October 2012, Part 4

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Greenpeace Versus the children.
But what few members of the public know is that Greenpeace isn't just about saving whales and other appealing sea creatures.  Its PR machine is now spearheading an effort to deny millions of children in the poorest nations the essential nutrients they need to stave off blindness and death.

The targets are new plant varieties collectively called "golden rice."  Rice is a food staple for hundreds of millions, especially in Asia.  Although it is an excellent source of calories, it lacks certain micronutrients necessary for a complete diet.  In the 1980s and '90s, German scientists Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer developed the "Golden Rice" varieties that are biofortified, or enriched, by genes that produce beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A.
And Greenpeace is doing everything it can to ensure that third world children do not get that much-needed rice.

If you were to dress up as a Greenpeace volunteer this Halloween, few would understand why you think that costume would be scary — but more people should.
- 3:11 PM, 31 October 2012   [link]

More Videos From That Big Democratic Contributor "Ramtha"  (AKA JZ Knight.)

Along with a whole bunch of other links from the Freedom Foundation, which has been doing great investigative work on this scandalous woman.

J.Z. Knight and her Ramtha School of Enlightenment are in the news—and not in a positive way. You can’t browse the internet today without seeing her name associated with a shocking video that shows Ramtha spewing anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, and anti-gay rhetoric during one of her “enlightenment” sermons.

This story has come to light largely because of the Freedom Foundation’s tenacity and research into local government issues in Thurston County. The Ramtha story came to our attention when a local activist contacted the Freedom Foundation asking how we could help shine some light on the cult activity taking place there.

The missing links in their list are interesting.  Three of our local TV stations, KOMO 4, Q13, and KCTS do not appear, nor does our on-line only newspaper, the Seattle PI.  There is no link there to any story by a Seattle alternative newspaper, the Strangler, which is a bit of a surprise since I think they would like Ramtha's anti-Catholic sentiments, and might be intrigued by her (his?) theory that: "All gay men were once Catholic women."

(Of course, the list might be incomplete.)

If you have watched any of those videos, you'll understand why I think posts on Ramtha are especially appropriate on Halloween.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(As far as I know, the Obama campaign hasn't given back her contributions, though other Democrats have donated them to worth causes.)

- 2:55 PM, 31 October 2012
Minor correction: Originally, I wrote that other Democrats had returned her donations.  Actually, the ones I know about have donated her contributions to worthy causes.  Thanks to a commenter at Sound Politics for catching my mistake, which I have corrected in the post.
- 4:44 PM, 31 October 2012   [link]

Happy Halloween!   And, in the rest of the posts today, I'll try to follow vaguely Halloween themes.

Here, for instance, is today's Michael Ramirez cartoon.
- 1:37 PM, 31 October 2012   [link]

Limited Modified Hangout On Benghazi:  (I'm borrowing that Watergate phrase from Glenn Reynolds.)

Yesterday, the New York Times published a front-page article explaining — from the administration's point of view — what went wrong in Benghazi.

Today, David Ignatius (who has been something of an apologist for the administration on this disaster) publishes a column making some of the same arguments.

Someone in the administration (Leon Panetta?) must have decided that they were better off telling some of the truth now, so they could get replies to Fox and talk radio on the record.  So, naturally, they turned to their friends at the Times and the Post.

That doesn't mean that we can't learn something from both the article and the column.  For instance, from the article we can learn that the lack of protection in Benghazi was administration policy:
What is clear is that even as the State Department responded to the June attacks, crowning the Benghazi compound walls with concertina wire and setting up concrete barriers to thwart car bombs, it remained committed to a security strategy formulated in a very different environment a year earlier.

In the heady early days after the fall of Colonel Qaddafi’s government, the administration’s plan was to deploy a modest American security force and then increasingly rely on trained Libyan personnel to protect American diplomats — a policy that reflected White House apprehensions about putting combat troops on the ground as well as Libyan sensitivities about an obtrusive American security presence.
That's what most of us had guessed, but it is good to have this confirmation.

And we can learn from the column that even Ignatius now thinks that the administration should answer some questions about the Benghazi attack — though you can also tell what he thinks some of the answers should be.
Looking back, it may indeed have been wise not to bomb targets in Libya that night.   Given the uproar in the Arab world, this might have been the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a burning fire.
But there is one question that does not appear to interest the Times reporters (Michael Gordon, Eric Schmitt, and Michael S. Schmidt) or Ignatius:  Why did President Obama, Secretary Clinton, UN Ambassador Rice, and others in the administration, tell us, again and again, that this attack was a spontaneous reaction to a Internet video?

Shouldn't that false story, which almost no one now believes, interest our "mainstream" journalists?
- 9:43 AM, 31 October 2012   [link]

Why Are The State And National Polls Giving us Different Answers?  If you go by averages of the state polls, Obama is winning the electoral college and, probably, the popular vote.  If you go by averages of the national polls, Romney is winning the popular vote, and possibly the electoral college.

Sean Trende concludes, tentatively, that the two sets of polls really are telling us different things — and gives us reasons to believe in either set
After all, there are several good arguments for favoring the state polling: (1) you have more polls -- a much larger collective “n”; (2) you compartmentalize sampling issues -- pollsters focused exclusively on Colorado, for example, seem less likely to overlook downscale Latinos than pollsters with a national focus; and (3) the state pollsters were better in 1996 and 2000, two years that the national pollsters missed (although the truly final national pollsters in 2000 got it right, suggesting that perhaps there was a late shift in the race).

But this is by no means a cut-and-dried case.  Among national pollsters, you have a battle-tested group with a long track record performing national polls.  Of the 14 pollsters producing national surveys in October, all but three were doing the same in 2004 (although AP used Ipsos as its pollster that year rather than GfK, and I believe a few others may have changed their data-collection companies).  Of the 14 pollsters surveying Ohio in October, only four did so in 2004 (five if you count CNN/USAToday/Gallup and CNN/Opinion Research as the same poll).
Trende thinks (hopes?) the two sets will converge as the election gets closer.
- 7:39 AM, 31 October 2012   [link]

Mayor Bloomberg Decided He Didn't Need Another Disaster Area tourist.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference Tuesday evening that he declined President Barack Obama’s offer to visit New York City in the midst of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, saying that a trip to New Jersey would suffice.

“I talked to the president today and I talked to his chief of staff [Jack Lew] today, particularly about a trip here.  What I pointed out to him is that we would love to have him, but we‘ve got lots of things to do,” Bloomberg told reporters.  “And I’m not trying to diss him, but I know he had planned a trip to New Jersey, and I said, ‘That’s fine.  It represents the whole region; people understand the storm.’”
Especially not one that high maintenance.

Political operatives mostly love these presidential trips to disaster areas, but anyone who thinks about them for a few minutes will realize that they generally do more harm than good.   The security alone often requires hundreds of people to stop whatever they are doing and set up protection for the president.

What should presidents do?  Get on the phone to see what the governors and mayors might need from federal resources — and have aides get on the phones to independent sources to check those stories.

Surveying the damage from an over flight in Air Force 1 probably doesn't hurt the disaster recovery efforts, and may even give the president a useful overview.  But it won't do anything for a president, politically.
- 7:09 AM, 31 October 2012   [link]

Where Was President Obama On 9/11, 2012?  (While our consulate in Benghazi, and a CIA facility were being attacked.)

Mostly, out of the White House.

Obama attended a 9/11 commemoration at the Pentagon that started at 9:30 AM, visited wounded servicemen in Bethesda at 2:15 PM, and got back to the White House for a 5:00 PM meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

The State Department received emails telling about the attack, at the latest, by 4:05 PM, DC time.   (I'm not sure just when — or how — the CIA sent their first messages on the attack.)

As far as I can tell, there were no military men anywhere near Benghazi, so the warnings were coming only from the State Department and the CIA.

Because the meeting with Panetta was previously scheduled, we know that it was not called in order to decide what to do about the attack.  So far, there are conflicting reports on whether the attack was even mentioned in that meeting.

If a decision had been taken at that meeting, then I would have expected President Obama to mention it the next day, when he made his first public statement.  But he said nothing specific about our reactions to the attack on 12 September.

I am still inclined to think — and I know that there is conflicting testimony on this point — that the attack was not mentioned at the meeting.  And I am almost certain that no one asked him to make a decision on a rescue attempt.
- 1:25 PM, 30 October 2012   [link]

Crony Capitalists In China:  And in the United States.   Bret Stephens begins with the "$2.7 billion belonging to various members of the family of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao", and then switches to another crony capitalist, Al Gore.

For his thoughts on Gore, Stephens is relying on a solid story by the Washington Post's Carol Leonnig, so I'll take you directly there.
Just before leaving public office in 2001, Gore reported assets of less than $2 million; today, his wealth is estimated at $100 million.

Gore charted this path by returning to his longtime passion — clean energy.  He benefited from a powerful resume and a constellation of friends in the investment world and in Washington.  And four years ago, his portfolio aligned smoothly with the agenda of an incoming administration and its plan to spend billions in stimulus funds on alternative energy.
Leonnig has five pages of details, describing how Gore went from $2 million to $100 million.  (If you are a taxpayer, you helped.)

It's good to have friends in high places.  Taxpayers may wish they had some of those friends, too.  And so may many of the workers hired, and then laid off, by those "Green" firms that Gore invested in, briefly.

(Al Gore's father was also a crony capitalist, benefiting greatly from his connections with Armand Hammer, oil man and Soviet agent.)
- 7:56 AM, 30 October 2012   [link]

"All-Encompassing List Of Artists And Tracks"  The Associated Press's Jim Kuhnhenn summarized President Obama's iPod favorites with that odd phrase.
Interviewed Monday on Cincinnati radio station WIZF, Obama ran through his musical tastes, an eclectic and all-encompassing list of artists and tracks that reflect the varied coalition of voters he is seeking to attract.
Here are the artists and groups listed in the article: Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jay-Z, Eminem, the Fugees, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Gil Scott-Heron.

You don't have to know a lot about music to notice that country and classical music are missing from that list.  Or that the president doesn't include any of our wonderful gospel music.  There are no musicals, not even Bernstein's "Westside Story".

Those who do know something about music could add many more kinds of music that didn't make that "all-encompassing" list.

Those old enough to remember JFK will recall that many members of his administration said they liked classical music — and some of them actually did.  That taste for classical music demonstrated, many thought, how serious and intelligent they were.

To be fair, Obama was campaigning in that stop Monday, and so he was trying to show that he and the station share musical tastes, not give a complete list of his musical favorites.  But this list is similar enough to others that Obama has given us over the years to let us conclude that, at the very least, these are the songs he wants us to think he likes.  (Here's another recent list, in which he appears to be trying to appeal more to urban women.)

One of the men on that first list, Jay-Z, is a friend of the Obamas, though not, I would hope, because they think his work is uplifting.)

Shouldn't Obama have been preparing for the storm on Monday, rather than chatting about his musical tastes?  Well, sure, but we should know by now that he has different priorities than most of our presidents.
- 6:46 AM, 30 October 2012
Correction:  The interview aired Monday, but was taped last Saturday.   That weakens my point about the timing, but does not destroy it, since it was already obvious by Saturday that Sandy posed a serious threat.
- 7:12 AM, 30 October2012   [link]

Want To See Pictures From Super Storm Sandy?  The Daily Mail has them.

Speaking of pictures, I can't be the only person who thinks that the intrepid-TV-reporter-in-front-of the-storm pose has been over done.  After you've seen the pose for the thousandth time, it loses its impact.
- 5:43 AM, 30 October 2012
Conor Friedorsdorf is far more annoyed by those poses than I am, seeing them, correctly, as needlessly dangerous, both to the talking heads, and to others who might emulate them.

I don't disagree with him, but I think my argument — that seeing those poses makes many of us use the clicker to change channels — will be more effective with TV executives.
- 3:12 PM, 30 October 2012   [link]

Absolutely Brutal:  Today's Michael Ramirez cartoon.

(I laughed out loud when I saw it.)
- 4:09 PM, 29 October 2012   [link]

Today, I'm Feeling A Little More Partisan Than Usual, so I have to share this Jay Leno joke with you:  "Obama's top debate point was saying how sanctions are crippling Iran's economy.  And if anyone knows about crippling an economy it's Obama."
- 9:26 AM, 29 October 2012   [link]

Good Luck To All Those In The Path Of Super Storm Sandy:   And I don't have anything more to add to what you have seen on the news, except this reminder:  Many, perhaps most, of the deaths in this storm, like Irene, are likely to be caused by falling trees.

So please watch out for falling trees, and tell your friends and family to watch out for them, too.
- 9:05 AM, 29 October 2012   [link]

What The Heck Is Denny Thinking?  In every election year I see a few campaign commercials that leave me puzzled.  The arguments made in those commercials seem so implausible that I hope none of my fellow voters respond to them, positively.

This year, one of the most puzzling TV commercials comes from Democrat Denny Heck, who is running in Washington's new 10th House district.

The commercial is brief, but if you prefer not to watch it, here's a description:   Heck, dressed casually, is standing in front of a tug of war that is supposed to represent Congress.  He yells at them to stop and they do.  And then he promises that he will, similarly, stop partisan gridlock if voters send him to Washington, and adds some boasts about his business experience.  (Oddly, though he promises to end gridlock, he blames it, partly, on the Tea Party, which seems like a way to increase partisan divisions, not end them.)

If Heck is elected, he will be a freshman member of a body that mostly ignores freshmen.  He will be, almost certainly, a member of the minority party in a body that grants little power to the minority.  He will be a member of a body which is sharply divided on fundamental issues, making gridlock far more likely.

So how in the world does Heck think he can end that gridlock — assuming he is elected?

He gives no specifics in the ad, and in a quick look through his campaign site I found no examples of him deviating from the standard Obama/Pelosi/Reid lines.

Whenever I see the ad, I end up wondering whether Heck believes what he is saying, or whether he just thinks the voters will believe him.  Neither possibility is attractive.

If I lived in the 10th district, that ad would be one of the reasons I would vote for his opponent, Dick Muri.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(Heck has had a real business career, but I would still call him a professional politician, considering how many offices he's held, and for how long.  Incidentally, he was beaten in his last race for Congress by Republican Jaime Herrera.

If you really want to end gridlock, here's the strategy that is most likely to succeed:   Since the Republicans are almost certain to control the House, you should vote to make Romney president, and vote to give the Republicans control of the Senate.  And you should urge Democrats to replace Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid with more responsible leaders.)
- 8:12 AM, 29 October 2012   [link]

If Ray Fair's Economic Model of Voting Is Correct, Romney Will Win The Popular Vote:  Probably, since his model predicts a narrow 51-49 win for Romney.

So narrow, that you could easily see a bigger win for Romney, say 53-47 — or a narrow popular vote win for Obama.  And, of course, his narrow result tells us little about what will happen in the electoral college.

Interestingly, Fair also predicts a bigger win (54-46) for House Republicans.

What I have always liked about his model is that it is a pure economic model, using just per capita growth and inflation for its predictions.  I don't think those limits make it more accurate, but the model does show us, in a simple way, just how powerful pocketbook issues can be.  (And I suppose that we should not be surprised to see a Yale economics professor produce a pure economic model.)

(You can see more at his site, though you will probably need to read the Wall Street Journal post first to understand it.  The more ambitious may want to download his paper, where all this is explained in more detail.

And he has a little gadget here that lets you play with the values in his equation.)
- 6:12 AM, 29 October 2012   [link]

No, 18 Percent Didn't Tell The Associated Press That Obama Is Jewish:  That's what this Mediate story says.
According to a new Associated Press survey, more Americans believe President Barack Obama is Jewish than believe that the president is a Muslim; while a plurality of the surveyed individuals believe he has “no religion.”
. . .
Interestingly, the percentage of Americans who believe Obama is Jewish up from 0% in 2010, while the 10% of those who believe Obama to be of the Muslim faith is down from 17% two years ago.
And that's what the table in the survey says — but a quick look at the AP pdf will show you that their reported results are impossible.

On that question (IMG4), 28 percent said that Obama was Protestant, 5 percent that he was Catholic, 0 percent that he was Mormon, 18 percent that he was Jewish, 10 percent that he was Muslim, 2 percent that he has some other religion, 35 percent that he has no religion, 2 percent don't know, and 28 percent refused to answer.

So they got answers on that question from 128 percent of their respondents.  Which is pretty darn good for a survey.

(How did they make that mistake?  It seems almost certain, looking at the table, that they forgot to put in a 0 for Jewish, and that they filled in the last by copying the 28 from Protestant.  If you make those corrections, the 2012 results look much like the 2010 results, and way more plausible.)
- 4:10 PM, 28 October 2012   [link]

Romney Getting Close In Oregon And Minnesota?  Here are the numbers:

Tim Nashif, a Republican political consultant in Portland who also does polling work, has a new survey that shows President Barack Obama with a five-point lead in Oregon over Republican Mitt Romney.
. . .
Nashif's poll, conducted by his firm, Hoffman Research Group, shows Obama at 47 percent and Romney at 42 percent.  Another 12 percent are undecided or supporting one of the minor-party candidates
So, even in Oregon, Obama has not passed 50 percent.  (Back in June, I agreed with Nate Silver that Oregon just might go for Romney.)

In 2008, Obama won Oregon by 17 points (57-40).  But the state is more closely balanced than that margin might suggest.  The state senate is controlled by Democrats by just two votes (30-28), and the state house is tied (30-30).

As the presidential race tightens across the country, a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll has found that it is narrowing here as well, with President Obama holding a 3-point lead and Republican Mitt Romney making gains in the state.

The poll shows Obama with support from 47 percent of likely voters and Romney earning backing from 44 percent -- a lead within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
The Star Tribune poll has been so biased over the years that, ordinarily, I would guess that this result shows that Romney is ahead in Minnesota.  But that seems too good to be true, and two Republicans who are familiar with Minnesota politics, Ed Morrissey and John Hinderaker share my skepticism.

In 2008, Obama won Minnesota by 10 points (54-44).  The state has been competitive in other elections.  They have a left-wing (and more than a little weird) Democratic governor, Mark Dayton, who won against a conservative Republican, Tom Emmer, in 2010 by a very narrow margin (919,232-910,462)   (Tom Horner, the candidate of the Independence Party received 251,487 votes.)  But at the same time Minnesotans gave control of both houses of their legislature to the Republicans (37-30 and 72-62).
- 2:24 PM, 28 October 2012   [link]

Dana Milbank Has A Theory About The Obama/Clinton "bromance".
Sen. John McCain floated a theory last week about the bromance.  The Arizona Republican, in a conference call for the Romney campaign Tuesday, told reporters that there are “some that think this may have a lot to do with 2016 and the president’s wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Of course, I would never suspicion such a thing, but there are some real jerks around who think that might be the case.”

I am one of those jerks.  I don’t subscribe to the prevailing theory that Clinton’s efforts to boost Obama are about solidifying his own legacy.  Clinton is a shrewd strategist, and he surely must have grasped that it is highly unlikely that Hillary Clinton, or any other Democrat, will win in 2016 if Obama does not win in 2012.
So, unlike others who argue that Clinton is a "frenemy" of Obama, who really wants him to lose this year, Milbank thinks that Clinton wants Obama to win so Hillary can win in 2016.

Milbank is partly right.  Hillary has the best chance of being nominated in 2016, if both Clintons, Bill and Hillary, appear to have been loyal to Obama, this year.

But the best chance of being elected?  Probably not, since I think it likely that another four years of Obama will sour voters on Democrats for a generation.

(Milbank believes the economy will soon begin moving at a faster clip.  I think that's unlikely as long as the EPA (and other parts of the federal government) have their boots on the necks of so many industries.)
- 9:19 AM, 28 October 2012   [link]

If You Vote For Obama, Will He Respect You In The Morning?   That's the obvious reply to that silly Lena Dunham ad that the Obama campaign put out.

Obvious, but I didn't think of it on my own; instead I borrowed it from comments at this post (where you can see the ad if you have missed it).

Oh, and the answer to the question is probably not, since he doesn't respect very many people, as anyone who has watched him for even a little while can tell.
- 2:14 PM, 27 October 2012   [link]

Big Story Or No Story?  This Fox story caused considerable stir among those opposed to President Obama.
Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command -- who also told the CIA operators twice to "stand down" rather than help the ambassador's team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.
A CIA spokeswoman, Jennifer Youngblood, denied the claims in the story.  Such a flat denial would, almost certainly, have been approved by the head of the CIA, David Petraeus.

We should all recognize that those anonymous sources may not be telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Right now, I think it more likely that they are telling the truth, mostly.

With that caveat out of the way, let's consider how differently opponents and supporters of Obama have reacted to the story.  Opponents were enraged; at least one, Roger Simon, even said this failure deserved impeachment.

Supporters of Obama, on the other hand, said almost nothing.  They didn't defend the White House, call for an impartial investigation, or do any of the other things that partisans do when they fear that a scandal may hurt their side.  (For some evidence, negative evidence, but still evidence, look in memeorandum for leftist bloggers commenting on this story.  I haven't found any in the last two days.)

And not just bloggers.  Fox's network competitors have mostly ignored the story, too.  (Here's an example from NBC.)

Why the silence?  The simplest explanations are the most likely.  Neither the bloggers nor the "mainstream" journalists like doing negative stories on Obama — and they fear that this one may be true.

(I'll come back to this subject in later post, but just so there is no misunderstanding, I am sticking with my Obama-didn't-know-what-was-going-on explanation for his behavior.  It is easy to think that a president must know something just because the news reached the "White House".  But the White House is actually a substantial organization, with thousands of employees (most of whom don't actually work in the White House).  It is easy for me to believe that Obama never saw the intelligence reports as they were coming in, or even later.

Now for a bit of speculation.  Again, assuming that Fox story is mostly true, someone in the White House was asked for help but did not respond, in a timely fashion.  Who might that someone be?  There are, in my opinion, two likely suspects, National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett.

I am sorry to say this, but I can easily imagine either (or both) of them dithering as the reports came in, not responding and not even bothering to tell President Obama about the emergency.)
- 2:00 PM, 27 October 2012   [link]

How Will Would-Be Legislators Vote On The Single Most Important Vote?  Here's a suggestion for journalists, here and elsewhere:  Ask would-be legislators, people running to be congressmen, senators, and state legislators who, if they are elected, they will vote for as head of their branch of the legislature.

For example, a person running for a House seat could be asked whether they plan to vote for Nancy Pelosi, a person running for the Senate could be asked whether they plan to vote for Harry Reid, and, in this state, a person running for a state house seat could be asked if they plan to vote for Speaker Frank Chopp.

It's a good question for two reasons;  First, it is usually, as I said in the post title, the most important vote that the legislator will take in a session.

Second, it produces interesting results.  In 2010, for example, a fellow blogger was able to get Democratic Congressman Rick Larsen to answer that question.  His unease at having to admit that he was planning to vote for Nancy Pelosi was obvious, and told us something about him — and her.

But for a more vivid example, take a look at what happened when Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass tried to get Democratic candidates to say whether they planned to vote for the state Democratic boss, Speaker Michael Madigan.

Curiously enough, many of them didn't want to answer his question.

We called state Rep. Patrick Verschoore, D-Milan, of the 72nd Legislative District. A polite woman answered and said that Verschoore was in the office. But when we mentioned Madigan, an amazing thing happened. Verschoore disappeared.

"He must have stepped out," she said, then told us to leave a number. He didn't call back.

We also left a Madigan message with state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, of the 57th District. But no luck. Same with other Democrats, such as Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan, 55th District; state Rep. Michelle "Mom on a Mission" Mussman, Schaumburg, 56th District; and Scott Drury, a former federal prosecutor from Highwood, running in the 58th District.

There's more, but that should be enough to give you the idea.  Sometimes what politicians won't say tells you more than what they will say.

Since I am addressing this suggestion to professional journalists, I probably don't have to add that, if a candidate does answer this question, you'll want to follow up and ask them why or why not.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(Speaker Madigan is probably safe, for now, from any state prosecutions.   if you aren't sure why, take a look at the Illinois state attorney general.)
- 4:24 PM, 26 October 2012   [link]

Forward!  Here's my attempt to explain the most important issue in our national election, in the simplest way possible.

Obama at the Grand Canyon of debt

As you can see, these cliffs are real, not fiscal.  But in either case, going forward would be a bad idea.

(Note to grammarians:  Yes, that should be "Forward!", or possibly "Forward?".   But I am quoting the Obama slogan, which uses a period after "Forward", instead of an exclamation point.

This is a White House photo, which no one is supposed to "manipulate".  But I think that this small addition is definitely fair use.)
- 3:34 PM, 26 October 2012
The Obama campaign has fixed that punctuation error, so I changed the post title to reflect that.
- 9:51 AM, 28 October 2012   [link]

The Romney Campaign Has Put A Little Money Into TV Ads in Minnesota.
The AP reports Mitt Romney will start airing ads over the weekend in Minnesota, a state that last went Republican in 1972.

Romney’s campaign says they have about $169 million in cash on hand, a huge amount of money with the election only two weeks away and most swing state airwaves already saturated.
It would be fun if the campaign were to do a similar buy in Oregon, just to watch our Northwest "progressives" freak out.

For what it is worth, the Obama campaign is countering that Romney ad buy with a small ad buy of their own.
- 12:26 PM, 26 October 2012   [link]

Meanwhile, Back In Barack Obama's Illinois (18):  The state is broke, broke, broke.  Okay, that's not news, but they did get new estimates on just how broke they are from a task force co-chaired by two eminent public servants, Paul Volcker and Richard Ravitch.
Illinois has the lowest credit rating of the 50 states and has America’s second-biggest public debt per capita, $9,624, including state and local borrowing.  Only New York State’s debt is bigger, at $13,840 per capita.  But Illinois has not been able to use much of the borrowed money to keep its roads, bridges and schools in good working order, because years of shoddy fiscal practices have taken a heavy toll, the report said.
Since this is Illinois, there has been corruption, as well as waste.
The task force noted that Gov. Pat Quinn had inherited the insolvency from the previous governor, Rod Blagojevich, who is serving a prison sentence for corruption.  The $10 billion pension obligation bond was issued on Mr. Blagojevich's watch, and prosecutors said at his trial that he had used the transaction to raise campaign money in a pay-to-play scheme.
Walter Russell Mead looks at this same New York Times article (and other evidence) and comes to this harsh conclusion.
Illinois politicians, including the present President of the United States, have wrecked one of the country’s potentially most prosperous and dynamic states, condemned millions of poor children to substandard education, failed to maintain vital infrastructure, choked business development and growth through unsustainable tax and regulatory policies — and still failed to appease the demands of the public sector unions and fee-seeking Wall Street crony capitalists who make billions off the state’s distress.
I do not know a a single thing that Barack Obama did, while in the Illinois state legislature, to prevent this disaster, and I do know of some things he did to make it more likely.

(As I understand it, Illinois protects public employee pensions, constitutionally, so even if the state legislature decided to break promises they should not have made, they might not be able to do so.

As far as I know, the current Democratic governor, Pat Quinn, is personally honest, but he does not, by any means, control his state government.   Incidentally, he won a narrow victory (31,834 votes) in 2010 over Republican Bill Brady, so it is possible that badly needed reforms may come to Obama's home state, in the next few years.)
- 9:30 AM, 26 October 2012   [link]

Gloria Allred's Cruel And Abusive Client:  You undoubtedly have heard about Allred's attempt to smear Mitt Romney by attacking his testimony in a fight over assets in a divorce.  But you may have missed the original legal reason for the divorce.  Allred's client, Maureen Sullivan Stemberg, was divorced by her husband, Tom Stemberg, because of "cruel and abusive" treatment.

And, although the court PDF is almost entirely about the legal fight over the Staples shares, there is enough there to suggest that she was not a pleasant person to live with.

And, as her endless legal maneuvers have shown since then, not a pleasant person to have as an ex, either.

From past experience, we should have expected Allred to concoct an October smear, and it is not surprising that the Boston Globe decided to help her.  But they may have picked the wrong client for this effort.
- 7:02 AM, 26 October 2012   [link]

"Was Susan Rice Set Up On Libya?"  Ed Rogers asks the question that many have been wondering about.
Rice was sent out in the days after the Benghazi, Libya, attacks to explain the administration’s view of the crisis.  Clearly almost everything she said was untrue.  The subsequent revelations and the evolving stories are wildly different than what she earnestly offered on a full set of Sunday shows in the immediate aftermath of the crisis.  Republicans believe Americans have been misled by Obama’s forces, starting with Ms. Rice's now-infamous Sunday-morning appearances.  Did she volunteer for the Sunday show assignment, or was she “encouraged” to take the poison?
There is no reason to think that Ambassador Rice, in her position at the UN, would know what happened in Benghazi, in the course of her duties.

So when she went out on all those talk shows, she was parroting what someone had told her in a briefing.

If that person, or persons, knew what they were giving Rice was false, then she may indeed have been set up in order to injure her career — or sent out as a sacrificial lamb.

If that person, or persons, did not know what they were giving Rice was false, then she was not set up, but was a victim of bad staff work in the White House, a victim of someone's unwillingness to look at the intelligence reports that were coming in.

In my view, the second explanation is the most likely, though I will add that my view appears to be in the minority.

As I said in September and again in October, I think that President Obama believed that video-caused-a-spontaneous-attack story, and may, mostly, believe it, even now.

(Why was Rice chosen to go on those talk shows?  Most likely because as a black and a woman, she would be protected from the toughest criticism.)
- 5:55 AM, 26 October 2012   [link]

Peggy Noonan's Infatuation With Barack Obama is over.
Which gets us to Bob Woodward's "The Price of Politics," published last month.  The portrait it contains of Mr. Obama—of a president who is at once over his head, out of his depth and wholly unaware of the fact—hasn't received the attention it deserves.  Throughout the book, which is a journalistic history of the president's key economic negotiations with Capitol Hill, Mr. Obama is portrayed as having the appearance and presentation of an academic or intellectual while being strangely clueless in his reading of political situations and dynamics.  He is bad at negotiating—in fact doesn't know how.  His confidence is consistently greater than his acumen, his arrogance greater than his grasp.
That portrait, says Noonan, is of the real Obama.  (From the accounts I have read about the Woodward book, I think it's a partial portrait, but mostly correct in what it does say.)

Many of us wish she had figured that out at least four years sooner.  The evidence was there, for anyone who wanted to look past Obama's fancy speeches.
- 5:26 AM, 26 October 2012   [link]

How Do The National Polls Compare?  Simon Jackman has a handy little chart that shows you.

Professor Jackman has a long, and rather technical, discussion of his results.  If you read it, you may miss this essential point:  Jackman is not comparing the polls to some abstract correct reading of public opinion; he is comparing the polls to the other polls.  If the polls are, together, biased, then Gallup (pro-Republican), or Zogby (pro-Democrat) may be closer to the true result than the other polls.

(As I would have predicted, two polls done by or for leftist news organizations (CBS/NYT and CNN/ORC) were on the Democratic side of the chart.  So is SurveyUSA, which works mostly (entirely?) for "mainstream" news organizations.

Excluding Zogby, as you probably should, the four most Democratic pollsters are all associated with colleges or universities (Suffolk University, University of New Hampshire, Marist College, and Marquette University).)
- 3:22 PM, 25 October 2012   [link]

The Des Moines Register Gets Revenge:  The newspaper was angry because, at first, Obama wouldn't let them put his interview on record.  (And, having seen parts of the interview, I can understand why he wouldn't want it made public.)  He relented, but they haven't forgiven him, as you can see in this pair of front page pictures, and headlines.

(Would I have done that were I running the Register?  Maybe, because I am not sure, despite what Ed Morrissey says, that the newspaper is being unfair.  In recent days, Obama has lowered the level of his campaign, and Romney has continued to be optimistic.)
- 2:49 PM, 25 October 2012   [link]

Ed West Notes two mysteries.
There are two great mysteries about US politics as far as I’m concerned.  Why do Europeans love Barack Obama so much?  And why do European Obama-supporters think anyone in the United States remotely cares what they think?

Two recent polls show how much more popular Obama is around the world compared to his rival.  If Britain was the real 51st state, according to a GlobeScan/PIPA survey published on the BBC website, it would easily hand Obama its 100 electoral college votes, Britons favouring Obama by 65 per cent to Mitt Romney's 7.  And Britain is considerably less Obamaist than France, where the ratio is 72-1.

Then there's the Gallup poll that has Obama on 81 per cent around the world, and polling at 96 per cent or more in Iceland, Netherlands, Portugal, Germany, Ireland and Denmark.  Which means that Germans are more pro-Obama than African-Americans, and far more so than Kenyans, who seem to have a soft spot for Mitt despite the Obama connection.
(Emphasis added.)

That Kenyan soft spot just gives Romney 11 percent support, which is more than he gets in Germany, but not a lot.

What makes that European support for Obama especially weird is that Obama obviously doesn't particularly like Europeans, as former British prime minister Gordon Brown could tell you.

(An appalling 42 percent of the total in the global Gallup poll think they should have the right to vote in our elections.  Gallup did not ask that 42 percent whether, in return for voting, they would pay US taxes, serve on US juries, et cetera.)
- 2:09 PM, 25 October 2012   [link]

Republicans Will Like Bob Krumm's election analysis.  Democrats won't.

The same thing happened in 2004.  Looking at Bush’s post-debate numbers that stayed remarkably stable between 48 and 49 percent, there is absolutely no indication of the beginnings of a last-minute shift.  Occam’s Razor applies: polls simply oversampled those unlikely to vote, and that meant that all along, George W. Bush was tracking about two points below where he really was with a realistic voter turnout model.  When today’s polls are based on turnout models of over 80% we can expect the same result.

So where does that leave us?  Today, Mitt Romney sits at 48% in the RCP average of polls.  Add 2 percent because of sample bias and add another 2 or 3 points for breaking last-minute undecideds, and I expect Mitt Romney to finish with between 52 and 53 percent to Barack Obama’s 46 or 47 percent.

But what of the state polls, you ask?  Bunk.
(State polls are, in general, less accurate than national polls.)

His point about turnout gives you a way to check individual polls, both nationally and in individual states.  You'll want to look at his examples, and then decide for yourself whether this election will break all turnout records.

By way of Michael Kennedy.

(Several sources describe Krumm as a Democratic consultant, but there is nothing on his site that mentions consulting work, and I couldn't find anything in some minutes searching that even identified him as a Democrat.  I did find a 2008 prediction from a Bob Krumm — the same one? — that McCain would win.)
- 1:24 PM, 25 October 2012   [link]

How Good Is Obama At Math?  I've been wondering about that for years, and now we have an answer, from Obama himself.
President Barack Obama was relaxed and in jocular mood when he appeared on the Jay Leno Show but gave Mitt Romney an opening when he quipped that he struggled with mathematics beyond the Seventh grade – age 13.

Obama was taking about helping his daughters with their maths homework when he said that ‘the math stuff I was fine with, up until 7th grade’ but he was ‘pretty lost’ after that.
All right, he was joking — or was he?

There is nothing in what we know about his education, or careers, to show that he is good at math.  We don't know, for example, whether he has even taken a basic statistics course.  We do know that he was not a budget specialist in the Illinois legislature, or the US Senate.  And we do know that his long-term budget proposals are, to say the least, reckless.

(The short video in the Daily Mail article does not include the homework line, but does include some Obama propaganda aimed at the women's vote.  And some examples of Obama looking way too pleased by his own jokes.  His best joke — that everything he said in the first debate was true — got no laughs at all.)
- 7:39 AM, 25 October 2012   [link]