The Perry problem

My latest for Pajamas Media.

Last week was a tough week for Texas Governor Rick Perry, who had surged to the front of the GOP presidential line when he announced his bid on August 13. His Orlando debate performance was panned by critics, making it the third straight debate where Perry underwhelmed on a national stage. In that Orlando debate’s aftermath, Perry’s “all-in” strategy at the Presidency 5 straw poll failed. Observers were stunned when Herman Cain, heretofore considered a second-tier candidate, instead walked off with the Florida prize, beating Perry by a better than 2 to 1 margin.

But there was another damning piece on Perry last week which has mostly escaped notice. While it’s beyond question that Rick Perry’s immigration stance wouldn’t win him any friends at the Center for Immigration Studies, a group which favors stricter limits on who and how many are allowed into the country, the numbers they ran state a case that most of the thousands of jobs created in Texas in spite of  the national recession are going to the immigrant population (legal and illegal) rather than native-born Americans.

(continued at Pajamas Media…)

The Cain comeback

I’d like to think my endorsement had a little bit to do with this, but…I doubt it.

Still, it’s interesting that Herman Cain was considered the “winner” of the Florida debate the other night then came back today and crushed the rest of the field at the “Presidency 5” straw poll in Orlando.

It’s intriguing because the conventional wisdom (at least expressed by one of my cohorts at Pajamas Media) figured Mitt Romney would regain momentum after Rick Perry’s dreadful debate performance. Well, guess again – he came in third with 14 percent. Cain nearly had more votes than his next three pursuers (Perry, Romney, and Santorum) combined. One caveat: Cain was one of only three contenders to speak before the gathering along with Newt Gingrich (who finished seventh with 9 percent) and Rick Santorum (who was fourth with 11 percent.)

But this result brings up another interesting question – where are all the Ron Paul people? If there’s one thing Paul usually excels at, it’s winning a straw poll – here’s a recent example. I’m sure their defense will be that this was an “establishment” event, but so was the California straw poll I cited.

Herman seemed astonished by the win, thanking the Florida voters and noting, “(t)his is a sign of our growing momentum and my candidacy that cannot be ignored. I will continue to share my message of ‘common sense solutions’ across this country and look forward to spending more time in Florida, a critical state for both the nomination and the general election.”

These developments could be the impetus to get Cain moving in the polls again. Back in late June he was second among all the announced candidates at the time with support in the low double-digits and trailing Mitt Romney by about 15 points. However, with the entry of several new candidates into the race and a serious misstep, Cain lost ground and now sits sixth in the RealClearPolitics polling average with 5.6 percent.

But a bump back to 10 percent would place him back into third and within striking distance of the top two as the fall season approaches. Newt Gingrich has seen his support plateau at around 8 or 9 percent as has Ron Paul, while onetime contender Michele Bachmann has plummeted in the polls (including the Florida balloting, where she barely received 1 percent) since making a splash with her entry into the race.

In any event, the race may soon get a little tighter and that bodes well for alternative candidates to reconsider entering at this late date. There’s always the Sarah Palin prospect, but rumblings are out there that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is abandoning his threat to commit suicide to convince people he will not run and might indeed jump in.

More choices are good, although it would be more likely I’d consider Palin than Christie. But right now is Herman Cain’s moment, and his opportunity to jump-start his Presidential bid. Let’s hope he takes advantage.

Santorum’s sacrifice

Two months ago, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum threw his hat into an already crowded ring for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. His announcement on D-Day invoked his “courage to fight for freedom.”

While Santorum isn’t the only conservative in the field, he does have a nice pedigree for soliciting Republican support. During his tenure in Congress, Santorum was known as a go-to guy for social conservatives. In that time Rick authored or sponsored bills to protect newborn infants, promote adult stem-cell research (as opposed to embryonic stem-cell research), and maintain workplace religious freedom.

Yet in order to stand out in a group of perhaps a half-dozen candidates of varying conservative credentials, Rick had to move beyond his social conservative base and come up with other issue arguments which appealed to both Tea Party regulars and Republican voters at large who may have recalled his ignominious 18-point defeat by current Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Jr. in 2006.

(continued at Pajamas Media…)

A miracle in Maryland?

My latest for Pajamas Media…

Conservatives in Maryland rarely have something to cheer about. But things may slowly be changing, as efforts to recognize same-sex marriage and instill a ban on septic systems in large developments both died this spring once legislators realized they didn’t have the votes and the effort wouldn’t be worth the outcry from newly energized conservative stalwarts. The septic system ban was a particularly bitter pill for Governor Martin O’Malley to swallow as he made it the key new legislative initiative of his 2011 State of the State address.

Yet one controversial bill made it through by slim margins in both houses, with bipartisan opposition. Sponsored by a group of Maryland’s most liberal legislators, Senate Bill 167 allows illegal immigrants who graduated from the state’s schools to enjoy in-state tuition rates at the state’s community colleges. It is estimated the bill could cost state taxpayers upward of $3 million per year by 2016, although those who drew up the bill’s fiscal note conceded they couldn’t accurately gauge the impact.

(continued at Pajamas Media…)

As reelection looms for Obama, is Big Oil in or out?

My latest on Pajamas Media:

Energy industry advocates were pleasantly surprised when President Obama finally bowed to the public clamor to do something — anything — about high gas prices. In an announcement last week, the president promised to speed up lease approval in Alaska and open up a number of new leasing areas in the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps he’s seen the light?

Not so fast. Consider this breathless excerpt from an “Obama for America” e-mail sent out by campaign manager Jim Messina:

The CEOs from the five major oil companies — which together booked $36 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2011 alone — went to the Senate on Thursday to try to justify the $4 billion in tax giveaways they’re receiving this year.

(continued at Pajamas Media…)

ICYMI: a ‘radio days’ update

I’m sure not all that many of you caught my recent interview with Thom Hartmann regarding my last PJM piece. I knew they wanted me on Skype for a reason, but I was catching up on my Twitter mentions and it linked to this video. Enjoy me in living color, recorded as I was crammed up against my bookcase.

I have to say either my webcam or Skype makes me look 10 pounds heavier, though. (Yes, that’s a joke – I could stand to lose a few pounds.) But the video has 19 likes and no dislikes, plus the comments are almost uniformly either in my favor or constructive criticism of my point (as opposed to personal attacks.) It is sort of disconcerting seeing me larger than life on a video monitor, but I could get used to it.

More on the MDGOP convention later today – it’s already drawn some interesting comments.

Radio days volume 16

Once again, it’s been awhile since I was featured on a radio program – my last edition of “Radio Days” was in 2009. (I was a guest a few times on Melody’s show in 2010 as well.)

But, out of the blue on Wednesday I was invited to go national for the first time as a guest on the Thom Hartmann program. Ironically enough, one would gather he’s the liberal answer to Rush because he occupies the same time slot during the day. But they wanted to discuss my Pajamas Media piece on regulation, and I received a message from Danielle Howe (who works for Black Rock – they handle PJM promotional appearances) asking me if I’d do the show and warning me that I could be ambushed since Thom is a ‘progressive.’ Didn’t faze me any.

So now you have the background – how did it really go?

Well, first of all, the people I worked with at Hartmann’s show were as nice as they could be, and, to be honest, so was Thom. We had a relatively civil conversation and I worked to get my points across. It wasn’t exactly how I’d have scripted it but I thought I was decently effective fighting behind enemy lines, as it were.

Something much different about this experience was working the Skype video in. I have used Skype audio before for a writing client of mine, but in this case I had to drag out an old webcam of mine and hook it up to my laptop. Well, I got that figured out but then they didn’t like the fact I had a window in the background so I had to turn the camera (and place my chair) at a more awkward angle – I was squished up against my bookshelf. At least my closet door provided a darker background.

Then, I had assumed that I would need a remote microphone but instead the call was on my cel. So Skype provided the video feed but my phone the audio. Hopefully that was in sync for the viewing audience.

So once the logistics worked out, they called me twice – once to test the Skype and the other to go on the air. That was about 1:00, so I was treated to Thom’s top-of-the-hour reading and remarks on the news of the day. Yes, it was a Republican-bashing festival, and if I have one thing to say about how Thom reacts – well, he’s exceptionally hyperbolic. Everything is a disaster to him. It’s why I started right out, right after he introduced the piece with his lengthy contention about the bad old days when there was no regulation whatsoever, saying he’s occupying an “extreme” position that’s not reflective of a normal view of costs vs. benefits.

One case in point was when we were speaking about the offshore wind turbines. (I thought it funny how he misunderstood me to say “windows” – is my diction that bad?) Thom was all up in arms about oil, coal, nuclear, and natural gas and the health maladies they allegedly caused. I understand the principle behind fracking, and obviously there is a slight amount of risk behind the technology. But that risk can be easily mitigated, while the benefits of clean-burning natural gas to create electricity (at a far cheaper cost than wind power) are much greater. Had I thought quickly enough I could have ticked off a number of drawbacks to wind turbines – they’re noisy, bad for aviary life, and not nearly as reliable as other forms of power generation because the wind has to blow AND it has to blow within a certain speed range.

And what was that about the 5% more moisture in the atmosphere causing storms and brought on by global warming? (Maybe that was on the news.) Since we all know there have been other warm periods in Earth’s history (well before the invention of the SUV) can we establish if those periods were overly moist as well? Or is Thom and his listeners just looking for any port in a storm (pun intended)?

But the final point was the one where I wished we had a few more minutes, because I was making the argument that Thom and I were essentially on the same side but had a completely different idea about the solution. Thom would get rid of the lobbyists (I think he said “arrest” or “imprison” them?) through a particular means but I would take care of the problem in another fashion by draining the money swamp. If there’s less money and power to be given out, then there’s less need for lobbyists and they can return to making a more honest living. My contention wasn’t completely addressed, and perhaps that’s my fault for not steering in that direction more quickly. (Hey, ten to twelve minutes on the radio flies by in a heartbeat.)

Still, I would imagine that opening that door will give me a better opportunity at round 2 at some future date. As I said in my wrapup thanking the staff, I’ll just have to keep writing good stuff and surely they’ll want me back.

Like I said to them, I had fun. I guess that’s what counts.


Well, my Pajamas Media article was noticed by some interesting people.

So today (since I assume most will read this Thursday morning) at 2 p.m. (1 p.m. – I was bumped up) I’m scheduled as a guest on the Thom Hartmann radio program. I’ve been on radio before as a guest – which will help me in this instance – but this is the first time I’ve been invited to a program of such a scale and it’s to discuss this Pajamas Media post. This should be interesting since Hartmann is considered the cream of the crop among liberal radio hosts, and you can guess where I stand politically.

Of course, since this region tends to favor conservative talk, there’s no local station which carries Thom’s program but you can listen here.

So, since this will likely by the top post seen by any who stumble onto my website thanks to this appearance (as happened previously with my Rushalanche in 2007) I invite you to read, ponder, and comment on what I have to say. The local liberals know that I am fair with my comments.

Besides, if you don’t like my politics, wait a few hours or until tomorrow – no, my political stripes aren’t going to change, but I do a regular feature on our local minor league baseball team (the Delmarva Shorebirds) Thursday evenings and Friday night I put up local music videos. If I did wall-to-wall politics I would have been fried four years ago – still, I do my share of discussion on local, state, and national issues.

But I look forward to getting this opportunity to speak out on overregulation – hopefully I can vocalize as well as I place pixels on a computer screen or words on a printed page.

The hidden tax

My latest for PJM:

We all know what last Monday was. As many of us paid Uncle Sam’s toll – mine was almost a wash, which worked out about how I wanted it – one had either a sour mood in knowing that Fedzilla took more of our hard-earned salary or, conversely, that giddy feeling of having absconded with free money because a refund was due. (In many cases, though, that was just the money loaned to Beltway bureaucrats – interest free! Try finding a bank who will give you those terms!)

Yet we forget there’s a hidden tax which gnaws at our pocketbooks and the economy at large every day. It was pointed out by the Competitive Enterprise Institute in a report timed for release last Monday called ‘Ten Thousand Commandments.’

(Continued at Pajamas Media…)

On his 100th birthday, Reagan stands alone

My latest for Pajamas Media, but I can’t take credit for the title – I’ll assume that’s my editor’s work.

Sometimes the world presents an odd confluence of events. On Sunday millions watched as the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers duked it out for the opportunity to crown themselves champions of the football world. Yet the 100th anniversary of the birth of a champion of the political world didn’t pass unnoticed, as a grand tribute to Ronald Reagan was presented just before the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLV.

There’s no question that President Reagan left a lasting legacy, and fortune continually smiled on him even in death. (What other president has had the good fortune of having his 100th birthday coincide with a sporting event that attracts the rapt attention of millions?) However, the Reagan centennial celebration has extended far beyond a simple three-minute tribute film as Republicans everywhere commemorate the milestone.

(continued at Pajamas Media…)

Is the three-day holiday a right?

My latest for Pajamas Media.

With government statistics finding that federal workers are ridiculously more well-compensated than their average counterparts in the private sector, there’s another reason to join the parade of those bashing our nation’s pencil-pushers.

As we prepare to celebrate the new year, those who work for us in the federal government are likely to  enjoy being in the midst of a stretch where they enjoy six paid holidays in the span of a little over three calendar months.

(continued at Pajamas Media…)

Deficit Commission: tinkering around the edges

My latest for Pajamas Media…

Whether it was intentionally jumping the gun to give us a flavor of what we can expect or inadvertently leaked, a draft copy of the report from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform found its way to the New York Times and other media outlets this week. This came as a bit of a surprise since the report itself isn’t due until December, and while the draft is marked “Do Not Quote, Cite, or Release,” it appears the pundits have already disregarded the advisory.

(continued on Pajamas Media…)