Friday, January 28, 2011

Huckabee Continues to Lead Narrowing GOP Pack in Polling – Focus WV and NC – Pence Out – The East Coast Factors Huckabee?

Huckabee Continues to Lead/Polls Best in Hypothetical 2012 match up

Public Policy Polling has been conducting a series of State and National Polls featuring 2012 GOP “potential” candidates versus President Obama beginning as early as April of 2009 In that survey, Obama led the four top GOP Contenders, with Mike Huckabee gaining the highest “favorability” ranking of the top four (Huckabee, Palin, Romney and Gingrich). However, polling fortunes have reversed as of late, and Huckabee is clearly leading the pack in the polling conducted since early 2009. Obama had led all “contenders” up until January 22, 2010, when Huckabee took a slim lead over the President, with Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin falling points behind the President. The survey’s released since that point have had little changes as far as the GOP “Field” used for polling purposes is concerned, with Huckabee either leading or at the top of the “pack”.

In the most recent surveys, all 2012 potential GOP candidates best Obama in West Virginia, normally a stalwart Democrat state. (See full PFD report Here ). In this survey conducted on January 27th, 2011, Huckabee leads Obama by the widest margin: 54-36, Romney garners 4 points less, Gingrich, a 10 point advantage over Obama and Palin, for the first time, a 2 point advantage.

In North Carolina, however, Obama leads all Potential (GOP) candidates, however, Huckabee continues to Best the balance of the “potential” candidates in North Carolina.

While the media is concerned with the fact that no Republican has announced so “late in the game”, so to speak, however, when one looks at the 2008 general election, candidate announcements were made in 2007: Romney declared in February of 2007,, In January of 2007, Huckabee announced an exploratory committee, and at the end of January formally announced his intent to run, Guilianni announced in February of 2007, and John McCain formally entered the race in April of that year.

Therefore, in the grand scheme of things, the old adage, “act in haste, repent in leisure”, may be in order. Of the contenders, Romney and Huckabee both came “out of the gate” somewhat early, both losing to McCain who announced later in the Spring of 2007, giving his team more time to conduct political intelligence, and decide which way the political winds might be blowing before jumping in. Most of the top field, when asked, is looking at a summer announcement of intent, in that way, as it has been noted in several articles on the subject, overexposure is used as the reason for holding any formal announcements. The wait also gives those in the “potential top condensers” field, more time to review polls as well as see who else may enter or not, as in the case of one Mike Pence who announced this week, he will not run.

One also has to take into consideration that the “front runners” have been polled by a variety of firms since 2009, giving them the opportunity to weigh their political futures by the numbers, earlier, and with less of an investment. Additionally, the four in the top field, all have PAC’s (Political Action Committees) as discussed in an earlier article on GOP Potential Candidates Media A List”.

What the continued lead by Huckabee tells us, specifically from a polling institute that “leans Democrat”, is that Huckabee has a general appeal, even among some Democrats. In the words of one “New York, East Coast Elitist, Liberal (whom this blog highly respects), the reason may be simple: We don’t really expect Obama to win in 2012, so we need to see who we can stomach, Huckabee is the only one”. Pointed out: an irrational aversion to Sarah Palin (one which has no reasoning besides “I can’t stand her voice!”), an apparent remark by Mitt Romney at an event during the 2008 campaign that alienated the entire “pack”, and Gingrich, well, Gingrich is old and boring, like McCain. As the mainstream media seriously gets involved in reporting on those who have announced, one may still find Huckabee’s write-ups with a first paragraph lead-in describing the Governor as a “Baptist Minister”, however, one might find that the tone may change, specifically during the early part of 2012, should it appear that Obama cannot be reelected, and should Huckabee announce, the lead in will likely read “2 term Governor of the State of Arkansas, and watch especially for the Hope, AR tie in to the Clintons (real or imagined). As Huckabee continues to do well with Independents, (the Beltway Conservatives will be his biggest detractors), and with Democrats (not Progressives mind you), then it would appear that, from this perspective, Huckabee is sitting in the “cat birds seat” as far as the field of 2012 “potentials” are concerned. Granted, should Huckabee decide against a run, this becomes moot. On Trump entering the fray: This will make for theater, can you imagine those debates? (Ratings, Ratings Ratings!)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

State of the Union – Obama Hits Centrist Civil Tone – Number One – Put Business First – Republican and Tea Party Responses - Ideological Differences

The President Delivered an even toned State of the Union address last evening. The speech and tone itself was not particularly rousing, however, the content made one keenly aware that, with the President, clearly defining the fact that there were ideological differences, was ready and willing to work with the new Republican majority. The audience in attendance, included a first, cross political aisle seating arrangement, that gave the appearance, at least from this perspective, of a United Front, specifically when the President addressed getting down to business. In the audience sat CEO’s of fortune 500 companies, along with other dignitaries who were guests of the President, Speaker Boehner or others in position to give out “seats at the table” of democracy in action. Clearly, the fact that we, as a nation, enjoy the ability to argue a variety of ideologies, and elect those who we send to Congress or the White House to work for the United States of America, was part and parcel of the speech.

The full text of the address is available at

On the Tax Code: Obama on Corporate Tax Reform – Understanding that the U.S. does not exactly entice corporations to come to our shores, despite loopholes, a flat corporate tax, and elimination of loopholes that favor one industry over another, may be the ticket to making the U.S a Corporate destination. Although one may disagree with the Presidents singling out the Oil Industry for certain tax breaks – it is imperative, for the nation to lower the corporate tax in order to create business – it does not take an economist to understand that once corporations move to the U.S., or in many cases, back to the U.S., they will actually pay a tax, hire workers who will pay taxes, and thereby aid in reducing the deficit.

The President may try to sell Investments in certain aspects of our society, specifically education, as – literally an investment, instead of the reality of building bigger government programs that said – it is at least a start in the right direction. If he were to have added, remove the corrupt unions and insure that our children have the best teachers, without our cities and municipalities being forced by unions to keep in place teachers that have failed, would have made one think that Obama crossed the aisle by becoming a Republican!

The section of the Speech on Business and the Tax Code:(Source: Miami Herald)

Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change.
So tonight, I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years – without adding to our deficit.
To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014 – because the more we export, the more jobs we create at home. Already, our exports are up. Recently, we signed agreements with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs in the United States. And last month, we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs. This agreement has unprecedented support from business and labor; Democrats and Republicans, and I ask this Congress to pass it as soon as possible.
Before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with American workers, and promote American jobs. That’s what we did with Korea, and that’s what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia, and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks.
To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I’ve ordered a review of government regulations. When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. But I will not hesitate to create or enforce commonsense safeguards to protect the American people. That’s what we’ve done in this country for more than a century. It’s why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe. It’s why we have speed limits and child labor laws. It’s why last year; we put in place consumer protections against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies, and new rules to prevent another financial crisis. And it’s why we passed reform that finally prevents the health insurance industry from exploiting patients.

Additionally, the President spoke, in a roundabout way, on the Repeal of the Health Care Law that Congress Passed in their first new majority session: (Source: Miami Herald)

Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law. So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.

It is a start, it is recognition that there needs to be a step back to the drawing board, in order to protect both both business as well as the individual.

Finally, without using the word “exceptionalism”, Obama made it quite clear that the United States is the most exceptional of nations, in this speech, he spoke to what we, as a nation, have done to surpass any other, and how, because, not in spite of our political differences, we are the best nation on earth. (Paraphrasing).

It was overall a speech designed to give all of us hope that the President and the new Congress will work, or attempt to work out their difference, and move us forward to a more business friendly climate that will bring new jobs and increase our productivity. What this speech did was separate Obama from his ideological predecessors by using language that was not hard party line or rhetorical, but open to “congressional negotiations”. There were, obviously, parts of the address that were specifically aimed at the Progressives; however, they were few and far between.

The usual Republican Response was delivered by Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) and a Tea Party Response was delivered by Representative Michele Bachman, both videos shown below. What is of interest is that the Tea Party asked a Representative, or the Respective Volunteered to respond in kind with the Republican, as a separate opposition Political Party. One must, however, keep in mind that the 112th Congress includes members of the Tea Party who ran on the Republican Ticket. The two parties do share the same fiscal and constitutional ideologies, with the Tea Party evidently taking the steps, albeit small ones to being the formation of a third political party that appeals to the disenfranchised moderates and fiscal conservatives from both the Republican and Democrat party ranks. The response by Bachman was pooh-poohed by some members of the press along with, of course, the Republican response. Bachmann’s text is available at

How big of an impact did the State of the Union have on those die hard Progressives? If one can stand to watch, also included is the response from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on both Obama’s reaching out to Business and her take on Michelle Bachmann.

Progressive Responses (MSNBC)

Republican Response (ABC News)

Tea Party Response (CNN)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Union Much Ado About Bi-Partisan Seating! Media Mocks, The Supreme Court Walks

Calvin Coolidge Delivers State of the Union - image

When the President addresses the nation in his State of the Union address tonight, journalist will be looking at every angle, as political junkies grab the popcorn and sit back and watch as the President must vie for attention with members of both Houses of Congress. The reason – bi-partisan seating – for the first time in recent history, members of the two major parties will sit together rather than in their usual along party lines arrangements. This has caused quite a stir among certain outlets: The Boston Herald‘sheadline reads: “Bipartisan buddy system in place for State of the Union”, giving the list of Senators and members of Congress who will be crossing the aisle tonight to sit in unison rather than by political party. The big question posed by this particular article? Does every member have a “date” for the “prom”, noting the event “is morphing into Washington’s most awkward date night. “ Members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation along with both Senators, have chosen to sit with members of the opposite “team”. The best quote of the article goes to MA2 District Representative, Richard Neal, who quipped: ”There are people that leave the prom and eventually marry,” Bay State Congressman Richard Neal said yesterday. “I’m not sure this is that case.”

Two of the Massachusetts Delegation will be going “stag”, McGovern (MA3) and Tsongas (MA5), although Tsongas intends to sit on the “Republican side” of the aisle. (Boston Herald). The Globe has written much the same article : “Brown to cross aisle for presidential address”, the first thing one sees directly below the headline is Representative Tsongas, with quotes from the 5th districts representative: “Niki Tsongas will attend the president’s speech alone. “Frankly,” she said. “I haven’t been looking for a date.” (Boston Globe)

The Washington Post, however, goes beyond date night and voices concerns regarding the mixed seating plans as it may skew the number of standing ovations that the President may receive – they worry that Democrat members of Congress may stand, while their Republican counterparts sit, which would, on the face of it, appear just as ridiculous as watching the usual sit and stand by party at every State of the Union, with the Post noting the number of occasions when both parties have risen in unison for a line in an address by President going back to 1978. A group pushing bi-partisanship, No Lables” is responsible for the count of State of the Union calisthenics, and just which President at which speech got bi-partisan standing “o’s” (Washington Post).

The question is does it really matter? The President will be giving a set speech regarding the State of the Union, one which, like every speech ever made by a sitting President, will contain some solemnity, some jokery and some partisanship, not always in equal measures. It is the time when those who actually watch (outside of the media, the aforementioned political junkies and those without any type of cable television) look for the subtle nuances of those standing behind the President, those sitting in front of the President, those who are in the reception line as the President enters and jockey for a pat on the back, regardless of party. It is always amusing to watch the alternate sides of the aisle bob up and down, and the Supreme Court, and the Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff (read about here), sitting by with little expression shown.

This year, will be different as the Supreme Court, according to differing accounts, some may or may not attend, specifically Chief Justice John Roberts who was, justifiably offended by the President’s remarks directed at the Court and by Justice Roberts specifically at the last State of the Union. (ABCNews). Therefore, it is unlikely Roberts will be in attendance. Also absent Scalia, who has no plans to attending, according to the blog “the Hill. Which of the justices will attend? It appears to be up in the air as of this moment, but a Washington Post article hints that it will be along ideological lines, yet does not name a “liberal justice attending” in their article: “Supreme Court Won’t be Fully Represented. One can assume that the newest Justices, Sotamayer and Kagan may attend however, that is not confirmed.

What about the content of the speech, does it matter? Apparently, only if it is rousing and partisan enough to cause a stand and sit circus, with the occasional pan of the camera at empty Supreme Court seats. What a shame really, the State of the Union in the opportunity for our President, regardless of party, to deliver what he or she (ever hopeful feminist), feels the country needs, or has accomplished within the past year. It is not so much a speech designed to be partisan rather than a speech designed to cheer on the populace that is supposed to be watching instead of reruns of Jerseylious which, from this perspective, can be equally entertaining, however, one can bet the house, this year’s State of the Union will offer just as much in the way of Reality Television than anything any network can dream up – Unfortunately. One Congressman, whose intentions were pure, no doubt, when suggesting that partisanship be put aside, and the aisle crossed, has turned this into a circus of sorts before the main event. It is a grand gesture, which should be embraced with solemnity and the duties of the office in mind, not the ‘party”, or in this case, “who or who does not have a date for the prom”. It is hoped therefore, that Obama comes out with a rousing State of the Union, keeps it short and to the point, offers a few quips and barbs, and, as his predecessors were all want to do: speak to the American people about what they may want to hear. One thing is certain, we live in a nation whereby the People (those who do watch) are treated to viewing all members of the government (sans a few Cabinet members missing in the event of a disaster), all branches, from the Legislative, to the Executive to the Judicial, in action (or non-action as the case may be. For those interested, the State of the Union will be carried by most major networks, C-Span (which gives the best views) and of course the Big Cable Networks that dominate optics: Fox, CNN and MSNBC, at 9 PM Eastern. One thing that can be said on a positive note: Only in America - which, the serious and the tom-foolery can be mixed in what is truly a nation governed by and for the people.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Inflation Set to Rise on Price of Groceries and Clothing – Those Seniors who received no COB on Social Security will Feel the Pinch!

Food Shrinkage Explained: From

As any consumer has noticed, the price of certain grocery items have remained relatively stable, however, the size of the packaging has appeared to have shrunk in the past year or two, now, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the price of certain groceries and clothing will rise by approximately 4.5% this year. It’s a rise in the price of commodities that is to blame, once again. Back in 2008, the price of fuel rose as speculators (commodities traders) drove the price per barrel up over $145, which resulted in inflated pricing at the pump. Additionally, a weakened U.S. dollar was blamed for the overall increase.

What inflation?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces reports on the Consumer Price Index, which “explains” and sets inflation. The seasonally adjusted rate of inflation for 2010 (released January 14th), showed an overall increase of 1.5%. Not factored in to the actual rate of infaltion are: fuel and food costs. (BLS) Figures from this particular agency are used to calculate the cost of living increases for Social Security Recipients (otherwise known as “creative accounting”, who, for the past two years, were not given a cost of living increase due to low or no inflation. (CBS)

However, those on the receiving end have watched, in certain states, their taxes rise, affecting utilities as well as paper goods purchased at the retail level, and basic necessities. Food packaging shrinkage plays a part; for an example, according to a Newsweek article in 2008, the price of a large container of a brand name Orange Juice remained the same, however, the size fell from 96 to 89 ounces. Therefore, the price of orange juice, actually rose by 7%, when one adjusts pricing for the loss of ounces/weight in particular food package. That was based on 2008 figures.

Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, pricing will rise on items such as margarine, flour, and sugar, as well as clothing made from cotton, which has seen a 92% rise in the price of commodities (the actual projected retail costs would be 4.3% for blue jeans, expect up to 20% increases in sugar and 18% in flour (See Table in article from WSJ here .

Again, depending upon where one lives, pricing on certain items such as clothing, will experience a boost from state and or local sales taxes as well. For those seniors who rely on Social Security, perhaps those who set the inflation rate will revisit the COB and offer a mid-year increase to compensate for the increase in inflation in those areas that are critical to survival.

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