Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Tuesday more of a message for GOP than Democrats

Oh, certainly there was something in there for the Democrats – perhaps a bit of false hope – but Rand Paul defeated the establishment GOP pick handily (hello, Bob Bennett?  Charlie Crist?) in Kentucky sending the real message of the night.

Arlen Specter’s defeat was neither a surprise or a disappointment.  Who wants a turncoat Republican under a Democratic flag of convenience, there only because it was clear he couldn’t win a Republican primary (see above and join him with Bennett, Crist and Trey Grayson)?  Joe Sestak, a former admiral and Democratic congressman, was a much more attractive Democratic candidate.

Blanche Lincoln, the incumbent Arkansas Democratic Senator, was also the establishment Democratic pick and supported by both President Obama and Bill Clinton.  She only managed a run-off with Democratic Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.

The seat held by John Murtha went to one of his aides.  I’m not at all surprised by that.  I’d have loved the irony of a Republican win, but it wasn’t likely according to the polls.  Murtha was a king of pork.  No one will argue he didn’t lard it on his district.  And, in times of economic hardship, voters may have chosen in the hope his former aide will continue that, rather than taking a chance with a Republican.  Some analysts see the election as a bellwether for the fall.  I’m not seeing that at all, and there’s always the danger for the Donks of giving it more importance than it deserves.

So, what if any messages were sent?  For the GOP, the Tea Party effect is real.  The message is clear – smaller, less costly and less intrusive government (lower taxes, much less spending). There are enough establishment candidates languishing by the wayside at the moment for even the slowest among the party to begin to understand that. There is certainly an element of anti-incumbency evident there.

For the Democrats, I’d say the message is mixed.  It’s hard to say with Lincoln hanging on, a Republican turncoat turned out by a Congressional Democrat and holding on to a Congressional open seat means anti-incumbent fever is sweeping the ranks of the Democratic base.  I believe there is an anti-incumbent fever, but it resides mostly among the right and independents.

We’ll know more as we see how the vote breaks down in the key races. I’m very interested to see what independents did.  But for right now, the establishment GOP better be responding to their wakeup call and tweaking their message – and perhaps their candidates – for this fall.


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Dale’s Observations For 2010-05-18

Cass Sunstein, Obama’s regulatory czar, thinks that bloggers should be forced to link to opposing viewpoints. | #

First results in KY Senate race: Rand Paul 49%, Trey Grayson 43%. #

Bristol Palin has signed on with Single Source Speakers to give lectures at $15kto $30k. She must be very wise. | #

Amazon says Kindle reader for Android devices is coming soon. That will be nice for my HTC Incredible. | #

With 20/20 hindsight, Shell will pre-position a concrete coffer dam in the arctic for containing any oil leaks. | #

Alabama math teacher tries to teach geometry by by explaining shooting angles for assassinating Obama. | #

Dow drops another 115 points on worries about the €. Is the European Currency on its last legs? | #

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    So let’s talk politics on this semi-Super Primary Tuesday

    We’ll start with Sean Trende at RCP who wonders if 2010 is Anti-incumbent, anti-liberal or anti-Democrat. Trende treats us to a very long and analytical argument which can be summed up with “yes, to all three questions”. Trende is of the opinion that Democrats could lose up to 60 plus seats. Newt Gingrich says 70 plus. I’m sticking with at least enough to make Nancy Pelosi something other than 3 heart-beats away from the Presidency. And I’ll be honest – I’m sort of hoping the Dems retain the majority in the Senate. Anyway, read Trende’s article, see if you agree.

    Next up is Howard Fineman who is pretty sure that Obama’s strategy for the midterms is to run against the GOP. He sort of fired that first shot today when he said, in a speech, that if the GOP had had its way and his stimulus had not passed unemployment would be a lot worse than it is today. I’m sure someone will remind him soon of his claim that if the stimulus was passed, unemployment wouldn’t go past 8%. He also apparently challenged the GOP, in a speech in Youngstown today, to tell the workers in a steel plant he was touring “why doing nothing would be better for America”.

    Here’s a wild stab – we wouldn’t be up to our asses in trillions of dollars of new debt we can’t afford and looking down a budgetary road that promises trillions more of debt we can’t afford.

    But hey, that’s just me. Meanwhile, back to Fineman:

    Two years later the president is tentatively unveiling the strategy he and fellow Democrats will pursue in this fall’s election season, and it has a heavy dose of … looking backward. It’s going to be as much about history as hope, and more about attacking Republicans than promoting his own vision. The goal is to give pause to independent voters eager to punish Obama for their economic insecurity by voting for GOP candidates. The message: we can’t return power to the very people who gave us the catastrophic Great Recession to begin with.

    Does he honestly think that will sell? Seriously now … does anyone think that trying to blame the other party two years into your presidency and 4 years into a Democratic Congress is going to fool anyone but those who want to be fooled? If I were a member of the GOP I’d pray he did this – it would effectively kill the hope and change meme and squarely plant him in the “old style” politician he said he wasn’t. It’s also a strategy that says he can’t run on his record.

    Peter Wallsten has a WSJ piece in which he claims Democrats face a threat from their own base. I heard a Pennsylvania Democrat say today he was voting for Arlen Specter because Pat Toomey, the Republican Senatorial nominee, polled much better against Specter than he does against Sestak. Wallsten claims the rebellion is brewing “among white, working-class voters” – the “bitter clingers” of the past campaign. They’re fed up with the Democrats and Obama.

    Lloyd Briggs said he is “fed up” with Washington over the Wall Street bailouts. Peggy Cendarski frets that the Democrats’ “unfair” health-care overhaul will punish those who already have good insurance coverage.

    These and other Democratic voters in this blue-collar town said they are ready for a change in Washington. Some are open to backing Democratic challengers to lawmakers the party has supported for many years, and some said they may leave the party entirely come November.

    There isn’t any apparent passion for Democrats in PA, although there are some very interesting races. But it is clear that what Democrats have done in the past year – with bailouts and huge spending sprees – has not resonated among the base.

    More than a third of Democrats, for example, feel their own party members in Congress are “more concerned about the interests of large corporations” than those of average Americans, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released last week.

    Not good news for Democratic incumbents, and I might add, not good news for a strategy that plans to call out the GOP for not voting to bail out Wall Street.

    So watch the races carefully that are being voted today. They will provide an indicator of the mood of the country (as if VA, NJ and MA haven’t already given us an inkling). I’m particularly interested in the PA race (both senatorial and Murtha’s old district), KY (Rand Paul) and AR (Lincoln). We’ll talk about them tomorrow – but in the meantime, mull all of this over and remember it as we watch the year unfold toward the mid-terms.


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    Dale’s Tweets for 2010-05-18

    • YouTube now gets 2 billion viewers a day, a larger audience than all three networks' prime-time viewership…combined. #
    • US Treasury says it took a $1.6 bil loss on Chrysler loan. Total losses from automaker loans expected to be $34 bil. #
    • Iran reached a deal to swap low-enriched for high-enriched uranium with Turkey. Iranian press calls it "epic victory". #
    • …and that's when Neil exited the LM, to join me on the lunar surface. #BlumenthalSpeeches #
    • So, right after Omaha Beach, my CO asked me to take a squad and find this Ryan fellow, whose brothers had all died. #BlumenthalSpeeches #
    • "Mojo In The Morning" show has been contacted by Miss Universe officials about her part in a "Stripper 101" contest. #
    • Miss USA, Rima Fakih, the first Arab American to wear the crown, is a pretty good stripper, too. | #
    • California pot growers face a new and serious threat: falling prices. A man can't even make a decent illegal living.¦ #

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    Quote of the day – Jeremiah Wright, chickens and busses edition

    You remember this quote from then Senator Obama:

    “I don’t think my church is actually particularly controversial.” He said Rev. Wright “is like an old uncle who says things I don’t always agree with,” telling a Jewish group that everyone has someone like that in their family.

    You also remember that Obama later denounced his “old uncle” as “divisive and destructive” and severed ties with him? Apparently the Rev. has revealed how far under the bus he was thrown after a 20 year relationship with the Obama family. In a letter to a group raising money for Africa relief he makes the case that his attempt to get frozen money released for use in Haiti would most likely be ignored by the administration:

    “No one in the Obama administration will respond to me, listen to me, talk to me or read anything that I write to them. I am ‘toxic’ in terms of the Obama administration,” Wright wrote the president of Africa 6000 International earlier this year.

    “I am ‘radioactive,’ Sir. When Obama threw me under the bus, he threw me under the bus literally!” he wrote. “Any advice that I offer is going to be taken as something to be avoided. Please understand that!”

    Chickens coming home to roost. And a lesson to anyone who thinks Obama would ever go to the mat for them if they happen to be perceived as “controversial”. There is absolutely nothing “new” about that particular politician or the politics he practices.


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    ObamaCare and the law of unintended consequences

    Today seems to be a “government and the law of unintended consequences” day.  Below you saw the consequences of draconian diet rules.  Here we’ll see the effect of poorly written law and government intrusion into the most effective health care system in the world.  Dr. Scott Gottlieb explains:

    President Obama guaranteed Americans that after health reform became law they could keep their insurance plans and their doctors. It’s clear that this promise cannot be kept. Insurers and physicians are already reshaping their businesses as a result of Mr. Obama’s plan.

    Gottlieb goes on to explain why the caps on how much an insurer can spend on expenses and take for profits is going to result in huge changes in the way medicine is delivered.  One thing that is rapidly happening now is doctors, seeing the handwriting on the wall, are opting to sell their practices and services to insurance companies and hospitals.  As Gottlieb points out:

    Consolidated practices and salaried doctors will leave fewer options for patients and longer waiting times for routine appointments. Like the insurers, physicians are responding to the economic burdens of the president’s plan in one of the few ways they’re permitted to.

    That means they’ll work under the rules dictated by either the insurance company or a hospital – in both cases an entity which comes between you and your doctor. It means less choice, less access, fewer doctors available to see depending on your insurance plan.  And the obvious possibility that the doctor you’re now happy with may not be on your plan when all of this falls out.  Gottlieb summarizes:

    The bottom line: Defensive business arrangements designed to blunt ObamaCare’s economic impacts will mean less patient choice.

    There are other unintended consequences as well that point to less choice.  Texas provides the example:

    Texas doctors are opting out of Medicare at alarming rates, frustrated by reimbursement cuts they say make participation in government-funded care of seniors unaffordable.

    Two years after a survey found nearly half of Texas doctors weren’t taking some new Medicare patients, new data shows 100 to 200 a year are now ending all involvement with the program. Before 2007, the number of doctors opting out averaged less than a handful a year.

    “This new data shows the Medicare system is beginning to implode,” said Dr. Susan Bailey, president of the Texas Medical Association. “If Congress doesn’t fix Medicare soon, there’ll be more and more doctors dropping out and Congress’ promise to provide medical care to seniors will be broken.”

    Remember this is the same government that is now messing with the rest of the system. How will Congress “fix” Medicare?  As is obvious, doctors are dropping out because they can’t afford to stay in that system.  As Dr. Guy Culpepper said:

    “You do Medicare for God and country because you lose money on it,” said Culpepper, a graduate of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. “The only way to provide cost-effective care is outside the Medicare system, a system without constant paperwork and headaches and inadequate reimbursement.”

    And fewer and fewer doctors are finding they can afford to do Medicare for “God and country” and stay in business.

    So you have this new realignment taking place among doctors, hospitals and insurers and a growing trend of doctors opting out of the Medicare system and yet the promise of increased and better care as a result of government meddling is still being parroted by our political betters.

    “If you like your doctor and you like your insurance company … blah, blah, blah.” You just have to wonder when we’ll ever learn.


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    Scotland’s effort at top down healthy meals

    Apparently the Scots, much like our government, have decided that Scottish children just don’t eat healthy enough meals.  So they’ve decided they’ll take the matter in hand via government and introduce their version of healthy eating in school.  After all it is “for the children” and who wouldn’t be for that?  Apparently the children:

    NEW rules introduced to make school meals healthier have resulted in tens of thousands of Scottish pupils consuming a worse diet, it has been claimed.

    The company which provides school meals in Glasgow revealed yesterday that 30,000 fewer children are eating school lunches since healthier meals were introduced.

    Uptake of school meals in Glasgow has fallen from 61% to 2006 to 38%, with some schools as low as 24 per cent. Across Scotland, the number of secondary school pupils taking school meals fell to 39.2 per cent in 2009 – the lowest level for a decade.

    Fergus Chambers, managing director of Cordia, which provides school meals in Glasgow, urged the Scottish Government to carry out a “root and branch” review of the regulations which limit salt, fat and sugar content.

    He said: “The original objective of the legislation was to improve uptake and improve health.

    “But I believe the most recent rules, which allow no flexibility to those providing school meals, have fallen victim to the law of unintended consequences.

    The unintended consequence isn’t just that they don’t eat the school meal.  It is that they leave school during the lunch period and go to the nearest fast food franchise.

    The answer to that?  Well certainly not improving the food.  Instead some schools have “experimented” with banning kids from leaving the grounds at lunchtime.  But consider changing the draconian rules that have them fleeing?  Of course not:

    “Fat, salt and sugar levels are now set so low as to be almost non-existent. We can no longer sell diet drinks, flavoured water or even fruit juice of any reasonable portion size. Confectionery, including most home baking, is banned – yet pupils can walk out and buy anything they want.

    Damn those students.  How dare they attempt to exercise their freedom to eat what they want.  Oh wait, here’s a solution – John Dickie, head of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said:

    “It is clear that if local authorities and ministers are serious about boosting the take-up of healthy school lunches, then providing them free to all pupils is by far the most effective action they can take.”

    Well there you go – just give it to them “free” and they’ll eat what they’ve already demonstrated they won’t eat .  What would we do without the advocates and experts.

    Growing kids need a certain level of fat, salt and even sugar.  They’re not going to eat what they don’t like, no matter how “healthy” it is purported to be.  That’s something any parent can tell you.  When the state takes over those responsibilities and attempts to impose it’s ideas about healthy eating, these are the sorts of results you can expect.  The law of unintended consequences, as Fergus Chambers notes, couldn’t be more evident than in this case.

    Coming to a “war on childhood obesity” near you soon.


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    Dale’s Tweets for 2010-05-17

    • Miss USA is Muslim lass. I guess that means we'll be disappointed in her swimwear shots. #
    • Lemonade from lemons: The € crisis has resulted in record capital inflows to the US, keeping treasury yields.down.¦ #
    • I soooo want one of these. ¦ #
    • Schwarzenegger has proposed eliminating the CalWORKS welfare program. Democrats, who run the legislature, want taxes. #
    • Local California governments boycott Arizona, due to new immigration law. Arizonans notice. Hilarity ensues. ¦ #
    • Government spending is bankrupting the country. We know it. But, we will do nothing until it all comes crashing down. ¦ #

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    Lord help us if he runs for governor

    This is a commercial for Alabama Agricultural commissioner.  Ag commissioner.  You heard me, right – Ag commissioner. One of those high profile jobs.

    This is a nuanced beauty of a commercial Think T-Rex in a sheep herd nuanced. See if you pick up on all the subtle signals he’s sending. Frankly, I enjoyed the hell out of given the gales of laughter it caused. Ah the state of politics today. Monitoring it you will never find yourself bored. And, I bet he wins the election as well:


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    The theory of the “Howling Mob”

    Like many of us, Michael Barone is puzzled by the administration’s obvious attempts to avoid linking Islam with the terrorists who have attempted to attack us.  He wonders:

    Why the reluctance to state the obvious truth, that we are under attack from terrorists motivated by a radical form of Islam?

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