"A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take away everything you have."

Monday, December 24, 2012

Because we hear so much "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas..." Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff

I'm sure we've all been hearing about the fiscal cliff lately.  This is a confusing issue, and I thought Dr. Tracy Miller's blog post "What Should be Done about the Fiscal Cliff"contains excellent and very clear analysis.  I highly recommend that you take the time to read it.  

I also appreciated Donald Schanzenbach's piece entitled "Mission to Restore America: Fiscal Cliff Follies."  Writing from a Christian worldview perspective, he makes the point that we've already gone over the cliff, and much more needs to happen to bring us back than for some sort of compromise to be worked out in Washington.  He believes that through financial disaster of our own making we may see a return to wisdom and back to God in America.  Let us pray that he is correct. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012

Here it is, for the 3rd year in a row, but I think it's worth it.  Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends!
George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation
General Thanksgiving
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America
WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houzes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Source: The Massachusetts Centinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789

[I have updated some of the spelling for easier reading.]

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Heartfelt Thanks to My Readers

I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to all my readers over the past three years, and especially to those who have been willing to comment from time to time.  I decided several months ago that if Obama was reelected that I would stop blogging, and I intend to follow through on that decision.  I will be taking a long hiatus from following politics and from blogging, possibly a permanent one.  I felt the 2012 presidential election was the last hope to getting our nation back on the right path before we go off the fiscal cliff.  Based on the results of that election, I no longer have any confidence in the rationality or respect for the values of the majority of the people in this country.  I have little hope for our country's future, either fiscally or morally, apart from a dramatic intervention by God in changing people's hearts and minds.  Frankly, my heart is no longer in this endeavor, and I have decided to direct my time and efforts in the future into other areas besides politics. 

I firmly believe God is sovereign over all things that happen in this world, including our elections and our country's future.  I know that He is working all things for good for His people.  Ultimately my hope is in Him and His promises from the Bible.  As a citizen of heaven, I look forward to the new heavens and the new earth, where all sorrow and pain and tears will be wiped away forever.  Until that time, it is my duty and the duty of all of us to continue be good citizens of the country in which God has placed us and to love and serve our fellow men in His name.  I will continue to vote and to follow political news on a cursory level, but I no longer expect to see our country return to its founding principles.  Although I am discouraged for the future of my country, I am thankful for the blessings that God has given me and remain filled with hope and joy about my life, my family, and the future.  I harbor no ill will or bitterness toward those who disagree with me politically.

This blog will stay online and perhaps others will continue to post on it.  It is possible that I will return to blogging at some point in the future, but I expect to be going dark for a long time.  Again, I am thankful to all of you for reading and appreciate all the encouragement you have given me over the past three years.  May God bless all of you!

Some Post-Election Thoughts

Well, the votes have been counted and the voters have made their decision -- another four years of Barack Obama. 

Needless to say, my predictions regarding the presidential race and the Senate races were very wrong.  Instead of Romney winning the popular vote by a couple of points nationwide, Obama ended up winning by two or three points.  I predicted six states wrong in the presidential race -- some of them very wrong like Wisconsin -- and four Senate races incorrectly.  Both were simply bloodbaths for Republicans.  I missed badly because I was not expecting a Democratic wave that swept nearly every close Senate race and Electoral College state into the Democratic column.  I was especially surprised to see Obama win Florida and to see GOP Senate candidates lose in North Dakota and Wisconsin.  I didn't do too badly in the House races.  Out of 435, it looks like I incorrectly called about 12 races for the GOP that ended up going for the Democrats and about 2 races for the Democrats that ended up going for the GOP (I say "about" because there are still a few races that haven't been officially called yet).  I was quite disappointed to see that conservative firebrand Allen West lost in Florida.  Referenda didn't go well either.  Maryland approved in-state tuition benefits for illegal aliens.  Unions won a couple of important state-wide votes in California.  Pro-lifers were on the losing end of a ballot issue in Florida.  Gay marriage passed in all four states in which it was on the ballot.

When you look at the composition of the electorate and how it voted, it's easy to see why Romney lost.  National exit polling showed that self-identified Democrats outnumbered self-identified Republicans by 6 percentage points, a nearly identical margin to 2008.  Overall turnout was down significantly compared to 2008, but was very high among Obama's core supporters.  Whites made up only about 72% of the electorate, which was down significantly from 2008 which was in itself a year of record turnout for minorities.  Jay Cost estimates that as many as 10 million white voters sat out this election.  Hispanics gave Obama nearly 70% of their vote, which is even more than he got against McCain in 2008.  Women also voted heavily for Obama.  The percentage of self-identified conservatives was only 35% compared to self-identified liberals who were 24% of the electorate -- a much smaller gap than typically seen in presidential elections.  The bottom line is that a very Democratic, liberal, minority-heavy, female-heavy group of voters turned out to the polls and produced an unexpected Democratic wave.

The bottom line is that these results are unbelievably depressing for conservatives -- far worse even than 2008.  Obama won by a landslide in 2008, but at least the decision of voters was understandable, given the unpopularity of Bush, weariness with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the financial meltdown.  Voters were looking for a change, and Obama was an appealing figure who appeared to rise above partisanship and offered grand rhetoric about bringing the country together along racial lines as well as political ones.  This year is totally different.  The country has had four years to see what Obama is really like.  He has openly governed from the far left and campaigned for president on an openly liberal platform.  His election strategy was based on dividing the country and using wedge issues to try to turn out his base (amnesty executive order, gay marriage, nationalization of student loans, war on women, union bailouts, etc.).  Despite his slogan "Forward," he presented no positive vision for the country and focused his entire campaign on tearing down Romney.  I got to see many of Obama's ads airing in the Washington, DC media market, and they were relentlessly and almost uniformly negative.  By any reasonable measure, Obama's presidency has been a failure.  Economic growth is extremely weak, unemployment is just as high as when he took office (and higher when you factor in the huge number of people who have left the workforce), real household income has decrease significantly, deficits and debt are at record levels, his health care bill remains unpopular and has already resulted in higher insurance premiums, gas prices are nearly double what they were when he took office, and the housing market remains weak in most areas of the country.  His presidency has been marked by partisan gridlock, with no effort made to work with the other side and to find bipartisan solutions to our debt crisis or to reform entitlements.  And of course, there are the scandals -- the waste of taxpayer money on companies like Solyndra, the racialism and corruption of the Justice Department, and the incompetence, indifference, and lies regarding the Benghazi embassy attack. 

Obama and the Democrats will undoubtedly be emboldened by this election.  Their bogus war on women meme and their class warfare shtick apparently were embraced by the public, so we will see much more of that in the coming years.  Obama has already governed and won reelection by being open about his left-wing views; he will not move to the center now.  He will double down on his fiscal and cultural agenda.  He will continue to circumvent the Constitution when needed to enact his agenda.  His left-wing appointments will leave an indelible mark on the Supreme Court and lower courts. 

I don't think there is much of a silver lining coming out of this election for conservatives.  There will be no undoing the damage of four more years of Obama, but that is not even the worst.  The worst is that Obama is apparently a reflection of a majority of the voting public.  They voted to reelect him because they idolize him and believe that he reflects their values.  This election opened my eyes to realize how much this country has changed.  A majority of the public embraces values and beliefs that are completely the opposite of mine.  They will vote for the candidate who supports abortion on demand, regardless of how bad the economy gets or how many lies are told about terrorist attacks on our embassy.  They will vote for the candidate that offers them the most free stuff or panders most effectively to them, regardless of how much it drives up our debt and jeopardizes our children's future.  There is no doubt that the media is deeply corrupt and that its bias throughout the campaign greatly aided Obama.  But ultimately, it is the American people who choose to accept the spin fed to them instead of thinking for themselves and seeking out the truth.  We voted for four more years, so we will get four more years just like the last four years.  Our country will get the leadership we deserve. 

UPDATE: I wanted to add a link to a typically outstanding Impromptus column by Jay Nordlinger with his thoughts on the election.  I agree almost entirely with everything he says. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why I Believe Mitt Romney Will Win Today

First, here is my prediction:

Final popular vote prediction: Romney 50.5%, Obama 48.5%
Final Electoral College prediction: Romney 291, Obama 247

I believe there are only 8 true tossup states that will decide this election. Here is my prediction for each of them:

1. Virginia - 51% Romney, 48% Obama
2. Ohio - 50.5% Romney, 48.5% Obama
3. Colorado - 50.5% Romney, 48.5% Obama
4. Iowa - 50% Romney, 49% Obama
5. Wisconsin - 50% Romney, 49% Obama
6. New Hampshire - 50% Obama, 49% Romney
7. Pennsylvania - 50.5% Obama, 48.5% Romney
8. Nevada - 51% Obama, 47.5% Romney

The one I am least sure about is Wisconsin -- changed it at the very last minute from Democrat to Republican.

In addition, I have 2 states classified as Leans Republican:

1. Florida - 52% Romney, 47% Obama
2. North Carolina - 53% Romney, 46% Obama

And 4 states classified as Leans Democrat:

1. Minnesota - 51.5% Obama, 47% Romney
2. Michigan - 52% Obama, 47% Romney
3. New Mexico - 53% Obama, 46% Romney
4. Oregon - 53% Obama, 45% Romney

All other states I believe are safely in one camp or the other and will go for either Obama or Romney by double digits.

The next question is why I am picking Mitt Romney to win when conventional wisdom clearly seems to favor Barack Obama.  The primary reason for why Obama is favored, of course, is due to very favorable polling for him at the state level.  The Real Clear Politics average of polls is showing Obama ahead in all the swing states, with the exception of Florida (and North Carolina if you count that as a swing state).  Also, while Mitt had a clear lead in the national poll average for most of October, Obama gained significantly in the past week in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and now leads slightly in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls as well.  So why would I pick Romney to win, when a clear majority of the polls seem to indicate that he will lose, possibly badly?

The first thing to understand is that this year is not 2008 anymore.  The political landscape has shifted dramatically.  Perhaps the most dramatic indication of this is the massive survey of national party identification that Rasmussen does each election year.  In calculating this party identification, Rasmussen surveys 15,000 likely voters nationwide, so it is a truly massive poll (more than 10 times bigger than even the largest national head-to-head election polls).  In 2008, Rasmussen found a 7 point advantage for Democrats, which ended up being very close to the final margin of victory for Obama.  In 2004 and 2010 they actually found small advantages for Democrats (+3 for Democrats in 2010), even though Republicans ended up performing extremely well in both elections.  This October, they found a 5.8% advantage for the Republicans, which a stunning turnaround for the GOP and an extremely favorable indication for the election.  And Rasmussen is not alone.  Gallup did a similar survey of national party identification and also found a 1 point Republican advantage (and 3 points when you factor in voters who lean toward one party or the other).  This data is especially extraordinary when you factor in that there has never been a presidential election in the modern era in which the Republicans have had a party identification advantage on Election Day.  The closest they have ever come was in 2004, when the party identification was even between Republicans and Democrats. 

Of course, we have many other proofs that this year will be dramatically different from 2008.  The enthusiasm for the Republicans is off the charts and significantly higher than the enthusiasm for the Democrats.  Polls have picked this up by showing the Republicans have a higher interest in the election and are more certain about voting.  Polls have also showed that those who strongly disapprove of Obama's job performance significantly outnumber those who strongly approve of his performance.  This difference in enthusiasm is also evidenced by much larger and more enthusiastic crowds for Romney compared to Obama.  This all feels like 2008 in reverse.  Peggy Noonan commented on the Republican passion bubbling under the surface in this election in her excellent column here.  Concern about Democratic turnout is doubtless what has led Obama to campaign in Democratic strongholds like Madison, WI and Boulder, CO in the final week of the campaign.

And, there is the evidence of the demeanor of the candidates and the campaigns.  Romney has seemed relaxed and confident and stayed largely positive in his campaign message, while Obama has seemed angry and his campaign ads have been overwhelmingly negative.  He was even caught telling his supporters at a recent Ohio rally to vote for revenge, while Romney countered by urging supporters to vote for love of country.  In the last presidential debate, the difference in demeanor between the two candidates clearly showed that Romney believed he was ahead and Obama believed he was behind.  Some of the Obama campaign's tactics, such as that creepy Lena Dunham "My First Time" ad, seem to be the actions of a desperate campaign, not a confident one. 

And then, of course, there is the early voting data.  We can't know for sure who people are voting for, of course, but we can discern trends relating to partisan turnout.  And the data in all the swing states indicates a huge improvement for the GOP compared to 2008.  In Ohio, there has been a more than 260,000 vote swing away from the Democrats and toward the Republicans in early voting turnout.  There has been a percentage swing toward the GOP in early voting in Florida and North Carolina that looks likely to overwhelm Obama's narrow win margin in both states from 2008.  Democrats lead big in early voting in Iowa, as they always do, but the percentage advantage for the Democrats is actually slightly less than it was in 2004 when Bush carried the state.  Early voting turnout is down significantly in key Democratic strongholds in Virginia this year compared with 2008.  Republicans have about a 2 point lead in early voting in Colorado this year, compared with a Democratic lead four years ago.  There is not early voting in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, but absentee balloting has looked very favorable to the GOP.  Even in Nevada, the GOP has improved significantly since 2008, even though it looks like Obama will still carry the state.  Most surprisingly, a recent poll from Gallup showed Republicans actually leading the early vote nationally by 6 points, which is incredible when you consider that most of Obama's national margin in 2008 came from early voting. 

Even when you look at current national polling, Gallup and Rasmussen both show a one point lead for Romney, with Obama at 48%.  Not a good place for an incumbent to be.  The latest CNN poll oversampled Democrats by 11 points, but still showed the race a tie with a 22 point advantage for Romney with independents.  The latest ABC/Washington Post poll had Obama up three, but its poll oversampled Democrats by 6.  I think a fair reading of these national polls indicates a Romney advantage and slight momentum back in his direction (after a week of Obama gains).  Remember that Romney had a steady and significant 3-6 point lead in both Gallup and Rasmussen for the week or two before the hurricane, with sizable advantages with independents.  The hurricane gave Obama a clear bounce, but I don't think it fundamentally changed the race.  Will independents, who have been negative about Obama for three years, suddenly reverse themselves and vote for Obama simply due his looking presidential for a couple of days in a hurricane a few days before the election?  I find it hard to believe, but I guess I can't completely rule it out. 

What about the state polls?  Well, some of them are very questionable in my mind -- either online polls or polls done by Democratic agenda pollsters like Public Policy Polling.  Zogby has been largely discredited as a pollster, and Gravis came out of nowhere this year and has no track record.  Most of these state pollsters are assuming the electorate will be very similar to 2008, with large oversamplings of Democrats.  Some of these state polls have shown Obama with larger leads in Ohio and Florida than his 2008 margin!  Marist and Quinnipiac have been especially guilty of this -- the Marist pollster said straight up in an interview that he is assuming a 2008 electorate.  I think many of these polls are a case of garbage in, garbage out.  Their results are inaccurate because they are making inaccurate assumptions about the electorate. 

I won't deny that this election looks to be quite close and that either Obama or Romney could easily win.  But I keep coming back to the fundamentals of this election.  Fundamentally, most Americans believe the country is on the wrong track.  Overwhelmingly voters consider the economy to be the most important issue in this election, and every poll shows that voters favor Romney over Obama on this issue.  No matter how many ads about abortion and contraception Obama runs, the election is not going to be about those issues for most voters.  I think, in the end, the big issues do not favor Obama and that will cause late-deciding voters to either break for Romney or sit out the election.  And I am encouraged that much smarter political gurus like Michael Barone, Karl Rove, and Jay Cost largely agree with my view of this election.

In short, I'm putting my faith in the American electorate to make the rational decision.  Maybe I'm letting my political biases get in the way of objectivity.  We'll all know in less than 24 hours (hopefully)....

Final Presidential & Senate Predictions

I have updated my Senate & Electoral College maps with my final election predictions.  You can click on the updated links on the left side of the blog to see the maps.

For the U.S. Senate, I am predicting a net pickup of 2 seats for the GOP, which brings them to 49 seats.  Democrats will also have 49 seats plus 2 liberal leaning independents who will likely caucus with their party (I am considering those two independents as Democrats for purposes of this analysis).  This is a disappointing prediction for me, since for much of the year the Republicans seemed to be in a good position to take control of the Senate.  There are a number of tossup states that I have currently leaning toward the Democrats that the GOP could conceivably win if they have an unexpectedly strong Election Day, however, so control of the Senate is not completely out of reach at this point.

At this point, the GOP seems likely to lose two seats in the Northeast.  One, the open seat in Maine, was almost a foregone conclusion when Republican incumbent Olympia Snowe announced her retirement and popular former governor and liberal Independent Angus King jumped into the race.  King is expected to easily defeat both Republican and Democratic opponents.  The other Republican seat in jeopardy is in Massachusetts, where Scott Brown seems to be slightly behind Democrat Elizabeth Warren.  Brown is surprisingly well-liked in liberal Massachusetts and has positioned himself as a moderate, but I fear that the large Democratic turnout for Obama this year will be too much for him to overcome.  This race is still a tossup though, which means it could go either way.

These two losses will be offset (in my view) by four Republican pickups of Democratic seats in the rest of the country.  The easiest pickup will be in conservative Nebraska, where Deb Fischer should easily defeat former Democratic senator Bob Kerrey to replace retiring Senator Ben Nelson.  Despite Kerrey's previous successes, he is far too liberal for the state.  A second pickup should come in North Dakota, where Democrat Kent Conrad is retiring.  Democrat Heidi Heitkamp has run a surprisingly strong race and has stayed close in the polls, but Republican Rick Berg, who currently represents the entire state in the House of Representatives, now seems likely to win (although he will run behind Romney in the state).  A third pickup is the open seat race in Wisconsin, where former GOP Governor Tommy Thompson and Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin are vying to replace retiring Democrat Herb Kohl.  This is a close race, and Baldwin was leading in the polls for a few weeks after Thompson won a contentious four-way primary, but Thompson now seems to be consolidating a lead.  Baldwin is one of the most left-wing members of the House and out of step with the state.  The fourth pickup for the GOP should come in Montana, where I predict that Republican Denny Rehberg will defeat sitting Democratic senator Jon Tester.  Polls show a close race, but Rehberg has already won statewide several times and will be aided by a strong performance by Romney at the top of the ticket in the state.

I also believe the Republicans will hold onto three competitive seats of their own in Indiana, Nevada, and Arizona.  Indiana is the one I am least sure about.  Republican Richard Mourdock, who defeated incumbent Senator Richard Lugar in the GOP primary earlier this year, was widely expected to defeat Democrat Joe Donnelly until he made an alleged gaffe regarding abortion in the case of rape during a debate.  Since then, a couple of polls have shown Donnelly ahead, although still well under 50% with a large number of undecideds.  I suspect that many of those undecided voters are conservatives who will come back to Mourdock in the end, especially with Romney and GOP gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence winning the state by wide margins.  In Nevada, Republican Dean Heller, an appointed incumbent, is leading in the polls over scandal-tarnished Democrat Shelley Berkley and should hang on to win despite the state's increasingly Democratic leanings.  And in Arizona, conservative congressman Jeff Flake should win by a few points over Democrat Richard Carmona to replace retiring GOP Senator Jon Kyl.  This is a race that has probably never been as close as some of the pundits have seemed to think.

I am also predicting that the Democrats will hold on to 9 of their own vulnerable seats, including 5 incumbents and 4 open seats.  The most disappointing of all of these races is the one in Missouri, where it looks like deeply unpopular Senator Claire McCaskill will hold on to her seat due to a mindnumbingly stupid statement by her GOP challenger Todd Akin regarding pregnancies resulting from rape.  Akin still seems to be closer in the polls than I would have expected, but the libertarian candidate in the race is polling between 5 and 10% in some polls and I would guess McCaskill will survive with less than 50% of the vote.  Democrat Sherrod Brown is another far-left senator who is out of step with his conservative leaning state of Ohio, but he appears to have a slight edge over GOP candidate Josh Mandel.  If massive Republican turnout propels Romney to a strong win there, Mandel might have a chance.  In Pennsylvania, freshman Democratic Senator Bob Casey, Jr. was thought to be safe for most of this election cycle, but Republican self-funder Tom Smith has unexpectedly surged in the polls and made things interesting.  The state has also gotten some last minute attention from Romney in the last couple of weeks, but given Pennsylvania's Democratic leanings both Romney and Smith are underdogs at this point.  In Florida, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, once thought to be in serious trouble, now looks clearly favored to win a 3rd term over Republican Connie Mack IV, who has run a disappointing campaign.  Even more likely to win is Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow, who is polling strongly against Republican Pete Hoekstra.

Of the Democrats' four vulnerable open seats, by the far the toughest one is in Virginia, where former governors Tim Kaine and George Allen have been in a neck-and-neck battle to capture the seat of retiring Democrat Jim Webb, who defeated Allen in 2006.  Most polls have been showing Allen running at least two or three points behind Romney in Virginia, and my best guess is that Kaine squeaks this race out.  Democrats look to be in much better shape in their other three competitive open seats, all of which are being fought on friendly turf.  In Connecticut, Linda McMahon has spent tens of millions of her own money but appears likely to lose to Democrat Chris Murphy, who stated in a debate that he believes that human life begins at birth.  Moderate Republicans Heather Wilson of New Mexico and Linda Lingle of Hawaii were both thought to be top-tier candidates but have not been able to overcome the Democratic tilt of their states.

Tomorrow morning, I hope to provide my rationale for picking Mitt Romney to win the presidential race.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Excellent article for the night before the election

Amit Ghate has an outstanding article at Forbes titled "We Must Stop Treating the President As Our Savior."  Thanks to the Foundations of Econ blog for directing me to this article.

"A growing tendency to treat the president as savior has resulted in a dangerous expansion of executive power and a simultaneous debarring of responsible candidates.  Accordingly, the question in today’s presidential election shouldn’t be “who can save America?” but “who will do it the least damage?”

Longer term — if our Republic is to survive — we must return the role of president to its proper place  by reasserting our individual sovereignty and self-responsibility."

As we all wonder what will happen tomorrow, it's comforting to remember that God is still sovereign and is working everything according to His plan.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My U.S. House Predictions

Time to begin making predictions for the 2012 elections!  My prediction for the U.S. House is for the Republicans, surprisingly, to gain 4 seats.  My predicted partisan breakdown for the 2013-2015 House of Representatives is 245 Republicans and 190 Democrats.

Here are the details of my prediction.  If a district is "safe" or "likely," that means I am certain or fairly certain that it will go to a particular party, probably by a comfortable margin.  If a district "leans" toward a particular party, that means I believe that it is competitive but favors one party or the other.  "Tossup" districts feature highly competitive races which could go to either party on election night.

Safe or Likely Republican: 215 seats

Includes 6 currently held Democratic seats - Democratic incumbent Larry Kissell of North Carolina, 1 Democratic open seat in Arkansas, 1 Democratic open seat in Indiana, 2 Democratic open seats in North Carolina, and 1 Democratic open seat in Oklahoma.

Leans Republican: 15 seats
  1. Colorado 3 - GOP incumbent Scott Tipton reelected
  2. Florida 10 - GOP incumbent Daniel Webster reelected
  3. Florida 18 - GOP incumbent Allen West reelected
  4. Iowa 3 - Combined district; GOP incumbent Tom Latham defeats Dem incumbent Leonard Boswell
  5. Iowa 4 - GOP incumbent Steve King reelected
  6. Massachusetts 6 - Democratic incumbent John Tierney loses to Republican Richard Tisei
  7. Michigan 11 - GOP open seat; Republican Kerry Bentivolio wins
  8. Minnesota 6 - GOP incumbent Michele Bachmann reelected
  9. Nevada 3 - GOP incumbent Joe Heck reelected
  10. New York 18 - GOP incumbent Nan Hayworth reelected
  11. New York 19 - GOP incumbent Chris Gibson reelected
  12. New York 27 - Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul loses to Republican Chris Collins
  13. Ohio 6 - GOP incumbent Bill Johnson reelected
  14. Utah 4 - Democratic incumbent Jim Matheson loses to Republican Mia Love
  15. Wisconsin 7 - GOP incumbent Sean Duffy reelected
Tossup - Republican win: 15 seats
  1. Arizona 1 - GOP open seat; Republican Jonathan Paton wins
  2. California 7 - GOP incumbent Dan Lungren reelected
  3. California 10 - GOP incumbent Jeff Dunham reelected
  4. California 36 - GOP incumbent Mary Bono Mack reelected
  5. California 52 - GOP incumbent Brian Bilbray reelected
  6. Colorado 6 - GOP incumbent Mike Coffman reelected
  7. Illinois 10 - GOP incumbent Bob Dold reelected
  8. Illinois 13 - GOP open seat; Republican Rodney Davis wins
  9. Michigan 1 - GOP incumbent Dan Benishek reelected
  10. New Hampshire 1 - GOP incumbent Frank Guinta reelected
  11. Nevada 4 - New district; Republican Danny Tarkanian wins
  12. Ohio 16 - Combined district; GOP incumbent Jim Renacci defeats Dem incumbent Betty Sutton
  13. Pennsylvania 12 - Democratic incumbent Mark Critz loses to Republican Keith Rothfus
  14. Tennessee 4 - GOP incumbent Scott DesJarlais reelected
  15. Texas 23 - GOP incumbent Quico Canseco reelected
Tossup - Democrat win: 16 seats
  1. California 9 - Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney reelected
  2. California 24 - Democratic incumbent Lois Capps reelected
  3. California 26 - GOP open seat; Democrat Julia Brownley wins
  4. Connecticut 5 - Democratic open seat; Democrat Elizabeth Esty wins
  5. Georgia 12 - Democratic incumbent John Barrow reelected
  6. Illinois 11 - GOP incumbent Judy Biggert loses to Democrat Bill Foster
  7. Illinois 12 - Democratic open seat; Democrat Bill Enyart wins
  8. Illinois 17 - GOP incumbent Bobby Schilling loses to Democrat Cheri Bustos
  9. Kentucky 6 - Democratic incumbent Ben Chandler reelected
  10. Minnesota 8 - GOP incumbent Chip Cravaack loses to Democrat Rick Nolan
  11. New Hampshire 2 - GOP incumbent Charles Bass loses to Democrat Ann McLane Kuster
  12. New York 1 - Democratic incumbent Tim Bishop reelected
  13. New York 21 - Democratic incumbent Bill Owens reelected
  14. New York 24 - GOP incumbent Ann Marie Buerkle loses to Democrat Dan Maffei
  15. North Carolina 7 - Democratic incumbent Mike McIntyre reelected
  16. Rhode Island 1 - Democratic incumbent David Cicilline reelected
Leans Democrat: 6 seats
  1. Arizona 2 - Democratic incumbent Ron Barber reelected
  2. Arizona 9 - New district; Democrat Kyrsten Sinema wins
  3. California 41 - New district; Democrat Mark Takano wins
  4. Florida 26 - GOP incumbent David Rivera loses to Democrat Joe Garcia
  5. Illinois 8 - GOP incumbent Joe Walsh loses to Democrat Tammy Duckworth
  6. New York 25 - Democratic incumbent Louise Slaughter reelected
Safe or Likely Democrat: 168 seats

Includes one currently held GOP seat - that of Republican incumbent Roscoe Bartlett.

The good news is that, regardless of whether or not Barack Obama is reelected, the Republicans are virtually certain to retain a big majority in the House of Representatives.  This means that if they have enough backbone to do so, they should be able to limit the amount of damage that Obama does to the country over the next four years in the event that he is reelected (which I am not predicting by the way).

Senate and Electoral College predictions to follow soon....

How I'm Voting on Tuesday

Just in case anyone is interested, here is how I'm filling out my Montgomery County, MD ballot on Tuesday:

President: Mitt Romney (R), for reasons that anyone who reads this blog already knows.  I have a list of 100 reasons why I'm voting against Obama (and therefore for Romney).

U.S. Senator: Daniel John Bongino (R) - I was excited about Bongino when I voted for him in the primary, but I have been disappointed that I haven't seen or heard a single TV or radio ad for him this entire election season.  I guess he hasn't had enough money to advertise.  I have seen and heard a lot of ads for the independent candidate, Rob Sobhani, but he doesn't seem to have much substantive to say other than that he is neither a Republican or a Democrat.  I know Bongino, a Tea Party guy, would be a far better senator than Democratic incumbent Ben Cardin, who is a leftist hack, but I have no doubt that Cardin will be reelected with Bongino and Sobhani splitting the challenger vote.

U.S. Representative: Roscoe Bartlett (R) - Bartlett has long represented the 6th district in Western Maryland and has been a reliably conservative vote.  Unfortunately, the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature did a ridiculous gerrymander of the state's congressional districts to ensure that 7 out of the state's 8 districts would be controlled by Democrats.  My district now favors the Democrats, and Bartlett's age (he is about 87 I think) certainly makes the race even more difficult for him.  Sadly, I expect Bartlett to lose to Democrat John Delaney, leaving Andy Harris of the Eastern Shore as the only Republican in the state's U.S. congressional delegation.

Board of Education: Morris Panner - I always find it difficult to get information that helps me to differentiate between the Montgomery Co. BoE candidates, so I generally find out which candidates are endorsed by the county teachers' union (per the "apple ballot") and vote the opposite.  I dislike teachers' unions because they are essentially an arm of the Democratic Party and stand in the way of real educational reform.  Unfortunately, they have the money and influence to ensure that their preferred candidates almost always get elected.  I am voting for Morris Panner for the BoE At Large position, who is the only candidate running for BoE this year who impressed me much and who is running against apple ballot candidate Phil Kauffman.  I am not overly impressed with non-apple ballot candidates Rebecca Smondrowski and Annita Seckinger in Districts 2 and 4, but may still vote for them over their apple ballot opponents.

Question 4 - AGAINST the petition - Question 4 is a statewide referendum petition that makes illegal immigrants living in the state eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges.  I am against this petition because I don't believe it is right that my tax dollars should go to subsidize the education of people who are in this country and this state illegally.  Unfortunately, many people in my state and my county seem to believe that our country's immigration laws should be simply ignored.  I expect this petition to pass, possibly by a wide margin.

Question 5 - AGAINST the petition - Question 5 is a statewide referendum petition to approve the currently drawn boundaries for the state's U.S. congressional districts.  As mentioned above, these districts are gerrymandered in a ridiculous way to ensure maximum Democratic representation.  This National Journal article lists 2 of Maryland's districts as among the 10 most contorted districts in the entire country and includes a map of the two bizarrely shaped districts.  By voting no on this question, we can hopefully force our legislature to come up with a more sensible congressional district map.

Question 6 - AGAINST the petition - Question 6 is a statewide referendum petition to approve same-sex marriage.  I believe that marriage is a crucial building block of our society and that redefining it could have far-reaching negative effects.  Earlier this year, I wrote an extensive essay (and a couple of follow-up articles) arguing the case for marriage as the union between a man and a woman.  Among the points I made were the fact that marriage has been universally recognized as between a man and a woman across all societies and throughout history due to certain universal features of human nature, that marriage provides numerous benefits for children and for society, that the traditional definition of marriage is not discriminatory against anyone including gays, that same-sex marriage fundamentally changes the institution of marriage and makes it weaker rather than stronger, and that same-sex marriage threatens free speech and religious liberty.  Maryland is one of four liberal-leaning states this year in which same-sex marriage is on the ballot; it will be interesting to see whether any of those states will be the first to approve it by popular vote. 

Question 7 - AGAINST the petition - Question 7 is a statewide referendum to expand commercial gambling in the state.  Tens of millions of dollars have been spent in advertising on both sides of this issue, all coming from casinos which either stand to gain or lose financially from the new gambling facilities.  While I have become more open to the idea of legalized gambling in recent years simply based on the idea of individual freedom, I really do not want my taxpayer dollars going to finance gambling activities which I believe tend to have a negative impact on society and hurt the poor.  The more I have read about this issue, the greater the sense I have that the whole process is a corrupt partnership between sleazy politicians and casino interests designed to benefit themselves at the expense of taxpayers.  Governor O'Malley, who apparently has presidential aspirations, could benefit immensely from casino donations as a result of a loophole in this deal, and while O'Malley has raised taxes on the rest of us he has made sure that the casinos get huge tax breaks that other businesses don't get.  This referendum does not guarantee that even a single penny of additional money will be spent on education.  Some of the previous attempts by Maryland to finance gambling have been poor investments financially, and there is evidence that this gambling expansion could simply take business from other casinos already in existence in the state.  Also, from what I have read, many of the jobs that this referendum creates are construction jobs from union contractors out-of-state.  I'm voting no because I think this deal is more about benefiting the casino industry and the politicians with ties to that industry than benefiting the state as a whole and investing our tax dollars wisely.

Question B - FOR the referendum - Question B is a referendum on a law passed by the Montgomery County Council to limit the scope of collective bargaining for police employees.  Essentially, the county has had rules in place that force the county police chief to engage in collective bargaining with the police officers' union over even the most minor of management decisions.  This law has given the police union in our county more power than that of any other police union in the state and has resulted in inefficiency and unresponsiveness to community needs.  This referendum would limit the power of the union by restricting collective bargaining to certain major areas such as officer salaries and benefits.  I support Question B because I think it would save taxpayer dollars and would improve public safety.

Question C - FOR the referendum - Question C is a local referendum that would permit restaurants and hotels in my town of Damascus to sell wine and beer for consumption on the premises.  Currently, Damascus is a "dry town" which prohibits the sale of any alcohol within its boundaries.  I support this question because I believe it will attract better quality restaurants to the area which would benefit the town as a whole. 

There are some other ballot questions as well, but these are the only ones that I consider to be important. 

In the next day or two, I will be posting my final predictions for the presidential, Senate, and House of Representatives races.  So stay tuned!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Get out the vote? No thanks!

It's that time. We're counting down to election day and everybody and their brother is on Facebook and anywhere else encouraging people to get out and vote. But do we really want to get out the vote? We've all seen those segments on TV where the "man on the street" is interviewed about basic facts about our country and fails miserably. Is this the type of person we want to encourage to go to the polls?

See the below segment from 20/20 a few years ago in which John Stossel discusses the problems with the "get out the vote" mentality. Get out the vote? No, get out the informed vote!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Price Gouging"

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and at the risk of sounding insensitive, I want to link to this excellent piece the Mises Institute re-posted from 2004, called "Price Gouging Saves Lives in a Hurricane."  I almost shared it on Facebook, but feared the wrath of those who wouldn't take the time to read it.  Give it a chance, and you'll see it's not as ridiculous as you might think at first.  It's just sound economics.

Another Creepy Pro-Obama Ad


Imagine an America
Where strip mines are fun and free
Where gays can be fixed
And sick people just die
And oil fills the sea

We don’t have to pay for freeways!
Our schools are good enough
Give us endless wars
On foreign shores
And lots of Chinese stuff

We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And we’re kinda blaming you

We haven’t killed all the polar bears
But it’s not for lack of trying
The Earth is cracked
Big Bird is sacked
And the atmosphere is frying

Congress went home early
They did their best we know
You can’t cut spending
With elections pending
Unless it’s welfare dough

We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And we’re kinda blaming you

Find a park that is still open
And take a breath of poison air
They foreclosed your place
To build a weapon in space
But you can write off your au pair

It’s a little awkward to tell you
But you left us holding the bag
When we look around
The place is all dumbed down
And the long term’s kind of a drag

We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And yeah, we’re blaming you

You did your best
You failed the test

Mom and Dad
We’re blaming you!

Yes, the creators of this ad think it is a good argument for Obama's reelection.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"The Incredible Shrinking President"

Great column by Mark Steyn up on the National Review website today.  Among other things it addresses the ongoing scandal surrounding the Benghazi embassy attack, which keeps getting worse and worse for the president.  He is lucky to have a compliant press corps which relentlessly covers for him on this. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Vote for the Values Party!

After writing my previous post about how the vast majority of Democratic ads I have seen this election cycle have been about abortion, I came across this article from Politico affirming that my observations do indeed reflect a clear nationwide strategy by Democrats.  They have decided to "go all in for abortion rights."  Here is more from the (typically slanted) Politico article:
Democrats have gone all in for abortion rights, with none of the hedging or defensiveness they’ve shown in recent years — a subtle but striking repositioning with political consequences that extend far beyond Nov. 6.

The evidence of it is impossible to miss. The airwaves are choked with messaging about women’s reproductive health. Abortion rights advocates had prime speaking roles at the Democratic convention. Contraception advocate Sandra Fluke is a prominent campaign trail surrogate. Cecile Richards, head of Planned Parenthood, recently introduced President Barack Obama at a Virginia campaign rally.

While Democrats have long supported a woman’s right to choose, this year’s full-throated embrace of abortion rights — from the president down to the most obscure House candidate — marks a historic departure that now places the party as firmly and unyieldingly in support of abortion rights as the GOP is in opposition.
There you go, America!  You wanted a plan and a vision for the future.  You got one.  And people blame Republicans for the culture wars....

Just in case there are a few people who hold to traditional values who might still be planning to vote for Obama despite his non-stop celebration of abortion, he made sure to stick his finger even deeper into the eye of Middle America with this YouTube ad, created directly by the Obama campaign:

Yes, ladies and gentleman, the U.S. President is running an ad in which an actress compares voting for Obama for the first time with losing one's virginity.  I've never seen anything in American politics to rival this in sheer creepiness and disgustingness.  Does Obama think real women are like this?  Even more unthinkable, do his supporters really think like this?

The Democratic Party is a values party.  It's just that the values they hold are completely opposite of everything I believe in.  I would never associate myself with this party.  Ever.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Some Random Thoughts on the Election

I just wanted to jot down some random thoughts about this upcoming election.

Much media attention has been focused on Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's recent debate comment that pregnancies resulting from rape are God's will.  Mourdock's statement was certainly foolish and ill-advised -- I think Republican candidates should completely avoid the topic of abortion resulting from rape and I'm not sure why it's so hard for them to do that.  Abortions resulting from rape are less than 1% of all abortions performed nationwide and it is the one area of abortion policy in which public opinion is strongly against the pro-life position.  Nevertheless, I think Mourdock was very clumsily expressing the belief, held by most Christians, that all human life is the creation and gift of God, which I don't think is an extreme or fringe belief at all.  Perhaps he was also expressing the Calvinistic Christian belief that all things that happen, even bad things, are part of God's will. 

By contrast, another Senate candidate, Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, recently expressed the opinion that human life begins at birth.  In my opinion, this is a far more extreme opinion than the one expressed by Mourdock and is aggressively anti-science.  The notion that a baby does not become human or alive until it comes through the birth canal is laughable.  Yet, I'm sure most or all of my readers have never heard of this story, largely because the overwhelmingly pro-choice media buried it.  Republicans are not the only ones who make stupid statements, but they are the only ones who are unable to get away with those stupid statements.

Even though I live in a state where there are no competitive statewide elections, I have been seeing and hearing a lot of Washington media market TV and radio campaign ads targeting Virginia voters in the president and Senate races.  It is not an exaggeration to say that a clear majority of the Democratic ads I have heard are focused on abortion.  Of course, they never mention the word "abortion," preferring to use euphemisms like "women's health care" and "women's rights to make their own choices about their bodies," but it is clear what they are really talking about.  The same focus was clearly on display at the Democratic National Convention this year.  With all the challenges our country faces domestically and on the world stage, the primary topic of conversation for the Democrats appears to be a celebration of abortion.  I know -- or at least know of -- evangelical Christians who are planning to vote for Obama, and it is beyond me how they can rationalize voting for a candidate whose identity is completely wrapped up in abortion.

One of the things that frustrates me as well is that Republicans are such incredible wusses when it comes to the topic of abortion.  There is no reason this issue should work to the Democrats' advantage, given the fact that more Americans actually identify as pro-life than as pro-choice and studies of past presidential elections have shown that a majority of single-issue abortion voters vote pro-life rather than pro-choice.  I understand that Romney and congressional Republican candidates don't want to make abortion the centerpiece of their campaigns, given the preeminence of the economy in most voters' minds, but I don't think they should be afraid to fight back on the issue when they are attacked.  For example, Obama attacked Romney for being against women because of his opposition to taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood several times in the second debate, and I think Romney should have responded to it at least once instead of letting the claim stand that he was against women.  If Obama is going to hammer Romney on abortion, why shouldn't Romney respond with an ad pointing out how extreme Obama is on abortion, or at least asking why Obama is obsessed with the issue with unemployment at around 8%?  If Obama is going to demand that Romney disassociate himself from Mourdock's comments, why shouldn't Romney demand that Obama disassociate himself from Murphy's comments about human life beginning at birth?  I think the GOP is unwise to entirely cede this issue to the Democrats. 

So, where does the presidential race stand?  I think it's not looking so bad for Romney right now.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a post encouraging conservatives to keep their chin up despite disappointing poll numbers.  Since then, we have had three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate, all of which I think have worked to the advantage of the Romney/Ryan ticket.  The first debate was most critical of course.  The 65 million Americans across the country who were watching got to see Romney debate Obama on the issues directly without the media spin and realized that Romney was a smart, capable man with a deep understanding of the issues and an economic plan for the country.  The Romney they saw on stage at the first debate in Denver, and in the other two subsequent debates, was nothing like the caricature of Romney that had been beaten into people's heads from months of vicious non-stop Obama attacks on Romney's character, background, and policies.  Romney's debate performances demonstrated to independent and undecided voters that he is a legitimate alternative to Obama and managed to improve his personal likability as well. 

I find the claims of some pundits, such as Nate Silver of the New York Times, that Obama is a 65% to 70% favorite to win reelection to be highly implausible and even ridiculous.  Right now, Romney is four points ahead in the Gallup tracking poll and three points ahead in the Rasmussen tracking poll, and at or above 50% in both polls.  Few if any recent national polls have shown Obama above 48%.  Under normal circumstances, voters who are still undecided in the final week or two of the campaign generally break for the challenger, and incumbents rarely end up getting a larger share of the vote than their final poll number.  The rationale for insisting that Obama is a clear favorite for reelection seems to be that poll numbers in several key swing states, especially Ohio, look more favorable to Obama and the electoral college rather than the popular vote will determine the election winner.  However, the electoral college almost always lines up with the popular vote except in cases where the difference between the two candidates' popular vote is 1% or less.  Furthermore, polling in swing states like Ohio has been less frequent, has used smaller samples, and has tended in many cases to significantly oversample Democrats.  For example, in 2008 Democrats had an 8% advantage in turnout, and some recent Ohio polls have shown a 9% advantage in turnout.  This is actually assuming an electorate that is more Democratic than 2008, which is an extremely unrealistic assumption and is belied by early voting statistics and trends.

I am far from certain that Romney will win, but I give him slightly better odds than Obama at this point.  Obama has little time left to change the narrative, absent a major "October surprise" or gaffe on Romney's part.  Overall, I feel like those of us who want to see Obama defeated have the best opportunity we could have asked for to do that.  Romney is a candidate who appeals to the middle and is difficult to paint as an extreme "right-winger."  His moral character appears to be blameless and his background and experience show him to be more than qualified to be president.  He is an eloquent speaker and an excellent debater -- far better than most other recent Republican presidential and vice-presidential candidates.  He has had plenty of money to get his message out.  And voters have every reason to reject Obama.  He has clearly shown himself to be an extreme liberal over the course of his first term.  He has utterly failed to solve the biggest problems facing our country, such as an awful economy, high unemployment, a ballooning national debt, a looming entitlement crisis, runaway federal spending, and soaring health care costs.  He has offered no positive future vision for the country and run an extremely nasty and negative campaign.  I don't know how the choice could be clearer for voters or how there could be any greater incentive for non-liberal voters to reject Obama.  If we lose this election, it will be the clearest proof yet (to me at least) that our country is utterly beyond reason and beyond hope.

For those who are political junkies like me and are interested in reading political analysis from a conservative perspective, I recommend this website: http://battlegroundwatch.com/.  In less than two weeks, this long campaign will be all over!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Wisdom of Thomas Sowell

I wanted to share a few quotes from Thomas Sowell that I recently came across:

"The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it.  The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics."

"If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else's expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves."

"Liberals seem to assume that, if you don't believe in their particular political solutions, then you don't really care about the people that they claim to want to help."

"Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it."

"If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago, and a racist today."

"I have never understood why it is 'greed' to want to keep the money you've earned, but not greed to want to take somebody else's money."

"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong."

Great quotes from a great man....

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Few Laughs for This Friday Morning

Last night Obama and Romney spoke at a black tie Catholic charity event called the Al Smith Dinner.  Here are some lines from that event:

Host Al Smith IV to Obama: "We recognize that you have some challenges this year. It’s never good when your opponent has produced more sons than you have jobs.”

Obama: “I had a lot more energy in the second debate. I was well rested after the nice long nap I had during the first debate.”

Romney: "Speaking of Sesame Street, tonight’s dinner was brought to you by the letter ‘O’ and the number 16 trillion."

Romney: "But the press and I have different jobs. My job is to tell the American people my plans for the country, the press’ job is to make sure no one hears about it."

UPDATE: Here's the video of Romney's entire speech at the dinner. I thought it was great and had me laughing out loud at several points.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

100 Reasons to Vote Against Obama

1. Unemployment - Under Obama's economic leadership, the U.S. economy has suffered through 43 straight months with unemployment higher than 8% - the worst unemployment slump since the Great Depression. When you factor in the record number of people who have given up looking for a job and exited the labor force, real unemployment is well into double digits. Even though the official unemployment dropped to 7.8% in September 2012, the economy created only 114,000 new jobs, which is less than half of the number of monthly jobs that should be created in a normal recovery. Real median household income is more than $3,000 less than it was when the recession officially ended in June 2009. Nearly 23 million people are out of work or underemployed -- about 20% of the U.S. workforce. This graph showing the employment percentage of the working-age population over the past six years perfectly sums up the Obama "recovery":

2. Lack of economic growth - Economic growth throughout Obama's presidency has been extremely disappointing, with the gross domestic product only averaging about 1.5% growth per year since 2009 compared to the U.S. post-World War II average of 3.3%. Average growth was 2.4% in 2011 and has been 1.7% so far in 2012, which means that the economic situation is actually getting worse. By comparison, Reagan inherited a similarly awful economy, but his pro-growth policies turned the economy around so dramatically that by his third and fourth years in office GDP was growing at 4.5% and 7.2%, respectively. Obama's policies on everything from taxes to regulations to health care mandates to debt to energy have stifled rather than encouraged economic growth, and the results are painfully clear.
3. Deficits & Debt - When he first took office in 2009, Obama promised to cut the deficit in half to about $500 billion by the end of his first term in office (and reiterated that promise in 2010 and 2011). Obama spectacularly failed to keep that promise, and instead the government has run deficits exceeding $1 trillion for all four years of his presidency (with the 2013 deficit under his plan projected to be more of the same). The reasons for this are policies that have stifled economic growth and unprecedented levels of federal spending. As a result of these record deficits, Obama has dramatically increased our national debt from $11 trillion to more than $16 trillion in less than four years. For the first time in our nation's history, our debt exceeds our GDP, which threatens our long-term stability. Once debt reaches a certain level, it starts to slow economic growth, and this can trigger a dangerous cycle of decreased revenues, increasing debt, and ballooning interest payments. The European debt crisis is an example of what can happen.
4. Entitlement reform - Our country is facing a looming fiscal crisis due to our rapidly expanding national debt, and the primary cause of our increasing debt is the runaway growth of government entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. Medicare, in particular, threatens our country's future solvency. The percentage of our economy spent on Medicare is five times larger than it was 40 years ago, and by 2035 Medicare spending is projected to be double the share of the economy that it is today. If this program is not reformed in a sensible way -- and soon -- then our government will either be forced to drastically cut benefits to seniors or sink into bankruptcy under its massive load of debt. And yet, Obama has done absolutely nothing to address the issue of entitlements, other than exacerbate the fiscal crisis by creating a massive new health care entitlement. While demagoguing Republican budget plans that make an honest attempt to address the entitlement problem under Paul Ryan's leadership, Obama has offered no ideas and proposed no meaningful reforms of Social Security or Medicare. His only strategy seems to be to run out the clock and leave the problem for someone else to deal with. This is the opposite of leadership.
5. Passage of ObamaCare - Obama and his allies forced their landmark health care bill through in a very corrupt and partisan fashion. During the 2008 campaign Obama promised all health care negotiations would be televised on C-Span, but he broke that promise and kept Democratic negotiations behind closed doors. In the process of making the bill law, Obama and his allies bought off wavering members of Congress and health care industry lobbying groups with sweetheart deals; excluded Republican ideas from the bill; dramatically limited debate and amendments; forced votes in the middle of the night and on Christmas Eve; resorted to all sorts of parliamentary tricks such as "deem and pass," circumvention of the committee process, secret amendments, and reconciliation; and in the end passed an overhaul of our entire health care system, on a purely partisan vote, that was nearly 3,000 pages long and was not read by many members who voted for it.
6. Irresponsible long-term budget plan - Obama's 2013 budget plan calls for additional short-term stimulus spending that is expected to increase economic growth in the next year or two. However, due to high levels of federal spending, debt, and taxes, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that Obama's plan will reduce economic growth by anywhere from 0.5% to 2.2% after five years. According to the CBO, these reduced levels of economic growth could also contribute to deficit increases of as much as $4 trillion over the next decade. Obama's plan irresponsibly projects deficits as far as the eye can see and never balances the federal budget, which stands in sharp contrast to Romney's plan which calls for a balanced budget by 2020.
7. $800 billion stimulus bill - The massive emergency economic stimulus bill that Obama engineered at the start of his presidency proved to be a colossal waste of taxpayer money. The bill was filled with corruption, with key political allies of the president receiving sizable chunks of money for their businesses in the form of grants and loans. Several billion went to foreign-owned companies. Only about 3% of the total spending in the bill went to fund infrastructure and highway projects, which were supposed to be the point of the bill. Even though it was rammed through as an emergency measure, six months after it was passed less than 20% of the money had been spent. The government website tracking how the stimulus money was spent showed jobs created or saved in 440 non-existent congressional districts! One scholarly study found that the stimulus money created or saved about 450,000 state and local government jobs but destroyed or forestalled about 1,000,000 private sector jobs, and another economist estimated that each job created by the stimulus cost an average of $650,000. Despite its size, Obama's stimulus bill, like previous attempts by Japan in the 1990's and by the U.S. under the New Deal, proved to be completely ineffective at jumpstarting the economy.
8. Job-killing regulations on business - The Obama Administration's EPA has proposed many new regulations that harm businesses and kill jobs. Among them are new standards for utility plants that could shut down hundreds of fossil fuel powered facilities and increase electricity costs for Americans by up to 24%, stricter emissions standards for boilers that will add $10-$20 billion in additional costs to businesses and could cost 60,000 to 200,000 jobs, stringent new cost-prohibitive rules for the cement industry that have already led to construction layoffs and could push many American jobs overseas, and the first ever national restrictions on coal ash which are forecasted to close many coal plants and cost up to 100,000 jobs. These are just a few tangible examples of how Obama's policies are harming employment and hindering our country's economic recovery. A Heritage Foundation study found that the costs of government regulations to business were five times higher under the first three years of the Obama Administration than under the first three years of the Bush Administration.
9. Federal spending - Despite the claims of some experts to the contrary, Obama has presided over an explosion of federal spending. There have been only two other times since World War II in which spending as a percentage of GDP has been as high as it has been for all four years of the Obama Adminstration. Spending as a percentage of the U.S. economy shot up from 20.8% in 2008 (Bush's last year in office) to 25.2% in 2009 (Obama's first year in office) and has remained above 24% through 2012 -- and that does not even take into account that Obama's budget consistently proposed higher spending than the amount actually approved by Congress. However, despite this binge in domestic spending, Obama has proposed potentially devastating cuts to our military. His budget announced in January 2012 called for $500 billion in defense cuts, which are coupled with an additional $500 billion in automatic "sequestration" cuts scheduled to take place in January of next year. The cuts would reduce the size of our Army and Marine Corp by 10-15% and take away our ability to be involved in two military conflicts simultaneously. Obama is perfectly willing to spend wildly, except when the security of the United States (the most important task of the federal government) is at stake.
10. Poverty & food stamps - Throughout his presidency, Obama has criticized the wealthy for not paying their fair share and emphasized the importance of not leaving anyone behind. Therefore, it may come as a surprise that Obama's presidency has failed miserably in helping people out of poverty. Over the past two years, more than 46 million people (15% of the U.S. population) have been living below the poverty line -- the highest number in more than 50 years. Median household income has also been declining over the past two years while the gap between rich and poor has increased. This has coincided with an increase in government dependency, as more Americans are now on food stamps (nearly 47 million people) than ever before in our history and food stamp spending has doubled since Obama took office. Based on these facts, it is difficult to argue that Obama's anti-growth, government-centered policies have done much to help the neediest among us.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mutually Beneficial Exchange

...the only kind of exchange that happens in the free market.  

"If an exchange between two parties is voluntary, it will not take place unless both parties believe they will benefit from it.  Most economic fallacies derive from the neglect of this simple insight, from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another."
 ~ Milton Friedman

"What pays under capitalism is satisfying the common man, the customer.  The more people you satisfy, the better for you."
~ Ludwig von Mises

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Hypocrisy of Media "Fact-Checking"

Ramesh Ponnuru has a great article up on National Review's website about the bias of the media in its "fact-checking" of this election.  Ponnuru points out that most of the time when the media has accused Romney or Ryan of lying during this year's election campaign, the issue at stake has been one of opinion or interpretation, not fact.  He also points out that the Obama campaign has peddled at least as many debatable claims as the Romney campaign, but those claims have completely avoided scrutiny by the media.  This double standard is a fact of life for Republican candidates in this country, but has seemed to be the worst it has ever been during the last two presidential elections.  I hope the public is smart enough to see through the media bias and make an informed choice on November 6th.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Keep Your Chin Up!

Just wanted to comment that my posting has been rather light over the past few weeks of this election season, and part of the reason is that I have been working feverishly on a comprehensive post (complete with supporting links) entitled "100 Reasons to Vote Against Obama."  I hope to have it completed in about a week or so.

I want to encourage any readers who might be feeling discouraged about this election to keep their chin up.  There have been a lot of national and state polls lately that have looked bad for Romney, and the media has been spinning that Obama is the heavy favorite.  And of course the media and the Democrats have had a field day with those unfortunate Romney comments about the 47%.  (By the way, Romney was correct that nearly half of Americans pay no income taxes.  And he is correct that a solid 45% of Americans will vote for Obama no matter.  He is also correct that a substantial and growing percentage of Americans are dependent on government now, although I don't think it is anywhere near 50% yet.  The problem was that Romney falsely assumed that all three of these groups are equal and fully overlapping.  They are most certainly not.)

Keep in mind a few things.  First, most of these polls that show sizable Obama leads are badly oversampling Democrats.  In some cases, they are assuming an electorate significantly more Democratic than 2008, which was one of the most favorable Democratic elections in the modern era!  Second, in many of these polls Obama's job approval and head-to-head numbers are below 50%.  There are exceptions, but generally undecided voters break toward the challenger and it is rare for an incumbent president to get a share of the vote that is higher than his job approval number.  Obama's job approval is very low with undecided voters.  Third, there are still four key presidential and vice-presidential debates which could have a big impact on this race.  The first of those is tonight.  Fourth, most pollsters have found that GOP enthusiasm to vote is higher this year than Democratic enthusiasm, despite a Democratic convention that threw a lot of red meat to the base.  No matter what excuses Democrats may make for Obama's performance with regard to the economy, it's hard for the more honest ones to feel too much excitement about voting for another four years of the same when unemployment stubbornly remains above 8%.

I still believe the fundamentals of this race favor Romney, despite increasingly blatant attempts by the media to swing the election toward Obama.  For now, I give Romney about a 50/50 chance to win, but he needs to perform strongly in the upcoming debates to close the sale with undecided voters.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


My husband and I walked through downtown Frederick today. We were walking past the "Pop Shop" where he happened to glance into the window at a display of historic/classic glass-bottled soft drinks. After we passed he asked me "Did you see that?" So of course we went back to look.

When I saw it I had to go in and see if they were really selling them. They were, and I consider it $2 very well spent. I can't wait to take it to class and show my economics students. Hopefully they'll be entertained as much as I am! (Or at least a little bit, since I fully realize I'm showing my dorkiness here...)

I'm not a good enough photographer to get a picture of every slogan written on the bottle, so here they are:
"Leninade: A taste worth standing in line for!"
"Get really hammered & sickled!" (It's just soda, honest!)
"Join the party!"
"Drink comrade! Drink! It's this or the gulag!"
"A party in every bottle!"
"Surprisingly satisfying simply Soviet style soda."
Something in Russian...
"Beware the repressed Communist Party animal who is really a proletarian in denial masquerading as a bourgeois Cold War monger!"
"Our 5-Year Plan: Drink a bottle a day for five years and become a Hero of Socialist Flavor."
 "Misha, chill down this bottle & chill out!"
"Imagine all the soda."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Disturbing Pattern of Obama's Administration in Responding to Terrorism

I found this blog post by Jim Geraghty of The Campaign Spot to be chillingly insightful.  Geraghty points out that there have been four major terrorist attacks or attempted attacks on U.S. soil over the past few years, and in EVERY CASE the Obama Administration issued statements in response to those attacks attempting to mislead the public, mischaracterize the facts, and downplay or deny the clear links to Islamic terrorism.  If this had only happened once or twice, it might be possible to chalk it up to honest mistakes, but the fact that it has happened in every case seems to make it clear that it is a deliberate pattern of deception. 

Geraghty links to an excellent The Weekly Standard article by Stephen Hayes which goes into more details about the Obama Administration's claims in the wake of the recent embassy attacks in Libya and Egypt.  After documenting a long list of the false claims coming out of the Administration and demonstrating how they played right into the hands of the Islamic extremists who attacked our embassies, Hayes sums up his case thusly: "Four Americans were killed in a premeditated terrorist attack on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, and for more than a week the Obama administration misled the country about what happened. This isn’t just a problem. It’s a scandal."  He concludes by noting that "the defining characteristics of [Obama's] foreign policy have been mendacity, incompetence, and, yes, stupidity."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"The Obama Democrats"

NOTE: As Some Dude pointed out in the comments section, this is a doctored photo.  But I think it effectively mocks the Democrats for their celebration of abortion at their convention, and therefore I would describe it as "fake but accurate."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Austrian Economics in a Nutshell

The Foundation for Economic Education is kicking off Austrian Economics Week (which until now I didn't know existed) on their Facebook page with 10 ideas that define Austrian Economics from Peter Boettke: 

1. Only individuals choose.
2. The study of the market order is fundamentally about exchange behavior and the institutions within which exchanges take place.
3. The “facts” of the social sciences are what people believe and think.
4. Utility and costs are subjective.

5. The price system economizes on the information that people need to process in making their decisions.
6. Private property in the means of production is a necessary condition for rational economic calculation.
7. The competitive market is a process of entrepreneurial discovery.
8. Money is nonneutral.
9. The capital structure consists of heterogeneous goods that have multispecific uses that must be aligned.
10. Social institutions often are the result of human action, but not of human design.
For more detailed information on each of these points, check out the article by Dr. Boettke at the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. I thought this was a great summary of ideas that, while difficult to pin down, are essential to solving the current economic crisis we are experiencing.  

Kickoff of 40 Days for Life

On Saturday, my wife and I attended the opening rally for the 40 Days for Life event in our area.  For those who may have missed my previous posts about it, 40 Days for Life is an event that occurs simultaneously in more than 300 cities internationally every spring and fall.  The goal is to maintain an around-the-clock, peaceful, prayerful vigil outside of abortion clinics for 40 days.  Over a dozen Catholic and Protestant churches in our area are involved in the Germantown, MD 40 Days for Life.  Individuals who want to be involved can sign up to hold a sign and pray outside an abortion clinic for one or more hour-long time slots over that 40 day period.

For those who question the effectiveness of 40 Days for Life and peaceful protests and prayer vigils outside of abortion clinics, here are some numbers to think about.  As a direct result of 40 Days for Life campaigns:
  • 5,928 babies have been saved from being aborted
  • 69 abortion clinic workers have left their jobs and the abortion industry
  • 24 abortion clinics have been permanently shut down
There were a couple of moments at the meeting on Saturday that grabbed me emotionally.  The first was when a woman named Cherie got up to speak, holding her 2-month old baby Jordan.  She said that while she was pregnant, her father had been indicted and was about to go to prison, leaving her with a mortgage, no job, and a two-year-old child.  She felt that her only option was abortion, so she went to the late-term abortion clinic in Germantown to set up an appointment to abort Jordan.  When she arrived the clinic was closed.  A volunteer from Germantown Pregnancy Choices, the pro-life center across the street from the clinic, saw Cherie standing there and invited her in for cocoa.  In her words, she "went in and never left."  After talking with the caring women at the pro-life center and hearing that they were able to connect her with a crisis pregnancy center and a church that could help and support her financially and emotionally, she made the decision to keep her baby.  It was evident how certain she was that she had made the right decision and how thankful she was for the pro-life volunteers and churches that had helped her at a point in her life when she felt all alone.

The second emotionally powerful moment was when the founder of 40 Days for Life, David Bereit, spoke and explained how the event was started.  Bereit got the idea from a friend, who told him that if Christians really believed what they claimed to believe about abortion killing an innocent human life, they would be outside of abortion clinics protesting and seeking to rescue lives 24/7.  When Bereit started the first 40 Days for Life in 2004, his friend signed up to stand outside the clinic in College Station, Texas all night every night for the entire 40 day period and brought other friends with him to his all-night vigils.

Much later, Bereit found out why his friend was so passionate about this issue.  Shortly before he had talked to Bereit, the friend had witnessed the death of his father.  He was the only family member who came to be with his father as he was dying.  For several days, he sat by his father's bedside to pray with him, and every time his father would insist that they pray for an end to abortion.  Finally, he asked his dad why this was the only thing he wanted to pray about.  Then his dad told him a story he had never heard before.  When the dad was in his late teens he got a girl pregnant, and he urged the girl to have an abortion to make sure their parents didn't find out.  He prepaid the bill and made an appointment to meet her outside of the clinic on the day the abortion was to happen, but she had second thoughts and never showed up.  He continued to pressure her to have the abortion but she continued to refuse.  Eventually she had the baby and they ended up getting married.  As you might have guessed, that son sitting by his dad's deathbed was the child that he had wanted to abort!  And now, many years later, that son was the only family member who came to be with him as he was dying.

I think it is so critical for people to hear about these stories, because they need to understand that real human lives are at stake.  It is easy to shrug off abortion when the victims are nameless and faceless, but it is much harder to ignore when people are confronted with true stories of real people.  This is why I think this video from Kelly Stauffer, who had an abortion when she was 14, is more powerful than a thousand logical arguments.

Please pray that God will use 40 Days for Life this year in a powerful way to change people's hearts and minds on this issue.  And please check out their website here to see if there is a campaign in your area that you can get involved in!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Minimum Wage Kills Jobs

I was appalled this week when Bill O'Reilly had John Stossel on his show to discuss minimum wage laws. O'Reilly actually said he believes the minimum wage should be $16 an hour, and he would not be reasoned out of it. He even proposed some kind of system in which the government would give businesses a tax credit to enable to them to pay a minimum wage of $16. Basically, the government pays peoples wages. Unfortunately I am unable to find a video of the interview. Apparently, according to O'Relly, Stossel had called him a "loon." I'd have to agree.

While I disagree with O'Reilly on many things, I tend to respect many of his opinions. I thought he was intelligent and reasonable enough not to support something as basically flawed as the minimum wage. Unfortunately, while many economists recognize that the minimum wage kills jobs (see the following video), much of the American public does not understand.

Watch the video for some excellent analysis of why the minimum wage is such a flawed idea. In addition to the points mentioned in the video, with a minimum wage business owners are more likely to automate systems which they would have paid a worker to operate had there been no minimum wage. That's one less job for entry-level and low-skilled workers (especially teenagers) to gain valuable work experience, helping them move up in the world and eventually use those skills to earn even more money. Not to mention some business owners might be forced to move jobs and even their entire business overseas where the labor comes at a lower cost.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What does QE3 mean for Main Street?

So what's the big deal about QE3? Dr. Jeffrey Herbener, chair of the department of economics at Grove City College, and Lee Wishing of the Center of Vision and Values shed some light in this video:  
Main Street USA and the Fed from Center for Vision and Values

Monday, September 17, 2012

Not On Obama Administration's Agenda: Fighting Terrorism, Defending Free Speech, or Maintaining Ethical Standards

In this excellent editorial, The Wall Street Journal explores the laughable claims of the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice that the attacks on U.S. embassies throughout the Middle East do not constitute terrorist attacks against the U.S. and have nothing to do with U.S. policy but are merely a spontaneous response to that "very hateful, very offensive" obscure video that was posted on YouTube six months ago.  Rice's "blame America" view is contradicted by the evidence and by Libyan officials.  Apparently this administration's idea of responding to foreign terrorist attacks against Americans consists primarily of denying that any such attacks occurred, pressuring a private company (Google) to remove an "offensive" video from its website and of sending authorities to the filmmaker's house in the middle of the night to bring him in for questioning.  That should a send a powerful message to our enemies around the world!

In light of these attacks against this filmmaker's free speech, you might be worried that the Obama Administration would entertain the idea of criminalizing speech against religions such as Islam.  I don't think this disturbing video from Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez's testimony before Congress a couple of months ago will do anything to allay such fears:

Well, even if the Obama Administration doesn't seem too concerned about responding forcefully to terrorism or defending American's free speech, at least it is taking great pains to be free of corruption and ethics violations, right?  Or...not.  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blatantly violated the Hatch Act by using taxpayer funds to campaign for Obama's re-election at an official HHS event.  Not surprisingly, she faces no disciplinary action from President Obama.