Friday, September 28, 2012

Campaign Financial Terms

   It is less than a week to the Presidential campaign debates, are you excited? Whether your answer is yes or no, one thing is definite, certain topics will not be properly discussed. Number one on that list is the financial situation of the United States.

   Pundits and journalists attempt to use many different metrics to justify their opinion of the economy, this is sad, if not criminal. Very few are taking a sober approach towards the situation. Here is a break down of a few "thoughts" by the political class.

  1. "The Dow Jones is doing well." So what? The Dow Jones is as antiquated as ticker tape. It's literally 30 different "blue chip" stocks weighted to give a rough idea of how the market is doing. It was founded May 26, 1896. The whole reason it was created was because 106 years ago they had no means of tracking all trades, today they can, and they probably do somewhere and just don't tell anybody. Furthermore, what that means is 30 companies are doing well.... Which is nice but not enough. Mark Cuban wrote a great blog about what the stock market is currently compared to historically. Most importantly he highlights that it is no longer a mechanism to raise cash for companies, and that it is now a mechanism for traders, or as he calls them hackers, to exploit the system. 
  2. "Unemployment claims are down." That's great, what about all of the people that are not working? This is such a shady set up. The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses 6 different measures of unemployment. On top of that, they adjust it seasonally, which means that politicians can  convienently tout the numbers they like. The U.S. has over 311,000,000 people, why isn't there a simple total number of people at the end of every month? Hey BLS, here is an idea: Each month list the total amount of working age employed and unemployed people. It's pretty simple. X amount this month are eligible for the work force, and Y amount got a job. As an added bonus, they should include how many people are federal employees and how many are state employees, then say how many per state.
  3. "The QE3 is helping." This is just an unadulterated lie. Quantitative Easing is simple the Federal Reserve CREATING more money supply. When more money supply is created, the value of the dollar decreases. So you can thank the fed for devaluing all the greenbacks you have been working to earn and save. 
  4. "The deficit... The debt." Nobody has taken the time to draw the line of distinction here. Everybody talks about it like they know something, but they seem oblivious to the function. The DEFICIT is the annual amount of spending that the United States has to borrow money to accomplish. Hold on, here come the numbers. In 2011 the federal government expected tax revenues of $2,567,000,000,000, the actual receipts were $2,314,000,000. They have cute phrases, instead of expected and actual, they use "Requested" and "Enacted." It only makes perfect sense that they in turn spent $3,880,000,000,000 ($25,000,000,000 of this was debt payment). That gives a ONE YEAR total of $1,566,000,000,000 that the U.S. had to borrow to cover spending. ONE YEAR! Hmm.... 2.314 divided by 3.88 equals .5964... Wait, the U.S had to borrow FORTY PERCENT of the money it spent? For 2012 the DEFICIT is estimated to be $1,327,000,000,000. As with most government operations, it is likely that it will be and even larger sum. Wow, that is a lot of DEBT. No, NO it's NOT. The current United States Of America's DEBT is OVER $16,000,000,000,000. DEBT is the aggregate of annual DEFICITS. The DEBT of the United States is almost SEVEN times that of it's annual "income" and growing at a rate of over 60% of "income" annually. This would be like a person earning $100,000 a year being in debt to the tune of $700,000 and adding $67,000 to it annually. This is horrible. For that person they would have to cut that $67,000 (FORTY PERCENT) of spending just to stop the DEFICIT BLEEDING and break even. To make any real difference in the DEBT, they would have to cut FORTY-FIVE percent or more. If the U.S. cuts just FORTY PERCENT PLUS $100,000,000,000 - that is  ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS - or a total cut of $1,427,000,000,000 of spending in 2013, and continues to spend $100,000,000,000 LESS than it takes in annually, by 2023 it would still be $15,000,000,000,000 in DEBT. If they maintained that rate, the United States of America would be out of debt by 2173. The morbid reality is that the $100,000,000,000 ANNUALLY  would be hard enough to cut on it's own, and the $1,000,000,000,000 PLUS ANNUALLY being borrowed is impossible in the current political climate. 
   Right now, the dialog about the U.S. financial position is as humiliating as the situation itself.  The degree of reality and sincerity with which it is being discussed is borderline sociopathic. Until a majority of people start demanding real fiscal responsibility, and grasp the reality that many people, if not all, are going to lose some level of entitlement, the situation will only get worse. If this rate continues, in 7 years or less, it will no longer be about helping the less fortunate, because there really will be a 99% percent, and they will all be less fortunate. 

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Polls And The Election

   One poll done by two very respectable sources this week showed a margin of error that was "3.27%".  That's pretty funny. Polls are a lot like movies.  There is comedy, action, love, and continuing drama. Everybody is talking about polls, and many are even offering their opinions on them. The problem there is, everybody knows exactly what an opinion is like... and everybody has one.

   With only a few exceptions, the people with an opinion have motives. This is where things get murky. When emotions and personal desire comes into play, scientific method can and usually does get forgotten. People bend results to what they want them to be, which taints the whole pool. Being a public pollster is tough. You're essentially a public opinion odds maker. In the case of the presidential race, you're creating a line on how a 100,000,000 or more people will react. For a professional football game, Las Vegas odds makers have less than 250 people and odds to calculate, yet the Vegas casinos can be different in their offerings. They also enjoy the added benefit of seeing where the gambling public is placing their money. Someone placing their money where their mouth is, is way better than a partisan opinion. Still, the odds makers can be WAY off, in fact it happens all the time. Odds makers get seasons of time to re-calibrate their accuracy, pollsters get two opportunities to see how right they are: primaries and general elections They also have to contend with what they see other pollsters doing, and this plays into some houses methodology. It can very much be a "keeping up with the Jones'" scenario.

   The methodology difference is starkly apparent in the discrepancies of the results. Many houses get very different numbers from each other, and the numbers fluctuate non stop. Ask yourself this question, "how many times have I seen someone REALLY change their opinion on a topic like this?" The reality is that this kind of fluctuation is terribly wrong. Cataclysm aside, both Romney and Obama will end up with 43% of the vote each due strictly to party turn out. This leaves a top possibility of 14% of slack. Of that 14% of voters, it is reasonable to assume that a min of 4% (2%+2%} is committed both ways, getting to 45% each. Now what? Now the goal of Romney's campaign is to get 48.9% (4.89% of the total) of the remaining voters., totaling 49.89%. But that's less than 50% of the vote!!! He'll lose!!! Wrong. Populous states like NY, CA, and IL will contribute to large overages in the popular vote but are of no consequence in the electoral college. About the voter change, it does happen, but not so spastically. For any voter that is undecided at this point, the change is coming glacially, or instantly. The glacial change won't be done till November, and the instant change can happen at any time. Currently, president Obama is losing the instant change to foreign policy fiascos and people who originally disregarded him as a redistributionist. Romney isn't losing ANY votes over his 47% comment. While there are factual errors, the general tone is correct, and it most likely is not offending anyone already voting for him. He could have said it much better, and if the campaign defines the intent, it will turn into a positive. Conversely, there is no positive outcome in any regard for a tortured and murdered ambassador.

   The polls say a lot, but the communication is not one way. They don't think, feel, and breathe, but voters do. To communicate with the polls these pundits should step out of "the story of the day" and assume a more long term view.

   Besides, if the polls did all the work, and they were clinically precise, strategists would have to find new jobs, and you would not be reading this.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The DNC Convention and Obama's Re-election Bid

   The DNC Convention was three days packed full of speakers. The physical stage looked great and the  production was very well done. The question is, did the convention serve it's purpose? That depends on what you think the goal should be. If the goal was to help President Obama get re-elected, then the grade is a D-. While the convention was packed full of speakers, it was not packed full of the message necessary for an Obama win.

   For President Obama to stay in office, the convention had to make the case that he is the right guy to get the country to where it wants and needs to be. It needed to really work the idea about how terrible things would have been without him, and even though it tried, it failed. Many of the speeches were very good. Michelle, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and Barack all gave great speeches. They were very moving, well timed, and expertly delivered. All four of them proved that they are great on a stage, but they did not make the case for re-election like the campaign desperately needed. Compounding the problems for Barack & Co. were the lead in speakers. 

   Tuesday night the lead in speaker to Michelle Obama was Mayor Julian Castro. This guy is the embodiment of a pandering politician or a proselytizing preacher, you take your pick. It was a speech empty of policy specifics. Instead he only offered general ideas of class warfare and party line lies. Most notably he said that President Obama got healthcare expanded to all Americans, wrong. CBO estimates that by 2020 there will still be 30,000,000 Americans will still be uninsured. In the auditorium, none of that mattered, the crowd loved his approach and delivery. The downside is that his willingness to offer empty words and just say what people wanted to hear was likely a turn off to the undecideds.

    Following his empty speech was a very deep and heart felt speech from Michelle Obama. However, the depth came from describing how Barack's heart feels. She made an airtight case that she married the right man for her, and by all accounts an all star father. What Michelle did not do was make the case for re-election. Very few people, if anyone at all, doubt that he is a great husband and father, what they do doubt is that he can get the job done turning around America. The speech text on the face is one thing, it's the subtext that must be analyzed to grasp the impact of speech in totality. She seemed unsure when commenting on policies, and used a lot of "ifs." 

   There are also a few specific lines that we should look at here. First, while talking about the problems a president faces, she said "the problems where no amount of numbers or data will get you the right answer... as president you are going to get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people, but at the end of the day when it comes time to make that decision as president, all you have to guide you are your values and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are." Most voters do not want to hear that their President is winging it. Yes, it is clear what she was going for, Barack has a big heart that guides his decision making, but that is NOT a good case for re-electing him. Many discerning voters are likely to find it offensive that he is possibly not listening to as many expert opinions as he should, or that he is not gathering enough information. Life experience may tell you not to eat that habanero pepper, or to keep your hands inside the bus, but it cannot prepare you to be President of the U.S.A. Also, most of life experience comes from mistakes, is she saying that he is making decisions based on past mistakes? Second, she said "For Barack, success isn't about how much money you make, it's about the difference you make in people's lives." This was another misstep. Again, it's clear what she was going for, but that is not what people who are struggling to pay the bills, unemployed, underemployed, or in a number of other situations want to hear. They want, they NEED to hear that the good jobs are coming back, and that opportunity dawns anew. Third, and this was the biggest mistake, she went into a portion of the speech where she actually highlighted people sacrificing more. She went as far back as the American revolution and the moon landing, then said, "surely we can keep on sacrificing for our own kids and grand kids, right?" This shows a level of disconnect. Many already feel as if they have sacrificed as much as they can, and the worst part is, it takes the idea of the current economy and makes it an indefinite time span in the voters mind. 

   Wednesday night was Sandra Fluke and Bill Clinton. Before these two came to stage there was a line of interesting speakers, and some odd gaffes. California Attorney General Kamala Harris spoke, and during her speech she mentioned that her and 48 other AG's, with Obama standing behind them, won a case against the big banks for $25 billion. Sounds great right? Well think about this.  The banks they won the suit against were: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Ally Financial (formerly GMAC). Now look at how much they each got in the $700 billion tarp bill, listed in the same order: $45 billion, $25 billion, $25 billion, $45 billion, $16.9 billion. So $156.9 billion total that these five banks took away from the taxpayer bailout, and the mighty 49 AG's got $25 billion back for them screwing customers? Now most people won't know these numbers, but voters paying attention will definitely remember the $700 billion bailout. 

   Keeping in tune with the bailout, following Kamala were multiple UAW people, including Bob King, the President of the Union. So, the people that many see as being responsible for the auto industry's troubles came out to talk about the auto industry being saved.  Okay cool, now we can see that tonight is really highlighting the bailout aspect. Joe Biden hadn't driven that home already with his "I got a bumper sticker" speech? This was wasted time on the stage, and it further highlighted the bailout big government theme that was really starting to build at this point. Sandra Fluke helped add to this. 

   A few months ago Sandra Fluke made news when she was supposedly rejected from a congressional meeting by house republicans. Having her speak was a terrible idea. Aside from coming across smug and immature in her tone, she included no policy specifically, and simply tried to scare women. There are two reasons that the decision to have her speak was appalling. First is the entire lie surrounding her story. Pay close attention here, because this is something that all voters should know. The original intent of a congressional meeting was to get facts about contraception on the congressional record. Darrell Issa a California republican who is the head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee called the meeting so that house democrats could get facts about birth control on the record that had not been heard before. House democrats requested that Barry Lynn, a man who is recognized as having expertise in the matter, as the witness. House republicans agreed. The day before the hearing, the house democrats dropped Barry Lynn, and requested that Sandra Fluke testify in his place. They felt that her views as a woman, and as a democratic activist would serve them better, despite her not having any measurable amount of expertise other than her gender. Issa declined to play their game and rejected the request. After all that, the democratic subcommittee staged a meeting to look like a hearing and had her testify there. Her testimony was vague and she only offered unnamed examples. At this point, the focus turned to whether or not a private university like Georgetown should have to provide birth control, at their cost, to students. This whole scam was not about a RIGHT to birth control, it was about who should pay for it. This narrative of events is a potential political grenade waiting to explode. Second, the attempt to hammer home "women's healthcare rights" falls flat. It shows how it's not about the idea of access to contraception, but about how this group of people wants the American tax dollars to pay for contraception. There is huge difference between having access to contraception. and having the government pay for it. Most voters are against paying for people's lifestyle choices. 

   Now it's time to discuss President William Jefferson Clinton. His speech was great, he nailed it like he always does. The problem for Obama is that it was great for Bill and tepid for Barack. Sure, he endorsed Barack and talked about all the good things he has done, but his passion when talking about Barack was luke warm at best, while his passion for the democratic party (and himself) was palpable. Turn on any political talk show, or read any political magazine or newspaper and you'll hear about his likability, which is great, it's good that people like him. Since leaving the Presidency he has done a load of humanitarian work. He deserves that credit and the likability. What is not being said in any polls is his "Credibility" rating. The same guy who is best known for lying under oath is the same guy who said that President Obama is getting the job done. People will take it with a grain of salt. The undecideds expect him to help the party and say what he has to, so the overall boost is minimal if not a negative. When he wasn't giving half-hearted praise, he was reminding everyone how great things were, which highlights how things are today. It casts more question upon the current administration's ability to get the job done. 

   Thursday night, Kerry Washington, Scarlett Johansson, and Eva Longoria failed at getting the message out. They should stick to doing MTV awards appearances. Kerry came across as someone who was just repeating what they heard someone else say. Scarlett was worse. She admitted that her mom let her pull her voting levers. She admitted that 2008 was her first time voting. If she was such a concerned citizen why didn't she vote in 2004 or 2006? To the voter, that creates the imagery of fad support and no substance on the issues. To top it off, Eva's speech really flopped. She kept talking about taxes and tax cuts. Of course she thinks her money is better off with the government, she filed bankruptcy for two restaurants last year, to the tune $5.7 million in debt and losses of $76,000 a month. Thanks for the financial advice Eva. Most people do not want governance advice from someone that reads lines for a living, and especially an absentee bankrupt business owner. Additionally, the issue at the core is not about paying taxes, it is about how the money is spent. Another huge miss all three nights at the convention. 

   Following the celebrities was Joe Biden. It was shaky at first, as he messed up on the day Michelle spoke twice, first saying last night, which was wrong, then Monday - a day no one spoke, but he pulled it together. He came across as sincere and heartfelt. His speech was passionate and stirring, but again he did not make the case for re-election based on ability. Barack followed him, with more of the same. 

   President Obama did excellent in the delivery of his speech, but the substance was way too light. When he did touch on substance, he echoed the big themes of the convention: big government, easier immigration, more taxes, women's fears, and "it could have been worse." 

   By the time the Vice President and President spoke, everything had been said, and neither offered much new. The case was made repetitively for how big of a heart our president has. Again, that is not really being contested, what is being contested is his ability, and what is being alleged is that he is in over head. The convention did little to rebut this, and in some cases built on these criticisms. Whomever set the line up of speakers should be fired, immediately, and they are not the only one. Did you see the vote to put "God" and "Jerusalem as the capital of Israel" BACK into the platform? It was a complete debacle. It does not take a rocket scientist to see how that will affect the Jewish vote in Florida. A very important voter block in a very important state. The media has only served to compound the lackadaisical approach to running the convention. They were all laughing and repeating the Will Rogers quote, "I belong to no organized party, I am a democrat." This is a terrible plight upon the Obama campaign. How does this translate to that percentage of voters who have not made up their minds? Like this, if the campaign and party are too disorganized to run a three day convention, then how the hell can they help the country in four years? It didn't stop there either. Obama's speech was supposed to be in front of 76,000 people. Instead it was held indoors in front of 20,000. Delegates were literally left in the rain while lobbyists watched Obama's speech. Weather may very well have been the reason, and not crowd weakness, but it does not look good. 

   The best word to describe the three days is fiasco. Sure, there will be a poll bump, but it will be a quick hot burning fire instead of the slow building ember that is needed if Barack wants to keep his job. The one advantage that the President does have is that Governor Romney is still failing to define himself in depth enough for voters to move towards him. The campaign headquarters in Chicago had better think fast, because after October 3rd, that advantage will erode fast. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech

   Tuesday was Michelle, last night was President Clinton, and tonight is our sitting President Barack Obama. If President Obama wants to stay in that chair, the stage has been set. His will likely be the most watched speech of either convention - if it's not, he is in deep, deep, DEEP trouble. Tonight he must make the case for four more years, but how does he do that?
   The case for four more years is a complicated one. The moment any president is elected they face an uphill battle named Expectations. Due to the tone and promises from the 2008 campaign, President Obama has been facing Great Expectations. When you don't meet those expectations, you set yourself up for disappointment, who is a package deal with doubt. So, when he goes on stage, Barack will be facing great disappointment and great doubt. President Obama's speech must convince the independent voters, the unemployed and underemployed voters, and the disenfranchised voters that if they give him four more years, the disappointment and doubt will not continue. 

   To use a cliche, the tone should be that it is always darkest before the dawn. Clinton said a lot of things in his speech, but the one that is the most helpful to Barack's re-election is that he created a floor and stopped the economic fall. Mr. Obama should take this and run with it. Are we better off than we were four years ago? He should propose that yes we are, and then he should ask voters to remember what it was like between September 2008 and January 2009. Relatively speaking, there is definitely a greater sense of stability now. In 2009, unemployment topped out at 10%, in 2010 it hovered around the upper 9's, in 2011 it dropped into the high 8's, and as he is speaking tonight it is working towards 8%. He should contend that we have been through darkness, and that soon the light will be coming. 

   Obamacare, the debt, budgets and spending, women's issues, and any temptation to talk about social issues should be avoided as much as possible. The message will have to be direct and simple, "My plan to create jobs is working." The simplicity and connection to all these voter groups is even more important considering who will be introducing the President. Eva Longoria, Scarlett Johansson, Kerry Washington and possibly Natalie Portman will all be part of the build up to Obama's speech. This is a massive error. Having Bill Clinton speak was bad enough for the re-election efforts, but this is even worse. Having these ladies talk is a polar opposite to Clint Eastwood at the RNC convention. First, that was just one person with a long and tenured public life. Second, he has displayed that he is not a dyed in the wool republican. Clint has been on the record as saying "I like the libertarian view which is to leave everyone alone", and he has consistently worked to help candidates on both sides. He even held fundraisers for California Democratic Governor Gray Davis. Third, theses ladies are all known liberal democrats. Mr. Eastwood was a mayor, none of these ladies have policy experience that would suggest they have any clue who should be elected President. Lastly and most importantly, it showcases the idea that he is a pop culture President who is inexperienced and not up to the task. It even flaunts it. If things do not change at the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago, and fast, it will be a long, long, L O N G 60 days for them. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bill Clinton's DNC 2012 Convention Speech

   The decision to have Bill Clinton speak tonight is a tactical error. Yes, he will give a great speech. Yes, he will make a great case for re-election. Yes, he will get a lot of media attention. However, all of his positives come with a price.

   Many political pundits, campaign commentators, and election enthusiasts seem to be struck by long term memory loss. Bill Clinton was first elected with 43.01% of the popular vote. Remove Ross Perot from the equation and Bush 41 is definitely re-elected, and possibly by a landslide of over 14,000,000 votes. Bill was re-elected with 49.23% of the vote. State by state analysis shows that there was a possible, maybe even likely Dole win with 288 electoral votes, IF once again there was no Ross Perot. Additionally, this was a low turn out year. Only 49% of the voting age population turned out to cast their ballot. So, his ability to inspire voters in the first place is very questionable. This is only the third biggest negative. 

   Coming in second place is the likelihood of Bill supporting Bill, and you know he will. His speech will hit the mark for what he wants, but is that Obama FOR four more years, or Hillary IN four more years? While conceivably overshadowing the entire event, he will likely promote himself and his wife. To do so he will talk about how great things were during his Presidency. He will paint a verbal picture of times many remember and cherish. Using the flawed prism of nostalgia, he will engage the audience in a whimsical walk down memory lane. Which brings us to the main reason his speech will not help President Obama's gain a second term.

   The primary reason President Clinton's speech will not help President Obama is that it draws a sharp contrast between the 1990's and his perceived good times, and where we are as a nation today. Every bright and broad stroke Clinton paints on his shrine - is at the same time a dark grey splashed upon Obama's altar. The illusion of a bright past will serve to dim the reality of the current moment. 
This contrast of realities, perceived or real, will make the case for four more years much more effete.

   Tonight we will hear President Clinton talk about prosperity and a strong middle class from a time now only a part of history. Tomorrow we will hear President Obama's plan about moving us "Forward", and why he needs four more years to achieve the past. Friday we will get the most recent jobs report that will remind us all of where we are today. The election will not be held in 1996, or in 2016, it will be held in 9 weeks. 

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

RNC Convention Recap - DNC Look Forward

   Here we are four days removed from the RNC convention. Now it's time to take a look back at the event, and appraise it. There was a ton of material to cover, but only a portion that will possibly effect the election. That is what we are sticking to today.

   The best line from the convention has not been mentioned by the media. That's not a surprise, what is a surprise is that the Romney campaign does not have an online video leading off with it, and building upon it. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said:

      "Then you have Barack Obama, who has never started a business - never even worked in a business. And he claims those who have should give credit to the government or someone else for their success. So, you have one candidate who understands that success comes from working hard, competing, and taking risks. And you have another candidate  who believes success comes from the government. Which one do you think knows how to turn this economy around? Which one would you choose to invest your life's savings? Should it be any different for safeguarding our nation's economy?"

   The message here is so succinct and complete. The RNC or Romney/Ryan should plaster this everywhere. To be more specific, they should show a spending graph for the last 4 years, and a constant ticking debt clock the whole time. 

   The funniest speech was Tim Pawlenty (yes, even funnier than Clint). Really, it was more of a roast than a speech. He called President Obama the tattoo president. "Like a big tattoo, it seemed cool when you were young, but later you wonder what was I thinking? The worst part is, you're going to have to explain it to your kids." He also quipped that "Lot's of people fail at their first job." Whether you support President Obama or not, that is just good comedy.

   Now we are down to the big seven speeches. In order of delivery we have: Ann Romney, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, Clint Eastwood, Marco Rubio, and Governor Romney. 

   Ann Romney's speech was masterful. She immediately made it not about politics, but about an American family. She specifically focused on women. She mentioned that the sighs from from wives and mothers are always a little bit bigger because of how much they have to handle. She also made a statement that was a home run when speaking to women, "We're too smart to know there aren't any easy answers." If you go back to my post on Female Voters, this is the kind of campaigning I was referencing. Beyond that, she really nailed it down when she said, "Mitt doesn't like to talk about how he has helped others, because he sees it as a privilege." This might be the second best line to Senator Portman's. Consciously and/or subconsciously, many if not most voters make a judgement on why someone would want to be President.  Why would a very wealthy family man with 5 sons, and scores of grandchildren (just kidding, I think it's 16), want to take the job of President? He's 65, his wife is 63, she beat cancer and now she is battling MS. They are of family of means. They can live anywhere, and do practically anything they want. Why would he want to spend the next 4 to 8 years in a position of such high stress and worry, instead of spending it with his wife and family? Well, she answered that. He sees it as an honor. Again, this is a very, VERY compelling message in my view, and one that the Romney campaign should put out there more.

   Chris Christie was okay, but he was not great. There is a lot of speculation as to why he wasn't "himself." Possibly it was a crafty move by the Romney campaign. They asked him to tone down the shtick on purpose so that it wouldn't over shadow anything or anybody else for better or for worse. As for the content, it can be summed up as such: "Chris Christie loves you and Chris Christie, and Chris Christie wants you to stand up and love America, and Chris Christie, along with Chris Christie." It was gratuitously self indulgent. Did it work to promote him? Time will tell.

   Worth a short mention is a speech I'm sure many missed, but it may have had an effect on the big speech of that day. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, son of Congressman Ron Paul, spoke Wednesday before Paul Ryan. Rand's speech really worked up the crowd and got a big applause. It was a mix of cheer leading and policy. It looks like this may have stolen some of Paul Ryan's thunder.

   Paul Ryan's speech was a lot of what was expected. He did very well. Pundits have been commenting that he was dry, or that he was outright lying. What he actually appeared to be was focused and serious. Right now that is what many of the swing voters are looking for, someone who is not overwhelmed and up to the challenge. His speech did exactly what it needed to do. Feel good speeches don't cut it anymore. Voters want to sense that speakers have a good enough grasp on the problems to create an answer. Want a good and simple barometer of it's impact? Just look at how democrats and main stream media responded to it. (This method works both ways). The more worked up they are, the more impact it had.  In this case, they have been very worked up and yelling about lies to the high heavens, or talking about George W. Bush... Who is NOT on the ticket.

   Someone else being called a liar, although not to his face, is Clint Eastwood. This speech, excuse me stand up routine, I watched at least four times to make sure I got it. It really was an unpolished gem. Before 08/30/2012, what odds would you have expected on Clint Eastwood talking about crying? There were moments of real genius in there. The implication of "Governor Romney can't do that to himself" was brilliant. He made some very important points: we own this country, we are the best, and if someone can't do the job, fire them - we don't have to be mental masochists and vote for them, and he wrapped these comments in comedy. How did the left respond to this? Very shortly afterwards the official Obama twitter account posted a pic of the President in a Presidential Chair saying "This seat's taken." That is pretty heavy when you think about it. Whether you liked or hated Bush and Clinton, they both likely would have laughed a lot, and yes I know, I know. Bill tried to tell Hillary it was an empty chair, and George probably had a conversation with an empty chair before. Another big surprise, and possibly a big take away with voters, is how much Eastwood talked. Mr. Eastwood has been in the public eye for over 55 years, have you ever heard him referred to as loquacious?

   Following Clint was Marco Rubio. This speech I watched more than twice as well. For awhile now, I have been paying attention to Senator Rubio with a certain amount of apathy. Many of my conservative friends have been over the moon for this guy. This speech showcased why so many people like him. He is the American dream. His parents immigrated to America and worked all the time so that he and his siblings could pursue their dreams. As a first generation American, to be a senator in the U.S. Senate is pretty much dream accomplished. He brought all of this to the forefront. Additionally, his speech was an eloquent transition of tone from Clint to Governor Romney.

   Mitt Romney's speech was well done. Many have panned it saying he didn't offer enough details. President Obama said it belonged on black and white TV. Voters may think differently. His first good decision was coming out and shaking hands BEFORE the speech. Had he done it after, the networks would likely have cut away. What many political talking heads are missing, is what the entire tone of the speech said. He offered specific examples of what he considers Obama failure, and he offered his plans. Commentators get hung up on single lines and phrases because they deal with so much information. Most swing voters that see this will look at the whole story. If you take it for that, it was reality based and it told us that it's time to roll up the sleeves and go to work.  Romney took a square look at the here and now, and he did so with an eye to the future. The campaign message of the night was "we can", and the message matched the slogan. Well done. That is not being offered by Obama/Biden. In direct contrast, the Obama/Biden ticket keeps giving mixed signals by talking about Bush and Clinton, yet they are using the campaign message forward. Which leads me to the next topic, the DNC convention.

   Tonight at the DNC convention the heavy hitters we have lined up are: Harry Reid, a Jimmy Carter video, Kal Penn, Governor Martin O'Malley, and Michelle Obama. You can see the full schedule here. Also, if you use an iPhone or iPad, there are some really cool apps out there for this event, they should make it more fun to follow along.

   The democrats have a very uphill battle. Can President Obama and the DNC turn this around and win? Yes, definitely. Are they making the moves to do it? Not even close.

   The biggest issue the Obama campaign faces is the unemployment rate. You can spin the numbers all you want, but unemployed people know they are unemployed. Their family knows it. Their friends know. Businesses where they used to shop know it. This is a looming problem. You really cannot say "I have a plan to..." when you are already the President. The immediate, and in this case lasting, response in the voters mind is "Well why the hell haven't you used it already, why are you waiting?" or "Oh, because the other plan worked so well." You cannot win that way. You must take a completely different approach, and no I will not discuss it. As a political strategist, figuring out how to win when everyone else is losing is my stock-in-trade.

   So tonight, if Obama and the DNC want to win, they must begin anew. Scrap what they have been doing and take a completely different approach. Saying "it could be worse" is the same thing as saying "I haven't lost yet." The clock is ticking.

Additional notes:

Even after Clint, the DNC convention is sticking with it's celebrity line up. Strategically, this nullifies the whole "Mitt Romney is out of touch" argument. Who is more out of touch than someone that gets paid millions to play pretend?

A British newspaper is reporting that the Obama speech may be downsized from a 74,000 outdoor arena to a 20,000 seat indoor arena. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

According to a new poll from The Hill and Pulse Opinion Research, only 40% of likely voters believe President Obama deserves a second term. This Friday, literally 9 hours after Obama's speech, the jobs report comes out and it will affect this number for bad or for good.

The Daily has a report of how much the government managed to spend on chairs. Only read THIS if you feel like shaking your fists.

Questions or comments?