A “distinction without a difference”

I’ve gotten quite a bit of response about my post condemning the NRCC for “endorsing” Wayne Gilchrest this early in the campaign season. In fact, my article was linked on the national blog redstate.com, which I thought was pretty sweet.

And this afternoon I got a call from Chris Meekins of the Harris campaign, who pointed out that the endorsement was a personal one given by Rep. Cole and not a blanket NRCC one. But I also think that someone from the Gilchrest campaign is certainly earning his or her money (could it be Kathy Bassett, wife of Daily Times editor Greg Bassett?) by writing the press releases in a truthful yet thisclose to misleading fashion. Imagine these two headlines:

“Gilchrest Endorsed By Fellow Congressman And NRCC Chairman Tom Cole”

“NRCC Chairman Endorses Gilchrest Re-Election Bid”

They say the same thing, but the second one makes it sound like the weight of the NRCC is behind the endorsement. Obviously it fooled me, and I’m likely more of a student of politics than the average Joe reading his daily paper.

So the argument is that it’s only Cole and not the NRCC apparatus behind the endorsement. Well, if you’ll indulge me going across party lines for a few sentences, I got an e-mail from the Martin O’Malley campaign machine inviting me to an organizational meeting for the Hillary Clinton campaign. (Yes, I’m on e-mail lists for both parties under a separate address. That way I can keep up with both sides for election coverage.)

If the average person gets an e-mail from the Governor pressing a particular campaign, is there any doubt that the marching orders for party underlings aren’t going to be to push for that candidate too? The Maryland Democrat Party machine is going to be lock, stock, and barrel working for Hillary regardless of how particular Democrats feel. The same goes for the Democrats running for the First Congressional District seat – obviously having O’Malley’s support means the machine’s in for Frank Kratovil over Christopher Robinson and any others who decide to run on that side.

Above all, it’s quoted in the redstate.com post that “the NRCC is first and foremost an incumbent retention committee.” So regardless of the merits of a candidate or the failings of the incumbent the policy stated by this particular member of the NRCC is that they’ll throw the challengers under the bus. Hopefully Andy Harris will be able to avoid the Greyhound coming at him.

Who will I support? – part six

July 31, 2007 · Posted in 50 Year Plan, Campaign 2008 - President, Inside the Beltway, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on Who will I support? – part six 

While Newt Gingrich may think the current GOP field is a bunch of “pathetic…pygmies“, I’ve still got to go by the field as it is at the moment. However, I’d certainly welcome Newt into the fray should he choose to commit to running for the highest office in the land. And speaking of pathetic pygmies, I also have to see how the Democrats continue to fare as I stack them up against the GOP hopefuls and turn the topic over to military and veterans’ affairs.

For this portion of my search, I’m really more interested in the veterans than the actual military strategy. While I talk about a 50 year plan, the winner of the 2008 race can only serve 8 years and it’s likely that we’ll continue to deal with the Long War throughout his or her term. So I’ll focus on the military aspect separately when I get to the part regarding the Long War and concentrate on veterans’ affairs here. In case you’ve forgotten, here is where I discuss the subject in its entirety.

And since I’ve sort of limited the topic, there’s really not a lot of discussion of this on the various campaign websites. In fact, I only have seven entrants this time around so this will be one of the shorter articles. Only one from the GOP side talks specifically about veterans; not surprisingly, it’s John McCain.

For the Democrats, we start with the onetime First Lady. Hillary Clinton deals with the veterans here.

John Edwards makes his suggestions as well.

Mike Gravel puts a bit of biography in it:

Senator Mike Gravel enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1951 and served for three years as an adjutant in the Communications Services and as a Special Agent in the Counter Intelligence Corps. Our war veterans are not, as some would have it, a “special interest” but are our primary interest. As President, Sen. Gravel would ensure that veterans receive full and unambiguous funding for their most important needs, including health care that is indexed to the increasing cost of care and medicine. He would also make permanent the 100 percent disability ratings of those diagnosed as suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He would also make sure that the VA system is fully financed and has sufficient well-trained personnel to provide the finest care that is available. As the senator says, “We can do no less and will do much more.”

This is what Dennis Kucinich has to say.

Barack Obama weighs in here.

Finally, Bill Richardson notes on his site that:

Veterans will get access to the high-quality care they deserve, when they need it, without bureaucratic hassles. (emphasis his).

Also, from a blog account:

During campaign stops in Iowa, Richardson said he would give all veterans a “Heroes Health Card” that would allow them to receive health care wherever they need it. Currently, veterans are required to access their health benefits at designated veterans’ hospitals, which creates an accessibility burden for those veterans who don’t live near them.

So there you have it. And to be quite honest the Democrats aren’t all bad on this issue.

But I’ll start with my side. John McCain has sort of a mixed bag where he has made a lot of effort to secure common-sense rewards for veterans and their families like “a demonstration project to send mobile health centers to remote locations where veterans need care” or “support(ing)… the Troops-To-Teachers Act, a program to train veterans to become teachers.” On the other hand, he overreaches with items like “efforts to provide veterans with treatment for tobacco related illnesses” or “creat(ing) National Medal of Honor Sites to honor recipients of the Medal of Honor.” While this is a reasonable and lengthy record, I don’t see much to suggest what he’d do if elected. I can only give him a few points because he’s resting on past laurels; thus, I’ll give him 4 points so at least now he’s in positive territory.

Hillary Clinton is a little less specific about her plans, what sticks out the most to me is a promise to “reduc(e) the red tape our wounded service members and veterans face.” But the main point to me is that she still wants to localize care within the VA where I’d like to see it more privatized. I’ll give her actual points for effort though, how about 2 points.

Like Clinton, John Edwards seems to place all of his eggs in the federal VA basket. One part of his plan that bothered me somewhat was that he “will also reject the Bush Administration’s ideological drive to outsource federal jobs; a questionable decision to hire contractors to manage Walter Reed facilities contributed to the shocking conditions there.” To me, the military’s specialty is killing people and breaking things. It’s probably a case of a poorly-chosen contractor that’s to blame for the conditions at Walter Reed, not the outsourcing itself. Overall, his program would spend more money for what I consider dubious results at best, so he gets no points.

I suppose the question for Mike Gravel is this: while I have all the respect and admiration in the world for those who serve our country, shouldn’t we all get the finest care that’s available? It’s why I’d like to see the VA system absorbed into the health care system at-large – that way all of us benefit from the best healthcare has to offer. I appreciate Senator Gravel’s service, but will deduct 2 points from his score.

Dennis Kucinich is similar to John McCain in that he talks about what he’s done for veterans, but then he takes time to rip on Halliburton and talk about his plan to substitute the ineffective UN “peacemakers” for our troops in Iraq. For going off topic like that, I’m taking off all 15 points.

Most of Barack Obama’s webpage about the veterans issue talks about what he’s purportedly accomplished for veterans rather than what he plans to do for (or to) them if elected President. It’s much like my complaint about John McCain, but he has a much less lengthy record. It is a bipartisan record though so I’ll give him one point.

But of all the candidates who have talked about veterans’ affairs, I think Bill Richardson actually has the most intriguing idea. It’s one that’s worth further discussion to be sure because this “Heroes Health Card” apparently allows veterans to receive care wherever they wish, including the private-sector hospitals. If it were tied to a private insurance program that could be supplemented by the government as a veterans’ benefit I’d really like it, but as it is I’ll give him 8 points.

The GOP standings aren’t changing a lot, but John McCain moves up a bit and joins the rest of his companions in positive territory. Tom Tancredo maintains his lead. I also have to retroactively add 3 points to Mike Huckabee’s total because I completely missed his treatise on education in part five. It brings him closer to the field.

  1. Tom Tancredo, 19.5 points
  2. Duncan Hunter, 17 points
  3. Sam Brownback, 14.5 points
  4. Ron Paul, 13.5 points
  5. Mike Huckabee, 12 points
  6. Rudy Giuliani, 8 points
  7. John McCain, 3 points
  8. Mitt Romney, 3 points
  9. Fred Thompson, 2 points
  10. Tommy Thompson, 1.5 points

The Democrats shuffle a little bit; those who commented here generally benefit. I also am taking this time to add 4 points to Mike Gravel’s total, if you go back to part four you’ll see the reason why.

  1. Bill Richardson, -15 points
  2. Mike Gravel, -19 points
  3. Joe Biden, -19.5 points
  4. John Edwards, -22.5 points
  5. Chris Dodd, -23.5 points
  6. Barack Obama, -28 points
  7. Hillary Clinton, -29 points
  8. Dennis Kucinich, -40.5 points

Interestingly enough, my next subject is the only one not part of my original 50 year plan. With the attention I give the subject elsewhere on monoblogue though, I decided energy independence merited its own spot and 17 precious points that could vault any candidate up to the top of the GOP standings. So that’s Friday’s topic du jour.

Another Republican enters the 1st District fray

Just as soon as I start a mini-controversy about my view on the NRCC already endorsing Wayne Gilchrest 6 1/2 months prior to the GOP primary, I get word (h/t to Dave Wissing at Hedgehog Report) that a third candidate entered the field earlier this month.

Joe Arminio is the third guy in the race, and I’ve already linked to his website.

The Arnold resident certainly has an interesting set of views to be sure…a 3-way partition of Iraq, slashing immigration, and dropping out of NAFTA and CAFTA are his lead issues at the moment. Joe is the author of one book and is finishing up a second to be published later this year, The Decline And Fall of the American Way.

So Arminio is another face in the crowd seeking the seat. It’ll be interesting to see whether the conservative and/or anti-incumbent vote is split off enough by having two opponents to see Gilchrest get through the primary with just a plurality of the vote. Arminio claims to have raised $60,000 before entering the race, so he has a bit of a bankroll going in too.

If this keeps up, the WCRC is going to have a difficult time finding speaking slots for all of the GOP hopefuls for the First Congressional District seat.

Late edit:

While I’m on the subject of the First District race, Wayne Gilchrest is back trying to act like a deficit hawk:

U.S. Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest voted in favor of legislation last week that would have required an across-the-board spending cut in two key House spending bills.

Gilchrest voted for an amendment on Tuesday by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave that would have cut the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill by .5 percent or, $522 million.

“At a time when our national debt continues to spiral out of control, this seemed like a reasonable cut to help us reign in federal spending,” Gilchrest said.

Unfortunately, the vote failed by a vote of 198-229.

On Thursday, Gilchrest voted for the Musgrave amendment to the appropriations bill funding the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science and Related Agencies. That also would have implemented an across-the-board .5 percent cut, resulting in savings of $268 million. That vote also failed by a vote of 186 to 235.

“We had an opportunity to trim these proposals by a modest amount, but even that would have resulted in a savings for the taxpayers of $790 million,” Gilchrest said. “We will keep pushing for opportunities to cut spending in Washington rather than raising taxes.”

Gilchrest voted against the Democrat budget proposal earlier this year because of increases in spending and tax increases that were necessary to pay for the additional spending. He has cosponsored legislation to make the President’s tax cuts permanent and has called on his colleagues to cut spending rather than raise taxes to help get the budget back in order.

Somehow I don’t see that as being different than anyone else in the race would have done. Perhaps another candidate would have sponsored the measure or even went farther to curb spending.

Angering the local base?

Got this in my e-mail this morning, from the Gilchrest campaign:

National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Congressman Tom Cole endorsed the re-election bid of U.S. Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest today, and urged Marylanders to return Gilchrest to Congress in the 2008 election.

“Wayne Gilchrest is an important part of our Congress and our Party, and I am pleased to offer my strong support for his re-election,” said Cole.

“While we may not agree on every issue, the strength of our Party lies in our diversity of opinions, and in the end, Wayne offers an honest and thoughtful perspective in the House.”

The NRCC is the Congressional arm of the Republican National Committee. U.S. Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma is the elected national Chairman.

Gilchrest said there are several issues that the Congress must face, including addressing deficit spending, resisting the urge to raise taxes, pushing through strong border security legislation, passing a comprehensive energy independence policy, and stabilizing Iraq and improving the United States’ standing in world affairs.

Gilchrest recently voted against a proposed $200 million tax increase put forth by Congressional leaders, co-sponsored legislation to strengthen border security and has co-sponsored legislation to make President Bush’s tax cuts permanent.

Gilchrest is currently serving his ninth term in Congress. He lives in Kennedyville with his wife, Barbara, and has three grown children. Prior to his election to Congress he was a public school teacher in Kent County. He is a former United States Marine who was wounded in combat in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Navy Commendation Medal. He has an associate’s degree from Wesley College in Dover and a bachelor’s degree in history from Delaware State College.

Oddly enough, I guess it was Friday afternoon I got a phone call from this very same organization, looking for contributions. I explained to the lady on the other end that my policy is to donate to individual candidates, and this is the very reason I refuse to donate to such organizations.

The NRCC should be advocating the benefits of restoring a Republican Congress, but not supporting individual candidates at this juncture. Unfortunately, like Lincoln Chafee in 2006 and Arlen Specter in 2004, the RNC puts its weight behind incumbents who seemingly have the “R” behind their name for decoration rather than principle at the expense of candidates who I feel would align more closely to Republican principles.

And they’re doing it again here. So, instead of sending my money to the party I’m going to send it to Andy Harris. Hopefully the Maryland GOP is carefully reading what I say because I got into the group in order to stop their ludicrous pro-incumbent policies unless the voters wish to retain them. Obviously, the First Congressional District jury hasn’t spoken yet and I personally condemn the NRCC for taking sides already.

Change of plans

July 28, 2007 · Posted in Personal stuff · 3 Comments 

If you’ve been following my “Who will I support?” series, you’ll realize that I’ve placed these on a Tuesday and Friday schedule. However, in the upcoming weeks I’m going to reshuffle this schedule for two reasons.

First and foremost, once I come up with my favorite candidate, I’m going to want to begin supporting him. (Well, at least until Newt gets into the race or my chosen person drops out. I have a bad track record.) The quicker I get done, the faster I can start pimping the guy, show I’m a “blog for __________”, et cetera.

The second reason is that I’m going to take about a week away from active blogging in early August. Even with a sometimes-hectic work schedule and studying for the LEED AP exam I passed earlier this month, I’ve managed to post pretty much on a daily basis and sometimes twice a day depending on events. Since this is not a event-driven site and I craft my posts in such a way that they sometimes take a couple hours or so to write (I research further as I write in many cases) this takes quite a bit of my free time. Not that I don’t enjoy writing or getting the feedback, but I need a break and it gives me time to spend with my family members who are coming in to visit while I’m on vacation from work.

However, I’m still going to have a fresh post daily. What I’m going to do is use the break to finish the series of “Who will I support?” posts. I originally envisioned twelve, but am adding a thirteenth for the GOP candidates because I think this will be a close race for my support and there are peripheral issues to me (like abortion, support for Israel, the environment, etc.) that don’t rise to the level of my key issues but can have an impact on my decision.

Over the next few days I’ll finish writing these and what will happen is that they will be posted on the days between my Shorebird of the Week post on August 9th and the SotW posting on August 16th. And since I’m not taking a vacation away from home this year (except for one overnight trip) I’ll still be able to moderate comments on at least a daily basis. That’s if I can get my computer away from my daughter, her friend, and my mom!

After that, I’ll be tan, ready, and rested in order to get back to the rapidly-heating campaign. During that time, the Ames straw poll will be held (August 11th) and soon afterward we may see a decline in the number of GOP candidates. (My money is on losing Tommy Thompson first.)

So that is the plan, Stan. Figured I’d give my readers fair warning, although maybe if I hadn’t said anything you may never have known.

Also, I have an early shameless plug. John Robinson asked me to be a guest on an upcoming show of his to debate the Long War (aka the conflict in Iraq) and I chose next Friday (August 3) so I don’t have to miss work. So I’ll be his guest for the hour.

But since I know John reads monoblogue, I’m going to respectfully ask that we do the debating in the first half hour, pick up Jimmy Sweet of the Delmarva(lous) Shorebirds after the news break, and talk about lighter stuff the remainder of the time. After all it is Friday and most people will be ready for less-weighty stuff by then. Just a suggestion.

Lesson learned? Too little and about 9 months too late.

Welcome to those of you reading this through Carnival of Maryland 12. 

One thing about doing my website and being active in the Republican Party is that I get quite the number of press releases and talking points from the party apparatus. For the most part, I just save them as background information unless I see something that I think is interesting to share and comment on.

So yesterday I got a note from the Maryland Republican Party regarding an op-ed placed in The Hill by House Minority Leader John Boehner. This is credited as originating out of Rep. Boehner’s office. Some excerpts:

In January I wrote in The Hill that after our losses last November, House Republicans “must recommit to the principles of limited and accountable government.” Here we are, seven months into the 110th Congress, and I’m pleased to report we’re doing just that.

Republicans are working together to earn back the majority by first earning back the trust of the American people. And while Democrats are divided and breaking their promises on issue after issue, House Republicans have repeatedly spoken with one voice.

(snip)

When you look back at the last several months, it’s clear the Democratic majority hasn’t gotten much done. They’ve named some post offices and some roads, protected one of their own from being reprimanded and impeded an investigation of another for violating House rules, plotted to hide billions in spending from public view, spent a whole week on a single nonbinding resolution, and failed to meet their own “Energy Independence Day” deadline for dramatic energy legislation.

(snip)

Republicans have a long way to go in our effort to earn back the majority, but the last several months have shown we are united and proving our commitment to delivering a federal government that will guarantee the freedom and security Americans expect; a government that is smaller, less costly and more accountable — one that will secure our borders and protect Americans from attack by radical jihadists.

The American people sent Republicans a message last fall. We’ve listened. Seven months into the 110th Congress, Republicans are keeping their promises to the American people; it’s fair to say the majority can’t say the same.

Unfortunately, Boehner fails to mention that the GOP caved on allowing a minimum wage increase (as it was tied into one of the Long War supplemental bills) and that the front on the Long War is not quite united when it comes to the Republican Party – our own Congressman regularly breaks from the GOP line when it comes to that vital issue.

However, some of the problem that the Republican Party is going through can be traced to a lack of leadership at the top. I know President Bush likes to talk about the “new tone” but, like his father, he’s let the Democrats run too much of the policy of our nation. Truly, just about the only things that have happened under his watch that the majority of Democrats didn’t go along with in some way, shape, or form were the 2001/2003 tax cuts and, since roughly the middle of 2003, the military side of the Long War. (Obviously in 2002 it wasn’t yet politically expedient to be anti-military unless you came from a truly moonbat Congressional district.)

Some of us in the GOP came of age under President Reagan, and while he didn’t accomplish all of the goals he originally set for his presidency (particularly in the realm of reducing the size of government) he did manage to jump start a moribund economy domestically through his tax cuts and subdue the Soviet threat. We were spoiled by his sort of leadership – and as you may recall, he endured a Democrat-controlled Congress throughout the eight years of his tenure.

Well, neither President Bush has been a Ronald Reagan, and to me part of that lies in the fact that both strayed to an extent from Republican principles. The elder Bush believed the Congressional Democrat lies about cutting the size of government once new taxes were in place (the infamous “read my lips” line) and Bush 43 has presided over ever-expanding budgets while federalizing the education system through No Child Left Behind and adding another expensive entitlement in Medicare Part D.

In short, what Boehner points out is only that the GOP has managed to very slightly slow the tide of increasing federal government control over our lives. Unfortunately, once we lost the majority after the 2006 elections we forefited most of our chance to roll back the amount of power the federal government can bear. And since the Congressional GOP was by and large trying to act like a lesser version of big-government liberal Democrats during the 109th Congress, the GOP base decided to stay home in 2006.

While many pundits talk about the slow, steady drumbeat of bad news about the Long War as doing in the GOP majority last year and claim that if the troops aren’t home before the 2008 elections it will doom the Republican Party once again, I think the GOP needs to do all it can to hammer home a very simple point.

If we leave Iraq and Afghanistan before the enemy is subdued, we most assuredly lose and the terrorists win. Because the Democrats are in favor of this so-called tactical retreat, they want us to lose. President Reagan refused to negotiate with terrorists, and to me that’s still a sound policy.

America already lost one war because the Democrats and media drumbeat of bad news turned public opinion against the military and the fight. And I’m old enough to recall that once America retreated, we saw the barbarism of the communist North Vietnamese and their fellow traveler Pol Pot in Cambodia (the “killing fields”.)

Moreover, if we pull out of the Long War, it will once again prove to the Islamic fundamentalists that we cannot take casualties. Osama bin Laden himself noted that President Clinton’s 1993 Somalia pullout (“Black Hawk down”) showed him we were a “paper tiger”. It’s also been pointed out that the retreat President Reagan made from Lebanon after the Beirut barracks bombing in 1983 that killed over 200 Marines emboldened anti-American forces in the region.

We’ll never be blessed with another President quite like Ronald Reagan. But it’s time for the Republican Party to take the offensive in our own war, the war of ideas. Principled Republican leadership that believes in strong national defense, securing our borders, and placing trust in the American people to govern themselves and not have government act as a nanny state will be a winning election formula. It’s up to our leaders and candidates to embrace that policy.

Who will I support? – part five

July 27, 2007 · Posted in 50 Year Plan, Campaign 2008 - President, Inside the Beltway, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on Who will I support? – part five 

Just as this series is my attempt to educate voters about the choices they have and the benefits of studying my take on the issues (along with other sources, of course) when it comes to choosing a candidate that’s best for America, some of these same aspirants feel that the federal government needs to have a role in educating the “skulls full of mush” that become the leaders of tomorrow. On that I part ways with these men (and woman) who seek our country’s highest office, an argument I advanced here.

There are 13 points at stake in this particular part (yes, I increase at two point increments with each successive portion of my quest to find my chosen candidate, it’s my way of weighing the results properly.) The gain or loss is going to pretty much depend on how willing the candidate’s going to be to tell me that the Department of Education should be dismantled and federal control of education dollars ceased. I don’t think anyone goes to that extreme so I don’t anticipate someone getting all 13 points; however, it should be interesting to find out if anyone drops all 13 by wanting even more government control over the kidlins with ideas like pre-K schooling.

As is customary, if the candidate has a webpage devoted solely to the topic I link, otherwise I quote, beginning with the GOP side.

Sam Brownback:

When we ignore poorly performing schools, we also ignore every student in those schools, thereby allowing an achievement gap to persist. It is imperative that we close the achievement gap and provide our nation’s students with a productive learning environment that challenges and encourages intellectual stimulation. I believe that providing for choice in education is beneficial to student achievement. For years now, we have seen studies that prove school choice programs, such as the new Opportunity Scholarships recently implemented in the District of Columbia, have a drastic and positive impact on students—especially minority students. By supporting such initiatives, we will be ensuring that more students have access to a high quality education, which means that they will have a better chance of success in not only reaching college, but flourishing in life.

Duncan Hunter has two parts of his site devoted to education:

15. Goals for the Department of Education:

I believe we can educate students more effectively by returning school curriculum prerogatives to the states, local communities and, most importantly, to the family. State agencies charged with conducting education policies do not need expensive and inefficient mandates from a federal agency and I support streamlining the responsibilities of the U.S. Department of Education toward a goal of working in cooperation with local and state governments to meet local and state learning levels.

16. Educational choice (vouchers, tax credits); home schooling; and the freedom of private and home education from federal regulation:

I support taking the actions necessary to strengthen our public educational system and school vouchers are a great opportunity to provide students and their families with additional educational choices. According to national studies, a significant percentage of high school students have difficulty reading at a proficient level, test well below the international average in math and science, and lack basic knowledge in history. Clearly, parents have a reason to be concerned. Many Americans support innovative plans that address our current education shortcomings and I believe school vouchers are an effective way of achieving this goal.

Taking into consideration that approximately 2 million children are taught at home, it is important that we make every effort to ensure these students have the same access and opportunities to federal benefits, such as financial aid, as those who attend public school.

Mitt Romney talks about education here and features a video on his site.

Tom Tancredo devotes both a full webpage and slightly modified summary:

I spent a decade as the Department of Education’s regional representative in Denver so I do not say this lightly. Federal involvement should be limited. Educational control is best left in the hands of parents. A no-strings-attached voucher system would promote school choice, while competition for students would drive educational improvements at the institutional level. I also suggest schools return to a more traditional course of study and that the public focus shift to certain non-school factors, like parental involvement, which studies show are the most important determinants of student performance.

Tommy Thompson:

Governor Thompson, who started the nation’s first school choice program in Milwaukee, believes America must hold our schools to high standards from kindergarten through college while making sure all of our children have access to a world-class education, regardless of what neighborhood they live in or how much money their parents make. Governor Thompson believes Congress can make No Child Left Behind stronger, and do so without wavering on its core principles.

And now the Democrats, beginning with Joe Biden.

Joe Biden:

Joe Biden believes that every American should have access to higher education. In order to compete in a global economy the American workforce has to protect its edge in education. A college degree is more valuable than ever – and more expensive.

As a parent, Joe Biden knows how tuition costs drain family savings. He would expand help for families by increasing the tax deduction for tuition payments. He would expand Pell grants to cover the average tuition at public colleges for low income families.

Joe Biden believes that high school students should be engaged in planning and saving for college earlier in their careers so that students in their senior year are not overwhelmed by the process of applying to college and figuring out how to pay for it. He would expand national service programs to high school students so that they can earn money for college by participating in public service while they are in high school.

Over the past two decades we have made incredible strides in updating our education system. Fifteen years ago it would have been hard to imagine students linked through a high-tech video and high-speed internet network to other students and teachers across the country or teachers interacting with parents via email. New technology holds promise for our education system that we’re only beginning to discover. But nothing is more essential than quality educators and engaged parents. Joe Biden believes that to fulfill the promise to leave no child behind we have to direct adequate resources to update schools, reduce class size and school size, reward quality educators, and improve teacher pay.

Hillary Clinton has a pet program and also notes:

She has worked to make college affordable and accessible, fighting to increase the federal Pell Grant, which currently covers just a third of tuition at an average public college. Hillary has also proposed the Student Borrowers Bill of Rights, a comprehensive set of reforms that would eliminate unscrupulous lending practices.

Chris Dodd has this to say about the subject.

But John Edwards tops Dodd (and the rest of the field) with two pages.

Mike Gravel:

No Child Left Behind has left far too many children behind. We have a dire situation in America; 30% of our kids do not graduate from high school. Nearly a third of our children are condemned to a substandard economic existence. Education in America must be properly funded. However, money will not solve all the problems. For example, Washington D.C. ranks first in dollars spent, yet ranks last in achievement. We need to approach education comprehensively. We must properly fund education while raising the overall standard of living in America and making education a vital part of a healthy, thriving community.

Of course Dennis Kucinich has his share of ideas, too.

Barack Obama isn’t left out of the pandering either.

Nor is Bill Richardson. This is one of his top issues. And he sucks up to the teachers’ union in this speech.

As I said earlier, no one is going to get all 13 points on the positive side. 2008 is just too soon for as much radical change as I seek – but some may get a better beginning than others. This is where the parties tend to be different.

Let me ask you Sam Brownback, how will you support school choice initiatives? More federal funding? Granted, I like the idea of school choice but we all know that federal money comes with federal strings and you don’t mention anything about severing those. I’ll give you 3 points.

Duncan Hunter comes pretty close to the ideal, just not quite there! It’s tempting to give him a whole lot of points but I’ll stay with a nice round 10 points of 13. Vouchers are probably the closest thing to “money follows the child” that we’ll see for the foreseeable future.

Mitt Romney still seems to favor an abundance of federal involvement in education despite his talk about principals managing schools. What about homeschoolers? Only 1 point.

Tom Tancredo is also great in this category. Just wish he’d said “no” federal involvement instead of “limited.” A plus for voting against NCLB, although that’s a bit of hindsight on my part since the idea of standards sounded good to me when it was passed. He gets 11 of 13 points.

On the other hand, please tell Tommy Thompson that we do not need NCLB to be stronger. It’s only because he did enact the first school choice program that I’ll award him 1/2 point and not dock him.

Something tells me Ron Paul would be pretty strong in this category too but I saw nothing on his site pertaining directly to education. That may be an upcoming correction.

Time for pandering to the NEA and AFT; let’s look at the Democrats.

Joe Biden doesn’t disappoint in the pandering department. Throw more federal money at schools and give everyone a college education. That and the national service (is that like compulsory volunteering?) means I’ll dock him on points. He does consider merit pay in his prescription so I’ll only take off 12 of the 13 possible.

Leave it to Hillary Clinton to assign rights that don’t exist (a student borrowers’ Bill of Rights? They have the right to pay it back!) and give federal largesse to the states with enough strings attached to fly 500 kites. Yep, that and the pre-K indoctrination you’re pushing lose you all 13 points.

Chris Dodd saves himself 1/2 point by promoting competition for student loan dollars. Other than that, it’s the same left-wing garbage, good to lose 12.5 points by.

While John Edwards talks a bit about streamlining some parts of the college financial aid process and what could possibly be a good program at a state level (called “College for Everyone”) the trouble is that he’s advocating one-size-fits-all solutions that make even more people rely on the federal government to get through life. He’s going to be cut another 11.5 points on this section.

Mike Gravel correctly points out that money will not solve all of the educational system’s problems but says TWICE that education should be properly funded. Well…which is it? For the colossal ignorance of saying three contrary things in one paragraph you lose all 13 points.

The man is practically a Marxist lunatic on the subject of education, but I have to give Dennis Kucinich props for one statement he makes toward the end of his education webpage:

Education must emphasize creative and critical thinking, not just test taking.

It’s sort of like a blind squirrel moment, but he’s totally correct on that one facet so I’ll only deduct 9 points from Dennis.

The problem with Barack Obama is that he comes up with plausible-sounding ideas that could work but wants to integrate them at a federal level, when the goal should be for the federal government to leave the education system alone. On that basis I’m deducting 11 points.

Let’s see, Bill Richardson wants to “fully fund” NCLB (check), raise teacher salaries (check), do a federal pre-K program (check), and say no to vouchers (check). A perfect little AFT/NEA minion. Off with your 13 points!

So once again the GOP order changes around. And much like liberal financial policy (raise taxes while spending the influx and then some) the Democrats’ deficit gets deeper and deeper.

GOP:

  1. Tom Tancredo, 19.5 points
  2. Duncan Hunter, 17 points
  3. Sam Brownback, 14.5 points
  4. Ron Paul, 13.5 points
  5. Mike Huckabee, 9 points
  6. Rudy Giuliani, 8 points
  7. Mitt Romney, 3 points
  8. Fred Thompson, 2 points
  9. Tommy Thompson, 1.5 points
  10. John McCain, -1 point

Democrats:

  1. Joe Biden, -19.5 points
  2. Mike Gravel, -21 points
  3. John Edwards, -22.5 points
  4. Bill Richardson, -23 points
  5. Chris Dodd, -23.5 points
  6. Dennis Kucinich, -25.5 points
  7. Barack Obama, -29 points
  8. Hillary Clinton, -31 points

Next week we move into the topic of military and veterans’ affairs.

Late edit: How the heck did I miss this? I must have been half-asleep when I looked at Mike Huckabee’s website because I missed his page on “Education and the Arts.

The problem I have is that he wants to do things that were fine as governor (such as expanding arts and music education) to a federal level. And while he talks about setting a “distinction” between federal and state involvement that still leaves the federal government involved. On the other hand, he would encourage homeschooling and charter schools so I suppose that’s worth something. At my next opportunity I’ll retroactively give him 3 points.

Shorebird of the week 7-26-2007

July 26, 2007 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports · Comments Off on Shorebird of the week 7-26-2007 

Kyle Schmidt eyes the plate in a game earlier this season.

This week’s Shorebird of the Week is a pitcher who is somewhat of an anamoly. It doesn’t happen that often where a pitcher both gives up enough contact to allow more hits than innings pitched (85 in 84 2/3 innings) yet strikes out more than a batter per inning (97 strikeouts this season.) Generally that’s a sign of not being very consistent, yet Kyle Schmidt hasn’t allowed a great number of walks either (33 free passes, or about 3.5 per nine innings – maybe just a tad below average.)

What Kyle has done pretty well this season is keep his team in the game, something not shown with a subpar 4-8 record. Schmidt endured a string of six straight starts to open the season’s second half where he took the loss; however, he did throw what would be considered a “quality start” (e.g. less than 3 earned runs in 6 or more innings) in three of those six contests. In one of those starts he had zero support as the Shorebirds were no-hit that night. That losing streak was finally snapped Tuesday night as Kyle picked up a win against the West Virginia Power.

This is the second tour of duty in Delmarva for the Floridian and Georgia Tech product; he also pitched here last season. In 10 appearances last season (9 starts) Kyle was 4-4 with a 4.53 ERA. So this season’s 4.04 earned run average shows improvement but on the other hand his WHIP has worsened a bit (1.39 this season vs. 1.21 in 2006.) That may make some difference in his evaluation by the Orioles organization over the winter as Kyle is wrapping up his fourth season as a pro and turns 24 next month. But he still has 6 or 7 starts to serve as an audition to move up the ladder in 2008, so hopefully he can take advantage and get a little help from the offense in turning that win-loss record around. After all, he can’t bat for himself.

“One Green Hour” of symbolism over substance

July 25, 2007 · Posted in Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Politics · Comments Off on “One Green Hour” of symbolism over substance 

In looking through my political links over the weekend, I came across this press release from the Maryland Democrat Party. They’d like everyone to turn off the a/c and unplug their unneeded appliances and such for an hour on Saturday. Of course, the forecast for the Salisbury area is for a high of 90 degrees. (Never mind you may spend another hour resetting your clocks and such.)

I have no issue with the energy conservation part, but their idea is to interrupt life just to prove a point. My electric bill that I just got was $97.70, based on 672 kWh of usage. Thus, even if I pulled my meter for the hour, my savings is just 20.3 cents, and I save a whopping 0.93 kWh.

But, as the Maryland Democrats note, their idea of the real issue is:

By raising awareness and contributing to the solution we will also help your Maryland Democratic leaders in Congress as they push Energy Independence Legislation this Summer to combat global warming, reduce energy costs, create new innovation-based jobs, and strengthen our national security while protecting the planet. (Emphasis in orginal.)

First of all, IF global warming (uh, wait, the new buzzword is climate change – that covers all situations) is created by mankind, I wonder what the Democrats are going to do about the Chinese building a new coal-fired electrical plant each week while we haven’t built an oil refinery in 30 years.

As many of my loyal readers know, one reason I part with Congressman Gilchrest is his insistence on not taking advantage of oil sources we have within our borders, particularly in ANWR and in the Gulf of Mexico. Not only would a domestic source reduce energy costs to a degree (because of the shorter transport distances), it would also allow us to not depend on the grace of dictators and thugs like the Saudi royal family and Hugo Chavez for a good share of our oil. (However, one dirty little secret the Democrats don’t let out is that our two largest foreign oil sources are Canada and Mexico. In fact, Mexico is drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, as is Cuba.)

And then we have politicians of both parties pointing to ethanol as a fuel source contributing to energy independence. But there are two problems with ethanol – one is the net negative BTU’s that producing a gallon of ethanol creates (in other words, BTU’s used in production and transport outweigh the BTU’s created by the gallon of ethanol) and the other is that, by using corn that also serves as feed for both humans and livestock, the commodity’s price has doubled in the last year and the increase now reflects in higher prices at the grocery store. Priced a gallon of milk lately? It’s costing more to feed the cows – or the chickens the Eastern Shore economy depends on for that matter. Here’s an interesting take on the economic aspects of ethanol.

Personally, I think the best thing Maryland Democrats can do is quit harping on these so-called “clean” energy sources and allow us to use some dirty ones for awhile longer. The incentive should be created by the market, not by fiat.

By the way, that same electrical bill I looked at for the information above also has the mandated disclosure regarding the energy sources Delmarva Power uses to create the electricity we use. For calendar year 2006, we got 54% of our electricity from coal and 33.5% from nuclear sources, while natural gas created just 4.9% and “renewable sources” 3.8% (plus the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates, which accounted for another 3.5%.) Oil made up the last 0.3%. Frankly I’m surprised at the amount of nuclear power used but I have no issue with that otherwise.

I guess noontime Saturday will be a good time to fire up my charcoal grill – after all, some Democrat out there thinks they’re reducing their contribution to global warming so I’ll take advantage.

Who will I support? – part four

Just like “The Jeffersons”, we’re movin’ on up. Ranked number nine on my list of the twelve most important issues impacting my choice for President on the Republican side (and as a contrast on the Democrat side) is trade and job creation.

As I note in my chapter of the 50 year plan dealing with trade and job creation, I’m more on the side of free trading, but I sympathize with the argument protectionists have regarding our perceived decline in manufacturing jobs over the last 30 years or so. In the GOP field, Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul do have a valid point in noting that some of the free trade agreements we’re eager to sign on with do have some caveats that chip away at our sovereignty.

It’s also interesting to note that a major part of the impetus for declaring our independence from the British Crown in the first place had to do with tariffs, such as the Stamp Act (1765) and the Tea Act (1773), which led to the Boston Tea Party. On the other hand, for much of our country’s history tariffs and duties were the prime source of government revenue, generally up until the adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913. In short, this is an issue that has provoked discussion and outcry on many occasions during our nation’s history and Campaign 2008 is no exception.

(Also corollary to this topic on an economic basis is trading in labor, but I’m going to cover that situation as part of my look at border security and immigration later on. In my eyes that’s more relevant to the subject of national security than to trade.)

But here’s what the Presidential hopefuls have to say about this issue. For some of the GOP contenders, I’m indebted to the Club for Growth website, where they’ve done “white papers” on four of the officeseekers. These will be noted as appropriate.

Sam Brownback, as excerpted from the Club for Growth website:

On the whole, Senator Sam Brownback has been one of the most consistent supporters of free trade in the U.S. Senate. He was deemed a “free trader” by the Cato Institute for the 105th Congress through the 108th Congress, a designation given to those who “consistently vote against both trade barriers and international economic subsidies.”

His overall pro-trade record, however, is tarnished slightly by his support for a quota on foreign wheat gluten imports (Press release, 03/19/01) and his support for the preservation of a 54 cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol (Press release, 05/10/06).

No doubt, these two aberrations were motivated by the role wheat gluten and ethanol play in the Kansas economy, but they are nevertheless disappointing blemishes on an otherwise extremely impressive record on trade.

Senator Brownback’s record on regulation is generally pro-growth with just a few exceptions. He has often demonstrated his respect for the self-regulation of the marketplace and his general aversion to burdensome regulatory measures.

At the same time, Senator Brownback has cast some votes that increase burdensome government regulations. The most unfortunate of these was his vote (admittedly along with all his Senate colleagues) in favor of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, an overreaction to corporate malfeasance that imposed heavy financial burdens on companies (Roll Call #192, 07/25/02). He has also voted in favor of an amendment that would allow the federal government to set drug prices (Roll Call #302, 11/03/05) and supported the CANSPAM Act of 2003 (Brownback press release, 10/27/03).

Rudy Giuliani, also excerpted from the Club for Growth site:

Rudy Giuliani the presidential candidate is billing himself as a supporter of free trade. As recently as late March, the Mayor embraced free trade, albeit cautiously, at the Club for Growth Winter Conference. “I generally agree with the principles of free trade and I think and increasingly have become more convinced of those principles because I almost think they are inevitable.”

While his professed support is a step in the right direction, the lack of hard evidence to support his claims and his ardent opposition to NAFTA in 1993 is troubling…

…Giuliani has explained his opposition to NAFTA as motivated by his concern for New York City jobs, (but) it is unclear if his parochial concerns bear out upon closer inspection. As the financial center of the country, if not the world, New York City stood to benefit from the removal of trade barriers in North America. Given his sparse record on trade and his curious opposition to NAFTA, Americans have a right to question whether a President Giuliani would expend the political capital to continue the kind of broad free trade deals that have contributed to American prosperity over the past generation.

(snip)

Rudy Giuliani’s record on regulation demonstrates an intuitive understanding of the virtue of free markets and a fearlessness in the face of government bureaucracy. This is an admirable and necessary quality for a candidate looking to run a government behemoth in desperate need of a spring cleaning. While that same record displays some flashes of disappointment, his overall persistence is an encouraging sign.

I’ll start with Mike Huckabee from his own website, with the Club for Growth summary to follow. In his own words:

I believe in free trade, but it has to be fair trade. We are losing jobs because of an unlevel, unfair trading arena that has to be fixed. Behind the statistics, there are real families and real lives and real pain. I’m running for President because I don’t want people who have worked loyally for a company for twenty or thirty years to walk in one morning and be handed a pink slip and be told, “I’m sorry, but everything you spent your life working for is no longer here.”

I believe that globalization, done right, done fairly, can be a blessing for our society. As the Industrial Revolution raised living standards by allowing ordinary people to buy mass-produced goods that previously only the rich could afford, so globalization gives all of us the equivalent of a big pay raise by letting us buy all kinds of things from clothing to computers to TVs much more inexpensively.

For its part, the Club for Growth points out (excerpted here):

Governor Huckabee’s record on trade is limited, but positive. In 2003, he pushed for free trade with Mexico, calling for a “strong market of the Americas” and supporting NAFTA (AP 10/03/03). In 2006, he signed an agreement between Arkansas and a South Korea trade group, calling for increased commerce between the southern state and South Korea (AP 06/23/06)…

Governor Huckabee has consistently supported and initiated measures that increase government’s interference in markets, thereby impeding economic growth. He told the Washington Times he supports “empowering people to make their own decisions,” but many of his key proposals have done just the opposite (Washington Times 03/01/05).

Duncan Hunter:

America’s one-way-street trade relationship with China and other nations has reduced manufacturing jobs severely in the U.S. I would change the one-way-street into a two-way-street by putting the same charges on foreign goods that they put on ours.

Like Huckabee, John McCain has his view and the Club for Growth perspective:

A global rising tide of economic isolationism is threatening our entrepreneurs. Opening new markets is a key to U.S. economic success. Today, despite all the defeatist rhetoric, America is the world’s biggest exporter, importer, producer, saver, investor, manufacturer and innovator. Americans do not shy from the challenge of competition: they welcome it. Because of that, we attract foreign investment from all over the world. Our government should welcome competition as our people do, and not pretend that we can wall off our economy.

Neither should we fail to recognize that competition can lead to painful dislocations for some individuals. We must remain committed to education, retraining, and help for displaced workers all the while reminding ourselves that our ability to change is a great strength of our nation. Indeed, Washington must keep pace with this change and develop new approaches to ensure that our ideas are protected, our intellectual property rights are respected, and our economic outreach serves the American workers today and in the future.

But, cautions the Club for Growth:

John McCain has been a strong proponent of free trade in the U.S. Senate. He has voted for many bills that broke down trade barriers and increased competition and choice for consumers…The Cato Institute aptly sums up his record on trade by designating him a “free trader” for the 105th Congress through the 108th Congress, a top accolade given out to those who “consistently vote against both trade barriers and international economic subsidies.”

At first glance, John McCain’s record on regulation appears generally positive (but)…

A deeper look at Senator McCain’s record…reveals a number of votes and bills that reflect much less favorably on his commitment to free market principles and his claim to being an economic conservative…His anti-growth votes are exacerbated by his characteristic vociferousness in cases like the Patients’ Bill of Rights and the Climate Stewardship Act. His occasional eagerness to support and encourage increased government regulation suggests a troublesome mistrust of the free market.

Ron Paul notes on his website that:

NAFTA’s superhighway is just one part of a plan to erase the borders between the U.S. and Mexico, called the North American Union. This spawn of powerful special interests, would create a single nation out of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, with a new unelected bureaucracy and money system….We must withdraw from any…trade deals that infringe upon the freedom and independence of the United States of America.

Mitt Romney chimes in with this statement:

“We have to keep our markets open or we go the way of Russia and the Soviet Union, which is a collapse. And I recognize there are some people who will argue for protectionism because the short-term benefits sound pretty good, but long term you kill your economy, you kill the future. What you have to do in order to compete on a global basis long term is invest in education, invest in technology, reform our immigration laws to bring in more of the brains from around the world, eliminate the waste in our government. We have to use a lot less oil. These are the kinds of features you have to invest in, you have to change in order to make ourselves competitive long term.”

Romney also touches somewhat on this topic in a speech he gave at the Detroit Economic Club back in February.

Tom Tancredo discusses trade here, and in this statement:

The President’s fast track authority should not be renewed. The constitution gives Congress not the Executive the power to negotiate treaties. Those who would delegate that authority to the President argue that the complexities of negotiation in a global economy require it. But that argument has lost its force because the Presidents have abused the power. Instead of sticking to trade agreements, they make commitments on matters of domestic policy, like immigration and carbon dioxide emissions, in the guise of international accords.

Now I’ll turn to the Democrats, as I found nothing from either Thompson directly relating to the subject at hand.

Joe Biden sort of peripherally skirts the subject:

To protect jobs, compete in a global economy and strengthen families Joe Biden believes the next President must first address two things: energy security and health care. This is not our father’s economy – America now competes in a global economy.

The price of energy is set by the global marketplace. Developing our own sources of energy aren’t enough to protect us from high prices that cost businesses and families — we must invest in using energy more efficiently and become the leader in energy innovation.

By 2008, the average Fortune 500 company will spend as much on health care as it will make in profit. In other countries their competitors will not have to bear these costs.

Joe Biden believes America will continue to dominate the global economy by putting energy security and health care reform at the top of the agenda.

Hillary Clinton places her views on what her campaign has billed as the “innovation” page and adds:

In New York, Hillary championed tax incentives like wage credits for businesses and job creation in upstate New York and elsewhere. She also helped launch economic development initiatives to provide critical resources to small and micro businesses and helped launch a private sector venture called New Jobs for New York that makes venture capital available to New York’s innovators.

In fact, aside from Biden and Mike Gravel, each of the Democrat contenders devotes a whole web page to their ideas. So for further study, one need only check out the websites. The interesting thing to me is how they bill each page.

For Chris Dodd, it’s headlined under the “Labor” category.

Meanwhile John Edwards lumps the topic with “working families.”

Dennis Kucinich is very straightforward, for him it’s about jobs.

Barack Obama bills the subject as “fighting poverty.”

And finally Bill Richardson refers to his ideas as “jump-starting the economy.” I guess Richardson recalls the “worst economy of the last 50 years” bit that his former boss Bill Clinton used to con 43% of the public into voting for him in 1992.

Obviously, having gone through the sources, the question becomes how I rate each participant. These are rated on an 11 point scale as the priority increases.

On the broad scale the Club for Growth gives Sam Brownback pretty good marks, and it seems like he’s at least not interested in adding more regulations. I’d like to see him (and the rest of Congress for that matter) try and roll back more red tape, but the tide needs to be stemmed as a beginning. I’ve decided he merits 7 points of 11.

As a chief executive in the nation’s largest city, Rudy Giuliani comes relatively close to the same powers he’d have as President. Given his track record from the Club for Growth’s perspective, particularly on NAFTA, he’s probably not the closest candidate to my ideal on these subjects although Giuliani did accomplish a bit of streamlining as mayor. I’ll give him 4.5 points.

I have a question regarding Mike Huckabee, particularly when it comes to the agreement signed with the South Korean trade group – does that seem to anyone else uncomfortably close to the Constitutional prohibition regarding a State “enter(ing) into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation” (Article 1, Section 10)? His record seems to be one of slowly increasing the role of government in the market, rather than the other way around – for that and the blatant emotional appeal he only gets 2.5 points.

Well, Duncan Hunter lost his lead. We know China’s not going to play ball fairly, so slapping tariffs on their goods will just compel them to find some other way around the restrictions. When you add in the fact there’s also no statement on job creation, my decision is to deduct 1 point from his total.

I’m not impressed with John McCain’s own description of his approach to the subject at hand. While he correctly acknowleges we cannot “wall off” our economy, the part about helping out displaced workers is troubling if he’s figuring that as a federal-level issue. With that and being as moderate on regulation, I can only give him two points solely for being a good free-trader.

Ron Paul is very principled on the idea of not having what George Washington termed as “entangling alliances.” On the other hand, we do need some rules of the game so I think as President he should work to limit the scope of the agreements as feasibly as possible. I don’t think he would go to the extreme Hunter does, in fact he states that he welcomes free trade. In this case, I think he deserves 6 points.

I’m not certain I like Mitt Romney’s idea about “investing” in education and technology because I can see that as more government intervention. While it’s not totally germane to the subject, the example of his health insurance program in Massachusetts also sends a message that he’s not totally enamoured with private-sector solutions. It’s only because he’s not a protectionist that I award two points.

Tancredo is cut from the same cloth as Ron Paul insofar as the trade agreement idea is concerned. I’m not quite as certain regarding cutting government regulation and red tape though so I’ll grant him 5.5 points on this subject.

Switching sides, Joe Biden talks nicely, but what he says is code for additional regulations on energy that will discourage market forces from controlling its price and the easing of corporate health care costs by placing the government in charge of it rather than private industry. I have two future posts that will deal with those specific subjects, but as far as attitude goes and because Joe’s so vague on the subject he loses three points.

Practically all of Hillary Clinton’s ideas involve – you guessed it – more federal spending and involvement. I will give her a little credit for having the idea of rewarding innovation through competition, but I think the private sector or states should play the role of funding these awards, not the federal government. Even with that thought she loses 9.5 points.

Chris Dodd finally did it – the perfectly wrong plan for trade and job creation. You have to read it to believe it. He loses all 11 points, and I’ve half a mind to take off more. But I won’t.

As part of his crap about “Two Americas”, John Edwards manages to show that he can be a Big Labor toadie, too. Tell me, John, is your legal firm’s staff unionized? It’s amazing how Democrats think Big Labor creates good jobs when the reality is that it’s the capital and effort of those who start these companies that truly create the work that the union folks do. The UAW didn’t start Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford did through hard work and effort. Yep, he loses 11 points too.

Dennis Kucinich is not just protectionist, he wants to recreate the FDR-era Works Progress Administration. It would be make-work, big-dollar unionized jobs for everyone. Screw the market. While I’ll admit that our nation’s infrastructure isn’t in the best shape, there’s a reason for the term “close enough for government work.” He also needs to update his page, unemployment isn’t at 6.2% now. Try about 4.5%, or just about the definition of “full employment.” I’m taking off 10.5 points.

There’s a couple ideas that Barack Obama has that might not be bad on a state level, and he at least pays lip service to the private sector in his spiel. One area he speaks about is helping out low-skilled workers through a partnership with unions. Where I don’t care for Big Labor in a political sense, they do tend (particularly in the construction industry) to train workers who exhibit craftsmanship that’s usually worth the premium paid. But his program would overstep the boundary between government and the market. He loses 9 points.

Finally, Bill Richardson starts out pretty well with some of the programs New Mexico has implemented that seem to work in turning the state’s economy around (or so he claims.) As far as that goes, these programs are fine because it’s New Mexico’s right to do so. But Bill may be making the common liberal mistake of thinking that what works in New Mexico will work in New York, too. And he falters in spots into the typical left-wing job-killing ideas like increasing the minimum wage and repealing some of the Bush tax cuts. He’s penalized 8 points.

While no one on the Republican side was a perfect 11 point gainer, we do have a new GOP leader:

  1. Ron Paul, 13.5 points
  2. Sam Brownback, 11.5 points
  3. Mike Huckabee, 9 points
  4. Tom Tancredo, 8.5 points
  5. Rudy Giuliani, 8 points
  6. Duncan Hunter, 7 points
  7. Mitt Romney, 2 points
  8. Fred Thompson, 2 points
  9. Tommy Thompson, 1 point
  10. John McCain, -1 point

It’s pretty sad that a “perfect” score would now be 32 points and no one comes close. Of course, Joe Biden and Mike Gravel made it to the Democrat lead by pretty much saying nothing on this subject:

  1. Joe Biden, -7.5 points
  2. Mike Gravel, -8 points
  3. Bill Richardson, -10 points
  4. Chris Dodd, -11 points
  5. John Edwards, -11 points
  6. Dennis Kucinich, -16.5 points
  7. Hillary Clinton, -18 points
  8. Barack Obama, -18 points

Next time around, we tackle the subject of education.

Late edit: In doing my research for a future installment, I found this on Mike Gravel’s website:

The senator’s position is that America must address the root cause of illegal immigration. Any discussion of Mexican immigration must include NAFTA and the concept of “free trade.” The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a disaster for the working class of both the US and Mexico. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that over 1,000,000 US jobs were lost as a result of NAFTA, a third of them manufacturing jobs. In Mexico, 1.3 million farm workers lost their jobs in the same period. This has led to a wave of immigrant workers looking for work in the US job market.

Major structural changes must be made to NAFTA in order to restore lost jobs. Reforming unfair trade policies will stimulate job growth on both sides of the border and allow Mexican workers to remain in their motherland. We must make fair trade a priority if we are to rebuild the American middle class.

It was buried under “immigration” which is scheduled for August 17. But I think Gravel has a decent point here so I’ll add 4 points to his total with the next chapter I complete.

Gilchrest gets one right

I knew I’d hear from the Harris campaign – their reaction is at the end. Also Marc has added his usual good commentary as well in the “comments” section.

It’s sort of sad that I have to point something like this out when he and I are in the same party, but unfortunately my Congressman, Wayne Gilchrest, has strayed from the GOP orthodoxy so often this term that he’s rapidly earning the moniker “Wrong-Way Wayne.”

But I’m one to give credit where it’s due and give his side of the story where appropriate. The other day I got a press release from the Gilchrest office discussing the Bush tax cuts. Entitled in bold capital letters, “Gilchrest supports making Bush tax cuts permanent”, the press release stated:

As Congress begins to debate the future of President Bush’s tax cuts, Congressman Gilchrest has cosponsored legislation that will make them permanent.

“Those tax cuts have helped stimulate our economy and kept it going strong in the face of some of difficult times,” Gilchrest said. “To repeal them now would be a disaster, and would hurt families across the country.”

Gilchrest this week cosponsored HR 2734, the Tax Increase Prevention Act, which makes the tax cuts the President introduced and Congress passed into law in 2001 and 2003 permanent. Currently they will expire in 2011 if Congress does not act.

“If we don’t make these tax cuts permanent, income tax rates will rise substantially in each tax bracket, and low income-taxpayers will see the 10-percent tax bracket disappear,” Gilchrest said. “Married taxpayers will see the marriage penalty return, and taxpayers with children will lose 50 percent of their child tax credits.”

He has also cosponsored HR 2380, the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act. That bill would eliminate the estate tax, or so-called “death tax”, which can be crippling to families struggling to keep second and third generation farms and businesses alive.

“I think it’s pretty clear that this tax policy has helped our economy thrive, with steady job creation and strong economic growth. To change course now would be short-sighted and damaging to our economy and to jobs.”

Earlier this year, Gilchrest voted against the Democrat-sponsored budget because it sought to increase taxes by more than $200 billion. Instead, he voted for a Republican alternative that would have made the President’s tax cuts permanent. That alternative budget vote, however, failed.

While very little is “permanent” inside the Beltway (even the Constitution is routinely ignored), the idea behind making the 2001/2003 Bush tax cuts permanent is sound, as it would prevent the chaos bound to occur 3-4 years hence when the present tax rates and categories expire. The only reason I would want to see the Bush tax cuts expire is if the Sixteenth Amendment were somehow repealed and the FairTax put in place. Call me a doubting Thomas, but I don’t see that coming about before the end of 2010.

One thing I was trying to find out in doing a quick bit of research was why these tax cuts weren’t made permanent in the first place. While I didn’t locate a specific reason why, something tells me that the moderates on the GOP side, especially in the Senate, were appeased with this sunsetting measure because there are still a few so-called deficit hawks out there who’ve failed to learn the Reagan-era lesson that tax cuts INCREASE revenue. And it practically goes without saying (but I will anyway) that Democrats are always against people having more money in their pocket unless there’s a federal government program or targeted tax cut putting it there. While those on the left have the mantra about the “Bush tax cuts for the wealthy” they conveniently omit the fact that the top quarter of all taxpayers pay 85% of the freight – thus that group would naturally get some additional benefits in an across-the-board cut.

In getting this press release I wondered, well, what would Wayne’s First District opponents say? For example, I’m sure that since the Andy Harris campaign reads monoblogue they’ll add their two cents, but all I found on the tax issue from the Harris website was the terse statement:

Andy has signed ATR’s No New Tax Pledge. He opposes all new taxes and all increases in taxes.

Andy will fight to lower taxes every change (sic) he gets as a Congressman.

Meanwhile, Democrat opponent Frank Kratovil is silent on the tax issue, but calls for additional “resources” for environmental measures and universal health care – so I’d not paint him as a tax decreaser by any means. The other Democrat in the race, Christopher Robinson, bills himself a “fiscal conservative” and talks about “bring federal spending under strict control” but fails to mention anything about not picking our pockets in the meantime.

In this instance, where Wayne is hoping to use this press release to differentiate himself from the GOP challenger, there’s really no difference. The decision will be made on the GOP side because of a host of other issues – taxation won’t be a deciding factor in the primary race. A correct stance on the tax issue doth not a conservative make.

The Harris campaign’s reaction:

Michael,

As I read your blog today I was very surprised to see you praising Gilchrest for NOW supporting the president’s tax cuts. A month ago, in an Examiner interview Gilchrest states when asked about whether he supports the president’s tax cuts “I’ve actually supported most of the president’s tax programs. Not all of them. I’m probably up there about 90 percent in support of them.” Why is the congressman changed his mind about supporting Bush’s tax cuts? I think it is because he is seeing support for Andy’s message of Consistent Conservative Leadership resonating with voters.

Andy Harris supports all of the president’s tax cuts and all future presidents tax cuts as well. He has a long record of not only fighting against new taxes and tax increases, but also against wasteful government spending. In the last 3 weeks, Democrats have increased the appropriation requests submitted by the president. When Republicans put in amendments to limit the growth of government and to elminate the extra pork Pelosi has put in the appropriations bills, Congressman Gilchrest voted against the the amendments. He is opposing Republicans attempts to reign in wasteful government spending and siding with the Democrats. Andy in contrast, has voted against 6 of the last 9 state budgets including the last budget under Governor Ehrlich because he believes the growth rate was too big (8% in one year). The contrast between Andy and Gilchrest on fiscal issues could not be more clear.

Andy’s statement on his website is short and simple because that is how it should be in regards to taxes. Andy opposes all new taxes and all tax increases. He signed the ATR “No New Tax” Pledge because he believes government is too big and people are taxed too much. (Note: Gilchrest has also signed the No-New Tax Pledge and has broken it just in the last month with a vote on the appropriations bill for the Department of Energy) When politicians make their positions on taxes complicated, it usually results in you and me paying more in taxes. If you would like more information on Andy’s positions on a wide range of specific taxes, we will be more than happy to get it to you.

Thanks,

Chris Meekins
Political Director
Andy Harris for Congress

A shout out to friends old and new

(Crossposted here and on the monoblogue Myspace site.) 

I’m pretty much taking a night off from politics for some other stuff. Trust me, I have plenty of political items to delve into this week. And to true political junkies, the payoff comes at the end of the post, so bear with me.

I haven’t been out following the local music scene as much as I’d like to have been, for a host of reasons. But I did want to put in a word for my friends from Semiblind, who will be the subject of a local music show Tuesday night, 7:00, on X106.9, prior to their show at Buxy’s Salty Dog Saloon in OC (with Pirate Radio.) Generally the subject band comes in for an hour and has some of their songs played. Not sure if they’ll be playing live in the studio or not. (The various members of Semiblind read the site sometimes, maybe Michelle, Jim, Asher, or Lynn can clue me in.)

If you go to their Myspace site I link to above, they have a nice blend of two originals and two covers on their little jukebox.

Perhaps someone in the know can also help me to find out if there’s any other outdoor venues in the Salisbury area. I know Brew River has a deck that bands play on – is that the only one in Salisbury? I like outdoor shows in the summer, although I’m thinking about making an exception next Monday for the hair metal group Skid Row – they’re coming to Seacrets in OC with opening act Baltimore-area rockers Skitzo Calypso.

And now for something completely different…

The other night I got to meet a guy whose cap I bought right off his head. Last Thursday the Friends of Lee Levis did a hat auction as the Shorebirds wore special red caps for the occasion. Turned out I was the high bidder for Kimera Bartee’s cap.

If you see me at the Shorebirds games, you know I wear my Detroit Tigers road cap to most of them. For parts of four seasons in the late 1990’s, Kimera Bartee patrolled center field in old Tiger Stadium. (He also played briefly with the Reds and Rockies in 2000-01.) Back in 1993 Bartee was an Orioles draftee, though, and he’s been involved in trades for a couple notable players – dealt to Minnesota by Baltimore for onetime O’s pitcher Scott Erickson and between the Rockies and Angels for current Angels infielder Chone Figgins. Now Bartee has come full circle and returned to his original baseball home.

So of course I was going to bid for his cap, and I’ll be sporting it for selected games the rest of the season. “KB” is a pretty nice guy and I sometimes see him with his kids prior to the games. He’s a good addition to the Delmarva area, and while you hope he can move up the ladder in his coaching career, you hate to lose a guy like him in the community.

Okay, one other Crisfield note as I slide back to politics for a little bit.

I got to meet a fellow blogger by the name of Mike Netherland along with his dad Bob. He’s a good guy, and he did a several-part video interview with First Congressional District hopeful Andy Harris on nuclear power, energy independence, health insurance, and on being a Republican. They’re all relatively short (less than a minute each) and worth seeing.

Next Page »

  • I haven't. Have you?
  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Link to Maryland Democratic Party

    In the interest of being fair and balanced, I provide this service to readers. But before you click on the picture below, just remember their message:

  • Part of the Politics in Stereo network.