Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My notes and thoughts on the State of the Union address

Armed with the advantage of DVR technology, I have been typing notes and reactions to the comments contained within President Barack Obama's State of the Union address tonight.

I am going to copy and paste my remarks as is. If I make any horrendous typos or other such errors, so be it.


Ahhh…. The move forward angle

The problem with Obama’s comments about moving swiftly is that the swift action that had to be taken was in fall of 08 when his predecessor was still in office.

The whole business where we “had to act swiftly” was a false declaration of urgency that paved the way for the Stimulus Bill.

Appeal to emotion! Yes, let’s bring in the children.

Obama clearly rejects Reagan’s philosophy that, “Government is not the solution to our problems. Government is the problem.”

More progressive code: as is always the case in the two-party system, “work through our differences” actually means capitulate since we have the majority.

The Tea Party movement is not yours, Mr. President! The anxiety felt by We the People isn’t merely over the economic mess anymore. Our anxiety now also includes our concerns about the overreach of Washington.

And Joe Biden is a little too quick on the draw, LOL!

Now, if Obama really believed what he says about “government matching” the “decency” of the people, he would follow that with a pledge to reduce the size of the federal government by at least 50% (and that is a low-ball number in the minds of true Libertarians).

I have to scoff at the standing ovation some members of Congress have given him. What Obama conveniently left out is the fact his party held enough votes in both houses of Congress to sink TARP if they actually felt bailing-out the banks was the wrong decision.

Wow… the message is: “We took Bush’s policies and made them better.” But I thought Bush was to blame for all that ails America!

Hmmm…. Did the teleprompter tell him to smile?

Obama left out the fact the vast majority of “new jobs” in America have been created in the public sector. He also conveniently omitted the fact that he tripled the deficit in one year.

Every job he has listed is in the public sector. The only exception has been construction – but that only has been on the rise over the last year from government expenditures, not growth in the private sector that has created a demand for new property development.

Add 1.5 million jobs… but how many more will be lost as unemployment stagnates at 10%? The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was nothing more than 8,000 earmarks that will cost a grand total of $1,000,000,000,000 once all the interest is calculated for the amount of borrowing that was necessary to back up all the currency the Fed and the Treasury Department flooded into the financial system to “pay for it all.”

There’s that “disaster” word again!

But all the jobs “created or saved” by the Stimulus will go away once that money has been exhausted. What happens when the $787 billion is depleted?

So, does this renewed focus on jobs and the economy mean Obamacare and Cap and Tax are going to the back burners?

But wait a minute, didn’t Obama tell us during the campaign trail a year-and-a-half ago that “when you spread the wealth around” so that we can “give others a chance to succeed,” it’s “good for everyone?” Does this mean he’s abandoning the notion of added taxation on those making more than $250,000, hence another broken campaign promise? In other words (again), is he conceding the point to “Joe the Plumber” that he was right?

What is funny is that if he truly believed that helping small businesses was the key to boosting the economy, we wouldn’t need to re-spend that $30 billion in TARP repayments if CIT would have been included in the initial round of bailouts. Both major parties are equally at fault on this point!

What I noticed when watching the President propose eliminating capital gains taxes on small business investments is the expression on Nancy Pelosi’s face: it’s the exact same look she had right before the Massachusetts special election when she laughed while telling reporters, “a lot of promises were made on the campaign trail.” In other words, don’t hold your breath!

Ah, I knew he couldn’t go the entire speech without bringing-up the high-speed rail and so-called clean energy. If government is going to have its fingers into it, this industry will be anything but “clean.” (Can you say “Hoffa?”)

Yes, let’s legislate how everyone must run their businesses and corporations. The real reason why so many companies outsource their workforce overseas is that the dollar continues to depreciate faster than companies can maintain profit margins and provide returns to those who have invested in them while wages and salaries rise and fall inconsistently – due heavily to union strong-arming – which results in erratic money flow in the overall economy of this country.

The ovational responses among members of Congress are beginning to nauseatingly resemble a high school or college homecoming king and queen nominees rally. “We will cheer you blindly, whether we like you or not!” It’s making this whole thing virtually unstomachable.

THE WAY TO GROW JOBS IN AMERICA IS FOR GOVERNMENT TO GET OUT OF THE WAY OF OUR FREE MARKET, NOT BY “LAYING A NEW FOUNDATION!” Welcome to the United Socialist States of America! Cut taxes AND slash spending if you want to “revamp” the economy!

Problems hampering our growth… see above paragraphs.

“…Not interested in punishing banks…” Ok, Mr. President, then WHY promote punitive taxes and fees on banks for any reason?

The recklessness was the result of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae being pressured by the Democrat-majority House of Representatives finance committee to engage in greater and greater subprime lending in the year leading up to the housing bubble bursting! The Fair Housing Act has served to gut America’s financial sector since it was passed in the 1970s.

Offshore drilling?! I’ll believe it when I see it.

Clean coal: the ultimate oxymoron.

Cap and Tax will drive the economy down the tubes: period.

What do we have to export? Two of our three auto companies are in pseudo-receivership. We import oil at an obscene pace. The steel industry is a shell of what it once was. These unrealistic statements are mindboggling!

How are we going to maintain healthy economic ties with all these nations if we are going to constantly threaten trade wars and trade barriers?

The U.S. Department of Education: its uselessness is one of those truths we hold to be self-evident. Education works best when its funding comes entirely from local sources. It drives families and communities to become more involved in the local school districts.

Colleges and universities are state institutions. It is the states’ responsibilities to ensure they are serving their function.

10 years of public service – will anyone be left to hold down a private sector job?

Joy… health care AGAIN!

Channeling Joe Wilson: “YOU LIE!”

More appeal to emotion. Mr. President, how will we pay for this at that 10-year mark once we’ve spent through in six years what we needed a four-year running start on taxation (oops, I mean fee-collecting) in order to begin financing.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates: was this the accounting before or AFTER you called the CBO chief to the White House to “discuss” the numbers with him?!

Many health care professionals do support the Obamacare plan… however MOST oppose it. The devil is in the details – especially the ones he omits.

More blaming Bush time. When will this President take ownership? When will this President finally take ownership? Bush did a lot of harm with the aiding and abetting of his party in the majority of Congress for six years. But the Democrats have been the majority party since January 2007 and he has had a year in the White House with a sweeping majority.

“Line by line…” a song and dance Americans have heard for 20 years. Still waiting for it to happen.

Interesting: Progressive translation time: “Congress didn’t give me what I want so I am going to bypass the legislative branch altogether and create a new commission, upon which I will bestow the customary overreach of governmental power to ram my agenda forward.” My prediction, Obama is going to deeply regret this comment by the end of February from the never-ending heat he is going to inevitably feel from political analysts from all angles, not just conservatives.

More delays in action. Typical.

“That is how budgeting works.” Is Obama branching out into comedy now? He has negligible private sector work experience – so where did he learn about budgeting?

“A deficit of trust.” I do believe this is a right-wing phrase that has been popular for a few years.

He’s what?! This administration has brought in as many lobbyists as any of his predecessors! This is a bold-face lie!

The problem with John McCain’s campaign finance law was that it was unconstitutional. It brought about an outright infringement on First Amendment rights. That is why the Supreme Court struck it down.

Oh give me a break: we have been hearing this line about transparency and posting legislation online before it is voted-upon for two years. Still waiting to see that one.

Mr. President, are you going to lecture Speaker Pelosi about the false and unfair comments she has directed at Tea Party goers?

We need less legislation! If the Senate must have 60 votes to pass any bills, and all voting is split along party lines, then THERE WILL BE LESS SPENDING AND FEWER EARMARKS RUNNING UP OUR DEFICIT AND NATIONAL DEBT!

Did your party leave behind fear and division from 2001 to 2008? (Hmm, all I hear is crickets chirping in the background)

But, the President gave General Stanley McChrystal only half the troops he insisted he needed to accomplish a successful Afghan surge.

“All our troops are coming home…” I’ll believe it when I see it.

So, in other words you’ll be keeping Hillary Clinton away from returning troops so she can’t spit at them or call them “baby killers.” (Oops! Did I say that out loud?!)

Did this President catch the news reports that came out last summer from the Russian Socialist Republic? You know, the news that Vladimir Putin openly declared that his country reserves the right the use nuclear weapons in preemptive strikes should they feel there is a credible threat to their security which warrants it?!

Bolstering AIDS research: does this mean he will pursue improvements to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control? Funny how he left that part out.

The problem with his observation on life in Afghanistan is the fact we have no business engaging in nation building. It is not going to work there. We must finish the mission to eradicate al Qaeda and the Taliban and then bring our Armed Forces home!

And now, more promises promises promises!

Border security: again, I’ll believe it when I see it. Bush didn’t get off the pot on that issue. I see nothing tangible that points to it happening during this administration either.

Government does not create prosperity!

Turning issues into silly soundbites: God knows politicians NEVER do that!

Change you can believe in: the controversy is the result of runaway spending that made your predecessor look frugal and the insistence that government take over every essential industry. Mr. Obama, YOU played a major role in the creation of the Tea Party movement – deal with it!

So, are we now stretching the blame all the way back to JFK? Blaming “W” isn’t enough?

Wait, did he actually deliver a line WITHOUT looking at the teleprompter? Where’s my calendar to mark this historic occasion?

I am impressed: he managed to speak for over an hour before finally using the phrase “I will fight.”

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pardon the pun: debate is healthy and vital in health care issue

Every now and then, a note or blog sparks a discussion that warrants its own entry. Case in point, Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ken Matesz brought up some important and valid counterpoints to my previous political blog.

Nearly a week since Republican Scott Brown won the special election in Massachusetts for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by the late Ted Kennedy, health care reform arguments have been all over the map. The Libertarian Party is the only group that has not left its position on the topic blowing with the wind.

A stance of limited government interference is the best path, ultimately. Now it is a matter of getting our point across effectively and having a plan for heavily restrained reforms for what currently exists.

To my previous blog, Matesz said this:

Don't have time to read your whole post, but I read far enough to see that you said that it is a good idea to eliminate the possibility of insurance companies rejecting customers due to preexisting conditions. I'm sorry, my friend, but there is no hope for a viable insurance industry if every insurance company has to accept every customer regardless of their health.
Would you be able to survive as an insurer against floods if you were required to insure every house that is built on a floodplain?
Then, from the client's point of view, why should I bother to buy insurance until I have a condition? In other words, if insurance companies become required to accept customers with preexisting conditions, then I can stop paying for insurance right now, and just wait until I get sick.
Then, once I know what illness I have, I can go apply for insurance coverage and know that I will get it because Congress passed a law requiring the insurance company to cover me. What insurance company can survive with no customers until the customers are all sick?
Insurance is insurance precisely because it is a hedge against the risk of getting sick. It is no longer insurance when the company must take on all sick people. At that point, it is just welfare.

My reply is as follows:

What it boils down to is when people pay their premiums, they should be able to expect to receive the services for which they’ve paid. This is why we have consumer protection laws.

Also, I believe insurance companies should retain the right to require disclosure of one’s medical history before accepting someone as a customer and even decline them if they pose too great of a risk. But, that needs to take place *before they sign up and payments are being made.*

Additionally, when an insurer determines a customer has knowingly withheld important information about their personal health history they also retain the right to cancel the policy due to that individual’s breach of contract.

I understand your point that if legislation is poorly written regarding insuring those with preexisting conditions we’ll create an unfunded welfare mandate. What we need to bear in mind is the majority of these conditions require preventative and health-maintenance care to prevent more serious conditions from progressing.

All too often it is when a person’s health goes south because they cannot get access to care before that happens that they turn to the emergency room for their health care. This has been a major factor in driving up the overall costs of health care nationwide.

Granted, one thing that would help in this entire debate is if people would cease to be mentally and intellectually lazy and start reading the fine print on their policies (in essence, the Libertarian stance on individual responsibility).

We are fortunate that the majority of Americans do not want a government takeover of health care. But the argument that all medical conditions render people uninsurable who do not already have health insurance runs the risk of swinging public sentiment in a direction that will embolden and play into the hands of the progressive movement.

All in all, there is a great deal of deregulation that needs to take place with health care which will help alleviate the cost burden on the public.

I agree with reforming the manner in which states have established minimum coverage requirements for insurers. The inability for people to take their health policy with them when they move from one state to another is a direct infringement upon the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause (Article 1, Section 8, paragraph 3).

Another idea I wholeheartedly endorse is being proposed by Senate candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky. His idea is to extend significant tax breaks and relief to physicians who practice medicine at community clinics as a way to help alleviate the expenses of preventative and maintenance care.

Finally, the best way to enable Americans to afford health care insurance is to drastically slash federal and state government spending, thus allowing taxpayers to keep more of their earnings and as a result better afford not just insurance but also any other costs that come with returning to or maintaining good health.

That last point is why I’m a Libertarian.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The health care plot thickens!

With all the writing I’ve been doing in the months since I made the decision to run for elected office, I have no doubt some readers may look through my body of work so far and wonder where are the epic novels about the health care reform agenda in Washington.

To be perfectly honest, it’s been a process of amassing as much information and perspective as possible on the current push to enact this new incarnation of nationalized medical coverage. I have a stack of newspaper pages and clippings waiting for me to revisit and extract from them any useful and relevant knowledge to be gained from them. I’m not an expert in this area – it ain’t easy!

The biggest hurdle in analyzing the mess that is America’s health care debate is the collection of 1,000-, 2,000-, and 2,500-page legislative behemoths our Democrat-controlled Congress has dropped on us all like someone who finally defecates after suffering from five days of constipation.

The original bill that was under consideration by Democrats in the House of Representatives, HR 3200, was difficult enough to read at more than 1,000 pages. The legal verbiage contained on page after mind-numbing page coupled with the bill’s constant references to the Social Security Act and the Medicare Act (“this paragraph supercedes/replaces paragraphs 3 through 5 of Article 4, Subsection C, blah blah blah blah blah!!”) made it utterly incomprehensible to anyone who doesn’t enjoy 24-hour access to the Library of Congress.

Disseminating the contents of HR 3200 meant carefully reading the legislation that created the Social Security Administration as well as Medicare in order to understand what exactly was being changed there – on top of trying to evaluate the provisions of the bill that were designed to enact new regulations and appropriations which served to fulfill the original spirit of that particular piece of proposed legislation.

I am a reasonably intelligent, college educated individual. For God’s sake I was an English major specializing in the technical writing field. Yet despite my best effort, I could not make heads-or-tails of that thing!

HR 3200 – which eventually was shelved in favor of a bigger and better bill – was half as thick as the bill passed by the House and only 40% as enormous as the Senate version voted-on Christmas Eve morning. Now imagine trying dig through and comprehend both of those bills – more than 4,500 pages of legislative gibberish that would make Chapter 12 of a typical organic chemistry text book found on Ohio State’s campus more fun to read – while Democrats in the House and Senate negotiate a final bill in Conference.

As I have attempted to wrangle the health care issue since it entered the political forefront of America last year, I have seen my share of comedy (and I’m not simply referring to Rep. Alan Grayson’s [D-FL] foolhardy comments on the floor of the House). In one discussion thread on Facebook I was amused by one person’s assertion, “I wonder how many people who oppose the health care bill have actually read it!”

In light of how all three proposed bills have been composed (including HR 3200), I would love to see a show of hands as to how many people who support them out in the general public have actually read them.

Furthermore, complicity with members of Congress writing proposed legislation in this manner is the most overlooked way in which President Barack Obama’s administration has failed to live up to his promise of transparency. They employed this tactic with the Stimulus, the House’s Cap and Trade Tax bill, and now with health care.

To me, the most reprehensible part of the Democratic Party’s efforts over the last year has been their unwavering insistence that health care reform can only be accomplished with their all-or-nothing strategy: “either everyone adopt our massive plan or none of it gets done; meanwhile we reserve the right to place the blame on and vilify all who oppose us as each and every tragic story of any kind makes the news.”

What is truly nauseating about this whole production – since the debates began last summer in the Senate and House of Representatives – is in the time that has been spent trying to ram 2,000-2,500 pages of legislation down our throats, Congress easily could have written several smaller bills that would have dealt with the major components of the health care issue about which Democrats claimed they are most passionate.

We’ve been inundated with commentary about ending the practice of insurance companies denying coverage due to preexisting conditions. There has been true bipartisan support for this. I wholeheartedly endorse this idea. And by my estimation Congress could easily have produced a bill of about 50 pages that would have more than satisfied this order of business.

The discussions in Congress over health care began in June, right around the time school was letting out. For the most part, such a bill ought to have required roughly two weeks to be authored. Another week of dialogue in committee also would have been reasonable to hammer out details on such a bill, assuming expedience was a major concern. After that, several days of open debate on the floors of both the House and Senate about the bill would follow.

By the August recess, an effective law prohibiting preexisting condition denials could have been on the books. We could have had that in America if a little common sense had been applied.

But now we don’t.

And this same process could have been applied to several of the major sub-issues within the whole health care issue debate. By now, we could have seen as many as four key areas of the so-called health care crisis resolved.

But because of all-or-nothing, now we don’t.

Now, because of the Democratic Party’s gross miscalculation on how the general public across America would respond to their tactics, they have lost a Senate seat in a state that had elected one of their own exclusively for almost 40 years. The day after the special election in Massachusetts, Democratic leaders have been tripping all over themselves to get in front of microphones and cameras for an opportunity to discuss how their party needs to alter their policy strategy.

I believe the proper term to sum it all up is, “Oops.”

What Democrats should be discussing publicly – but are not – is their refusal to weigh Republican proposals during all the health care discussions played a large role in angering the American electorate.

Proposals such as tort reform, tax breaks for physicians who work in community clinics, and reforming minimum coverage laws that state governments have enacted which prevent insurers from offering policies that ought to be available in any state where customers (or prospective customers) would want them were all ignored by the majority party.

Additionally, these three examples above would not need to be packaged together in one massive, all-encompassing bill either.

If either Democrats or Republicans are as unfailingly confident in each item of health care reform for which they have argued so vehemently, then both parties ought to have no problem debating in favor of each one individually – presented in its own independent bill.

But instead of this more open and effective approach to resolving some very real problems with health care coverage in America, Democrats preferred to sidestep all questions as to why we needed such mammoth pieces of legislation. Instead of getting into the nuts-and-bolts of the House and Senate bills and defending each component within them, Democrats chose to fall back on the same appeal to emotion arguments with which they started the entire discussion and fell back on accusing opponents of hating the poor and underprivileged. When asked to defend the constitutionality of their legislative efforts, Democrats opted to arrogantly mock anyone who posed such a question to them.

So: Representative Pelosi, Senator Reid, how has that strategy worked-out for you guys so far? Perhaps we should get the answer to that one from Senator Scott Brown.

Now, I have realized where I’ve made my mistake when it comes to blogging about Obama’s health care agenda. Much like this administration and their congressional enablers, I too adopted an all-or-nothing approach to my commentary on the subject. Perhaps I can set an example, in my own small way, for the Establishment Left and tackle the behemoth sensibly: one critical element at a time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Early observations on Massachusetts

I know a lot of conservatives are excited about the prospect of Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown being elected to the U.S. Senate. Polling information I've been seeing in various online news articles has been suggesting as much as a double-digit lead for him over Massaschusetts Attorney General Martha "Oops did I really say that?" Coakley.

One thing I've learned about Mr. Brown, unfortunately, is that his track record on Life vs. choice is less than stellar. Just to be clear and up-front on where I stand, I am Pro-Life.

I fear Brown's election to the Senate is continuing the metamorphosis trend of the Republicans becoming Democrat/Progressive-lite, further blurring what used to be clear distinctions between the two major parties: such as with John McCain campaigning in favor of Cap & Trade in 2008.

Why is it that we can't get away from having candidates who "we need to win" a particular election but whose victory means we are forced to tolerate compromises on those issues that go beyond what are our values and threaten the very sanctity of our souls?!

This is why I have become a Libertarian and chosen to run for Congress: I refuse to compromise when it comes to my values and principles. Political expediency be damned!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Finals thoughts before tomorrow's election in Massachusetts

First and foremost, if I were a Massachusetts resident I would vote for Joe Kennedy. I tire of the discussions insinuating (or outright proclaiming) voting for an independent or third-party candidate is a wasted vote.

This mantra of compromising our principles and voting to avoid "the worse candidate" winning must end. This is how we were stuck with having to choose between Clinton and Dole, Bush and Gore, Bush and Kerry, and Obama and McCain.

Having said that, the reality is Scott Brown probably will win. Kennedy is drawing support from both disaffected Democrats as well as Republicans -- that and Martha Coakley's professional skeletons and befuddling ways lately have been adding to her undoing.

Ultimately, the polling numbers coming from Massachusetts illustrates the Libertarians who have the best shot at winning in this coming November are the ones who are entering the political fray out of the Tea Party movement. More and more people are tired of hearing from established politicians and want someone with zero in the way of connections.

As a whole, we Libertarians need to be quick to point out that our party is rising despite the absence of lobby money flowing into our coffers. If there ever was a viable selling point, that is it!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ohio 2010 gubernatorial race will be interesting

Today's newspaper was an interesting read. In the Region & Ohio section we initially get an eyeful of an AP article about Republican John Kasich's 10-year plan for phasing-out Ohio's income tax.

In this piece, before we get to read former representative Kasich's defense of his plan, we are presented with paragraph after paragraph of what detractors of the plan have to say. In particular, we are informed of all the predicted shortfalls in revenue this has the potential to create as well as reminded of all the recent budget battles resulting from revenue shortfalls as the economy continues to hobble along, money struggles for our libraries, and other tales of fiscal woe.

What I found entertaining was when I turned the page to see the headline that General Motors is unlikely to reopen its Ohio plants the company has closed over the last two years. The same article includes Ohio's incumbent Democratic Governor Ted Strickland discussing how our state will need to work toward bringing new industries to fill the void of jobs that GM will be leaving our state.

As I was reading the article centering on Kasich's tax phase-out plan I'll have to admit I had my doubts as to how much support he can realistically expect as the year progresses toward November's election.

But the transitional thought at this point between the two stories is a simple one. Ohio cannot get its budget needs straight and states in this position are far less appealing to prospective companies seeking new locations to open a factory, office, or other operation. What would make Ohio a more compelling place to do business is making it a more affordable place to do business: which is precisely what Kasich's plan would accomplish.

But, my general disgust for the two-party system in America has me looking at Kasich's shortcomings, in particular his voting record that leans toward gun control.

Strickland has been all over the political map, working so hard to look more like a Republican after the public displeasure over his support of the public smoking ban in 2007.

So, in the end I'll stick to my original plan which is to vote for Ken Matesz, the Libertarian candidate for Governor of Ohio.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Don's random thoughts: January 10, 2010

Conservatives and Libertarians such as I have consistently lamented the rising sentiment over the last 20 years among America’s far left as they labor to embrace the contemporary socialist ideology so prevalent in Europe.

Also, in light of the unfair and inaccurate rhetoric that has been directed at the Tea Party movement and its participants by high-profile liberals over the past 10 months, I have been unrelenting in linking media coverage, political commentary, and trends in White House policy that come together and paint a picture I find very disturbing.

As the push continues to extend ever expanding powers and authority to various federal entities (the FCC, Health and Human Services, and the EPA to name a few), I read yesterday morning of an agency that exists in the United Kingdom that should alarm anyone who worries as much as me about the ongoing push to make the United States more closely resemble our European counterparts. This British organization is titled the National Domestic Extremism Team.

You can read a very brief posting discussing it here.

Can you say MIAC report?

Of course as the word spreads about President Barack Obama’s recent Christmas present, the amendment of Executive Order 12425 signed on Dec. 17, the prospect of such a federal agency here doesn’t seem so farfetched.

Wait a minute. Are you puzzled as to what Obama’s amendment of E.O. 12425 is? In yet another bypass of Congress by the Executive Branch, our President has granted immunity from lawful search and seizure to the International Criminal Police Organization – better known as Interpol.

What does this mean? The answer: the protections associated with full diplomatic immunity have been bestowed upon all offices and facilities Interpol has here on American soil. In essence, all evidence, files, and any other documents collected by a foreign law enforcement agency is no longer subject to proper legal scrutiny of any kind – the door is open for them to operate like a secret police within the United States.

Don’t just raise your eyebrow at me. Do a Google search of “Obama amendment Executive Order 12425” and read it yourself.

The next item on my political radar is equally as disturbing, published yesterday by the Boston Herald.

News is surfacing that if Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown can manage a political upset and defeat Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley – in the state’s upcoming special election on January 19 for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by the late Ted Kennedy – there are mechanisms in place that would delay validation of Brown’s Senate seat.

The holdup, evidently, would be intentionally long enough to allow interim Senator Paul Kirk to vote “yes” on the final health care reform bill currently being negotiated in conference by Democratic leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

That article can be read in its entirety here.

This story is floating to the surface on the heels of Massachusetts’s state government leaders changing their election laws yet again in a scramble to ensure both of the state’s Senate seats are held by Democrats.

For some background with this news gem, the law for filling a vacated U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts was rewritten in 2004 during Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign. Before it was altered, state law there authorized the governor to hand-select a successor to either Senate seat should it suddenly be open – as a result of whoever holding it dying, retiring/resigning in midterm, or getting elected to another public office.

However, in 2004 Republican Mitt Romney was governor at the time. With the prospect of Kerry getting elected President being a very real possibility, Romney would have been in a position to install a fellow party member in Kerry’s place had he won, giving Massachusetts its first Republican senator in decades.

So in light of the fact residents in that state vote heavily Democrat, the Democratic majority in Massachusetts’ state legislature worked diligently to change the election law so that any Senate vacancies would have to be filled only by a specially scheduled public vote. Not surprisingly, they overturned Romney’s veto of the bill in the process.

This past year with the Tea Party movement’s rapid rise and the manner which public sentiment for it has grown, Democrats everywhere are experiencing a real fear of voter backlash. And so, the death of Kennedy in August sent Massachusetts Democrats scrambling to change the law back to allow the governor (now Deval Patrick, who just happens to be a Democrat) to select an interim Senator until a permanent replacement can be elected.

This also was done so the U.S. Senate could have the 60 votes from the left needed to ensure Democrats could both defeat any filibuster attempts and get a vote of cloture for all debates on proposed legislation.

Is this or is this not partisan politics at its truly best?

Finally, we have revelations of comments made by Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nevada) during the 2008 presidential campaign.

This can be verified here.

According to a book about the 2008 presidential race, Game Change by New York Times reporter Mark Halperin and New York magazine writer John Heilemann, Reid described then-Senator Obama as “light-skinned” and “with no negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

The book is set to be in stores Tuesday. Reid made his public apology yesterday.

Now lo-and-behold, liberals are tripping over themselves and each other to accept the senator’s act of contrition.

Reportedly also contained in Game Change, former President Bill Clinton paid a visit to Kennedy along the campaign trail seeking the senator’s endorsement for Hillary’s nomination. At one point during this occasion Mr. Clinton made the observation about Obama, “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.”

Can anyone else hear the absence of uproar? The hypocrisy is nauseating me beyond description.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Incumbent Dilemma: will a voter movement turn into Political Musical Chairs?

One item I’ve been seeing in my online perusals (in particular Facebook and the Activity Pit) has been a wonderful slogan that reads, “No Incumbents 2010,” and includes a big “I” encased in the ever-popular red-circle-and-slash.

Undoubtedly, a lot of prominent politicians (Democrats in particular) have been getting an eyeful of this inspiring logo, namely Connecticut Senator Christopher “Let’s Make A Mortgage Deal” Dodd, North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, and Colorado Governor Bill Ritter. That’s not including Senate appointees Roland Burris (Illinois) and Ted Kaufman (Delaware) – although in fairness these two announced very early on they would not seek reelection.

But, Dodd’s announcement is the real bombshell. Regarded as one of America’s most influential senators, his so-called retirement most certainly will create a significant power void among congressional Democrats.

Still, it’s not that surprising as Dodd had been one of many politicians who appeared would be swept-away by the massive wave of displeasure with incumbents everywhere. His choice to step aside is reportedly opening the door for Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to make a viable run to be the next Democratic senator from that state. For those who are faithful viewers like me of the Glenn Beck program, you may remember Blumenthal from the shredding he endured at Beck’s hands last spring over his short-lived attempt to prosecute AIG executives for the crime of receiving bonuses.

In addition, speculation is rampant regarding other incumbent senators and representatives and their chances of retaining their seats. A bit more specifically, those commonly considered most vulnerable are the ones expected to vote “yes” on the proposed so-called health care reform and Cap and Trade Tax as well as having voted for the Stimulus Bill.

Now knowing how politicians traditionally operate, when you consider how enormously unpopular the current health care reform package is the obvious question one would ask is, “Why would any politician who values their career in elected office vote for this legislation and other similar bills that the public has clearly and vocally rejected?”

During former President Bill Clinton’s first term in office, as the polling numbers began to circulate how unpopular his administration’s health care agenda was at that time the original proponents couldn’t abandon ship fast enough in order to preserve their own political futures.

The difference this time around is what I call “The Van Jones Effect.”

More commonly referred-to as President Barack Obama’s “Green Jobs Czar” by conservative commentators, Jones held the title of Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Counsel on Environmental Quality during his brief tenure with the current administration.

Despite repeated calls by Beck (and eventually others) for an explanation why the White House would appoint someone as a special advisor to the President who had publicly described himself as a communist and political radical, it wasn’t until after revelations that Jones was a 9-11 truther that he finally resigned. Quite curiously, Jones’ resignation was announced shortly after midnight on September 5 (the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend).

However by the time most folks were back to work following Labor Day, it was announced Jones had already accepted a position with the Center for American Progress, a Progressive Liberal think tank run by former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta and heavily funded by billionaire George Soros.

During the first attempt to nationalize health care in America 16 years ago, Soros had not yet become the omnipresent left-wing bankroller he is today. It is his deep-pockets methodology toward politics that has emboldened many Democrats to advance widely unpopular legislation – no matter how inevitably this agenda jeopardizes their future chances of election.

Basically, those who toe the progressive liberal line most faithfully have been enabled to adopt a “No Worries” mindset. And why should they worry? After witnessing Jones’ fate, many of Congress’ liberals can sit back in near-perfect comfort and ram-charge any insanely socialist measure they want: if they get voted out for it they know there will be a cushy, well-paying job waiting for them at either Center for American Progress,, the Apollo Alliance, or any number of other Soros-funded groups.

Isn’t the marriage of Washington and corporate fat cats a beautiful thing to behold?

To me the sad part of this scenario is regardless of how irresponsibly members of Congress vote between now and November, those who choose not to run again have created an easy path for their respective parties’ candidates to side-step the anti-incumbent movement. As in the case of Blumenthal, should he emerge as the Democratic candidate for senator in Connecticut he will enjoy the luxury of being able to sell to voters the notion, “I’m not the incumbent so it’s really not fair to hold me up against Christopher Dodd.”

In other words: in Connecticut, North Dakota, Illinois, Delaware, and various other states and districts we will be seeing a new round of “Change you can believe in.” Only this time it will be packaged differently – possibly creatively – depending on where it needs to be marketed.

Our hopes for the future as it relates to the upcoming elections rely heavily on one principle: don’t believe the hype!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sanford bursts 'Rising Star Bubble': look back at 2009 continues

Let’s take a look at a depressing list. The 90s gave us the “dot-com” bubble burst. In 2008 our country saw the housing bubble burst with economically catastrophic results we’re still feeling today. And this past summer, 2009, a previously obscure Republican governor gave his party their own little bursting bubble.

Of course, I write of inevitably-outgoing South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. The governor’s Melrose Place-esque antics last year served to burst what had become his party’s Rising Star Bubble.

Unfortunately, for those already fully familiar with the Sanford Saga, some text must be devoted at this time to fill in the blanks for those who are not caught-up on all the details.

Gov. Sanford was viewed as a key, up-and-coming leader within the GOP as public displeasure with the Obama Administration’s economic policies continued to boil-over by midyear. That is, he was until it was revealed he had hopped on a small jet down to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to enjoy a siesta with his long-time mistress.

Sanford had led some of his staff to believe he was on a hiking excursion to essentially blow-off some steam after being ordered by the South Carolina State Supreme Court to accept federal stimulus money he had been refusing to take delivery of on behalf of his state. However, when he could not be located early in his excursion a massive search by state authorities ensued as many feared the governor might have suffered some calamity out in the wild – the entire endeavor serving to copiously waste taxpayer-funded resources.

As to exactly how many in his administration knew the whole story at the time, we may never know.

Related to the Sanford saga, the problem for the Republican Party is after the 2008 election, there has been such a void in terms of national GOP leadership the public could wrap their arms around that anyone who could make a splash and generate some positive PR for them was virtually guaranteed to grab headlines everywhere. And so this bubble – one revolving around the desperate search for new, hip rising stars within the party – began to rapidly expand.

Consequently, the clash of personalities between Sanford and President Barack Obama – over acceptance or refusal of stimulus funds – jet-propelled the governor into that very position of national prominence. Many if not all of the top political analysts (conservative, liberal, or otherwise) began discussing at length how he not only was rapidly emerging as a potential GOP front-runner to challenge Obama in the 2012 election but he also could be the up-and-coming leader the Republicans were needing to unify them and lead the party back to the promised land – like some sort of NeoCon Messiah.

Instead, Sanford revealed himself to be a false prophet for the Right Wing. More simply, he’s a dirtbag.

Along with his image, so went the GOP’s rising star bubble: “Pop!”

Don’s customary side note:
When I read the initial full-length AP article detailing Gov. Sanford’s mess, I remember being struck by one of the points mentioned in the story. The reporter had gone in length about how the governor’s wife, Jenny Sanford, had been his top advisor throughout his political career – during his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, through his gubernatorial campaign, and of course into his governorship. In essence, she was portrayed as the brains behind the public persona.

If there’s any truth to the depictions and assertions made in that article, then I cannot help but reach this conclusion: Jenny Sanford should run for public office – be it the House of Representatives, state legislature, S.C. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator (to replace Lindsey Graham, preferably), hell even governor, or wherever she may fit the bill!

When you consider the following details, such an idea makes perfect sense.

If Jenny Sanford truly was the driving force behind her spouse’s political success, then she obviously possesses a high degree of political acumen, which goes without saying is a vital quality when running for office.

The other factor weighing heavily in Ms. Sanford’s favor is the manner in which she handled the entire issue of her husband’s affair.

She was willing to giver her estranged husband the opportunity to reconcile. It was what many of us in a civilized society would hope to see in such a situation and some would consider the Christian thing to do.

However, when Mark Sanford was offered a reasonable second chance and could not garner the good sense or decency to embrace the opportunity, Jenny did what any self-respecting woman should: she dropped his sorry ass like the wet noodle he is. This demonstrates her to be – in my mind – a person of dignity and character, another quality sorely lacking today among most office holders across this nation.

Returning to the first part of Jenny Sanford’s qualifications – since she packed up their children and moved on and without her there to coach him along, Jenny’s soon-to-be-ex-husband has spewed-forth a steady stream of nonsense and stupid comments: further proving she was the brains in that family.

Transformational Speech serve as punch line for Obama's, Napolitano's first year

As I begin (finally) to do my look-back at 2009 I cannot help but focus first on the Obama Administration’s insistence upon trying to introduce new, misdirectional euphemisms into our vernacular. My need to go in this direction is inspired by our President’s speech on Thursday (January 7) regarding the foiled terrorist plot Christmas Day on Flight 253.

As President Barack Obama begrudgingly orates about the United States being at war with al Qaeda, I am reminded of his efforts shortly after his inauguration to refer to the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns in the Global War on Terror as “overseas contingency operations.”

And so the next domino of memory falls as that phrase by the President reminds me of then-newly-appointed Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and her attempt to nudge us toward using the expression “man-caused disasters” instead of allegedly more inflammatory terms such as “terrorism” and “act of terror.”

It was a rough start to Napolitano’s new career path in politics. In March she became the poster child for irresponsibly sweeping items under the proverbial rug when she was called to the carpet over the now-infamous report by the Missouri Information Analysis Center. This was the government-produced piece that weighed-in on the growing threat of home-grown terrorists and extrapolated on the notion that as people become more disgruntled in these economic times they are more likely to engage in radical anti-government activity. Among the talking points, the report stated these people are easily identifiable by their affinity toward clothing or any other paraphernalia that has a camouflage color scheme and displays of bumper stickers with right-wing slogans. Additionally it suggested veterans returning from the war are more susceptible to embracing violent rhetoric.

2009 ended for Napolitano much like it started. She has been ridiculed and derided for her recent comments that “the system worked” when asked how Umar Faruk Abdulmutallab was able to board Flight 253 in the first place.

The negative publicity she has faced in all these instances could have been avoided by exercising just a little responsibility.

I get that the Obama Administration has felt a sense of mandate bolstering them – between the President’s election and the sweeping majorities his party claimed in both houses of Congress – and it is not difficult to see how this situation would lead anyone in such a position of authority to believe they could roll out their agenda unquestioned. Obama was voted into office based in large part on his promise of change in how business would be handled in Washington.

What people in America were hoping to see first were a change in how money would be spent (or even not spent), a rapid departure from the policies of George W. Bush, and greater transparency in how government activity will be handled. What people saw before anything else was a bait-and-switch game of terminology: essentially an adolescent effort to coerce the public into adopting new speech patterns using a mindset of, “see, we popular people are talking like this therefore you should, too.”

This, of course, was accompanied by the trillion-dollar crap sandwich better known as the Stimulus Bill – but I digress as usual.

To offer a real-world example of why, a year later, I still cannot get over the Obama Administration’s terminology bait-and-switch, a previous workplace of mine implemented something just like this several years ago. Management’s title for it was “Transformational Speech.” (hmmm, “transformational…” seems to me I’ve heard this term used to describe Obama before – apologies, another digression on my part)

At my previous job, we were instructed to never use the phrase, “I don’t know,” in response to a member’s question if we didn’t genuinely know the answer. We were trained our reply had to be, “That’s an excellent question! Let me go find someone who can answer that more effectively.”

Also, the front desk was renamed “The Connection Desk” as this was the primary area where our facility “made the connection with our members” – we were expected to purge the phrase “customer service” from our lexicon.

I have nothing sarcastic to add here that you the reader haven’t been able to formulate on your own.

In case you were wondering, the list of transformational euphemisms went on and on.

The problem here was not much really had changed in the way we operated beyond the subliminal effort to make our members feel good about doing business with us. The whole phraseology ploy by the White House employs the same premise. Unfortunately, untold millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted doing the research on such dribble by this administration.

Related side note:
One subject at which I have hammered before and will belabor for the remainder of this presidential administration is the aforementioned MIAC report on potential domestic terror threats. As I stated earlier, some responsibility would have accomplished a great deal for not only Obama’s public image but his cabinet secretaries’ as well.

The MIAC story created the most visible early chink in the administration’s transparency armor. America’s secretary of Homeland Security took the single-worst course of action imaginable: Napolitano slid that report toward the bottom of a pile of paperwork on her desk as quickly as it had come to her attention.

All the White House needed to do was quickly go to the public with it once they were aware of its contents. The comedic part of this whole story is the truth was on their side: this report was initiated during the Bush Administration.

Napolitano could very easily have held a press conference with the report in hand, looked everyone in attendance in the eye and told them the report was initially published before Obama was sworn-in, and then declared the current administration did not subscribe to the conclusions reached by the MIAC.

This simple yet direct course of action would have shown a bright positive light on the new administration. It may even to some extent have stemmed the rising tide of the Tea Party movement in America, which was just beginning to gain momentum at this time. After all, President Obama was elected on a wave of anti-Bush and anti-Republican sentiment. Such an act of undeniable transparency combined with pinning this document onto his predecessor would have been a PR boon for a President whose approval numbers already were slipping not even two months into his term. And since the MIAC report focused almost exclusively on so-called right-wing extremists, outing this document on their own accord would have demonstrated the kind of bipartisanship Obama insisted he sought during his campaign.

Instead, the “keep quiet and maybe no one will notice it” approach only served to fuel suspicion surrounding Obama’s agenda. This action combined with the endless rhetoric attempting to paint Tea Partiers as “angry mobs,” racists, and a general bastion for potential violence, as well as the President’s decision in September to continue several “key provisions” of the Patriot Act, the so-called Net Neutrality Act, and the appointment of Mark Lloyd as FCC diversity officer (Lloyd having gone on record recently as saying the Fairness Doctrine does not go far enough) all come together to begin painting an alarming picture of how the left intends to deal with political dissent.