As Barack Obama begins his second term in office, trust in the federal government remains mired near a historic low, while frustration with government remains high. And for the first time, a majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 9-13 among 1,502 adults, finds that 53% think that the federal government threatens their own personal rights and freedoms while 43% disagree.
In March 2010, opinions were divided over whether the government represented a threat to personal freedom; 47% said it did while 50% disagreed. In surveys between 1995 and 2003, majorities rejected the idea that the government threatened people’s rights and freedoms.
The growing view that the federal government threatens personal rights and freedoms has been led by conservative Republicans. Currently 76% of conservative Republicans say that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms and 54% describe the government as a “major” threat. Three years ago, 62% of conservative Republicans said the government was a threat to their freedom; 47% said it was a major threat.
Obama won a large Electoral College victory, but he did not receive a mandate for his agenda
People more eloquent than I am (who probably had more coffee today than I did) have already made this point. I thought this tweet from left-of-center blogger Cory Doctorow summed things up pretty nicely:
Amazing to think that I’m relieved at the victory of the pro-wiretapping, pro-extrajudicial-assassination, anti-whistleblower candidate
— Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) November 7, 2012
When it’s a struggle for your most vocal supporters to root for you, that’s not a good sign about how effective you’ve been as a leader. To read more on how exactly Chicago pulled off this election, see thisTIME piece. That kind of attention to detail made the Obama reelection effort more nimble and better prepared to adapt to changing conditions on the ground, and it’s really no surprise (from an operative’s perspective) that they won.
I am not a poll truther, indeed when Romney was trailing in the polls and the trendline for him was bad in September, I warned conservatives to take those polls seriously and stop trying to claim that every poll was part of some secret plot to undermine Romney. That having been said, someone needs to explain to me how — according to the new NYT/CBS/Quinnipiac poll — Romney leads among independents in Virginia by 21 points but is somehow losing the state to Obama by 1 point. Is there a single sober person who has a turnout model for Virginia that would allow Obama to overcome a 21-point deficit among independents? I don’t think so. If Romney wins indies by 21 points on election night, he carries VA by 5 points.
In 2008, independents made up 27% of the Virginia electorate and Obama won them by 1 point en route to a 6 point win. NYT/CBS/Quinnipiac says Romney leads by 21 points among independents in Virginia today. Yet, somehow their poll shows Obama actually ahead in Virginia by 1 point. For the sake of argument, lets just pretend 2008 turnout turnout model, a model most analysts believe overstates Obama’s numbers, is the turnout model for Virginia in 2012. Even by the 2008 turnout model Obama simply can not lose independents by 21 points and win the state.
Its not just Virginia, in Ohio the Quinnipiac poll shows Romney ahead among indies by 6 but losing the state by 5 points. Again, if you assume the 2008 turnout model - the most advantageous to Obama as humanly possible - this simply defies logic. Obama won independents in Ohio in 2008 by 8 points, independents made up 30% of the Ohio electorate in 2008. If Romney leads independents in Ohio by 6 points, and even assuming the 2008 Obama super turnout model, how in God’s name is Romney losing by 5 points? Simply put, it is not possible.
A bit of controversy has been going around lately with the so-called “Poll Denialists.” These are Republicans and conservatives who believe that Romney’s current poll numbers, lagging Obama’s, are somehow false, a scheme by pollsters to deliberately skew the election towards an Obama victory, and are trying to explain it away with…well, I’m not sure what.
Jay Cost of The Weekly Standard mostly sums it up with “the polls are oversampling Democrats.” Robert Stacy McCain of The American Spectator just thinks it’s beyond any reason to believe that Obama is leading. And there is an entire website called “unskewedpolls.com” dedicated to finding the “true numbers” behind the polls.
This is pretty much balderdash, based on bad assumptions of how polling works and just plain fantasy. Stephen L. Taylor of Outside the Beltway focuses on the latter when he says:
I’m going to admit, I’ve been pretty freaked out by the Obama campaign this year. I’ve seen them ask people to forgo birthday presents and instead ask for money to be donated to the campaign. That one gave me chills, honestly (Ha Ha, my pretty! All your presents are belong to me!) We’ve had some pretty creepy emails earlier in the year, including “Wishing Michelle Obama a Happy Mother’s Day.” (Some sound like they were written by a dejected stalker.)
And now we have this very creepy image of Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, and this photo of celebrities with hand signs of loyalty to the president.
Isn’t this just beyond the pale, just a little bit?
I hate to say this, because I know every single person is going to say “GODWIN!” but back in the thirties there was this political demagogue in Germany who had his fans give a very distinctive hand salute, and they all used it, and they became something of a cult. Yes, I’m talking about Hitler. And while I don’t think that Obama is a fascist, the similarities are kinda hard to ignore.
House Republicans have recently put forward a new bill, H.R. 6213, otherwise known as the “No More Solyndras Act.” It was passed by the House Energy & Commerce Committee on August 1st, and sounds quite promising when you consider the colossal mistake that Solyndra, supported by federal loans, was. It’s estimated that taxpayers will lose over half a billion dollars on Solyndra, which went bankrupt last year. Preventing that from happening again is a great idea.
Unfortunately, the Republicans backing this bill are not really saving you from another Solyndra, or Beacon Power, or Abound. For the “No More Solyndras Act” leaves a gaping hole—as in, everything before December 2011 is still totally cool.
See, it’s “No More Solyndras,” not “No Solyndras.” As the text of the bill makes plain, the Act only prevents new applications from new companies, not applications from ones “grandfathered” in:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has really sunk to new lows with his accusations of Mitt Romney not paying taxes for ten years. Supposedly, this is based on an “unnamed Bain insider” who saw Mitt’s returns, but as Doug Mataconis has noted, that’s next to impossible and is utter rubbish. (John Stewart joined in as well, as Jason Pye wrote last week.)
The war over Mitt Romney’s tax returns is getting more bitter by the moment, with a top aide to Senate Majority Harry Reid blasting Republicans as “cowards” and “henchmen” for their attacks on the Nevada Democrat.
“They’re a bunch of cowards, and they’re avoiding the issue,” said David Krone, Reid’s chief of staff, in an interview with POLITICO on Sunday night. “Lindsey Graham, Reince Priebus — they’re a bunch of henchmen for Romney, and they’re all reading off the same talking points. They couldn’t hold a candle to Harry Reid.”
Krone added: “What Harry Reid said is the fact of what he was told. To turn it around, all their childish rants this weekend about calling Reid a ‘liar’ and all that, it just shows you how scared they are that Harry Reid was telling the truth.”
After the GOP convention in Tampa in August, Ron Paul’s presidential campaign and political career will officially come to an end. Despite the protestations of some hardcore supporters, Ron Paul will not be the Republican nominee and in fact, he will likely not even be nominated at the convention in Tampa.
Many supporters are gravitating towards campaign of Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, however to be perfectly blunt, my three month old puppy has a better shot at being elected President than he does. In addition, there will be same number of Libertarian Party members of the House and Senate, none. This is not what I hope will happen, this is simply stating reality. If the liberty movement is to continue after the end of Ron Paul’s career, we need to lay a solid foundation for political success. I believe the best way to lay a foundation for the liberty movement is take a page from professional baseball and build a “farm team” of future leaders to run for political office and activists to work the races.
In professional baseball all Major League Baseball teams have a developmental system of minor league teams. The minor league teams are rated from AAA all the way down to A. In addition, there are special developmental leagues for rookie players drafted right out of college. Other sports leagues are trying to replicate the system to develop the next generation of professional athletes. We in the liberty movement, regardless of what we call ourselves, need to take the same approach to politics and political office.
I’m not going to pretend for a minute that I think that Romney is the best thing to happen to America. He has not committed to seriously cut spending, he’s been pandering to his social conservative base so much we can’t expect improvements on that front, and I don’t expect him to end the wars. But, when I look at the data out there, I think that he will win the election in November. Not handily, not by a landslide, but it will be a win.
My reasoning comes down to three points:
- It’s the Economy, Stupid
- Majority of Americans Opposed to Big Government
- Obama’s Support Fading
It’s the Economy, Stupid: This one is fairly simple. The economy is in tatters. Roughly 13 million Americans are out of work. The unemployment numbers are just horrific for recent college graduates, one of the biggest support groups for Obama ‘08, half of whom can’t find work. Obama’s stimulus programs have been abject failures. But there’s one datapoint in particular that has only started getting attention recently.
That’s the “civilian labor force participation rate.” Essentially, the civilian LFPR is the percentage of Americans who are either working or are unemployed but are looking for work. That means that if you’re not sending out job applications and have given up, well, congratulations—you’re no longer unemployed! (At least in the minds of the analytical mentats of the Bureau for Labor Statistics.)
There have been a lot of silly “scandals” during this election season, which is a usual and normal waste byproduct of the American election process, though this year has been notably intense. Unfortunately, between the “scandals” of Obama having eaten dog while a child in Indonesia, criticism over a flubbed line in Poland, guffaws about him using the word “thingamajig” in a speech, and the resurgent “Birther” nonesense, conservatives and libertarians are losing sight of the real problems with the Obama administration. As I see it, there are two that need to be focused on relentlessly:
- The absolutely dismal economic situation, exacerbated by this president’s misguided and foolhardy policies
- The utterly atrocious record on civil liberties that President Obama has engendered, a holdover from the Bush administration (so much for “Change”)
Everything else can pretty much be secondary to this or just treated as nonsense. These are the real core problems with the Obama administration, and they are all that conservatives need to hammer him with. Forget the memes, forget the social conservatism, just focus on two things: jobs and civil liberties (which does, in case you’re wondering, tie into foreign policy. A bit.)
The economic problem is fairly straightforward: this is the worst recession since World War II, bar none. From the Calculated Risk blog, this chart shows you how badly: