Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Unemployment.. going up?

What’s new Today 

Story #1 looks at whether the Obama reelection campaign is a well-oiled machine.  #2 looks at what Obama’s biggest problem is.  #3 brings up the question has Obama dropped out of governing or was he ever into governing.  #4 has Gallup estimating unemployment next month at 8.5%.  #5 looks at if there are things Obama could do to reduce the cost of gasoline.  #6 reviews the latest Caro book on LBJ and how he was picked to be the VP. 

Today’s thoughts

The latest Gallup Poll has Romney up by 5 points over Obama.  We can expect the MSM to tell us that polls don’t count and it’s too early to pay any attention to them.

Obama supporters take solace that Romney has faults.  But the faults they cite aren’t likely to derail his candidacy.  As the old joke go as two men are being chased by a bear, the one asks if he thinks they can out run the bear.  The other says, “I don’t have to out run the bear.  I only have to out run you.”   Romney doesn’t have to beat the perfect president.  He has to beat Obama.

It appears that while Romney put his dog on the roof on his car, Obama put dog on the roof of his mouth.  When he lived in Indonesia, he ate dog meat. 

The GSA scandal represents just 17 seconds of deficit spending by the federal government and that’s the real problem.  Government is neither efficient nor effective, it is political.

1.  The Obama Machine:  Jugger Not

The Obama machine has been portrayed as a campaign juggernaut, essentially unstoppable, headed by the smartest president (In Obama's estimation, at least in the top four) ever anointed and run by the cleverest and most ruthless backroom in the history of U.S. politics. Obama, Axelrod, and Plouffe, we are told, really know their stuff. So much so, that many in the media wonder why Romney, presuming he wins the GOP nomination, would even show up in the fall contest.

Axelrod's strategy of targeting identifiable voter groups and then scaring these groups into the Obama camp by creating Republican bogeymen is celebrated on most Sunday talk shows as political genius. Poll after poll is trotted out to show Axelrod's efficacy when it comes to getting his guy back in the Oval Office. The latest carefully crafted tactic, so clever that it could have been hatched only in Axelrod's war room, the "Republican War on Women," was so well-thought out and executed that we are told it resulted in a twenty-point spread of "women" more likely to support Obama than to support Romney. Pure genius.

So well-crafted was the War on Women message that it only took a two-second sound bite by Obama surrogate Hilary Rosen, attacking Ann Romney, for the entire War on Women meme to come completely unraveled. Rosen's comments were spectacularly ignorant, but even if she had not torpedoed Axelrod's latest scheme on national TV, we can be sure that another Obama minion would have scuttled the War on Women at some point…

Obama is going negative because he has to. But it is way too early to do what he’s doing now.  This is going to backfire as his greatest asset, people seem to like him, will be hurt significantly by the strategy. 

2.  Obama’s biggest Problem?  His record

"The choice in this election is between an economy that produces a growing middle class and that gives people a chance to get ahead and their kids a chance to get ahead, and an economy that continues down the road we are on, where a fewer and fewer number of people do very well and everybody else is running faster and faster just to keep pace."

That's Obama advisor David Axelrod on "Fox News Sunday," explaining why people should vote for ... Barack Obama.

Odds are this was simply poor phrasing. But it might not have been, given how desperately the Obama campaign wants to turn back the clock to 2008, when the choice was between hope and change or continuing "down the road we are on."

Regardless of the spin, the simple fact is that Obama is the stay-the-course candidate stuck with a team, a record and an economy ill-suited for a stay-the-course strategy.

That's what gives poignancy to Obama's recently renewed love affair with Ronald Reagan, whom Obama invokes these days as a model of reasonableness and bipartisanship. He even wants to rename the "Buffett rule" the "Reagan rule."

Even before he got the nomination in 2008, Obama said he wanted to be a "transformative" president like Reagan had been.

And last year, Time magazine featured a cover story, "Why Obama [Hearts] Reagan," which in Time's words gave the true story behind "Obama's Reagan Bromance."

There were two key elements to Obama's man-crush. The first was the simple hope that history -- or at least the business cycle -- would repeat itself.

The White House's plan was to run for re-election in 2012 with a soaring economy at its back. After an absolutely bruising recession (that was in some ways worse than the one Obama inherited), Reagan got to ride a surging economy to re-election. America enjoyed 6 percent annual growth in 1984: In three of the four quarters before Election Day, GDP quarterly growth was more than 7 percent, while inflation and unemployment plummeted.

At Obama's back is a dismayingly anemic recovery, constantly threatening to get worse. He wants credit for "creating" 3 million jobs but insists he be held blameless for millions more workers who've left the job market entirely…

Obama will not raise a billion dollars for his campaign.  Obama will not get his roaring economy.  Obama will not get his second term.

3.   Boehner on Obama

…The speaker said he was "not optimistic" that anything would get done between now and the election. "The president checked out last Labor Day. All he's done is campaign full time for the last six months. He's not been engaged in the legislative process at all. There have been no efforts at trying to work with Democrats and Republicans to address this issue at all. And it's, it's shameful."

Boehner said he thought this election would be "a referendum on the president's economic policies. They've not only not helped the economy, they've actually made it worse."…

This interpretation of what happened is supported by the Washington Post. 

4. Gallup Adjusted Unemployment should be 8.5% in April

U.S. unemployment, as measured by Gallup on a preliminary basis without seasonal adjustment, declined to 8.2% in mid-April from 8.4% in March. However, the government's likely seasonal adjustment of 0.3 percentage points leads to a Gallup seasonally adjusted U.S. unemployment rate of 8.5% in mid-April, up from 8.1% last month….

This is not going to help the Obama campaign.  Get ready for the “unexpected increase” from the press.

5.  Lowering the Price of Gasoline

President Obama has claimed that there is no "silver bullet" to reduce gasoline prices. I beg to differ. Any rational business, upon being told that anew competitor is planning to enter into competition with them, will first reduce prices. Why? Well, it's obviously not to match the prices of a potential competitor who isn't even in business yet. The purpose is to demonstrate to the new kid on the block that (a) because of their much higher sales volume, the older business can still function at lower unit prices and (b) if the new kid wants to compete, he will have to sell at these new, lower prices, and suffer the lower operating margins associated with those lower prices.

This is known among the cognoscenti as "raising a barrier to entry." The point of the effort is to make accessing the existing market so expensive, in terms of the newcomer's return on investment and the length of time before the cost of the original investment is recouped, that it discourages new entrants before they even start.

This being true, there would be an immediate and dramatic reduction in the worldwide price of oil if President Obama opened up for serious drilling the American territories both offshore and onshore, as well as the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) and everywhere else where we might conceivably find oil. Within 24 hours after such an announcement, the price of crude would start to drop as current oil-producing countries tried to pre-empt any new activity by making it less attractive financially.

Sadly, we seem to have a president who is so ideologically driven that he abhors even the thought of providing usable economical energy for the people who elected him, even if it will come online only long after he has left the presidency…

This has already happened during the Bush Presidency.  Here’s another reason it would work.  The price of oil is set as much on what people see as the future supply and demand as the current state of supply and demand.  Tensions in the Middle East raise the price of oil.  Easing of tensions will lower the price of oil.  Future anticipated supply will do the same. 

6.  VP Politics:  Putting LBJ on the ticket

Robert Caro’s new LBJ volume, covering the period 1958–64, is coming out shortly. People who enjoy political-hardball stories will love it. One of the most fascinating parts I’ve encountered is Caro’s account of all the tsuris that surrounded JFK’s putting LBJ on the ticket at the convention in 1960. I grew up with the story most of us did, the one that was put about by Bobby Kennedy and Arthur Schlesinger: that JFK’s offer was strictly pro forma, that LBJ was expected to reject it because he wouldn’t want to step down from being Senate majority leader to the obscurity of the vice presidency, and that when he did in fact accept it the Kennedy team (especially Bobby Kennedy) scrambled to find a way to get rid of a running mate they didn’t really want. Based on his research, Caro tentatively suggests another, somewhat more plausible theory: that Bobby Kennedy was so ferocious in its attempt to derail the LBJ nomination simply because he wasn’t aware that his brother, the nominee, had decided firmly on LBJ, and that JFK had kept Bobby out of the loop precisely because he knew Bobby would be unhappy with the choice.

As Caro explains it, JFK’s decision made perfect sense: The labor-union representatives and other liberals would squawk about having Johnson on the ticket, but if the Kennedy campaign wanted to win in November, they needed Texas.

Caro is a wonderful writer.  I really enjoyed his first work on LBJ called Paths to Power.  This book might be a great read for the coming election season. 

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