Saturday, May 02, 2009

2010 Congressional Races – Analysis - Besting Barney Frank in the Massachusetts 4th Congressional District

Barney Frank (D-MA) - photo

One would assume, given the media drumbeat regarding Massachusetts as the Bluest State, that Barney Frank will remain the Congressman from the Massachusetts 4th District until they pry his cold dead body out of the seat at the ripe old age of 110. Although Frank did have opposition for the seat from Republican Earl Sholley in 2008, Sholley’s campaign was so far “under the radar” that it is no wonder Frank carried the district by 68%. The final tally from the 4th gave Frank 203,032 ballots cast out of a total 315,734. That said, the 4th District is comprised of the following counties: Bristol, Middlesex, Norfolk and Plymouth – The voter registration for these four counties (as of October 2008), was as follows: Total, 2,072,793 with: 751,174 Democrats, 206,326 Republican, and 860,140 Unenrolled. (A voter registration trend that is the norm for every district in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.) The Counties of Bristol, Middlesex and Norfolk and Plymouth are shared with the 3rd District, including certain wards in the City of Fall River, as well as the 5th, 6th , 7th , 8th, 9th and 10th Districts. With the Democrat incumbent in each district winning handily, only 3 were opposed by Republican candidates. (It is also interesting to note that none of these candidates we “well-known” within the district in which they campaigned).

Barney Frank in his "youth" - photo:

How disgusted are the people of Massachusetts over lack of choice? In these districts, 415,543 votes were cast as “blank”. , the higher blank vote count in districts where the Incumbent Democrat ran unopposed. The total votes in each district were roughly the same as the 4ths, with the highest voter turnout in the 5th, at 400,846, with 127,171 blank ballots cast.

Therefore, the Democrats can assume they will receive at least 36% of the districts Registered Democrats votes, losing the 12% of Republican votes, and with no known opposition, taking the majority of the Independent Vote. This scenario will continue, unless, of course, alternative candidates emerge that will target Republican and Independent voters, by actively campaigning for a maximum of 9 months, but especially hard in the final 3 months of the campaign. Campaigns are not won by only preaching to the choir (although those barbeque's and cocktail parties are essential for fundraising in the early stages), but by taking a message of fiscal responsibility directly to the taxpayer, regardless of party affiliation. Covering a district may appear daunting, but it is a far less daunting task that covering the State.

As far as Frank and the 4th district are concerned, in the 2008 election, the opposition candidate(s), Sholley (who incidentally has a few issues that made him less than perfect, an underfunded campaign that got off to a late start) managed to amass 75,571 votes, Susan Allen, an Independent, and also unknown, received 19,848 votes, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Bugs Bunny received 337 votes, and those that could not vote for Frank, did not know Sholley or Allen well enough to vote for either of them, and could not remember the name of a cartoon character, cast 16,946 bank ballots.

Frank appears to have that district sown up, however, since he’s had more of the spotlight given his high profile position in the Congress, allowing for bizarre and often inflammatory statements, coupled with his ties to Freddie and Fannie and his desire to cut the military budget by an astounding 25%there are a growing number of individuals nationwide and within the District that would prefer Barney retire.

The 4th district varies demographically, from the working class and fishing industry in the Fall Rivers/New Bedford Area - (said Fishing Industry Frank keeps supplied with pork), to the middle and upper middle income strongholds of Plymouth County - and party affiliation is stacked against Frank - although widely believed to be a Democrat Stronghold, the 4th district is overwhelmingly designated unenrolled, at over 50%. A well funded and prepared candidate (not yet announced), who runs his media message on Frank's association with Fannie and Freddie, points to the fact that the district has become increasingly impoverished despite the support Frank throws their way, and knocks on all the doors in the district (so to speak) will do well.

Barney Frank's Replacement - TBA

With an albeit small, but energized State Republican Party under the leadership of Chair, Jennifer Nassour, the task of defeating Frank is not as far-fetched as one had previously believed. The fact that the Republican Party is hitting every news source on a daily basis with strong criticism of Democrats who are less than fiscally or ethically sound, is sending a message to the voters that yes, indeed, there is an alternative. Prior to Ms. Nassour taking the lead, the silence form the State GOP was deafening.

Take the 2008 Senate election as an example, although polls indicated that over 51% of the states populace would prefer to see John Kerry retire, and he faced opposition in Republican candidate Jeff Beatty, Kerry still won the election rather handily. When one examines the polls released during the campaign, (Rasmussen, Suffolk and Survey USA), Beatty tracked between 29 and 35% approval, with 40 and 30% of voters indicating he was “unknown”, what is interesting is that Beatty’s approval rose in direct proportion to the decline in numbers of respondents indicating “unknown” over a period of three months. Had Beatty changed strategy or more likely had the wherewithal to run advertising across the state; the outcome may have been quite different. In the final analysis, the Candidate that makes himself known in the 4th district, specifically a fiscally conservative, moderate candidate that campaigns strong in the final quarter of the campaign, will banish Frank to the footnotes of history.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Obama – Overexposed – Primetime Conference Viewership Down – In Line with Performance Polling

American Idol Ratings Tank - photo: NYDailyNews

The last two Obama Prime-Time press conferences drew 49.5 and 40.4 million viewers respectively – his last conference, held on April 19th, drew 28.8 million viewers, a loss of 29%. All major networks and cable stations carried the conference with the exception of Fox Network – the 8 pm series “Lie”, viewership remained unchanged from the prior week, therefore, it is unknown at this time, which cable networks (Animal Planet, History, MTV, the Weather Channel) the general population was watching instead of the President.

That said, his decline in viewership basically matches his overall decline in the polls, from a high of 68% in January 2009 (gallop), dropping, in February to 63% (Gallop), and as of today, Rasmussen reports an overall, “approval” rating of 54%, with disapproval over his performance increasing to an overall 45%. Obama’s “strongly approves” are at currently at 34%, and have remained between 35 and 34% since April 9.

Given the political ideological makeup of the nation, these statistics indicate that the President is "preaching to the choir", as 35% of voters now define themselves as Democrats, with 28% defining themselves as Republican - the balance are either unenrolled or another party affiliation. In other words, he’s lost the interest of the all important independent voter, which does not bode well for those 2010 senate and congressional Democrat races held in states and districts with high percentages of unenrolled voters. Should this trend continue, or worsen for Obama, there will be a definite change in the balance of the Senate and Congress come November 2010.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Entire Obama Mexican Entourage – Exposed to Swine Flu - White House Issues Health Advisory!

A White House staffer that lead the advance team for the President’s visit to Mexico has contracted the flu, according to Politico. As a result the administration has issues a health “advisory” to anyhow who traveled with the President to Mexico.

Robert Gibbs insists the President is healthy, and that there is no cause for concern, because he has shown no symptoms.

Gibbs may be correct in his assertion, as Scientists are now claiming that this particular strain of flu is mild, based on current medical data. Is it possible that the entire pandemic was over-hyped?

Swine Flu - The Administration Acts! – Biden – Stay off the Subway!!!!

In this administrations usualcool method of addressing any “crisis”, Vice President, Joe Biden, has sounded the alarm! Due to the WHO raising the fear factor for the Swine Flu to Level 5, the usually, kept silent, Biden, has told the populace to avoid subways in the United States. Biden, making sense, uttered this unusual sane statement, reported by NBC New York. Biden also suggests closing schools, and Kathleen Sibelius newly confirmed Health and Humans Services Secretary, urged us all to wash our hands and practice good hygiene. All U.S. borders remain open.

Deval Patrick – His Philosophy on Increasing The Mass Sales Tax

PT Barnum

Governor Deval Patrick, who recently vowed to Veto a bill passed by the Mass Legislature to raise the State Sales Tax by 25%, has now waxed philosophical about the extra burden on those citizens of the Commonwealth – he apparently has no “philosophical opposition” to the increase. In other words, in order to take the spotlight off the recent announcement that Christy Mihos will run against him in 2010, as a Republican, no less, Patrick momentarily found “anti-tax” religion. Less than a week hence, Patrick is now changing his tune back to the original Broadway version of “Tax Them till They Move to New Hampshire”, using the subtle yet eerily elite philosophical approach to a taxing problem.

Here’s the problem with the Sales Tax Increase – it’s one of many on the table that will hit all citizens in the Commonwealth – but especially those who are in the lower to middle income brackets - who, with the current state of the economy, can ill afford any additional tax burden. Rather, these citizens look to the administration to perhaps cut some of the deadwood in order to find a bit of extra cash, thus avoiding any additional taxes.

Howie Carr talk show host and op-ed columnist for the Boston Herald made a few valid recommendations in a recent column that would save the Bay State some significant cash, thereby eliminating a need for new taxes and fees. Point, if Howie Carr can come up with some well researched solutions to avoid taxation, why not the Governor? (No offense to Howie Carr, but it appears that just about anyone living in the Bay State can offer a solution that makes more sense than this current bunch of coconuts running the show).

Patrick and Obama –

Deval Patrick, the original “Yes We Can” yahoo, got the vote of the people based on the same old hook used by wolves in sheep’s clothing in every recent election – reduction of the tax burden on the middle class. The phrase, “There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute”*, continues to apply – philosophically speaking.

*Interesting historical fact: P.T. Barnum did not initiate the phrase, rather one of his competitors, a man by the name of Hannon first used the phrase in a spat with Barnum over an alleged “giant made of stone”.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Massachusetts Swine Flu - Panic or Preparation

Virus begins in Mexico - photo Washington Times

Tuesday, The Massachusetts Senatepassed a “pandemic flu preparation bill” that had been sitting on ice since prior to the Swine Flu outbreak. The Bill, S18 (Massachusetts Marshall Law) which gives the Governor the power to authorize the deployment and use of any forces to use to distribute supplies, and materials, local authorities will be allowed to enter private residences for investigation and to quarantine individuals – full text of the bill here.

As a result of the increasing numbers of reported cases nationwide and two possible cases in Massachusetts (Mexican Vacations) the Boston Globe is reporting that items such as face masks, hand sanitizers and such are flying off the shelves of local pharmacy chains.
Perhaps the precautions are due to the lack stance taken by the U.S. Government in in regards to individuals coming across the Mexican border or through airports, unlike other countries who are actively screening those coming in from Mexico and in some cases, such as Australia, pilots are being told that they must monitor passengers for flu symptoms and report prior to landing.

With some in the U.S. Government going so far as to want an eradication of the name “Swine” before flu, in the event someone believes the virus is caused by food, rather than human contact, , coupled with a total disregard for the public safety by continuing an open border policy, it is no wonder that U.S. citizens are becoming concerned.

The last flu to raise this much havoc was the Hong Kong Flu, which killed an estimated 700,000 people worldwide in the 1960's. That flu (or a strain thereof) still appears today, and according to the CDC, the strains of all flu result in 36,000 deaths annually in the U.S. alone. Advice offered by the CDC includes the basics: washing ones hands, not touching one’s mouth, nose or eyes, and generally following basic hygiene – for those affected with the flu, they are asked to stay home from school or work and not cough or sneeze on others – sound advice – however, if one has a child in school, or is in the workplace, one knows that parents send their children to school sick all the time, in order to get to work, ignoring the obvious, and further spreading whatever illness they have contracted. As to facemasks, the CDC does not recommend them for healthy individuals rather suggest that those who are infected would wear them to school and work.

Border Control - photo

The simple solution would be for the Federal Government to take a more pro-active stance, and publicly announce the refusal of entry to anyone coming in from Mexico until the virus has abated. This would serve two purposes: one, it would allay the fears of the general populace, and two, it would stop further spread of the flu. The fact that case are already popping up from Disneyland to El Paso, and can be linked directly to a Mexican vacation or national, is evidence enough to start the process. An unlikely consequence of the failure to act on the part of the administration is a prejudice against those of Mexican descent, or anyone who may appear Hispanic in appearance. It is a natural course of events that individuals understanding that the virus is coming in from that Country, coupled with the constant media drumbeat of sensationalism in journalism, the unprecedented amount of illegal entries through our southern border, stands to further a prejudice or fear of those who might be seen as carrying or causing the outbreak. It is the ugly side of human nature to cast blame, specifically if the illness continues to spread and nothing is done.

In the final analysis, as of April 18th, the amount of documented cases of all flu was low at 6.2% of the populace, and as of April 28 65 cases of Swine Flu have been confirmed, a drop in the bucket so to speak in the grand scheme of flu strain. Of course, that number will continue to rise as precautions by individuals and our government is cast aside for expediency in the case of the populace, and the Laissez-faire attitude on the part of the Administration. That said, with the knowledge that all U.S. citizens now have regarding this flu, one would understand, that like any other flu outbreak, the populace will take precautions (including the purchase of hand sanitizers and masks) and the spread of the virus should be contained. The American Citizen is nothing if not resilient and capable, giving rise to the original concept of the founding fathers - less reliance on government. Health Tip: Face masks can be found on Ebay, Stock Tip: Buy 3M (Face Mask Manufacturer)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Central Massachusetts Swine Flu Latest Cases – CDC Fully Expects Fatalities Nationwide

The BostonGlobe has reported two cases of possible swine flu involving two pairs of siblings that had vacationed in Mexico over last week’s spring break. Both of the cases, one in Lowell and one in Spencer, involved children in elementary schools. Samples taken from the children’s pediatrician will be sent to the CDC for confirmation of the illness. The CDC has confirmed 5 cases of hospitalization, with an expectation of mortality from this particular strain.
Meanwhile, Sebelius was quickly confirmed by the Senate, although her track record of handling the job of Governor and her inability to pay taxes, may make Napolitano appear competent. As for the President, Barack Obama is asking that everyone remain calm.

US Representative, Ducan Hunter, has called for a border closing between his state, California. and Mexico as a precaution, however, Napolitano insists that the border will remain open “for now”. That said, with an open border policy, it may prove to be too little to late by the time the administration acts.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's administration has yet to issue any statement.

Barney Frank to Face Oppostion in the Massachusetts 4th District.

As a Public Service Announcement - For those of you who are constantly Google searching for a replacement for Barney Frank (D-MA), or questioning who will be opposing Frank in the 2010 election, take heart. As of this writing, Earl Sholley, who ran against Frank in 2008 is the first to announce a 2010 run against Frank. Although the papers for candidates are not yet available, (and will not be until 2009), a viable source has indicated that another, solid candidate will emerge to challenge Frank. One can bet the house, that the strongest anti-Frank candidate will receive sufficient funding and support from both inside and outside of the Bay-State.

Deval Patrick (D-MA) Vows to Veto Tax Increase After Christy Mihos Announces Candidacy for Governor’s Race.

Mihos and Patrick 2006 - image Boston Globe

Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick, has suddenly decided he’s met a tax increase he doesn’t like – a 25% increase in the Mass. State sales tax. Patrick has sent a letter to the legislature informing them of his decision to Veto and asking, instead, for them to review his proposed revenue streams, which include an increase in the state gas tax, a tax on soda, candy, an increase in vehicle registration fees, an increase in the state’s hotel tax, an increase in the state meal tax, a bottle tax on non-carbonated beverages and a business busting telecommunications tax.
Patrick, whose approval rating is hovering at at 33% (or roughly the amount of voters registered as Democrats in Massachusetts – source Mass. Secretary of State), has this stunning anti-tax conversion immediately following the annoucment by Christy Mihos, that he would campaign against Patrick in 2010, as a Republican.
Mihos, who ran as an independent in the 2006 election against Deval Patrick and Kerry Healy, received approximately 7% of the vote in a 3-way race. 2006 was a year filled with “Hope and Change”, the Bay State was energized by Patrick’s message of “Yes, We Can”, while Healy ran a strictly negative campaign, painting Patrick as a Tax and Spend Democrat, a message that fell on deaf ears (additionally, Massachusetts, although allegedly enlightened, would not, in all probability, put a woman in the Governor’s office (see Jane Swift, only woman ever to hold the office, was not voted into the office, rather, as Lt. Governor, filled the vacancy left by Cellcuci who was named Ambassador to Canada). That left Mihos who was out-campaigned by both major political parties. That was then, this is now.

Mihos, running as a Republican changes the landscape a bit, and although it is a tad early in the 2010 election cycle (State Papers are not even available yet for the 2010 races), Mihos, a businessman with a sound fiscal plan for Bay State, appears to be a “breath of fresh air” compared to Patrick – Mihos' website has yet to be updated to reflect his change in Party status, however, his platform reads like a combination of Republican-Libertarian ideals that will resonate with the majority of the voters – Republicans’ (with the exception of those values voters who may or may not recoil from his pro-choice stance), Libertarians, and those Independents (51%) who are most likely to decide this next election.

As 2010 draws nearer, and more candidates emerge for the Governor’s seat, be they Republican, Independent, Libertarian or even Democrat, one can bet the house that Patrick may end up sounding more like Ronald Regan, than a super-liberal from Chicago (Yes - He Is!) – his problem – he will never regain the trust or vote of the Republican, Liberation and Independent minded voters and might likely alienate the State Democrats who would vote for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad if he had a (D) next to his name on a ballot.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu Emergency - Obama Plays Golf - Napolitano – In Over Her Head – Passive Approach At Border!

Nervous Gibbs and Napolitano Announce Health Emergency -image: Fox

Although the official statement from the White House is that a lack of personnel in key positions regarding Health and Human Services in not an issue, leaving Janet Napolitano in charge of the current swine flu emergency may have a downside. Current posts vacant are Surgeon General, Secretary of Human Services and a Director for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sibelius, has faced difficulties in confirmation as Secretary of Human Services due to myriad problems, specifically, tax related issues regarding donations up to $40,000, received and not reported by Ms. Sibelius. With Napolitano in charge, the White House feels confident that Sibelius will be confirmed by this Tuesday.

The administration declared a Public Health Emergency this weekend, yet steps to reduce the chance of cross-border infections under Napolitano’s direction, have been lacking to say the least.
From the Associated Press:

U.S. officials will begin asking travelers about illness if they're entering the country from areas with confirmed swine flu.
Passengers won't be barred from getting into the United States. But they could be referred for further testing.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano characterized the step as more "passive surveillance," saying airline workers certainly could tell people they shouldn't fly if ill.

Napolitano has recently been criticized for her lack of understanding regarding U.S. borders, specifically the the Northern border. As such, the President should have been giving this press conference, understanding that confidence in Napolitano from both the public and our allies to the North is low.

That said, the Press and the Blogosphere have been asking where the President is during this crisis – the answer: golfing. Rumors regarding Obama’s health are rife, on his recent trip to Mexico he shook hands with a gentleman who later died “flu-like” symptoms. The fact that mortality for this particular strain of flu appears to strike those between the ages of 25 and 45 has given fuel to this speculation.

One would think that like his predecessor, George W. Bush, Obama would have himself lead the Press Conference in an attempt to allay the fears of the general public. However, he chose a different approach, the outcome of which may further damage his political image.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mass. Governor Deval Patrick – Does He Warrant a $140,535 Annual Salary?

When Mitt Romney and Kerry Healey gained the corner office on Beacon Hill, they both declined to take a salary from the State of Massachusetts. This was done as a cost cutting measure to help reduce the States deficit. At that time, the Massachusetts governor’s annual salary was $135,000, over the course of four years, the savings to the Commonwealth equaled $540,000, a drop in the bucket when talking about Massachusetts budgets, yet, notable because it spoke to the character of Governor Romney and his Lieutenant Governor – as public servants. One must also take into consideration that Romney had amassed a good sized fortune, which would allow him the luxury to govern sans pay.

In a review of Governors’ Salaries from 2007 current Governor Deval Patrick’s salary ranks 14th out of 50 – at $140,535. In the grand scheme of things, governor’s salaries are well below the salaries of non-government administrators, however, that said, one hopes that those that run for public office do so to out of a sense of commitment to the State.

When Deval Patrick was elected, he has no prior experience in government , or in any administrative capacity, rather he worked as a district attorney, and served on a variety of boards, including Ameriquests Mortgage. Before becoming the Governor, it was disclosed that the Patrick’s were buried in mortgage debt to the tune of 5.9 million dollars, however, he did sign a 1.35 million dollar book deal , which, said book is scheduled for release in 2010. Patrick also declined to to release his income tax statements – therefore, research indicates no known net worth.

The Governor, in addition to his salary, does enjoy a few other perks, two of which came under fire from residents of the Commonwealth – Patrick’s decision to trade in the standard state car for a Cadillac, and his use of the State Police helicopters, at taxpayer expense.
With a litany of proposed new taxes, to cover an ever increasing budget deficit, the Govenor needed a stop-gap. The solution, pending legislation approving additional taxes, is to cut 750 jobs and furlough 5,000 state employees for one week.

One has to understand that anyone elected to a position such a Governor, where the abilities to run a business are pivotal, prior experience is desirable. When the people of the Commonwealth elected Patrick based upon “hope, change, and “Yes, we Can”, they certainly got more than they bargained for. In the final analysis, we’re Patrick in the private sector, he would be earning a great deal more than he does as Governor, although, it is more than likely that he would have been unemployed sooner than later.

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