Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Lamest Lame Duck

The United States of America faces enormous challenges over the next four years.  However, even before we can start worrying about the next four years we have to confront the challenge that faces us only 54 days after the election. We are racing towards a fiscal cliff that will automatically increase taxes by over $500 billion per year as of the first of next year.  That averages about $3,500 per household.  Spending cuts related to sequestration will amount to over $150 billion per year will also take effect.  A number of new taxes to fund Obamacare also take effect as well as the Medicare "doc fix" and other provisions that are on "auto-pilot".

It is if we are in a speeding vehicle with the accelerator stuck to the floor and no one even has their hands on the wheel right now.

The biggest question people should have on their minds next Tuesday is which man do you trust to be in control of that vehicle?   It is a critically important decision.  Not just for what it means for the next 54 days but whether we have any chance at confronting the even bigger challenges we have over the next four years.

Put everything aside on policy positions and focus on just one question in the Presidential race.

Who do you think has the best chance to provide the leadership to actually get something done?

On the fiscal cliff?  On our federal deficit?  On immigration reform?  On saving Social Security and Medicare?  On restoring confidence in the American economy? On being a more respected Commander-in-Chief?  The capacity to lead on these issues is the most important factor in selecting a President.

We are now in a position that the status quo is not an option.  We simply will not be able to kick the can down the road much longer.  Action and results will be needed on these and other big issues over the next four years.  We need a real leader who can rally the country to get results and be able to make things work in Washington.  That is really what is at stake next Tuesday.

I do not agree with most of President Obama's policy positions.  However, my biggest fear about his re-election right now is not about his policy positions.  It is that if he is returned to office we will have elected the lamest lame duck in the history of the United States.  We will have left a man in office who is incapable of leading us to meet the significant challenges before us.  We will have re-elected an extraordinarily weak leader based on his record of the last four years, who will be in an even weaker leadership position in a second term, at exactly the time we need a strong chief executive.  If this occurs I believe it could prove to be one the greatest miscalculations by the American people in our long history.


Why do I say this?

President Obama's first term has already substantially weakened his leadership position.  The fact that we are facing the fiscal cliff is Exhibit A in failed leadership.  He has utterly failed in building any bi-partisan bridges with Congress in his first term.  He likes to blame this on the Republicans in the House but he has not been any more successful with the Democratic Senate.  He has not gotten one vote for his budget in the Senate in the last two years.  Other Presidents have succeeded in getting things done with the other party. Not Obama.  It is a case study in failed leadership.

I am sure there are many people who think we will get by even though things have been, in the words of President Obama, "sub-optimal, over the last four years.  However, a second-term President Obama will be a substantially weaker President.  Why do I say that?

First, Obama has been substantially weakened in the campaign.  He took real hits to his stature in the debates.  He has started getting criticism from his own base.  The media is even starting to ask more questions.  These trends are almost certain to continue in a second term.  It is hard to lead when you are weak.  President Obama in a second term will have a fraction of the respect he had in his first term.

Second, Benghazi is probably going to hang over his head like Watergate did with Nixon.  Until we get full and complete answers, this issue will be center stage. If the Obama Administration is dealing with Benghazi it will be difficult to deal with the issues we need to.  We can only hope that this issue is not another Watergate.  Remember that the Watergate break-in was a small event but it was covered up for political purposes.  The cover-up was the story.  Benghazi sounds hauntingly familiar.  However, four Americans died and it appears they may have been left to die even though they were pleading for help.  We can only hope we are not dealing with a Watergate situation in a second Obama administration.  It would be disastrous for the country.

Third, based on recent polls, if President Obama does get re-elected he may win with a very small margin. Some even predict that he might lose the popular vote but squeak out an electoral vote majority.  This has never occurred with a sitting President.  Either of these paths lead to a President without a strong mandate and place him in an extraordinarily weak leadership position. 

A President Romney would have none of these disadvantages.  His election, like any new President, would usher in fresh optimism that would not be present with Obama.  He is not burdened with a past record of failure with Congress.  He would also not be burdened by Benghazi.  The investigation would undoubtedly continue but it would not be center stage as it will be with Obama.  Finally, a challenger who topples an incumbent by a small margin is looked at completely differently than an incumbent who barely survives.  It is all about perception. 

Forget the policies.  President Romney will be in a position to get things done.  President Obama will be in a position to get nothing done. 

This country needs a change in leadership...desperately.

I know that people wanted to place their hope with Barack Obama four years ago.  His oratory and rhetoric lifted millions.  The country was ready for change and it needed a leader worthy of the words that he so eloquently delivered in his campaign.  He had an opportunity to meet the challenge and go down in history as one of our greatest Presidents.  After all, history can produce great leaders if they rise to meet the challenge of events in their path.  Obama had the events in his path. He could have made history.  He simply could not meet the challenge.  He proved he was better at histrionics than he was at making history. He divided the country when he said he would unite it.  He squandered his enormous potential and considerable gifts...on politics rather than leadership.

Mitt Romney is our only hope.  He has proven time and time again in his lifetime that he will meet a challenge and succeed. However, the really great leaders make history and alter the course of events.  We really need to hope that Romney can not only meet the challenge but alter the course of events.

I have seen only one man in my lifetime that I can say made history by altering the course of events.  His name was Ronald Reagan.  However, on this exact date 32 years ago, the Reagan-Carter race was a dead heat.  Can anyone imagine where we would have been if Jimmy Carter had been re-elected?

It is unimaginable as we consider it today.  Re-electing Barack Obama is similarly unimaginable if you stop and really think about it.  Read this post again if you have any doubts.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Trick or Treat Teaching Moment

Halloween is here and why should we waste such a great teaching moment for younger Americans?

Our schools all too often fill our children's heads with liberal, progressive mush.  It occurs to me that we could teach them a few lessons about economics, capitalism and freedom using Snickers, Starbursts and Swizzlers.

How about a lesson on taxation?  When the children bring home their candy haul on Halloween night and spread it out on the family room floor, take 40% of it away before they get their hands on it.  They need to understand the burden of taxation.  They need to see first hand that when they work hard they also have a "partner" that wants to share in everything they work for-GOVERNMENT.  You need to explain to your child that their "partner" is always hungry.  It has an insatiable appetite for taxes  (and spending).

Pre-Tax Candy Haul

After-Tax Candy Haul

How about a lesson on the redistribution of wealth?  One of your children doggedly rings doorbells on two additional streets after your other child calls it quits because they are tired and cold.  As a result, they have 40 more pieces of candy in their bag when they get home.  When you see that they have more goodies, immediately tell them that it is not fair that they have more than their sibling.  They will invariably protest and say that they earned it by doing more than their sister.  You then tell them that they could never eat all of that candy by themselves anyway and they are just being selfish. What is really unfair is not giving their fair share.

For good measure you can also point out that they did not build the sidewalk they walked on, nor the streetlights they walked under or the houses they rang the doorbells at to get the candy.

How about a lesson on regulation that would make Mayor Bloomberg proud?  If your children happen to get one of those large Snickers bars instead of the little bite size ones prohibit them from eating it.  It is not healthy to take in all of those calories at one time so ban the large size and mandate that they limit themselves to small sizes.

King Size- Banned

Regular Size- Limited Availability

Enjoy the Fun Size!

On second thought, just let the children enjoy Halloween and their treats.  Forget the lessons and the teaching moments.

The sad truth is that the trick is really going to be on them when they realize that they are responsible for $16 trillion of debt.  Big Bird seems to be in hiding right now but Elmo tells it like it is to our kids.  The chart below compares per capita money income to national debt per capita.  Money income is what most people would consider money that they can spend-wages and salaries, interest, dividends, Social Security payments, welfare payments, disability income, etc.  It does non include capital gains, food stamps, withdrawals from bank deposits, employer contributions for health care from employers, etc.

Credit: Mark McHugh, Across the Street

Of course, if you look at the additions to debt over the last four years compared to the growth in total Gross Domestic Product you still get math that even a 5th grader knows does not compute.

Since President Obama has been in office the United States has borrowed $3 for every $1 in economic growth that has taken place.

                                                   2009                           2012                          

Federal Debt                           $10.6 trillion              $15.9 trillion         +$5.3 trillion

Gross Domestic Product         $13.9 trillion             $15.6 trillion         +$1.7 trillion 

Source: from Treasury Department and Bureau of Economic Analysis (thru Q2, 2012 for comparison purposes.

Enjoy Halloween and keep the kids safe.  A little chocolate makes everything better!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Two Terms or Toast: Part II

I provided an analysis of the Presidential race in my last post.  I wrote that one of the key factors that determine any political race is the voter turnout, most specifically the comparison between the number of Democrats and Republicans that make it to the polls.

In yesterday's post I referenced research by Josh Jordan @Numbersmuncher.  Josh also writes for National Review Online and he posted an interesting blog article last night, "The Two Polls That Have Chicago Terrified".   The article provides great analysis of the party-affiliation polling of Gallup and Rasmussen and what they may tell us about what voter turnout by party may be next week as well as the potential impacts this may have on the election.

When Gallup and Rasumussen poll likely voters they ask which party they identify themselves with.  In October, 2008, Gallup found that 10% more of those polled identified with the Democrats.  Rasmussen found that 7% more of likely votes identified as Republicans in their polling.

The actual turnout based on exit polling in 2008 was +7% for Democrats.

In Gallup's polling this year between October 1 through 24, the 10 point advantage in party-identification from 2008 has turned into a 1 point advantage for Republicans.   Since Romney also is currently leading with Independents, if this is the D-R turnout on when the votes are counted, Obama will be toast.

Rasmussen found Democrats with a 7.1% point advantage in his polling in 2008.  He was spot on as was the actual D advantage when Obama won on Election Day.  Rasmussen's most recent polls for 2012 are showing a 2.6% Republican advantage in party identification.  This is almost a 10% point shift from four years ago.

Jordan crunches munches the numbers and projects that if the polling is correct and we see turnout that matches this party id split and if Independents break for Romney at close to double digits as many polls are indicating, Romney is looking at a 4 to 6 point popular vote winning margin.

If these polls are accurate and Romney captures a popular-vote win of 4 to 6 points, there is no chance he could lose the Electoral College. In fact, that type of victory would probably yield Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, and possibly even some blue states such as Michigan or Minnesota. Overall it would be almost like 2008 in reverse, with Romney taking states many thought would be impossible a month ago.
We will find out in just over a week which pollsters end up right, but any time you have two surveys with such comprehensive data showing the same trend, it is impossible to ignore. And if you had any question as to whether or not Team Obama sees that writing on the wall, you can just watch their recent campaign activity for confirmation. A campaign with a robust, revved-up base does not sharpen attacks on core base issues such as abortion, focus interviews on the Daily Show and MTV, and hold rallies almost exclusively on college campuses. There’s barely over a week to go, and the real battle should be for the middle. Every minute that the Obama campaign can’t make a compelling argument to the middle is a minute lost to Romney and they know it, and it has them terrified.
Toast next week?  Interesting food for thought.  

You can actually buy an Obama toaster at

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ten Days: Two Terms Or Toast?

Ten days remain until voters cast their vote for the next President of the United States.  Is Obama going to be a two-term President or is he toast?  That is the question I know is uppermost in the minds of BeeLine readers right now.

The last time I wrote in depth about the Presidential race was when we were 150 days away from voting.  There is no question who I want to win.  There is no question who I think deserves to win.  There is no question about who I believe this country needs to lead us over the next four years.  However, I bring an analytical mind to every issue.  Opinions and feelings are great but I rely on facts.

How do I see the Presidential race right now?

I am of the same mind that I was 140 days ago.  Bear in mind that at that time most people thought Obama would be very hard to beat.   Many Republicans were pessimistic about Romney's prospects.

However, based on my analysis at that time I saw three potential outcomes.
A squeaker for Obama. 
A squeaker for Romney.
A comfortable win for Romney.  I do not see see the same possibility for Obama as things now stand.

I stand by that prediction with 10 days to go.  It still could go either way based on the polling data but I think Romney has a slightly better chance to prevail right now.  Why?  Let's look at some data.

Two big factors determine political races.  First, getting people from your party to vote.  This is generally referred as "turnout". Generally speaking, self-identified Republicans and Democrats vote 90% of the time for the candidate of their party affiliation.  If 100,000 Democrats vote but only 90,000 Republicans, it is going to be difficult for the Republican to win unless Independents swing heavily to the Republican.  In this example, if 75,000 Independents vote, the Republican has to win the swing voters by greater than 10 points to win the race.  This is the math of political races.

In 2008, Barack Obama beat John McCain in the popular vote 53%-46%.  The other 1% went to minor candidates.  He won by getting more Democrats to the polls than John McCain got Republicans (39% of those who voted in 2008 identified themselves as Democrats and only 32% said they were Republicans.)  Further, the remaining 29% who called themselves Independents voted for Obama by 8 points (52%-44%).

How do these big factors look like they are playing out in 2012?  Dan McLaughlin of Red State has an excellent in-depth analysis of these key factors plus much more.  It is well worth the read if you like to get into the numbers .  His conclusion is that Barack Obama is toast.  Why?  He points to the two key factors above-independent votes and turnout.

One, Mitt Romney has a consistent, significant lead among independent voters, which increasingly looks like a double-digit lead. This is especially clear in national polls, but can also be seen in the key swing state polls. It’s been a hard enough number for the past few weeks now, even as the last of the debates gets baked into the polls, that there’s little chance that Obama can turn it around in the 11 days remaining in this race. In fact, Obama has been underwater with independents almost continuously since the middle of 2009.

Recent polling by Rasmussen has Romney up by 11 with Independents nationally.  Some polls have him up much more than that.  This is a big problem for Obama but it is not necessarily fatal as Independents generally make up less than 30% of voters.  Therefore, even if Romney turns the 8% disadvantage that McCain had with Independents to an 8% advantage that only swings the total vote by 4.8% (30% I-votes x 16%).  However, Obama won in 2008 by 7%.  Therefore, if Democrats outnumber Republicans at the polls similar to 2008, Romney still loses the popular vote.

The issue of Democrat and Republican turnout has been the big question in this campaign.  The pollsters have struggled with how to model the turnout.  Will 2012 look more like 2008, 2010 or revert to historical averages.  This usually has meant a D-advantage of 2 or 3 points at the polls instead of the 7% advantage Obama got in 2008 or the even split in 2010 that led to the Republican landslide.

This is McLaughlin's view on turnout.

Two, to overcome losing independents by more than a few points, Obama needs to have a decisive advantage in Democratic turnout, roughly on the order of – or in some places exceeding – the advantage he enjoyed in 2008, when Democrats nationally had a 7-point advantage (39-32). Yet nearly every indicator we have of turnout suggests that, relative to Republicans, the Democrats are behind where they were in 2008. Surveys by the two largest professional pollsters, Rasmussen and Gallup, actually suggest that Republicans will have a turnout advantage, which has happened only once (in the 2002 midterms) in the history of exit polling and probably hasn’t happened in a presidential election year since the 1920s.

R-D-I Turnout in National Election Years
Source:Dan McLaughlin, Red State

You can see from the chart above that Republicans historically have represented about 35%-36% of voters at the polls.  It has been pretty consistent the last 30 years since Ronald Reagan redrew the political map and the Southern and Rural Democrat conservatives switched to the Republican party .  McCain lost in 2008 in large part because too many Republican voters simply stayed home.  Only 32% of the voters last time considered themselves Republicans. Democrats have historically represented about 37%-39% of voters.  It is interesting that in 2008 Obama did not get a higher percentage of D's to the polls than Clinton in 1996 or Gore in 2000.

Romney needs to have 36% or more of the voters on Election Day be identified as Republicans to feel comfortable with his chances.  At the same time, he would like to see the Democrat turnout number to be no more than 38%.  If the numbers are close, Romney will win comfortably.  Republicans have won easily each time turnout numbers were in the same range (1994, 2002, 2004, 2010).  When the turnout gap is 3 or 4 points to the Democrats, the D's usually prevail easily.

The good news for Romney right now is that both Gallup and Rasmussen's latest survey of party identification show about 36% of voters saying they consider themselves Republicans.  This is slightly higher than historical averages.  On the other hand, only about 34% are currently identifying themselves as Democrats.  This is significantly below historical averages and 5% points below where this number stood in 2008.  If this holds true in ten days, Obama will be toast.

Turning to the electoral college, I wrote in June that I believed that Romney would likely win all the states that McCain did in 2008.  This would give him 179 of the 270 he needed.  I thought he also was in a great position to win North Carolina, Indiana and Florida as McCain lost all of these by less than 3% of the vote last time.  This gets him to 234.   He also looked to be in a good position to win one of the five electoral votes in Nebraska that McCain did not win in 2008.  Ohio (4.6% margin last time) and Virginia (6.29%) would be the next best targets.  Winning these gets him to 266.  Taking Colorado (8.95%, Iowa (9.54%) or New Hampshire (9.65%) puts him over the top.

Recent polls seem to confirm my analysis in June.  Romney looks solid in all the McCain states.  Indiana and North Carolina look to be in the Romney column.  Florida and Virginia are toss ups but Romney seems to have a slight advantage.  Iowa, New Hampshire and Colorado could go either way.  The same is true for Ohio, my home state, which most observers see as the most critical state for both candidates.

How do I see Ohio?

First, I don't see anywhere near the enthusiasm for Obama that I saw in 2008.  You could not avoid seeing scores of Obama yard signs and bumper stickers four years ago in Cincinnati.  This time Romney's are the ones you notice.  Some people downplay this anecdotal evidence.  I don't.  People who put a sign in their yard or a sticker on their bumper are going to vote.  You can count on that just as you can count on someone who makes a contribution to a candidate is going to vote.  They have made a commitment and human beings tend to follow through when they have made a commitment.

Second, if Romney is going to win Ohio he must win Hamilton County which is the county in which Cincinnati sits.  It has tended to be Republican over the years but Obama won the county in 2008 by almost 50,000 votes.  By contrast, Bush carried it by 23,000 votes in 2004 and 43,000 votes in 2000.  Romney has to win Hamilton County.  If he can win by 25,000 or more votes I think he will be very happy.

Third, Romney has to keep Obama's margin of victory in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) to no more than 200,000 to 225,000 votes.  In 2008, Obama carried Cuyahoga County by 259,000 votes.  He won Ohio by 262,000 votes.  In effect, his entire margin of victory in the state could be attributed to this one county.  All the other votes in the state balanced out.  Romney cannot allow himself to be blown out in Cuyahoga if he is going to win Ohio.

Fourth, Romney seems to be winning Independents in Ohio according to most polls.  According to Josh Jordan @NumbersMuncher, in the seventeen most recent polls in Ohio, fourteen show Romney winning with an average margin of +11.4%.  By comparison, Obama won I's by 8% in 2008.  That is a 20% swing.  If I's are 25% of the total vote that will increase Romney's total votes by 4% compared to McCain.  McCain lost by a margin of 4.6%.  If this is accurate, turnout will determine Ohio.  However, the variation in the Ohio polls is weird.  Rasmussen shows the overall race is even though he has Obama winning I's by 2.  Suffolk also shows the overall race as even but Romney is up +20 with I's.  That is why Ohio is so hard to call.

Early voting is in process in Ohio.  In 2008, Obama had an enormous advantage with those that voted early.  Battleground Watch reports what they know about early voting in Ohio.

Obama’s 2008 early voting secret weapon is gone. He won Ohio in 2008 due to an overwhelming early vote advantage. On election day more votes were cast for John McCain than Barack Obama but so many votes banked away for Obama that it wasn’t enough. Today, according to the same Adrian Gray: “220,000 fewer Democrats have voted early in Ohio compared with 2008. And 30,000 more Republicans have cast their ballots compared with four years ago. That is a 250,000-vote net increase for a state Obama won by 260,000 votes in 2008.″

This seems good news for Romney but the increase in early Republican votes may only mean that they are pulling votes forward that would have been there for Romney anyway.  For example, Mrs. BeeLine and I have already voted early.  We did not vote early in 2008.  Same result in the end.  The only advantage is that someone tracking potential Romney votes can mark us off their list and spend their time calling someone else.

The Republican National Committee put out a chart on Thursday speaking to this point.  The RNC claims that the early voting efforts of the Democrats in key swing states Ohio, Iowa and Nevada are more likely pulling votes forward that they would have on election day anyway.  In effect, cannibalizing votes.  The real advantage of early voting is getting voters locked in that might not find the time to get to the polls on November 6.  The RNC argues that this is their focus.

Here is the chart.  Notice that in Ohio 43% of early Democrat voters have voted in at least 3 or the last 4 general elections.  By contrast, only 27% of the Republican early voters had been regular voters.

Source: Republican National Committee 10/25/12

Two terms?  Toast?  This is the best data I have found on the Presidential race.  However, the tea leaves are still tough to read.  My gut tells me Romney right now.  However, my heart is awfully close to my gut.  That leads to errors in judgment. There are still ten days to go.  Give me another nine days to make my final call.  A week and a half is still an eternity in politics.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bridge Salesman

At times I wonder whether President Obama really knows what he is talking about or whether he purposely creates a fictional story to suit his agenda.

A good example is this story he told a Des Moines, Iowa paper when asked how he could better work to foster bipartisanship in a second term.  He spoke about his hopes to craft a "grand bargain" on the deficit and to tackle immigration reform as examples where he thought progress could be made to fix Washington.  Of course, there is nothing in President Obama's record of the past four years to suggest he is capable of solving any problems, especially when he has to work across the political aisle.

He also mentioned infrastructure spending as an area where he thought that bridges could be built with the Republicans...literally.

My hope is, is that there’s a recognition that now is a great time to make infrastructure improvements all across the country. And we can pull up some of the money that we know we’re going to be spending over the next decade to put people back to work right now at a time when contractors are dying for work and interest rates are really low.

And, again, that’s something that even John Boehner — John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, they’ve got a bridge linking Cincinnati and Kentucky, and the bridge is so broken down that folks are having to drive an hour and a half of extra commuting just to get across the Ohio River. There’s no reason why we can’t work on things like that and put people back to work.

Living in Cincinnati, I know something about this bridge.  It is the Brent Spence Bridge and it connects Ohio and Kentucky on Interstate 75 just south of downtown Cincinnati.  If you have ever flown into Cincinnati you take this bridge on your trip to downtown from the airport which is in Northern Kentucky.

Brent Spence Bridge
Photo Credit: Ohio Department of Transportation

First of all, it is not broken down.  It is used quite heavily.  Approximately 150,000 vehicles traverse the bridge daily.  It was originally designed for about 80,000 vehicles per day so congestion can be a problem. It is antiquated and tight.  However, I have heard no one say that it is falling apart.  There is no one who avoids the bridge and is driving an extra hour and a half of extra commuting to avoid the bridge because it is  "broken down". Further, I don't know anyone who is driving that far out of their way to even avoid the occasional congestion leading to the bridge.

I think there is a bigger story here when you take a closer look at this bridge story.  First, this is not the first time the President has tried to use this bridge as a political prop.  He came to Cincinnati in September, 2011 when he was trying to gain support for an infrastructure "stimulus" program (how many of those has he tried to sell?) and held his press event with the bridge as the backdrop for the tv cameras.  This is how Andrew Malcolm wrote about that visit in the Los Angeles Times.

You know all those rusting bridges that President Obama wants to spend billions more dollars repairing to allegedly stimulate the economy?
He's headed out to one today which he's described as a "bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that's on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America." It is on a busy trucking route, spanning the Ohio River between Covington, Ky., and Cincinnati.
It's the Brent Spence Bridge. It doesn't really need repairs. It's got decades of good life left in its steel spans. It's just overloaded. The bridge was built to handle 85,000 cars and trucks a day, which seemed like a lot back during construction in the Nixon era.
Today, the bridge sort of handles more than 150,000 vehicles a day with frequent jam-ups.
So, plans are not to repair or replace the Brent Spence Bridge. But to build another bridge nearby to ease the loads.
But here's the problem, as John Merline graphically notes here, that could screw up all those envisioned photo op shots of the Democrat and the traffic:
The president's jobs bill is designed for "immediate" highway spending.
And the new $2.3 billion Cincy bridge is not scheduled to even start construction for probably four years, long after Republicans have scheduled the Obama presidency for completion.
And without delays, it wouldn't be finished until 2022, when no one will be counting Obama's rounds of golf.

The second part of this story is the estimated cost of the new bridge. This article cites $2.3 billion for the new span but I have seen projections that it might actually cost $3 billion by the time it is finished.

Do you have any idea how much the current Brent Spence bridge cost when it first went into service in 1963?

$10 million!

How does a bridge that cost $10 million fifty years ago come to cost $2.5 billion today? That is a 250,000% increase. Have steel and concrete costs increased that much? How about labor costs? It is not even close.

Adjusting merely for the consumer price index that $10 million bridge in 1963 would cost $75 million today. That is a long way from $2.5 billion. Where are all the extra costs coming from?

A big part of the reason is clearly related to the enormous amount of regulations that any major infrastructure or capital project must adhere to today compared to 1963. Environmental impact studies, urban impact studies, minority hiring regulations, wage and hour rules, OSHA regulations and many more. Many of these government regulations are important and well meaning. However, we need to fully understand the burden of these costs on our economy. The benefits as well as the costs. President Obama has been unwilling to consider the red tape. In fact, a recent study estimated that the cost of added regulations under President Obama to be $488 billion. That could pay for a lot of bridges.

The amount of time to fill out the additional federal paperwork just since President Obama took office is an increase of 1.5 billion hours according to the same study. Assuming a 2,000 hour work week year, it would take 771,999 full-time workers simply to deal with the red tape. That much labor time could build 220 Empire State Buildings.

Looking at these numbers has anyone stopped to think about the stimulus potential to our economy if just a fraction of government regulations were taken off of our backs? It certainly does not appear that the President has stopped to think about it.

Let me sum it up this way. There is no way anyone should be buying a bridge from Barack Obama. He is no where close to building one in Cincinnati. He also never got close to building any type of bipartisan bridge in Washington over the last four years. I am not buying what he is selling. If you are thinking about taking another plunge with him...please consider your vote very carefully...he may take us all down with him.

Credit: CNN

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How About A Mulligan?

In a friendly game of golf you sometimes ask your playing partners if you can take a mulligan after a poor shot.  It is a "do over".  A chance to forget about the bad shot and to take another swing with the hope you will do better the next time.

Credit: Gateway Pundit

After watching last night's debate I have come to the conclusion that President Obama's campaign theme should not be "Forward".  It should really be "How About A Mulligan?"  The entire basis of his argument for a second term seems to be to give him another chance.  Four more years is all he needs.

We can all see the results of his policies.  Our economy is a mess.  We are spending over a trillion dollars a year we don't have.  The Middle East is in turmoil.  A U.S. Ambassador has been assassinated by terrorists and for a month all we heard was that it was caused by an off the wall video.  It is it any wonder the President wants a "do over?"

We have not heard anything about a new vision for the next four years.  Nothing has been said about what we will do to confront any of our problems domestically.  Jobs? Immigration?  Trillion dollar deficits?Social Security? Medicare?  What about foreign policy? Iran? Turmoil in the Middle East?  Russia? Afghanistan?  He says trust him, it will be better.

Why does everything seem to feel less secure than when this President took office four years ago?  Our finances?  Our children's future?  Our place in the world? 

There has not been one specific statement from President Obama on what he wants to do over the next four years other than raise the taxes on the "rich" and to hire more teachers.  There is nothing new about either of those.  He has been saying the same thing for the last six years.  Somehow he keeps thinking that we will believe that taxing the rich will magically erase the budget deficit and hiring more teachers will somehow lower unemployment over the next four years. Neither is going to happen.

I know that President Obama knows a little about golf.  After all, he has played golf over 100 times during his Presidency.  As President, he must be used to his playing partners giving him mulligans whenever he asks for them. After all, who is going to say "NO" to the President?   However, as voters we have the right, in fact, we have the responsibility, to say "NO" to this President when he wants to take a mulligan on his record over the last four years.

President Obama's "Mulligan" campaign strategy could not have been more clearly on display than in last night's display.

President Obama said last night that the pending sequestration of the defense budget that will result in spending cuts of over $1 trillion over the next ten years and is scheduled to take effect at the end of this year "will not happen".  He said he was never in favor of it. However, the White House is where the original idea for sequestration came from during the debt ceiling discussions of 2011 according to Bob Woodward's recent book. And the only reason that this even became necessary in the first place is because President Obama utterly failed in working out a deal with Congress on the debt ceiling.  The President failed again when he could not provide leadership in working with the Congressional Debt Commission to come to a deal by the end of last year to find other cuts so that the sequestration would not automatically take effect.

We now hear the President say the defense sequestration cuts are not going to happen?  He already has had two shots on this.  It would be nice to hear his new plan as to how it is not going to happen.  The President is not just asking for a mulligan here.  He asking for a mulligan on top of a previous mulligan.  Unbelieveable.

President Obama also made a big point last night on how decisive he was after the Benghazi terrorist attack that killed four Americans including our Ambassador to Libya.  He said "when we received that phone call, I immediately made sure that, number one, we did everything we could to secure those Americans who were still in harm’s way".  In the previous debate he said, " So as soon as we found out that the Benghazi consulate was being overrun, I was on the phone with my national security team and I gave them three instructions. Number one, beef up our security and procedures, not just in Libya, but at every embassy and consulate in the region."

If you are Commander-in-Chief does it not seem logical, considering the unrest and threats to American interests in the Middle East, that you would have made this call a long time ago?  Especially when the  American Ambassador to Libya indicated that he was very concerned about the deteriorating security situation in the country.  It is clear that the President expects another mulligan.  He was way out of bounds the first time so we are supposed to overlook it and see that he did the right thing on his second try? 

Finally, in last night's debate, President Obama made much of his trip to Israel as a candidate for President.  We are supposed to ignore the the fact that he has chosen to not visit Israel once in his four years as President despite the fact that he found time to apolocize and bow his way through most other countries in the Middle East.  Israel is seemingly now once again the President's closest ally.  At least until the election is over. How many mulligans does he want? 

I am not willing to give this President any more mulligans.

My advice to anyone who is willing to give him four more years after seeing his performance in office and in the debates over the last few weeks...


You are very likely to get hit...and hard...if you let this man have the chance to take more swings over the next four years.  I don't know where the ball is going.  However, I know it is not going down the center of the fairway.  This is not someone that plays it down the straight and narrow with anything. Most likely it is going to be deep in the rough or trees on the left side.  It very well could be completely out of bounds.  From that side, almost everything is unplayable anyway. 

You have been forewarned.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

O for 4 with 2 Errors

We are right in the middle of baseball's playoffs so it seems appropriate to assess President Obama's performance in baseball terms. I couldn't help but make the connection while watching this week's debate.

Barack Obama is like a ballplayer who has gone O for 4 and made 2 big errors but still thinks he should be in the lineup.

Barack Obama at Bat
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Steve Helber

Mitt Romney made the case rather well in the debate but let's look at how it looks if we assessed Barack Obama's performance as if he were a baseball player on your favorite team.

The economy, jobs and energy. Barack Obama took big swings with a gigantic stimulus package, huge amounts of deficit spending and $90 billion on green energy. He struck out.  He whiffed on all three pitches.  His only response is that he had to hit a nasty slider of an economy that he inherited.  Guess what?  He is in the big leagues.  He is expected to be able to hit the breaking ball.

Deficit reduction. Nothing. He said he would cut the deficit in half. He has added almost $6 trillion in debt. Three dollars of debt for every dollar of growth. He has not been able to get one vote in Congress, Republican or Democrat, for his last two budgets. He struck out again.

Immigration reform. Nothing. He didn’t even take a swing at the issue when he had substantial majorities of Democrats in both Houses for 2 years. He never introduced a bill or even a modest proposal. He said he would do something about immigration when he ran in 2008. He struck out with the bat on his shoulder.

Saving Medicare and Social Security. Nothing. He has totally ignored the issue and the solvency of both programs has worsened over the last four years. He ignored his own deficit reduction commission that advanced some ideas to help save these programs. Again, he didn’t even take a swing. He struck out without ever taking the bat off his shoulder.

The President is O for 4 on the biggest domestic issues he said he was going to do something about four years ago.

To compound matters, he also committed two huge errors in the field that have made things much worse.

President Obama’s Middle East policy is in disarray. His policies have not worked. Iran is four years closer to a nuclear weapon. Egypt, Syria and Libya are all in upheaval. Our relationship with Israel, our strongest ally in the Mideast, has soured. His apologist foreign policy has not worked and has weakened our hand overseas. He clearly tried to mislead the American public on what happened in Benghazi with the assassination of our Ambassador. It all amounts to a huge error.  He simply dropped the ball.

President Obama also made a huge error in his approach to healthcare reform. He chose to work in a highly partisan manner. He said he would be open and transparent. He said he would change the tone in Washington. Instead, he chose to cut deals in backrooms and cram Obamacare into law with no bipartisanship. In the process he is taking $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare. He has also created a huge takeover of individual health care that will put the goverment between doctors and their patients. He has threatened religious organizations with Obamacare mandates. And Obamacare will crush many small businesses and job creators going forward. He could have focused on jobs and the economy in the last four years. He chose Obamacare as his most important domestic priority. It was another huge error. 

When you go O for 4 and make 2 huge errors you should not stay in the lineup.

We saw all of this in the debate. President Obama talks a good game most of the time. However, when you look at his actions, his results and the actual facts, his talk does not ring true. We have had four years of talk. We need four years of results. Results are what Mitt Romney has been delivering his entire life. We shouldn’t have to settle for what has happened the last four years. Mitt Romney will make sure we don’t have to settle over the next four years.

One of the great things about sports is that you don't have to guess who is better.  It is decided on the field with a scoreboard and scorecard.  Performance and results are there for everyone to see.  Baseball has always been the most statistic oriented sport.  Look at the batting average, the fielding average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, earned run average and number of saves.  It is a lot easier than assessing a debate answer or stump speech.  That is why you need to look at the record and the results of these candidates.

President Obama has had four years to show that he belongs in the big leagues.  There is nothing in the stats to suggest that he should not be sent packing.  He hasn't done anything with his bat and he has not shown much in the field either.  Was he rushed too soon to the major leagues?  Perhaps he just couldn't hit the curve?  Maybe he was just one of those young phenoms that the scouts loved that had all the tools but he just never realized his potential?  Where is Billy Beane when we need him?

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has been a success at every stop along the way.  He seems to always end up on the winning teams.  Even when they were not winning when he joined them.  He has been a clutch hitter and put up some impressive numbers in doing it.

Mitt Romney Suits Up
Photo Credit:AP Photo

If I am the Manager of the ball club, this is an easy call.  "Mitt...grab your mitt.  You are also batting clean up today.  Barack, pack your bags.  We are putting you on waivers.  Hopefully you can catch on with someone".

Barack Obama Waived

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Words That Don't Work

Frank Luntz wrote a book several years ago titled "Words That Work" that described how to effectively put together a persuasive message by using the right words.

In last night's Presidential debate President Obama showed that words only can take you so far.  Actions and results are what really matter.

Obama was much more on his game last night.  His words and his energy were there.  However, Mitt Romney came to play as well.  Obama's problem was that time and time again Mitt Romney spoke about Obama's results and actions right after Obama spoke his words.  Those words seemed awfully empty.

I thought a participant in a Frank Luntz Focus Group that was shown on Fox News after the debates summed it up better than any of the professional pundits when he colorfully said,

"Obama took me in the last time with his words.  Now I just want him to stop bulls****ing me."

That Luntz focus group in Nevada comprised of undecided voters in Nevada, three-quarters of which said they voted for Obama in 2008, thought Romney won the debate handily last night.  Those are the people that really matter.  I am sure liberals are much happier this morning and they will think Obama won.  That does not matter a whole lot in the end.

I thought the debate was pretty even.  Obama had some very good moments.  So did Romney.  Romney missed some big opportunities to put Obama away.  Most particularly on Libya.  However, I think this issue is going to live on for the next few days if the media has any self respect left.  The President's actions could not be more in conflict with his words.  Will the media hold him accountable?

If I were Mitt Romney I would start a narrative over the next few days that says, "President Obama's words sound really good.  His problem is that most of the time his actions and the facts don't square with his words.  We have had four years of his words.  That is enough.  We need four years of results".

The full impact of debates are not usually felt until a few days after the event.  The narrative in the next few days will be important.  President Obama has some explaining to do.  Will the media try to cover for him like Candy Crowley tried to do last night?

Governor Romney can not expect them to do their job.  He will have to do his and theirs at the same time.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Born in the U.S.A.

It is time to take a little break from politics and spend some time on another of my favorite topics-demographics.

The federal government recently released its preliminary National Vital Statistics Report on Births for 2011.

I like to keep track of birth rate data as I am always interested in who we have coming up behind us to pay the enormous federal debt we are leaving to future generations.

The bad news is that as our federal debt has grown by over $5 trillion over the last four years, the number of future taxpayers is also declining.  Births in the United States have declined in each of the last four years.  2011 births were 3,953,593.  This marks two consecutive years that births have been below 4 million.  The last time that the birth rate in the U.S was this low was in 1999.

This is most likely a function of two factors- the economy and the effects of the "Baby Dearth"years from 1972-1979 in which births in each year did not exceed 3.5 million.  The females in this cohort have been in prime child bearing years recently and lower birth rates should be expected as a result.

The chart below shows births from 1950 through 2011.  This is a chart that I have been tracking since the early 1990's.  I actually consider the 1965-1986 period to represent the entire "Baby Dearth" period.   On either side of the "Baby Dearth" we have the "Baby Boom" (1946-1965) and the "Baby Boomlet" (1986-2008?).  

I have always looked at the birth cohort of 1965-1986 to be particularly well positioned for career prospects in that they are in a great position to be able to serve both a large group of individuals older than themselves (health care, investments, etc) as well as a large population of younger individuals (education, consumer goods etc).  It is a position that is literally in the middle of two giant demographic waves unlike anything we have ever seen before.  

A few interesting factoids from the Report on 2011 Births.

  • The general fertility rate (63.2 per 1,000 women age 15-44) was the lowest rate ever reported for the United States.
  • The birth rate for women aged 20-24 (85.3 per 1,000 women) was the lowest ever.
  • The birth rate foe teenagers aged 15-19 fell to a historic low (31.3 per 1,000).  This is a decline of 49% since 1991.
  • Age 25-29 women have the highest birth rate (107.2).  Age 30-34 women have a higher birth rate than age 20-24 (96.5)
  • The birth rates for women from 35-39 and 40-44 were both higher in 2011 than 2010.  Births to women age 40-44 was the highest (10.2 per 1,000) since 1967.
  • 41% of all births were to unmarried women.  29% of children born to non-Hispanic Whites were to unmarried mothers.  For blacks, 72% of births were to single mothers.  This number is 53% for Hispanics and only 17% for Asians.
  • Only 18% of the nonmarital births were to teenagers, the lowest percentage ever recorded.  In 1970, teenagers accounted for 50 percent of births to unmarried women.
  • Of the 3.9 million babies born, 40% were first born, 31% second born, 16% third born and 12% were the fourth child or more for the mother.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Wise Man and a Fool

If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.
-Proverbs 29:9 English Standard Version  


If you watched the Ryan-Biden last night you would have thought Joe Biden was at a joke fest.  It was also reported that Biden interrupted Paul Ryan over 80 times.

Is there anything more that has to be said?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Who is John Galt? BeeLine Now Knows

Just in time for the theatre release of Atlas Shrugged, Part II this Friday, BeeLine has completed reading  Atlas Shrugged as I promised I would.

I have three general thoughts about the book that was written by Ayn Rand in 1957.  Rand was a Russian emigre who saw first hand the dangers of collectivism, socialism and communism and could appreciate individualism and capitalism like few Americans.

It is ponderous.  It is wordy and weighty.  It is not an easy read.  Its seems as if some paragraphs go on for pages.  Many times I thought Rand could have used one-third the words and got the same point across.  However, it is well written and thought provoking throughout.

It is prophetic.  At times it was almost eerie in how Rand wrote about where the socialist, anti-capitalist mindset leads us.  I had to keep reminding myself that this book was written in 1957.  Federal government outlays in 1957 were $77 billion.  We now spend that in about one week.  She is spot on in writing about the liberal intelligensia and how they always "know what is right and fair". (Sound familiar?) She writes about a "Project Soybean" in the book the  purpose of which is to recondition the dietary habits of the nation. Wheat and corn are so inefficient. Everyone should eat soybeans. ( Sound familiar?)   She writes about getting oil from shale in Colorado. (Sound familiar?)  She writes about top down government planning on technology (Sound familiar?).

It is philosophical.  The book is almost equal parts novel and philosophy.  It challenges the concepts of right and wrong and good and evil that we have become accustomed to.  Rand questions why we demonize the producers in our society who move the world and carry the masses to places they could not get to on their own?  Is it evil to want to create, innovate and profit from your industriousness?  How is it noble to produce nothing and add no value to society but expect that you should benefit from the work of others?

I can understand if you don't read the book.  It is a major investment of time.  However, you need to think deeply about the message of Atlas Shrugged.  Rent the DVD movie, Atlas Shrugged, Part I, or go see Part II beginning this week at a local theatre.

Who is John Galt?

All I know is that I will take as many guys like that as I can find.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Population Up, People Working Down

The back and forth that you hear about the unemployment rate can be very confusing.  The federal government announced last week that the unemployment rate was down to 7.8% in September.  This is the lowest it has been in nearly four years.

You will undoubtedly hear President Obama and the Democrats using this statistic to claim that their policies are working.  However, let's look at the actual raw numbers and not focus on the reported  unemployment rate. You can make your own judgment on the success of President Obama's policies over the last four years.

All of this data comes directly from the U.S. government's Bureau of Labor Statistics website.  I used data from December, 2008 as the base period as it represents the last full month before President Obama took office on January 20, 2009.  The most recent BLS report of last week for September, 2012   shows where we are today.

One picture tells the real story.

The total population of those age 16 and over has increased by 8.7 million (from 235 million to 243.7 million).

The total number of those age 16 and over who are not in the workforce (either in school, stay-at-home parents, disabled, discouraged or retired) has increased by 8.3 million (from 80.4 million to 88.7 million).

The total number of unemployed has increased by 789,000 (11.3 million to 12.1 million)

The total number of people actually working has decreased by 354,000 (143.3 million to 143.0 million)

The bottom line is that although the working age population has increased by almost 9 million people, the total number of people actually working is lower today than when Barack Obama took office.

The BLS actually tracks the number of persons who are "not in the labor force" but "want a job now".  You would think that these people would be considered unemployed and be considered in the calculation of the unemployment rate.  They are not because someone is considered as unemployed only if they have actively looked for a job in the last four weeks.  If these people were considered as "unemployed" rather than as "not in the workforce" the unemployment rate would be 11.6%

Here is a chart showing those who want a job now but are not considered in the unemployment rate over the last four years.  This amounts to 6.7 million people which is about 1.3 million higher than it was when President Obama took office.

I have written before that I am more concerned about the percentage of those employed than the percentage that are unemployed.  After all, there are bills to be paid in this country.  People need shelter, food, energy, medical care and other necessities.  The lower the percentage of those working, the greater the burden those working carry for everyone else.  It is a simple comparison of how many are in the wagon versus how many are pulling the wagon.

We need as many people pulling the wagon as we can right now.  If we can't get more people out of the wagon and to start pulling the wagon, we will continue to struggle. We will also inevitably reach the day that those in the wagon who have no other choices or options will be hurt most of all. There simply will not be enough people left pulling the wagon and paying the taxes to carry them.  They will have no choice but to get out of the wagon.  The wagon will be stuck in the mud and broken from the weight it is bearing.

Forget about the unemployment rate.  You can see from the numbers above that it distorts reality.  Focus on how many are pulling the wagon compared to how many are in the wagon.  That is the only ratio that counts.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Empty Chair, Empty Suit, Empty Promises

Clint Eastwood's curious performance at the Republican National Convention is starting to look more more brilliant than bizarre after the first Presidential debate.

Eastwood's empty chair became an empty suit at the debate.


Of course, underlying all of the emptiness are the empty promises that have defined the Presidency of Barack Obama.  This was not just one bad performance by the President.  It simply shows that when you really look closely at the last four years, there is not much to see.  The well is empty on results and so is our leadership.

Matt Welch of shows how empty Barack Obama's rhetoric is by pointing out how closely President Obama's 2012 debate talk eerily sounded just like his first debate of 2008.  As Welch puts it, Obama plagiarized his own debate promises from 2008.

A couple examples.

Shipping Jobs Overseas

2012: I also want to close those loopholes that are giving incentives for companies that are shipping jobs overseas. I want to provide tax breaks for companies that are investing here in the United States. Right now, you can actually take a deduction for moving a plant overseas.

2008: Let's just be clear. What I do is I close corporate loopholes, stop providing tax cuts to corporations that are shipping jobs overseas so that we're giving tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the United States.

Oil Company Depletion Allowance
2012: Now, I've identified areas where we can, right away, make a change that I believe would actually help the economy. The -- the oil industry gets $4 billion a year in corporate welfare. Basically, they get deductions that those small businesses that Governor Romney refers to, they don't get. Now, does anybody think that ExxonMobil needs some extra money when they're making money every time you go to the pump? Why wouldn't we want to eliminate that?

2008: And if we want to talk about oil company profits, under your tax plan, John -- this is undeniable -- oil companies would get an additional $4 billion in tax breaks. Now, look, we all would love to lower taxes on everybody. But here's the problem: If we are giving them to oil companies, then that means that there are those who are not going to be getting them.

The truth of the matter is that both of these issues are bogus and the President must know it. However, he continues to talk about them to score political points.  Let's look at the facts.

There is no loophole or tax break to send jobs overseas.  U.S. companies, unlike almost every other country in the world, taxes a U.S. corporation on income that is earned anywhere in the world.  They also do not get a deduction for moving jobs overseas as President Obama suggested in the debate and to which Governor Romney famously responded "You said you get a deduction for taking a plant overseas.  Look, I've been in business for 25 years.  I have no idea what you're talking about.  I maybe need to get a new accountant."

The oil depletion allowance (the "$4 billion tax break" that President  Obama referenced in both debates) is no different than the depreciation allowance for other businesses.  If you buy a machine for your business both accounting and tax rules do not generally allow you to deduct that cost in the year of purchase.  However, just as it not proper to deduct the cost of the machine in one year, it also would not be fair to not allow it to be deducted over time as the machine will wear out and be worthless at some point. Therefore, machinery, equipment, furniture and fixtures are generally required to be depreciated (deducted) over a period of years.

The same is true for oil, gas and mineral interests.  When an owner buys a piece of property with oil and gas reserves that property will gradually lose value during the time that the oil and gas is pumped out of the ground.  The same is true for mining.  At some point the oil and gas (or minerals) will be depleted and the property will have lost most of its value.  Similar to a machine, the asset will wear out.  The depletion allowance recognizes this and allows a deduction for this over time.  What is even more disingenuous in the President's debate language is that the integrated oil companies like Exxon Mobil are not entitled to the most generous depletion allowance calculation (percentage depletion) under the law in any event.  That method has not been allowed for the integrated oil companies since 1975.  Mitt Romney clearly knew that pointed that out in the debate.  President Obama is either clueless or doesn't care about the truth.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote an excellent book a few years ago called The Tipping Point.   The basic thesis of the book is that ideas, behavior, messages and products often behave just like outbreaks of infectious diseases.  One moment everything is seemingly fine and the next it is not.  A tipping point is reached in which isolated single events reach critical mass much like water reaching a boiling point.  In effect, ideas and perceptions behave much like a virus in the way it runs through a population.  At first the virus is isolated and spread very widely over the population.  However, it can spread quickly and quietly until it reaches critical mass.  All of a sudden, everything is then different. Therefore, big changes can suddenly become apparent to us from what would seem the most minor of inputs.  That is the point at which "The Tipping Point" is reached.

An empty chair at a convention or a bad debate performance may seem like minor events but they could very well be evidence of the emergence of a social epidemic with respect to how Barack Obama is viewed by the public.

In 2008 the Obamamania social epidemic carried Barack Obama to The White House.   That fever has broken but are we seeing the beginnings of something else?  Barack Obama can still recover from the sick bed and contain the emerging EmptyVirus from further spreading within the general population.  However, there is little question that it is spreading right now.

My opinion is that EmptyVirus is out of the bottle and it is inevitable that it will totally infect Barack Obama at some point.  For the good of the country I only hope the tipping point is reached with the public in the next four weeks.  Putting the entire country at risk from the effects of EmptyVirus over the next four years is very dangerous and will greatly increase the potential risk for everyone.   It doesn't have to be this way. However, it is going to take a majority of people to open their eyes and see that they are looking at a President running on empty in the next few weeks.

Obama Gas Gauge T-Shirt $20

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Smarts vs. Smirk

One of the interesting phenomenons about a debate is how quickly a narrative develops after the debate one way or the other that then dominates perceptions going forward.  This began with the first Presidential debate between Nixon and Kennedy in 1960.  Those that heard the debate on radio scored Nixon the clear winner on what they heard.  However, television viewers connected with Kennedy.  Nixon looked tired and he had a 5 o'clock shadow and a poor makeup job.  His clothing had poor contrast with the backdrop so he appeard to blend into the background.  He was quickly deemed the loser and the rest is history.

Other debates I have watched over the years that seemed close when I watched them end up spinning one way or the other soon after the debate and it is not long before a "winner" is declared in the media.  That perception then becomes the reality very quickly with the public.

I did not think it was a total blow out last night as I watched it live.  I thought Romney was in total command but I also saw numerous times that he could have delivered even larger blows to the President.  Of course, it is easy to do that in your family room.  It is not so easy when you are in the ring.  All in all, Romney deserves an "A" for his work last night.  It turned out to be perhaps the most dominant Presidential debate performance ever when one looks at the post debate reaction.

This is a particulary good ad produced and delivered by the Republican National Committee less than 12 hours after the debate concluded.  I think this does a great job of summarizing the narrative.  It is called "Smirk".  Compare the Smirk with Romney's Smarts in this clip.  This is a devastatingly, effective ad.

I have enjoyed reading some of the post-debate reaction and comments on the world wide web.  I have said it before and I will say it again, the internet puts the world at your touch and the minds of millions are easily at your disposal whether from Miami, Mumbai, Madrid or Montevideo.

Here is a collection of some of the comments that I thought showed great wisdom or wit in assessing the debate last night.

Yes, Obama has all the hall marks of a smart, yet lazy student. He is charming and knowledgeable enough to get in a few good comments in class to impress the teacher, but when it comes down to actually putting effort into writing a paper or studying for the final he doesn't. The thing is you can get very far by being superficially smart. But, there is always a point when some one finally catches you.  Obama has just been caught my friends. 

In the past Obama always had a higher job to run to to avoid doing and being responsible for his current job. You can't climb the ladder higher than president though. There is no running now. Now we see what he is really made of.

Now he has to answer to Mitt who is the old fashioned kind of smart student. The one that puts in long hours of study and reads every assigned reading and the optional ones too. 


My husband told his friend when he asked about the debate, "Remind me if I ever become a community organizer not to debate a CEO."

By Sara Kennedy-

The major difference between Obama and Romney:

When you take their teleprompters and handlers away and let them speak extemporaneously on their own, Romney gets much better and Obama gets much worse.

By Steven

Best tweet of night: "That was no debate: Mitt just took Obama for a ride in the country strapped to the roof of his car."

By Werbaz

The CEO pounding on the junior regional sales manager of the upper midwest region for his latest failed quarter - that's what it looked like to me.

By Dean

This is what happens when u pick John Kerry as your debate coach.

By Michael Moore (yes, that Michael Moore) via Twitter

"If it had been Romney performing like the president last night, it would have been over."

By Tom Brokaw (yes, that Tom Brokaw) on MSNBC

"Obama better hope a kicked *ss is covered under Obamacare."

By Dennis Miller (yes, that Dennis Miller) via Twitter

The bottom line is that last night over 60 million viewers saw first hand why Romney has been successful at every step of his life and why he earned his wealth.  He is smart.  He has a command of the facts.  He is organized.  He is practical and passionate.  He is willing and able to lead.  He is willing to work hard despite his considerable gifts.

Barack Obama also is a gifted man.  However, his life has been filled with a lot of free passes along the way.  Being accepted to an Ivy League school despite admitting to being a lackluster student.  Being named President of Harvard Law Review without ever writing an article.  Winning the Nobel Prize without doing anything to deserve it.  Having the good fortune to run for President in 2008 as the financial markets fell apart with John McCain as your opponent.  Having a national media that never challenges or questions you.

There were no free passes given out last night in Denver.  In fact, Romney took Obama apart like a Principal who catches a student in the hall during classtime without a hall pass.

Two questions still loom large.  Can Romney take advantage of the momentum he now has?  Will a different Obama show up at the next two debates?

There are still over four weeks to go.  That is an eternity in politics.  There is still plenty of time for smarts, smirks and a few surprises along the way.