medicare has launched dozens of experiments aimed at providing quality care for lower cost, but most of those are still in their infancy and measurable results have yet to be obtained. Former administration officials say the law deserves at least part of the credit for easing health care inflation, but even they acknowledge that the lackluster economy is playing a major role.
Meanwhile, people insured through the workplace by and large have seen little relief from rising premiums and cost shifts. According to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, the average premium for job-based family coverage rose from $13,375 in 2009 when Obama took office to $15,073 in 2011. During the same period, the average share paid by employees rose from $3,515 to $4,129.
While those premium increases cannot be blamed on the health care law - as Republicans try to do - neither can Democrats claim credit for breaking the back of health care inflation.
CLINTON: "I know many Americans are still angry and frustrated with the economy. I experienced the same thing in 1994 and early 1995. Our policies were working but most people didn't feel it yet. By 1996, the economy was roaring, halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in American history."
THE FACTS: Clinton is counting on voters to recall the 1990s wistfully and to cast a vote for Obama in hopes of replicating those days in a second term. But Clinton leaves out the abrupt downward turn the economy took near the end of his own second term and the role his policies played in the setting the stage for the historic financial meltdown of 2008.
While the economy and markets experienced a record expansion for most of the rest of Clinton's two-term presidency, at the start of 2000, there were troubling signs. Then-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned in February 2000 that "we are entering a period of considerable turbulence in financial markets."
Sure enough, the tech-heavy NASDAQ composite stock index and the Dow Jones industrial average both peaked in March 2000. The bursting of the high-tech bubble dragged down the economy and markets through the rest of the year. From September 2000 to January 2001 when Clinton left office, the NASDAQ dropped 46 percent. Even now, in 2012, the NASDAQ has not returned to its 2000 peak. By March 2001, the economy toppled into recession.
Also, as president, Clinton supported the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, a law dating back to the Great Depression that separated banking from high-risk financial speculation. Robert Rubin, who had been Clinton's first treasury secretary, helped broker the final deal on Capitol Hill that enabled the repeal legislation to pass. Some financial historians say the repeal of the law paved the way for banks to invest in risky investments like mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations that played a role in the 2008 financial meltdown.
CLINTON: "Their campaign pollster said, `We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.' Now that is true. I couldn't have said it better myself - I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad."
THE FACTS: Clinton, who famously finger-wagged a denial on national television about his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky and was subsequently impeached in the House on a perjury charge, has had his own uncomfortable moments over telling the truth. "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," Clinton told television viewers. Later, after he was forced to testify to a grand jury, Clinton said his statements were "legally accurate" but also allowed that he "misled people, including even his wife."
Of course the Kool-Aid drinkers of the left and some independents will not bother with facts. When Clinton made that remark on facts the audience roared approval and Clinton smirked that little smile of his. But, as John Adams said the trail of the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre; “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
Obama has struggled to win over working-class whites since the 2008 primaries, when he prevailed despite losing that voting bloc to Hillary Clinton. He received votes of about 40% of whites without college degrees in the 2008 general election.
An average of recent Quinnipiac and Pew surveys show that he is now closer to 34%. That's close to the danger zone. In 1984, Walter Mondale got 31% of their vote and was clobbered by Ronald Reagan.
Robert Schmuhl, professor of American studies at the University of Notre Dame, says that while Clinton is still wildly popular among Democrats, "whether Obama becomes the beneficiary is an open question."
He notes that Obama seems to be working harder to woo other groups.
"The Obama campaign is niche-oriented, bent on locating and mining votes from specific constituencies," he said. "We've seen it already in cultivating women, Latinos, gays and, of course, African Americans.
Others voice stronger doubts Obama can use Clinton to win over the white working class.
“That's Obama's goal, though I question how much effect a speech by Bill Clinton can have two months ahead of the election," said Larry Sabato, professor of political science at the University of Virginia. "First, a lot of those blue-collar workers will be watching football. Second, those who do watch may like Clinton better, but does that mean they'll vote for Obama? That's quite a leap."
There are other Democratic politicians who could appeal to working-class whites, but if the Obama campaign tried to persuade them to speak at the convention in Charlotte, N.C., they were unsuccessful.
Yesterday in Charlotte the Democratic National Convention began as amateurishly as President Obama’s first term has been. Three times Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles tried to get a majority of Democratic delegates to agree to add God and Jerusalem back into the Democratic Platform. Three times he failed. But on the third time, he declared he heard a two-thirds vote for changing the platform. I would note that I saw a video clip of this and the two-thirds was what was showing on Villaraigosa’s teleprompter. This was a preordained vote.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz lied again saying there was no fight and called it a “technical change”, but the Democratic delegates booed putting God and his holy city back into the Democratic Platform.
The Democrats and most of the mainstream media live in a symbiotic relationship and feedback loop. When Todd Akin says something dumb, the media seizes on it and attacks Todd Akin and the GOP. For the past several weeks the media has fixated on how out of touch the GOP is, its platform is, and its Presidential candidate is.
At the same time, the media has been largely silent on the Democratic Platform except for yesterday’s ridiculousness. Even then, the media mostly failed to point out that the Obama campaign said it had approved the platform removing God and Jerusalem, while going to great lengths to point out Obama intervened to put them back in.
Meanwhile, the Democrats booed God and his holy city the day after claiming we all belong the government as if it is some sort of Rotary Club.
This becomes the fatal problem for the Democrats — the media reinforces that the Democrats are grounded in reality and connected to America when they are not.
The Democrats actually have a very extremist position on abortion. The media that spent so long focused on the GOP’s position has barely dealt with the Democrats. Why? Because most of the mainstream media is in ideological lockstep with the Democrats on this. It’s hard to tell the Democrats they’ve gone too far astray from mainstream America when the mainstream media is over on the left-hand side to begin with.
The Democrats, in other words, overplayed their hand on the War on Women and there is no media voice they listen to saying, “Hold up, you’ve gone too far.” Most of the media is with or to the left of the Democrats on this. For a year now you and I have been hearing about the growing secularization of and atheism in America. I now see that’s no longer a coincidence, but another effort to feed the Democrats’ feedback loop in much the same way polls were being churned out in the press in 2010 showing how popular ObamaCare would be despite all objective polling showing it was not.
Consequently, the Democrats turned Sandra Fluke and Elizabeth Warren into cult heroes on feminism and liberal issues. Barack Obama utters, “you didn’t build that” and the Democrats start their convention telling us we all belong to the government. They get rid of God and Jerusalem, give a podium to two disastrous speeches by Fluke and Warren that I’m willing to bet did more harm than good, hand much of the rest of the convention over to abortion rights activists, see MSNBC hosts wear buttons with uteruses on them, and think that they are connecting with middle America because the media is not raising red flags in the way the media does with the GOP.
The feedback loop between the Democrats and the media has pushed the Democrats well outside the mainstream and I believe there is a silent majority looking at this festival of the bizarre in Charlotte in absolute revulsion. They hear “fair share” and cringe. They hear Bill Clinton ask if people are better off than they were four years ago and are shocked the Democrats yell back “yes.”
The Democrats have made the one always fatal mistake anyone can make in politics — they’ve believed their own press.
By the way the Giants lost to Cowboys 24-17 and I lost the first pick in this year’s football pool.