Friday, March 20, 2009

Deval Patrick (D-MA) On Defense Over Transportation Chief, Patrick May End Up Back in Chicago in 2010

James Aloisi - Boston Globe

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick needed assistance in dealing with the debt from Boston’s notorious Big Dig – so logic dictated that the best person to head the Mass. Department of Transportation would be the very person who spent years burying the growing cost of the project - one James Aloisi. Patrick contends that Aloisi’s experience make him a valuable asset, yet it was this very type of asset that Patrick decried in his bid for the Governor’s office only four years ago: From: August 20, 2006 Worcester Telegram

Mr. Patrick has raised similar concerns and said the administration has failed to address problems with the project for years.

“The trouble I and lots of others have is, we have known for years that it was billions of dollars over budget and had structural deficiencies and our elected executives, including the governor, have shown a breath-taking lack of curiosity about where that money went and what those structural deficiencies were, until this fatal accident,” Mr. Patrick said. “That is a shame.”

Mr. Patrick has said that as far back as 1998, the state inspector general was issuing warnings about safety problems in the tunnels and that a “Big Dig culture” on Beacon Hill ignored those warnings and also failed to act effectively to control cost overruns or collect for overcharging by contractors.

It’s almost as if the Governor is theorizing that there is not a great deal of difference between hiding the money and finding the money – the solution to finding money to cover exorbitant Turnpike Authority salaries, mismanagement of funds and a need to keep the behemoth in Boston stable – raise the gas tax, increase tolls and take it out on the taxpayers of Massachusetts - who are already overburdened by an administration that has lived up to expectations: spend, then tax.

Backlash to the gas tax increase has been statewide. In Western Massachusetts, WHYN talk Radio has an online petition - “No Massachusetts Gas Tax Hike” – addressed to the Governor. The tag line reads: “We not interested in Digging mismanaged state agencies out of their Big financial hole!”. 16,237 signatures have been affixed to the petition since it went live on-line.

Deval Patrick and Obama - (Patrick one of Obama's most visible surrogates)

The Governor, in an attempt to evade growing criticism of his gas tax increases scheme, decided to buy time by tapping into the Turnpike Authority’s Reserves. The administration had previously held back tapping this reserves due to the agency’s “low credit rating." However, this is an emergency - the Governor is experience low public opinion.

Massachusetts GOP Chair, Jennifer Nassour issued the following statement yesterday in response to the Governor's decision to tap cash into cash reserves: “If the Patrick Administration could tap cash reserves, why wasn't this option clearly explained earlier to the toll- and taxpayers? Why are they waiting until the last-minute to make this suggestion? Why has the Governor said nothing about his administration's failure to make reforms, like the promise to reduce 100 jobs at the Turnpike? Why hasn't the governor forcefully rejected his Transportation Secretary's declaration that 'reform before revenue' is a 'meaningless slogan'?"

"The Governor needs to stop focusing on tax and toll increases and start putting some serious effort into real reforms, including eliminating wasteful spending like the no-show jobs on Beacon Hill and the newly created jobs for his friends and neighbors. The Governor needs to explain to the hardworking families of Massachusetts who are struggling to manage their own household budgets why he chose to try to ram through an 11th hour tax increase instead of tackling real, obvious reforms."

Ms. Nassour, as always, brings up some very valid points – points that resound with voters in the troubled Bay State. These voters, however, are not certain Patrick is capable of reform – therefore, the Chicago style of governing that invaded Beacon Hill in 2006, may be given a ticket back in Illinois in 2010.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

AIG Taxpayer Bonus Bonanza – Dodd Reluctantly Takes Responsibility for Administration Gaffe

Chris Dodd (D-CT), Senate Banking Committee Chairman, spoke with CNN yesterday and took responsibility for the addition of a bonus “loophole” placed into the infamous “stimulus” bill. To compound his public relations problems, Dodd received $281,038 in donations from the insurance giant, topping a list of high profile politician’s from both parties. However, it is inconceivable that Dodd was the only member of the Administration or the Legislature that knew this loophole was in place – therefore, it comes as no shock that the Treasury was involved.

Dodd apparently moved to keep the loophole, after the Treasury brought to light that issues of legality (contracts) might arise should the stimulus contain strict language on bonus restrictions (AP Report)
Once Dodd made his statement of culpability to CNN, the administration weighed in – noting it alerted Dodd to the potential of legal ramifications, but did nothing to request that provision be removed from the final stimulus. Therefore, for Barney Frank and Company to blame AIG for handing out bonuses allowed under the President’s hastily passed stimulus, is disingenuous to say the least.

There is plenty of blame to go around - -starting with the Treasury and Dodd acting as the “reluctant” accomplice. Mr. Geitner, in his role as President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, and current Obama Treasury Secretary, was involved in meetings to “save” Wall Street, back in September, 2008. It is impossible to believe that an individual with two high profile of positions involving this particular institution, would be oblivious to the facts. The New York Times is showing concern for Geitner as “some” are calling for his resignation.

The bigger question, one should ponder, is what else is lurking in the every single piece of banking, stimulus or budget legislation that has been hastily passed and barely read by those elected to safeguard our nation? Dodd’s troubles, and the administration, are most likely the tip of the iceberg.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's Official - Republican Simmons to Challenge Embattled Chris Dodd - Nutmeg State Senate Seat

Rob Simmons, Congressional Photo

Former Popular US. Congressman, Rob Simons(R), announced his candidacy to run against embattled long-time incumbent Chris Dodd (D-CT), on Monday of this week. Dodd is facing criticism nationally for his ties to AIG and the current bonus fiasco. Dodd who came out against the insurance giant’s use of taxpayer dollars to pay executive bonuses, was the party responsible for placing a provision into the initial bailout that protected contractual bonuses for the firm . Additionally, Dodd was the highest paid politician by AIG, receiving over $175,000 in campaign contributions in 2008 - leaving some in the Nutmeg state asking why he hasn’t returned the cash. Add to the AIG boondoggle,Dodd’s dust-up with his constituents over a mortgage deal that smacked of impropriety. Some of these factors contributed to Dodd's recent dismal poll in CT. (The Poll was taken prior to AIG Bonus Bust) Quinnipiac released a poll this month showing Dodd losing to a here-to-fore, "unrecognizable" Republican opponent. That unrecognizable opponent is U.S. Congressman Simons. Although Dodd is receiving somewhat positive press from the New York Times, the paper of record in Connecticut (and subsequent television stations, and like media), are showing more than a little support for Rob Simmons.
In the March 17th, Courant, the article: “Democrats Go On Offensive Against Simmons”, is of interest. In the piece, the Democrats are planning to tie Rob Simmons to, of all people, George Bush and Dick Cheney in an attempt to vilify the former Congressman in the eyes of the Connecticut public. The Courant ridicules that strategy, and gives a fair assessment of the contender, calling Simmons “a fiscally conservative Republican who has broken with his party on several issues.” They go on to outline why the Democrat strategy may not work, but also include the likelihood of Dodd’s reelection: noting Dodd is a “nimble and experienced” politician. It's written as an afterthought - throwing Dodd a bone.

Chris Dodd with Obama -

Connecticut, and neighboring Massachusetts, tend to have a mind of their own when electing public officials, and similarly, heavy concentrations of Independent (or unaffiliated) voters. Recall Joe Lieberman who faced a challenge from within his own party in 2006. He ran as an independent and soundly beat back the challenger. Mr. Simmons, who had a distinguished and scandal free congressional career, lost his seat in the Republican purge of 2006, by a small margin, in a heavily Democrat district. Given that there is a good deal of political buyer’s remorse at the moment that will, in all probability continue on through the 2010 elections. Mr. Simmons stands in good stead to unseat an unpopular Chris Dodd, this may be particularly true of the Democrat Party does try to tar him with the “Brush of Bush”, a tactic that worked in 2006 and 2008, yet, with the current “mess” and continued gaffes coming from their own leadership, it will backfire.

Mr. Simmons, who announced his intention to run this week, has not yet put up a website. That said, with the focus on AIG, and Dodd’s “popularity” in the state, he does have some time, but with the spotlight (national) on both Simmons and Dodd, a portal for donations would be in the candidates best interest. It would give him the same leverage as anyone running against, Massachusetts son, Barney Frank! (Also up for reelection in 2010)

Another possible “candidate” to face Dodd is financial guru Peter Schiff, whose “Draft Shiff 2010 Ron Paul style campaign website is here. Of interest, the talk of “money bombs” (where Ron Paul Donations are given to other candidates when the going get tough) are already being planned.
Therefore, it is not so much that defeats Chris Dodd for Connecticut Residents, as it is of import that Dodd be retired.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Obama Daily Polling – 36% Strongly Approve – Despite McCainian Observation of Sound Economy

Obama and McCain -

According to the March 16, 2009 Rasmussen, Daily Tracking Poll, President Obama’s Approval Ratings have declined for ten consecutive days – 36% of respondents now strongly approve of his job performance. On February, 17, 91% of Democrats surveyed “somewhat” approved, with 48% of Republican voters strongly disapproving on February 14th. As of the March 16th Poll, the numbers are more clearly split along party lines with 65% of Democrats now strongly approve versus 60% of Republicans who strongly disapprove. The poll is slightly weighed in favor of the President with using a “baseline target of 41.1% Democrats, 33.0% Republicans, and 25.9% unaffiliated.” The sample over a three month period is impressive, 45,000 respondents over a 3 month period.

The approval ratings proffered by all polls combine respondents who either strongly or somewhat approve of a particular candidate, or job performance to give a predictive overall approval rating which is misleading - rather using raw numbers to indicate true approval versus disapproval – showing the balance as “somewhat undecided” – would give a more clear understanding of areas where a particular politician might need to do some work.

The issue of the economy has played a role in the historic dip in polling numbers over the first two months of the Obama administration, prompting the President over the past weekend to declare the “economy fundamentally sound despite the temporary "mess" it's in.” (Newsday) Further, the report from NewsDay notes: “an upbeat assessment of the kind that Barack Obama had mocked as a presidential candidate.” - which is in reference to a quote back in September 2008 made by John McCain, using the same language. At the time, the press eviscerated McCain for making such a “gaffe”. Of interest, however, is that the press is now “connecting the dots”, with a report on March 15th from U.S. News and World Report entitled ”Who Really Won, Obama or McCain”, which offers an opening “President Obama seems to be undergoing a strange metamorphosis. He's slowly turning into John McCain. “

In defense of both McCain and Obama, the economy is fundamentally sound based upon the work ethic of the American population, coupled with natural resources and entrepreneurial spirit. However, the heavy handed approach to big government versus free markets proffered in the first 2 months of the Obama administration has Wall Street, and investors small and large, skittish. The term ”Cautiously Optimistic” hardly signals confidence. American’s in general, are concerned about job retention and inflation. with unemployment numbers rivaling those not seen since the Carter administration.

Should the economy robustly rebound (pre-2008 campaign levels), then the President will enjoy a resurgence in popularity (allowing that no other factors are in play), that said, in review of historical trends, Wall Street has a negative reaction with every general election, dependent upon the party that is surging in the polls. It could be argued that the constant hammering of a dismal economic forecast from the Obama campaign, contributed to the lack of confidence on Wall Street, which trickled down to Main Street. It is also a given, that when the economy is troubled, the probability of a Democrat candidate succeeding is likely. It is the notion that Democrats are generally anti-free market, pro big government oversight, and corporate taxation that stifles growth, which drives the market downward. With the added burden of Barney Franks Fannie and Freddie mortgage meltdown, the banking industry also took a turn for the worse, compounding “the mess”.

The market should, undoubtedly, correct eventually, with the right mix of optimism, tax cuts, oversight (yes regulation is required, but to a certain degree), and a lessening of a burden on further taxpayers (future investors) by dropping bad habits still in play in Washington (reference Pork). Unfortunately, the message sent by the President to the Public, when the Omnibus spending bill was signed into law, was not of hope or change, rather irresponsible business as usual. At that time John McCain, reminded the President of his promise to go line by line and eliminate pork from the budget. This sentiment is echoed on Main Street – through the polls - and it is crossing party lines.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Kennedy Preserving a Legacy through Bacon

Edward Kennedy insured Massachusetts would see 783 million in Stimulus funds (taxpayers dollars). The “Lion of the Senate” inserted a few noteworthy “Kennedy” projects in the package including: $5 Million to build the Rose Kennedy Greenway Pavilion in Boston. The Building will sit atop the infamous Big Dig. Most notable comment from a Globe Reader: “5 million? that's 20 million in Massachusetts money. (Reference to the final price tag of the Big Dig) Also included in the bill is funding for an Edward Kennedy Institute in the Senate for another $5 Million Dollars.

As if the stimulus did not offer the Kennedy family enough, the Omnibus Spending Bill, which President Obama singed sans fanfare last week, included $1,294,894.00 for the EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CHILD HEALTH AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT.

It is not so much that these projects are not worthy of consideration, however, at a time when ordinary Massachusetts working people are cutting back on everything in sight, one would think that these monies might have been better directed towards bailing out the state rather than preserving some sort of Legacy. A greater Legacy would have been to forego these types of earmarks in favor allievating a bit of the suffering of the Massachusetts Taxpayer.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Left and Right – Beck to the Examiner - Anatomy of a Conspiracy Theory

The notion that the Federal Government is building “internment” camps for United States Citizens who may openly revolt against the government has been getting a good deal of traction in recent weeks. One would think that this brouhaha began a few weeks ago with Glen Beck, radio talk show host and Fox News Commentator. In an appearance on Fox and Friends, where Beck stated that he was unable to debunk the rumors of FEMA camps

What are FEMA camps? Some contend that FEMA camps are military bases that have been transformed into detention centers in order to accommodate U.S. Citizens should the need for martial law arise. This thesis is based upon a FEMA “REX 84”, which stands for: Readiness Exercise, 1984, or a preparedness exercise that was put into place in 1984 under the Reagan Administration. FEMA routinely coordinates with other Federal Agencies in preparation for the next “Katrina”, an example of a one such exercise is available here at FEMA. The language used in several FEMA Readiness Exercises does use the language “foreign or domestic terrorist”, which may be taken out of context by those who are not familiar with the term “homegrown terrorism” (See London Subway Bombings).

This concept of interring United States Citizens in military camps is not owned by those one would consider “right of center”, consider an article by William Cormier on OpEdNews. pleading with the President to incarcerate Chuck Norris and Company.

Maybe I was wrong; it appears that the FEMA internment camps will serve a purpose - and that’s to house those who are attempting to undermine our own government. The people have spoke, loud and clear, and President Obama is our new President - and that is the will of the majority of the people of America.

Mr. Cormier is referring to Chuck Norris’ participation in a Glen Beck Exercise called: “We Surround Them”. The premise: empower average American Voters by reminding them that elected officials work for the people (nothing new there), further, Beck does not confine his vitriol to Democrats, rather all parties involved in partisanship practices.
From Glen

Do you watch the direction that America is being taken in and feel powerless to stop it?

Do you believe that your voice isn’t loud enough to be heard above the noise anymore?

Do you read the headlines everyday and feel an empty pit in your stomach…as if you’re completely alone?

If so, then you’ve fallen for the Wizard of Oz lie. While the voices you hear in the distance may sound intimidating, as if they surround us from all sides—the reality is very different. Once you pull the curtain away you realize that there are only a few people pressing the buttons, and their voices are weak. The truth is that they don’t surround us at all.
We surround them.

So, how do we show America what’s really behind the curtain? Below are nine simple principles. If you believe in at least seven of them, then we have something in common. I urge you to read the instructions at the end for how to help make your voice heard.
The Nine Principles
1. America is good.

2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.

3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.
4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.

5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.

6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.

7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.

8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.

9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.

As far as one is able to discern, nothing contained within the above appears to be insurrection or “treasonous” as Mr. Cormier ascertains.

What of Mr. Norris? Cormier cited an article form the Examiner which, in turn, used an article that Chuck Norris wrote for World Net Daily. In that article, Norris discusses his appearance on a Glenn Beck Radio segment, in which he noted he would run for “President of Texas”. He also outlined his intent to host a “We Surround Them” party. The Examiner then attributed the “We Surround Them” concept to Norris, not Beck, and the rest, of the Daily Kos blogs ran with it as “gospel”.

Conclusion: There is nothing wrong with Beck’s concept, (although Mr. Norris may have to wait quite a while before there is an opening for a “President of Texas”), bringing together groups of Americans and reminding them that we the people, put the legislatures and the administration in office and are perfectly capable of making changes (legally through elections). There is a problem when practices put into effect under the Reagen Administration are used as fodder for alarmists on both sides of the political blog spectrum.

Next Bill introduce in the 111th to come under intense scrutiny House Bill 645, introduced by by Democrat Alcee Hastings of Florida. The Bill’s intent is to establish military housing for those displaced through natural disasters.

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