A more frequent publishing of Rich Galen's take on politics, culture and general modern annoyances. This is in addition to MULLINGS which is published Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays at

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Are You Better Off ...?

  • On the night of October 28, 1980 Ronald Reagan finished the one and only debate against the incumbent President Jimmy Carter by saying this:
    Next Tuesday all of you will go to the polls [to make a decision]. I think, when you make that decision, it might be well if you asked yourself: Are you better off than you were four years ago?

  • No one was better off in 1980 than they had been at a similar time in 1976 when Democratic Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter narrowly beat the incumbent-but-unelected Republican President, Gerald Ford.

  • Reagan won.

  • Given the total collapse of the American financial/credit system over the past few months, it is not surprising that Sen. Barack Obama has stolen that line from Ronald Reagan (an irony which has gone all but unnoticed by the ever-vigilant national press corps).

  • National Democrats were all over TV this weekend blaming Wall Street's problems on the Administration of George W. Bush. John McCain blamed the chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission Chris Cox.

  • The McCain campaign, instead of blaming Cox, should be looking to McCain's Democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill.

  • Two years ago, the Democrats, with great fanfare and much spiteful mirth, took control of both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate promising great changes and great advances.

  • Are you better off …?

  • Just to review the bidding. On January 5, 2007 (just about the time Nancy Pelosi and her cronies took control of the House):
    - The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at about 12,400.

    - The New York-based Conference Board said its consumer confidence index was at 110.3.

    - The Bureau of Labor Statistics had the unemployment rate at 4.6%

    - According to CNN gasoline a gallon of gasoline, in January 2007, averaged about $2.20.

  • That was then. This is now:
    - Last Thursday at about 1 pm Eastern, the Dow had hit a bottom of about 10,500 before Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke intervened. That is a drop of about 15% in the Dow from two years ago.

    - The Conference Board's latest take on the pulse of consumer confidence had it at a very thready 56.9 in August - a drop of about 48%

    - The unemployment rate in August was reported at 6.1% by the BLS an increase of 33%.

  • Gasoline prices are at about $3.70 a whopping 68% jump.

  • What's changed?
    Rep. Barney Frank (D-Ma) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Ct) took control of the House and Senate Banking Committees.

    Rep. George Miller (D-Ca) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Ma) took over their respective Labor Committees.

    Rep. John Dingell (D-Mi) and Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) became chairs of the Energy Committees.

  • The McCain campaign should be pointing the finger where it belongs: On the appalling lack of oversight exhibited by the Democrat-controlled Congress of the United States.

  • According to the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress:
    "Throughout its history, Congress has engaged in oversight of the executive branch - the review, monitoring, and supervision of the implementation of public policy."

  • The U.S. Congress takes its oversight responsibility seriously. So seriously that it found time to hold hearings into whether baseball players were using "performance enhancing" substances. I am not chiding the Congress over that, but using it as an example of how wide and deep is the Congress' reach.

  • So, in the nearly two years since the Democrats have taken control of the Congress what have they been spending their time on? Largely trying to find some way to maneuver Karl Rove into a situation where they can accuse him of ignoring a Congressional subpoena so they can vote a criminal charge of Contempt of Congress.

  • It should be a criminal offense for anyone not to hold this Congress in contempt.

  • Memo to the McCain campaign: Have the candidates and all your surrogates repeat this question at every stop:
    Are you better off than you were TWO years ago?

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Wikipedia entry on Congressional oversight, a link to a short report on that 1980 Reagan/Carter debate and a link to the video of Reagan asking the question. Also a Mullfoto of an interesting license plate and a very unusual two-part Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Sunday, September 7, 2008


  • The big question among cable news hosts and the ego-driven dopes like me who sit in small rooms staring into a television camera trying to sound smart is: Who got a "bounce" out of their convention and how much was it?

  • Tradition holds that the party in power gets to go second. That is why this year - with George W. Bush in the White House - Barack Obama had to his convention before John McCain had his.

  • Eight years ago, Al Gore - going second because Bill Clinton was in the White House - laid a shockingly manly kiss on Tipper and then gave a great speech at the end of his convention in Los Angeles. The lead that Governor George Bush had built coming out of his convention in Philadelphia immediately shrunk to zero - a tie which lasted until about the middle of December, as we remember all too well.

  • This year, we watched Barack Obama, unable to put any distance between him and the GOP candidate, fold up like a cheap suitcase and pick Sen. Joe Biden to be his running mate.

  • Obama had a really good convention in Denver. The Clintons got A's for deportment. The production was first rate. Obama's speech lacked only the entire contents of Mile High Stadium being tele-ported to the Hale-Bopp Comet but other than that it was very, very effective.

  • On Friday morning, following that speech, McCain dropped an atomic bomb on the Obama/Biden victory lap by announcing Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.

  • Nevertheless, by Monday of last week - which was to have been the first night of the GOP Convention in St. Paul - Obama/Biden had opened up an eight-point lead over McCain 50-42 in the Gallup Tracking Poll.


    A tracking poll is an ongoing sampling of opinion. In the case of the Gallup organization they interview 1,000 people each night and report the average of the results results over five nights of polling.

    Every day, the sixth previous night of polling "rolls off" and you get the average of the most recent five nights.

    See how this works?


  • You may remember that, because of Hurricane Gustav bearing down on New Orleans, the GOP cancelled the first night of its convention so there was no counter to the Obama Bounce. After Monday night's polling, Obama still had a seven-point lead in the Gallup Track 49-42.

  • I am going into screechingly boring detail about this because as of yesterday, the Gallup Track had gone from Obama +8 to McCain +3 a convention bounce of 11 percentage points for McCain/Palin.

  • I was shocked that the Obama campaign didn't plan some blockbuster announcement for last Friday - the day after the McCain convention, to step on his victory lap with Gov. Palin. Could this be a crack in the vaunted Obama campaign tactics? They couldn't think of anything which could compare to the Palin announcement of a week before?

  • Getting back to the polls announced over the weekend, Rasmussen's three-day track has the race tied as does the CBS poll. CNN's poll - which was in the field before the GOP convention started - has Obama +1. The Hotline Tracking Poll is the odd-man-out showing Obama with a six point lead.

  • LATE BREAKING: After I had finished writing this column, USA Today posted the results of its latest poll showing McCain leading Obama by a shocking TEN PERCENTAGE POINTS.


    I believe we have discussed this before, but it bears repeating.

    Treat political polls like figure skating used to be scored at the Olympics: Throw out the high and the low scores on the theory that the French and the East Germans were cheating.

    Whatever is left, is probably pretty close to the truth.


  • Point of personal privilege: The Lad and Ladette are participating in the Leukemia/Lymphoma Cup, a regatta to be held in San Francisco Bay, October 5th, raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

  • Blood cancers touch families across the country every day and the LLS has done some great things to provide treatment and research. More than 85% of every dollar goes straight to patients and services to support them. If you like, please click on this link to support them and their efforts."

  • Thank you.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Gallup Tracking Poll page and the USA Today poll; also another in the highly touted series of license plates and a Catchy Caption of the day which has a beach volleyball player that I have been waiting to use for four years.