Sunday, August 01, 2010

THE PERFECT POLITICAL STORM

So, it’s August and the mid term elections loom large. Do you plan to vote Republican or Democrat?

I’d hate to be a Democrat up for election in November. Here is a partial report card.

First there is the economy. Remember the Clintonistas gloating to Bush the Elder “it’s the economy stupid?” If so, it may be a stupid is as stupid does moment for the Democrats. Despite Congress and the President spending record amounts of your tax money on a so called stimulus package, the economy continues to be mired in recession. The Democrats proved what most of us knew all along: you do not stimulate the economy by giving money to other governmental entities.

You can buy some friends by spending money on governments, such as Harry Reid’s high speed rail to bring gamblers from Los Angeles to Los Vegas to spend money in Reid’s home state. It will not happen any time soon and so will not help recover the economy, but it might buy Reid’s support. However, what we are seeing is Democratic candidates avoiding the president when he comes to town. This is what Bill White is doing in Texas.

Second, there is the coming tax increase apocalypse. If Congress allows the Bush reductions to expire, we will see the largest tax increase in recent history and we will see it in the midst of a recession. How do you think that will go with the American public? You cannot have a recovery if they public does not start spending money. They will not spend money if their budget for next year will be cut by increased taxes to pay for Harry Reid’s train.

It is a two edged sword for the president, however. Given his massive spending, the tax cuts will cut revenue and cause further deficits. The deficit is already growing at an alarming rate. Democrats do not like to cut spending though and it is their principle way to court voters. Granted, the tax increase will not generate as much money as many think because so few of us have to pay taxes. Certainly Washington has for decades treated middle class tax payers like crabs in a hot pot. Whenever you try to climb out, they tax you back in. Very few moderate income earners pay any tax at all or they pay very little.

My advice is to extend the cuts for a least another year and say you are doing it because you feel our pain. Hey, it worked for Bill Clinton.

Third, the wars in the Middle East are dragging on despite campaign promises to end them quickly. In fact, Afghanistan is going poorly. Now that thousands of pages of secret documents have been leaked, who knows what nightmares will be exposed.
Other nations see the war as a problem and are beginning to bail out. The Netherlands ended its combat mission today. The 1,900 Dutch troops are not enough to cause a major troop shortage but the symbolism is critical. The Netherlands is a NATO member, a liberal democracy that should be a natural ally of President Obama and his left wing government, but he cannot hold them in.

Since casualties are increasing and the President’s strategy looks weak, it smells like failure. In addition Canada will withdraw its 2,700 troops in 2011, Poland withdraws its 2,600 soldiers in 2012. I do not think the American public will support the war through 2012 unless the results improve dramatically.
As NATO members and other European countries withdraw, Great Britain and Germany will face pressure from their citizens to pull out. Most Europeans do not have the stomach to fight wars. The French are proving to be the only ones taking the Muslim threat seriously.

The United States will have 100,000 of its citizens fighting in Afghanistan this fall. There were 66 deaths in July alone. If the media covered the losses like they did in Vietnam, the public would clamor for an end to the war. When Nixon was president, even though he inherited the war, they news showed nightly film of body bags and dead soldiers. There were also 270 civilian casualties last month.

Fourth, there are serious ethical problems in the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. Democratic Representative Charles Rangel is facing ethics investigation and sanction. Although rumors of a deal are rampant, Rangel faces an ethics trial in the fall. He is accused of failure to disclose assets, failure to declare income, failure to pay taxes and doing legislative favors for donors to a college. The donations were for a center named after him.

The Associated Press reports today that California representative Maxine Waters may face an ethics trial in the fall also. The allegations may be announced as early as next week. Although the House ethics committee will not make a comment, it is known that Representative Waters is under investigation for conflict of interest after a bank in which her husband owned stock and formerly served as a board member sought federal aid.

Her husband owned about $250,000 in the bank's stock. Waters justifies her actions because she was assisting minority-owned banks. Representative Waters is a member of the House Financial Services Committee. Serving on the Financial Services Committee while your husband is on the board of a bank or invested in a bank sounds like a conflict of interest to me, even before the bank sought federal bail out money. Waters should have resigned her position when her husband got involved in the bank, or declined the position if he was involved in the bank before she received the position. How can you possibly be impartial and act in the best interest of the country when your husband is invested personally and financially in an institution under your regulation? Where I grew up, we called that having the fox guard the hen house.

Both of these Democrats are prominent members of the House of Representatives, given leadership positions by the Democratic Party after winning the majority in the House. Rangel was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Ironically, that committee writes some of the tax law Rangel is accused of violating. Talk about conflict of interest.

Imagine the problem of simultaneous or successive trials right before the election. Given the anti-incumbent mood of the country, this could be a coffin nail.
Fifth, immigration is a hot issue. The President is playing both sides of the fence. He sent troops to the border. He then sued the State of Arizona for trying to protect itself.

I agree immigration should be a federal matter, but the federal government has done nothing to relieve states on the border who are suffering large economic damages due to illegal immigration. If in fact the President favors immigration, he should set up a way for Mexicans to come into the country, register and tested for diseases and criminal records. Everyone who has none of the problems could get an identification card and get to work. Sick people are either treated or sent back. Criminals are sent back. But the President is not proposing any remedy to the problem other than a mass amnesty, which does not solve the problem. (It may create a lot of new Democrat voters though.) I do not oppose immigration from Mexico like many conservatives, but it should be done correctly.

Although it does not directly involve the Obama administration, the JournoList scandal is also a factor. Leaks have proved that liberal journalists conspired to favor liberals and hurt conservatives. They coordinated attacks on Sarah Palin to boost the election chances of Obama and Biden. Were the President and other Democratic leaders elected freely and without fraud and deception if the reporting was biased? Maybe voters will decide they were not and will try and turn them out.

Sadly, very few Americans believe politicians serve the interest of the people. Their faith in their government is shaken. Too many lies have been told. Too many politicians have lined their pockets, done favors for friends and broken the law with impunity.

Few Americans have faith in the objectivity and truthfulness of the press. Too many lies have been told and too many problems have been covered up.

The perfect storm may arrive in November.

It is a bad time to be an incumbent.
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