6/08/2012

Obama claims "The Private Sector Is Doing Fine," but did he ever really backtrack on the claim?




I look at the figure and table above and it is clear that both in terms of number of jobs as well as pay, state and local government workers have weathered the recession up to 2010 better than their compatriots in the private sector.  State and local government wages grew 40 percent faster than the wages for private sector workers.


Keep those facts in mind when you read this Real Clear Politics transcript:
Question: What about the Republicans saying that you're blaming the Europeans for the failures of your own policies? 
President Obama: The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. 
The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. Oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, Governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don't have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in. 
And so, you know, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is how do we help state and local governments and how do we help the construction industry? Because the recipes that they're promoting are basically the kinds of policies that would add weakness to the -- to the economy, would result in further layoffs, would not provide relief in the housing market, and would result, I think most economists estimate, in lower growth and fewer jobs, not more. 
Did Obama really back track on this?
"Listen, it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine.  That's the reason I had the press conference.  That's why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month, and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger. The economy is not doing fine.  There are too many people out of work.  The housing market is still weak and too many homes underwater.  And that's precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.  
Now, I think if you look at what I said this morning and what I've been saying consistently over the last year, we've actually seen some good momentum in the private sector.
But note that Obama never backs away from his claim that it is the public sector that has the problem, not the overall private sector.  Obama also attacked the "do-nothing" Republican congress, even though the Republicans since the beginning of last year have passed 27 bills only to see them languish in the Democratic controlled Senate.  The Democratic Senate isn't without some action, but it is very small in comparison.

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Fast & Furious mess

Mole helps Rep. Issa whack Justice Dept.


Fast & Furious amnesia hits Attorney General Eric Holder during House testimony

. . . Holder sidestepped questions by GOP Rep. Darrell Issa about whether he or other Justice Department officials had even started to pull together Fast and Furious documents requested in an October 2011 subpoena Issa sent the agency.
“Nothing has come from your department, not a shred of paper,” Issa said tersely during a House Judiciary Committee meeting.
Issa, R-Calif., is a member of the committee. He also is the chairman of the chamber’s Committee on Oversight and Government Affairs, from which he issued the subpoena. The requests were largely related to an ill-conceived and executed Fast and Furious tactic known as “gunwalking,” which has been linked to the 2010 death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. “You are not a good witness,” Issa said in frustration, after Holder essentially repeated his questions.  . . .

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The legal system out of control?: Engineering student who likes to blow up toilets on her property





An engineering student who likes to experiment with blowing up toilets?  Does the federal government really have nothing better to do with its time?  She owns lots of guns and ammo?  Are the pictures of her owning a hundreds of rounds of ammunition supposed to be scary?  Do these reporters understand how someone can shoot hundreds of rounds during an afternoon?  Has she threatened anyone?  She admitted to police that she has smoked pot and used meth and that she did those crimes along with owning guns seem to be enough for them to hold her.  Obama has admitted to using pot and cocaine, but even though he has admitted to that would it make any sense to arrest him?

My guess is that this woman's real mistake was talking to police without having a lawyer present.

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Timeline in George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case

Jack Cashill has a timeline for the case available here.

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6/07/2012

Yet another Democrat speaks his mind and then is forced to retract his position

This is beginning to happen just too regularly with Democrats questioning Obama's positions and then having to quickly backtrack.  Bill Clinton is just the latest example of this.

Larry Summers on MSNBC: "The real risk to this economy is on the side of slow down, certainly not on the side of overheating.  That means we've got to make sure we don't take the gasoline out of the tank at the end of this year.  That's got to be the top priority."
But Summers quickly reversed his position releasing a statement saying:
"I fully support President Obama's position on tax cuts . . . Extending the high income tax cut does little for demand and poses substantial problems of fairness and fiscal prudence." 
Of course, this argument about "demand" makes little sense.  It only makes sense if you believe in the old Keynesian marginal propensity to consume, that poor people have a higher MPC than others.  The problem is that saving is not the equivalent of burying money in a hole in the backyard.  If you put your paycheck in the bank, the bank will lend out the money or buy bonds.  The money doesn't just sit there.

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Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.): Fundamentals of economy ‘quite good’

Talk an economy into a recession?  Does that sound like Obama in 2008 when he kept on repeating that this was the worse economy ever or since the Great Depression? Here is a figure from my book Debacle.

I seem to also remember Democrats unloading on any Republican who would claim that the fundamentally sound.  Now we have Democrats saying things such as this:
"I think there are four things we ought to do — one is not talk ourselves into recession," he said on CNN. "Hair is not on fire, let's keep that in mind. The underlying fundamentals for the economy are actually quite good and we need to keep that in mind." . . .
"I call it like hitting singles," Carper said about the steps Congress is taking to restore the economy. "We need to hit a bunch of singles, create a more nurturing environment for job creation, set the stage for a home run. A home run is what we need to hit after the election." . . .

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Angela Corey, Zimmerman's prosecutor, threatens to sue Harvard Law School over Dershowitz criticisms?

How Corey could even get the idea that it was possible for her to sue Harvard over the remarks of one of its professors is very strange?  One would think that she would have understood academic freedom.  From Fox News:

. . . “It’s certainly professional to respond, but by calling the dean and threatening to sue the school, which she knows she cannot do, is unprofessional,” Dershowitz told FoxNews.com. “I would welcome a lawsuit from Corey. It would give me a chance to prove what an awful thing she did.”
Dershowitz, who penned a column for Newsmax revealing Corey's call to the school, said he’s received “a lot” of letters of support.
Corey’s “beef,” Dershowitz wrote, pertained to his criticism of the state attorney’s filing of a “misleading affidavit” to support the second-degree murder charge against Zimmerman in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
“When the communications official explained to her that I have a right to express my opinion as ‘a matter of academic freedom,’ and that Harvard has no control over what I say, she did not seem to understand,” Dershowitz wrote. “She persisted in her nonstop whining, claiming that she is prohibited from responding to my attacks by the rules of professional responsibility — without mentioning that she has repeatedly held her own press conferences and made public statements throughout her career.” . . .

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"Wiretaps a smoking gun in Fast & Furious case?"


Obama administration covering up information on Fast & Furious.

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"Texas gun range to throw kids' parties"

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Could the Supreme Court save a $1 trillion at a stroke?

Remember all the promises about the 2010 health care law being budget neutral? Now people are talking about how much the Supreme Court decision to strike down the health care law could save a lot of money. From Politico:
Congress could stumble into a big pile of cash from an unlikely source: the Supreme Court. The justices will deliver their landmark ruling on the 2010 health care law this month, and the government is in line to reap hundreds of billions of dollars in savings — perhaps more than $1 trillion — if certain parts of it are struck down. That money could be freed up just in time for a battle over whether automatic cuts to the Pentagon and social programs will kick in, and some members of Congress are already dreaming about the possibilities. “We’re thinking [about] different options, but there are so many variations of what could happen from the court decision, it’s hard to make any hard plans,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.). But, he added, a windfall “would be a factor” in discussions about whether to keep in place pending Pentagon cuts. . . .

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6/06/2012

"Seattle hero who hit gunman identified"

-- From Seattle, Washington:
As a gunman opened fire inside a cafe in Seattle, a patron jumped into action, hitting the shooter twice with a stool and saving three lives, police said.
Investigators hailed him as a hero, but the man told a Seattle newspaper that he was simply keeping a promise to a brother who died in the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Police identified the man only as Lawrence, but The Seattle Times reported his full name Friday as Lawrence Adams.
After Adams' brother died on 9/11, he told the newspaper, he promised himself that if something like that ever happened again, "I would never hide under a table." . . . .
"There's a hero. .... He put his life at risk," Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel told reporters.
In an interview with police, Adams said he had glanced at his phone when he heard gunshots, then sprung into action as he saw people scrambling around him.
"I just threw the frigging stool at him, legs first," he said in a statement published on the official Seattle police blog.
Police said his actions allowed three people to escape while a man armed with two handguns attacked.
The shooting left four people dead and one person critically injured inside Cafe Racer, a peaceful coffeehouse in the city's University District. A second shooting, about a half-hour later near downtown Seattle, left a woman dead, authorities said. . . . .
UPDATE: Note that the above cafe was a posted gun-free zone, but it is one of those rare cases where the posting didn't stop the permit holder from carrying.

Reminiscent of another shooting in a gun-free zone a few years earlier in Seattle at another coffee house in which four police officers were killed.  In both cases, my information on the posting is from Dave Workman at the nearby based Second Amendment Foundation.

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Government Deficits and GDP


 The OECD data is available here.  The relationship is still statistically significant even when Ireland and Iceland are removed.

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Government Spending and Employment


 The OECD data is available here.  The relationship is still statistically significant even when Ireland and Iceland are removed.

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Government Spending and GDP Growth

UPDATE: Obama continued to push claims that we need even more government spending at his press conference on June 8th:
. . . a strategy of "let’s cut more" -- so that you’re seeing government layoffs, reductions in government spending, . . .  then you can get on a downward spiral . . . 


 OECD data available here.  The relationship is still statistically significant even when Ireland and Iceland are removed.

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Kim Kardashian, gun owner

The UK Daily Mail has an article on Kim Kardashian posting a picture of her stylish "Yves Saint Laurent pistol." You know that something is happening when gun ownership gets this fashionable.
Some were admiring: 'A YSL gun? Great for us chicks that love high fashion!' Other comments were critical: 'Oh that is setting a great example to the millions of teens around the world following you', said one follower on Twitter. . . .

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6/05/2012

"Emails show Obama fake-fighting the drug industry"

From the Washington Examiner:

 . . . Throughout his campaign and while pushing his health care law, Obama regularly spoke as if he were sticking it to the drug industry. But these were phantom punches. Sometimes, the emails show, the drug lobbyists didn't even blink an eye.
"If the drugmakers pay their fair share," Obama said in a weekly radio address in June 2009, "we can cut government spending on prescription drugs."
A CBS News report at the time took this as a threat to the industry, citing the fact sheet the White House published alongside the radio address suggested cutting federal payments for drugs purchased by Medicare patients who are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid (so-called dual-eligibles, or "duals").
But top PhRMA lobbyistBryant Hall, a former Democratic Senate staffer, had an advance copy of the script and emailed his colleagues the night before Obama's address aired. "Background is that the Pres's words are harmless," Hall wrote. "He knows personally about our deal and is pushing no agenda." . . .

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Bill Clinton goes off the reservation again: Call for the entire Bush Tax cuts to be extended

From CNBC:


[Clinton] called the current economic conditions a "recession" and said overzealous Republican plans to cut the deficit threaten to plunge the country further into the debt abyss.
"What I think we need to do is find some way to avoid the fiscal cliff, to avoid doing anything that would contract the economy now, and then deal with what's necessary in the long term debt-reduction plans as soon as they can, which presumably would be after the election," Clinton said. . . .
However, Clinton did say that Congress would be best off agreeing, at least for the time being, to extend all the tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year, including the so-called Bush tax cuts named after Clinton's successor, George W. Bush. . . . .
UPDATE: Politico claims that these off the reservation statements were all by accident.  Is this just part of the attempt to make things right?

. . . Clinton’s team was as aghast as Obama’s at how the boss had wandered blithely into remarks that left even sympathetic listeners wondering what exactly he was getting at. He also gave gleeful Republicans an opening to skewer Obama with a popular Democrat’s own words.
Clinton, in a ritual that would be familiar to anyone who has worked for him during the past 20 years, protested that his words were being wrested from context and blamed a manipulative news media for stirring up trouble to satisfy its own lust for chaos and conflict.
But his own team, and eventually Clinton himself, agreed there was no choice but to issue embarrassing what-the-former-president-meant-to-say clarifications, which were crafted in close consultation with senior Obama aides at the White House and campaign headquarters in Chicago, according to people involved in the negotiations. . . .

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Dems keep claiming that government spending creates net new jobs

When will Democrats learn that government spending doesn't create net new jobs?  From The Hill newspaper:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday accused House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) of deliberately trying to sabotage the U.S. economy.  Republicans immediately fired back, with Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) spokesman using an eight-letter word to rebuke the Senate leader.  “That’s bull----," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. "House Republicans are united in our desire to get a sensible, reform-minded transportation bill done, including job-creating energy initiatives like Keystone.”  Reid has grown frustrated by House Republicans’ reluctance to pass a multiyear transportation authorization bill, which Democrats say would create hundreds of thousands of jobs. . . .

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Democrats turn on Obama's intelligence leaks that are meant to help his campaign

From The Hill newspaper:
The Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday expressed worry that leaks to the press about a cyberattack authorized by the Obama administration on Iran could lead to a counterattack on the United States.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined other senior Senate Democrats in expressing serious concerns about the leak, which detailed a cyberattack intended to hamper Iran's nuclear program. Some Republicans argue the information was leaked to help President Obama's reelection campaign. . . .
“This is like an avalanche. It is very detrimental and candidly, I found it very concerning,” Feinstein told reporters Tuesday. “There’s no question that this kind of thing hurts our country.”

Several Democrats noted the Iranian leak is just the latest in a series of media reports about classified U.S. anti-terrorism activity. . . . .

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Giving new meaning to other slang terms for breasts such as bazookas and bombshells as well as the term bra stuffing


"Woman's cheeky invention makes concealing a gun easier for women"

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Newest piece at National Review Online: Bloomberg’s Soda Ban

My newest piece starts this way:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to ban sugary soft drinks larger than 16 ounces. He believes that by this measure he can reduce obesity. But plenty of evidence indicates that he will fail. The ban will inconvenience people and waste their time, but it will not make them thinner.  
Bloomberg didn’t originate this type of idea. Public schools, which hold their students captive for much of their day, have tried a similar approach to making students lose weight. And some have gone further than Bloomberg’s limit on cup size and have banned such drinks completely. But even complete bans haven’t worked. Students simply drink more sugary drinks after school. According to an article in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior analyzing data for Maine, “keeping such drinks out of teenagers’ reach during school hours may not be enough.” . . .
Michelle Obama supports Bloomberg's ban
she said, "We applaud anyone who's stepping up to think about what changes work in their communities. New York is one example." . . .

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"Florida versus Spain"?: How Krugman misinforms readers

Paul Krugman claims that Florida is doing well relative to Spain because Florida has gotten so much aid from the Federal government.
Aid on that scale is inconceivable in Europe as currently constituted. That’s a big problem.
Brad Plumer in the Washington Post writes:
Paul Krugman points out one big factor: Florida has received billions of dollars in aid from the rest of the United States. The state’s federal tax revenue fell by $25 billion between 2007 and 2010, but Florida didn’t have to make up that entire shortfall with growth-pinching austerity measures, the way Spain now does. Instead, the U.S. Treasury kept paying Florida’s Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid bills. The federal government also sent an additional $6 billion in unemployment aid and food stamp benefits to Florida between 2007 and 2010. All told, Florida received at least $31 billion in outright assistance from the rest of the country in those three years. That’s the equivalent of 4 percent of the state’s GDP. And, while Florida’s economy is still struggling, things could be a lot worse. They could be like Spain, which never received this level of aid from the healthier regions of Europe. . . .
Yet, though the end of last year, Florida is one of the 31 states that receive less than the average amount of Stimulus money from the Federal government.  Given that the money for the Stimulus has to come from someplace, if you assume that the money that is being transferred to the Federal government is being equally taken on a per capita basis from all the states, Florida is actually a net loser from all this help that the Federal government is giving out.

 
Don't you think that it would have been useful for Krugman to acknowledge how little Florida received relative to other states?

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6/03/2012

A study on crime by police

I am often asked about crime rates by police.  I have always assumed that the number is quite low, but there are very few hard numbers on this question.  Here are some numbers over a three year period from January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2007.  There were 569,149 full-time law enforcement employees in 2006.  With about 703 police crimes per year, there was a rate of 124 per hundred thousand full-time law enforcement employees (see page 421 in "Exit Strategy: An Exploration of Late-Stage Police Crime" by Stinson, Liederbach and Freiburger).  

Of particular interest is weapons violations.  118/569,149=0.007%
Compare that to firearms violations of concealed handgun permit holders in Florida.  Between October 1, 1987 and July 31, 2011, there were 168 revocations for firearms related violations in Florida.  Over that period of time permits were issued to over 2 million permit holders.  168/2 million = 0.008%
But that isn't really a fair comparison for permit holders because the violation rate for officers is an annual rate and the rate for permit holders is over the entire period of time.  In a 2011 Fox News piece, I made this calculation:
Over the last 38 months, only four permit holders have had their permit revoked for a firearms related violation -- an annual revocation rate of 0.0003%. . . . 
0.007% or 0.0003% are both extremely low and the violations might not be comparable in that the private individuals might run into problems that a police officer (even one off duty might not run into), but the rate for police is still 23 times higher.


The rate of forceable rape and sodomy is 12.4 per 100,000 per year.  By contrast, the forcible rape rate for the general population was 30.9 in 2006.

The aggravated assault rate for officers was 13.8 per 100,000 per year.  By contrast, the rate for the general population was 287.5 in 2006.

Also of interest was this statement in the paper.
The conviction rate among officers who were arrested with 18 or more years of service was 89.1%, whereas the conviction rate for officers who were arrested with 17 years or less of service was 77.5%.  . . .

As expected, the rate of crime for younger officers is a lot higher than for older ones.

Thanks to Patrick J. Friedrich for this info.  The dissertation is available here.

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So if geoengineering works, how much does that reduce any claimed externality from carbon emissions?

Reducing the direct sunlight reaching the ground by 20 percent seems like a pretty large effect to me.  Will the claimed necessity of a carbon tax be adjusted for this possibility?  Personally, I think that warmer weather on net produces more good than bad.  From New Scientist:

Blue skies would fade to hazy white if geoengineers inject light-scattering aerosols into the upper atmosphere to offset global warming. Critics have already warned that this might happen, but now the effect has been quantified.
Releasing sulphate aerosols high in the atmosphere should in theory reduce global temperatures by reflecting a small percentage of the incoming sunlight away from the Earth. However, the extra particles would also scatter more of the remaining light into the atmosphere. This would reduce by 20 per cent the amount of sunlight that takes a direct route to the ground, and it would increase levels of softer, diffuse scattered light, says Ben Kravitz of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California. . . . .
This article in Climatic Change (2006) indicates that this effect can be achieved at a cost of $25 to $50 billion.  
This can be achieved by a continuous deployment of about 1–2 Tg S per year for a total price of US $25–50 billion . . . . 
Compare that to the carbon taxes being proposed for just the United States.  Here is a proposal by Obama that talked about the tax revenue amounting to $80 billion a year.  I have no estimate of the deadweight loss.  From the WSJ:
The cost of energy for consumers would be driven higher in President Barack Obama's proposed budget by a carbon cap-and-trade system that is projected to raise about $80 billion a year starting in 2012. . . .The budget projects raising $645 billion from the auction of emissions credits between 2012, when the system kicks in, and 2019. . . .
The US would probably find it preferable to put the sulphur in the atmosphere all on its own. 


More information is available here.

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Where is Elizabeth Warren's explanation?: Attacking foreclosures while having profited from foreclosures

Are these actions those of the same person who is now running for the US Senate?  Can she explain the "loaned money at high interest rates"?  From the Boston Herald:

• Purchasing a foreclosed home at 2725 West Wilshire Boulevard from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for $61,000 in June 1993, then selling it in December 1994 for $95,000 — a 56 percent mark-up in just 18 months.• Buying a house at 200 NW 16th St. for $30,000 in August 1993, then flipping it for $145,000 — a 383 percent gain after just five months.
• Lending one of her brothers money at 9.5 percent interest to buy a home at 1425 Classen Drive for $35,000 in August 2000. He sold the place three months later for $38,500 — a 10 percent gain in 75 days.
• Providing her brother with financing to buy a $25,000 house at 4301 NW 16th St. in 1994. He sold the property four years later for $42,000, a 68 percent increase. . . .
Herald columnist Howie Carr reported yesterday that Warren and her relatives also profited from two additional Oklahoma City foreclosures — in both cases showing triple-digit percentage gains.
Warren’s campaign issued a statement last night: “Elizabeth and (her husband) Bruce are fortunate to be in a position where they can help their family. They have been able to help relatives buy their homes and her nephew — a contractor — fix up houses.” . . .

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Obama's out reach to faith based supporters "ad hoc," no "clear sense of what the mission"

What strikes me when I read the Washington Post article was that Obama's religious supporters are academics.  I have meet a number of academics in religion programs and what has always stood out when I talked to them was that they were atheists.  I have no evidence that these academics are atheists, but I wouldn't be surprised that Obama had a lot of atheist academics in religion programs talking to him about what he needed to do to reach out to religious people.  I won't quote it hear, but the piece has numerous discussions about religious Democrats who were uncomfortable with Obama's support for homosexual marriage.  From the Washington Post:


. . . “I think there is a viable religious left who can be persuaded by a carefully articulated religious argument, but no one is making it,” said Valerie Cooper, a religious studies professor at the University of Virginia and Obama supporter. “I’m concerned that the administration has not followed through on the promise of 2008.” . . .
“I get frustrated when I talk to evangelical friends or students and they ask, ‘How can you be a Christian and a Democrat?’” Cooper said.
David Kim, a Connecticut College religious studies professor, helped advise the 2008 campaign when videos of incendiary sermons by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former Chicago pastor, threatened to derail the nominee. Kim, who attended the briefing with Cooper, described the administration’s faith-based work as “ad hoc” and “with no long-term strategy.”
“I didn’t really get a clear sense of what the mission is,” Kim said. . . .
According to exit polls, the effort paid off. Obama made gains over the 2004 nominee, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, with voters who attend religious services more than once a week, 43 percent to 35 percent. Obama also won 26 percent of the evangelical vote, compared with 21 percent for Kerry.
“It wasn’t huge, but it was statistically significant,” said John Green, director of the University of Akron’s Bliss Institute for Applied Politics . . .
But from 2008 to 2010, when control of Congress was at stake, the DNC cut its faith outreach staffing from more than six people to one part-timer, according to The Washington Post. . . .
BTW, here is an add that the Obama campaign has in the NY Times on Sunday morning. What struck me as strange about the add was that the add looks like it was done by some LGBT group, not by the Obama administration.  At least having the add in the NY Times would minimize any collateral damage among religiously orientated individuals who are relatively unlikely to be reading that newspaper.


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Voters react very quickly to bad economic news


This is available here.

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