Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

More news the Obama administration won't like:
"The number of Americans filing for initial unemployment insurance jumped last week to the highest level in 3 months, the government said Thursday. There were 479,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended July 31, up 19,000 from a upwardly revised 460,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said. The weekly figure is the highest since the week ended April 10, when 480,000 initial claims were filed."

White Sox 4, Tigers 1: the Tigers still aren't hitting, still have injuries...and the season begins to drain away.
Rangers 11, Mariners 6: the Rangers have an owner, finally. And they have a win, with the big news being they got some big home runs and finally scored some runs. That needs to continue.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Michael Barone has an interesting point today--perhaps this election year won't be 1994 redux (huge GOP gains), nor 1982 (when the party out of power won, but didn't win big). Maybe instead it will be like 1966, when there was reaction against the growth of government (thanks to LBJ's Great Society) and a war was making people uneasy (Vietnam).

Makes sense--now people are reacting, not against the Great Society, but against ObamaCare and Afghanistan (rather than Vietnam). And it was still a huge Republican win...

Polling watch--
In the Connecticut senate race, likely Republican candidate Linda McMahoh when last seen was trailing by some 20 points. But today a poll is out showing her down by only 10.
She has baggage, because she used to be involved in world wrestling, etc etc etc. But I'm sensing this one's not over.

In Nevada, Sharron Angle remains in pretty much a dead heat in the senate race there with the tiresome Harry Reid. Yes, Reid seems to lead slightly. But he remains under 50%, his tiny lead comes after a barrage of negativity against Angle, and so...usually incumbents in that kind of situation remain in big trouble. I'll predict it right now: in November, Sharron Angle will win this race.

Meanwhile, take note of businessman Rick Snyder's win in yesterday's Michigan Republican gubernatorial primary. Snyder has never held political office; he focused relentlessly on the economy, and he beat out several other established Wolverine state GOP pols. Lesson? More evidence that it's good this year to be an outsider.

Over 1 million people voted in the Michigan GOP primary; only 525,000 in the Democratic primary. Michigan is ready to go Republican, and I predict it will.

Meanwhile, Democrats told us endlessly how ObamaCare would gain popularity as time went on., according to a Fox News Poll:
"Just 15 percent of voters like the new health care law and think it should be implemented as is. Most don't like the law in its current form: 42 percent think it needs to be changed, and another 36 percent would repeal it all together."

The Tigers split a doubleheader with the White Sox yesterday.But, given that Detroit is 7 games out now, that's not going to get much done.

Mariners 3, Rangers 2: a disappointing loss for the Rangers in Seattle. The Mariners just got done losing 7 games in a row. Colby Lewis pitched well for the Rantgers; and really, as long as they continue to pitch well, they should be fine. But they're not hitting right now; Texas has scored just 3 runs in their last 2 games.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Polling news--
President Obama's poll numbers continue to fall:
"Only 41% of those surveyed Tuesday through Sunday approved of the way Obama is handling his job, his lowest rating in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll since he took office in January 2009. In Gallup's separate daily tracking poll, his approval was at 45% Monday."

Here surely is one of the reasons for those falling numbers:
"Talk about the new normal. Americans are shopping less, saving more, working harder without getting paid more — if they even have a job — and not even thinking about buying homes. A government report Tuesday offered more evidence that the recovery is being stalled by sluggish consumer spending. Personal spending was unchanged in June, reflecting a third straight month of lackluster consumer demand. Incomes were also flat, the weakest showing in nine months. The disappointing Commerce Department report on spending and income was among a raft of data released Tuesday that confirmed the economy ended the April-to-June quarter on a weak note."

Nor is this helping, as President Obama's party gets lots of negative publicity from its ethically-challenged members:
"A House panel announced Monday that Rep. Maxine Waters has been charged with violating ethics rules, setting the stage for a second election-season trial for a longtime Democratic lawmaker and adding to the party's political woes. The charges against Waters, a 10-term California congresswoman, focus on whether she broke the rules in requesting federal help for a bank where her husband was a board member and owned stock. She immediately denied the charges. The House ethics committee's announcement comes just days after it outlined 13 charges against Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., including failing to disclose assets and income, delayed payment of federal taxes and improper use of a subsidized New York apartment for his campaign office."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday's musings

That's unfair! Dept---
An anti-abortion protester gets arrested in Chicago for supposedly protesting too close to another person---but it was the other person who approached him:
"A Chicago man says he's fighting charges of disorderly conduct for simply standing on a public sidewalk and praying. Joseph Holland, a 25-year-old graduate student at Northwestern University, says he was standing still praying the rosary outside a Planned Parenthood facility in downtown Chicago July 3 when police arrested him for violating the city's new "Bubble Zone" ordinance. The law, passed in October, states that a person cannot approach within 8 feet of another person without consent "for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, education or counseling" within 50 feet from any health care facility...."I was just standing by the building praying the rosary and one of the Planned Parenthood volunteers came up to me and started yelling at me that I needed to move 8 feet away, but the thing is I didn't actually approach anyone; I was just standing by the building and the building doesn't actually have a bubble," Holland told"

Something tells me Mr. Holland has a good chance to win this one.

Meanwhile, this can't give the Obama administration good vibes:

"Georgia's most prominent Democrat will be nowhere near Barack Obama when the president comes to Atlanta on Monday. Former Gov. Roy Barnes' campaign said it was simply a matter of conflicting schedules as Barnes tries to catch the attention of voters more than 100 miles away in southern Georgia and ultimately win his old job back."

Yes, right, I'm sure that's all it is. You ever see a candidate for office unable to adjust his schedule to get a photo op with a popular president???
Always watch candidates for office and what they do--they know the polls better than anyone.

Other polling news:
Democratic congressman Heath Shuler of North Carolina appears to be in some trouble. He's only at 45% and leads his opponent by just 1 point.

In Kentucky, Rand Paul still leads by a solid 8 points in the senate race there.

In Wisconsin, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold remains in trouble. He trails his challenger by 2 points.

In the Pennsylvania senate race, Republican Pat Toomey retains a nice lead over Joe Sestak.

So there's plenty of good news for Republicans and conservatives. Only bad news: I'd like to see Marco Rubio doing better in the Florida senate race with Charlie Crist.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Here's a good analysis by Michael Barone explaining just why Democrats might be in trouble in 2010:
"Polls in House races almost always show incumbents ahead of challengers, because incumbent members of Congress are usually much better known than their opponents. An incumbent running below 50 percent is considered potentially in trouble; an incumbent running behind a challenger is considered in deep doo-doo. In 1994, I wrote an article in U.S. News & World Report arguing that there was a serious chance that Republicans could capture the 40 seats that they needed then, as now, for a majority in the House. It was the first mainstream media piece suggesting that, and it appeared on the newsstands on July 11. I cited as evidence five polls showing incumbent Democratic congressmen trailing Republican challengers. None of those Democrats had scandal problems; all five lost in November. Today, a lot more Democratic incumbents seem to be trailing Republican challengers in polls. Jim Geraghty of National Review Online has compiled a list of 13 Democratic incumbents trailing in polls released over the last seven weeks. They're from all over the country: one each from Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota; two from Virginia; three from Pennsylvania. Most if not all of these incumbents are personally attractive, hardworking and ethically unsullied."

Rays 7, Tigers 4: Tampa Bay is a very good club, they're at home, and the injured Tigers just keep...finding ways to lose.
A's 3, Rangers 1: on this one, just tip your hat to A's starter Trevor Cahill; he has 10 wins now, and held the potent Rangers to just 2 hits.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday's wash

A columnist today asks an interesting question: every poll shows that the American people don't have confidence that our economy will improve, nor do they trust Congress or the president. But why not? An idea:
"To do the task justice would require at least as many pages as some of the bills Congress passes, but that itself is a place to start -- mention of a debt-stimulating stimulus bill over 1,000 pages long, of a topsy-turvy health-care remake over 2,000 pages long and of a recent financial-regulation mishmash also over 2,000 pages long....Members of Congress maybe have some study-guide notion of what's in these bills, but no grasp of all the possible catastrophes hidden in multiple unread clauses. Passing them is therefore akin to the blindfolded racing of a bus down a busy highway. The public -- the passengers -- knows even less, of course, and has to guess at what might happen to it. At least some of the devilish details do emerge in time, and so you learn that even if an $862 billion stimulus was defensible in theory, the political handouts got out of hand, virtually ensuring any assault on the recession would be feathery at best."

So bills that are passed don't do what they say they will do. Sometimes they do just the opposite. That leads to cynicism, and as someone who does a lot of teaching, I can tell you--cynicism among young people concerning government is as high today as its ever been. The election of President Obama hasn't changed it. Nor is this cynicism new. It's been around since Vietnam, when our leaders lied to us about various aspects of that war. It's been around since Watergate. but now it's worse. And again, despite all the high hopes of 2008...President Obama hasn't changed it. At all.

It just so happens that victor Davis Hanson of NRO spoke to this question too on this day, and adds:
"...the voters in 2008 did not vote for liberal change, but for change from the costly and lengthy Bush wars, deficits, spending policies, and immigration proposals. Obama voters were also motivated by a desire to elect our first African-American president, fear over the September 2008 financial meltdown, a lackluster McCain campaign, and the strange perception that Obama was a centrist.

Since his election, Obama has outdone the average Bush deficits by a factor of four or five. His brief “stimulus” became the prelude to a gorge-the-beast reordering of American society. Meanwhile, after demagoguing as a candidate everything from Guantanamo to Iraq, Obama in office has kept in place almost every major security protocol that Bush had established. He has broken his promises to close Guantanamo, try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York, and pull out of Iraq. This has meant alienating his shrinking base while being exposed as a hypocrite to suddenly wiser and less forgiving independents....after ramming through his health-care bill without either bipartisan support or public approval, Obama is polling badly on just about every hot-button issue. The electorate simply does not want cap-and-trade, amnesty, more deficits, and higher taxes. Rather, it prefers to produce more oil and gas, and more hydroelectric and nuclear power; it wants to follow the Arizona immigration model; it wants to cut spending; and it wants to balance the budget."

Obama and liberals simply misread the electorate; they misread the meaning of the 2008 election.

First Read defending the Obama admin--again:
This time Chuck Todd et al on MSNBC's "First Read" give the administration's side on the question of whether it is "overexposed":
", Obama tapes his appearance on "The View." That appearance -- plus even his new video on Web MD explaining the health-care law and how to use HealthCare.Gov -- has once furthered a narrative that the president is overexposed. (If you'll recall, we had this same discussion last year after Obama went on Leno, etc.) There is a potential danger here, and it does highlight the fact that there really isn't another key spokesman in the administration to talk about the economy or health care. But as the White House reminds us, the media world is now so diffuse (TV, newspaper, Web, cable Twitter, Facebook) that Obama has to do more than his predecessors ever did. That's the reality. So while folks INSIDE THE BELTWAY believe he's over-exposed, and those folks that watch a lot of cable TV might believe he's overexposed, ask the working parent of two if they think the same thing."

Yes, sure guys, and there's nothing wrong with asking that question of a working parent of two...nor is it wrong to give the administration's side of things (though you might 'fess up once in a while and admit that's what you're doing).
But here's the thing: we can make a pretty good guess of what the working parent of two thinks of Obama, and guess whether he or she is a tiny bit sick of him. Know how? CHECK THE POLLS!!!! Obama's approval ratings have been sliding for months. That's usually not a sign that the White House's approach to communicating with the public is working too well. Is overexposure their only problem? I doubt it. But it could well be part of it. O, Chuck and friends, how could you not have thought of this???

Rays 3, Tigers 2: Justin Verlander pitches well. The Tigers must have thought they were in a good spot--9th inning, down by 1 run, but the bases loaded and Miguel Cabrera at the plate. But he hits a grounder on which the Rays' Evan Longoria turns a great double play...that's baseball.
Rangers 3, A's 1 (10 innings): again the story is Cliff Lee. 9 innings pitched, 13 strikeouts, 1 run allowed...and eating up innings, saving the bullpen. What an acquisition for this team, which right now has the best pitching it's had perhaps ever.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Rays 5, Tigers 0: all you need to know about this game is that the Tigers have been so depleted by injuries they had to start 4 rookies. And so they were no-hit last night; they simply had no shot. Matt Garza of the Rays, who threw the no-hitter, is very, very good, however; make no mistake about that. I'd forgotten that he was the MVP of the AL Championship series...

Some political news, none of it particularly good news for Democrats---
First, consumer confidence drops:
"Americans' confidence in the economy eroded further in July amid worries about a job market that has proven stubbornly stagnant. The report raised concerns about the overall economy and the back-to-school season."

There are also some cracks in President Obama's Hispanic support:"President Barack Obama's once solid support among Hispanics is showing a few cracks, a troubling sign for Democrats desperate to get this critical constituency excited about helping the party hold onto Congress this fall. Hispanics still overwhelmingly favor the Democratic Party over the GOP, and a majority still think Obama is doing a good job, according to an Associated Press-Univision poll of more than 1,500 Hispanics. But the survey, also sponsored by The Nielsen Company and Stanford University, shows Obama gets only lukewarm ratings on issues important to Hispanics — and that could bode poorly for the president and his party....For a group that supported Obama so heavily in 2008 and in his first year in office, only 43 percent of Hispanics surveyed said Obama is adequately addressing their needs, with the economy a major concern. Another 32 percent were on the fence, while 21 percent said he'd done a poor job."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday's musings

Polling news:
Arizona Republican Senate primary--sure looks to me like John McCain will survive the primary challenge from J.D. Hayworth.

Missouri U.S. Senate race--there, Republican Roy Blunt looks to be in decent shape.

Arizona immigration law: do you think that law remains popular in Arizona? Ever since Governor Jan Brewer signed it into law, she's zoomed to a 20 point lead in the polls in the governor's race.

As for the Republican campaign this fall, this is encouraging:
"In a reprise of a long-ago clash between Democratic presidential candidates, House Republicans contend that they can answer the mocking challenge “Where’s the beef?”
The GOP response: Create incentives for new jobs, cut federal spending and clean up Congress. Although the specifics remain a work in progress, Republican leaders are inching toward a substantive campaign agenda after a behind-the-scenes battle over how specific the policy proposals should be."

But the proof will be in the pudding. I note that Republicans are against, right now, a grand rollout of new ideas a la the Contract with America of 1994. I can see the desire not to be seen as copying from something done 16 years ago. But remember-the Contract was the right thing to do, worked. Republicans need some kind of grand entrance for something, whether they call it a "contract" or something else. And it should signal real change in a conservative direction.

Hmmm...from Chuck Todd et al from MDNBC is their "First Thoughts" section:
"The AP runs this quote from Washington state Senate candidate Dino Rossi (R): "The idea of dragging home pork is an old-school measurement of a senator,’ said Republican Dino Rossi… ‘And right now, with Republicans and Democrats alike doing that, it's bankrupting America. There's nothing in the Constitution that says the job of a senator is bringing home pork." Rossi’ quote raises an important question: If a senator or member of Congress isn’t supposed to bring home the bacon, then what is his/her job? To simply cast votes? Sit at committee hearings? Wage ideological fights?"

Er--well, sure, Chuck and others, I'll be glad to take a crack at that one: yes, one of their jobs is indeed to "cast votes"---informed votes, which show a knowledge of the issues; votes about which the congressperson can then keep his or her district informed. And yes, wage "fights"--if the fight is an important one, over a crucial issue, if the fight is worth having. Many of us believed the "fight" over ObamaCare was a pretty important one, and yes, it involved "ideology", I guess, but that didn't make it bad or unnecessary. Let's ask you guys some questions: do you think most big fights in "congress" are "ideological fights"? Do you think ideological fights are necessarily bad? Do you really think the most important thing a congresscritter should do is "bring home the bacon", i.e. money and projects? If so, where does that end, and how will we ever slow down spending and/or reduce the national debt???

Tigers 6, Blue Jays 5 (2nd game of DH): the Tigers had a tough weekend. They only split 4 games with Toronto; and lost key players to bad injuries. But rallying for 4 runs in the 8th inning to win the nightcap shows they do have some toughness. But all this bad luck makes it real tough to expect Detroit to continue to contend this year...
Rangers 6, Angels 4: but the Texas Rangers had a great weekend. They took 3 of 4 from the Angels, the team chasing them in the AL West. Starting pitcher Tommy Hunter has now won 8 starts and lost none. Josh Hamilton is hitting .357 with a lot of RBIs. The Rangers allowed only 6 runs to the Angels in their 3 victories...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Tigers 4, Rangers 1: Detroit gets a much-needed win. The key for them was starter Max Scherzer, who held the Rangers to 1 run over 7 innings (though it took him over 120 pitches to do it). The Tigers will need a lot more games like this. The Rangers however end a 7 game road trip to Boston and Detroit with a strong 5-2 record...

Hmmm...Roger Simon, a very cynical though canny political columnist and observer at The Politico, argues that Sarah Palin is actually doing much better than many people think:
"Today, Palin is going around the country endorsing and making speeches for Republican candidates with some success. Tuesday night in Georgia, former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who was endorsed by Palin, got 34 percent of the vote, while former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, endorsed by Newt Gingrich, got 23 percent of the vote."

That's very interesting evidence there. That's not the first candidate whom she's endorsed who has won. She does connect very well with the base of the GOP. Could she be a serious threat for the 2012 Republican nomination? I have to admit, thanks to the bashing in the media she'd taken, and to the clips from some of her interviews which, let's face it, didn't make her look so good, I doubted 2012 was in the cards (though I thought 2016 was still a possibility). But she's hung her hat on a few good issues, and done a brilliant job of keeping her name out there. We may need to re-think 2012...

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Republican Rand Paul continues to lead in the senate race there by 8 points. That's significant--his libertarian leanings and his statements coming from that led him to take a tremendous bashing in the news media weeks ago, but he had an 8 points lead in the race about a month ago...and still does. Seems to me to be good news for him.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Rangers 8, Tigers 0: the Rangers are clicking on all cylinders. The Tigers aren't. It's hard to understand what hits this team when the second half of the season comes. Meanwhile Ranger starter Tommy Hunter is 7-0 and pitching very well. Ranger pitching remains the key factor in this team's surge into first place in the AL West.

By the way, you know that financial regulatory bill that President Obama will sign into law today?
It's over 2300 pages long. And liberals try to deny that government is excessively bureaucratic and full of red tape. Right...

As for Republicans in 2010--I agree with Victor Davis Hanson:
"Republicans will shortly need to stand for something more than just being against much of the Obama agenda. Only a superior and detailed alternative can win more lasting support than just a midterm correction. Obama, after all — with nationalized health care, amnesty, cap-and-trade, financial overhaul, government absorption of private enterprise, takeover of the student-loan industry, and gorge-the-beast deficits that will ensure a generation of higher taxes — at least seems to have some sort of plan to change America. The absurdity of $1.5 trillion annual deficits is easy to run on; but where in the budget should we freeze or cut spending? To restore fiscal sanity, we need details rather than vague promises to reduce red ink to a particular percentage of GDP. Is there to be an across-the-board spending freeze or targeted cuts? How much, if at all, does defense get cut? If it does, where and how? some point, blanket Obama-bashing without a comprehensive alternative will turn stale. Critics of Obama — if they are to be taken seriously — will have to be about more than not being Obama. Instead, conservatives must identify exactly how to undo the Obama agenda — and do so in a way that does not earn them the disdain that the Republican Congress earned between 2001 and 2006, and the Republican administration between 2005 and 2009. We need some notion of a contracted agenda, so that conservative voters can hold conservative politicians to account in this age of anti-incumbency. Voters wanted closed borders, balanced budgets, ethical members of Congress, and less government between 2001 and 2006. They believed that all of that had been promised — and then were sorely disappointed.
...In short, conservative voters want to see something specific — as much to keep their own honest as to defeat the other."

Read his whole piece.
And I'm convinced that more specificity will help Republicans, not hurt. Remember the Contract with America for 1994; it gave Republicans something to run on. They couldn't simply be called a party of no. Democrats are trying to use that argument against the GOP now. We can take that argument right away from them.

Some more good news for Republicans lately, in the meantime.
In Ohio, conservative challenger John Kasich leads incumbent Ted Strickland in the governor's race.
Don't forget how important Ohio is as a swing state.

Quinnipiac has Republicans leading on the 2010 generic ballot by 5 points.Kind of makes one wonder about that big lead Gallup gave Democrats the other day...
And it only gives President Obama a 44% approval rating.

A new poll in Nevada gives Harry Reid only a two point lead over Sharron Angle.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Rangers 8, Tigers 6 (14 innings): the season might be ending for the Tigers; a lot of bad luck coming their way. In this one, Brandon Inge broke a finger and will be out at least a month. For the Rangers, again to me the story is their bullpen, with Matt Harrison (among others) shutting the Tigers down for over 4 innings.

Here's another reason why conservative Pat Toomey has a great shot to beat Joe Sestak for the US Senate--Sestak doesn't look like a very smart politician:
"After the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released an ad accusing Sestak of voting “100 percent” with Nancy Pelosi, Sestak howled that this was a lie. He voted with her 97 percent of the time. Hmmm....Representative Sestak displayed the same unwise litigiousness after a group called the Emergency Committee for Israel ran ads calling attention to his poor record on support for Israel. Sestak’s lawyers contacted Comcast and insisted that the ads be pulled. In so doing, he has invited closer examination of his record....It is false and “offensive,” Sestak’s lawyer argues, to say that the congressman “raised money for an anti-Israel organization that the FBI labeled a ‘front group for Hamas.’” Oh, did Sestak not deliver the keynote address at a fundraiser for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)? Well, yes he did, admits the lawyer, “but during a portion of the event explicitly free of fundraising.” Please. People paid $50 to attend the banquet and hear a speech by Congressman Joe Sestak. That he didn’t personally solicit funds is irrelevant."

Polling news--
In Arkansas, incumbent Democrat Blanche Lincoln trails her Republican opponent for the US Senate by no less than 30 points.

On the other hand, when it comes to the generic ballot, Gallup suddenly has Democrats out to a 6 point lead, while Rasmussen has REPUBLICANS up by 9. Wow! Who's right?

My guess is those are both outliers and that maybe the GOP leads by 1 point or so. But again, that's a huge piece of good news for Republicans, given the advantage the party will have in enthusiasm and intensity this year.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday's musings

Indians 7, Tigers 2: the lost weekend. The Tigers get swept 4 straight games by the lowly Indians. Two trends continue: one, that the Tigers can do little on the road. Two, that rookie pitcher Andy Oliver as a starter isn't working out. He's 0-4 and in this particular start what did him in was 5 walks.
Rangers 4, Red Sox 2: but things went much better for the Texas Rangers, as they won 3 of 4 over the weekend, including yesterday's game. Obviously the Red Sox have many injuries. But still, Ranger pitching has been solid all season including this past weekend, as they held Boston to run outputs of 2, 4, 3, and 2. C.J. Wilson yesterday struck out 10. The Rangers lead the AL West by 4 and 1/2 games.

According to a new Rasmussen poll, conservative Republican Pat Toomey continues to look good in that Pennsylvania Senate race.

But one worries that Republicans aren't offering enough of an alternative vision to the Democrats in this sycle. More on that as the week progresses...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday's fish fry

President Obama's approval numbers continue to slide:
"Most Americans see little benefit from the federal government's economic stimulus plan, as President Obama's job performance rating drops overall, and hits a new low among Democrats. A Fox News poll released Thursday finds that 43 percent of voters approve of the job Obama's doing, matching a previous low in early April. Two weeks ago 47 percent approved, and a year ago 54 percent of voters approved. His highest approval thus far was 65 percent in January 2009. Some 48 percent of voters disapprove today, which also matches a previous high negative rating....The president's rating has been hurt by declines not only among independents, but also among his party faithful. The poll finds 76 percent of Democrats approve, which is the lowest positive rating he's received among this group. Two weeks ago 84 percent of Democrats approved. Obama's highest approval rating among Democrats was 93 percent a year ago May."

What interests me there are two things. First, it's remarkable how unpopular is not only Obama's health insurance plan, but also now the stimulus package. It's really quite stunning---both these things passed with great fanfare, both have been defended by Obama and Democrats over and over again publicly, both led the establishment news media to assure us that, inevitably, the American people would love them...and yet now, to both, the American people are saying, no thanks.

Many continue to argue that Obama's low approval numbers show that he and the members of his administration aren't good salesmen. But I think that the American people know very well what the stimulus and health reform plans were. They just don't approve of them.

Other polling news--
In the state of Washington, Democratic incumbent senator Patty Murray is still in trouble...vs well-known Republican Dino Rossi.

In Wisconsin, fellow incumbent Dem Russ Feingold might just be in trouble too.

The Fox News Poll has Republicans leading Democrats by 4 points in the 2010 generic ballot.

I suppose the only negative news today for Republicans is the new Las Vegas Review-Journal poll, showing Harry Reid leading Sharron Angle by 7 points in the senate race there. That poll may be accurate. I wonder, though. While Reid's numbers in the poll are consistent with other polling data, Angle's seem to be outliers...many polls have her at least in the mid-40s; this one only at 37%. Seems odd. We'll want to see what other polls say.

Rangers 7, Red Sox 2: the Rangers had a terrible pre-All-Star-break weekend, losing 4 straight to Baltimore. But they seemed re-energized last night. Key: starting pitcher Tommy Hunter, who's now 6-0 and, in general, throws strikes.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

So Politico today runs a long article on the mistakes, problems, trials and tribulations of the Obama presidency, focusing especially on why the Left is so disenchanted with the president. Much of it will not surprise. But I found this nugget interesting:
"In what would surprise media critics outside Washington, many reporters don’t much like Obama or his gang either. They accurately perceive the contempt with which they are held by his White House, an attitude that undoubtedly flows from the top. Insults and blustery non-responses, f-bombs flying, are common in how West Wing aides speak to reporters. In a transactional city like Washington, personal relations usually only matter at the margins. But in a poor political climate those margins can be important, and there’s no mistaking that across the capital there are many people who seem to be enjoying the president's travails, and cheering whenever he takes a cream pie to the face. As individuals, most of the people who work in this West Wing are plainly decent and hard-working folks, who say the modern media echo chamber leaves them no choice but to be aggressive. But collectively Obama has recruited a team with an uncommonly brash personality."

Translation: Obama and his team are arrogant. They think they know best. So get out of the way. They think they can run over people, that they should run over people. Happens to our liberal friends far too often...

Polling news:
So did you know that Harry Reid's son is also running for statewide office in Nevada? He is...for governor. Interestingly, his father's name is so toxic right now in Nevada that Mr. Reid doesn't use his last name in his campaign ads and such; instead he just uses his first name, Rory.

But it's not helping much--he trails by over 20 points.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday's wash

In polling news, here's some bad news for Republicans--Rubio still trails Crist in Florida, according to Reuters/Ipsos.

But overall, the news is good. Note for example that there is some good news--Rasmussen has Angle leading Harry Reid in Nevada.

And that ABC News/Washington Post poll of yesterday had Republicans, in the generic congressional ballot, with a pretty healthy 4 point lead (early ABC polls had had Democrats doing much better).

And meanwhile, polls continue to show that ObamaCare remains unpopular--usually only about 40% approving, while 50% or more disapprove.

Democrats aren't happy, and appear to be turning on each other. Just ask White House press secretary Robert Gibbs:
"Pelosi, irked since Sunday by what she and other top Democrats considered Gibbs' careless and dismissive comments that Democrats could lose their House majority this November, upbraided a top White House aide as she knocked Gibbs' unwelcome handicapping of House races. "How could he [Gibbs] know what's going on in our districts?" Pelosi said, according to Democrats who attended the meeting. "Some may weigh his words more closely than others. We have made our disagreements known to the White House."

Of course, the question how Gibbs could know what's going on in Democratic-leaning or other districts is simple. He can read polls...
And as Chuck Todd et al at MSNBC note:
"Here is where Pelosi and her allies are coming from: Some folks -- though definitely not your authors here at First Read -- are just waking up to the news that the House is in play after Gibbs’ statement, and that is spooking Dem donors. On the other hand, Pelosi blasting Gibbs only extends this story another day."

That's what happens to politicians when things start to look bad for them: they get hot, they get bothered, and they make tactical mistakes, as surely this leak from the Pelosi camp is...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

President Obama's approval numbers continue to plummet, according to an ABC/Wash Post poll:
" Nearly 60 percent of American voters say they lack faith in President Barack Obama, according to a public opinion poll published on Tuesday. The results of the Washington Post/ABC News poll are a reversal of what voters said at the start of Obama's presidency 18 months ago when about 60 percent expressed confidence in his decision making."

His overall approval rating stands at just 43%. No need to overly fear him, Republicans...
Some in the reporting today harp on the fact that Obama still has higher numbers than congressional Democrats or Republicans. But, folks...right now, doesn't matter. In the 2010 elections, voters will have to choose, not between Obama and a Republican, but between a Democratic congressional/senate candidate and a Republican. And voters who are unhappy and want change aren't likely to vote for a representative of the party in power. There's plenty of time, meanwhile, for Republicans to get in better shape for 2012, when Obama will be on the ballot...

Meanwhile, even Democrats and liberals in the blogosphere admit that ordinary Dem voters just aren't getting enthused:
"...the White House and Democrats have been engaged in a full-blown effort for weeks now to persuade voters that the midterm elections could represent a return to GOP rule. The White House and Dems have made this case every which way: They've charged that Republicans will again rule as stooges of Big Oil and Wall Street. They've claimed that Republicans will rain a blizzard of subpoenas on the White House if they take control of Congress. They've framed the elections as a choice between the policies that got us into this mess and those that are getting us out of it. And so forth. Yet rank and file Dems don't appear to care that much. The latest polling shows that the "enthusiasm gap" remains the same, with Republicans far more excited about voting than Dems are. In other words, Dem scaremongering about the GOP takeover doesn't yet appear to be revving up Dems to turn out this fall."

There's certainly plenty of evidence that's the case.
In California, a state the Democrats have dominated in recent years, new polls (by SurveyUSA) show Republican Carly Fiorina leading Barbara Boxer in that state's senate race...
And Meg Whitman leads Democrat Jerry Brown in the governor's race.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday's musings

White House spin?:
Over the weekend, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had something to say:
"White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs apparently made the biggest political news over the weekend, when he suggested on “Meet the Press” that Republicans could win back the House in the fall. “I think there's no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control… This will depend on strong campaigns by Democrats. And again, I think we've got to take the issues to them.” Gibbs, though, was just stating the obvious."

Yes, he was, Chuck Todd. But it's still interesting that he said it. Usually press secretaries don't suggest that much of anything good will happen to the other party. But Gibbs did. I say, be careful. Seems likely to me that Gibbs and the Obama White House could be trying to spin expectations--for the Republicans. Sell the idea that the GOP will take back the House. Of course, Republicans would have to win 39 seats to do it. Say they come up one seat short; they win 38 seats but the Democrats retain control. The White House could then try to sell it as a victory of sorts. Beware of the expectations game...

Meanwhile, in Maryland, yet another poll puts Republican challenger Robert Ehrlich ahead of incumbent Dem governor Martin O'Malley. Maryland is usually very much a Democrat-leaning state...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday's fish fry

Here's a significant window into the thinking of Democratic strategists in 2010:
"Of all the problems Democrats face this fall, none may be more challenging than trying to win back the support of independent voters. President Obama has been going backward with independents for more than a year, and the Democrats stand to suffer the effects in the November elections. The Gallup organization reported this week that just 38 percent of independents now approve of the job Obama is doing, the lowest point in his presidency and down from 56 percent a year ago. Top Democratic strategists are gloomy enough about the prospect of turning those voters around quickly that they believe the more important priority for the next four months is to maximize turnout among the new voters who backed Obama in 2008. Those new voters may be receptive to partisan appeals. Whether that will help with independents is another question."

Er, no, it's not merely "another question." Rather, it's an easy question to answer--and the answer is, no, they won't. The Democrats are largely giving up on independents in 2010. Republicans therefore have to continue to work hard and drive home their advantage with them--and win big this year.

Meanwhile, even polls affiliated with the Democrats show the Republicans leading the generic congressional ballot for 2010 (and by 6 points, no less).

The only thing one has to worry about with a poll like that is that perhaps Democrats seek to motivate their donors and their base by suggesting they trail in the polls more than they actually do.

Of course the big story today is LeBron James, and his decision to leave Cleveland and go play with the Miami Heat.

And all in all, it's not a story that's left a good taste in my mouth. Did LeBron have the RIGHT to make his deal and go where he chose? Of course he did. That's the essence of liberty and within the NBA it's a right the players won through hard bargaining. I don't begrudge him that. And yes, Cleveland Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert made himself look like an angry, vengeful, half-crazy jilted lover with his roaring rage at LeBron's departure. But don't let that make LeBron into a sympathetic figure, folks:

1] I mean, did he HAVE to drag this "Decision" out, build up a false sense a drama, cook up a TV special on it, and thus rub Cleveland fans' nose in it? James has claimed since the decision to be a big believer in loyalty, but hey--he's from Ohio, fans there were loyal to him, but he's leaving.

2] He's leaving a place at which he had unfinished business. He played well for the Cavs and accomplished a lot there. But he promised to win a title, yet didn't. Can anyone imagine Michael Jordan bailing on Chicago without having won a title? LeBron claimed, in making his decision, that now he won't have the "pressure" of having to score 30 points a night, given that he's joining Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Strange--neither Magic Johnson, or Larry Bird, or Michael Jordan ever complained or ran from such pressure. Isn't it a sign of a great player to embrace such pressure?

Most experts are stressing that the Miami Heat winning a championship this season is not a done deal. They're right; the Heat have only two other players under contract and won't have the money to do anything other than sign journeyman players at the NBA minimum. Meaning they won't have much bench help or a huge supporting cast. So Maybe LeBron and D-Wade and co. won't succeed.

How many of us would be sad to see that? I'm betting not too many. On the other hand, how many will be watching this season to see how the Heat perform? Quite a few--and in that sense, LeBron and David Stern and the entire NBA have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Tigers 4, Orioles 2: good for Tiger starter Max Scherzer; he's now won 4 straight starts. Going down to the minors a few weeks ago helped him. The Tigers are very comfortable at home; they've won 30 games and lost only 12 at home. That's the best home record in the AL. They'll need that comfort zone; the Twins come in starting Friday for a 3-game series...
Rangers 4, Indians 3: again, the key to this game was the Ranger bullpen, which pitched 3 shutdown innings , allowing only a walk and no hits, once the Rangers had rallied from a 3-1 deficit to take the lead.

Polling news--
Some decent news for Republicans today.
In California, a Field poll has Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer leading Carly Fiorina by only 3 points. A close race this far out, with Boxer's numbers having tumbled for several months in a row now...all that points to this being yet another winnable race for the GOP.
In Florida, meanwhile, Rasmussen now has Marco Rubio with a slight lead over Charlie Crist in the senate race there. That race however remains obviously very tight. Remember this, however: the Rubio campaign really hasn't been running ads for a couple of months. They're saving their ammo until the fall. Perhaps numbers will move then.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Tigers 7, Orioles 5: the keys to the game--Johnny Damon had the walk-off home run to win the game. He's only hitting .271 this season, but he's dangerous and an important weapon in the Tigers' lineup. Note too that the Detroit bullpen allowed only 1 earned run in over 3 innings of work. And Ryan Perry pitched well; he'd been sent down to Toledo some weeks ago for ineffectiveness, but perhaps he's finding it again.
Rangers 12, Indians 1: good to see the Rangers' offense get back in gear, led by the usual suspects--Hamilton, Guerrero, etc. C.J. Wilson gave the Rangers yet another quality pitching start.

Polling news--
Gallup now has President Obama's approval rating only at 44%.

And that shouldn't surprise us--there's the oil still spilling, a slow economy, an unpopular health care measure, now a lawsuit against a popular Arizona anti-illegal-immigration law.

Some argue that the Arizona law will benefit Republicans now, but hurt them later with the growing number of Latino voters. I'm not so sure. I think more and more, the perception will grow...even among Latino voters!...that a secure border is a good thing; that people who want to come here should come here LEGALLY, and that legal immigration is a good thing. I don't buy the argument that just because a person is Latino, that therefore he or she will forever be OK with illegal immigration, and always remember that is what we are talking about here--ILLEGAL immigration, lawbreaking.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Tigers 12, Orioles 9: so the Tigers are home again, playing some of baseball's, er, lesser teams right now (the Mariners and Orioles), and have won 3 of 4. All good. Maybe Brandon Inge is getting hot; he had 4 RBIs yesterday, and Brennan Boesch didn't have a hit but walked 4 times--that shows he's not over-anxious, has a good eye, is willing to take a walk. Only bad news is that young Tigers' starter Andy Oliver got shelled, and you want to see Tiger starters get more consistent.
Indians 9, Rangers 3: the Rangers are slumping a bit; they've lost 5 of 7, and had a young, inexperienced pitcher going last night. Meanwhile the Indians have won 7 of 9. It all added up to a Rangers loss...

In California, even's "First Read" agrees that Republicans have a chance in the California gubernatorial race, given the missteps of Democrat Jerry Brown's campaign:
"Although Jerry Brown (D) is slightly leading Meg Whitman (R) in the race for California governor, according to polls, state Democrats are voicing their concerns that Brown’s campaign hasn’t been active enough in defending Whitman’s TV air assault. The Los Angeles Times: “The combination of Whitman's wealth and a distinct lack of energy by Brown is making California Democrats nervous about their candidate's prospects in the fall. ‘If you're going to run for governor, you have to do what it takes. You can't tell yourself or tell everyone else there is some special way for you to do this that is completely outside the norms that apply to everyone else,’ said Democratic strategist Garry South.” It's somewhat surprising that Brown is allowing himself to get out-maneuvered on the new media front and with this new news cycle given that Brown had been notable for being an early adapter for populist campaign tactics, like, for instance 800-numbers back during his '92 campaign when that was still "quaint" and intriguing. Brown's campaign today looks like a relic and is making it easier for Whitman to paint him as someone from the past."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday's fish fry

Not-so-good economic news for the Democrats:

"The U.S. economy created a modest 83,000 private sector jobs in June, adding to concern that the economic recovery is tepid at best and highlighting the political danger to President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats heading into a tightly contested midterm election cycle in which control of the House and perhaps the Senate are at stake. The unemployment rate ticked down slightly from 9.7 percent to 9.5 percent....The president, in comments after release of the figures, chose to highlight "the sixth-straight month of job growth in the private sector" and the nearly "600,000 jobs created this year," a "stark turnaround," he added, from the massive monthly losses during the recession."

It's tepid, and everyone knows it. This kind of stagnant growth reminds of how the economy was performing in 1994. And we all know how Republicans did that year.

And I'm amazed at the rather pathetic spin job President Obama tries to do here. 600,000 jobs? Really? He knows, and anyone paying any attention to politics and the economy knows, that over half of those jobs he touts are TEMPORARY jobs, created by the Census! They'll be gone before you know it. Our economic woes, it appears, won't.

So Republicans for now continue to be in decent shape.
In polling news, here's more evidence of that, more signs of the times:
In 2006, the Democrats regained control of the Maryland governorship, with Democratic challenger Martin O'Malley solidly defeating Republican incumbent Robert Ehrlich. Most therefore assumed that, in crab state politics, Ehrlich was done. Maryland tends to be a Democrat-leaning state anyway, so it was expected that O'Malley would have a long gubernatorial tenure.

Note also that Republicans continue to have a huge advantage in voter enthusiasm:

"The Republican Party now holds about the same advantage in enthusiasm among its party’s voters that the Democratic Party held in June 2006 and the GOP had late in the 1994 campaign. Moreover, more Republicans than Democrats are now paying close attention to election news (64 percent vs. 50 percent)."

That's from the very nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

And all of this news should only heighten GOP enthusiasm...

Nope--Ehrlich will run this year to reclaim his old position.
And guess what--a poll today shows him leading O'Malley by 3 points.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Twins 5, Tigers 1: ho hum, the Tigers go to Minnesota and once again lose a series. I can't remember the last time they won a series there. Keys: this was a bad pitching matchup--Tiger rookie Andy Oliver vs solid Minnesota starter Kevin Slowey. The Tigers made a couple of more errors--they've made 55 errors this year, second most in the league. Detroit had a soft schedule earlier this month, and took advantage of it. But in the past 9 games, the schedule got tougher. Guess what--the Tigers went only 3-6. The Twins remain the team to beat in the AL Central.
Rangers 6, Angels 4: big win for the Rangers. The obvious key: Vlad Guerrero, who's just doing ridiculous things in his return to Anaheim--2 home runs last night, 4 hits in all, and for the series as a whole he has 3 homers and 6 RBIs. That, plus more solid work from the Rangers bullpen, allowing only 1 run over 5 innings, added up to a victory.

Polling news--
Gallup has good news for Republicans concerning independent voters:
"By an average 10 percentage-point margin since March, 45% to 35%, independent registered voters have consistently preferred the Republican to the Democrat when asked which congressional candidate they would vote for in their district. Independents' preference for Republicans has been generally consistent over this time, with the gap in favor of Republicans increasing slightly since March, from 8 to 12 points."

That's certainly consistent with all the different polling I've seen.
In other polling news:
Rasmussen now has, in Pennsylvania, Republican Pat Toomey out to a 6 point lead over Democrat Joe Sestak, 45-39. A number of Democrats in the past several weeks have criticized Sestak's campaign operation...
And only 28% of respondents see this country as being on the right track. 66% see us as being on the wrong track. Wow...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Twins 11, Tigers 4: bad night for Tigers' starting and relief pitching (blame Armando Galarraga and Fu Te-Ni) and a good night for Minnesota's Denard Span, with 3 triples. And I still suspect that the Tigers had a letdown after the Joel Zumaya injury. They need to get back to it; they play this afternoon and still have a chance to win the series.
Angels 6, Rangers 5: tight ballgame in Anaheim; the Rangers almost pulled it out in a see-saw game. Keys: this time the Rangers bullpen gave up a key hit, a 3-run double to Bobby Abreu in the 6th; and the Rangers left 9 men on base, including several in crucial situations.

Some interesting poll numbers today:
In Kentucky, conservative Tea Partier Rand Paul continues to lead that race by a decent margin, 7 points, despite his controversial comments and all the hue and cry about them a few weeks ago. Yet at the same time, clearly the race has tightened. Paul, once the real campaigning begins in the fall, will need simply to reassure conservative Kentuckians that he's a solid candidate, and not off the wall. I suspect he'll be able to do that.
And in California, a Reuters/Ipsos poll has Democrat Barbara Boxer leading Carly Fiorina by only 4 points. That's a very winnable race for the GOP, and it's significant that Boxer is consistently polling under 50%.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

Tigers 7, Twins 5: it's a nice win, and more kudos to Miguel Cabrera and Brennan Boesch, who continue to carry the lion's share of the load when it comes to driving in runs for this team. The real news from this game, however, is the obviously serious injury to Joel Zumaya. He's almost surely lost for the season; you wonder how the Tigers will replace him. Apparently the Tiger clubhouse was silent as a tomb after last night's game, due to the worry about Zumaya. That's understandable. But injuries are a part of the game, this series with the Twins is important, and the Tigers need to pick it up and be ready to go tonight.

Polling watch:

Yep, little doubt about it--incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Russ Feingold is in trouble in 2010. Leading an unknown Republican by 1 or 2 points at this point--it's a winnable race for the GOP.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday's musings

Tigers 10, Braves 4: yesterday was a good win, but overall it was a frustrating series over the weekend for Detroit in Atlanta, as on Friday and Saturday they lost two tight games--Saturday's game on an admittedly bad call by the home plate ump on what should have been ball 4 to Johnny Damon. But yesterday, the Tigers got a decent start from Justin Verlander, and another home run from impressive rookie Brennan Boesch, who now has 12 home runs. They trail the Twins by only half a game. And now they head to Minnesota. Can they find a way to beat this Twins team? The Tigers have always struggled with them. But here comes a new opportunity...
Rangers 10, Astros 1: the Rangers have now 13 of 14. They've won 8 consecutive series. What else can you say about Josh Hamilton--a 468-foot home run last night, and he's still hitting close to .500 in the month of June. Importantly, Tommie Hunter pitched a good game as well last night for Texas. Now they head to Anaheim for 3 games with the second-place Angels. Big series...

Mark Steyn over the weekend points out an interesting pattern concerning President Obama: what seems to make the president most unhappy is when folks claim he's not with it, not up to date and informed on issues and policy. Problem is, it seems like an accurate assessment:
"Barack Obama is a thin-skinned man and, according to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, White House aides indicated that what angered the president most about the Rolling Stone piece was “a McChrystal aide saying that McChrystal had thought that Obama was not engaged when they first met last year.” If finding Obama “not engaged” is now a firing offense, who among us is safe?...Only the other day, Sen. George Lemieux of Florida attempted to rouse the president to jump-start America’s overpaid, over-manned, and oversleeping federal bureaucracy and get it to do something on the oil debacle. There are 2,000 oil skimmers in the United States: Weeks after the spill, only 20 of them are off the coast of Florida. Seventeen friendly nations with great expertise in the field have offered their own skimmers; the Dutch volunteered their “super-skimmers”: Obama turned them all down. Raising the problem, Senator Lemieux found the president unengaged and uninformed. “He doesn’t seem to know the situation about foreign skimmers and domestic skimmers,” reported the senator....He doesn’t seem to know, and he doesn’t seem to care that he doesn’t know, and he doesn’t seem to care that he doesn’t care. “It can seem that at the heart of Barack Obama’s foreign policy is no heart at all,” wrote Richard Cohen in the Washington Post last week. “For instance, it’s not clear that Obama is appalled by China’s appalling human rights record. He seems hardly stirred about continued repression in Russia. . . . The president seems to stand foursquare for nothing much."

And I think Mr. Obama has a hard time with all the criticism.
If Mr. Obama had had more of a sense of history, he wouldn't have been surprised by all of his critics. Every president faces them. Every president gets criticized. Even George Washington who, when his farewell address to the nation was published in the newspapers upon his decision to retire at the end of his 2nd term, faced all kinds of harsh words from opposition newspapers. One editorialist wrote that America had been "debauched" by Washington. Another roared "Would to God you had retired to a private station four years ago!"

Criticism comes with the job, Mr. Obama. Better get used to it. No one forced you into this gig, remember.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday's fish fry

Tigers 6, Mets 5: the Tigers avoid a sweep. Starter Armando Galarraga pitches decently and gets the win (his first since his near-perfect game; he'd pitched well but had no-decisions in his previous 3 starts). Ryan Raburn homers; the Tigers need his hitting. The Twins lose again, so the Tigers only trail them in the AL Central by half a game. So not a bad night.
Rangers 6, Pirates 5: the Rangers have now won 11 straight games. Keys: Vlad Guerrero had the game-winning hit in the 9th; he's now batting .326 for this team. Who expected that, after his injury-plagued 2009? Another key: the Rangers' bullpen, which in 3 innings pitched last night allowed 2 hits and no runs. The Rangers rallied from a 5-1 deficit.

Polling news:

In Washington state, for Republicans, the race against Democratic incumbent Senator Patty Murray remains very, very winnable.

Meanwhile, in the Republican senatorial primary in Arizona, i see no signs that John McCain is in much trouble any longer.
He's rather obviously, and somewhat desperately, tacked to the right in recent months. But AZ Republicans don't seem to mind.

By the way, speaking, as we were yesterday, of President Obama's declining poll numbers: what's interesting is that we're starting to see, in the mainstream media, as an explanation of this, an argument very much like this one made by Chuck Todd et al in MSNBC's "First Thoughts" column:
"Our new NBC/WSJ poll is pretty brutal for President Obama. Picture Rocky Balboa after seven rounds -- bruised, bleeding, black eye. That's what Obama looks like in our poll. But Obama hasn't been knocked down or knocked out, yet he certainly looks wobbly. And to beat this analogy to death, a defender would argue that it appears he's taking on Apollo Creed (the economy), Clubber Lang (concerns about the deficit), and Ivan Drago (the oil spill) all at the same time. For the first time in our survey, Obama's approval rating is upside down (at 45%-48%); for the first time in his presidency, more than 60% believe the country is on the wrong track; and for the first time in his presidency, Obama's "very negative" score on the feeling thermometer nearly matches his "very positive" score. The White House has recently been fond of using the phrase "inflection point" to indicate a new chapter in terms of their handling of the oil spill. Well, this poll is potentially an inflection point in terms of public opinion on this president. After months of keeping his head about water, he's now been dragged down to be unpopular as the rest of Washington."

Yes, Todd and company rightly acknowledge Obama's troubles in the polls. But note the subtle reason he gives for the slide: that Obama (gasp!) is daring to take on the economy, the deficit, and the oil spill all at the same time. Poor man! Gosh, maybe the American people are asking too much of him. Maybe the presidency is too difficult of a job. Maybe one man can't be expected to solve everything.

It all sounds familiar to me. Why? Because we heard this same kind of thing--especially from Democrats and liberals across the punditry--back in the late 1970s when Jimmy Carter was president. He too faced all these problems. Gosh, how could he solve them all? How could he be expected too?, asked his defenders.

Here's the thing: we don't hear this kind of defense from these people when a conservative Republican is in office. No, sir. If there are problems and things aren't going right under a GOP president, why, it's because he's incompetent, he hates government, he doesn't know how to use government, he can't get things done, he's an incompetent, he's stupid, if only a Democrat was in charge, etc etc etc.

Suddenly claiming now that problems are too big for one man is a hypocritical falsehood. Don't let them get away with it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Mets 5, Tigers 0: the Tigers continue to struggle on the road. They fall meekly to the Mets in last night's affair, getting only 5 hits. It doesn't help that the Mets are hot, having won 21 of their last 28, and at home.
Meanwhile it was Rangers 13, Pirates 3: the Rangers are streaking; they're hot, everyone's hitting, they've won 10 in a row now, and they're playing the reeling Pirates at home. It all adds up to victories. The Rangers piled up 17 hits last night.

The McChrystal firing:

I can't really blame President Obama for doing it, given the near-insubordination McChrystal and aides professed, given how it must have soured the relationship between the prez and the general, given McChrystal's obvious level of discomfort with the administration (otherwise he would never have let the ROLLING STONE article go forward). But, as Thomas Sowell notes today, the truly important issue is our Afghanistan policy--and it has real holes in it:
"This is, after all, an administration that waited for months last year before acting on General McChrystal’s urgent request for 40,000 more troops, which he warned would be necessary to prevent the failure of the mission in Afghanistan. He got 30,000 eventually — and a public statement by President Obama about when he wants to start withdrawing American troops from that country. In no previous period of history has an American president announced a timetable for pulling out troops. They may have had a timetable in mind, but none of these presidents was irresponsible enough to tell the world — including our enemies — when our troops would be leaving. Such information encourages our enemies, who know that they need only wait us out before they can take over, whether in Afghanistan or elsewhere. At the same time, it undermines our allies, who know that relying on the United States is dangerous in the long run, and that they had better make the best deal they can get with our enemies."

Meanwhile, poll numbers don't look so good for President Obama these days, either. Check out the results from the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll:
"Americans are more pessimistic about the state of the country and less confident in President Barack Obama's leadership than at any point since Mr. Obama entered the White House, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The survey also shows grave and growing concerns about the Gulf oil spill, with overwhelming majorities of adults favoring stronger regulation of the oil industry and believing that the spill will affect the nation's economy and environment. Sixty-two percent of adults in the survey feel the country is on the wrong track, the highest level since before the 2008 election. Just one-third think the economy will get better over the next year, a 7-point drop from a month ago and the low point of Mr. Obama's tenure. Amid anxiety over the nation's course, support for Mr. Obama and other incumbents is eroding. For the first time, more people disapprove of Mr. Obama's job performance than approve. And 57% of voters would prefer to elect a new person to Congress than re-elect their local representatives, the highest share in 18 years."

In other polling news, polls still show the supposedly un-electable Sharron Angle leading Democratic leader Harry Reid in Nevada--by 7 points no less.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Gooaalllll! The USA soccer team scores in the 91st minute to defeat Algeria, 1-0 and advance to the next round.

The American team deserves a lot of credit. Algeria's defense was stout. But the Americans kept attacking, kept driving, kept probing. Finally it paid off. Again the US had a goal disallowed; again replays strongly suggested it was a bad call. But they didn't allow that to frustrate them and take them off their game.

And who says soccer isn't exciting? There was no scoring in this game until very late. Yet I for one found pulsating; partly of course because there was so much riding on it. Go USA...

Well, the Detroit Tigers had Justin Verlander pitching for them last night on the road at the NY Mets, so you'd think they'd have a good chance. Not so--on a rainy night Verlander didn't have his good stuff, exited the game early due to a long rain delay, and the Mets pounded the Tigers' bullpen in winning 14-6.
Tiger pitchers walked 7, hit 2 batters, etc etc. The Tigers have to play better on the road.

But it was also Rangers 6, Pirates 3: the Rangers have now won 9 games in a row. Starting pitcher Tommie Hunter gave Texas 6 solid innings pitched, striking out 6 and walking none. Josh Hamilton had two more hits, including a home run, and has 33 hits in his last 68 at bats.

So Nikki Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants to the United States, raised as a Sikh, a convert to Christianity, is the Republican nominee for governor of South Carolina.

Hmmm. Funny. According to various liberal acquaintances of mine, South Carolina Republicans are at the heart of where one will find racism, bigotry, and prejudice in this country. Yet they voted en masse for Haley. I think our liberal friends will have a hard time explaining that one.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

General McChrystal's dissent: I think Victor Davis Hanson has it about right here.

The general undoubtedly is right in various facets concerning Obama administration policy. But he should make those opinions known through private channels, not publicly; and not, especially, through ROLLING STONE.

As for the current state of the oil spill in the Gulf and the Obama administration, Ben Stein in the American Spectator makes a great point today:

"Mr. Obama has been using this terrible accident to blame and castigate the oil companies. Inasmuch as the big oil companies are literally the only people on the planet who have even a clue about how to deal with the crisis, shouldn't he act nice to them instead of humiliating them? If your house is on fire, you politely ask the neighbors for help. You don't yell at them and call them names. Why not ask them nicely to help and see what response you get? How can that possibly hurt?"

Answer: it wouldn't. But Mr. Obama's liberal base wouldn't like it, and that's probably what's decisive here.

Polling stuff:
In Arizona, right about when all the controversy over the Arizona immigration law blew up, incumbent AZ Governor Jan Brewer was deciding whether to sign the bill or not. At the time, polls on the upcoming Republican gubernatorial primary showed her in either a dead heat with her opponents, or perhaps barely ahead. Well, she signed it into law.

And now she leads her opponents in the polls for the gubernatorial nomination by over 40 points. Think the law remains popular in Arizona?

Meanwhile the Obama administration isn't having much luck with the American people concerning the economy and its policies, so sayeth the NY Times:
"The poll, which examines the public’s reaction to the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, highlights some of the complex political challenges the Obama administration faces. For instance, despite intense news coverage and widespread public concern about the economic and ecological damage from the gulf disaster, most Americans remain far more concerned about jobs and the nation’s overall economy. And in that regard, President Obama does not fare well: 54 percent of the public say he does not have a clear plan for creating jobs, while only 34 percent say he does, an ominous sign heading into this fall’s midterm elections. Respondents were nearly evenly split on the president’s handling of the economy — 45 percent approve, 48 percent disapprove. His job approval rating remains just below 50 percent. And by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, Americans think the country is on the wrong track."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday's musings

Tigers 3, Diamondbacks 1: the Tigers take 2 of 3 from Arizona, and finish an 8-1 home stand. Encouraging...but let's see how they do as the schedule gets tougher. Key stat from yesterday: Max Scherzer got the win, allowing just 1 run in 7 innings. Scherzer is now 3-2 with a 3.94 ERA in his last 5 starts. The Tigers need him to be a reliable starter...
And it was Rangers 5, Astros 4 (10 innings): the Rangers had a good weekend too, sweeping Houston and moving to 13 games over the .500 mark. One key to recent Rangers' success has been Josh Hamilton, who had 5 hits yesterday, plus a single to drive in the tying run in the 9th inning, and a single to score the winning run in the 10th.

So the Democrats gambled that passing ObamaCare, despite its unpopularity with the voters at the time, would in the end benefit them. That gamble appears to have failed:
"The Democrats made a strategic choice to pass health reform even though they knew it did not have majority support. They assumed passage would generate a positive initial response from the media—which it did. They also hoped that, with time, voters would see reform in a more favorable light, and that health care would not pose an issue in the midterm elections. Were the Democrats right? If our polling is correct, they were not. In January, we asked voters in 11 states that could have competitive Senate races in November—Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania—how they felt about health reform and how they were likely to vote. The polls were conducted by YouGov using a panel of Internet users selected to represent registered voters in each state. We found widespread opposition to reform—and to the Democratic senators who voted in favor of it. Last month, we went back to the same voters and asked the same questions. We found that public opinion about health reform is roughly stable, and opposition to reform appears to be an important determinant of voting intention in the midterm elections—particularly for political independents."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday's fish fry

Tigers 8, Nationals 3: the Tigers have now won 6 straight. Perhaps they're beginning to hit; one key stat from yesterday's game was that Detroit pounded out 19 hits. Another key stat: Jeremy Bonderman pitched well, and perhaps shows signs of becoming a reliable starting pitcher again. The Tigers need him.
Rangers 6, Marlins 4: the Rangers have now won 5 straight. And the win yesterday completed a 3-game sweep on the road. Their pitching has been decent. But don't overlook the impact Vlad Guerrero has had on this Ranger team. The Angels (understandably) thought him done after last season, what with all his injuries. But the Rangers took a flyer on him. And he's hitting well over .300, with 15 home runs (including one last night) and nearly 60 RBIs.

So NFL Commish Roger Goodell and others are talking about, soon, instituting an 18-game regular season and doing away with 2 pre-season games. I say hallelujah--more good football, fewer meaningless exhibition games in which starters hardly play. But apparently many NFL players don't see it the same way:
"The Ravens' Lewis criticized the plan, telling the NFLPA website that players "are not machines" -- a sentiment that was echoed a day later in the Giants' locker room. The overwhelming concern there was injuries, with players fearful that a longer season means more injuries and shorter careers. You can see why: Coaches who can afford to coast the last week of the regular season don't rest starters because they want to look at their backups; they rest them for fear of injuries that could impair their playoff chances, and Wes Welker, please step forward."

But look, guys--1] players get injured in pre-season games, too. 2] So the chance of injury is there every day, all the time--even in practice. Yes, there's a chance you could get injured. But remember you get well-compensated for what you do. 3]Look, the pre-season just isn't working. The "games" are boring. They're not effectively getting teams ready to start the regular season. One NY Giants player in the linked piece above argues that younger players need the pre-season to try and impress the coaches and make the team. But surely practices and off-season OTAs can help with that, and can help players get ready for a long season.

I think some of the players' concerns should be addressed. But I have no doubt that two extra regular season NFL games, along with doing away with two exhibitions, would be a huge hit with fans; and what they want should be part of this, too.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday's throwdowns

Tigers 8, Nationals 3: the Tigers have won 5 straight now, and appear to be playing better. We'll know more when the competition gets tougher. Key stats from last night: Justin Verlander did what an ace should do, striking out 11 and winning his 8th game. Tigers rookie Brennan Boesch had a 3-run homer last night; he's now hitting .344.
Rangers 6, Marlins 3: the Rangers have now won 11 of their past 15. Keys to last night: Michael Young became the all-time leader among past and present Rangers in hits; he now has 1748 for his career, and passed Pudge Rodriguez. Typically for him, the record-breaker came on a two-run single in the 8th to break open a close game; another clutch hit. I wonder if fans around the country know how good this guy really is. Also key for the Rangers last night was their bullpen, as both Darren O'Day and Neftali Feliz pitched innings of hitless relief.

Obama, the spill, and the polls:
"Six in ten Americans disapprove of how President Barack Obama's handling the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a jump from last month, according to a new national poll. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also indicates that vast majority of the public disapproves of how BP has handled the environmental disaster and two-thirds say making a profit rather than cleaning up the spill is oil giant's top priority. Fifty-nine percent of people questioned say they disapprove of how the president is dealing with the spill, up eight points from May. Forty-one percent say they approve of how Obama's handling the crisis, down five points from last month."

The president's problem is that, while he wants the public to blame BP, and not him. But the public blames both of them.

Meanwhile the dean of Washington pundits/observers, the Washington Post's David Broder, weighs in on all this today, and he too doesn't spare President Obama one bit:
"If there is any value in President Obama's knocking himself out to dramatize on prime-time television his impotence in the face of the Gulf of Mexico oil leak calamity, I wish someone would explain it. His multiple inspection trips to the afflicted and threatened states, his Oval Office TV address to the nation, and now his sit-down with the executives of BP have certainly established his personal connection with one of the worst environmental disasters in history. But the only thing people want to hear from him is word that the problem is on its way to being solved -- and this message he cannot deliver. The polls so far suggest that voters have a sensible and realistic perspective on all this and are not punishing Obama for failing to anticipate the drilling platform accident and not having a handy tool kit for its repair. To date, his approval numbers have barely moved. But by dramatizing his belief that the struggle in the gulf has become his main preoccupation, Obama has essentially ignored challenges that may be much more vital to the country -- and to him."

Indeed. This reminds me of Jimmy Carter and the Iranian hostage crisis, in 1979 and 1980. Carter made the crisis the focal point of his presidency. But his inability to solve it, while claiming it was his responsibility to do so, sunk him. Could the same kind of thing happen to the Obama presidency?

Poll watch:
I said recently that Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln, despite her victory in the runoff last week and becoming the Democratic nominee for the senate after all, was still toast. And she is--a poll shows her trailing Republican John Boozman by no less than 29 points.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday's wash

Tigers 7, Nationals 4: so the Tigers have won 4 in a row. But, well, they've come vs Pittsburgh and Washington. Still, you have to start somewhere. Key stats: Max Scherzer pitched, not great, but decently...striking out 9. Ryan Raburn had 2 hits and batted in 4. Detroit needs to keep this streak going.
Rangers 3, Marlins 2: the Rangers pulled off a big win with 2 runs in the 9th off of Florida's closer, thanks to a pinch-hit triple by Matt Treanor (an unexpected hero). But the key to the game was C.J. Wilson's excellent start, giving up only 2 runs in 7 innings, and the bullpen then closing it down. A different guy doing it every night for Texas...a positive sign.

Well, the reviews are in on President Obama's Oval Office address last night concerning the oil spill, and what's interesting is that pretty much across the board--from conservatives, centrists, and liberals--the reviews are big-time negative. Maureen Dowd of the NY Times, who wants so badly to love Obama with all her heart, has a typical response:
"You know the president is drowning — in oil this time — when he uses the Oval Office. And do words really matter when the picture of oil gushing out of the well continues to fill the screen?...The president acknowledged that the problems at the Minerals Management Service were deeper than he had known and “the pace of reform was just too slow.” He admitted that “there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done.” He appointed a “son of the gulf” spill czar and a new guard dog at M.M.S. and tried to restore a sense of confident leadership — “The one approach I will not accept is inaction” — and compassion, reporting on the shrimpers and fishermen and their “wrenching anxiety that their way of life may be lost.” He acted as if he was the boss of BP on the issue of compensation. And he called on us to pray....Robert Gibbs on Tuesday continued the White House effort to emote, saying on TV: “It makes your blood boil.” But he misses the point. Nobody needs to see the president yelling or pounding the table. Ronald Reagan could convey command with a smile; Clint Eastwood, with a whisper. Americans need to know the president cares so they can be sure he’s taking fast, muscular and proficient action....[Obama is] too hesitant to take the obvious action. He seems unable to muster the adrenalin necessary to go full bore until the crowd has waited and wailed and almost given up on him, but it’s a nerve-racking way to campaign and govern."

Not enough specifics. Not enough command. This speech certainly failed with most in the media; it's hard to see it succeeding with the American public.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesday's trackings

President Obama and the oil spill:
I think today that Thomas Sowell nails it concerning the biggest problem with the Obama administration's handling of this crisis:
"Either the government knows how to stop the oil spill or it doesn’t. If they know how to stop it, then why have they let thousands of barrels of oil per day keep gushing out, for weeks on end? All they have to do is tell BP to step aside, while the government comes in to do it right. If they don’t know, then what is all this political grandstanding about keeping their boot on the neck of BP, the attorney general of the United States going down to the Gulf to threaten lawsuits — on what charges was unspecified — and President Obama showing up in his shirt sleeves?
Just what is Obama going to do in his shirt sleeves, except impress the gullible? He might as well have shown up in a tuxedo with white tie, for all the difference it makes....This government is not about governing. It is about creating an impression. That worked on the campaign trail in 2008, but it is a disaster in the White House, where rhetoric is no substitute for reality. If the Obama administration were for real, and trying to help get the oil spill contained as soon as possible, the last thing its attorney general would be doing is threatening a lawsuit. A lawsuit is not going to stop the oil, and creating a distraction can only make people at BP start directing their attention toward covering themselves, instead of covering the oil well. If and when the attorney general discovers that BP did something illegal, that will be time enough to start a lawsuit. But making a public announcement at this time accomplishes absolutely nothing substantive. It is just more political grandstanding....This is not about oil. This is about snake oil."

Bingo. You know, I knew when the Obama administration came into office that I and many other conservatives would disagree with it on many issues. But I really didn't think Obama would sink to the level of the Clinton administration and it's endless spinning, it's endless obsession with polls and its political standing, its grabbing on to issues not for their intrinsic merit but for the political benefits they could offer, the Clintons' willingness to do anything, say anything, lie about anything, solely (again) for political benefit.

I used to call Bill Clinton just that--a snake oil salesman, a carnival barker, a guy willing to do pretty much anything to advance himself. I thought Obama might be a bit above that. I might be wrong. I don't think Obama has quite sunk to Clintonian levels yet. But he keeps getting closer.

Some polling news:
Some interesting 2010 generic ballot numbers out today. Both Gallup and Rasmussen have Republicans out to a solid lead on the generic ballot--Gallup by 5, Rasmussen by a rather astounding 10 points.
Of course, this comes after this past weekend when polls both by FOX and PPP had Democrats with a slight lead on the generic ballot.

We'll have to see how the polling continues to go in coming days, but Gallup has consistently shown Republicans inching up in their poll, and Rasmussen has consistently shown the GOP with a solid lead.

By the way, concerning senate races, Republican David Vitter is running for re-election this year in Louisiana. He's the man who had a rather bad personal scandal not long ago, and you sure don't hear too many folks speaking highly of him. And yet, and a poll out today, he had a 20 point lead over his opponent.