Monday Mashup (8/3/09)

August 3, 2009

  • This column of “analysis” courtesy of the AP’s Liz Sidoti tells us the following…

    Obama is approaching (the challenges of his agenda, including health care reform) as he did the (election) in 2008 — at least in style, for top advisers recognize that Obama himself is his presidency’s best asset.

    The strategy comes with a risk of overexposure, a diluting of the Obama “brand” advisers are so careful to protect. Many politicians over the years have had difficulty translating campaign success into governing success.

    Probably most all politicians, I’d imagine…

    So far, it seems that Obama’s postelection campaigning has helped convert his popularity into support for his policies. He successfully lobbied for passage of the economic stimulus only to watch the public grow skeptical of its effects.

    I swear, I just find this stuff people – I honestly don’t look that hard for it (and by the way, this projects that 750,000 “stim” jobs will be added by August – and yes, I know the data is from the White House, but Obama economic adviser Christina Romer will be reporting to Congress regularly, so there’ll be plenty of chances to “call BS” if that is needed).

    And the AP actually even ends up in deeper doo-doo here than in Sidoti’s “watch the public grow skeptical of (the stim’s) effects” horse hockey…

    WASHINGTON (AP) – The success of President Barack Obama’s ambitious agenda _ from health care and climate change to education _ could depend on how quickly he recovers from the sharp drop in support among white voters after criticizing a white policeman’s arrest of a black Harvard scholar.

    Obama’s impromptu comments about the incident could become a defining moment. Nearly immediately after Obama’s remark that police had “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates, his approval rating plummeted among whites, dropping over two days from 53 percent to 46 percent in a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

    If Obama is to have success with the policy changes he wants, he can’t afford to shed white support. Not to mention the disaster that losing the affections of many in the blue-collar, Reagan Democrat constituency would spell for any re-election campaign.

    Silly me – I never considered a seven-point slide as a “plummet,” but I’m just a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, so what do I know? And can anyone seriously explain to me why some pundit would care about how a politician’s actions would affect a likely re-election campaign that is three years away???

    (Oh, there goes Obama losing those “disaffected white people” again? Why, whatever shall we do??!!).

    In response to both Sidoti and Loven, this tells us the following (quoting the same Pew poll)…

    While the American public has grown more critical of Obama’s handling of the economy and budget deficit over the last few months, majorities continue to express optimism about his ability to fix the economy and deal with the budget deficit in the long term. As in June and April, more than six-in-ten (63%) say they are optimistic that Obama’s policies will improve the economy, and more than half (55%) say they are optimistic that he can reduce the budget deficit over time. The views of political independents account in part for the disparity between Obama’s sinking approval ratings and the continued optimism that he will succeed. Independents remain largely optimistic, but critical of the way the president is currently dealing with the economy and budget deficit. In contrast, partisans tend to see it just one way – Democrats mostly approve of Obama’s performance and are overwhelmingly optimistic about his policies. Republicans mostly disapprove and are pessimistic.

    Trying to right our economy from the ruinous Bushco reign will be a long, hard slog (like me, I’m sure you heard Obama and most Democrats use words to that effect). Basically, these approval numbers won’t mean much one way or the other for at least a year (with the gubernatorial elections this year and the congressional/gubernatorial ones next year as the best indicators as to whether or not voters believe that the “stim” is working – to be realistic, though, what else could Obama and the congressional Dems have done?).

    And by the mid-terms of 2010 and beyond, the only ones who will still care about the Gates/Crowley dustup are people who probably wouldn’t vote for Obama anyway.

  • I also encountered this somewhat interesting item (only somewhat) from J.D. Mullane’s column in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday (see, Bucks County’s Journalistic Mistake did some preliminary shopping to try and replace his 1998 Chrysler Town and Country Minivan, and in the process, tells us the following about the “Cash for Clunkers” program, which hopefully will get more money from the Senate shortly, as noted here)…

    According to its Web site, Cash for Clunkers is “a $1 billion government program that helps consumers buy or lease a more environmentally friendly vehicle from a participating dealer when they trade in a less fuel-efficient car or truck. The program is designed to energize the economy; boost auto sales and put safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the nation’s roadways.”

    Fine, fine. I just want a deal. If it makes a few global warmists happy, it’s win-win.

    Under the program, which is modeled on a European plan, the U.S. government will credit a car buyer up to $4,500 toward the car purchase. I checked the Department of Transportation Web site. My clunker qualifies.

    With three kids, I need a minivan. It’s practical. But, under Cash for Clunkers, I cannot get the same vehicle. The 2009 Town and Country does not qualify, since it gets a combined city/highway mileage of just 18 mpg, a measly one more mile per gallon than my present heap.

    However, what does qualify me for $4,500 is either impractical (Toyota Yaris), an ego crusher (“Smart Car”), or both (Prius).

    I’m not sure exactly how J.D. completed the online form here aside from what he tells us, but a cursory review of the vehicle selections tells us that Mullane could have also selected a Saturn VUE Hybrid, which ranks 20th out of the 26 most affordable hybrid SUVs (MSRP $28,160, 32 MPG Hwy, 25 MPG City). It has a 2.4L engine with 172hp, so I’ll admit that it might not have the “jump” Mullane would want, but it would be economical anyway.

    The Chevy Colorado is also available (a 4-door, up to 6 passenger compact pickup, with a standard 2.9 liter, 185-horsepower engine that achieves 18 MPG in the city and 26 mpg on the highway). This is a bit more of a heavy duty vehicle that Mullane could drive anywhere (probably a bumpy ride for the kids, though).

    And if our hero really wants to splurge on price, he could go for the Buick Enclave Minivan ($35-$43K), with its 3.7L engine and 16 City – 21 Highway mileage estimates (notice that the lower the mileage estimates, the more expensive the vehicle).

    Now I don’t know whether or not a buyer would receive a credit or a voucher in the amount of $4500 for each of these vehicles, but I’m merely trying to point out that there is a more diverse selection out there than Mullane would have us believe.

    Oh, and by the way, good luck retiring on that $35,000 “nest egg.”

  • Finally, I came across this column recently from John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News, in which he laments the fact that President Obama is heading to Martha’s Vineyard for a vacation shortly…

    … I wonder if folks newly or recently unemployed (the national unemployment rate of 9.5 percent is the highest since 1983, more than a quarter-century ago) forced to cancel family vacations are cheered by Obama headed to The Vineyard.

    It’s an island off the south coast of Cape Cod, an exclusive summer haven for the rich and famous, including the Clintons, David Letterman, actors such as Meg Ryan and Bill Murray, TV network types such as Mike Wallace and Diane Sawyer – in other words, hardly a slice of Americana.

    Those who view Obama as an elitist will have new ammunition.

    Now before I begin, I should note that Baer is a bit more of a “straight shooter” than most; he says at the beginning that, though he’s criticizing Obama, he also tells us that he didn’t appreciate the frequent vacations by Commander Codpiece during wartime either (who, let’s not forget, set a record for the most vacation days while in office, shattering the mark previously set by The Sainted Ronnie R).

    But if there’s one thing I get incredibly tired of reading, it’s someone waxing indignant about Martha’s Vineyard because it’s supposed to be some place where only the hoi poloi congregate.

    That, most definitely, is not true (I should put this post in a place where I can merely recycle it every year, since this comes up every summer). Me, the missus and the young one have visited the island three times, and I can tell you that we most definitely are not likely to be caricatured in a “New Yorker” cartoon anytime soon (well, hopefully not one by Gahan Wilson, anyway).

    There’s the touristy part (Vineyard Haven), the part where middle class families have established themselves over time, including Portuguese and African Americans (Oak Bluffs), the “old money” part of the island (Edgartown), the places where the celebrity enclaves are probably located (Chillmark, West Tisbury, Lambert’s Cove, as well as Chappy), and the section where most of those who fish for an income as well as for recreation congregate (“Menemsha,” where “Jaws” was filmed). There’s a lot more to the island than that, but that’s enough for now.

    And actually, I’d like to think that, because everybody can, for the most part, get along, live their lives and enjoy themselves (no easy feat on and island with virtually no traffic lights – I haven’t been able to find one, anyway), the island is more of a “slice of Americana” than most people, including Baer, will ever realize.

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