Saturday, November 7, 2009

Less is More

News this week has prompted me at long last to offer some commentary on the political scene.  Notes about politics have been missing from this page in recent weeks simply because I have chosen to focus on more uplifiting and more inspirational topics.  However, it's time to weigh in again with some political insight.

The week produced some stunning election results in New Jersey and Virginia's gubernatorial elections.  President Obama campaigned heavily in both states for both Democratic candidates, then backed away in a hurry when the polls went south and it looked like both would be soundly defeated.  The White House spin was essentially, "Well, these are local races having nothing to do with the President's political clout."  Uh, well, not exactly.

Peggy Noonan, my favorite moderate bell-weather voice on the right summed it up this week in her column in The Wall Street Journal:  "The voters, frustrated and then alarmed, waited to fire the first available Democrat, and this week they did.  Mr. Obama carried Democratic Jersey by more than 15 points exactly one year ago.  The Democratic governor lost by nearly five points this week.  That is a 20-point swing.  Mr. Obama won Virginia a year ago by six points.  The Democratic candidate for governor lost by more than 18 points.  That is a 24-point plummet."

Camille Paglia, the moderate I follow from the left was likewise appalled at the disconnect between this White House and the people in the streets in her regular Salon column:  "I have been deeply impressed by the citizen outrage that spilled out into town hall meetings this year.  And I remain shocked at the priggish derision of the mainstream media (locked in their urban enclaves) toward those events.  This was a moving spectacle of grassroots American democracy in action.  Aggrieved voters have a perfect right to shout at their incompetent and irresponsible representatives.  American citizens are under no duty whatever to sit in reverent silence to be fed propaganda and half-truths.  It is bizarre that liberals who celebrate the unruly demonstrations of our youth would malign or impugn the motivation of today's protestors with opposing views.
"The mainstream media's failure to honestly cover last month's mass demonstration in Washington, D.C. was a disgrace. The focus on anti-Obama placards (which were no worse than the rabid anti-LBJ, anti-Reagan or anti-Bush placards of leftist protests), combined with the grotesque attempt to equate criticism of Obama with racism, simply illustrated why the old guard TV networks and major urban daily newspapers are slowly dying. Only a simpleton would believe what they say."

Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) was gloating after the election results were in -- here's an exceprt from his latest missive to his loyal supporters.  And by the way, Senator, you'd better stay on your toes in the run-up to the 2010 election because many of us see you as being part of the establishment problem in Washington and are looking for new representation, particularly given your advanced age (he'll be 77 on election day next year!):  "We stopped him [President Obama] from closing Guantanamo Bay.  He expected to have a government-run option for health care through Congress by August, and now near-universal Republican opposition and the defection of several key Democrats has put his liberal legislative agenda in serious jeopardy.  His disastrous Cap and Tax proposal is losing support rapidly, and his approval ratings have fallen faster and farther than any new president in history.
"And then there were last night’s election results.
"President Obama campaigned hard for both of the Democrats running for governor in both Virginia and New Jersey.  Republicans had suffered major defeats in Virginia’s past three statewide elections.  Yet last night, they won the governorship by 18%.  And a Republican governor in New Jersey?  In 2008, that would have been unthinkable.
"As of last night, it’s now a reality.
"Last night’s election returns demonstrate that President Obama’s star is fading. He put his reputation on the line for both of those candidates, and he came up short.  And his troubles are far from over.
"Frankly, I’m surprised that the president has overreached so quickly.  He was smart enough to campaign as a faux conservative – promising limited changes in health care and a tax cut for 95% of all Americans.  It’s startling to me that he thought he could ignore his own rhetoric and govern from the far left once elected, and that he thought Americans just wouldn’t notice.
"Well, we noticed.  And we don’t like it.  And we’re making a difference in stopping it.
"I’m proud of what Republicans have been able to accomplish over the past year, even with our diminished numbers.  President Obama has huge majorities in Congress and still can’t get his agenda enacted, mainly because his priorities are so far out of step with those of the American people.
"We won some big battles last night, but the larger war continues.  I’m on the front lines, and I’ll keep fighting to make sure that Utah’s values are represented in Washington, because, even in victory, we can’t let up."

Well, rah, rah for the Republicans, Senator.  In my estimation, Bennett's hands are still dirty for his role (or lack of it) in the critical position he occupies as the ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee.  While accepting donations from the very institutions he was tasked in regulating, he saw no evil, he spoke no evil, and he heard no evil from the financial institutions that were creating the sub-prime mortgage bubble on his watch, and did little to oppose his adversaries on the other side of the aisle.  The only difference I can detect between him and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) is the amounts they received from their benefactors, interestingly all the same institutions!  Bennett successfully played the same "pay for play" strategy as Dodd.  Even Dodd is in trouble with his constituents in Connecticut for his role in the sub-prime debacle.  Bennett not only voted for the first round of bailouts for the financial institutions, he was the outspoken Senate advocate for swift passage of $700 Billion bill! 

In my calculations, the incumbents from both parties are vulnerable.  The electorate is aroused.  I hope the righteous indignation can last long enough until election day, 2010.

Nine months after I wrote him about it, hoping he would refute Silverstein's allegations in writing, instead I received a tepid response reciting his voting record that made no absolutely no reference to charges of his apparent duplicity.  I've sent him e-mails and letters and still have not received a satisfactory explanation from him other than efforts to tighten regulations were "steamrolled" by the other side.  That just doesn't cut it when you examine his political contributions from the banking and insurance institutions that have traditionally bank-rolled his Senate career. 

Do your own research at and decide for yourselves.  I tried their link this morning as I was writing this post, and the message was that Internet traffic to their site has overwhelmed their server.  I'm hoping that signals what appears at this writing to be an awakening among the electorate.  Bennett's campaign donors are all there for everyone to see for themselves.  Heightened by the announcement of Shurtleff's departure from the 2010 Utah senatorial race, I am still in favor of changing my vote for Bennett in 2010.  And I am not alone in my thinking here in Utah.

But I digress.  Yesterday, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) announced he is still opposed to the House version of the health care reform bill, joining 69 others who are being classed as the "blue-dog Democrats" who are refusing (so far) the full-court pressure from Speaker Pelosi and the White House.  I think the vote is being delayed only because they haven't whipped up the needed number yet.  Matheson, who represents my district, will salvage his political career if he stands strong in opposition.  If he caves, however, he knows in his heart of hearts he will be toast next year at the voting booth. 

President Obama's, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's efforts to round up the votes needed for passage of the proposed health care reform bills have been delayed again.  (And by the way, Pelosi has withdrawn her pledge to put the House version of the bill out there in cyberspace for public scrutiny 72 hours before any votes are taken). 

The ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), issued a scathing news release this week citing conclusions in a letter written by the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation that revealed a stunning disclosure.  If you don't buy the government-run health coverage for your family (estimated at an annual premium cost of $15,000 for the average family), you'll be subject to prison time under Pelosi's version of the pending legislation.  Are we living in America?  Camp said: “This is the ultimate example of the Democrats’ command-and-control style of governing – buy what we tell you or go to jail.  It is outrageous and it should be stopped immediately.”

And while I'm at it, let's not forget Rep. Michele Bachmann, (R-MN), who is making big waves as the conservative poster child.  Sean Hannity calls her the "second-most-hated Republican in America today" behind Sarah Palin.  She recently invited the tea-party protesters to Washington D.C., and 28,000 people showed up to lobby their representatives in opposition to the health care reform bill pending before the House that no one has even read yet!  There's only one way to get to the truth of what's happening these days, people, and you won't find it in the MSM any longer!  The main stream is now the viral Internet, and if you're careful in selecting your sources, as I try to be, you'll at least have a fair shot of assembling the more reliable sources upon which you can form your political opinions.

It is little wonder things appear to be in such upheaval.  "It's still the economy, stupid!"  The Associated Press (and other news outlets) reported this week that unemployment nationwide ratcheted up to 10.2 percent:  "Nearly 16 million people can't find jobs even though the worst recession since the Great Depression has apparently ended.  Persistently high unemployment could hurt the recovery by restraining consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the economy.
"The report showed that the nation faces a jobless recovery — an economy that can't create jobs even though it is growing.
"The unemployed rate jumped to 10.2 percent last month, the highest since April 1983, from 9.8 percent in September, the Labor Department said Friday. The economy shed a net total of 190,000 jobs, more than economists had expected.
"The number of unemployed hit 15.7 million, up from 15.1 million. The job losses occurred across most industries, from manufacturing and construction to retail and financial. The job-loss total is based on a survey of businesses, separate from a survey of households that produces the unemployment rate.
"Economists say the unemployment rate could reach 10.5 percent next year because employers remain reluctant to hire."

If you're still in the unemployment line, take heart.  Traditionally, improvement in employment numbers has always been a lagging economic indicator of recovery, so this news indicates exactly what many are experiencing -- while the economy appears to be growing again in terms of GDP, there is still massive distrust and suspended judgment on just where this current administration is going.  While that uncertainty remains, employment, particularly in the financial sector, lags. 

Being nimble and creative is the key in the current climate.  Reinventing yourself is imperative, rather than holding out hope your old job will re-emerge anytime soon. 

Truly, in politics and in the midst of the current economic climate, Less is More.

P.S.  While we were sleeping, the House passed the 2,000-plus page Pelosi version of the health care reform bill on a narrow margin of 220 - 215.  The bill now goes to the Senate.  Failing passage there if the required 60-vote majority cannot be reached, look for the bill to go to reconciliation where a simple 50-vote majority will suffice.  I predicted this outcome in an earlier post back in September.  It isn't over yet.  All three Utah Congressional Representatives opposed the bill and voted "no."  Jim Matheson, in perhaps the most classic understatement of the year explained his vote this way:  "It (the bill) costs too much and doesn't reform enough."  And so wisdom prevails and my elected representative agrees with me -- less is more in this case.  Unfortunately for Americans opposed to the legislation, Speaker Pelosi didn't get the memo.

No comments:

Post a Comment