October 2012, Part 1

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

One From Column A, One From Column B:  Sometimes I think that's the procedure the Seattle Times is using to make their endorsements this year.

This year, they again endorsed Barack Obama for president, in what some will see as a triumph of hope over experience.

And now they just endorsed Republican John Koster for the open House seat in district 1.  Koster is, uh, different from Obama.
Republican John Koster’s small-business roots and practical understanding of the need for a transparent financial system give him an edge in the race to represent the new 1st Congressional District.
. . .
We disagree with Koster on social issues, but in Congress right now, his fiscal viewpoint and elected experience are what’s needed.

Koster’s reputation and performance as the practical conservative who can articulate and act on those views and find common ground is needed and welcome.
Very different.

Endorsing both of them is like using two tow trucks to pull a car out of a ditch, one truck pulling on the front of the car, and one pulling on the back.

(Credit where due:  The Times is now posting their candidate interviews on line.)
- 3:54 PM, 8 October 2012   [link]

Here's The Latest from Gallup.
Registered voters' preferences for president are evenly split in the first three days of Gallup tracking since last Wednesday's presidential debate.  In the three days prior to the debate, Barack Obama had a five-percentage-point edge among registered voters.
That poll result is consistent with the return-to-trend prediction I made yesterday.  I think we are seeing both the effects of the first debate and that return to trend.
- 12:53 PM, 8 October 2012   [link]

It Can Be Hard To Tell The Difference Between Democratic Commercials And "Mainstream" TV Stories:  (Except, of course, that the latter don't have the "approved by" tags.)

But it is important for the "mainstream" journalists and the Democrats to pretend that there is a difference, something the Obama campaign forgot.
We’ve often noted in this space the enormous advantage President Obama derives from having the mainstream media firmly in his pocket. But it appears the geniuses running his campaign don’t understand that the best way to exploit this edge is not to make it so obvious as to remove any doubt that the press has gone in the tank. That was exactly what they did when they used a clip of NBC’s Andrea Mitchell spouting Obama talking points on the air in a new web ad.

NBC has reacted to this breach of the informal rules of engagement between liberal journos and the Obami with high dudgeon and has asked the Democrats to take the ad down.
It's as if NBC doesn't want viewers to think that Mitchell is a political hack.

(In this area — and I suspect most others — our local TV stations routinely run press releases from Democratic officials, with no attempt at balance.  (And they sometimes do the same with Republican press releases.)  If I believed these press releases, I'd have a much higher opinion of, for example, our senior senator, Patty Murray.)
- 6:51 AM, 8 October 2012   [link]

Byron York Speculates That Obama May Be Tired of being president.
Now, in the Daily Beast, liberal writer Michael Tomasky asks, “Does Obama Even Want to Win the Election?”  After poor Obama showings at the debate, the Democratic convention, and a high-profile “60 Minutes” interview, Tomasky writes, “Someone needs to ask the cut-to-the-chase question: is he enthusiastic about keeping this job, or he is just maybe tired of being president?”

Perhaps he is.  If so, there were certainly signs long before Wednesday night in Denver.  A look at the president’s career shows he has never stayed in a job four years without looking to move on to something better.
Unfortunately, for Obama, there isn't any better job available.  He's not qualified to be Pope, and the UN Secretary-General job isn't open.

On the other hand, Obama enjoys the perks of being president, more than any other recent occupant of the office.  That's so obvious that he had to deny it in a yesterday, while speaking to supporters.

So I expect him to put up some fight in the next month, if only so he can keep on lecturing us about the need for the wealthy to share — at dinners where the main course is Wagyu beef.
- 5:49 AM, 8 October 2012   [link]

Worth Reading:  This New York Times article on the hazards of absentee ballots.

Regular readers of this site won't find any surprises there, but the article does add some examples, and some numbers, including this one.
Yet votes cast by mail are less likely to be counted, more likely to be compromised and more likely to be contested than those cast in a voting booth, statistics show.  Election officials reject almost 2 percent of ballots cast by mail, double the rate for in-person voting.
The article is frank about two of the biggest problems with absentee ballots.
Voters in nursing homes can be subjected to subtle pressure, outright intimidation or fraud.  The secrecy of their voting is easily compromised.  And their ballots can be intercepted both coming and going.

The problem is not limited to the elderly, of course.  Absentee ballots also make it much easier to buy and sell votes.  In recent years, courts have invalidated mayoral elections in Illinois and Indiana because of fraudulent absentee ballots.
As I've mentioned before, old-style political machines used to "assist" large numbers of voters at the polls, to make sure they were voting as they said they would.  (And I suppose that still happens in a few places, even now.)  Absentee ballots make that kind of assistance far easier, since the "help" can be given in a private place.

Professor Althouse suspects that Adam Liptak wrote this article to take attention away from the fight over voter IDs.   He does end with that, but I credit him with mostly wanting to shed light on a growing problem.

And it is fun to see an article like this in a newspaper where the editorial board has, for years, denied that vote fraud — of any kind — was a problem.

(Which party gains, net, from these problems with absentee ballots?  In most areas, the Republican party, in my opinion.  The Democrats have many more supporters who have little or no education, and so are more likely to make mistakes filling out their absentee ballots.  But in areas where vote fraud is common, then the Democrats probably come out ahead, because, as experience shows, they have more supporters willing to commit vote fraud.)
- 8:00 PM, 7 October 2012   [link]

French Honeybees Produce A Novel Product:  French beekeepers complain.
Bees in about a dozen apiaries started producing a substance that tasted like honey but was brightly coloured red, green or blue.

Andre Frieh, president of the region's beekeepers, said the coloured honey was "unmarketable".

Farmers believe they traced the problem to a nearby biogas plant, which turns organic waste and food industry residues into gas fuel.
(Food industry residues from an M&M plant, to be specific.)

Personally, I would be fine with eating the colored honey — assuming it hadn't picked up any bacteria along the way.  And, if there was a touch of chocolate in the honey's taste, there are many who would prefer it to, say, clover-flavored honey.
- 9:14 AM, 7 October 2012   [link]

Romney's Debate Gains:  Here's a summary from the Democratic (but honest) pollster Mark Blumenthal.
The new state polls have helped narrow the Obama-Romney margin on the HuffPost Pollster tracking model of the national popular vote.  As of this writing, the HuffPost model, which is based on all available surveys both national and statewide, gives Obama a roughly three-point lead (48.3 to 45.2 percent), though it will continue to update as new polls become available.
That paragraph does not agree with the chart (automatically updated, as I recall), which now shows a 1.6 percent lead for Obama (47.6-46.0%).

Here, for what it is worth, is my impressionistic overview of the race, so far:  If you look at the chart beginning in February, it shows a gradual decline in support for Obama, and a gradual increase in support for Romney.  During this time, the Obama campaign was heavily outspending the Romney campaign (and was getting considerable help from our "mainstream" journalists).  So Romney was swimming against the current, but still making progress.

Then there was a sizable bump for Obama, caused, in my opinion, by the Democratic convention — and the attack on our consulate in Libya.  That bump appears to have mostly dissipated.

If we get a return to trend — which I think likely — Romney should take the lead in a week or two, and finish with a solid, but not overwhelming, popular vote win.

Likely, but not certain, because much can happen between now and November 6th.
- 8:54 AM, 7 October 2012   [link]

Swedish Lunch Lady Is "Too Good"  And that's "unfair", according to local authorities.
Annika Eriksson, a lunch lady at school in Falun, was told that her cooking is just too good.

Pupils at the school have become accustomed to feasting on newly baked bread and an assortment of 15 vegetables at lunchtime, but now the good times are over.

The municipality has ordered Eriksson to bring it down a notch since other schools do not receive the same calibre of food - and that is "unfair".
As far as I can tell with a couple of quick searches, this is not a joke.

(Falun is a very old, medium-sized city, near the center of Sweden.)
- 2:58 PM, 6 October 2012   [link]

Matt Ridley Ends His Column with a little irony.
There is a rich irony here.  The rapidly growing use of shale gas in the U.S. has also driven down carbon-dioxide emissions by replacing coal in the generation of electricity.   U.S. carbon emissions are falling so fast they are now back to levels last seen in the 1990s.  So the two technologies most reliably and stridently opposed by the environmental movement—genetic modification and fracking—have been the two technologies that most reliably cut carbon emissions.
All right, a lot of irony.

And he could have made his argument even stronger by adding nuclear power, which has cut CO2 emissions for decades — and has also been opposed by most environmentalists, ferociously.
- 2:44 PM, 6 October 2012   [link]

Maine Legislative Candidate Collleen Lachowicz Is A Democrat — And An Orc:  Specifically, a level 85 orc.
Lachowicz, a Democratic challenger running for a Republican-held state Senate seat that encompasses the area between Lewiston and Bangor, is a World of Warcraft fan–she’s a level 85 orc in the popular multi-player online role-playing game.  Lachowicz’s gaming hobby came to light earlier this week, and Republicans have jumped on it, launching a website called “Colleen’s World” which highlights comments made by Lachowicz’s warcraft alter-ego, Santiaga.
Don't miss the picture.  I'd say that her on-line persona is quite attractive — if you like orcs.

(Here's Colleen's World, the site the Republicans were kind enough to make for her.)
- 2:02 PM, 5 October 2012   [link]

Hyperinflation In Iran:  Here's the story from Megan McArdle.
In fact, on the verge might not be the right way to put it; in the middle of might be more accurate.   Steve Hanke estimates that inflation is running at 70% a month.  This is, as Alex Tabarrok points out, nowhere near a record.  Still, it's a Big Deal.  Hyperinflation has brought down governments--Iran is experiencing protests over the collapsing rial.  And it's not hard to see why.  At the current rate of inflation the value of a savings account (or a mattress stash) is now barely 40% of what it was one month ago.  In a few more months, even a healthy balance will be about enough to buy a pack of gum.
McArdle has the pleasant thought that this hyperinflation might make the Iranian regime "willing to give up its nuclear program".  It's a pleasant thought, but I am afraid I don't share it.  In war time — and the regime believes that it is at war with us and Israel — governments will ask their people to make immense sacrifices.  And the people will often respond.

The hyperinflation will make it harder for them to acquire the technology needed to keep their nuclear program going.

(Here's a description of the most famous period of hyperinflation, the one that hit the Weimar Republic.)
- 1:24 PM, 5 October 2012   [link]

What Kind Of Legal Work Does Harvard Professor (And Democratic Senate Candidate) Elizabeth Warren Do?  Mostly, the kind that pays very well.
But as of now, we have at least 22 court cases for major corporations, including chemical, coal and insurance companies, but not a single court case in which Warren offered her services pro bono for an indigent client, or even for a middle class client who has been hammered.
Whatever else you may say about John Edwards — and there's a lot to say — it is true that some of his clients did not have big bucks.

(Some of the aldermen in the old Daley machine in Chicago required lawyers who wanted something from the city to do regular free legal work for the poor people in their wards.   The new Democratic organizations don't see any reason to follow that example.)
- 12:56 PM, 5 October 2012   [link]

"Miracle Flights"  Under the current rules at US airports, any passenger can request a wheelchair and then go to a special — and much shorter — line for the security check.  If you think about this wheelchair privilege for a minute, you will probably be able to guess one of the consequences.
The practice, tacitly endorsed by a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy from wheelchair pushers, who sometimes receive tips, is so commonplace that airport workers can predict spikes in wheelchair requests when security is particularly backed up, and flight attendants see it so often on certain routes — including to the Philippines, Egypt and the Dominican Republic, for which sometimes a dozen people in wheelchairs will be waiting to board — they’ve dubbed them “miracle flights.”

“We’d say there was a miracle because they all needed a wheelchair getting on, but not getting off,” said Kelly Skyles, a flight attendant and the national safety and security coordinator for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American Airlines attendants.  “Not only do we serve them beverages and ensure their safety — now we’re healing the sick.”
Now that is service!

Those who want to control medical costs may want to investigate this particular cure, which is, relatively, inexpensive.

Adam Estes reminds that what the New York Times calls trends aren't always actual trends, but agrees that this kind of cheating appears to be more common recently.
- 8:08 AM, 5 October 2012   [link]

Romney Reminded Us Just How Awful The IPAB Is:   George Will commends Romney for that reminder and gives us some of the details on this board, established by ObamaCare.
The Independent Payment Advisory Board perfectly illustrates liberalism’s itch to remove choices from individuals, and from their elected representatives, and to repose the power to choose in supposed experts liberated from democratic accountability.   Beginning in 2014, IPAB would consist of 15 unelected technocrats whose recommendations for reducing Medicare costs must be enacted by Congress by Aug. 15 of each year.  If Congress does not enact them, or other measures achieving the same level of cost containment, IPAB’s proposals automatically are transformed from recommendations into law.  Without being approved by Congress.  Without being signed by the president.

These facts refute Obama’s Denver assurance that IPAB “can’t make decisions about what treatments are given.”  It can and will by controlling payments to doctors and hospitals.  Hence the emptiness of Obamacare’s language that IPAB’s proposals “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care.”

By Obamacare’s terms, Congress can repeal IPAB only during a seven-month window in 2017, and then only by three-fifths majorities in both chambers.  After that, the law precludes Congress from ever altering IPAB proposals.
The IPAB is independent, all right, but it's hardly "advisory".  And it is hard to disagree with the Cato Institute's conclusion that the law is just a trifle unconstitutional.

If that's not enough, Kevin Mooney has some more details.

(You may be wondering whether Obama knew these details when he made that claim, whether he was lying or misinformed.  I am inclined to think that he was lying, but will admit that I have no direct evidence.)
- 7:38 AM, 5 October 2012   [link]

Cat-Sized, Plant-Eating, Fanged dinosaur.
Covered in porcupine-like quills and sporting a blunt, parrot-like beak, P. africanus would've looked like a "strange little bird," said Sereno, a paleontologist with the University of Chicago.

But its fangs, Sereno argues, were more like those of the piglike peccary (picture) or fanged deer, or water chevrotain (video)—modern-day, plant-eating mammals that use their teeth for self-defense and foraging.
Pegomastax africanus is an odd looking little beast, for sure.  And I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it would look even odder, if we knew what colors it sported.

(There's more about the Heterodontosaurid family, to which P. africanus belongs, here.)
- 2:19 PM, 4 October 2012   [link]

More Foreign Reactions To The Obama-Romney Debate:   Guardian columnist Gary Younge, who does not like Republicans or most Americans, for that matter, admits that Romney won.
In the end there were no zingers; no knockout blows; no major blunders. But there was a winner: Mitt Romney.  After several reboots and roll-outs he finally, finally found his voice.  He wasn't likeable, but he was believable.  Gone were the gaffes, the stiff, wooden persona and the excessive caution.  He came out fighting and he kept on swinging.

Fluent, strident, confident – he made his case.
The moderate French newspaper, Le Figaro, used this headline: "Romney domine Obama lors du premier débat", which is easy enough to translate, even if you don't know French.  (Romney dominated Obama during their first debate.)

The leftist French newspaper, Le Monde found it necessary to reassure its readers with this headline: "Les attaques de Romney ne sont pas suffisantes pour mettre à terre son adversaire".  (Romney's attacks are not sufficient to bury his adversary.)  I was charmed to see that one of the commenters called the newspaper, "obamiste", which is also easy to translate, while making some solid points in favor of Romney and against Obama.

Commenter Gregor Peter Schmitz at Der Spiegel knows who won.
The political automaton versus the popular leader: One could be forgiven for forgetting which was which at the Wednesday presidential debate in Denver.  A smiling and energetic Mitt Romney seemed personable while incumbent Barack Obama looked sullen and listless.  It might be enough to revive the Republican's campaign.
(Actually, Obama is no longer particularly popular here in the United States.  But that news may not have reached Germany.)

Canada's Globe and Mail tells us that Obama supporters were "disappointed".  As they had every right to be.

There were two general exceptions that I found in my very brief search:  According to Sarah Hoyt, the Portuguese are being told that Obama won.

And over in Seattle, which is not a foreign country, but sometimes seems like one, the Seattle Times chose a headline that minimizes Romney's win: "Romney aggressively attacks; Obama less energetic in debate".

(That's fits a pattern I've been noticing at our local monopoly newspaper.  I often buy three newspapers, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Seattle Times.  If they have the same story on Obama — and they often do — the Seattle newspaper is almost always gives Obama a more favorable headline than the other two.)
- 11:12 AM, 4 October 2012
A better translation for "mettre à terre" might be vanquish, or perhaps knock down.  Literally, it means put to the ground.
- 8:20 AM, 5 October 2012
Here's another set of foreign reactions, with similar judgments.  I haven't seen any reactions yet from nations like Nigeria, Japan, India, Russia, and China, but I'd like to.
- 12:36 PM, 8 October 2012   [link]

What Are Harvard Freshmen Being Asked To Read?  With one possible exception, a translated poem by Wislawa Szymborska, a set of politically correct, but not very intellectually challenging, pieces.
The first thing to note is that the inclusion of President Obama's famous speech carries a political and partisan weight this year that it would not have had last year or next.   Lewis writes: "Was there really no alternative to including the Obama text as required reading for all freshmen, two months before the first election in which many of them will vote?"

Worse, this year's texts give new Harvard students clear clues on what grievances they ought to feel and which class and racial resentments are deemed proper on this famous campus.
And we all know which ones those are.
- 8:40 AM, 4 October 2012   [link]

Native Australians Are Different From You And Me:   According to a poster produced by the Australian government.  (Now controlled, barely, by the Labor Party.)
IT'S not so much a guide to the female anatomy as a magical medical tour in which kidneys become ovaries, the stomach becomes a lung, and the lung has a "food tube" attached.
You don't need to be a doctor to spot some of the other mistakes.

By way of Tim Blair.
- 8:09 AM, 4 October 2012   [link]

Well, That Was Fun:  If you are a Romney supporter.   I listened to the last 15 minutes or so of last night's presidential "debate", in spite of my resolution not to.  And from polls, such as this one, I see that others had the same impression from watching the whole thing that I did from listening to part of it.
Two-thirds of people who watched the first presidential debate think that Republican nominee Mitt Romney won the showdown, according to a nationwide poll conducted Wednesday night.

According to a CNN/ORC International survey conducted right after the debate, 67% of debate watchers questioned said that the Republican nominee won the faceoff, with one in four saying that President Barack Obama was victorious.
The BBC's headline for the debate story is" "Romney 'wins' US election debate", and their North American editor, Mark Mardell (who is no friend to Republicans), concurs.
But as theatre, a battle of image and confidence, Mitt Romney was the clear winner.   He had obviously practised so hard and so long that he was nearly hoarse.  But not quite.  Instead his voice was a touch deeper.  No bad thing.

He looked Mr Obama in the eyes as he interrupted with animation, overriding the moderator, insisting on a comeback.  He didn't seem rude.  He did seem in command and to be enjoying the scrap.

President Obama on the other hand looked as though he'd much rather be out celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife.  He started out looking very nervous, swallowing hard, not the confident performer we are used to seeing.
When even the BBC thinks a Republican won, it's a big victory.

So it was fun, but it's still a lousy way to choose a president.  And I am glad that Romney didn't take my grumpy attitude into that "debate".

(One interesting detail in that Mardell post:  He admits that the debate was at too high level, in parts, for him to follow.  That's quite an admission from the BBC's North American editor, who is supposed to know about such things.)
- 6:27 AM, 4 October 2012   [link]

Mitt Romney, Garbage Man:  Yes, he worked as one, for a day, as part of his campaign for Massachusetts governor.

(He also worked as short order cook, construction worker, farm worker, emergency room aide, nursing home aide, and child-care assistant.)

Whatever you may think about his day as a garbage man, there is no doubt that Romney said the right things about it afterwards, as you can see in that quote from his book.
- 4:11 PM, 3 October 2012   [link]

With The First Presidential Debate Just Hours Away, I Am Getting Grumpy:  As I have in all recent presidential elections, for reasons I explained (again) in 2008.

These debates are a lousy way to judge presidential candidates, though I will admit that it is not easy to think of public ways to judge their ability to listen, read, do arithmetic, and think, all of which I think are more important than their ability to talk.

The tragic loss of our ambassador and three other Americans in Libya may be a result of President Obama's unwillingness, or inability, to listen.  There is considerable public evidence that the administration was warned about dangers in Benghazi and, so far, no evidence that Obama, or Secretary Hillary Clinton listened to those warnings.

All that said, we could have better formats.  I thought that what Rick Warren tried to do in 2008, giving the same questions independently to each candidate, was better than what we have seen from our "mainstream" moderators.  For that matter, a genuine debate between the candidates, rather than a sort of joint press conference, would be better, too.

(Possibly interesting historical trivia:  If I recall correctly, Jim Lehrer, the moderator tonight, was brought on to PBS to provide a relatively conservative balance to Robert MacNeil.)
- 3:26 PM, 3 October 2012   [link]

Brian Banks Isn't A Typical Democratic Candidate:   But he is the Democratic candidate in Michigan's 1st legislative district.
People say politicians can't be trusted, but what about when it comes to an eight-time felon running for public office?  Brian Banks, 35, convicted of writing bad checks and credit card fraud, is vying for Michigan's 1st House District this November.

The Democrat, whose last conviction for fraud-related charges was eight years ago, won a close primary election.  Banks, who did not have to face an incumbent, beat four other Democratic opponents by a margin of only 100 votes.  He'll face Dan Schulte, a Republican and Grosse Pointe Shores two-term city councilman with no criminal record.
It's a very Democratic district (typically 70 percent), so Banks will probably win.

(With nice balance, the Detroit Free Press names two legislators, one Republican and one Democrat, who also have crime problems.)
- 2:16 PM, 3 October 2012   [link]

Bush Turned Defeat Into Victory In Iraq, Obama May Turn That Victory Into Defeat:  Who says so?  Gideon Rose, foreign policy expert and currently editor of Foreign Affairs.

And the place he says it is, deliciously, the New York Times, which opposed the Bush surge vociferously.  In the middle of a review of Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor's The Endgame, Rose wrote this:
The heart of the book describes the "surge", the new United States counterinsurgency strategy that helped reverse the course of the war in 2007-8.  The final section shows the Obama administration reverting to the earlier course, pocketing the gains of the surge it opposed and using them to buy a relatively quick and painless exit.  Without American forces helping to keep Iraq on the straight and narrow, the authors suggest, it is likely to slip back into tyranny or civil strife or both.
But the Obama administration may not care because, as Rose says later, they "come off as somewhat callous and shortsighted".

Naturally — this is the New York Times and Rose did work for the Clinton administration — Rose can't or won't be as explicit as I was in that post title.  But I think that title is a fair summary of what he does say.  (And, according to him, what most experts now believe.)

If you don't want to buy the book, you can get some of the argument from recent articles by Gordon in — the New York Times.  I have no idea whether their Bush-hating editorial writers and columnists are studying those articles, but they should.
- 10:56 AM, 3 October 2012   [link]

Need A Very Quick Take On That 2007 Obama Video?   Here's one from Stanley Kurtz, who is one of the best on Obama's past.
- 8:59 AM, 3 October 2012   [link]

We Could Have A Tie In The Electoral College, as Nate Silver reminds us.

In that case, the election would go, as everyone knows (well, almost everyone), to the House of Representatives, where the delegations would vote by state, with each state having one vote.  (And, most likely with Republicans having the edge, since they control more delegations.)

This possibility has existed since the 1961 ratification of the 23rd Amendment, which gave 3 electoral college votes to the District of Columbia.  Since there were already 535 votes, the current total is 538, an even number.

(I have been unable to think of a good solution to this problem, one that would not require a difficult-to-pass amendment to the Constitution.  Some possible solutions would cause other problems.  If, for instance, Puerto Rico were admitted as a state and given an additional odd number of House seats, that would solve the electoral college tie problem, but create a potential tie in the House.)
- 6:30 PM, 2 October 2012   [link]

Michael Barone's Tentative Prediction:  A day or so ago, Michael Medved asked Barone for his prediction on the Obama/Romney race.  Barone said that he thought that Romney would win, narrowly.  He didn't give a number, but I assume he means that Romney will be on the winning side of a 51-49 split, or somewhere thereabouts, in the two-party vote.

Medved didn't ask Barone how he came to that conclusion, perhaps because he suspected, as I do, that Barone had not made a formal analysis.

Neither have I, but that corresponds to my feeling about the most likely outcome on November 6th.  What I think will happen, I suppose, is that enough voters will consider Obama's record between now and then to give Romney the edge.  (I'll try to come up with something more formal for you by next Tuesday.)

That feeling is, I should add, not shared by most of those who predict elections, including those who bet on them.
- 3:57 PM, 2 October 2012
Several polls, none of which I had seen when wrote this brief post, support my prediction that Romney will gain during the rest of the campaign.  For example, the National Journal poll is now showing a 47-47 tie.
- 9:44 AM, 3 October 2012   [link]

An 11th Quote:  Politico has a list of 10 quotes (which you can see, stripped of Politico's analysis, here) that "haunt President Obama".

But when I read their list, I was struck by the fact that they left out his famous summing up paragraph when he claimed the Democratic nomination in 2008.
The journey will be difficult.  The road will be long.  I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations.  But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people.   Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment - this was the time - when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.  Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
(Emphasis added.)

At the time, I thought that paragraph amazing — and about as far away from "profound humility" as he could get.  I haven't changed my mind since then.

Take just one line out of it, a line that has gotten less attention than the bit about the rise of the oceans slowing.  Obama says that this is the moment when we "began to provide care for the sick".  Began?  We have always provided care for the sick, in one way or another, and in recent years we have spent hundreds of billions, in fact, now trillions, of dollars every year to provide care for the sick.

What worries me now, as it did in 2008, is that Obama may believe some of what he said in that paragraph.  I especially worry that Obama has no understanding at all of his own limitations.
- 2:47 PM, 2 October 2012   [link]

The Middle Class Hasn't Been "Buried" In The Last Four Years:   But they have been doing worse.
Despite repeated promises that he would build prosperity from the bottom up, President Obama has presided over three years of income losses for the middle class, according to the latest household income data from the Census Bureau.

Since 2009, the middle 20% of American households saw their average incomes drop 4%. In 2011 alone, they fell 1.7%.  The poorest 20% have fared even worse under Obama, Census data show.  Their incomes have dropped more than 7% since 2009, and are now lower than they've been at any time since 1985, after adjusting for inflation.
And the top 20 percent?  They aren't doing great, but they are doing better.  As a consequence, income inequality, by the most common measure, has increased.
Based on the Gini index, income inequality increased by 1.6 percent between 2010 and 2011; this represents the first time the Gini index has shown an annual increase since 1993, the earliest year available for comparable measures of income inequality.  The Gini index was 0.477 in 2011.  (The Gini index is a measure of household income inequality; zero represents perfect income equality and 1 perfect inequality.)
It would be wrong to attribute all of these changes to Obama policies; it would be equally wrong not to think about ways in which Obama policies might have contributed to them.  (For example, the subsidies for "Green" energy boondoggles like Solyndra made some people quite well off.)

(Most sociologists, if pressed, would probably call the middle 20 percent the middle class, and the next higher 20 percent the upper middle class.  The next lower group they would, if pressed, call the working class, a term now almost never used by our politicians.

You would have to press them because most sociologists would say — correctly — that I am simplifying drastically.  But this is a blog post, not a sociology textbook.)
- 1:16 PM, 2 October 2012   [link]

Vice President Biden Commits a Kinsley gaffe; he accidentally tells truth.
Biden made the remark at a campaign rally while arguing that Republicans would raise taxes on the middle class.  He said the tax hike would be especially bad given what the middle class has been through over the last four years.

“This is deadly earnest, man.  This is deadly earnest,” the vice president said.   “How they can justify, how they can justify raising taxes on the middle class that has been buried the last four years — how in Lord's name can they justify raising their taxes with these tax cuts.”
(Emphasis added.)

That would make Obama and Biden grave diggers, if we extend his metaphor in the obvious way.
- 12:38 PM, 2 October 2012   [link]

Peter Kirsanow Has the real reason the Japanese attacked at Pearl Harbor.
Cambridge, Mass. — Celebrated historian Bertram Oxley has uncovered a memorandum from former Japanese Emperor Hirohito to Admiral Yamamoto dated December 6, 1941, showing that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was motivated by an offensive film made by Charlie Chaplin ridiculing Japanese cuisine.

“Contrary to historical accounts over the last seventy years,” Professor Oxley said in an interview today with the BBC, “What appeared to be a meticulously planned surprise attack was actually a spontaneous demonstration by moderate sushi connoisseurs in the Imperial Navy in response to a hateful and offensive movie.  Thereafter, extremist elements within the Japanese military co-opted the spontaneous attack, transforming it into the overseas contingency operation sometimes referred to as ‘World War II.’”
That makes as least as much sense as what President Obama and UN ambassador Susan Rice were telling us about the attack on our Benghazi consulate.
- 7:58 AM, 2 October 2012   [link]

Attorney General Eric Holder's college hijinks.
As a freshman at Columbia University in 1970, future Attorney General Eric Holder participated in a five-day occupation of an abandoned Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) headquarters with a group of black students later described by the university’s Black Students’ Organization as “armed,” The Daily Caller has learned.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler has not responded to questions from The Daily Caller about whether Holder himself was armed — and if so, with what sort of weapon.
That armed takeover is much more impressive, I think you will agree, than, for instance, a toga party — but not necessarily the kind of background we want in an attorney general.

(Patterico has a little more here on a similar action, and the consequences, at Cornell.)
- 1:12 PM, 1 October 2012   [link]

Are Leftwing Journalists Conspiring Against The McKenna Campaign?  Please note that I begin with a question, not a statement.  I do that because I heard a remarkable story on public radio, but can not verify it, easily.

Some background first, for those who do not follow Washington state politics:   Republicans last elected a governor of Washington state in 1980.  (Many Republicans, including me, would say that we won in 2004, but got cheated in the recounts.)   This year, the Republicans have a strong candidate in Rob McKenna, our brilliant attorney general, who has been elected twice, state wide.  Early polls gave McKenna the lead; more recent ones, like this one, have given a narrow lead to his opponent, former congressman Jay Inslee.

So in the next month, we can expect a very tough election race here in Washington state.  And, sadly, we can expect many of our "mainstream" journalists to join in on the Democratic side.

Ten days ago, KUOW's Gang of Four were discussing the gubernatorial race.  The usual panel was there, KUOW host Steve Scher, former Seattle Weekly editor Knute Berger, Seattle Times assistant political editor Joni Balter, and the associate editor of the Stranger, Eli Sanders.

At 28 minutes and 40 seconds into the program, Sanders told us this story:

Sanders:  Another interesting thing on the Mckenna campaign and its, you know, perception among voters and its perception in the media.  I think it was this week or late last week, they cancelled this rolling weekly conference call that they were doing with reporters I think because they hoped it would get their message out.

Now certain reporters were allowed on the call, others were not.  No one from the Stranger was ever allowed on the call.  But they stopped doing it and I believe they told the Seattle Times it was not working.

Scher:  It seemed like there were too many Inslee talking points in the questions.

Sanders:  But this is a win for the Inslee campaign.  They essentially used McKenna's own conference call as an opportunity for themselves to hold a press conference.  You know, they knew when the calls were happening.   And they would talk to the reporters who were going to be on the call and say: "Hey, maybe you should ask them about this.  What about that?"  And then right after the calls, sometimes they would release, you know, statements and it's, you know, it was a mistake on the part of the McKenna campaign to even do this in the first place.  And it was interesting to see them so openly conceding that.

Note please, that these unnamed journalists were, according to Sanders, systematically coordinating with the Inslee campaign.

There were three other journalists there besides Sanders.  None of them, not Scher, not Berger, not Balter, said anything disapproving about this story.  It would be wrong to infer from their silence that they approve of this concerted attack on the McKenna campaign by journalists; it would not be wrong to say that they are willing to tolerate the attack.

Is the story true?  Probably, in my opinion.  It is consistent with the one thing known publicly, that the McKenna campaign did cancel that weekly call.

On the same day of that Weekday program, Gallup released their finding that distrust of the media had hit a new high.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(You should be able to find the MP3 file at the KUOW site.  The name of the file that I downloaded is: WeekdayB20120921.mp3.  Most likely the name is still the same in their archives.

Note: In the interest of readability, I cleaned up the transcript slightly, eliminating some of the cross talk, repetitions, and "uhs".

The grade for that Weekday program is 0.0.  There was no attempt by anyone on the panel at partisan or ideological balance.)
- 12:31 PM, 1 October 2012   [link]

The Fear Factor in Venezuela.
Make of this what you will: when Consultores 21 asks voters outright whether they will vote for Chávez or Capriles, 7.7% say they’re undecided. When, instead, they give voters a mock ballot and some privacy to fill it out, the number of undecideds falls to 4.8%, with nearly all of them going to Capriles.
Venezuelans have good reason to fear the Chávez regime.  Three opposition activists were just murdered at a campaign rally, and the regime is organizing gangs to intimidate their opponents.

(With just six days to go before the vote, the polls in Venezuela disagree — and by a lot.

It is hard for me to tell whether Chávez will accept an electoral defeat, even one so clear that Jimmy Carter can see it.  Chávez is in very poor health, which might make it easier for him to give up power.

When the Sandinistas were defeated in 1990, it was a surprise, because polls had showed them winning.  News accounts at the time attributed the difference between the polls and the result to the fear factor.  As I recall, one indirect test predicted the result; respondents were not asked which party they would vote for, but which pencil they wanted from a pair, identified by the party colors.)
- 6:44 AM, 1 October 2012   [link]

"The Natural Versus The Phony"  Why Scott Brown has a good chance to beat Elizabeth Warren — in the very Democratic state of Massachusetts.
- 5:26 AM, 1 October 2012   [link]