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Rule Five Friday

2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (1)Some election tidbits:

GOP Candidate Takes 10-Point Lead in Colorado Governor’s Race.  Excerpt:

National media types have gone into overdrive to focus on the Kansas governor’s race where GOP incumbent Sam Brownback is struggling to win re-election after enacting a conservative agenda. But Brownback is within the margin of error in recent polls. That might not be the case about another governor in a larger state who is trouble for enacting a liberal agenda. The latest Quinnipiac University Poll finds Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper trailing his opponent, former GOP congressman Bob Beauprez, by 10 points.

2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (2)2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (3)Honestly, I’m very skeptical about this poll – I don’t see the race as anything but close.  I’d like to see Bob Beauprez win this election, but Colorado is not today what it was ten or fifteen years ago.   Governor Hickenlooper, for all his faults, still commands a powerful lead in the major metro areas of Denver and Boulder.

Could I be wrong?  It’s happened once or twice.

2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (4)2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (5)But there’s another indicator.  A USA Today/Suffolk poll taken on September 13-16 shows GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner leading incumbent Mark Udall by one point, the first such poll that has Gardner in the lead.

Interesting, but not necessarily indicative; not yet.  Gardner is running what is in the opinion of yr. obdt. a lackluster campaign.

Nationally it looks like the Senate races are tightening up.  The RCP map has the Senate going (as of today) 47 Republican, 42 Democrat, with 8 tossups.   But a recent WaPo story posits that the Democrats 2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (6)2014_09_19_Rule Five Friday (7)have a 51% chance of retaining the Senate.

Again, color me skeptical.  At this point my guess is that the GOP will squeak out a narrow majority – 51 or 52 seats.

Still – it’s a bit over six weeks until what may or may not be a wave election.  That’s a long, long time in politics.

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Rule Five Friday

2014_09_12_Rule Five Friday (2)How Long Can The Economy Absorb Excessive Government Spending?  Not much longer.  Excerpt:

The Congressional Budget Office’s latest budget estimates showing a marked decrease in the federal deficit seem to indicate the fiscal fights that have rocked Washington for the last five years are over. However that is wrong, these conflicts are perpetual.

2014_09_12_Rule Five Friday (3)CBO’s figures do project a significant fall in the deficit – to $506 billion, $174 billion below last year’s, and 2.9% of GDP. But it has only dropped so far, because it rose so high. In 2007, the deficit was $161 billion and 1.1% of GDP. In 2009, it was $1.413 trillion and 9.8% of GDP.

Washington has taken the federal budget to a higher plateau on taxes and spending, and will climb higher from there. However, just because the debate will resume again, and likely more virulently, why is it important?

It’s important because of the upcoming fiscal train wreck, of course.

2014_09_12_Rule Five Friday (4)At some point in the 20th century the primary role of government, especially the Imperial Federal government, became the redistribution of wealth through taxation.  Tax policy has changed accordingly; from the original purpose of raising revenue for essential government functions, the tax code has become a system for the redistribution of wealth and ensuring “fairness” (use of scare quotes intentional.)

How is this connected to the Federal Imperial debt?  Because 2014_09_12_Rule Five Friday (5)regardless of tax policy, there is a ceiling to tax revenues, that ceiling being about 21-23% of GDP.  To make up the gap, pols in the Imperial City first ran rampant through the Social Security “trust fund” (again, use of scare quotes intentional) and then began borrowing, at increasingly insane levels.

It is very likely we have gone past the point of no return on this issue.  What will the end game look like?  An Imperial repudiation of debt?  Runaway inflation?  One thing we know for sure – unless there is a major change in the Imperial City, there will be no growth-based solution to this mess; every economic policy put forth from Washington for the last ten years ago has been staunchly anti-growth.

2014_09_12_Rule Five Friday (6)If there is a pol in the Imperial City that knows the difference between ass and face where economics are concerned, I’m switched if I can think of who that might be.

The linked article concludes:

It is impossible to see an issue so fraught with import, short of war and peace. Yet, questions of war and peace are not perpetual, thankfully only occurring periodically and at crucial junctures. The question of taxing and spending is perpetual – and perpetually crucial.

And perpetually ignored, both by the pols in the Imperial City and a plurality of those who vote them into office.

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Rule Five Friday

2014_09_05_Rule Five Friday (1)Our own Colorado is, of late, a peripatetic swing state, maintaining a rather schizophrenic purple status for the last few election cycles.  Now, to challenge Senator Udall in this November’s election, we have Republican Cory Gardner, who is calling himself a new kind of Republican.  Excerpt:

Senate candidate Cory Gardner has released a pair of campaign ads reaching out to Colorado’s all-important centrist voters, who have soured on some GOP positions, and cast himself as a “new kind of Republican” who supports over-the-counter birth control pills and renewable energy.

The TV spots released this week come in a close race against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in a swing state that has become increasingly reluctant to elect conservatives as coastal transplants have pushed the politics to the left.

2014_09_05_Rule Five Friday (2)Democrats have won every top-of-the-ticket statewide race in Colorado since 2004, and Udall and his allies have followed the established playbook by attacking Gardner as being against reproductive rights and the environment.

But Gardner, a U.S. House representative, has hit back with his new ads.

In the first, which launched Monday, Gardner walks past wind turbines and asks, “So what’s a Republican, like me, doing at a wind farm?” He notes that he co-authored legislation, backed by a former Democratic governor, to create a state agency to support new Colorado renewable energy businesses. The ad’s female narrator calls Gardner “a new kind of 2014_09_05_Rule Five Friday (3)Republican.”

You’ll forgive me, True Believers, for a little – no, a lot – of skepticism.

It seems that every time a Republican in a close race refers to himself as a “new kind of Republican,” or a “compassionate conservative,” what he really seems to be saying is “I’m tacking to the left to try to garner the moderate vote.”

Caveat:  The term “RINO” – Republican in Name Only – has been overused to the point of meaninglessness.  It has become too often used by anyone on the political Right to mean “any Republican who disagrees with me on any given issue.”

With that said, back to Cory Gardner.   What is the aspirant to Colorado’s Senate seat up to hawking wind energy, which can only 2014_09_05_Rule Five Friday (4)survive as a heavily subsidized boondoggle?

Isn’t the GOP supposed to be the party of smaller government?  Free markets?  Fiscal responsibility?

Isn’t the GOP supposed to be in favor of removing Federal Imperial barriers to domestic oil and gas development?

Gardner is, unfortunately, playing right into Senator Mark Udall’s hands with this strategery.  He is tacking towards positions that Udall can claim higher ground on; no matter how much Gardner comes out in favor of wind farms, Udall was already there, the firstest with the mostest on this issue.

Polls show Gardner in a statistical dead heat with Udall.  And Udall’s 2014_09_05_Rule Five Friday (5)position is far from secure; he’s still polling below 50%, not a good place for an incumbent to be.

But Gardner is making his position weaker, not stronger.  To take out an incumbent in a tight race,  you have to offer an obvious alternative – not a pale shadow, not a little bit of “more of the same, only slightly less.”  Gardner should be running on fiscal responsibility, on energy independence, on a strong national defense, on the issues that the GOP is known for – and, in the not-particularly-humble opinion of yr. obdt., if he is going to tack, tack not to the left but to the libertarian, a position that will get him farther than presenting as a Democrat-Lite.

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Rule Five Friday

2014_08_29_Rule Five Friday (1)Here’s something yr. obdt. has been saying for years:  Bring Back the Welfare Stigma.  Excerpt:

At one time, public assistance was looked upon as a moderate failure—not an irredeemable sin or uncorrectable wrong, but something you wanted to avoid if possible. European socialists realized a long time ago that such well-intentioned opprobrium served to weaken the dependent bond between citizen and state, which is why you can find single mothers on 20 years of welfare across the pond: continental leftists figured this game out a long time ago, well before the sad sacks at Richmond Public Schools. If you want to see the future of American welfare in the hands of people like 2014_08_29_Rule Five Friday (2)Superintendent Bedden, look to Europe, where many countries have de-stigmatized their way into astronomical debt levels and widespread, chronic citizen helplessness.

Here’s a relative excerpt from my own Animal’s Manifesto:

It is not the proper role of government to shield people from the consequences of their bad decisions.   There will always be a need for a modern, prosperous society to care for the truly helpless, such as people disabled through no fault of their own, children with no adults to care for them, and so forth.  But the lazy, the indigent, the irresponsible – they have no moral claim on the fruits of the labor of the industrious.  Government, 2014_08_29_Rule Five Friday (3)and only government, has the power to tax – to claim a portion of your resources with force of law, with the implied threat of armed force if you try to abstain.  In our age of ever-increasing welfare entitlements, that government has claimed a portion of every taxpayer’s proceeds toward just such a shield – requiring the industrious to toil longer and harder to support the indigent.

To add to that – yes, there should be some stigma attached to taking a handout from the taxpayers.   Food stamps, for example; here are some conditions recipients should face:

  • Do away with the EBT cards.  Food stamps should be a variation on their original form – large, paper, clearly marked “Food Assistance Voucher.”
  • 2014_08_29_Rule Five Friday (4)And vouchers they should be, limited to only certain items.  Bulk rice, beans, potatoes, lean chicken, ground beef, and so on.  No prepared foods, no frozen foods, no soda pop, no candy.  And for those who cry “you can’t tell people what they can and can’t eat,” the only reply is “if they are spending other people’s money, we sure as hell can.”
  • Locations should likewise be strictly limited.  No convenience stores, no oven-ready pizza places, no premium meat shops.  Only traditional grocery stores – Safeway, Kroger, Super Walmarts and the like.

As stated in the Manifesto and many other times in these pages, it is 2014_08_29_Rule Five Friday (5)not the role of government (read that: the taxpayers, and read that: productive citizens) to shield people from the consequences of their own bad decisions.

The linked article concludes:

Those who have truly fallen on hard times deserve our genuine sympathy, and we should not snarl at them for turning to as easy and accessible a source of relief as government welfare. Yet we should also avoid making needy people feel comfortable being dependent upon the government. To do so is would not be merely bad public policy—it would be disingenuous and harmful to poor people, who more than anything need the mental and emotional drive to be free from government dependence.

Hear hear!  And add this to a long, long list of bad policies to come out of the Imperial City in the last couple of decades.

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Animal’s Hump Day News

2014_08_27_Hump Day
Happy Hump Day!

Well, in the wake of the round of legalizations, you can now get pot soda.   Excerpt:

A cannabis-infused fizzy drink is now on sale in the state of Washington as part of the ever-expanding US market for legal pot products.

Less than two months after recreational cannabis became legal in the west coast state, Washingtonians can now get their highs out of a soda bottle.

The drinks, called Legal, come in cherry, lemon and pomegranate flavours but are all infused with 10mg of liquid cannabis. The drinks cost around $10 (£6).

They are being marketed as a gentler alternative to smoking that could be attractive to those still wary about cannabis.

As marijuana becomes legal  more places (as yr. obdt. suspects will happen) we’ll start seeing more of this kind of thing.  In our own Colorado we are already seeing cannabis in a plethora of forms; in candies, in oils, in the inevitable baked goods (brownies and more) and in the traditional smokeable form.

The free market is a wonderful thing.

The linked article concludes:

For now the fizzy drinks will only be sold in Washington’s certified cannabis dispensaries but could one day be available on supermarket shelves.

Happy Hump Day Part Deux!
Happy Hump Day Part Deux!

Recreational cannabis became legal in Washington state in July, making it the second state to legalise cannabis after Colorado began sales in January.

Voters in Alaska and Oregon, Washington’s neighbouring state, will have their say on similar measures during referenda in November.

There is every reason to expect the measure will pass in Oregon.  It may well pass in notoriously hands-off Alaska, too.   This is a social trend that has legs.  They may be a bit unsteady, but they are there.