Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Remember when an ObamaCare architect called you stupid?

March 7, 2017

Let’s flashback to a November 2014 post ….

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Even if you believe that “the end justifies the means”, this has gotta make your skin crawl.

Some background: Prof. Jonathan Gruber is an MIT economist who helped on RomneyCare in Massachusetts and was one of the primary architects of ObamaCare.

He was caught on video  speaking quite frankly about the crafting of ObamaCare.

His basic message:

“The bill was written in a tortured way … to be sure that the CBO didn’t score the mandate as a tax …  otherwise the bill would die … so, it was written to do that.

With regards to the subsides … if people figured out that healthy pay in to give sick people money, it wouldn’t have passed … lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.

Basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or what … that was critical to getting the bill to pass … yeah, it would be better to be transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

Watch the video … it’s even more chilling to hear Prof. Gruber say the words: Obfuscate and bank on American stupidity.

How do these guys sleep at night?

 

 

P.S. Another Gruber video got some wide play..

He’s on tape saying that the specific language in the bill that only provided subsidies for folks going through state exchanges was intentional to motivate states to build exchanges,

ObamaCare supporters started claiming that  it was just a typo that didn’t represent intent.

The Supreme Court agreed with them … with life & death consequence for ObamaCare.

As Forrest Gump would say:” Stupid is as stupid does.”

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#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

Who is Dr. John Gruber?

October 11, 2016

Trump referenced him in the debate as an ObamaCare architect.

Why the shout out?

Let’s flashback to a November 2014 post ….

======

Even if you believe that “the end justifies the means”, this has gotta make your skin crawl.

Some background: Prof. Jonathan Gruber is an MIT economist who helped on RomneyCare in Massachusetts and was one of the primary architects of ObamaCare.

He was caught on video  speaking quite frankly about the crafting of ObamaCare.

His basic message:

“The bill was written in a tortured way … to be sure that the CBO didn’t score the mandate as a tax …  otherwise the bill would die … so, it was written to do that.

With regards to the subsides … if people figured out that healthy pay in to give sick people money, it wouldn’t have passed … lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.

Basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or what … that was critical to getting the bill to pass … yeah, it would be better to be transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

Watch the video … it’s even more chilling to hear Prof. Gruber say the words: Obfuscate and bank on American stupidity.

How do these guys sleep at night?

 

 

P.S. Another Gruber video will get wide play in the next couple of months.

He’s on tape saying that the specific language in the bill that only provided subsidies for folks going through state exchanges was intentional to motivate states to build exchanges,

Now, ObamaCare supporters are claiming it was just a typo that didn’t represent intent.

Well, the Supreme Court has signed on to settle the matter … with life & death consequence for ObamaCare.

This is gonna get interesting …

=====

#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

Odds: I bet you’re a Democrat …

June 23, 2016

… if your parents were Democrats.

And, I bet if your parents were Republicans, then you’re a Republican.

According to Smithsonian.com

“The party affiliation of someone’s parents can predict the child’s political leanings about around 70 percent of the time.”

That’s pretty good, but “new research suggests ideological differences between partisans may reflect distinct neural processes.”

image

More specifically, researchers say that they can predict who’s right and who’s left of center politically with 82.9 % accuracy.

Here’s the study and its implications …

(more…)

If you don’t understand Trump’s broad appeal, take the “bubble quiz” ….

May 6, 2016

Charles Murray, a political scientist and author observed – long before Campaign 2016 started – that there exists a new upper class that’s completely disconnected from the average American and American culture at large.

 

image

 

In his 2012 book Coming Apart, Murray presented a 25 question self-diagnostic to determine how connected or disconnected you are from average Americans … that is, whether or not you live in a bubble.

(more…)

This will take your breath away … guaranteed!

November 11, 2014

Even if you believe that “the end justifies the means”, this has gotta make your skin crawl.

Some background: Prof. Jonathan Gruber is an MIT economist who helped on RomneyCare in Massachusetts and was one of the primary architects of ObamaCare.

He was caught on video  speaking quite frankly about the crafting of ObamaCare.

His basic message:

“The bill was written in a tortured way … to be sure that the CBO didn’t score the mandate as a tax …  otherwise the bill would die … so, it was written to do that … with regards to the subsides … if people figured out that healthy pay in to give sick people money, it wouldn’t have passed … lack of transparency is a huge political advantage … and basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or what … that was critical to getting the bill to pass … yeah, it would be better to be transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

Watch the video … it’s even more chilling to hear Prof. Gruber say the words: Obfuscate and bank on American stupidity.

How do these guys sleep at night?

 

 

P.S. Another Gruber video will get wide play in the next couple of months.

He’s on tape saying that the specific language in the bill that only provided subsidies for folks going through state exchanges was intentional to motivate states to build exchanges,

Now, ObamaCare supporters are claiming it was just a typo that didn’t represent intent.

Well, the Supreme Court has signed on to settle the matter … with life & death consequence for ObamaCare.

This is gonna get interesting …

=====

#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

Turnout: About the Dems’ highly touted GOTV ground game … and other ironic twists.

November 7, 2014

The United States Elections Project estimates that only 36.6% of eligible voters cast a ballot on Tuesday.

That’s pretty ironic since the Dems were, before the election, boasting about their predictive analytics and their unstoppable get-out-the-vote organization.

I haven’t been hearing much on the news about the GOTV machine that failed to get-out-the-vote.

 

 

image

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So, what happened?  Here are a couple of hypotheses to ponder (more…)

Some people just shouldn’t vote!

October 30, 2014

Since we’re in the stretch run to an election …

Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder whether “one man, one vote” makes sense.

Polls routinely reveal that a majority of Americans have marginal knowledge of government, politics, and political issues.

Try this: ask folks to explain the difference between the Federal deficit and the Federal debt … ask them where the money money that funds, say unemployment benefits, comes from.

Jason Brennan is a young prof at MSB … his research is at the nexus of ethics and politics.

He has written an insightful book called The Ethics of Voting

image

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Here’s the  essence of Jason’s argument …

(more…)

Momma Mia: Italy is rocking & reeling …

February 26, 2013

It started when old Benedict become the first pope in over 600 years to resign.

Before the College of Cardinals could puff out some white smoke, the Italians flocked to the ballot boxes to do some damage.

Headline in the Washington Post: “Berlusconi revives political career in chaotic Italian election”

image

More from the Post …

“Silvio Berlusconi, the three-time Italian prime minister, onetime cruise ship singer, billionaire playboy and perpetual criminal defendant who was all but counted out of Italian political life when a debt crisis forced his resignation in 2011, shocked the country Monday by shooting back into a position of influence. Even by the chaotic standards of Italian politics, the resurgence of Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party has cast the Italian government into confusion.

The story gets even better …

(more…)

Odds: I bet you’re a Democrat …

February 20, 2013

… if your parents were Democrats.

And, I bet if your parents were Republicans, then you’re a Republican.

According to Smithsonian.com

“The party affiliation of someone’s parents can predict the child’s political leanings about around 70 percent of the time.”

That’s pretty good, but “new research suggests ideological differences between partisans may reflect distinct neural processes.”

image

More specifically, researchers say that they can predict who’s right and who’s left of center politically with 82.9 % accuracy.

Here’s the study and its implications …

(more…)

Politics: Red, blue or green (as in money)?

January 29, 2013

When Obama was elected in November 2008, GE CEO Jeff Imment told his troops: “We’re all Democrats now”.

It wasn’t a political statement as much as a practical business reality.

Now, Forbes is asking “Are Apple, Whole Foods and Google Democrats or Republicans?”

image

Forbes’ central thesis:

Welcome, in short, to a new, neutral … U.S. corporate environment — thanks in no small part to the increasingly polarized politics of this country.

“Companies know if they align too much with one party or political view they will alienate one half of the buying public.”

Companies might lean Red or Blue in politics but in the end the only color that really counts is green.

Here are Forbes’ poster children of the new neutral …

(more…)

Politics: Boehner, Obama & W.C. Fields

December 18, 2012

According to CNBC, fiscal cliff talks moved forward in the past couple of days.

  • Obama has been steadfast that income tax rates go up for millionaires & billionaires making more than $250,000.
  • Boehner had been equally adamant that – as a matter of principle – no rates could go up.
  • Over the weekend, Boehner reportedly said he’d agree to higher tax rates starting at the $1 million income level
  • Obama reportedly countered by upping his threshold from $250,000 to $400,000
  • Boehner immediately expressed indignation and rejected the counter-offer

Reminded me of an old W.C. Field’s routine …

image

Here’s the way the skit goes ..

(more…)

Some people just shouldn’t vote!

September 13, 2012

Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder whether “one man, one vote” makes sense.

Polls routinely reveal that a majority of Americans have marginal knowledge of government, politics, and political issues.

Try this: ask folks to explain the difference between the Federal deficit and the Federal debt … ask them where the money money that funds, say unemployment benefits, comes from.

Jason Brennan is a young prof at MSB … his research is at the nexus of ethics and politics.

He has written an insightful book called The Ethics of Voting

image

The essence of Jason’s argument is that all adult citizens have the right to vote … but that they shouldn’t exercise that right unless they are informed, rational, and aiming for the common good.

More specifically, he argues:

“If a citizen has a right to vote, this means at minimum that she ought to be permitted to vote — no one should stop her or deprive her of the vote — and that her vote must be counted.

However, if citizens do vote, they must vote well, on the basis of sound evidence for what is likely to promote the common good.

That is, in general, they must vote for the common good rather than for narrow self-interest.

Citizens who lack the motive, knowledge, rationality, or ability to vote well should abstain from voting.

Some voters are well informed about what candidates are likely to do.

They know what policies candidates endorse and whether the candidates are sincere.

They know the track records and general trends of different political parties.

Other voters are ignorant of such things.

Another way voters vary is in their degree of rationality .

Some voters are scrupulously rational, while others are irrational.

Some have patently stupid beliefs.

[Some citizens] are politically engaged, but they are nonetheless often ignorant of or misinformed about the relevant facts or, worse, are simply irrational.

Though they intend to promote the common good, they all too often lack sufficient evidence to justify the policies they advocate.

When they do vote, I argue, they pollute democracy with their votes and make it more likely that we will have to suffer from bad governance.”

* * * * *

Ken’s Take: An interesting perspective that has been constantly on my mind during this election cycle.

At least read the sample chapter … book is available in paperback at Amazon.

>> Latest Posts

It’s a generational thing, but maybe the young folks are waking up … finally.

August 10, 2012

A New York Times article reported that the president is encountering more youthful skepticism than in 2008: “The nation’s first-time voters are less enthusiastic about him … and cite a growing lack of faith in government in general.”

from RealClearPolitics

Give the Obama Youth credit for this: At least — in the last election — they didn’t vote their self-interest.

In the cold light of day, the youthful idealists, believers and activists of 2008 look like the lamentable saps, patsies and suckers of 2012.

In 2008, candidate Obama promised young voters the moon, and all they got was their old childhood bedroom back in their parents’ house. By one count, half are unemployed or underemployed.

He sold a new kind of politics and gave them more debt and more entitlement spending that they will labor to fund all their working lives.

But, hey, did you see Obama “slow jam” the news on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon”?

But, not all youth are setting themselves up to be duped again.

The below 1-minute video —  produced by students at the Univ. of Tennessee — is approaching 1 million Youtube hits.

Maybe there’s hope for change …

       click to view video
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Thanks to JC for feeding the lead

>> Latest Posts

Julia, meet Henry … a High Earner (who’s) Not Rich Yet … sound familiar?

July 23, 2012

A couple of months ago, the Obama campaign unveiled its “Life of Julia,” a website detailing “how President Obama’s policies help one woman over her lifetime” … by showering her with the benefits of the entitlement state, from Head Start to student loans to Obamacare.

In response, the Weekly Standard has resurrected H.E.N.R.Y. —  marketing slang, first used in Fortune in 2003, for High Earners who are Not Rich Yet.

Henrys run households with annual incomes between $100,000 and $250,000.

There are about 21 million of them.

Henrys make up the overwhelming majority of affluent consumers, who account for 40 percent of consumer spending — which in turn is 70 percent of economic activity.

Without the Henrys’ getting and spending, the U.S. economy would be much poorer.

One can find Henry and his family in the affluent suburbs and exurbs surrounding cities like Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles, or in the counties of suburban Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Raleigh, and Philadelphia.

He owns his house. He plans to send his children to college. He shops at Target, Saks, Coach, Restoration Hardware, Banana Republic, and, on special occasions, Tiffany.

The Obama years have not been kind to Henry.

His economic fortunes have bobbed up and down.

He’s never been flush, but he’s never been broke, either.

So much to him seems dependent on forces outside his control — whether the Fed engages in another round of quantitative easing, whether the eurozone survives for another week.

Henry is the true swing voter in this Presidential election.

Read more about Henry

>> Latest Posts

About those top secret transcripts …

January 19, 2012

I’m hoping that Romney simultaneously releases his birth certificate, college transcripts and tax returns. …

Frankly, I don’t really care about Mitt’s tax returns.

Pretty predictable: a gazillion dollars of investment income – dividends, cap gains and tax shelter LPs … 15% effective tax rate … maybe lower since charitable deductions will be at least 10% of income – his required tithing to the Mormon church.

P.S. Don’t remember Obama donating 10% to charities …

P.P.S. Mitt wouldn’t be hiding income from the church, would he?

I’m still more interested in grabbing a peek at the President’s college transcripts … glad that they got brought up again in Carney’s presser yesterday: Carney Dodges Question About Obama’s College Transcripts

OK, call me petty, but I’d like to know:

  • Was Obama’s undergrad GPA higher than George Bush’s?  After all, Obama is proclaimed to be the smartest president ever … the other was, well, dumb old George Bush.  Wouldn’t it be a hoot if Bush outscored Obama?  Remember when Bush’s GPA was revealed to be higher than Kerry’s?  Oops.
  • Did Obama have grades and LSATs comparable to other Harvard Law admits? I’m betting under on the grades and a push on the LSATs.
  • What courses did Obama take as an undergrad? Taught by whom? Would expect lots of poli-sci and philosophy from radicals (think Cornell West types) … little math & science (oops) … zero business or economics.

C’mon …. be honest … wouldn’t you like a peek, too?

>> Latest Posts

Since O’s election, Democratic ranks shrinking …

January 10, 2012

According to Rasmussen:

  • 35.4% of Americans consider themselves Republicans
  • 32.7% of adults say they are Democrats,
  • 32.0% say they are independents — not affiliated with either of the major political parties

Versus 2009 (end of Obama’s first year in office):

  • Democrats’ affiliation is down, 2.8 percentage points (about 8%)
  • Republicans’ affiliation is up 1.4 percentage points (about 4%)
  • Independents are up 1.4 percentage points (about 4%)

All of which squares with my observation that I haven’t run into a single McCain voter who says they’ll vote for Obama in 2012 … but, I’ve run into many Obama ‘08 voters who say they won’t vote for him again.

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Source: Rasmussen

>> Latest Posts

Is 8.6% good or bad for Obama?

December 5, 2011

The unemployment rate dropped a lot in November from  9.0% to 8.6%.

That’s good news for us and for President Obama. right?

I’m not so sure.

First, let’s dive into the numbers.

Job growth has been around 100,000 per month for the past couple of months.

But, until November, the unemployment rate has been stuck at 9%.

Hmmm.

Most folks argue that 100,000 to 200,000 is what’s required to handle population growth —  the new workers entering the market.

But, in November, 125,000 new jobs pushed the unemployment rate down by .4% – which is huge.

Couple of reasons.

  • There are different surveys used to calculate job growth and unemployment rates.  It could be that one of the surveys is whacky … either there were more jobs added than reported, or unemployment is under-reported.
  • The jobs numbers for the immediately prior months were revised upward.  That means that unemployment may have been over-estimated … that the rate really is 8.6% now, but it’s a drop from, say, 8.8% … not 9%
  • Most important, about half of the apparent drop in the unemployment is attributable to folks dropping out of the workforce … people who are unemployed but have stopped even looking for new employment.

My bet is that the jobs number is right and that the unemployment rate didn’t really fall by .4% … maybe it fell by one or two tenths of a percent … but not close to 1/2 percent.  My eye is on the jobs number.

OK, let’s not quibble over the numbers.

The question is: will November’s 8.6% help or hurt President Obama’s re-election campaign.

Short-run, the President should get an approval bump from the unemployment rate headlines.  That’s fair.

But, the new lower number may be an albatross in 2012.

Here’s why.

The unemployment rate is likely to move back up because, historically, as the economy appears to be bouncing back, unemployed folks who aren’t looking for work re-enter the job market and start looking again.  In other words, the unemployment rate may creep up because the denominator is getting bigger.

So, even if a modest recovery is taking place – something I don’t believe to be true – the labor market dynamics work against the President.

Pundits have been saying that Obama will be ok with a high unemployment rate in 2012 as long as the trajectory is in the right direction.  That is, that unemployment is coming down.

Here’s my scenario, unemployment will creep back up and Obama will be facing a high unemployment rate that is rising.  That’s not good.

Further, if Obama chest-pounds the 8.6% now, Congress has less pressure to “pass it now.” So, he may get less of his jobs bill through.

Politically, Obama might have been better off if the rate had stayed closer to 9% … he may be in the awkward position of having a high unemployment rate that’s going in the wrong direction.

It’ll be interesting …

>> Latest Posts

Herman Cain’s bona fides …

June 30, 2011

When pundits speak about Herman Cain – or introduce him for an interview – they usually reference him as  the (black) tea party candidate and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO who once hosted a talk radio show.

As reported by The Atlantic:

It hasn’t gotten much attention that Cain  was chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank in the mid-1990s.

The Kansas City Fed is one of twelve regional banks that advise the Federal Reserve Board and initiate changes in the discount rate.

The Kansas City Fed in particular has a reputation for monetary conservatism and distrust of central authority.

From 1992 to 1996, Cain served as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in the capacities of deputy chairman and then chairman of the Board.

Hmmm …. puts a whole new paint job on the candidate.

* * * * *

Bad week for the mainsteam media …

June 15, 2011

Can you imagine the collective angst of the mainstream media this past week?

First, after trying to ignore Weinergate, the story became too wild and salacious to ignore, So, the MSM had no choice but to air the lib loudmouth’s dirty linen.

Ouch.

Then, the MSM had to send reps to Juneau, Alaska to pick-up hard copies of 24,000 Palin emails.

Surely there has to be a mega-gotcha in the stack.

Nope.

Double ouch.

Then, a gaggle of GOP presidential hopefuls take the debate stage in New Hampshire for a circular firing squad.

But, wait ,,, instead of attacking each other, they pivot and aim at President Obama’s record on foreign affairs and jobs.

Come on GOP … fight fair.

Then, the NLRB hauls Boeing into court to try to stop the company from  opening a manufacturing plant in South Carolina — a right-to-work state.

Now, how to convince the lemmings that the Administration is all for  free enterprise and job creation?

What an awful week for news …

Stop thinking about Weinergate !

June 2, 2011

Sorry, but my sophomoric side is relishing the Weiner-roast.

The headlines are hilarious: e.g. “Is that your weiner?”

Now, Congressman Weiner is telling people to forget about his weiner so he can get back to his serious Congressional business, e.g. his self-claim of sending out 300 to 400 tweets per day …  which, incidentally, is about a tweet-a-minute.

The ”forget about it” strategy won’t work.

Here’s why, explained by Human Events

At this point, telling people not to think about Weinergate is like telling them not to think about a platypus

As soon as the command is issued, a giant platypus begins crashing through the imagination of the listener. 

(To clarify, that’s what happens when you tell people not to think about a platypus. 

When you tell them not to think about Weinergate, an entirely different image is conjured.)

 

Study: Republican profs reward high achievement … here’s the bad news.

May 25, 2011

Yesterday, HomaFIles summarized a study done by economists Talia Bar (Cornell) and Asaf Zussman (Hebrew University) that concluded in the words of economist Mark Perry“ …  highly motivated, high-achieving students should prefer classes from Republican professors because it’s more likely they’ll be rewarded with a really high grade.

That’s good news for highly motivated, high achieving students — all they need to do is take classes from Republican profs.

Here’s the bad news: the aren’t many Republican profs around.

From the same  study done by  Bar and Zussman:

  • There are virtually no Republican profs in the “softer” (i.e. more qualitative) disciplines such as the  humanities and social studies
  • Even in “harder” (i.e. more scientific and quantitative) disciplines such as the natural sciences, less than 1 in 5 profs are Republicans.

Ken’s Bet:  Republican profs’ representation in business schools isn’t much higher that it is the natural sciences … go figure.

image

* * * * *

Study: Republican profs reward high achievement more than their Democrat colleagues…

May 24, 2011

Economists Talia Bar (Cornell) and Asaf Zussman (Hebrew University) studied grading tendencies of Republican and Democratic college professors..

Their results are reported in a  forthcoming American Economic Journal article titled “Partisan Grading“.

The highlights:

The evidence suggests that student grades are linked to the political orientation of professors: relative to their Democratic colleagues, Republican professors are associated with a less egalitarian distribution of grades.

That is, the variance of grades is higher in courses taught by Republicans than in courses taught by Democrats. Moreover, in additional analysis we find that relative to their Democratic colleagues, Republican professors tend to assign more very low and very high grades

The differences are highly statistically significant.

The observed pattern is consistent with the hypothesis that Republican professors are associated with … higher returns to student ability.

image

The results suggest that the allocation of grades is associated with the worldview or ideology of professors.

* * * * *

Economist Mark Perry observesOne conclusion here might be that highly motivated, high-achieving students should prefer classes from Republican professors because it’s more likely they’ll be rewarded with a really high grade

… and less motivated, lower-achieving students should prefer classes from Democratic professors, because it’s less likely that they’ll receive a really low grade.

For Sale: one heavily used rubber stamp …

February 11, 2011

Yesterday, Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia announced that he won’t run for re-election.

Nuts.

I was relishing the chance to vote against him (again).

Webb campaigned as an independent kinda guy.

But, he seemed to toss his independence out the window during his short drive from Virginia to DC.

He dependably cast lemming-like party line votes on Obama’s Stimulus, ObamaCare, Omnibus Spending, and on and on.

He said that he “swallowed the bitter pill in the end and  voted for the final healthcare package.”

Bottom line: he voted yes, yes, yes, yes ….

One TV pundit said that Webb was calling it quits because of the enormous strains of being a Senator – what with long hours, evening and weekend votes, etc.

Gimme a break.

How much strain is there when you’re simply voting “Aye” to everything Obama-Reid-Pelosi serve up.

In fact, if Senators – from either side – are simply voting their party lines, why do they need offices, staffs, etc.

Can’t they just stay home and mail in their votes.

Would save a bunch of money …

The Sestak predicament: somebody’s gotta be lying … uh-oh.

May 27, 2010

Long ago, Congressman Joe Sestak said that he was offered a high ranking position in the Obama administration if he’d step aside rather than challenging Sen. Specter in the Dem primary.

Of course, Obama folks denied the claim.

Issue would have faded … but Sestak screwed things up by staying in the race and winning.

Why is that a problem?

Well, it gives the GOP a ‘”can’t lose” issue.

I see  only 3 options:

(1) Obama folks continue playing rope-a-dope and the issue stays alive … seeming sinister and begging the question what are they hiding ?

(2) Obama folks “prove” that Sestak is fabricating the story … and, who wants to elect a Senator who gets caught lying from the get-go?

(3) Sestak names names and gives details of the offer … which causes legal problems for the administration.  Why ? It’s reported to be a Federal felony to tamper with an election – and to bribe somebody to drop out of an election is, well, tampering. 

I expect option(1) to prevail. so if the GOP wins a majority of either the Senate or Congress in Nov., expect investigative hearings on this issue to be high on the agenda. 

Hope so – they’ll be fun to watch and might keep our elected reps distracted from their spending bills.

For the politics of intimidation … look for the union label.

May 24, 2010

Much has been written about the alliance between unions and gov’t.

It’s simple: gov’t adds more and more unionized gov’t jobs … most with above market pay rates, near certain lifetime employment and oversized end-of-career pensions.

In gratitude, the unions turn out the vote … and rough up opponents … apparently with de facto immunity from the press and police.

Things are getting ugly …

* * * * *

Excerpted from WSJ: Tea Parties vs. Unions in November, May 21, 2010

Elections this month have enhanced the political clout of two groups widely separated on the political spectrum.

The tea party movement stands to play an outsize role in the fall elections now that outsider Rand Paul has swept Kentucky’s GOP Senate primary.

Democrats are fearful of the Tea Party’s grass-roots enthusiasm

The rise of the tea party makes Democrats even more dependent on organized labor. Unions provided the muscle for Democrats to win a key special election in Pennsylvania for the late Jack Murtha’s seat. The AFL-CIO alone sent out 80,000 mailers on behalf of Democrat Mark Critz, along with 100,000 robocalls.

In Arkansas, unions decided to make an example of Blanche Lincoln after she opposed the “card check” bill that limits the use of secret ballots in union elections. Unions, especially the Service Employees International Union, spent more than $3 million against her.

And, some SEIU members have ratcheted up violence against political “enemies”.

Lastweek, 500 screaming, placard-waving SEIU members and allies surrounded the home of a Bank of America exec. Police refused to intervene for fear of inciting the crowd.

Watch the video and ask yourself how you’d like your house – with kids inside – surrounded by these wingnuts

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Full article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703559004575256323526178094.html?mod=djemEditorialPage_h

Mavericky Brand Building 101

April 12, 2010

Takeaway: Many folks make fun of her, but does Sarah Palin know more about brand building than we MBAs do?

In a matter of months, and against all odds, Palin built herself into a multi-million dollar national brand with droves of loyal followers. How many classically-trained marketing whizzes can boast the same?

Palin may not be able to see Russia from her house, but marketers take note, she is likely to understand many Americans better than we do. This begs the question: What can we learn from Palin?
 
* * * * *

Excerpt from New York Times, “How Sarah Palin Became a Brand” by David Carr, April 4, 2010.

When Sarah Palin made her debut as the host of “Real American Stories” on Fox News, she described several triumphs of regular people over insurmountable odds, but she missed an obvious one: her own.

After her failed bid for the vice presidency, she was more or less told to head back to Alaska to serve out her term as governor.

Instead, she quit her day job and proceeded to become a one-woman national media empire, with the ratings and lucre to show for it.

With its tales of uplift and pluck, “Real American Stories” trades in the kind of easy sentimentality that provokes eye rolls among those of us who work in media while quickening the pulse and patriotic ardor of almost everyone else. At the beginning of the show, Ms. Palin promised that it would “reaffirm our pioneering spirit and unmatched generosity, here and around the world.”

“It’s not the kind of thing that’s going to excite you guys on the East Coast, but everyone else is dying to hear stories like these,” said one of her representatives.

Beyond her Tea Party theatrics, Palin has tunneled her own route into the public consciousness and gone into the Sarah Palin Across America business. And what a business it is.

She was paid a $1.25 million retainer by HarperCollins. Her book, “Going Rogue,” has sold 2.2 million copies, according to its publisher, and she has another tentatively scheduled for this fall.

She now has an actual television career, including appearances as a pundit on Fox News, her gig as the host of “Real American Stories” four times a year, and a coming eight-part series on TLC called “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” which will cost, according to some media reports, $1 million an episode.

Other people have crossed the border from politics to media to very good effect — George Stephanopoulos, Patrick Buchanan and Chris Matthews, to name a few — but the transition was far more gradual. Ms. Palin turned on a dime and was a ratings sensation from the word go: her first paid appearance, as a commentator on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Jan. 12, was good for an extra million viewers.

Her appeal doesn’t stop at the red states. When Ms. Palin stopped by to chat with Oprah Winfrey — not exactly friendly territory — the show achieved its biggest ratings in two years.

Ms. Palin didn’t go on the show to run for president as much as to become the next Oprah. And it seems to be working. So what are the rest of us missing?

Back in September 2008, when she was unveiled in St. Paul during the Republican convention, a longtime political reporter told me that her appeal would burn off over time. I wondered about that. I’m from Minnesota, which is sometimes considered the southernmost tip of Alaska, and her way of speaking in credulous golly-gee may have been off-putting to some, but there is a kind of authenticity there that no image handler could conjure.

In Ms. Palin’s America, everyone’s got bootstraps; they just need to have the gumption to find them. And her version is full of plain old folks spending a lot of time overcoming a great deal, including a government that she posits usually intends to do them harm.

She’s also imported the political trick of coming from the outside and ruling from the center. When she sets down the ear piece and leaves the studio lights, even the way she says the word “media” in her speeches — “MEE-dee-uh” — makes it sound like something yucky and foul, a swamp to be avoided at all costs. Unless, of course, you are promoting a show, a book or a cause.

Many observers thought her unwillingness to serve out her term would be fatal to her ambitions, but the fact that governance did not suit her — she resigned as governor back in July — has become a kind of credential.

Ms. Palin still gets a session in the media spanking machine every time she does anything, but the disapproval seems to further cement the support of her loyalists. Ms. Palin may or may not be qualified to represent America around the world, but she certainly represents vast swaths of the American public and has a lucrative new career to show for it.

If we don’t see why, then maybe we deserve the “lamestream media” label she likes to give us.
Edit by BHC
 
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Full Article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/05/business/media/05carr.html?ref=media
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Reporting live from Saturday’s Tea Party … stuff not on the nightly news

March 22, 2010

Since Georgetown’s hoops season had come to an abrupt end … and since the weather was beautiful … and since I take this healthcare stuff seriously… I went to the Capitol mall to be part of the citizens’  rally.

I’m glad I did.  First, I felt really democratic (small “d”), and second, the experience was very revealing.

Here’s what I saw and heard:

  1. It was a big crowd … filled the entire grass area in front of the Capitol … spilled over some across the street to the Mall.  I’m not a crowd estimator, but I know there were more than the 2,000 people that CNN reported.  There were at least as many people as were at the Verizon Center for the Duke game (my crowd estimating yardstick) … so, the crowd was at least 20,000.
  2. The crowd was very orderly. I only saw one Capitol policeman walking the crowd.  Not a single shouting match or fight or anything like that. I overheard several “where are you from ?” conversations.
  3. The crowd was all sizes and shapes and ages.  The latter surprised me some — I expected an old folks skew — while folks in their 50s were prevalent, there were plenty in there 40s, 30s, and even 20s.
  4. There weren’t any “for pay” organized groups — no conservative equivalents to ACORN or SEIU.  There were plenty of couples, many family groups, and some church groups from around the country.  No organized bus caravans.
  5. I saw several people identifying themselves as nurses and doctors. 
  6. My wife Kathy spotted one logo shirt from a local country club.  Beyond that, there weren’t many readily identifiable “fat cats” in the crowd.  I expected more since they’ll be footing much of the ObamaCare bill. I guess they protest in a different way  [more on that to come]
  7. Big deal: the crowd was all white.  I don’t recollect seeing a single non-white person, except for a doctor who spoke — and claimed to be Obama’s cousin.
  8. The intensity level was VERY high.  Obviously, people who trekked to the rally are more engaged than the average citizen, but I was still struck by the passion in the crowd — individually and collectively. 
  9. The words “civil disobedience” were evident — not prevalent, but evident.  On the Metro heading in, the guy sitting in front of us said “If this thing passes the country will be torn apart by civil disobedience”.  I hadn’t noticed that expression in years.  At the rally, there were signs calling for civil disobedience.  They didn’t spell out what kind of disobedience, they were just planting seeds.
  10. The applause line that got the biggest reaction: Do what Rush advises ‘just deem your taxes paid’. The crowd went nuts.

* * * * *

Here’s what I took away:

  1. The stark reality is that the tax payers who will be funding ObamaCare are  passionately opposed.  Why ? Well, it is their money, and — while they are OK supporting the genuinely down-trodden — they don’t want to carry slackers, drug addicts, and illegals.
  2. The ObamaCare opposition is almost entirely tax payers who consider themselves increasingly victimized by “taxation without (adequate) representation“. They’re frustrated and looking for a meaningful way to channel their emotions — and their money.
  3. My bet: April 15th is going to be an unusually interesting day this year.For sure, there will be protests galore.

    More important, there are plenty of folks scratching deeper this year to “remember” tax deductions and pursue any legal gimmick that can lower their tax payments.  In the past, for some, it wasn’t worth the effort.  But now, it has gotten personal. 

    And, it wouldn’t shock me if a statistically significant number of citizens heed Rush’s call to “deem their taxes paid”. 

    This has the prospects of getting very ugly, very fast.

The GOP strategy: revenge of the nerds ?

March 10, 2010

Excerpted from RCP: Revenge of the GOP Nerd, March 4, 2010

For Republicans, the nerd might not be the new jock. But the GOP jocks are increasingly letting the nerds in on the party.

Increasingly, nerds appear to be the life of the party. The GOP party, that is.

Paul Ryan, the top Republican on the Budget Committee, used his nerd skills last week to “unpack” the Senate health care bill numbers. Some imagined Ryan as a future vice president.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a potential presidential candidate, previously served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget. It’s a job only a nerd could love.

Perhaps in this era of the professorial president, Republicans decided to put forward their wonkish rock stars.

It helps to have number crunchers on the main stage when it’s all about the economy.

It’s enough to make the Prof-in-Chief jealous.

Full article:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/03/04/revenge_of_the_gop_nerd__104647.html

Have a seat next to Sen. Franken, Sen. Mellencamp …

February 19, 2010

From the ‘you can’t make this stuff up’ files: A movement has sprung up urging rocker John Cougar Mellencamp to make a bid for Evan Bayh’s Democratic Indiana senate seat.  Even endorsed by film critic Roger Ebert.  Geez.

* * * * *

Excerpted from Christian Science Monitor: John Mellencamp – Replacement for Evan Bayh in Senate?, Feb. 18, 2010

As Indiana Democratic leaders scramble to replace Evan Bayh in the US Senate race, one name is emerging from left field: rock musician John Mellencamp.

Grassroots efforts are urging Mr. Mellencamp to take the leap. On MSNBC , Katrina Van Heuvel, editor of The Nation, suggested that Mellencamp could be a “populist candidate” as someone “who worked very hard for farmers who faced foreclosures” and “a Heartland son of Indiana.”

Chicago film critic Roger Ebert suggested a Mellencamp candidacy via Twitter Monday.

Mellencamp is revered in his home state, where he continues to live, record music, and raise a family. Best known for hits like  “Jack and Diane,” and “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.,” he is also a staunch Democrat who campaigned for Barack Obama.

Mellencamp’s music is known for its populist themes, which have roots in his upbringing in rural Indiana, where his grandparents were farmers.

His stature in the state is formidable, but not enough for some experts to say that he has a chance if picked to run in the November midterm election.

Full article:
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/The-Vote/2010/0217/John-Mellencamp-Replacement-for-Evan-Bayh-in-Senate

Brownisms … that weren’t on CNN or MSNBC

January 20, 2010

I was flipping channels last night to see what the different networks were saying and showing.

Olberman and the MSNBC team were deriding Brown and Mass voters for being stupid, and advocating full steam ahead on ObamaCare 

Blitzer and the CNN team was just sad about the turn of events, and suggesting scaling back ObamaCare.

Both MSNBC and CNN stopped showing Brown’s victory speech when he got into the meat of his campaign points.  Really.

So, if your were watching those networks, you missed his classic line that “It’s not Ted Kennedy’s seat, it’s not the Democrats seat, it’s the people’s seat.”

On ObamaCare: “It will raise taxes, it will hurt Medicare, it will destroy jobs and run our nation deeper into debt.” 

On terrorist rights: “Our tax dollars should go towards weapons that destroy terrorists, not lawyers to defend them.”

For a stupid guy, he seem to make a lot of sense.

* * * * *

P.S. Oh yeah, Hannity and the Fox team were gloating …

Mass Senate Race: Will the winner be the winner or the loser ?

January 15, 2010

I’m really intrigued by the Senate race is Mass.

Though I haven’t heard any pundits say it, I’m betting that some current Democratic Senators are silently hoping that Coakley (the Dem) loses.  Think Bayh, Webb, Lincoln, Landrieu. 

Why?

Now, these folks have to vote in lockstep on the bill or get pulverized by the Reid-Pelosi-Obama machine.  If Brown gets elected to break the super-majority, all the pressure is off the lemmings.  They won’t be blamed if the bill flames out.

On the other hand, GOPers are probably better off if Brown loses.  If he wins and ObamaCare goes away, the Repubs lose their major 2010 talking point and get accused of being obstructionists.

Perhaps, the best case for the Republicans would be a Brown victory but a slimey delay to keep him from being sworn in until after ObamaCare passes.  Then the GOP breaks the super-majority and still has the healthcare talking point for the elections.

The only loser in that case: well, all of us.

This is better than the last week of the NFL when play-off spots are still up for grabs.

The elections: Checkbooks, Adult Supervision, Pookie, and Buyer’s Remorse …

November 4, 2009

Last night, most pundits reduced the election results to an older, whiter group of voters  taking a stand.

Here’s my take (trying to avoid the usual pundit bromides) …

Checkbooks: I’ve whined often about tax policies that have more than half of adults paying no income taxes, but drawing from the system. My hunch: the mix of voters last nite was disproportionately tax payers who are fed up with the reckless spending and taxation without meaningful representation (think Harry Reid behind closed doors).

Adult Supervision: Some elected officials have to start acting like  adults.  Start showing some sense of fiscal responsibility and stop throwing hizzie fits every time they get challenged.  Recognize that implementation and execution matter.  One of my takes last nite: Bob McDonnell won because he came across as an adult — he carries himself like a governor.

The Pookie Factor:  At the risk of  political incorrectness … I know Pres Obama was just trying to be cute with his “get lazy cousin Pookie off the couch and get him to vote”.  I think there was some backlash to the comment.  I know a lot of folks who are repulsed by the thought of lazy cousin Pookie deciding the direction of the country.  Perhaps lazy cousin Pookie should get off the couch and get an education or get a job. 

Buyer’s Remorse: Many middle-of-the-roaders, frustrated by  or angry at Bush, bought into Obama’s charismatic appeal for change and “coming together”.  My sense: lots of buyer’s remorse.  They got Chicago thugery, expensive rad-left programs, and divisiveness-on- steroids.  Change – yes, but maybe not the the change everybody was hoping for.  This was the first chance for folks to register their views free of recriminations.

It’ll be fun to see how the parties spin the results …

The elections: Checkbooks, Adult Supervision, Pookie, and Buyer's Remorse …

November 4, 2009

Last night, most pundits reduced the election results to an older, whiter group of voters  taking a stand.

Here’s my take (trying to avoid the usual pundit bromides) …

Checkbooks: I’ve whined often about tax policies that have more than half of adults paying no income taxes, but drawing from the system. My hunch: the mix of voters last nite was disproportionately tax payers who are fed up with the reckless spending and taxation without meaningful representation (think Harry Reid behind closed doors).

Adult Supervision: Some elected officials have to start acting like  adults.  Start showing some sense of fiscal responsibility and stop throwing hizzie fits every time they get challenged.  Recognize that implementation and execution matter.  One of my takes last nite: Bob McDonnell won because he came across as an adult — he carries himself like a governor.

The Pookie Factor:  At the risk of  political incorrectness … I know Pres Obama was just trying to be cute with his “get lazy cousin Pookie off the couch and get him to vote”.  I think there was some backlash to the comment.  I know a lot of folks who are repulsed by the thought of lazy cousin Pookie deciding the direction of the country.  Perhaps lazy cousin Pookie should get off the couch and get an education or get a job. 

Buyer’s Remorse: Many middle-of-the-roaders, frustrated by  or angry at Bush, bought into Obama’s charismatic appeal for change and “coming together”.  My sense: lots of buyer’s remorse.  They got Chicago thugery, expensive rad-left programs, and divisiveness-on- steroids.  Change – yes, but maybe not the the change everybody was hoping for.  This was the first chance for folks to register their views free of recriminations.

It’ll be fun to see how the parties spin the results …

"Vote for me because my opponent is too fat" … you gotta love NJ politics.

November 2, 2009

TakeAway: Hacking off fat people just isn’t a good idea !

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Excerpted from Chicago Tribune:  Corzine’s Big, Fat Political Mistake, November 1, 2009

The New Jersey governor’s race pits the slim, distance-running, Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine against Republican Chris Christie, who is built for comfort, not for speed.

Corzine ran a TV ad accusing the challenger of “throwing his weight around” to beat traffic tickets, accompanied by footage that did not attempt to conceal Christie’s bulk.

“Mr. Corzine’s campaign is calling attention to his rival’s corpulence in increasingly overt ways,” reported The New York Times a few weeks ago, noting that his “television commercials and Web videos feature unattractive images of Mr. Christie, sometimes shot from the side or backside, highlighting his heft, jowls and double chin.” Meanwhile, Corzine has also made a point of taking part in 5- and 10-kilometer races every chance he gets.

The other day, Christie decided to confront his opponent. No, not by calling him bald, furry-faced and four-eyed, all of which would be understandable retorts. No, he took the high road by daring Corzine to stop the sly digs and say what he’s thinking outright. “If you’re going to do it,” said Christie, “at least man up and say I’m fat.”

By then, though, it had dawned on Corzine that ridiculing excess heft wasn’t good politics — and risked alienating the hordes of voters who are carrying extra pounds.

Nationally, two out of every three adults are overweight or obese — more New Jerseyans look like Christie than look like Corzine, and they probably don’t like being ridiculed by proxy.

Full article:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/11/01/a_big_fat_political_mistake_98964.html

Declaring war … on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?

October 21, 2009

Ken’s Take: Unemployment — likely to be the 2010 election’s issue — is almost 10% and shows no sign of abating.  So what does Team Obama decide to do? Put the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the most prominent representative of business — on its enemies list for failure to support some of the administration’s policies. 

Who, pray tell, does the administration think is ultimately going to do the hiring that’s going to get unemployment down?

My real life business friends tell me that they’re were already going to move slowly hiring people back because of “political risk” — the uncertainties re: higher taxes, increased healthcare burdens, and wage controls.  I’d think that hacking-off these folks  would just slow the hire-back process even more … keep unemployment levels high … and hang a political millstone around Dems necks next year,

We’ll see …

* * * * *

Excerted from: Politico, White House plan: Neuter the Chamber, October 19, 2009

The White House and congressional Democrats are working to marginalize the Chamber of Commerce — the powerful business lobby opposed to many of President Barack Obama’s first-year priorities.

Democrats in Congress have been angered by the Chamber’s attacks on the House climate change bill and its staunch opposition to the creation of a consumer financial protection agency, a centerpiece of the administration’s financial regulatory reform efforts.

Chamber officials say the White House is scapegoating the Chamber and other trade associations as a way of dividing the business community, a move that could help the administration make headway on health care reform, climate change legislation and regulatory reform.

“When they launch a frontal assault against free enterprise and the Chamber of Commerce, I can guarantee it is not lost on any trade association executives or staff in this town.”

Administration officials give significantly more attention to the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies.

And some Democrats in the House say they are … overlooking the national Chamber in favor of local organizations in their districts.

The Democrats’ assault on the Chamber is not without risk. While neutralizing the Chamber would amount to a major tactical victory for the administration, anything less could backfire — infuriating and energizing a well-funded foe with ties to business in virtually every community in the country.

Full article:
http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=6A5B11C3-18FE-70B2-A873536030768679

An early indicator of GOP “energy” …

October 13, 2009

Note: I was in Albuquerque last week when the election took place.  MSB MBA alum Jamie Estrada – who is very active in New Mexico politics – was our personal trip adviser.  Besides telling us where to eat, he was the first to point out the implications of the ABQ mayoral election.

Specifically, GOPers are re-energized and many Obama supporters – especially minorities and college folks – aren’t turning out for the non-Obama elections.  An interesting trend that will be retested in the VA and NJ governor elections next month.

* * * * *

Excerpted from WSJ: The Sun Rises in the West, John Fund, Oct 9, 2009 

Enthusiasm counts for a lot in politics.

In 2008, Republican voter turnout was down in part because of the unpopularity of the Bush administration, while Barack Obama brought many excited new voters to the polls.

But now President Obama’s approval rating is hovering around 50% and Republicans appear energized in opposition to his plans.

An early sign of electoral trouble for Democrats may have come this week in Albuquerque – a city that accounts for more than a quarter of New Mexico’s population — where Democratic Mayor Marty Chavez was defeated for a third consecutive term by Republican businessman R.J. Berry.

Mr. Berry — a contractor and state legislator — ran on a platform of fighting crime and reducing regulations on small business. He becomes the first Republican elected to the mayor’s post since 1981— almost 30 years ago.

The GOP tide also created the first City Council with a Republican majority in anyone’s memory.

The election was also notable because, for the first time, local voters were required to show a photo ID to poll workers. The law worked smoothly and the
city’s election machinery functioned well, with no allegations of fraud for the first time in many years.

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