Friday, December 18, 2009

Can Howard Dean Save the DNC? – Dean Possible 2012 Candidate as a Growing number of Congressional Retirements Announced.

Howard Dean, former Governor of the State of Vermont, is not in favor of the current “rush” to push a health care bill through Congress, specifically if it does not include a public option see Deans PAC Democracy For America (here). Dean, was responsible for Vermont’s Current Public Option, one which, has not fare as well as Dean had hoped. Dean’s main concern is that the current bill in the Senate favors the insurance companies, and will do nothing more than raise premiums, without a public option in place.

That said, no-one really knows what is contained in the Bill, as Harry Reid’s version has yet to hit the Senate Floor and is unlikely to do so until Christmas Eve. The new Reid/Pelosi Strategy to push the Obama administration agenda, is to literally hold members of Congress hostage until they vote on what-ever is hidden in the 10 ton bills that are thrown at them, with no time to even peruse 10 pages let alone thousands. The point, Obama promised health care reform, and we’ll deliver, no matter what it costs and no matter how bad a plan it may be, in order to “make history”.

In an era where making mistake after mistake appears to be the norm, and the likelihood of a second Obama term is growing less probable by the day, Dean has been positioned as a possible candidate for 2012.. He’ll face some company in that primary, as Hillary Clinton is now polling at a 75% approval rating - Clinton understands that the Administration is in deep trouble when Gallop recently announced that 44% of American’s would like to see Bush back in office. Those polls may indicate more than a bit of buyer’s remorse. Clinton, who, by all rights, should have been the standard bearer for the DNC in 2008 - (after all, she did have the popular vote,with the exception of the votes of Pelosi and her daughter, pushing the super-delegate vote in favor of Obama – no sisterhood there) would, be able to trump Obama handily in any future matchups. The problem that Dean and Clinton face is a steep decline in the value of the Democrat stock – brand gone bad, so much so that over twelve congressional representatives are seeking retirement, rather than face the music in their home districts – an article here "Democrats Heading for the Exits”,from the new ledger, is a quick, prophetic read. It was precisely this mix of public disgust, and bloated bills that allowed the GOP to sweep into power in 1994. Can Howard Dean or Hillary Clinton save the party in time for 2012? It now appears unlikely, even at this early date, the Ghost of Carter’s programs past, will make it almost impossible for the Party to recover. That said Dean and Clinton would be fine standard bearers for the next available round. It makes political sense to begin to position now – in order to start rebuilding the brand.

Dean appears to have taken the first steps in doing so, by actively criticizing the administration and being furiously rebuffed by White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs who called Dean “irrational” for opposing the version of the senate bill. That was when Dean shot back with a quip regarding his less than enthusiastic future support for one Obama.

One would bet that the war of words would be won by Dean, who was responsible for the Democrats rise to power with his 50 state plan,and therefore understands politics a bit better than those junior politicians currently in charge of the White House. As to congress, Pelosi and Reid (and a host of characters), appear to be pushing for speed, rather than accuracy, in order to either make themselves look good (see 154 billion dollar job creation fiasco in the making), or to make history (health care reform that has huge price tag and unknown results) for the sake of Obama. Dean, as a party elder, who knows a thing or two, (even should one not agree with Dean in principal), understands one thing more than any other, if the powers that currently be, do not reign in spending and produce reasonable and responsible legislation, it will be the undoing of the Party.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

154 Billion Dollar “Job Creation” Packages Narrowly Passes House – Pelosi Pins Democrats 2010 Hopes on Jimmy Carter Strategy.

Nancy Pelosi hopes 150 Billion Dollar Job Stimulus will Save Congressional Jobs - including her own - image

From Bloomberg: The House narrowly passed a bill authorizing 154 billion dollars in additional debt for a job creation package yesterday. The vote, (roll call here) was 218 for, 214 against, on a Bill that is designed to extend unemployment benefits, maintain jobs in the public sector and “create” jobs through construction projects that are hoped to be ready for 2010.

Flashback to the 1977 Job Creation “Stimulus” Package that Jimmy Carter and his comrades in Congress pushed through in roughly the same fashion. Carter’s plan called for spending 30 Billion (1977), and included a scheme to create 800,000 jobs over a two year period. Yes, jobs were created, however, so was an unsustainable rate of inflation that broke the back of the middle class – it was deemed “the misery index” and included of all things, tax cuts, to those earning the least (or those who would be entitled to full refunds regardless).

30 years later, Democrats are praying that this new plan works. House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, needs a boost as falling poll numbers indicate that she may be either demoted or retired in 2010, along with a good percentage of her “flock”. An article in Politico indicates that several of Nancy Pelosi’s troops are announcing retirements (Brian Baird (D-WA), at a time when she is convinced that if the White House and Congress can boost the economy in any way it would affect “job creation” (or saved jobs) in Congress. Nancy calls this “full campaign mode”. In other words, if the people believe that jobs are will be created, and hopefully ignore the increased debt ceiling (which will have to be paid back by – the taxpayers at some point over several generations – unless tax cuts, generous tax cuts, are put into place and there is complete halt to more government programs) and happily vote the incumbents back into office.

Nancy is taking a risk in that the public is ready to party like its 1979 – with or without a Ronald Reagan. Should this bill sustain those public sector jobs, and extend unemployment benefits, while putting a road construction plan into place, it may indeed save and create jobs, but the risk of increasing inflation as the dollar is weak at present is palpable. (Increasing the debt ceiling will only shove it further down the proverbial latrine.) While the rank and file begin to pay $10.99 for a pound of hamburger, and wonder how they will make ends meet, (inflation!), the blame is going to be planted squarely on the shoulders of those who voted “yea”. Those who did not, including 40 some odd “blue dog” democrats (those who know their jobs are on the line), are hoping that the Democrat Brand is not so tainted that they lose their seats by virtue of association.

To Recap, in order to try and save their political hides, the Democrats in Congress (and assuming the White House) put the country’s already diminished fiscal health at great risk by creating a job creation/stimulus package, ramming it through the House (which, incidentally happened exactly that way under Carter, and historically failed) – just in time to “look good” for the 2010 elections. Words fail those who cannot comprehend the lack of common sense, and lack of understanding in general of the basic of our economy, that have been displayed by this Congress, who, since 2006, has done nothing but drag our nation further downward – not for love of country or some misguided ideology, rather for self-interest.

Recommended Interesting website: Teabombs Worth a visit. The premise: individuals create accounts which allow them to vote for incumbents with less than savory records (Nancy Pelosi is currently leading the pack), they can then vote for their challengers as well. The end result, those who “win” – will be targeted – by funds given to the challenger in order to bolster their campaign. Currently, Pelosi is in first place, followed by Boxer and the infamous Barney Frank, Harry Reid, Chris Dodd, Charlie Rangel, Maxine Waters, Arlin Specter and Sheila Jackson Lee round out the top ten. The top three challengers: Liz Carter (vs. Hank Johnson, GA), John Dennis (vs. Nancy Pelosi) and Earl Sholley (vs. Barney Frank). If one thinks that this is a partisan website, think again, Republican’s who have exhibited less than stellar fiscal records can be found amongst the incumbents listed. That said this may be predictive of those in the top 10, as far as job preservation and creation are concerned.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Massachusetts Public School - Drawing Jesus Christ Crucified May Result in Mandatory Psychological Evaluation.

8 year old rendition of Christ on Cross - image Washington Post

Taunton Massachusetts: The first reports came from the Taunton Gazette - an eight year old was asked to do a drawing about the meaning of Christmas, he drew Christ Crucified, and the result – removal from the school and a mandatory psychological evaluation. Apparently, the teacher (those who must report on any situation where a child may be at risk) considered the drawing too violent. Subsequently, in this teachers mind, alarms went off and all proverbial Hades broke loose.

Christ Crucified - artistic rendering - image

This situation was considered so bizarre, that it has made national headlines via the Associated Press. The parents wish to remove the son from the school, where he was so traumatized for being punished for drawing a picture of Jesus during a class assignment on Christmas, that during the interrogation, he told the authorities that the picture was a self-portrait. (Fear of using Jesus name the cause.) .

Now the Taunton School district is fighting back on a technicality - the boy was not suspended, rather he was not allowed to return to school until he underwent a psychological exam

The eight year old, lacking certain artistic skills, drew x’s instead of eyes on the portrait of Jesus; this is what unnerved the teacher (so alleged by the school). There should be two courses taught to educators prior to them being able to go near children: one, a class on art and the limitations of those who may not be Michelangelo, and the second, a class on World Religion, including Christianity and its symbols. These in particular so that when faced with a Christian holiday, certain Christen symbols would not be so alien that an unnecessary visit to the shrink could be avoided. (Not to mention tons of bad press.)

Worth listening - From WRKO – The Howie Carr Show – Discussion on Taunton Teacher and School District action and policy regarding violence in Christianity.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Obama – Poll – A Meager 24% Strongly Approve of Presidents Performance – The import of 2010 Congressional internal polls – why the GOP May be Gleeful.

Somethings Up - image reeks of science

Rasmussen’s”Daily Presidential Tracking Report” now has the Presidents overall job approval rating of 44% - or at “least 44% of the respondent “somewhat approve” of his performance. The worrisome number is the 42% who strongly disapprove, with a total “somewhat disapproving” at 55% - these are some of the lowest poll numbers to date.

Those numbers are roughly falling into line with former President George W. Bush, at a time when those who were on the campaign trail (challengers and incumbents alike), did their best to avoid the President – polls can and do paint a toxic picture (depending upon interpretation) of the state of any political challenge.

One has to assume that by the mid-year 2010, should these numbers not improve, those incumbent Democrats who are facing jubilant Conservative or Republican candidates, may not wish to include the President on the campaign Trail. Early indicators of results; Virginia and New Jersey, where the President, Vice President and anyone with high administration credentials spent a good deal of time attempting to rally the troops – with the end result of two significant losses. Special elections held at the same time were hardly blow-outs for the DNC, with margins well below what they should have been given the Democrat registration in California’s 10th. The New York 23rd was a circus, with the Republican pulling out days before the election and endorsing the Democrat over the Conservative Party candidate. That Republican still received votes, perhaps not enough to have pushed a decision in favor of the Conservative, but the results were so close, it was definitely no mandate.

In races across the country, in places known best for being firmly in Democrat hands, challengers have risen out of the Republican so-called “ashes” to take on some of the highest profile Democrats available. These Republican/Conservative challengers are coming to a "knife fight with a gun", tech savvy and ready – and yet, somehow, all seats are considered “safe” Democrat (most media).

In Massachusetts, the Special Senate Election sees Martha Coakley, the Democrat frontrunner, doing her best to frustrate the debate process – going too far as to make a tactical (depending upon point of view) error of asking to include the Libertarian Candidate. The theory being bandied about – Internal polls show Brown, the Republican, more than capable of taking that seat.

Over in the 4th Congressional District, Barney Frank has been raising funds and spending a good deal of time in his district. Frank is facing multiple challengers for his seat; both from Republicans and Democrats. One campaign sees a somewhat lackluster Republican challenger strangely optimistic – it has been rumored that even several Democrats volunteered to help in their internal polling - Apparently, Frank’s seat, besides his war chest and his visits to the 4th, is not particularly “Safe”.

Hampden’s second, where an almost invisible Richard Neal (D) faces an interesting candidate in Northampton Doctor, Jay Fleitman. Flietman is also upbeat – which is not the norm for the Massachusetts Republican. The norm has been, last minute candidates, entering late and finishing last.

Unless a miracle occurs in both Nevada and Connecticut, both Harry Reid and Chris Dodd, will be retired in 2010. Regardless of what candidate either man faces, they are being outpolled. Polls from these particular races, among others, can be found combined at Real Clear Politics where the red so far outnumbers the blue on the plus side, that it has Biblical overtones. (Speaking of which: See James Dobson Focus on the Family plan for 2010 – 2012 here You Tube Video 2007)

What of the Speaker, Ms. Pelosi? Yes, Virginia, there is trouble in San Francisco – although this race has been kept (so far) off the radar, a challenger to Nancy Pelosi, has risen from the Bay Area, one very confident, Republican, John Dennis.

2010 the year of Show me the Money

Enter the much dismissed and despised by Washington; those “Tea Party” and “9-12” groups. These particular groups are not only vocal but raising money hand or fist to support candidates based mainly on economic issues – or those who aren’t fond of increasing the federal debt and taxing the people to the third and fourth generation. Additionally, they are not trained activists, union members bussed to an event, but the rank and file voter – your neighbor, your aunt, the guy next door – who simply has had enough – which makes them a bit more formidable than one would assume. A recent article in Politico tells the story Conservatives Grab For Tea Party Cash Those conservative (some Republican, some Independent candidates - see Hoffman in the NY 23rd) are looking at additional funding – between both major parties, and the PACS (let us not forget Emily’s List and, the SEIU and the Federal Employees Unions who are raising money hand over fist (the unions on the backs of its employees) it is estimated that spending on political ads will rival that of 2008.

The question that must be asked, however, is how much money does it take to win or lose an election, especially if the voters have had enough?

Polls at this point, it should be noted, are used more for strategy by competing camps rather than as a voter’s guideline – those will come later in the year: for example should Reid and Dodd, still be trailing by double digits in September - then a new House may be in order. Both Pelosi and Frank, who have had remarkably easy re-election campaigns in the past, may be in for the ride of their political careers. Although, again, too early to call anything, should one see the President’s numbers remain the same through summer 2010, and the aforementioned avoiding him like the political plague, and then end up losing to Conservatives (again draw a distinction), the handwriting will be on the wall – for 2012.

Monday, December 14, 2009

MA Special Senate Election - Martha Coakley (D), Asks That Libertarian Party Candidate Be Included In Any Debates – Will This Help or Hurt Coakley?

The primary had barely ended, when calls for debates between the two front-runners, Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown began. One of the debate invitations includes a simulcast on CNN, which would allow all Bay State Residents the option of watching the debate. Brown immediately accepted, while Coakley sat back a day or two before offering a compromise. Coakley has askedthat the Libertarian Candidate, Joe Kennedy be included in any debates.

On the face of it, Coakley request appears to be one of inclusion and fairness, that said, that said, analysts from the Boston Globe suggest that the inclusion of Kennedy would make it easier for Coakley in the long-run – the argument, Brown would have a difficult time standing out in a three way primary where the Libertarian Candidate may peel votes away from Brown.

The Boston Herald wasted no time in pointing out that Coakley had declined to debate a GOP opponent when she ran for Attorney General in 2006. During the primary debates, Coakley was chastised by her opponent, Rep. Capuano, for skipping a debate, and during one debate she did attend, a remark she made regarding foreign policy drew national comparisons to Sarah Palin. Palin who said (paraphrasing) that in certain places in Alaska one can actually see Russia (which is true) was parodied on Saturday Night Live as having said “I can see Russia from My House”. Coakley, when asked about her foreign policy experience, drew on the fact that she had a sister who lives overseas – thus the comparison and the handwriting on the wall.

Martha Coakley may not want to debate in equal time, due to the fact that what she may say might end up on the front page of the Globe or Herald in negative terms. One will then, most likely get a full treatment of how she wore her hair, with a full critique of her dress.

The candidates, in real terms, offer the voters some difference, but that’s where it ends. Brown, the Republican, is a moderate, who has worked tirelessly for women and children’s rights during his Mass. Senate Tenure. He is known to work across the aisle to accomplish something that would benefit his constituent. He has the experience in the Senate. Coakley, as Attorney General, has her back-ground as the State’s leading crime fighter, which also comes with some baggage, as she can be considered a Beacon Hill “insider”. Enter the Libertarian: Joe Kennedy, whose name recognition alone, regardless of the fact that newspapers are quick to point out there is “no relation between Kennedy and “The Kennedy’s”, those that do not subscribe or read the Globe and/or Herald, may think otherwise. In addition, looking at policy, as a Libertarian, he believes in free markets, personal freedoms, and to change foreign policy decisions that have “hurt our reputation” (shades of Bush), he supports same sex marriage, and he is for wholesale marijuana (state by state) use, to include personal use and the ability to farm. He is for a woman’s right to choose, in other words he supports abortion, and, although not in support of the current Health Care Plan before the Senate – Kennedy appears to be somewhat of a liberal as to personal freedoms (as are most Libertarians) and closer to Coakley in political think than to Brown.

Brown is is for tax cuts, enforcement of immigrations laws, support of Veterans, in support of Gun Owners rights, sees Marriage as between a man and a woman, and leaves it to the States to decide, and finally on abortion, he is taking that same tactic, although he would like to see abortions reduced, is against Partial Birth Abortion, and for parental notification.

Coakley's Issues - begin with her promise to work tirelessly for the Presidents Health Care initiative. She goes on to equate equal rights with the right to an abortion (a different take) and is against the war in Afghanistan, yet supports the President in all decisions.

In retrospect, there are fewer differences between Coakley and Kennedy than Brown, and any disenfranchised Democrats, who may not want to pull the lever for a Republican, will certainly have no qualms about voting for a Libertarian, especially one who has a branded political name. Brown as a moderate will appeal to those independents that have sent Republicans to the Governor’s office on more than one occasion. In calling for a three-way debate, Coakley's intent may have been, as noted in the Globe, to drive voters away from Brown to Kennedy, thereby giving her the advantage. However, when one breaks down the issues, adds in name recognition that is almost like a drug to Massachusetts Democrats, then Martha may be doing herself a disservice.

The election itself and the outcome on the 19th will come down to three factors, regardless of the debate, should the National GOP mount a defensive in Massachusetts – (there have been several indications this is the case) Brown will have an advantage, and the team with the strongest grassroots organization (again Brown) will stand in better stead, specifically if the weather is inclement. Finally, should the voters in the Commonwealth, specifically those Democrats who are going to the polls, get beyond their distaste of electing women to offices higher than Attorney General, while having the option to vote for a Kennedy, Coakley may end up going the way of Shannon O’Brien (lost to Romney). The next four weeks should be of interest, watch for increased advertising from Brown and Coakley, the debates (should they occur given Coakley record of avoidance), and the usual polls from Suffolk University.

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