Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Med Express now required for FAA pilot medicals

FAA MedXPress LoginThe next time you go for a flight physical, you will be required to fill out the application online at The old paper application for an FAA medical certificate is no longer being used. The site is now also used by student pilots who wish to apply for a combination student pilot certificate and medical.

To apply for an FAA medical certificate, pilots must first create an account. To do this, go to the Med Express home page and click the button in the grey box that says “request an account.” This opens a page that asks for the user’s name and email address. After filling out the form, click “submit” and a temporary password will be sent to your email address.

The email from the FAA contains a link back to the site. Click the link and you will be prompted to select a new password. Once the new password is set, you will be taken to the home screen.

From the menu on the left side of the home screen, select “Form 8500-8” to access the medical application. The application screen asks for the same information that was required on the paper form. Note that the list of medical history questions covers your whole life, asking “have you ever had” any of the following conditions.

Any yes answers require an explanation. To provide an explanation, click the “add comment” button. This opens fields for each of the required explanations. If the condition has been reported on an older medical application and there has been no change, you can click the “PRNC” button at the right to indicate “previously reported, no change.”

As on the paper application, you must list any medications and doctor visits. It would be helpful to gather your medicines and doctor’s addresses when you fill out the application. The form requests dosages and the frequency of medicines. For doctor visits, the name, date and address of the visit are required as well as the reason. To add medicines and doctors, simply fill out the appropriate blanks and then click the “add” button.

When the application is completed, click the button at the bottom to validate it. The application will be checked for errors and unanswered questions. If any problems are found, the user will be directed to correct them.

A “save” button is also found at the bottom of the page. I recommend that you save the application frequently. When I completed my application, I was disconnected several times and had to start the application from scratch.

As you navigate through the application, there are question mark icons that are supposed to open help screens for different fields. In practice, when I clicked the help icons, they took me to the login screen. More helpful was the Med Express Users Guide, which contains step by step instructions for registering with Med Express and completing the application. A link to the user guide is on the home page.

When the application is complete and validated, enter your password at the bottom to submit the application to the FAA. No changes can be made to the application after you submit it until you are with your doctor. When an application is saved, the FAA will store it for 30 days. After the application is submitted to the FAA, you have 60 days to visit an Aviation Medical Examiner for your physical exam.

After the application is submitted, you will receive a confirmation number. Write this number down and take it with you when you go for your physical. The AME will use this number to access your medical application. An email will be sent to you with the confirmation number as well. If you lose the number, you can find it again by logging into Med Express and viewing your application. The confirmation number is at the top.

The FAA suggests that you print out the application and take it with you to your physical. Some doctors only want the confirmation number, so check with yours to find out what they want you to do.

If you have problems with website or the application, the FAA provides support via telephone and email. The telephone number, 1-877-AVS-NSD1 (1-877-287-6731), is monitored continuously. The email address for support,, is only monitored from Monday through Friday during business hours.

Originally published at

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Election exit polls hold silver lining for GOP

The 2012 presidential election was definitely a disappointment for Republicans. In spite of a poor economy and questions about his leadership, Barack Obama won a narrow victory in the popular vote by a margin of 51 to 48 percent over Mitt Romney. The electoral vote margin was 332-206 in favor of Obama. A comparison of 2012 and 2008 exit polls by CNN shows that there are some silver linings for the Republicans.

In 2008, John McCain lost virtually every demographic except for white men and women. Mitt Romney improved on McCain’s performance among white voters by winning 59 percent to McCain’s 55 percent. From 2008 to 2012 the percentage of the electorate represented by white voters declined from 74 to 72 percent, which meant that Romney’s improved performance counted for less.

A major problem for Romney was that Obama retained the lock on black voters and Romney actually lost ground among Hispanics and Asians. Obama won 95 percent of black voters in 2008 and 93 percent in 2012. The percentage of Hispanics voting for the GOP candidate declined from 31 to 27 percent and the percentage of Asians voting for Romney was 26 percent to McCain’s 35 percent.

When gender and race are considered, black and Hispanic men supported Obama with much less enthusiasm than did minority women. Only 87 percent of black men voted for Obama versus 96 percent of black women. Sixty-five percent of Hispanic men and 76 percent of Hispanic women supported the president. White women favored Romney, but Obama’s support was greater among white women (42 percent) than among white men (35 percent).

By gender, Mitt Romney won 52 percent of the male vote to Barack Obama’s 45 percent. The female vote remained almost the same in the two elections. Obama won 56 percent in 2008 and 55 percent in 2012. John McCain lost the male vote by one point.

In 2008, John McCain won only voters who were older than 65. In 2012, Mitt Romney won voters age 40 and above. Both Republicans also won married voters, McCain by 52 percent and Romney by 56 percent. Obama won unmarried voters in both years by more than 60 percent.

With respect to ideology, in 2008 22 percent of voters identified as liberal, 34 percent conservative and 44 percent moderate. In 2012, there were 25 percent liberal, 35 percent conservative, and 41 percent moderate. In 2008, 60 percent of moderates voted for Obama. In 2012, the president again won the moderate vote, this time by 56 percent.

Party affiliation in 2008 was 39 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican, and 29 percent independent. This was almost exactly the same as 2012. All three candidates won approximately 90 percent of their party in both elections. In 2008, Barack Obama won the independent vote by 52-44 percent. However in 2012 Mitt Romney won independents by 50-45 percent.

Romney also won the middle class and upper income voters handily. Romney won the middle class by a margin of 52-46 percent. Voters who earn more than $100,000 voted for Romney by 54-44 percent. In 2008, John McCain tied Barack Obama in these two groups at 49 percent each. In both years, Obama won lower income voters (less than $50,000) by 60 percent.

The problem for Romney was that there weren’t as many middle class voters in 2012 as there were in 2008. Voters earning from $50-100,000 declined from 36 to 31 percent of the electorate. The percentage of voters earning less than $50,000 increased from 38 to 41 percent.

Seventy-four percent said that the economy or the deficit was the most important issue facing the country. Romney scored higher on both those issues as well as on taxes. Obama scored higher on housing and unemployment. The two candidates tied on who would better handle rising prices.

Eighteen percent said that healthcare was the most important issue facing the country. Of those voters, 75 percent chose Obama. Voters favored repeal of all or part of Obamacare by a margin of 49-44 percent.

A majority of voters did believe that taxes should be increased. Forty-seven percent said that taxes should be increased on Americans who earn more than $250,000 while 13 percent said that they should be increased on everyone. At the same time, 63 percent said taxes should not be raised to cut the deficit.

Seventy-seven percent of voters agreed that the economy was poor. Thirty-nine percent believed it was improving. Romney won a majority of the 59 percent who said the economy was getting worse or staying the same. Voters rejected the idea that government should do more by 43-51 percent.

Abortion was not the disastrous issue for the GOP that some have presented it to be. While most voters (59 percent) said it should be all or mostly legal, 40 percent of the 30 percent who said that it should be mostly legal voted for Romney. Abortion did not rank as one of the most important issues.

The issue that seemed to hurt Republicans most was immigration. With most other issues were tied or nearly so, the Republican position on immigration was rejected in a landslide. By more than a two-to-one margin (65-28 percent), voters believed that illegal immigrants working in the U.S. should be offered legal status. The hard line on immigration taken by many Republican candidates obviously cost the party many votes in the Hispanic and Asian communities.

Several other factors helped to save the day for Obama. The first was that although more than three quarters of voters thought that the economy was poor, only 38 percent blamed Obama. Fifty-three percent still blame George W. Bush.

More voters had a favorable view of Obama than Romney. Obama’s favorable rating was 53 percent while Romney’s was 47 percent. Ironically, the president’s approval rating was stronger in exit polls than both Rasmussen and Gallup polling showed at the time (50 and 49 percent respectively). This may suggest that some voters who did not approve of Obama stayed away from the polls.

Negative ads may have influenced some Romney voters to stay home. Obama outspent Romney on political ads according to the Wesleyan Media Project and a larger percentage of Obama’s ads were negative according to Politico. In 2008, Obama ran a largely positive campaign in contrast to 2012 when he began attacking Mitt Romney long before the Republican nomination was decided.

The final factor was Hurricane Sandy. Sixty-four percent of voters said that the president’s response to the hurricane was a factor in their vote and 62 percent of these voters chose Obama. Both Rasmussen and Gallup polling showed an uptick in Obama’s approval in the days after Hurricane Sandy struck New York.

There were bright spots for Republicans. Voters sent a decidedly mixed message on Election Day. They oppose the growth of government and still dislike Obamacare. The middle class and the wealthy solidly supported Romney, as did independent voters. Most voters do not trust Obama to handle the economy. The election was not a wholesale rejection of Republican principles with the exception of one issue: immigration.

The worst news for the country was the decline in voter turnout as a whole. In 2012, there were 121 million voters. This was down from 125 million voters in 2008. President Obama won the election, but with more than 4 million fewer votes than in his first election. These numbers reflect a very divided country and a loss of faith in government.

Originally published on

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Obama not taking bipartisan tack after election

President Obama won a narrow election victory over Mitt Romney earlier this month, but if voters expected the president to take a more conciliatory tone and seek a middle ground with Republicans, they are likely to be disappointed. In spite of the fact that President Obama is the only president to have been reelected with less support than he won in his first election, he has doubled down on the policies that cost him much of his popularity in his first term.

One of the first actions taken by the Obama Administration after the election was to reopen talks with the committee drafting the United Nations arms trade treaty. According to Reuters, the talks on the treaty will resume on March 18. The treaty was scheduled to be signed last July, but opposition from groups concerned that the treaty would infringe on Second Amendment rights led the Obama Administration to table the treaty until after the election.

An unnamed U.S. official told Reuters, “We will not accept any treaty that infringes on the constitutional rights of our citizens to bear arms.” Nevertheless, many Second Amendment activists believe that the treaty could subject the U.S. arms industry and Second Amendment rights to the control of the U.N. Critics also point out that it could make it difficult for legitimate freedom fighters to defend themselves against tyrannical governments.

The president has also taken a hard line with respect to negotiations for a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. Yahoo News reports that when talks resume this week that the president will ask Republicans for $1.6 trillion dollars in tax increases over ten years. This is double the $800 billion in new taxes that President Obama had sought during the 2011 budget negotiations. The president’s request is also higher than the automatic tax increases scheduled to kick in if the country reaches the fiscal cliff. According to Businessweek, the automatic tax increases are estimated at $536 billion.

The fiscal cliff also includes $100 billion in spending cuts for 2013 according to Businessweek. Many of these cuts would affect the defense budget. The White House did not specify what level of spending cuts President Obama would be willing to accept under a compromise. As the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, the emergency stimulus spending of 2009 has now become a permanent part of the baseline federal budget.

Annual deficits for the federal government have been in excess of a trillion dollars for each year of President Obama’s administration. Combined spending cuts of $100 billion and tax increases of $500 billion would still not allow the federal government to operate in the black.

Two of President Obama’s potential second-term cabinet picks also seem calculated to provoke Republican opposition. Susan Rice, the apparent frontrunner for Secretary of State, and John Kerry, a potential Secretary of Defense, have already drawn strong opposition.

Susan Rice, currently the ambassador to the United Nations, has been criticized for her role in the administration’s misstatements in the wake of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. A statement by Rice that the attack was the result of an anti-Islamic video was featured prominently in the days after the attack. Subsequent information revealed that the president and administration officials knew as the attack was occurring that it was a terrorist attack, not the result of a spontaneous mob.

President Obama reacted to the criticism with outrage, telling the Wall Street Journal, “If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation, is outrageous.”

John Kerry is also a controversial nominee. Kerry was the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, losing to George W. Bush. Kerry is perhaps most well known for his 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in which he said that American soldiers in Vietnam “had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the country side of South Vietnam….” During the 2004 campaign, a number of veterans came forward to dispute Kerry’s account.

CNS News also notes that Kerry has long supported engagement with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Kerry met with Assad at least six times and shortly before the Syrian uprising began in March 2011 he was still voicing his belief that “Syria will change, as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States and the West and economic opportunity that comes with it and the participation that comes with it.”

Democrats control the senate, which is responsible for confirming presidential appointments. Republicans do have enough support to filibuster controversial nominees, however.

President Obama’s second term is still several months away from its official beginning, but the battle lines are already being drawn. It seems that voters who hoped that giving the president a second chance to make good on his promises of bipartisanship will probably be not be satisfied in the near term.


Read this article on Examiner:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ga. gov. rejects Obamacare exchange

Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Georgia will not set up a state health insurance exchange as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The governor cited unknown costs, lack of flexibility, and lack of state control in his decision to reject the exchange. The Supreme Court ruled last June that the federal government could not compel states to create the exchanges or expand Medicaid as the Affordable Care Act attempts to do.

Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute notes that there are many incentives for states not to create the exchanges. Cannon says that while exchanges are created by the states, they would be controlled by the federal government. The exchanges would compete with private insurers and would likely drive many out of business. Although the law allows the federal government to implement exchanges for states that refuse, Cannon says that congress did not appropriate any funds for federal exchanges. This makes their implementation in a divided congress unlikely. Cannon argues that since federal insurance subsidies are offered through state exchanges, if all states rejected the exchanges it would reduce the federal deficit by $700 billion over ten years.

Cannon also says that rejecting the exchanges would be good for the states because “defaulting to a federal exchange exempts a state's employers from the employer mandate — a tax of $2,000 per worker per year” on companies with more than 59 employees. He notes that avoiding the mandate tax would create an environment that would attract more businesses to the state.

The Affordable Care Act’s costs for businesses were illustrated last month when the Orlando Sentinel reported that Darden Restaurants, the operator of Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Longhorn restaurants, was testing a system of not offering full-time schedules to its employees in several restaurants. Darden, one of the nation’s 30 largest employers, said that its goal was to limit part-time employees to 28 hours per week. Under the Affordable Care Act, employers must provide insurance to employees who work more than 30 hours per week.

Deal rejected the one-size-fits-all nature of the exchanges in a press release. “We have no interest in spending our tax dollars on an exchange that is state-based in name only,” he said. “I would support a free market-based approach that could serve as a useful tool for Georgia’s small businesses, but federal guidelines forbid that. Instead, restrictions on what the exchanges can and can’t offer render meaningless the suggestion that Georgia could tailor an exchange that best fits the unique needs of its population.”

Deal said “I remain committed to common sense health care solutions that empower consumers to take responsibility for their own health, motivate the private sector and drive efficiencies for consumers, employers and governments alike. I continue to hope that we might finally engage in a serious conversation about restoring meaningful flexibility to states around health care programs.”

Other states also announced that they would not form exchanges today as well. According to The Hill, governors John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin both formally announced that they would not comply with the federal mandate.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, as of Nov. 9 only 14 states had enacted exchange laws. Another five states had legislation pending. Seven states, not counting Georgia, Ohio, and Wisconsin, had formally declined to form state exchanges.

According to Rasmussen, the Affordable Care Act remains unpopular almost three years after its passage. The most recent survey, taken on Nov. 4, showed 50 percent of Americans still favored repeal. A Kaiser Foundation poll from October showed that only 38 percent held a favorable view of the law.

Originally published on

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Secession a hot topic in the wake of election

“It’s not you, it’s us.”

“We’ve grown apart. We just don’t see things the same way anymore. You’re constant spending has driven us deep into debt. You constantly nag us and tell us what to do. To you, a compromise means that we totally give in and do it your way. We can’t take it anymore. We think it’s time to break up.”
These words might be spoken by an unhappy spouse, but they also reflect unhappiness with the current state of the union. Since the reelection of Barack Obama, secession has once again become a hot topic. The election results show that the United States is more divided than at almost any point in our history (with the notable exception of the War of Secession). While the electoral vote wasn’t close, the popular vote in 2012 was within three percent, just as both of George W. Bush’s elections were very close.

On the White House petition website, the most popular petition is a request that President Obama and the federal government allow Texas to secede from the union. The petition, posted on November 9, has 106,491 signatures as of the morning of November 15. This is almost twice as many signers as the second most popular petition, a request to recount the election due to the claim that in one Ohio county President Obama received 8,000 more voters than there were eligible voters.

There are other petitions for secession on the White House site as well, although none are as popular as the Texas one. Petitioners in Alaska, Rhode Island, New York, Maryland, Hawaii, Missouri, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia are also seeking the right to form their own countries. There is also a petition seeking to allow the city of Atlanta to secede from Georgia, but remain part of the United States. The Georgia petition, with more than 29,000 signatures, is one of the most popular petitions on the site. The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that petitions for secession have been filed from all 50 states.

The Texas petition, which specifies that it favors peaceful secession, cites “economic difficulties stemming from the federal government's neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending” and “blatant abuses of their rights” as reasons for secession. The petition’s creator, Micah H. of Arlington, Tx., believes that secession would “protect its citizens' standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.” Many of the complaints against the current federal government could be taken from the list of grievances in the Declaration of Independence.

According to the standards set forth on the site, “if a petition meets the signature threshold, it will be reviewed by the Administration and we will issue a response.” The Texas petition has met the threshold of 25,000 signers. Several other petitions, including the Georgia request, have also met the threshold.

Strangely enough, there is bipartisan support for secession. The modern movement for secession first appeared in the wake of George W. Bush’s reelection. In an article almost eight years ago to the day in Salon, Lawrence O’Donnell, a former aide to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and current MSNBC host, predicted “a serious discussion of secession over the next 20 years” from the left because “the segment of the country that pays for the federal government is now being governed by the people who don’t pay for the federal government.” The article cited access to abortion, gay marriage, and other state’s rights issues as reasons liberals might want to secede.

But is secession legal? Didn’t the Civil War determine that the union was insoluble?

One argument is that the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment protects the right to secede. The amendment says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” Since the Constitution does not prohibit secession, it is a reserved right of the states in this view. There is no federal law against secession.

In 1868, the Supreme Court addressed the legality of secession in Texas v. White. In that case, the Court ruled, “The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States.” In the Court’s view, since a state cannot join the union unilaterally, it also cannot secede unilaterally except by revolution.

Writing on in 2004, Michael Dorf speculated on what might constitute “consent of the States” since the issue is not addressed in the Constitution or the Supreme Court decision. Dorf notes that approving secession is not listed among the enumerated powers of Congress; therefore it would likely require a constitutional amendment for a state to secede. The Constitution could be amended to allow states to secede unilaterally as well as with federal approval.
What might the United States look like after secession? If electoral maps are any indication, most of the American heartland might form a new country, while New England south through Virginia or Maryland, the Great Lakes states and the Pacific coast states remained. Parts of Florida, Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa might elect to leave their states to join the new country as well.

Secession is not likely in the near future. It is a far different matter to vote for a presidential candidate than to vote to leave the union. A Rasmussen poll from June showed that 24 percent of Americans believe in the right to secession. It is likely that not all Americans who believe in a right to secede would be in favor of secession.

Nevertheless, the movement may gain momentum if President Obama and the Democrats continue to expand government and curtail rights against the will of the people. A Rasmussen poll taken on Nov. 6 shows that Americans still favor repeal of Obamacare by a margin of 50-44 percent. The number favoring repeal has never been below 50 percent. According to Reuters, the day after the election the Obama Administration reopened talks on a controversial United Nations treaty that could threaten American Second Amendment rights. Many Americans feel that freedom of religion is under assault by the Obama Administration

The erosion of American freedoms, the expansion of federal power, and the failure of the courts to rein in the government may eventually combine with economic problems resulting from Democratic policies to convince a majority of Americans that an amicable divorce is the only answer to America’s national divide. While the future is not clear, it is certain that President Obama, who promised healing for America, has left the nation more divided than at any time in recent memory.

Originally published on

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

America past the tipping point

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Americans have chosen by a narrow margin not to change horses in midstream. They have given Barack Obama a second chance. Hopefully, Mr. Obama will prove himself worthy of their trust.

It seems that America has reached the proverbial tipping point where there are more takers than people to take from. Under President Obama, 75 people went on food stamps for every single person who got a job according to the Weekly Standard. The growth in the welfare state has been so great and so fast that it can no longer be contained. If the tipping point has not yet been reached, it certainly will have been by 2016.

Having won fewer states and a smaller percentage of the vote than in 2008, the president can hardly claim that the voters have given him a clear mandate to stay the course. Instead they have given him a chance to fulfill the promises of bipartisanship that he made in his first presidential campaign.

Obama’s victory may well say less about the promise of his second term than about the failings of Mitt Romney. Even though he did well in the debates, Romney frittered away much of the summer as the Obama campaign launched endless negative ads against him. Romney had little to say as he was portrayed as an out-of-touch rich guy who strapped his dog to the roof of the car. In the end, it wasn’t enough for Romney to promise a repeal of Obamacare, still hated by a majority of Americans according to Rasmussen, and hope that Obama’s incompetence would speak for itself. Romney was right about the 47 percent. It just turned out to be slightly more than 50 percent.

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about Obama’s victory is that he will be left in office to take the full blame for his failures. The upcoming economic recession or stagnation will not fall upon the shoulders of Mitt Romney, the Republicans, or George Bush. That will be cold comfort for the unemployed and for those who see their incomes lag or wealth deteriorate.

Even though Obama will stay on as president for another four years, he will not have the free reign that he did for the first two years of his first term. He will face a hostile congress where even Democratic senators and representatives distanced themselves from him in the election.

In his first term, President Obama resisted compromise with the Republicans even after the Democrats “took a shellacking” in the 2010 midterm elections. He must change if he wants to move the country forward.

Much of the time, a stalemate in the federal government is a good thing. This year it is not.

The first test of Obama’s second term comes on January 1 when the country reaches the fiscal cliff. President Obama must work with the lame duck congress to fix this problem as soon as possible or the fragile recovery will end abruptly and another, even worse recession will strike the country. President Obama must work with Republicans to avert this fiscal disaster for the good of the country.

In the campaign, President Obama paid lip service to fixing the problem of the federal deficit. We cannot tax our way out of debt. One hundred percent taxes on the wealthy would not fund Obama’s past budgets. If the president is serious about the debt, which is now more than 100 percent of GDP for the first time since WWII, he must agree to cuts in the federal budget as his own deficit commission recommended.

Finally, the most pressing international problem that we face is Iran. Over the next few weeks, President Obama will decide whether to renew sanctions on Iran. If he is serious about preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, weapons that threaten the U.S. homeland as well as Israel, he should do so. He should also commit to a military option if sanctions do not work and voice support for Israel if they decide to strike. Ambivalence and mixed messages to the Iranian government will almost certainly lead to war.

My concern is that none of this will happen. My concern is that Dinesh D’Souza may be right, that Obama is, at heart, an anti-colonialist who wants to bring the United States down to a third world level. He will continue to mount up federal debt until the economy breaks. He will stand aside as Iran arms itself and turn on Israel when they try to defend themselves.

My belief is that under President Obama, unless Republicans in congress are joined by enough Democrats to stop him, will continue on the same wrongheaded course that he has followed for the first four years of his presidency. If the United States manages to avoid lapsing into another recession or depression, the best we can hope for is to muddle through a Lost Decade of high unemployment, rising energy costs and anemic growth. American influence abroad will wan and with it we will see the rise of dictators and the decline of freedom around the world. At home we will lose more freedom as well, from the freedom to follow our religious beliefs to the freedom to own a gun.

If America has reached the tipping point. This election was our last, best hope to return to prosperity. My children will be left with less freedom, few opportunities, and less hope than I had. I and many others will continue to fight the good fight, but with every election lost, every additional entitlement recipient, every activist judge appointed, the tide is harder to turn back. The Republican Party may never win another major national election. If they do, it will still be impossible to roll back all the damage of the Obama years.

Perhaps Atlas is about to shrug.

Originally published on

Monday, November 5, 2012

Flawed polling hides Romney landslide

On Nov. 4, The Columbus Dispatch published the results of a poll that seemed to indicate that Ohio voters had swung, perhaps decisively, towards Barack Obama in the presidential campaign. The poll indicated that likely voters in Ohio favor Obama over Mitt Romney by a 50-48 margin.

When the details of the poll are examined, however, the results don’t look nearly as positive for the president. The final paragraph of the article notes that the sample has a 2.2 percentage point margin of error. This means the race is still statistically tied, but another detail should be even more disturbing for Democrats.

The big problem is that the sample is described as being 40 percent Democrat, 36 percent Republican and 21 percent independent. To put those numbers in perspective, CNN Ohio exit polls from 2008 show that in that Democratic landslide year 39 percent of Ohioans considered themselves Democrats, 31 percent Republicans, and 30 percent independents. It is extremely unlikely that the number of Democrats has increased by a percentage point over the 2008 election.

Last week, Gallup released a survey of the 2012 electorate that indicated that the demographics of voters this year resemble 2008 in almost every respect except one: party affiliation. In 2008, 39 percent of Americans considered themselves Democrats and 54 percent leaned Democratic. Twenty-nine percent were Republicans and 42 percent leaned Republican. This is almost identical to the Ohio exit poll data as well as the results of the national popular vote.

In 2012, 35 percent identify as Democrats (46 percent lean Democratic) versus 36 percent who identify as Republican (49 percent lean Republican). That is an 11 point swing in the party identification toward the Republicans over four years. When leaners are included, the swing is 15 percent toward the Republicans. It is extremely unlikely that the percentage of Democrats in a swing state like Ohio would increase while Democrats became less common nationally.

The flawed polling sample might occur for a number of reasons. It is possible that Democrats were more likely to answer the pollster’s calls. Democratic households might be easier to reach for the survey. The pollster may have tried to duplicate the mix of the 2008 electorate on the assumption that it had not changed. It is even possible that the pollster was sympathetic to the Democrats.

In reality, this year’s blend of parties in the electorate will probably more closely resemble that of 2010 than 2008. According to New York Times exit poll data from 2010, 36 percent of voters identified as Democrats and 36 percent as Republicans. Twenty-seven percent were independent.

That year Ohioans elected Republicans as governor, senator, attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer. They also elected Republicans to 13 of 18 seats in Ohio’s delegation to the House of Representatives. Josh Mandel, who received 54 percent of the vote in the election for state treasurer according to the N.Y. Times, is running for Ohio’s other senate seat this year.

When an accurate picture of the electorate is considered, the Republicans should win in a landslide in Ohio on Tuesday. In 2008, President Obama won Ohio by five points with an electorate made up of 39 percent Democrats. In 2012, a 40 percent Democratic sample only puts him in the margin of error. If the sample is adjusted to the true mix of parties by reducing the Democratic sample by five percentage points, Mitt Romney should win the state handily. Josh Mandel, who trailed Sen. Sherrod Brown by 45 to 51 percent in the Dispatch poll, may win as well.

Not all polls publish party affiliation data for their respondents, but a Michigan poll by FMWB-Fox 2 News from Nov. 2 reflects a similar imbalance. This poll reports 43 percent Democratic and 35 percent Republican respondents. In 2008, a mix of 41 percent Democrats and 29 percent Republicans voted for Obama by a 57-41 percent margin according to CNN. This year’s poll favors Mitt Romney by less than a percentage point, however. This means that Mitt Romney will probably win Michigan.

A recent Public Policy poll of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania may also overstate Democrats. The Wisconsin poll showed 35 percent Democrats and 32 percent Republicans yet the GOP has repeatedly won important electoral battles there since 2010. The Pennsylvania poll split between Democrats and Republicans by a staggering 48-38 percent. Yet the results of the presidential question found Obama leading by only three points in Wisconsin and six points in Pennsylvania. When the swing in party affiliation is considered, both states might well fall into the Romney column.

2008 was a banner year for Democrats while 2010 was a Republican landslide in most states. Many of this year’s polls show Barack Obama losing or in a dead heat with Mitt Romney while using a partisan mix based on 2008 even though the 2012 electorate is much more like 2010. This means that when the ultimate poll is taken this Tuesday, the results should be a Republican landslide that was expected by very few.

Originally published on

Friday, November 2, 2012

This year the October surprise came in September

Before every presidential election, rumors swirl of an October surprise. The term refers to the last minute release of information to hurt an opponent with voters. By timing the release of damaging information just before the election, the opponent does not have time to rebuff the charges and correct the damage.

In most cases, Democratic candidates have perpetrated October surprises on Republicans. In 1992, George Herbert Walker Bush was damaged by the news that former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger would be indited for weapons smuggling in the Iran-Contra affair. In 2000, news of George W. Bush’s arrest for DUI was released just before the election. In 2004, the New York Times made the allegation, later disproved, that a weapons depot in Iraq was left unguarded and raided by insurgents.

This year many observers predicted an October surprise from President Obama based on a New York Times article that said Iran had agreed to one-on-one negotiations with the U.S. over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The report, which was released just prior to the foreign policy debate on Oct. 20, was denied by the president during the debate.

As more states enact laws allowing early voting, October surprises are less effective unless they are carried out earlier. This year it seems that the October surprise was actually released in September.

On Sept. 18, Mother Jones published a video on Youtube of Mitt Romney speaking to supporters in which he made the now famous “47 percent” comment. Mother Jones claimed that the video was from a “recent” fundraiser. In reality, the video was four months old with parts of it having been uploaded to Youtube the first time in May according to New York magazine. Ironically, the video was spread by Jimmy Carter IV, an unemployed grandson of the former president. According to ABC News, the video was recorded on May 17.

The Romney recording has been compared to several of Barack Obama’s unscripted moments. In 2008, then-Senator Obama told supporters that blue collar voters “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Earlier this year, Obama was caught on tape telling Russian president Dmitry Medvedev that “This is my last election ... After my election I have more flexibility” according to Reuters.

In both cases, Obama’s comments were reported immediately. In the case of Romney, the person who made the recording waited several months to release the entire video according to ABC News. After receiving the entire recording, Mother Jones held it for “several weeks” to “take some time to really make sure we had a story that was completely solid. You know, verify it, fact check, do additional reporting.”

The recording hurt Romney in the polls for weeks, but he eventually repudiated his comments. A strong performance in the first presidential debate restored his standing in the polls.

With only three days left before Election Day, there is little time left to unleash a November surprise. Any such attempt would be lost to the weekend or stories about Hurricane Sandy, making a significant swing in the polls unlikely.

A Rasmussen poll released on November 1 shows Mitt Romney with a two point lead over President Obama nationally. Undecided voters give Romney the edge in most swing states as well.


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GOP likely to take senate despite missteps


n 2010, the Republican Party took control of the House of Representatives from the Democrats. Although they made gains in the Senate, the Democrats retained control by a 53-47 margin (including two independents that caucus with the Democrats).

Two races that have received much attention are in Missouri and Indiana where the Republican candidates made controversial comments about rape and abortion. In Missouri, Real Clear Politics shows the Democratic incumbent leading challenger Todd Aiken by an average of four points. Nevertheless, Sen. Claire McCaskill is polling at 45 to 46 percent in three of four recent polls. This means that it is likely that Aiken may still win the seat because undecided voters almost always vote for the challenger. The race can be considered a tossup even though the most recent poll on Oct. 30 showed McCaskill with 49 percent.

In Indiana, Republican Richard Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly are competing to fill the seat of Richard Lugar, a Republican defeated by Mourdock in the primary. The most recent poll, taken in early October by Rasmussen, showed Mourdock up by five points. However, this was before his controversial remarks in a debate in which he said “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen” according to ABC News and that he personally opposed abortion even in cases of rape. Even though Mourdock has been vilified in the media, his comments may be more acceptable to mainstream voters. Still, the race must be considered a tossup.

A solid Democratic race that has suddenly become a tossup is in Pennsylvania. Incumbent Bob Casey has had a double digit lead for most of the summer according to Real Clear Politics. As the presidential race narrowed in Pennsylvania, many senate race polls closed as well. Casey still leads in the polls, but a number of recent polls show Republican Tom Smith within the margin of error. Further, almost all of the polls show Casey with less than 50 percent support. Pennsylvania is another tossup.

In Ohio, Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown leads Republican Josh Mandel by five points, but Brown has less than 50 percent of the vote. The latest poll, by the University of Cincinnati, closed Oct. 30 and showed Brown with 49 percent to Mandel’s 44. This makes Ohio another tossup.

In Wisconsin, Democratic incumbent Herb Kohl is retiring. Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin are neck-in-neck. Most polls give Baldwin a slight lead, but one poll, Rasmussen, favors Thompson. At this point, Wisconsin is also a tossup.

In Florida, Connie Mack is challenging Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. Nelson has consistently led the race throughout the summer, but the most recent poll, taken on October 30 by Gravis Marketing, showed that the race had tightened to within the margin of error. In many of the polls, Nelson scores less than 50 percent approval. That makes this race a tossup as well.

Connecticut is also a close race. Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Chris Murphy are vying for the seat of retiring independent Joe Lieberman. The race is still close at this point, but the most recent poll by Rasmussen shows Chris Murphy leading with 51 percent. The race can be considered a tossup, but Chris Murphy is a slight favorite.

In Montana, there has been scant polling, but Democratic incumbent Jon Tester is in a dead heat with challenger Denny Rehberg. With Tester polling as low as 45 percent in a recent Public Policy poll, Rehberg will probably win this tossup race.

In Virginia, Democrat Jim Webb is retiring after only one term. Republican George Allen, who lost to Webb in 2006, is running against Democrat Tim Kaine for his old seat. Kaine has seen a consistent lead in the polls turn into a true tossup. Real Clear Politics lists no fewer than 12 polls taken in October. The results are mixed. The RCP average gives Kaine a one point lead. The race is truly too close to call.

The Republicans are the favorite to pick up two Democratic senate seats. In North Dakota, Rick Berg is heavily favored to succeed the retiring Democrat Kent Conrad. Deb Fischer is favored to win Ben Nelson’s old seat in Nebraska although her lead over Bob Kerrey had narrowed in the only poll done in October.

Democrats are only favored to win one Republican seat, that of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. After a tight race during the summer, polls show challenger Elizabeth Warren taking a small, but consistent lead. With Scott Brown below 50 percent in the polls, this makes Warren the likely winner in a close race.

Republicans will also likely lose Maine’s senate seat held by Olympia Snowe. In a three-way race, Angus King, an independent, is the heavy favorite over both Republican Charlie Summers and Democrat Cynthia Dill. Real Clear Politics notes that King has not said which party he would caucus with. His website indicates a mixture of stances that favor both parties. He supports the Affordable Care Act, but seems to be open to its reform. He is pro-abortion and same-sex marriage, but also wants to reduce the regulatory burden. He favors tax reform that reduces tax rates and closes loopholes to reduce the debt and deficit. Republicans can probably count on King for help on many economic reform issues, but he will side with the Democrats on social issues.

If the Republicans currently hold 47 seats and lose Maine and Massachusetts, they will need a total of five seats to tie the Democrats and six seats to gain a majority. In the event of a 50-50 split, the vice president becomes the tiebreaker. This means that the party that controls the White House would also control the senate. With Romney the current favorite to win the presidential election, the Republicans only need to pick up five seats to control the senate. With nine Democratic seats rated as tossups, this is very possible.

With the close nature of these races, voter turnout is critical. Many of the races are in swing states where voter turnout will be high. The outcome of the presidential race in these states may well affect the outcome of the senate races if voters choose to vote the straight party line. A Pew poll from last week shows that Republicans are more interested in and positive about this year’s election than Democrats. That may give Republican candidates the edge.

Though most races are still tossups, it seems likely that the Republicans will win in Montana, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida in addition to North Dakota and Nebraska. The Democrats will likely win in Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, Connecticut and Massachusetts. This means that the Republicans will probably gain control of the senate with control of 52 seats. The Democrats will likely hold 46 seats and continue to count on support from Vermont’s independent socialist Bernie Sanders. Maine’s Angus King may be a swing vote.

Even though Republicans will probably control the senate, the Democratic minority will be numerous enough to mount filibusters. Since Obamacare was enacted as a budget reconciliation requiring only a simple majority, Republicans can repeal it the same way. Obamacare will soon be history, but other issues facing the country will require bipartisanship to avoid a Democratic filibuster.

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