March 1, 2012

BREAKING: Andrew Breitbart – 1969-2012

Internet publisher and conservative activist Andrew Breitbart has died last night of natural causes. The LA coroner confirmed this morning. He made a huge impact on the world of news world through his various endeavors and will live on as the fight against liberalism and the mainstream media continues. Keep his family in your prayers.

Here’s more from Big Hollywood.

by @ 8:32 am. Filed under Uncategorized

February 22, 2012

Poll Watch: Rasmussen 2012 Daily Presidential Tracking Survey

Rasmussen 2012 Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

  • Barack Obama 46%
  • Rick Santorum 43%
  • Barack Obama 47%
  • Mitt Romney 41%

(more…)

by @ 1:49 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

January 30, 2012

Gingrich’s Ego Vows to Fight for Months Until the Convention

According to the Wall Street Journal, last night at a campaign stop in Lutz, Florida Newt Gingrich had this to say:

A pugnacious Newt Gingrich reiterated his intention to stay in the Republican presidential primary “all the way to the convention,” telling reporters Sunday morning that he believed that “this is going to be a straight-out contest for the next four or five months” between him and Mitt Romney.

Mr. Gingrich said after attending a morning service with 2,000 worshipers at the Exciting Idlewild Baptist Church that he didn’t agree with polls that show him trailing in Florida, and in any case, he’s not bowing out of the race.

“I think that the election will be substantially closer than the two polls that came out this morning,” he said, adding that he was eying support for Rick Santorum as potential source of votes in the coming months. “When you add the two conservatives together we clearly beat Romney,” Mr. Gingich said. “I think Romney’s got a very real challenge trying to get a majority at the convention.”

Mr. Gingrich knocked back suggestions that prolonging the primary campaign could damage the party’s chances in November. “The long campaign of 2008 between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama led them to win the presidency. There’s no reason that a long campaign has to be a bad thing,” he said.

“This is a campaign about the future of America and the future of the Republican party. Do you want an insider who’s part of the city which has been accepting huge amounts of taxpayer money to prop up giant institutions or do you want somebody who’s prepared to challenge our system head on and insist on very dramatic change in Washington? I think that’s worth a serious debate and I think that debate will go all the way to the convention.”

The only thing bigger than Newt Gingrich’s mouth is his ego. Assuming the leads for Romney in Florida hold true for thirty-six more hours, Mitt Romney will be our nominee. It will be all over but the shouting.

Apparently, Newt Gingrich intends to do a lot of shouting.

Let me count the ways that Newt’s moon-colored glasses are not allowing him to see reality here:

1. “Mr. Gingrich said… he didn’t agree with polls that show him trailing in Florida.”

Of course Newt Gingrich is not losing Florida! How could Newt Gingrich be losing Florida? There must be something inherently wrong with the last eleven polls from the state showing Romney winning now, because everybody knows there can’t be anything wrong with Newt Gingrich. Of course, living in this obtuse state of denial easily reminds one of the well-worn political axiom: everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. It is also strangely reminiscent of Mike Huckabee’s declaration in 2008: “I believe in miracles, not math.” I’d advise Gingrich to learn Huckabee’s lesson: math is what takes you to the nomination, not denial of reality.

2. “When you add the two conservatives together we clearly beat Romney.”

Well, let’s test this theory of yours, shall we, Newt? Rasmussen Reports – specifically one of the polls Newt mentioned – has Romney at 44% this morning. Gingrich + Santorum combine for 40%. Oops. The other poll, from NBC/Marist, has Mitt sitting at 42%. Gingrich and Santorum account for a total of 43% — technically more, but certainly not “clearly” so, as Newt intoned.

3. “I think Romney’s got a very real challenge trying to get a majority at the convention.”

As much as a brokered convention is a political nerd’s dream, it is simply not going to happen. I’ll cover this more in a post later this week. Suffice it to say Gingrich is dreaming while grasping at straws here.

4. Mr. Gingrich knocked back suggestions that prolonging the primary campaign could damage the party’s chances in November. “The long campaign of 2008 between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama led them to win the presidency.

As noted here on Race before, and at other blogs as well, there is a massively important idea that Gingrich is missing in his assessment here. Although Hillary and Barack were locked in combat for five months, it never got nearly as ugly as the Gingrich/Romney battle has gotten. Hillary had plenty of ammunition with which to attack Obama; she chose not to use most of the damaging attacks at all, and chose to use other attacks sparingly. She refrained from attacking Obama from the right (for instance, on BAIPA) and didn’t use attacks that ended up in RNC television ads. In short, she did not utilize scorched-earth tactics against the eventual party nominee; that is why it didn’t harm Obama’s electoral chances. Obama emerged from the Democratic nomination process as a victor; if Gingrich continues his desperate and deceitful assault on Romney for the next five months Romney may come out as damaged goods.

And that’s not to say there is no value in a bruising primary. There most certainly is, and people can be stronger general election candidates because of it. But when a GOP primary contender consistently has his attacks echoed in DNC talking points and advertisements, five more months of it will only cause harm to our eventual nominee. And if you think Newt’s attacks are desperate now, wait until you see what he’ll be coming up with five months down the road…

5. “This is a campaign about the future of America and the future of the Republican party. Do you want an insider who’s part of the city which has been accepting huge amounts of taxpayer money to prop up giant institutions or do you want somebody…”

I have to admit, I chortled a little bit out loud when I read this part. For Newt Gingrich, the ultimate Washington insider, to try and cast this race as an Insider (Romney) versus an outsider (Gingrich) is simply beyond the pale, and I still have a hard time believing he’s attempting this tact. It’s unbelievable, in a really humorous sort of way.

And so, in a single speech in Florida, Newt Gingrich has managed to illustrate exactly what is wrong with his campaign. Here’s hoping his ego is deflated enough after a slew of losses to do the right thing – for the Republican Party and, ultimately, the country.

by @ 7:00 am. Filed under Uncategorized

January 21, 2012

A Preview of Florida

The race in South Carolina is over and first off, congratulations to Speaker Newt Gingrich on his win. Now, with a different winner in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina it’s up to Florida to break the tie. So, as a courtesy to folks outside of the state, here’s a little preview of the Sunshine State.

First off, there are actually three states in Florida: North Florida, Central Florida and South Florida. Understanding that is very important to understanding Florida. Voters in Pensacola have little in common with voters in Key West or Miami. It’s also big as in really, really big. It takes 10 hours to drive from one tip of Florida to the other. There are 67 counties in this state and 8 media markets, making it a very expensive state to play in. In 2010, our current Governor, Rick Scott spent $70 million on his way to the Governor’s Mansion.

Of the three sections, North Florida is more like South Carolina than any other area of the state. The joke in Florida is that the further north you go in the state, the more like the South it is. Pensacola in the western Panhandle is a very military-oriented area; Escambia County went for John McCain by 9 points over Mitt Romney. Tallahassee is a Democratic stronghold, but 25,000 Republicans voted in Leon County last time around and they went for John McCain by 11 points. Northeastern Florida, centered around Jacksonville was Mitt Romney’s best area overall in 2008. He crushed the rest of the field in Duval County winning 41-27 over John McCain and swept 9 counties in the area. The rest of North Florida is predominantly rural and religiously conservative. Mike Huckabee won 4 counties in Florida, all of them were in the Panhandle.

Heading south you come upon the most important part of Florida; the I-4 Corridor of Tampa to Orlando to Daytona Beach. Roughly 40% of Florida voters reside in this area. Mitt Romney won 4 counties in this area back in 2008. The main prizes are Tampa-St. Petersburg, which are Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. This was Charlie Crist’s political base while he was in politics, so it’s more moderate than other areas of the state. Orange County, which is anchored in Orlando, was very close in 2008; McCain got 32.29% and Romney got 31.89%. The coastal counties of Volusia and Brevard had averages that were very close to the statewide results.

The final section of the state, South Florida, is actually 2 distinct areas; Southeast and Southwest Florida. Southeast Florida is the Miami-Dade, Ft. Lauderdale area. This is where the Cuban vote is so critical. Rudy Giuliani, who assiduously courted the Cuban vote, got some of his best totals in all of Florida down there (he came in 2nd in Miami-Dade). Southwest Florida is a Republican stronghold, especially in Naples, where Governor Scott’s powerbase is. Collier County (Naples), was Romney’s single best county in 2008; he got 44% of the vote here, winning it by almost 20 points.

As has been noted, over 400,000 absentee ballots have already been mailed out to Florida voters and over 100,000 have already been turned in. Early voting starts this week and the polls will close in most of the state at 7:00 pm EST on January 31st. However, as the rest of the country found out in 2000, there are several counties (including Escambia County/Pensacola) that are in Central Standard Time. They will close their polls at 8:00 pm EST.

Just going by county of course doesn’t give a full picture. There are a lot of different groups in this state too; Catholics are much more prominent in Florida than in almost every other Southern state (both white and Cuban Catholics), Cubans who are very different than other Hispanic subgroups, Midwest transplants in Central Florida and Northeastern transplants in South Florida, rural evangelical North Floridian crackers. And of course, senior citizens, the most important and politically active citizens in the state.

As you can see, Florida’s a big, complicated, and frankly hard state to run in. Any candidate that can put together a coalition to win rural North Florida, suburban Central Florida, diverse South Florida and everything in between is to be commended. It’s going to be a wild ride over the next 10 days but here’s just the lay of the land down here in the Sunshine State

by @ 9:00 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

December 26, 2011

2011 Awards

Since it’s the end of the year I thought it’d be a nice thing to do the bests and worsts of 2011.

Most Impactful Politician-Paul Ryan: Aside from the President (who would always win) the politician with the most impact this year is House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. His Path to Prosperity has been the most discussed, analyzed, and debated policy paper of the year. His colleagues in Congress think the world of him; every Republican in the House signed on to the Path to Prosperity budget. At age 41 he has a bright future ahead in whatever he decides to do.

Most Overrated Political Story-Occupy Wall Street: If there was one group more overhyped, over-covered by the news, it has to be the OWS movement. The news media tripped over themselves to proclaim that this was the left’s answer to the Tea Party, the next great protest movement, the way to revive the Democratic Party, what every you wanted to call them, the media did. Now however, the OWS movement has been shown to be what it always was; a pathetic joke.

Luckiest Politician-Mitt Romney: Mitch Daniels didn’t run. Paul Ryan didn’t run. Mike Huckabee didn’t either. Chris Christie is his top surrogate instead of top opponent. Tim Pawlenty has been out of the race for 6 months. Now, with 8 days to go before the Iowa Caucuses, his top opponents are Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich. If that isn’t a lucky hand, I don’t know what is.

Unluckiest Politician-Rick Perry: On paper, the Texas Governor should be one of the front-runners for this race. He comes from the largest consistently red states in America, he’s been Governor for over a decade, he raised a ton of money, and right as he jumped into the race, he was at the top of the polls. Yet in a year where debates have dominated the process, the Texan’s disastrous performances have sent his numbers tumbling. While an Iowa comeback is possible, it’s certainly not the scenario that Perry and his campaign envisioned when the Governor jumped into the race back in August.

Biggest Flash in the Pan- Herman Cain: The pizza mogul surged to the top of Republican polls after the Florida Straw Poll and was bolstered by his catchy (although hardly practical) 9-9-9 Plan. Two months later, dogged by accusations of sexual harassment and unfaithfulness, Cain was out of the race.

Biggest Disappointment- Tim Pawlenty: The Minnesota Governor was hailed as the man who would be king; the guy who would be the alternative to Mitt Romney. George Will hailed him as the most likely nominee. But Pawlenty never caught on. His one moment in the spotlight was his bizarre attack on “Obamneycare” on Sunday and then refusing to say it again in at the New Hampshire debate on Tuesday. It made Pawlenty look weak, and he never recovered.

Biggest Losers- Dictators and Terrorists: Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali deposed. Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak toppled. The Mad Dog Qaddafi put down. The Dear Leader Kim Jong Il is now the dead leader. Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency of Russia is looking less certain. Bashir al Assad’s regime is looking precarious in Syria. And most pleasingly, Osama bin Laden came down with a nasty case of bullet to the face. It wasn’t a great year for tyranny in the world.

If there are any more categories or different choices for the above categories, have at it in the comments.

by @ 8:04 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

December 21, 2011

JibJab 2011 End of the Year

It’s that time again. Enjoy:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zls4Ao3GyM[/youtube]

by @ 4:45 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

December 16, 2011

A Nice Victory Against the Nanny-state

Politico reports:

The shutdown-averting budget bill will block federal light bulb efficiency standards, giving a win to House Republicans fighting the so-called ban on incandescent light bulbs.

GOP and Democratic sources tell POLITICO the final omnibus bill includes a rider defunding the Energy Department’s standards for traditional incandescent light bulbs to be 30 percent more energy efficient.

DOE’s light bulb rules — authorized under a 2007 energy law authored signed by President George W. Bush — would start going into effect Jan. 1. The rider will prevent DOE from implementing the rules through Sept. 30.

Few overreaches of the nanny-state have created more ire than the ban on 100W incandescent light bulbs that was set to take effect this New Year’s Day. Signed into law by George W. Bush, it is a prime example of the so-called “elites” deciding that we mere mortals are incapable of making our own decisions, and therefore they must make them for us.

Well, it’s nice to know that the ban has been postponed to at least September 30th next year — about a month before election day.

Of course, our moral superiors didn’t give up without a fight.

Environmentalists and clean energy types have tried to mount a last-ditch defense, with plans for a Friday press conference that includes representatives from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, Philips Electronics North America, Consumers Union, the Alliance to Save Energy and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Republicans for Environmental Protection also hoped to shame its GOP brethren into backing down.

“In the real world, outside talk radio’s echo chamber, lighting manufacturers such as GE, Philips and Sylvania have tooled up to produce new incandescent light bulbs that look and operate exactly the same as old incandescent bulbs, and give off just as much warm light,” said Jim DiPeso, the group’s policy director. “The only difference is they produce less excess heat and are therefore 30 percent more efficient. Same light, lower energy bills. What’s not to like?”

Umm, the price? Those new bulbs also cost more. That seems to be a detail these busy-bodies have forgotten to mention for some strange reason. I can’t image why.

by @ 12:30 am. Filed under Uncategorized

December 14, 2011

Weird Scenario 1: The Late Entrant

The turmoil of the Republican nomination process, and the unhappiness of a large part of the party with all the choices, has led to recent speculation that we might have a brokered convention and/or the nominee might be someone not in the current field.

In the interests of full disclosure, I must note that I am not an unbiased observer on this point, since I count myself among those who look at the current field with disappointment (well, okay, ‘disappointment’ is a weak word – ‘revulsion’ is more like it).

Sean Trende assessed the possibility of a brokered convention, and rated the chances as low, which I think is fair. But that there is any realistic chance is remarkable – it has been sixty years since either party’s convention has gone past the first ballot.

So what are the factors that could cause a brokered convention this time?

  • The two leading candidates are deeply flawed in the eyes of many in the party
  • A substantial portion of the delegates will be selected by proportional methods
  • There is a strong third candidate (Ron Paul) who has the resources and the will to stay in to the bitter end

The factor that, added to the above, may mean a late entrant has a chance to emerge as the nominee from a brokered convention is that the nominating process is back-loaded.

  • Several large states are going late, with winner-take-all delegations
  • A significant number of states have relatively late filing deadlines

Let’s examine that last point first, because it brings into question the idea that it is now impossible to enter the race. Let’s say that someone decided to enter after Iowa and New Hampshire (it would, of course, have to be someone who has the name and the establishment support to credibly do so). The following fifteen states have filing deadlines three weeks or more after New Hampshire votes, giving time (maybe) to get on the ballot:

  • Arkansas (3/1 deadline) – 36 delegates
  • California (3/23) – 172
  • Connecticut (3/2) – 28
  • Delaware (2/24) – 17
  • Indiana (2/10) – 46
  • Kentucky (1/31) – 45
  • Montana (3/12) – 26
  • Nebraska (3/7) – 35
  • New Jersey (4/2) – 50
  • New Mexico (3/16) – 23
  • New York (2/9) – 95
  • Oregon (3/6) – 29
  • Pennsylvania (2/14) – 72
  • South Dakota (3/27) – 28
  • Utah (3/15) – 40

These states have a total of 742 delegates and most vote in April-June, giving a new candidate time to campaign. The strategy would probably be to concentrate on New York and Pennsylvania, which vote in April. Victories there would lead to May-June wins in other states (see the chart on Sean’s article for voting dates). A candidate who captured a big piece of the 742 delegates could prevent anyone else from getting the nomination and would go to the convention with a strong argument as to why he (to randomly select a pronoun) should be the compromise choice.

Let’s say that when the dust settles in June, the scoreboard looks something like this:

  • 800 Gingrich
  • 800 Romney
  • 400 Late Entrant
  • 200 Paul
  • 88 Everybody Else

In this scenario, Romney and Gingrich have so soiled each other that they are unacceptable to too much of the party and are too wounded to battle Obama. After a nasty campaign, it’s unlikely that 350 Romney delegates could be persuaded to switch to Gingrich, or vice versa. That leaves Late Entrant and Paul. We know it won’t be Paul, so …

As the headline should make clear, this is not a prediction. I’m not even saying it is at all likely. But I do think it is just barely possible, and its slim chances seem to be growing.

This has been the strangest campaign I’ve seen in my five decades of following politics. There’s no reason to think it can’t get weirder still.

One final point: Can we put a name to the Late Entrant? The obvious choices are Daniels, Christie, Ryan, and Jindal. My pick, of course, would be Daniels, but unless the Women’s Caucus of the Daniels household has had an epiphany, that isn’t happening. Christie has endorsed Romney and this scenario involves Romney staying in all the way (I don’t see a brokered convention if he’s knocked out early), so eliminate Christie.

Jindal would be possible if Perry is eliminated after Iowa or New Hampshire. Ryan has not endorsed, so he could still get in. John Thune? Suggestions are welcomed.

Here are a few other assessments of the chances for a brokered convention or a Late Entrant: Brian Bolduc in National Review, Rhodes Cook at the Crystal Ball, Nate Silver at NYT.

by @ 12:46 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

More Evidence of the Craziness of This Cycle

As segments of the GOP have moved more towards Paul’s views we have the first rumblings that he could actually pull off a win. Internal polling from Mitt Romney and Rick Perry shows Newt Gingrich slipping, according to Politico.

“Sources didn’t provide specific numbers on how far he’s slipped, but it’s perceptible in both camps’ numbers… The person who is holding strong, according to the internal numbers, is Paul, who has a true shot of winning the caucuses, according to several Iowa Republican insiders surveying ground games and energy.”

by @ 3:11 am. Filed under Uncategorized

December 5, 2011

Funny new Ron Paul Add

I’m not a particular fan of Ron Paul, and I’m not going to vote for him, but I do kind of like this add:

No word on the size of the buy, but Politico reports it will be…ahem…big.

by @ 7:15 am. Filed under Uncategorized

November 20, 2011

SNL Presents Mitt Romney, Unleashed!

As always, posted without comment.

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by @ 7:41 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

November 16, 2011

Poll Watch: SurveyUSA 2012 Presidential Survey

SurveyUSA 2012 Presidential Poll

  • Barack Obama 46%
  • Mitt Romney 44%
  • Barack Obama 51%
  • Newt Gingrich 40%

Among Independents

  • Barack Obama 43%
  • Mitt Romney 43%
  • Barack Obama 52%
  • Newt Gingrich 36%

(more…)

by @ 12:42 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

November 13, 2011

A National Education

Just returned from my annual trip to Washington DC with my 8th graders and was once again awed by the wealth of educational experienced there offered at no out of pocket cost. Notice I did not say it was free. I am fully aware that the Smithsonian, monuments and various educational centers are paid for with tax dollars. However, I think this is a good use of our tax money and would support more of it. Where that money should come from is the budget of the Department of Education.

For anyone following the recent GOP presidential debates the idea of eliminating the Department of Education will come as no surprise. Ron Paul has long made the case for killing it, and Rick Perry added it to his plan as well. (At least I think he did; he of course wasn’t too sure of what he thought). This has actually been a rallying cry in the conservative movement for decades.

I do not disagree with the idea that the D.O.E. is actually detrimental to public schools. It puts out unfunded mandates, tries to micro-manage local curricula and generally meddles in the way all overly-large bureaucracies do. A local school will almost always be run better by the locality.

One example is in the federal push towards technology. While there are certainly benefits to teaching technology to our students, the government works at such a necesarily slow pace that by the time ideas and procedures filter down to the local level they are often already outdated. And that is to say nothing of the fact that it is in reality impossible to train students for the jobs of the future. If recent history has taught us anything it is that we can not predict what the jobs of the future will actually be with any technical certainty.

Schools need to focus on teaching what is timeless: critical thinking, rhetoric, logic and problem solving. No matter what changes the future may bring, these skills will always stand by our students.

The liberal knee-jerk reaction to the idea of eliminating the fed from public education is to cry out that if we do we would have public schools resorting to teaching creationism or some other hot button issue.

To this I respond, so what?

What is the goal of a school? It is to foster intellectual curiosity and provide students with the tools to satiate that curiosity. No single curricula point is going to derail that. There are plenty of well educated, thoughtful and honest citizens of this country who hold that creationism is true. Just because I personally do not agree with them, does it really make me a better citizen, community member or productive member of society? Of course not.

Where I differ from the Rick Perrys and Ron Pauls of the world is that I still believe the federal government has a role to play in educating the citizenry. This is what my recent journey to our nation’s capital reminded me. The fed gets the most bang for it’s buck when it focuses on grand scale education rather than micro-managing the day to day teaching of students. The Smithsonian Museums are a perfect example of public education spending done right. Here anyone can go to view, learn and participate in a variety of educational activities.

I live in Massachusetts and in Boston we have an excellent science museum. However, if you are a family of four or five the cost of visiting this museum can be prohibitive. If the government wants to foster true intellectual curiosity in an egalitarian fashion why not subsidize a museum rather than throw money into a black hole of bureaucratic red tape throughout the public school system.

Another idea based off of the DC model would be to fund state historical museums/living history centers. Even the most jaded American can’t help but feel some pride when visiting the Jefferson or Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Why couldn’t this concept be duplicated on a more local scale?

The Occupy crowd have clearly gone too far, but one of their underlying motives is understandable. They have a lack of connection to the system. They have no sense of community, no sense of being in this together. Therefore they operate from a more selfish, “what-can-the-government-do-for-me perspective. The government should do more to foster a sense of national pride.

I am not naive. I am also not suggesting that a few museums are going to solve our nation’s problems. But I am suggesting that we may want to look at how we promote intellectual curiosity and civic pride and that perhaps re-purposing the D.O.E. could be a place to start.

After all at it’s core a conservative is one who wants to conserve. Our collective past and educational future need conservation too.Cutting spending is always good, but sometimes spending smartly also helps.

by @ 1:07 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

November 8, 2011

Ohio Nixes Public Sector Republican Reforms

Tonight’s off-year elections come complete with a depressing development out of Ohio, as a massive majority of the state’s voters cast ballots to repeal Republican reforms to public sector collective bargaining:

In a political blow to GOP Gov. John Kasich, voters handily rejected the law, which would have limited the bargaining abilities of 350,000 unionized public workers. With more than a quarter of the votes counted late Tuesday, 63 percent of votes were to reject the law.

Given Gov. Scott Walker’s successes at keeping the public behind his own attempts to reform the public sector in Wisconsin, as demonstrated by the Prosser victory earlier this year, as well as by the Democrats’ failed attempt to win control of the Wisconsin state senate via recall elections, today’s results in Ohio call into question the political potency of Gov. John Kasich. A former congressional bean counter, Kasich made a brief run for the presidency during the 2000 election cycle, culminating in a lackluster and short-lived single-digit candidacy. It’s certainly possible that John Kasich is simply a poor politician who was ushered into office during the wave election of 2010 and who lacks the necessary skills to move the dials of public opinion rightward in the state of Ohio.

Whatever the case, this sort of lopsided result may suggest that Ohio will be significantly less “red” in the coming election cycle than it has been in the last few presidential elections. It’s possible for Republicans to win the White House without Ohio, but to construct such a scenario is challenging. The reality is that a Republican victory will probably include the state of Ohio, though it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Ohio actually gives Republicans a narrower margin of victory than a few formerly bluer states such as Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

by @ 9:27 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

November 4, 2011

Is Rick Santorum really more-conservative-than-thou?

“I like to think that every time in the debates that Rick Santorum boasts about his rock-ribbed willingness to make the tough choices and indisputable conservative bona fides, Sen. Patrick Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, shoots a mildly icy glare at the television. He probably doesn’t, as he’s one of the nicest guys in politics.” Jim Gheraty, National Review.

 

OK, so I’m a little bit bitter. I like Rick Santorum, and always have. I think a lot of the slurs against him perpetrated by the left range from unfair to disgusting. But something about his current more-conservative-than-thou schtick has got my back up. Maybe it’s because, in 2004, I was an organizer for Students for Toomey, while Santorum was telling Pennsylvania voters that “Arlen [Specter] is with us on the votes that matter.” But I think it’s a bit rich for one of the guys who pretty much ensured Arlen Specter’s primary victory in the closely-fought 2004 primary race to be talking about other people’s conservative apostasies. Let’s recap: Pat Toomey was exactly the sort of rock-ribbed conservative Santorum was in the senate; pro-life, a fiscal hawk and a seriously thoughtful policy wonk. He had a history of winning in what started as a pretty strongly Democratic district; this was by no means an O’Donnell candidacy, and his general election opponent would have been an ultra-liberal Philadelphia congressman of the quite probably beatable variety.  Arlen Specter was…pretty much still Arlen Specter. I’m not one for casually throwing around the term RINO, but that’s partially because, having had Arlen Specter as my senator, I know what the term meant before it was robbed of all meaning. But Rick Santorum made the political calculation that it was better to have the fifty-percent-with-us-on-a-good-day Specter, who would trash liberal Joe Hoeffel in the general, than Pat Toomey, a rock-ribbed conservative who might have had a more difficult time in November. Did Santorum’s endorsement matter? Well, Specter beat Toomey by 1 percent of the primary vote, and Rick had iron-clad popularity with the Republican base, so I’ll let you be the judge. I don’t begrudge Santorum this calculus, though I still think he was wrong. He certainly wasn’t alone in making it (I’m looking at you Karl Rove and the entire GOP establishment circa 2004), and Arlen certainly betrayed a lot of people, deeply and personally, when he switched parties. But for Santorum to act now like he’s the only “real” conservative in a room full of compromisers and flip-floppers is just the slightest bit disingenuous, no? Every candidate who runs for President has, at some point in their political life, said or done something that will displease the party faithful. As my one-time favorite Tim Pawlenty put it, we’ve all got some “clunkers”. Maybe you think Mitt Romney’s comments on abortion in 1994 or 2002 trump Santorum’s tireless and effective efforts to reelect hard-core pro-choicer Arlen Specter in 2004, or Cain’s recent muddiness on the issue. But there’s no such thing as a perfect conservative in this or any race, if you measure “conservatism” along strictly ideological grounds. I was certainly willing to let by-gones be by-gones with Rick in 2006, when I volunteered for his unsuccessful re-election campaign. But none of these guys or gals ought to be pretending to be a “perfect conservative”, because in no case is it actually true. It’s up to primary voters to determine who the most electable conservative in the race is. But if any of them claim to have a perfectly unblemished record, don’t buy it.

by @ 7:49 am. Filed under Uncategorized

October 29, 2011

How “Western Electric” Got Its Name

At one time, AT&T held a monopoly on almost all telephone service in the US. Their manufacturing arm was a company called “Western Electric”. My first job out of college was working for them.

Western Electric was founded in Chicago in 1869. I found that curious. When I asked the old-timers of the company why it was called “Western” Electric when it was founded in Chicago which even then was in the middle of the country, they replied that the original owners were from New York, and to them anything west of the Hudson River was considered “Western” America.

I experienced a similar phenomena growing up in Oregon. The vast majority of the state’s population lives west of the Cascade Mountains in the Wilmette Valley. I grew up in Ontario. Ontario sits right on the banks of the Snake River, the boundary between Oregon and Idaho. You can’t get much further east in Oregon and still be in Oregon.Yet when I mentioned to someone who lived in the Wilmette Valley that I was from “Eastern Oregon”, the most common response I got was, “Oh, so you’re from Bend?”.

Now if you look at a map of Oregon, you will find that while Bend is east of the Cascades, it is actually west of the state’s center-line. Yet because it was “east” of the people living in the Wilmette Valley, they considered it “Eastern Oregon”.

(more…)

by @ 9:54 am. Filed under Uncategorized

October 20, 2011

Bold Ideas Department: Distributism?

Herman Cain has received a lot of attention and traction in the polls largely due to his 9-9-9 plan. It is understandable why. It is catchy, easy to remember and most important bold. If there is one thing groups as diverse as OWS and the Tea Party can agree on it is that we need to do something large and creative to get out of our current situation.

Cain should be applauded for getting this conversation started. It is in the spirit of this conversation that I write this post. I wrote a while back on another site about the concept, or philosophy, of Distributism. I am neither an expert in, nor a proponent of, this idea but I think it deserves an honest vetting.

It has been getting some play lately in certain traditionalist conservative circles. Rod Dreher has brought it up in connection with OWS; and British Red Tory, Phillip Blond discusses its potential in the Washington Post.

For those unfamiliar with this nearly 100 year old idea here is the CliffNotes version from Wikipedia:

According to distributism, the ownership of the means of production should be spread as widely as possible among the general populace, rather than being centralized under the control of the state (state socialism) or a few large businesses or wealthy private individuals (laissez-faire capitalism). A summary of distributism is found in Chesterton’s statement: “Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists.”

While Cain’s 9-9-9 plan seems to be lacking in intellectual rigor, Distributism has a well thought-out philosophical grounding. Whether a Republican candidate could tailor it to appeal to a primary audience I do not know. So I ask the grassroots readers here. What do you think?

Steve blogs regularly at his own site.

by @ 6:38 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

October 17, 2011

Does Rick Perry have an online problem?

All of the FEC reports are out now. Here’s my rundown on Rick Perry. (See the Mitt Romney rundown here).

Top level numbers first:

Perry Q3
Receipts $17,009,441
itemized $16,310,621
No itemized 10,091
Ave. itemized $1,616
unitemized $698,820
% unitemized 4.11%
Disbursements $2,098,466
COH $15,078,415
Debt $339,119

 

That is a solid kick off quarter for Perry. (Note: the quarter that you kick-off your campaign should be one of the strongest.)

Perry didn’t eclipse Romney’s Q2 kick-off of $18 Million but his $17 Million take in Q3 means this race is far from over.

Here’s my question though. Perry’s unitemized number is extremely low in my opinion. For a guy who kicked off his campaign at a Blogger’s forum I would expect the lower-end donations to be larger than 4% of the total donations. By comparison, Romney saw 14% of his donations unitemized. (more…)

by @ 10:05 am. Filed under Uncategorized

October 16, 2011

SNL’s Latest Republican Debate Spoof

Thought I’d share this with you all. I can’t figure out how to get NBC’s videos embedded but here’s the link to RealClearPolitics which has it. Enjoy.

by @ 8:45 pm. Filed under Misc., Uncategorized

October 14, 2011

Romney Q3 FEC Rundown

Here are the just released top level fundraising numbers for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign for Q3 and the primary cycle-to-date:

Romney Q3 Romney Q2 Romney CTD
Receipts $14,222,571 $18,383,257 $32,302,689
- itemized $12,080,051 $17,130,766 $29,210,817
- No. itemized 13,815 45,014 58,829
- Ave. itemized $874 $381 $497
- unitemized $1,988,416 $1,103,457 $3,091,873
Disbursements
$12,281,100 $5,668,385 $17,683,084
COH $14,656,966 $12,715,495

Romney is on a higher burn rate in Q3 now that the campaign is until full swing. While the number of itemized donors was down, the average dollar amount was up. In other words, Romney was able to bring in significant money with fewer high end contributors. Also note the decent uptick in unitemized contributions. An excellent sign that Romney can grab the Internet donors as well.

Here’s a select comparison of Q2 and Q3 disbursements with top dollar differences.

Type Q3 Q2 Diff
DIRECT MAIL PRINTING AND POSTAGE $2,721,308 $696,715 $2,024,593
FUNDRAISING CONSULTING $2,175,770 $669,961 $1,505,809
STRATEGY CONSULTING $915,732 $186,250 $729,482
PAYROLL $1,150,864 $576,710 $574,154
FACILITY RENTAL $429,209 $1,807 $427,402
WEB DEVELOPMENT $598,797 $329,485 $269,312
RENT & UTILITIES $280,285 $108,729 $171,556
CAMPAIGN PROMOTIONAL ITEMS $152,233 $10,109 $142,124
PAYROLL SERVICES/TAXES $305,685 $168,819 $136,866
NETWORK SUPPORT $157,773 $25,012 $132,761
LEGAL CONSULTING $147,712 $35,042 $112,670
DATA MANAGEMENT SERVICES $271,854 $173,296 $98,558
COMPLIANCE CONSULTING $141,039 $49,626 $91,412
PRINTING & DESIGN SERVICES $106,413 $30,492 $75,921
AUDIO VISUAL SERVICES $75,520 $871 $74,649
PHOTOGRAPHY SERVICES $62,726 $6,191 $56,535
SECURITY SERVICES $106,567 $50,462 $56,104
POLICY CONSULTING $45,775 $5,000 $40,775
TRAVEL: AIR $271,120 $233,688 $37,432
MERCHANT FEES $242,382 $208,231 $34,152
MOBILE PHONE EXPENSE $32,381 $3,487 $28,894
SELECT CATEGORY TOTALS $10,391,147 $3,569,984 $6,821,163

Notice the direct mail costs are kicking in which is common after 2 quarters. (For example, the mail cost billing can be deferred by the vendors for 90 days). Romney had about 30+ staff members in Q2 and is now pushing 60.

Bottom line: Romney is still in great position but needs to build on the momentum to win the money game in Q4.

Cross-posted on iHartPolitics.com

by @ 9:59 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

October 12, 2011

Debate Frustration & Exhaustion

Reading Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death has been an eye opening experience for me, and the recent string of GOP non-debates has only made the point of this book clearer. Postman’s premise is that television precludes serious thought or discussion because the medium itself sets the agenda. That agenda is always…always, entertainment.

Take the recent debates for example. Due to the fact that there are 8 (or 9) people on the stage, and due to the fact that the moderators must keep the show moving, the candidates rarely have enough time for a well structured sentence, never mind a cogent  argument.

Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan was the main topic of the most recent event, yet does anyone feel like they know the ramifications or implications of this plan? Of course not, and the fault is not entirely Cain’s. How can he explain the intricate details of a complete restructuring of the tax code in a one minute sound bite. Even given the fact that he had 4 or 5 opportunities to do so, the expectation of a reasoned response is ludicrous.

One moderator brought up the fact that one analysis of the plan found it seriously lacking. His response? The analysis contained inaccurate assumptions. OK, fine, then what are the right assumptions? We were never able to get to that because the moderator, and in truth the audience, wanted to move on to the next point, the next one liner, the next zinger.

And what about Romney’s health care law? Instead of an actual argument either for or against it we simply get more talking points about mandates, as if the very fact that the federal government mandates something makes it wrong. But the government mandates things all the time (driver’s licenses, car insurance, pasteurized milk, education). The real argument isn’t about a mandate, it is about whether or not health care is best run by a bureaucracy or by a free market company. I’d love to really see that argument played out in full, but it will never happen.

Here is my dream for a real debate. Limit the participants to 4 candidates. Let each one spend 15 minutes detailing a plan on health care, tax structure or job growth. Then spend the following 15 minutes with the opponents questioning the speaker. This would give each candidate a full half hour to really get into a topic.

It won’t happen. We are sure to hear Cain chant 9-9-9, and Perry make empty promises about energy independence at least another half a dozen times, and we will be non the wiser for it.

Steve blogs regularly here.

by @ 6:35 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

September 28, 2011

Open Letter to 2012 Candidates

-An economic/energy plan that is pro-growth, pro-small business, pro-big oil and green-

I know, the subtitle seems like an oxymoron right? But stay with me. This idea could save our nation, making the 21st century just as America-dominant as the 20th. Or, it could be an opportunity to poke holes in this and make me look like an amateur- that could be fun too, right?

First, let me admit right up front that I am not an economist; I do not have an MBA from Harvard; I have never been an elected official. However, I am a reasonably intelligent guy who enjoys reading and writing about politics and policy. After spending a few days researching I have stumbled across an idea that I think could be a unifying one for any of the 2012 candidates for the Republican nomination. We could bring together all conservatives and pick off a generous portion of pro-climate change greens as well.

But I need your help.

I know here at Race42012 there are a number of people with more experience in this area than me, and I am counting on you guys to vet this idea. Tell me where it goes wrong. Why won’t it work. Who knows, we may be able to create a grassroots conservative movement that deals with specifics, not just angry rants and platitudes.

The first component of this plan comes from something I found on NPR of all places. I had heard about the oil boom in the American West before, but it was this article that really opened my eyes to the possibilities it presents. Turns out the United States has a very real chance to become the leading source of oil for the foreseeable future:

Two years ago, America was importing about two thirds of its oil. Today, according to the Energy Information Administration, it imports less than half. And by 2017, investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts the US could be poised to pass Saudi Arabia and overtake Russia as the world’s largest oil producer.

More:

Amy Myers Jaffe of Rice University says in the next decade, new oil in the US, Canada and South America could change the center of gravity of the entire global energy supply…

 

The US, Jaffe says, could have 2 trillion barrels of oil waiting to be drilled. South America could hold another 2 trillion. And Canada? 2.4 trillion. That’s compared to just 1.2 trillion in the Middle East and north Africa.

 

Jaffe says those new oil reserves, combined with growing turmoil in the Middle East, will “absolutely propel more and more investment into the energy resources in the Americas.”
The United States should actively promote this drilling by any means available. With the growing demand in countries like China and India, this could become an enormous opportunity for economic growth. Trade deficits could vanish virtually overnight. Someone is going to feed developing economies oil- why not us? This part of the plan is obviously beneficial to big oil and large business. But the snowball effect could lead to benefits for others as well.

Spur on small business growth with a radical change to the tax policy that even the greens will like.

The second part of this plan comes from Walter Russell Mead- no neo-con to be sure, but an intelligent thinker nonetheless. Here is his idea (emphasis mine):

It has long seemed to me that replacing the payroll tax (the employer and employee taxes for Social Security and Medicare) with a revenue neutral carbon tax would shift the tax burden from job creation and wages to carbon consumption. This would be good social policy in the United States whether or not you are worried about global warming. It would encourage employment and accelerate the development of a high tech and service economy in the US.

This tax shift, not hike, would free up companies to hire without bringing on new tax expenses. It would also encourage the development of green technologies in a much more free market manner. The recent Solyndra affair highlights why government subsidies for selected technologies will not work. It makes the government the decider on which ideas are profitable  and not the free market. If companies want to lower their tax bills they will develop innovative ideas on their own. This is how to use capitalism for good social policy and profit.

The (nearly) immediate benefits of this plan seem solid:

  • Safe oil leads to national security and huge oil profits
  • Tax relief for companies wanting to hire new employees
  • Incentive for newer green technologies

However, there is a long term benefit as well. Eventually a peak oil event will occur- oil is not limitless after all. Countries like China and India will eventually desire greener alternatives as well. With America leading the way in green innovation, developed not through government intervention, but through free market competition, our economic security would seem to be assured for a long time to come.

OK, now it is your turn. Where is my reasoning off? From this layman’s view this plan seems like a winner. If a 2012 candidate took it on- someone with the business acumen and real-world experience to really sell it- it could unite conservatives, independents and even a few greens. This would surely be a winning combination.

Wouldn’t it?

Steve writes regularly at his own site.

by @ 9:30 am. Filed under Uncategorized

September 6, 2011

Poll Watch: National GOP Primary (NBC/WSJ)

NBC / Wall Street Journal National Republican Primary Poll

  • Perry – 38% (11)
  • Romney – 23% (30)
  • Paul – 9% (9)
  • Bachmann – 8% (16)
  • Cain – 5% (5)
  • Gingrich – 5% (8)
  • Santorum – 3% (3)
  • Huntsman – 2% (2)

Survey of 1,000 adults was conducted August 27-31 and has a margin of error of +/-3.1%. Numbers from their July 17 poll are in parentheses.

by @ 10:14 am. Filed under Uncategorized

September 4, 2011

The GOP’s Talking Points of the Week

So with everyone in Washington suddenly worried about jobs (only nearly four years after the recession started, over 2.5 years since President Obama took office, and eight months after the GOP became the majority in the House of Representatives), it’s clear what the debate and media focus will be full of this week. Romney, Huntsman, Obama, and the House GOP are leading the charge on this, and everyone else is bound to fall in line.

However, let’s not let a little thing like 9.1% average unemployment and 25% unemployment for teenagers take us away from the heart and soul of the 2012 race for many politicos: bashing the other team. And with that in mind, here is a three-fer to attack the President with:

1. Obama’s policies, a continuation of bad Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan and pretty much every other modern President’s policies on immigration, have let around seven million illegal immigrants take jobs in America. With Friday’s employment numbers showing 14 million Americans unemployed, this means illegal immigrants are preventing unemployment from being lower than five percent.

2. An audit of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) found $4.2 billion in tax refunds went to illegal immigrants. (H/T to Hot Air.) Claims for the program under which the tax refunds were given have jumped from $953 million in 2005 to $4.2 billion in 2010.

3. Obama should work with Republicans to simplify our tax code, eliminating this kind of improper use of taxpayer funds. He should stop doing a backdoor amnesty. And he should join with Republicans in giving law-abiding Americans the opportunities to find work that his stimulus, Cash for Clunkers and his many other failed programs have been unable to do.

The one-line takeaway: An IRS audit shows 4.2 billion of your tax dollars went to illegal immigrants because of a loophole, while PolitiFact says seven million illegal immigrants have taken your jobs. What is President Obama doing about this? He’s pushing a backdoor amnesty and playing golf.

P.S. This is why I stick to writing about the Debt-Paying Generation, jobs, etc. from a policy perspective, and bash both parties- I feel like my hands are dirty after such a party-hack post… I need to go wash my keyboard now. :)

by @ 6:34 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

September 3, 2011

Weekend Miscellany

Green Jobs
Even liberal news outlets, such as San Francisco’s NBC station, recognize that the failure of Solyndra this week is a major blow to Obama after his ceaseless talk about green jobs, and his equally ceaseless use of the word ‘investment’ as a euphemism for ‘government spending’ (if putting $535mil in a company like this is his idea of a good investment, I’m glad he’s not my financial advisor).

President Obama faces political catastrophe in the form of Solyndra — a San Francisco Bay area solar company that he touted as a gleaming example of green technology. It has announced it will declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy. More than 1,100 people will lose their jobs.

And Solyndra is not the only solar firm to go belly-up recently. Via EspressoPundit, here’s an interesting juxtaposition of headlines from a recent Arizona Republic:

It’s worth noting, by the way, that a major investor in Solyndra, George Kaiser, was a big donor to Obama in 2008. But I’m sure that played no role in Solyndra getting half a billion taxpayer dollars. As an aside, I guess one of the 1100 people who will be losing their jobs in the shutdown has already lost his/hers – the webmaster. I say that based on a look at their homepage. Perhaps the White House might loan them some help to get that image removed.

Even before the Solyndra shutdown, Walter Russell Mead had this excellent piece on the green jobs illusion. He offers several examples, of which I’ll cite only one:

On his recent jobs tour Obama stopped at a Johnson Controls plant in southern Michigan, which received $300 million in green grants and plans to create a whopping total of 150 jobs, at a cost of $2 million per position.

When, as Mead notes, even the New York Times has figured it out (“Federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show”), you know that the game is over.

Related: Here’s a handy summary from Hotline of candidates’ positions on global warming. It’s already outdated, though; the same day it was published, Mitt Romney adjusted his position to being a bit more of a skeptic.

A Bit of Nostalgia
While wandering the streets near where I’m staying in the London burbs, I saw this sign at a gas station:

The prices induced a wave of nostalgia. They are, of course, in pounds per liter, and convert to about $8.35 per gallon – which should make you feel better if you’re driving somewhere this Labor Day weekend.

The Jewish Candidate
According to this article, sent to me by MWS, some Jewish donors are withholding funds from Mitt Romney because they would rather contribute to fellow Jew Michele Bachmann.

Some Jewish donors are telling fund-raisers for Romney, a Mormon, that while they like him, they’d rather open their wallets for the “Jewish candidate,” who they don’t realize is actually a Lutheran, The Post has learned.

“It’s a real problem,” one Romney fund-raiser said. “We’re working very hard in the Jewish community because of Obama’s Israel problem. This was surprising.”

I pass it along for amusement purposes, since I can’t really believe that any serious Jewish donor would not know that Bachmann isn’t Jewish.

Miscellaneous Miscellany

Should Ugly People Be Protected from Discrimination?
This guy thinks so. I’d love to know how they would determine who qualifies. Perhaps some version of ‘Hot or Not?’

Sixty Trips to Get a Permit
So this guy gets a permit to operate a food truck in Detroit. After making about sixty visits to city hall over a six month period. Does anyone have any questions about why Detroit is, er, Detroit?

Failed Candidates Who Changed History
C-SPAN is going to have a series starting this week on candidates (such as Barry Goldwater) who lost, but had a huge impact on the course of history (perhaps larger, in some cases, than the winner). Looks interesting, for history nerds like me. There’s a video and discussion of the show at the link.

The Outcome of Kelo
Kelo v. New London wasn’t merely a low point in the history of the Supreme Court, it appears to be a low point for New London as well. After stealing people’s homes and giving the property to a developer … the development failed and the city ended up with a big empty lot.

by @ 1:46 pm. Filed under Misc., Uncategorized

August 25, 2011

Poll Watch: Iowa GOP Caucuses (Magellan)

Magellan Iowa Republican Caucuses

  • Perry – 24% (-)
  • Bachmann – 22% (29%)
  • Romney – 19% (16)
  • Paul – 9% (5)
  • Cain – 6% (8)
  • Gingrich – 4% (5)
  • Santorum – 4% (3)
  • Huntsman – 1% (-)
  • Undecided – 8% (24)

Favorability Ratings

  • Perry – 55/20
  • Bachmann – 60/27
  • Romney – 49/33
  • Cain – 42/27
  • Santorum – 37/28
  • Paul – 33/47
  • Gingrich – 38/46
  • Huntsman – 7/49

Survey of 676 likely caucus goers was conducted August 22-23, and has a margin of error of +/-3.77%. Numbers from the July 13 survey are in parentheses.

by @ 8:16 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

August 21, 2011

Weekend Miscellany

US Attorney Says Murdered Border Agent’s Family Aren’t Crime Victims
Giving the family of murder victims status as victims themselves is pretty much standard practice – allowing them to participate in the trial and to speak at the sentencing. These rights are granted under the federal Crime Victims Rights Act. Usually, it is the defense that tries to block such participation.

In the case of the murder of Brian Terry, however, it is the US Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, who is objecting. Brian Terry was killed with one of the 2000 weapons that the feds’ ‘Fast & Furious’ fiasco put into the hands of the Sinaloa Cartel.

And guess who was in charge of Fast & Furious: Dennis Burke.

No wonder he doesn’t want the family to testify. He wants this whole thing swept under the rug as much as possible (a task in which the Obama Administration and the mainstream media are assisting him).

I shouldn’t need to add, but I will – Burke is a loyal acolyte of Janet Napolitano, having been her chief of staff when she was governor.

Coming Out
It’s time for me to admit it – I’m cisgendered.

Among my many weirdnesses is that I’m fascinated by words, and a recent newsletter on words alerted me to a relatively new one – cisgendered. The prefix ‘cis-‘ means ‘on this side’, which is the opposite of ‘trans-‘. As you might guess, the need to create a word to describe people who are not transgendered is driven by political correctness – we could not, of course, call them ‘normal’. Such a judgmental word.

The term ‘cisgendered’ is used [instead of the more popular ‘gender normative’] to refer to people who do not identify with a gender diverse experience, without enforcing existence of a ‘normative’ gender expression.

Have You Had Sex with Rick Perry?
Continuing the sexual theme, a Ron Paul supporter in Texas is running the following full page ad in a popular Austin weekly:

As if our politics had not gone deeply enough into the gutter.

You can read a little about the wacko who placed the ad here.

Although the Perry campaign responded by pointing out the guy’s record of nuttiness, I preferred Ad Age’s response (in part):

  • I have never acceded to Mitt Romney’s demands for an erotic scalp massage.
  • I have never spanked or been spanked by Herman Cain while wearing a Godfather’s Pizza delivery-boy uniform.
  • I have never been in a Newt Gingrich-Buddy Roemer sandwich.
  • I have never Googled Rick Santorum.

Quickly Noted
The Imperial Presidency: If you don’t think the pomp of the presidency has gotten out of hand, take a look at the motorcade film here.
Which Republican candidates despise each other?: A handy guide to who hates and fears whom.
Latino Approval of Obama Plunges to 49%: Which may explain why he decided to effectively grant amnesty by executive fiat.

Posting will be irregular (and at odd hours) for the next several weeks, since I’m out of the country on a business project. But, as always, please feel free to add your own Miscellany in the comments.

by @ 8:13 am. Filed under Misc., Uncategorized

August 2, 2011

A Democracy in Decline

One of my favorite movies is the 1995 film, Rob Roy, a story about, among other things, the danger of concentrating too much power in too few hands. In the film, the character Rob Roy is a hard-working man of high ethics who is enjoying a prosperous life via the sweat of his brow. But the protagonist soon finds his life torn asunder, with his wife raped, his wealth confiscated, and his village burnt to the ground, and a death sentence on his head to boot. The protagonist’s misfortune, however, came not from his own doing. Nor did it constitute collateral damage from some sort of messy military conflict that, while unfortunate, turned out to be necessary in the grand scheme of things. Quite to the contrary, Rob Roy found his entire life taken from him due solely to a petty, personal squabble between two men of nobility who were constantly trying to humiliate, embarrass, and trump one another’s actions, for no other reason than personal amusement.

This sort of abuse of power, of course, was supposed to disappear upon the advent of democracy, when the concept of one-person, one-vote would prevent the few from dominating the many. Indeed, the great concern of small-d democrats was that the many may end up dominating the few once democracy was instituted. Interestingly, it has taken just two and a half centuries for the world’s greatest democracy to seemingly revert back to the model of the Everyman twisting in the wind as his supposed betters toy with destroying his life and livelihood in order to do nothing more than get under their opponents’ skin. And everything comes full circle.

The recent battle over the debt ceiling was a low point for democracy in America, as the nation’s two major political parties acted not as statesmen, but as showmen, holding the country hostage in a perverse game of “chicken” in order to see which side would give in to the relatively meaningless demands of the other. And the demands were indeed meaningless. No amount of fiddling around the edges of taxes and spending are going to solve the country’s debt crisis. The only solution is structural reform in a number of areas where government interacts with American life. But the politicians in Washington don’t want to hear about that. They simply want to use this and every other crisis to continue their half-century battle over the cultural and economic revolutions of the late 20th Century, with Republicans’ convinced that the biggest problem in America is NPR, and Democrats certain that all of our problems will go away if marginal income tax rates are raised by 4 percentage points for upper income Americans.

But these issues are petty indeed, and the fact that both parties essentially held the American economy hostage in order to obtain “bragging rights” is evidence that our democracy may be nearer to its end than its beginning. Again, our debt problem is a structural problem, and a structural problem requires a structural solution. But structural solutions tend to create seismic change, and seismic change creates winners and losers, the latter of whom are inclined to vote against those public officials at the ballot box who enacted such change in the first place. If Washington were filled with statesmen, though, we’d see grand compromises in order to enact those structural changes that are necessary to save the nation from decline, and from drowning in debt.

The structural changes that are needed are well known to most policy wonks, and third rails to most politicians. The tax code needs to be restructured to reward savings and investment, to close loopholes, and to allocate capital more efficiently. The way that government interacts with health care needs to be restructured to lower costs. Anyone who’s looked at the long-term Medicare and Medicaid projections knows that. Social Security needs to be restructured to provide a greater rate of return to an aging population. Education needs to be restructured to direct money away from public employee benefits and security and towards students, and to slowly deflate the student loan bubble that has transformed colleges and universities into the equivalent of subprime mortgages. Defense needs to be restructured in a way that re-evaluates America’s commitments around the world.

But all of these things are hard. And politicians don’t come to Washington to do hard things. They come to Washington to fight about whether we’re going to be Red Americans or Blue Americans, fueled by the desires of scores of aging Baby Boomers who have nothing better to do than get hot and bothered while watching Fox News and listening to talk radio, enjoying their Social Security and Medicare benefits while calling and emailing their Republican elected officials and informing them that they’d better vote to destroy the country, or else. The Boomers, still on a quest for personal validation, would rather take the country down with them than admit that the cultural revolution of the 1960s might be a settled issue.

Even more pathetic though were the cowering candidates for president, so terrified of the news-entertainment complex that constitutes the right-wing media that many of them all but hid in their respective offices until a deal was reached. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman remains a notable exception, showing that he is neither a coward nor crazy by endorsing a deal to raise the debt ceiling, and possibly providing himself a path to the presidency in 2016 should a president with a 40 percent approval rating be re-elected over a Republican field that has failed to earn the respect of the nation. Jon Huntsman is a statesmen. The rest are barely men at all.

It is indeed ironic for a democracy to become a “tyranny of the minority,” but such a dynamic is the logical consequence of the collapse of a national sense of civic duty. When the broader population is content to be placated by bread and circuses, the substantive decisions about the direction of our nation will be left to public officials disproportionately influenced by collections of interests, and by those voters who are so ideologically wedded to a particular point of view that they demand fealty to their articles of faith and not to matters of fact. It is the latter, of course, that those who we elect to public office must address in order for the nation to survive, as a democracy or otherwise.

by @ 9:16 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

July 6, 2011

Veepin’ it: some wild speculations.

No matter who our eventual nominee is, one of the first things the Republican presidential candidate will have to decide is who he (or she) puts on the ticket as VP. Traditionally, many candidates choose from the pool of their defeated rivals, hoping to select a running-mate who has survived the vetting process in tact, but will bring something to the table which they themselves lack. One might, for example, imagine Mitt Romney selecting someone like Michelle Bachmann or Herman Cain as a VP, to try and court disaffected tea partiers. In my opinion, however, it would behoove the eventual nominee to look beyond his/her former opponents. Thus, here are a few suggestions for possible running-mates who are not running for President, and the plusses, and minuses, they bring to the table.

1. Luis Fortuno:

I’ve been a Fortuno-watcher since his successful resident commissioner run in 2004, but for those not familiar with a man called the “Chris Christie of the Caribbean” by sum, here are the highlights. Fortuno was elected Resident Commissioner (that’s the sitting but non-voting Puerto Rican member of the house) on the ballot-line of the New Progressive Party, the statehood party in Puerto Rico. While the NPP is considered the slightly more conservative party in PR, most NPPers elected Resident Commissioner, like those of the Popular Democratic Party, sit as Democrats; Fortuno broke with this tradition, and sat as a Republican. He was endorsed in that race by the Club for Growth, and, in 2008, ran for Governor of Puerto Rico, and won comfortably. All reports are that Fortuno has governed quite conservatively while in office–hence the “Christie of the Caribbean” nickname, and with a particular eye toward shrinking the size and scope of the Puerto Rican government. As a governor of one of our extra-continental territories, Fortuno has gained international experience greater than most governors. Needless to say, his selection would send a powerful message about the GOP’s openness to Hispanic voters.

Down sides: Fortuno suffers from low name recognition (how many of you, my readers, have heard of him)? In addition, he would probably need to establish residency in one of the states; so long as it was a different state than the nominee, he’d be fine on this angle. I’m not enough of an election law expert to know how much of a problem this actually is, but it could be a hick-up. There’s also the “not ready for the national stage” issue. Sarah Palin was caught off-guard by her selection as the nominee, and attacked brutally once that selection was made. Fortuno would have to be ready for this level of scrutiny on day 1; is he ready, and equally to the point, willing, to go through that?

Conclusion: I think Fortuno would be an excellent choice for any of the top-tier candidates. If he is indeed a Christie-like figure who is Hispanic and has some international experience, he could be ideal. He would need more vetting, but could be a huge win.

2. Bobby Jindal:

He’s a young governor with a planet-sized brain, who has governed Louisiana, and can boast considerable accomplishments. Democrats are not really fielding a candidate against him in 2011, meaning he should cruise to reelection. What he lacks in charisma, he makes up for in pure intellect, and he has a great American Dream story. There’s very little not to like about Bobby Jindal.

Down sides: Jindal flubbed his 2009 SOTU response pretty badly (not that it’s really possible to give a stellar SOTU response). This is mostly important because it demonstrates that Jindal isn’t likely to light up a crowd with his charisma. If a candidate is looking for flash, Jindal might not be the guy. Also, can one actually make it to the top in LA without skeletons? Jindal seems clean in that regard, but the media will go after the eventual VP nominee like dogs on a bone. There’s also the question of whether Jindal will actually want it. He’ll be just starting his second term, and may feel he has unfinished business in LA he needs to take care of before seeking the national spotlight.

Conclusion: Another very very solid choice I could get excited about. Perhaps a better match for a candidate who can excite the base, but who needs to counter a light-weight narrative.

3. Bob McDonnell:

Though he’s been eclipsed of late by Chris Christie, the man who won at the same time he did, Bob McDonnell is an impressive figure in his own right. He’s governed Virginia well, and sports very good approval ratings in a must-win state for Republicans. McDonnell is a solid social conservative, though not in a super-demonstrative way, and the so-con card has been played against him–hard–already by the beltway media, with no result whatsoever. McDonnell is a good speaker and, beneficially, might actually be interested in the job, as he’s term limited in 2013 anyway.

Down sides: Three years as governor isn’t a lot of experience, and could be pounced on by the Obama campaign. McDonnell’s so-con stuff could be more of an issue in a national election than it was in Virginia, though it would be a stretch.

Conclusion: It’s a little early, but I think this is overwhelmed by the potential plusses. A solid choice for any northern Republican candidate looking to add some southern support.

4. Marco Rubio:

Do I really need to discuss the plusses Rubio would bring? Let me pick up on a few aside from the obvious he’s-a-ridiculously-charismatic-Hispanic-from-a-swing-state ones. He’s on the senate foreign relations committee, meaning he’ll have more of a foreign policy bent than you’d expect from a first-term senator. He actually won non-Cuban Hispanics in Florida, which might translate to greater shares of the Hispanic vote nation-wide. Finally, he would make it incredibly difficult for Obama to win Florida.

Down sides: Two years in the senate really isn’t enough time to build the kind of experience you want from a VP candidate. Also, Rubio might be a bit too Bushlike for some in the tea parties, once he moves to a national level.

Conclusion: I’d prefer to save Rubio for 2016 or 2020, but would still love him as a VP pick.

4. Pat Toomey:

His 2004 campaign was one of the first I ever worked on. He was tea party way before it was cool, but has made peace with the notably prickly PA GOP establishment. His credentials as a full-spectrum conservative are hard to beat, and he’s played an out-sized role in economic matters even as a first-termer. Oh, and he could put PA in play.

Down sides: pretty much the same as Rubio. Plus, he’s not a super-charismatic guy; more of a policy wonk (though he does fire people up).

Conclusion: Another excellent choice, but perhaps too soon.

5. Susana Martinez:

A conservative Republican, Hispanic woman governing a swingy border state, who has 52 percent approval ratings when many other newly-elected Republicans are taking it on the chin? The case for her is self-evident.

Down sides: Plucking a governor halfway through her term is risky, both for the presidential candidate and the governor’s future political career. Martinez is definitely one to watch, but should we perhaps get her reelected first?

Conclusion: I really, really like Susana Martinez, but it’s almost certainly too soon.

6. Nikki Haley:

She’s got the same plusses as Martinez, but is perhaps a shade more conservative and not from a swing state.

Down sides: The same minuses as Martinez as well.

Conclusion: I also really like Haley, but it’s probably too early, and she doesn’t seem interested.

7. Allen West:

He’s a fiery tea party sensation, African-American, with an impressive (and controversial) military background. Plus, his district could get tougher after redistricting, or cease to exist altogether. A West selection would be an instant hit with the base.

Down sides: The media attack on West would be brutal, relentless, and make Sarah Palin 2008 look like an elementary-school kick-ball game by comparison. Also, a first-term congressman is a bit thin on qualifications.

Conclusion: way too soon, but a rising star nonetheless.

8. Chris Christie:

Everybody knows Chris Christie, and why his selection as VP would be awesome.

Down sides: He really doesn’t seem interested in the slightest. Plus, we actually may need him more as governor of New Jersey than in the VP slot.

Conclusion: 2016.

9. Tom Coburn:

Mr. conservative, a dedicated spending hawk who has nevertheless demonstrated an ability to work across the isle. Has a great personal story.

Down sides: Oklahoma is pretty solidly in the red column already.

Conclusion: An excellent choice for someone like Romney, Huntsman or maybe Pawlenty.

10. Paul Ryan:

He’s super-intelligent, and has been out-front on the issues nearest and dearest to the public’s concern at the moment.

Down sides: He’s already being demagogued, and we almost certainly need him in the house more than we need him as VP.

Conclusion: He needs to fight the good fight in congress.

by @ 4:35 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

July 4, 2011

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

by @ 8:12 am. Filed under Uncategorized

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