Thursday, November 09, 2006
Three random experiences in the last two days to share with readers:
1.) God -- The very next morning after the November 7th election landslide victory by "moderate Democrats who will work for 'change'" we received a visitor representing Jehovah's Witness (JW). This nice young lady simply said "hello", gave me their brochure entitled, "The End of False Religion in Near!" (www.watchtower.org if you are interested in their message), and then walked to the neighbor's home. Wow, now that is an interesting message to receive right after these amazing election results!!! Does JW have a seat on the Democratic National Committee?? :-)
2) Telephones - As I drove past a gas station today I saw a woman who was probably in her early 20's sitting in her car using a PAY TELEPHONE!!! Simply amazing to see since I heard it reported today that 60% of Americans have cellular phones. Ah, old technology still works :)
3.) Immigrants -- While getting a manicure today (hey -- I am ubersexual after all according to Men's Health magazine) I was talking with the shop's manager who is from Vietnam. While paying my bill I asked her how her experience was as an immigrant to the USA -- she moved here with her parents when she was 5 years old -- to which she replied, "the best!! we have experience the great American Dream with business success and opportunities............."
Encouraging little events that make me smile,
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
2006 ELECTION ANALYSIS
REPRINTED WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR - CHUCK MUTH
Chuck Muth'sDC CONFIDENTIAL
November 8, 2006
While most Republicans woke up this morning lamenting Armageddon Tuesday, some of us didn't lose any sleep over the election results. Happy at the prospect of two years with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi running Congress? Hardly. But there are a lot of silver linings behind these otherwise dark clouds.
* The single, most important lesson here: Democrats didn't win; Republicans lost. And they didn't just lose; they were routed. Voters didn't reward Democrats, they punished Republicans. Badly. This wasn't the country saying it wanted to go further Left; it was the country saying Republicans had already taken the country too far Left. This wasn't about taking the country in a new direction; it was about correcting the GOP's course.
* This wasn't swing voters swinging over to the Left. This was conservative voters swinging back to the Right. This was "burning the village down to save it." Conservatives didn't necessarily stay home, though certainly many did. But they did find other ways to protest the GOP's leftward tilt. It'll be interesting to see the "under-vote" in this year's congressional races. That would be the number of ballots cast where a vote in the congressional race was left blank.
* Yesterday's election was a repudiation of George W. Bush's brand of "compassionate conservatism." It was also a repudiation of waging a politically correct war with one hand self-tied behind your back. No American soldier's life is worth a mosque. And American generals, not American lawyers should be running the war. You're either all in...or get out.
* The Democrats, of course, are taking all the wrong lessons out of yesterday's results, a fact which can't help but help Republicans regain their bearings and regain their majorities two years from now. Democrats will over-reach, as is their nature. The big question is whether or not the GOP will reposition itself to take advantage of the opportunity sure to come in 2008.
* Had yesterday's reckoning with conservatives happened in 2008 instead of 2006, Republicans would have likely lost not only Congress, but the White House, as well. Best that the lesson was taught to Republicans now than later.
* The entire House Republican leadership team should now resign - from Denny Hastert on down. It's time to hand the ball off to Reps. John Shadegg and Mike Pence. Had House GOP members done that last January when they had the chance, they may have avoided the disaster they suffered yesterday.
* Question: Now that Democrats have wrested control of Congress from the Republicans, how long do you think it will be before we see helicopters airlifting the last U.S. service personnel from the roof of the American embassy in Baghdad?
* Do you think the Republican establishment will FINALLY have learned not to put its fate in the hands of a Dole? Bob Dole gave Republicans the embarrassing 1996 presidential defeat, and his wife Liddy, who was put in charge of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) this cycle, coached the team to the crushing Senate losses a decade later.
* The biggest victory in losing yesterday? The defeat of liberal Sen. Lincoln Chafee (ACU Lifetime Rating: 37) in Rhode Island. Not only was the Senate's most liberal Republican purged from the ranks, but the Republican Party's establishment got a kick right in the shorts, as well. Recall that the NRSC, the RNC and the White House pulled out all the stops to defeat Chafee's conservative challenger in the GOP primary just two months ago, saying the party had to sacrifice principle for electoral victory. As it turned out, they got neither. Conservative Republican voters in Rhode Island got their revenge.
* As did conservative Republican voters in Pennsylvania, where Sen. Rick Santorum was upbraided for famously saving liberal Republican Sen. Arlen Specter's bacon two years ago in his GOP primary race against conservative Rep. Pat Toomey. Payback's a...
* As did conservative voters in Ohio, where Sen. Mike DeWine (ACU Lifetime Rating: 80) got spanked, at least in part, for his role in the infamous Gang of 14 which stopped the Republican majority from deploying the "nuclear option" and ending the Democrat blockade of judicial nominations.
* Republican Sen. Conrad Burns out in Montana got hit by conservatives for not only drifting too far left on the Earmark Express, but for getting too tied up in the Jack Abramoff insider scandal. Any Montanan who "goes native" in Washington, DC is gonna have some big problems.
* When a strong social conservative such as Sen. Jim Talent loses in a bedrock state of social conservatism such as Missouri over the social issue of embryonic stem cell research, it's time to rejigger the conservative legislative priorities and get back to the basics of taxes, spending and national defense.
* Perhaps the most devastating loss of the evening will end up being Sen. George Allen in Virginia, a race which will likely be "too close to call" for quite some time...with the balance of power in the Senate on the line. Allen was the toast of the town just two short year's ago after riding herd on the extremely successful GOP effort that resulted in a 55-45 Republican majority in the Senate in 2004. And he was fast-tracked to be the conservative choice in the early 2008 GOP presidential contest. Those hopes are now gone, even if he does somehow miraculously hold onto his Senate seat. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
* Republicans wouldn't have lost the Senate, if in fact they do end up losing the Senate, had Republican Tom Kean Jr. won in New Jersey. Kean, you'll recall, is the Republican candidate who called for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's resignation in the campaign. Now the Left might hate Rumsfeld, but conservatives don't. Not a smart political move there.
* One bright light in the Senate contests: conservative Republican Sen. John Ensign whupped Jimmy Carter's kid's butt in Nevada. There's nothing quite like beating a Carter for conservatives.
* Oh, and let's not forget that little Democrat dust-up in Connecticut. Remember, Democrats are crowing that yesterday's victories were a victory for the anti-war movement. But former Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman came back as an Independent to crush the Left's anti-war candidate yesterday, 50-40 percent.
* You gotta believe there was a serious anti-Republican backlash out in the Colorado gubernatorial race, where outgoing Gov. Bill Owens sold out the Right by supporting efforts to suspend the state's government-restraint TABOR law last year. A strong GOP candidate, Rep. Bob Beauprez - who once served as the state's Republican Party chairman - went down in flames. Thanks, Gov. Owen.
* Asa Hutchinson was best known as George Bush's drug czar for a time, before doing a stint at the poorly-regarded...at least as far as conservatives are concerned...Department of Homeland Security. He lost his bid for governor in Arkansas.
* Republican Rep. Jim Nussle lost his bid for the governor's office in Iowa. Nussle married a lobbyist a few years back.
* Republican Dick DeVos lost his bid against the job-killing Democrat governor in Michigan. The DeVos family was well-known for their opposition to the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative which would have banned the use of affirmative action in government hiring and college admissions. Voters passed MCRI and abolished affirmative action by an overwhelming margin yesterday. A HUGE victory for my friend Ward Connerly, who I hope to have on this week's radio show Friday night.
* The best doggone victory yesterday for limited-government conservatives was Gov. Mark Sanford winning re-election in South Carolina. Sanford was under fire for being too "libertarian" - including supporting school vouchers and vetoing Republican-passed spending bills. In fact, the GOP majority leader did ads for the Democrat candidate because he was ticked off that Sanford showed up one day in the Legislature holding two pigs under his arms - one called "Pork" and the other called "Barrel." Sanford was also criticized roundly for not compromising his principles or cutting deals on core issues. He won with 55 percent of the vote.
* The worst defeat for conservatives yesterday was the loss of Rep. J.D. Hayworth in Arizona. Not only did the GOP lose a true limited-government conservative, but a leader in the fight against illegal immigration as well as an articulate spokesman. Most Republicans are tongue-tied, wishy-washy weenies when on TV. Hayworth was a notable exception. But something tells me J.D. won't be off the stage for long. Gov. Hayworth or Sen. Hayworth has a nice ring to it.
* Whether you call it a house-cleaning or thinning the herd, there's no mistaking the fact that a number of well-know moderate-to-liberal Republicans in the House of Representatives were booted yesterday. Robert Simmons (ACU Lifetime Rating: 54) in Connecticut was trailing this morning, though the race was still too close to call. Fellow Connecticutian (or is it Connecticutite) Nancy Johnson (ACU Lifetime Rating: 47) lost. Charlie Bass (ACU Lifetime Rating: 71) in New Hampshire lost. John Sweeney (ACU Lifetime Rating: 77) in New York lost. Deborah Pryce (ACU Lifetime Rating: 79) in Ohio lost. Curt Weldon (ACU Lifetime Rating 70) in Pennsylvania lost.
There's much, much more to go over, but I'm off to the radio studio for some post-election analysis on NPR. We'll pick this back up later. But believe you me, this is not as bad for limited-government conservatives as many folks would have you think. This was a much-needed pruning which will allow the GOP to come back much healthier in the future...
This was, indeed, a loss for Republicans. But they asked for it. Serves 'em right. And in the long run, this may yet prove to be a huge victory for limited government conservatism. Onward and rightward!
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Clearly I LOVE Election Day for a completely different reason than the majority of people I talked with over the last week. For them Election Day “finally brings an end to the negative ads, I am sick of them………..” A little advice to these people – please re-read the First Amendment to our Constitution which protects free speech. Yes, you might be sick of the ads but we do live in what is truly the great democracy in the world which provides us with extensive political and consumer freedoms.
On a secondary note, given the prevalence of Tivo and DVRs I am surprised that anyone actually sees today’s political campaign ads but perhaps it is much like a car accident – we don’t want to see what happened but our dark, morbid side always turns our head to look at the accident as we continue driving. Finally, if you don’t like the ads please run for political office yourself which is a relatively easy thing to do at the city council or school board level to get your career in public service started.
Here in Minnesota there was one candidate with extremely good, detailed campaign ads – the problem though was that this candidate for the US House, Obi Sium, has very little campaign money and no help apparently from the Republican Party so his ads are only on radio although I may have missed a TV ad if he has one but this just seems impossible that he could afford TV time. I have never met Mr. Sium but he has a fantastic “rags to riches” story (http://www.siumforcongress.com/) focused on “achieving the American Dream” but unfortunately his district will send the same person back to Congress – Betty McCollum – to tax and spend more for our “benefit.”
Now on to today’s elections!! I am offering the following predictions on today’s results so I can benchmark myself later this week as the vote totals are finalized so here we go:
Nicaragua -- yes a wild card I threw in to get things started. Not a prediction here, just an observation, since it has already been noted in the media today that it appears former Sandinista leader/communist Daniel Ortega is the projected winner of Nicaragua’s presidential election. Amazing that re-branded communists continue to get elected to public office!!
President of the USA -- this is an easy one, President Bush will stay in office until January 2009!! :-)
US Senate - this is the most difficult prediction for me but I am thinking a potential 50-50 split but give the edge to Democrats to take control of this chamber.
US House - overspending, corruption, poor campaigning by Republicans give the clear edge to Democrats to regain this chamber. The revolution led by Newt Gingrich in 1994 is clearly over. Call U-Haul for more boxes!!!
Minnesota – US Senate: I see Democratic candidate, Amy Klobuchar winning over Republican, Congressman Mark Kennedy primarily due to his very poor TV ads. This is an easy prediction I admit since Amy is polling with 25% leads at times.
Minnesota – US House: I see all incumbents winning re-election and in the open seat where state Senator Michelle Bachman (Republican) is taking on Patty Wetterling (Democrat) I see Senator Bachman winning.
Minnesota – Governor: Things look very good for Democrat Attorney General Mike Hatch to finally win after his third run but I have to believe Minnesotans will come to their senses to return Governor Tim Pawlenty (Republican).
Minnesota - state senate: No change really. Democrats will keep a big majority of the seats.
Minnesota – state house: Democrats have a great chance to win control but I see the Republicans keeping control of this chamber.
Mayor -- my local city will re-elect our “Mayor Mary” primarily because she has a nice smile and her opponent was recently charged in a “road rage” incident which is not helpful with voters who live by the code of “Minnesota Nice” Bad boy!!
Don’t forget to vote,
Monday, November 06, 2006
While I am not a big bicycling fan myself I do take an interest in the Tour de France (TDF). However, I must admit that I have lost track of the charges French officials made regarding Lance Armstrong's potential use of performance enhancing drugs after his TDF win this year.
I was reminded of these accusations after reading the October issue of Men's Health magazine which noted in one of its "Facts of Life" items that:
"there is a 45 percentage boost in cycling performance at altitude after taking Viagra, which improves bloodflow in the lungs."
Source: Journal of Applied Physiology
So instead of potential steroid use perhaps Mr. Armstrong simply used some Viagra to enhance his TDF victory celebration which affected his blood test results?? In fact, what if Viagra helped Barry Bonds hit all of his home runs? Surely the French can explore this issue more if they remain unconvinced of Mr. Armstrong's drug free performance. Apparently news agencies/bloggers have addressed this issue in the past as noted here:
Keep on peddling,
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Late last night I returned from a public policy conference in Madison, Wisconsin. This conference was held at the Monona Terrace and Convention Center which is a beautiful building designed by Wisconsin native -- Frank Lloyd Wright. http://www.franklloydwright.org/
As I left the conference to meet my taxi for the ride to the airport I retrieved my luggage from the Monona Terrace coat check room. The woman that helped me was very professional and personable. I did not see a tip jar for the coat check staff so I asked this lady where it was or why there wasn't a tip jar. This lady informed me that Monona Terrace is operated by the Madison city government which FORBIDS tipping. If any Monona Terrace staff receive a tip they are required to turn the money into the city government and complete some paper work to record this transaction!!!
Now this is simply crazy -- the Monona Terrace employee and I are denied our economic rights via this city policy. I received a service and wanted to award the worker for the quality service I received. But instead of this person-to-person market decision city councils like Sante Fe, Madison, and most recently Chicago (although vetoed by Mayor Richard Daley) have enacted "living wage" laws:
"The first of these expanded city wide living wage ordinances to pass was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where an $8.50 minimum wage went into effect (after a court challenge) in June 2004. This initial level will increase to $10.50 an hour by 2008 and will thereafter be indexed to inflation. In November 2003, voters in San Francisco passed an $8.50 minimum wage for city businesses, and the Madison, Wisconsin, city council passed a $7.75 minimum wage in that city soon after."
America's workers would receive wage increases if we simply allow market forces to work -- workers who perform (aka "provide quality customer service") will be rewarded. If everyone is paid the same hourly wage due to a city council decision then we simply create an economy like the former Soviet Union which I toured in 1986. The old Soviet joke -- "we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us............." -- will become applicable in cities like Madison if they keep these anti-free market policies in place.
Leave a tip,
Thursday, November 02, 2006
For most of this week I am attending events where the attendees are primarily academics/public policy wonks so I run the risk of sitting in some dry research paper presentations but duty calls so here I am!! These two events include:
1.) New York City -- the annual Bastiat Award dinner hosted by the International Policy Network which is based in London, www.policynetwork.net. This award was inspired by the economic writings of a French thinker whose "Petition from the Candlemaking Industry" is a must read to better understand how government harms economic development:
The award winner at this dinner (there were 3 winners named) that really caught my attention was the publisher of "The Boss" newspaper in Nepal. He really highlighted for me how precious the freedom of speech is for all of us, regardless of where we live, so let me thank our Founding Fathers who insisted that a "Bill of Rights" (especially our "First Amendment" protecting free speech) be included before they would support ratification of the US Constitution.
2.) Madison, Wisconsin -- the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, www.appam.org, is hosting its fall research conference here in "Mad Town" . I haven't been in Madison for probably 8 years since I quit lobbying here when I moved to Phoenix so it was nice to be back this week especially since this evening's reception was at the state capitol. This conference has nearly 1,000 attendees who are primarily university professors from across the USA. Overall the quality of presentations is rather good and the conversation at tonight's reception was fun especially when we discussed how students have changed over the years. The range of topics being discussed in the sessions is impressive but I am concerned with the apparent "left of center, big government is needed" bias APPAM appears to have given the title on the conference program -- "Tax and Spend: Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating Effective Redistributional Policies."
Redistribution? Robbing Peter to pay Paul? If we are going to redistribute anything in this country let's redistribute power/government authority by abolishing at least half of the federal government by sending the power and money to state governments where it belongs. I would rather have the money saved go directly to taxpayers via tax refunds but this shift to state governments is only Phase One to break the power of the special interests who feed on federal tax dollars. Phase Two would then work to reduce/eliminate local property taxes by devolving power and money from the state governments to city councils where we the people can actually affect our elected leaders and staff via "coffee shop politics."
Keep hope alive,
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
As my close friends know I am "old school" -- I love tradition. Examples of traditions that I hold dear include but are not limited to -- the fraternity/sorority system, the election of US Senators by state legislators (to return authority to States), one speed bicycles, and wooden baseball bats.
Wood was the standard for the great hitters like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth so why do we allow the use of metal bats in the Great American Pastime? Beyond a love of tradition there is a safety concern which was highlighted by the July 2003 death of Brandon Patch. Brandon was a pitcher for the Miles City (Montana) Mavericks American Legion baseball team (junior high school kids if you don't know) who was killed by a line drive hit off a metal bat. (USA Today, November 1st). The Mavericks have refused to play games against teams who use wooden bats -- I applaud their decision because it helps return baseball to its roots and because of the player safety implications.
While the Mavericks' action is encouraging for the game of baseball the past week's TV audience ratings clearly show that overall baseball viewership is fading in the USA. Here is the Top 20 TV program rankings (note: sports events highlighted in "bold" typeface) from last week as reported by today's USA Today:
1.) Desperate Housewives
2.) Dancing with the Stars
3.) Dancing with the Stars -Results
4.) CSI: Miami
6.) Sunday Night Football
8/9.) TIE: CSI and Criminal Minds
10.) 60 Minutes
11.) World Series Game 5
12.) World Series Game 4
13.) Deal or No Deal
14/15.) TIE: Ext. Makeover: Home and World Series Game 3
16.) Two and a Half Men
18.) Cold Case
19.) Without a Trace
20.) Ugly Betty
Of these Top 20 shows that only 4 of them were sports events with the highest ranked sports event being "football" which was ranked at #6 on this list. Since I love sports and because I can not dance -- since I quit drinking alcohol years ago :-) -- I am very concerned that "Dancing with the Stars" in more popular with the American TV audience than the World Series of baseball!!!
So what is next -- ticket scalpers pricing Dancing with the Stars audience tickets higher than Super Bowl tickets??? Let us hope we never see that day in our lifetimes!!
Baseballs not ballerinas,