Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Additional Political Digest Items for November 3, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Nor that I disagree with them, of course.

Only time to pop up a few items before I fly out of Illinois to Red State Texas. Note to burglars—please don’t disturb the wife. I want her to finish cleaning all the guns while I’m gone.

Pretty solid Republican Victory, better than I expected.
We must thank Barack Obama, Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, without whom this victory would not have been possible. But do not think this will save our country. There are too many voters who work for the government, are involved in government supported enterprises, are dependent on the government, or who pay no federal taxes, thus only benefit from higher taxes and spending. But we are fighting to delay the collapse in hopes some game changer will come along and save us. I suppose Constantine XI felt that way too.

Here were my predictions on my blog election day vs. the results that are in.

             Bob Predicted      Actual GOP Gains as of now    Undecided
Senate         8                                  6                                       3

House         52                                60                                     13

Governors    7                                 8                                        3

There were, of course, disappointment, especially in the senate, where we blew some chances. Joel Pollak, a terrific candidate, lost in my district, IL-9 after running a great campaign and no national support. It’s considered a very safe Dem seat. Both he and his wife are very bright, very nice and class acts. They will be heard from again. I was proud to support them. Since we live in Crook County, if you don’t hear from me for a few days in the near future, have them drag the Des Plaines River.

And there were wins, particularly Alan West in Florida, whom I contributed to. He’s a retired Army LtCol, Iraq vet, beloved by his men, and a first class intellect. He will instantly become a leading Republican. Guy who knows him sees him in the White House. A bit early for that, but a terrific win for the country. Be interesting to see if he joins the black caucus—if they let him.

The Tea Party
The sent a message in Nevada by choosing the most far right candidate, the only one Harry Reid could beat (if I recall correctly, the two candidates she defeated in the Republican Primary were polling about 8% better against Reid). And he did, though with a lot of public union dollars. In solidly Republican Alaska, the Tea Party favorite was so weak a candidate that it appears the incumbent Republican was able to win on a write in. Call her a RINO if you will, she will vote Republican to organize, the key vote. In Delaware, the Tea Party voters wanted to send a message to Washington, and voted for Christine O’Donnell. But the person who will take their message to the Senate is a far left, former (?) Marxist, Senator-Elect Coons. I’m not sure that was the message they wanted to send. The Tea Party brought a lot of energy to the fight, and Tea Party candidates like Rand Paul and Marco Rubio won. But with a little more practicality, and the votes of a few RINOs, we could have had conservatives in control of the flow of business and the committees in the Senate for the next two years. The Democrat-controlled senate will block a lot of stuff that Obama would have had to veto, so the results in Nevada and Delaware are a great benefit to Obama’s re-election chances in 2012. Unfortunately, the Right is no different than the Left, with many dedicated people preferring political purity to victory.

State Level
The big news is probably here, where GOP control of governorships and legislatures bodes well for the redistricting fight coming up. I believe in non-partisan re-districting, but until we can get it, prefer not to have Democrats in charge of the process. said: “The real story is the underreported story of the night - the Republican pick ups at the state level. There will be 18 states subject to reapportionment. The Republicans will control a majority of those - at least ten and maybe a dozen or more. More significantly, a minimum of seventeen state legislative houses have flipped to the Republican Party. The North Carolina Legislature is Republican for the first time since 1870. Yes, that is Eighteen Seventy. The Alabama Legislature is Republican for the first time since 1876. For those saying this is nothing because it is the South, consider these: The entire Wisconsin and New Hampshire legislatures have flipped to the GOP by wide margins. The State Houses in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Montana, and Colorado flipped to the GOP. The Maine and Minnesota Senates flipped to the GOP. The Texas and Tennessee Houses went from virtually tied to massive Republican gains. The gains in Texas were so big that the Republicans no longer need the Democrats to get state constitutional amendments out of the state legislature. These gains go all the way down to the municipal level across the nation. That did not happen even in 1994. This was a tsunami.

Disaster States
Democrats took the governorship of California, voted most likely to collapse into anarchy, and are slightly leading in Illinois, probably the second biggest fiscal disaster. It may be better to have them in charge, as the Democrat legislatures are unlikely to allow the fiscal problems to be fixed, as they will be very painful. Be an interesting contrast with Ohio and New Jersey, the other leading disaster states, in two years. Also with Republican controlled Texas, where Republican policies and a pro-business attitude have made the recession pretty mild compared to, say, Democrat bastions California and Illinois.

Left blames the Supreme Court, not the policies
Predictably, the left is already blaming big corporate dollars, despite even bigger labor dollars, not their policies that polls showed the people didn’t want jammed down their throats. From the reliably-statist Nation: ….overall the results were grim, as candidates who wish to roll back decades of social and economic progress were swept into office. Instead of debates about how to create jobs and rebuild our country, in these midterms we got vicious and misleading attack ads funded by anonymous corporate donors. As we saw in this election, the Supreme Court's dramatic assault on our democracy in Citizen's United has opened up the floodgates to unlimited corporate funding of candidates. As Bill Moyers says, this money "is a dagger directed at the heart of our democracy."

Sensible Advice to send to your Congressman: Memo to GOP: Govern, Don't Goad,_dont_goad
Excerpt: Govern, don't goad. It's pretty simple, voters didn't so much as vote Republicans in than they voted Democrats out. They didn't make John Boehner the Speaker of the House to simply goad and get even. They voted for Republicans to govern, and to govern well. That means not worrying about what Steny Hoyer of Maryland or Henry Waxman of California says or does in committee, but simply bearing down on important legislation and getting the job done. If Democrats stand in the way, then fine, make that case in November 2012. Remember, this mess wasn't created in four years (and Republicans certainly contributed to it during the early 2000s) and it will take far longer to clean it up. Forget your enemy; build allies instead. For the better part of the past 16 years, congressional Democrats and Republicans played a simple yet twisted game of binary politics - if the other side is losing, we must be winning. Once they realized that equation, both sides sought to undo the other more so than to actually govern. So for 2011, instead of trying to destroy their opponent, Republicans should instead focus on building a coalition of the willing. Draw in moderates, Blue Dogs, anyone who is open-minded on the various issues Congress will face. If the polls from Nov. 2 showed one thing, it was that voters are tired of the bitterness. Growing a majority in 2012 means growing your base of support with the electorate, and that means posting early successes no matter how the ayes and nays are counted…. Respect the minority. Pretty novel, huh? Possible? You bet. Why should Republicans respect the views of the minority by allowing them to offer amendments on the floor and in committee? Because that's what Republicans demanded for years, and it's time now to lead by example. Besides, Democrats won't do the admirable thing and offer substantive policy alternatives. Instead, you can bet they'll offer amendments meant to embarrass the GOP and prop up a flailing president. But at least Republicans can set the right tone, and show the American people who serves who. Think locally. Act nationally. More important than anything else, Republicans in both chambers must think differently about the constituents, and country, they serve. For far too long, politicians on both sides blocked entire measures, appointees and major initiatives for lame, parochial reasons. We presently have no national nuclear waste disposal program because of one man - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada - even though Yucca Mountain has been deemed time and again as the single best repository for such spent fuel. That's not leadership, folks, and it's certainly not in the interests of our country at large. For the love of Pete, can we please have a majority that puts the country's interests ahead of a congressman's interests? Yes, members should "vote the district" first, but please don't continue to fund pork projects we can't afford with money we don't have. For too long, individual members and senators looked after themselves first, and the country second. We have reached a tipping point in this country where we can no longer afford such narrow-minded policymaking. It's time to recall again this is the United States of America.

Republicans tear up President Obama's map
Excerpt: Voters Tuesday tore apart the complex map of America President Barack Obama proudly displayed after his 2008 victory, driving Democrats from office in rural areas, the suburbs and virtually the entire South — and unseating a generation of powerful Democratic centrists. Republicans took the House of Representatives in a convincing rejection of Obama’s policies and reordered the political map that delivered the presidency to him. They would have taken the Senate but for their own internal divisions and weak candidates in key states. Their partisan victory was indiscriminate: Democrats who ran away from Obama and the House leadership, like New York's Mike McMahon and Georgia's Jim Marshall, lost; so did the Democrats, like Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold and New York’s Scott Murphy, who embraced Obama and defended his health care plan. The party’s young stars, led by Virginia’s Tom Perriello, lost their seats; so did old bulls like Ike Skelton and John Spratt. The Republican victory drove Democrats back past 2008 and even beyond the anti-Bush wave of 2006, returning to the polarizing red and blue map that defined President Bush’s hard-fought re-election campaign against Senator John Kerry. The new GOP majority is expected to hobble the president’s legislative agenda and bleed his administration with subpoenas and investigations. And the 2010 results will haunt his reelection campaign, as Republican governors appear likely to retake control of the crucial battlegrounds of Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Obama now faces a stark, and immediate, choice between a novel effort to rebuild the 2008 coalition and an acceptance of the divisive political scene that he sought to move beyond. His Democratic allies Wednesday were torn between an impulse to seek common ground with the vital new Republican Party and a deep belief that GOP legislators have little interest in compromise. There were signs that the new Republicans were also pulled in both directions, with one new senator, Florida’s Marco Rubio, striking a tone of humility and conciliation, while another, Indiana’s Dan Coats, promising “firm opposition” to the “Obama regime.” (Well, Democrats had little interest in compromise, shoving ObamaCare down the people’s throats unread, with no action on things like tort reform. As ye sow, so shall ye reap. ~Bob.)

GOP seizes control of House; Dems retain Senate
Excerpt: By early morning, Republicans had gained half a dozen Senate seats, cutting into the Democratic majority but stopping short of a full takeover. Shortly after midnight, Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk became the sixth Republican to capture a Democratic-held seat, following Republican victories in Arkansas, Wisconsin, Indiana, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. The GOP also maintained Republican-held open seats in Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire and Kentucky - but a victory by Gov. Joe Manchin in West Virginia and the crushing defeat of tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and the re-election of Sen. Barbara Boxer in California extinguished GOP hopes for also capturing the Senate. The most notable survivor of the Republican wave was Reid, who was declared victorious over Republican Sharron Angle around 12:30 a.m. Despite low personal approval ratings and a grim economy in his home state, Reid managed to hang on to his seat by carpet-bombing his tea party-aligned foe with millions of dollars in negative ads that defined her as out of the political mainstream. Despite that disappointment, the Republican senators-elect were exultant, and Kentucky Republican Rand Paul – perhaps the year’s most prominent tea party candidate – repeated the rallying cry he delivered on primary night last May: “We've come to take our government back.” Florida’s Marco Rubio, another tea party-backed victor, trumpeted the GOP’s gains across the board: “We know that tonight the power in the United States House of Representatives will change hands,” he told supporters. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, predicted that the GOP’s gains would be more than fleeting – lasting well beyond 2012.

Great Election Day column: Voting: It's the least you can do,0,4531088.story
Excerpt: On Sundays, the market neighborhood where we were staying hosted a singalong. An accordionist played songs of yesteryear like "Parlez-moi d'amour." Old and young, dressed to the nines, whirled their partners in a scene out of a Gene Kelly movie. There wasn't much dancing and no protests in Paris 70 years ago. Photos of the day show faces contorted with fear and sadness as victorious Nazi troops parade by. Who knows if joy and the freedom to dissent would have returned, except for the decision made by Henri Mathey and others not to sit out the rest of World War II. It's tempting to think that one person can't have much effect. It's also tempting to focus on democracy's messiness and the tendency of government to do and say foolish things. When strikes shut down France's refineries, a Cabinet minister suggested that airplanes take off with less than full tanks and buy more fuel somewhere en route. Tourists sighed with relief when he added that this procedure might not be workable for trans-Atlantic flights. Yet recall that, for all its flaws, a representative form of government was something for which Mathey and his mates were eager to fight. When you step out of the house today, look skyward. Not so much with your eyes but your imagination. They are overhead — the Poles, the Czechs, the Belgians, the British, the Americans — providing air cover for democracy. They made their decision. How about you?

Only the Tea Party can save us now
Excerpt: Arriving back at Heathrow late on Sunday night I felt – as you do on returning to Britain these days – as if I were entering a failed state. It’s not just the Third World shabbiness which is so dispiriting. It’s the knowledge that from its surveillance cameras to its tax regime, from its (mostly) EU-inspired regulations to its whole attitude to the role of government, Britain is a country which has forgotten what it means to be free. God how I wish I were American right now. In the US they may not have the Cairngorms, the River Wye, cream teas, University Challenge, Cotswold villages or decent curries. But they do still understand the principles of “don’t tread on me” and “live free or die.” Not all of them, obviously – otherwise a socialist like Barack Obama would never have got into power. But enough of them to understand that in the last 80 or more years – and not just in the US but throughout the Western world – government has forgotten its purpose. It has now grown so arrogant and swollen as to believe its job is to shape and improve and generally interfere with our lives. And it’s not. Government’s job is to act as our humble servant. What’s terrifying is how few of us there are left anywhere in the supposedly free world who properly appreciate this. Sure, we may feel in our hearts that – as Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe put it in their Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party manifesto – “We just want to be free. Free to lead our lives as we please, so long as we do not infringe on the same freedom of others”. And we may even confide it to our friends after a few drinks. But look at Australia; look at Canada; look at New Zealand; look at anywhere in the EUSSR; look at America – at least until things begin to be improved by today’s glorious revolution. Wherever you go, even if it’s somewhere run by a notionally “conservative” administration, the malaise you will encounter is much the same: a system of governance predicated on the notion that the state’s function is not merely to uphold property rights, maintain equality before the law and defend borders, but perpetually to meddle with its citizens’ lives in order supposedly to make their existence more fair, more safe, more eco-friendly, more healthy. And always the result is the same: more taxation, more regulation, less freedom. Less “fairness” too, of course.

Anwar Al Awlaki Indicted in Yemen
Excerpt: Awlaki preaches a hardline morality, even though his own morality is questionable. The former imam of the Dar Al-Hijra Mosque in Falls Church, Virginia was twice caught soliciting prostitutes in San Diego in 1996 and 1997. Despite this, he gave online advice to the Somali group al-Shabaab on the best way to stone to death a 13 year old girl falsely accused of adultery. This girl, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, whose father claimed she was a rape victim, was stoned to death in front of 1,000 people on October 27, 2008.

The End of U.S. Exceptionalism
Excerpt: The United States has been lumped into a group including Libya and Mongolia that's coming under a U.N. human rights probe. Just how low does the administration plan to take this country? The United Nations Human Rights Council this week begins a 12-day Universal Periodic Review that happens to fall on the same year the U.S. has its midterm elections. America's human rights record will be the focus on Friday. Complainants will include Iran, which is "seriously concerned about the human rights status in Western countries, particularly the U.S." The Human Rights Network, an American-based organization of affiliated groups, is using the session to grouse about "substandard human rights practices" in the U.S. and urge the White House to bring the country in line with international standards. (There is the recurring naivete among some people, that getting all the nations together in the UN means everyone there will embrace ideals of fair and objective treatment of everyone else. Oh, and do it efficiently too. Well, that's never happened, and is not going to happen when many countries come to the UN with their own strong agendas, not remotely interested in being fair and objective. Some nations have an agenda which starts out as anti-US, so having them on any committee or group that is going to be making supposedly moral judgments about other nations and the US in particular is just nuts. Cuba has used brutal prison conditions and routine deliberate mistreatment of dissidents for 50+ years, and now they are going to be judging human rights in the US? Please!!! –Del. And Obama, with almost no experience of the world except bowing to thugs, will go on assuming the US is terrible, and hell holes like Cuba to be emulated. ~Bob.)

Oklahoma bans stonings, amputations for theft, death for apostates, Muslims cry "Islamophobia"
Excerpt: Oklahoma voters have approved a measure that would forbid judges from considering international law or Islamic law when deciding cases. Republican Rex Duncan, the sponsor of the measure, called it a "pre-emptive strike" designed to close the door on activist judges "legislating from the bench or using international law or Sharia law." Members of the Muslim community called the question an attack on Islam and some of them said they are prepared to file a lawsuit challenging the measure.

Iran: Adulteress 'to be executed Wednesday'
Huh. And the left, which thinks lethal injection is barbaric, is silent on this. Banned in Oklahoma, though. ~Bob. Excerpt: An Iranian woman who was sentenced to death by stoning after being found guilty of adultery and helping kill her husband, will be executed on Wednesday, according to a statement by a group that opposes stoning in Iran. "The Islamic regime of Iran plans to execute Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani immediately," said a statement on the International Committee Against Stoning (ICAS). The group didn't give details on the method that will use to execute Ashtiani, but following an international campaign , Iran in July said a stoning sentence had been suspended. Ashtiani was convicted of adultery in 2006 and according to human rights activists forced to confess after being subjected to 99 lashes. She later recanted that confession and has denied wrongdoing. Ashtiani's son and lawyer have been arrested and tortured by Iranian authorities, ICAS has said.

ACORN Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Economy is so bad, even vote fraud and helping set up under-age sex slave businesses doesn’t pay anymore. Announced election day so you wouldn’t notice. ~Bob.

A Con Job on Jobs
Excerpt: I was no fan of President Bush’s economic policies. But President Obama’s take on Bush-era job creation compared to his own is wide of the mark. Last week, President Obama went to California to support Senator Barbara Boxer's campaign. During a speech he claimed, “Job growth between 2001 and 2009 was the most sluggish since World War II, more sluggish than it’s been over the last year.” Over the years, I have been a strong critic of President Bush, and I even share some of President Obama’s criticisms of the 43rd president. But this claim of Obama’s is deeply deceptive. The chart below uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Current Employment Statistics Survey, and looks at the monthly nonfarm job changes between February 2001 (the first full month of Bush’s tenure in office) to September 2010 (the latest BLS data available). As we can see on the chart, between September 2003 and July 2007, there were 45 months of uninterrupted job growth. That represents roughly 7.8 million jobs created during that time.

The cost of 'free' medical care
Excerpt: President Obama promised that his health care law would give us more health care coverage. He claimed his health care overhaul would "bend the cost curve downward." In some way or another, Obamacare was supposed to cover more people for less money. As the adage goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Seven months after the passage of Obamacare, the laws of economics have struck back. Under the new Obamacare law, insurance companies are forced to provide "free" screenings and preventive care. But there's nothing free about Obamacare. Government cannot simply give away free goodies with zero consequences. As P.J. O'Rourke said, "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free." For every extra benefit Congress has required health insurers to provide, there is an extra cost. Ultimately, we all will pay the cost of these "free" services in the form of lower wages, higher taxes or higher health insurance premiums. Some popular insurance companies already have increased their premiums by an average of 20 percent to help pay for the extra benefits required under Obamacare. It has been reported that consumers may face total premium increases as much as 47 percent in the near future. Under the new law, it is mandated that all employers who offer health insurance must spend at least 80 percent of their revenues on patient care. "Mini-med" policies offered to 2.5 million low-wage workers do not meet this requirement. Many businesses, including McDonald's, have spoken out against this costly provision. In the end, Health and Human Services' (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius granted McDonald's an exemption from the new regulation, claiming that she used her best discretion. It is troubling that the rule of law has now become the rule of the czar. As we've seen so far, these waivers have been handed out on a case-by-case basis to politically connected corporations and large unions.

US to spend $200 million a day on Obama’s Mumbai visit
Excerpt: The US would be spending a whopping $200 million (Rs. 900 crore approx) per day on President Barack Obama’s visit to the city. “The huge amount of around $200 million would be spent on security, stay and other aspects of the Presidential visit,” a top official of the Maharashtra Government privy to the arrangements for the high-profile visit said. About 3,000 people including Secret Service agents, US government officials and journalists would accompany the President. Several officials from the White House and US security agencies are already here for the past one week with helicopters, a ship and high-end security instruments. (If I were an Islamist terrorist planner, I’d hit elsewhere in India, while all the good troops are in Mumbai guarding BO. ~Bob.)

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