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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Marital Infidelity, Negative Campaigning and the Ressurection of Newt Gingrich; What Next in the Republican Primary?

According to Palm Beach Post, GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich not unlike himself came out swinging this morning when accused of being a hypocrite for blasting then President Bill Clinton for having an affair at the same time the former House Speaker was cheating on his own wife.

During an interview with Spanish-language television Univision, the twice-divorced Gingrich said he wasn’t criticizing Clinton’s sexual dalliance with White House intern Monica  Lewinsky. Rather, he claimed he was criticizing Clinton’s response to it.

Gingrich distinguished his infidelity from Clinton’s, saying Clinton “lied under oath” while he has never done that.

“I have never lied under oath. I have never committed perjury. I have never committed a felony,” he said.

Gingrich also said he has no regrets for attacking CNN newscaster John King for beginning a debate last week in South Carolina by asking about his ex-wife’s claims that he asked her to embrace an “open marriage” when he was having an affair with his now wife, Callista.

The question about his infidelity was inappropriate because of all the problems facing the country, he said, adding his ex-wife’s claims were false.

As to his attack on the media in response to the question, he noted that the audience loved it.

Having convincingly won the South Carolina Republican primary and more so in basically all important demographics, including married women, it remains to be seen whether Gingrich has brought this issue of marital infidelity full circle from the Clinton years such that it can be said infidelity is no longer an issue in American politics.

There is no one who follows American politics at any level would have said even as late as a few months ago that a person with a checkered marital record like Gingrich, let alone the rest of the baggage the man carries would have a shot at being nominated by the Republican party, given its past strong identification with family values.

In fact, Gingrich was left for the dead twice during this nomination process but he has to everyone’s surprise resurrected himself, even though few give him a chance to cross the finish line before self-destructing in the remaining period of the primaries.

A question may be asked why or how come Gingrich has managed to do this, namely, come from the dead, twice, and the answer is simple: Obama, the state of the economy and yes, Mitt Romney, luck and yes, the indefatigable Newt himself.

Although in the eyes of many there is no appreciable difference between Obama and the state of the economy as the two are one and the same in their view, there is clearly a significant number of voters who are angry with Obama not just because of the economy alone, but for other reasons as well, including some who don’t believe he should be occupying the office at all.

For whatever reasons, however, there is clearly no question Obama’s reelection prospects have been dim brightened only by the yo-yo like Republican primary made better only by the emergence and reemergence of Gingrich as his potential rival.

Very few people, even among Republicans believe Gingrich can win that contest and that’s true despite exit polling in South Carolina that showed that more of those voters believe Gingrich is more electable than Mitt Romney as against Obama.

Be that as it may be, the combined state of the economy, the fact that many voters want Obama out for that and any number of reasons, including even perhaps disillusionment has made it possible for Gingrich to come from the dead twice as most of these voters are looking for someone to blood Obama’s nose and Gingrich is by far the ideal candidate for that.

The fact that every one of the other candidates who has occupied the exclusive space for “anyone but Romney” has come down crushing much as fast as they have risen to that spot, is another reason why Gingrich has been resurrecting from the dead and is at the verge of outlasting everyone who has occupied this apparently fatalistic spot.

Can Gingrich occupy that spot through the primaries and even ultimately succeed in replacing Romney as the inevitable nominee?

That’s a question few analysts are shying away from answering because much as Gingrich has been resurrecting from the dead, he has proven each one of them as being no better than someone tossing a coin to determine the outcome of this year’s Republican primary.

The weak field of candidates that has made it possible for Gingrich to be where he is against all odds can only be said to be a blessing or good fortune for Gingrich.

However, no one can take it away from the man that he has also helped himself by both being the excellent debater he has been, even though the same combination of brain and mouth has spurted and will spurt more things that make him look the hapless idiot he is not.

In sum, there are so many ironies about this year’s Republican primary not just how the party may finally join the Democratic Party as parties that do not put any price to marital infidelity, it is also quite the irony it is that, even though Gingrich tactfully counseled against the contenders attacking each other, when it’s all said and done, he would have in the end run the most virulently negative campaign against Romney followed closely only by Romney such that when they are both done, Obama would be the happiest man regardless of who between them is nominated.

Republicans have taken politics to another level where all old political playbooks are thrown out of the window and everyone is left wondering what next and whether this is permanent or an aberration.

Every “establishment” Republican hopes it’s the latter, every Democrat hopes it’s the former.

Article first published as Marital Infidelity, Negative Campaigning and the Ressurection of Newt Gingrich on Technorati.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in Politics

 

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US Supreme Court to once again balance between protecting the environment and property rights

According the Los Angeles Times, the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of Mike and Chantell Sackett, an Idaho couple who wanted to live on scenic Priest Lake in that state but, because they couldn’t afford it, they instead bought a residential lot across the road that offered a distant view of the water.

In preparation to build their dream home, they cleared the land and laid gravel and thus began the legal quagmire they find themselves in today—four years later.

The Sackets are at battle with the Environmental Protection Agency over whether their dry lot is a protected “wetlands” and possibly off-limits for building.

In November 2007, the Sacketts were given an “administrative compliance order” by three EPA officials telling them they must stop work, remove the gravel and “restore” the land by adding new plants suitable for a wetland. If they maintained the land in its natural state for at least three years, they were told, they could then seek a permit to build, a process that would cost about $200,000.

“We were blindsided,” Mike Sackett said. “And if we didn’t comply, we were subject to fines of up to $37,500 per day.”

Rather than comply with the order, the Sacketts sought a hearing to contest it before a federal judge in Idaho. The Sackets insisted the half-acre lot was not wetlands but the judge turned down their hearing request, which they appealed but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco affirmed the judge’s decision.

Agreeing with the EPA, the 9th Circuit judges said the compliance order was like a warning to the landowners that they were violating the law. They weren’t entitled to a hearing under the law until the agency had imposed a fine on them, the appeals court said.

This ruling, the Sacket’s lawyer said, put the couple in an “impossible situation” because they either have to do “nothing with their lot for three years, or start building and face potential fines running into millions of dollars.”

The Sackets therefore decided to appeal to the Supreme Court, which will hear the case Monday.

The issue in the case is not whether or not the land the Sackets bought is “wetlands” under federal law but to decide whether landowners are entitled to a hearing before a judge when they are confronted by the EPA.

The case is being closely watched by developers and environmentalists because those on the right are depicting the EPA as an out-of-control agency while environmental lawyers fear a decision in the couple’s favor could undercut the agency’s ability to stop polluters.

The Idaho couple appeared three times on the right wing TV host Lou Dobbs program in 2011 and testified at an October hearing organized by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to explore the “government’s assault on private property.”

EPA officials decline to talk about the case because it is before the court.

A victory for the Sacketts could “undermine the government’s ability to promptly respond to environmental threats,” said Nina Mendelson, a University of Michigan law professor and former Justice Department lawyer. But she also said the EPA should consider allowing administrative hearings in cases, such as that of the Sacketts, that do not involve pressing environmental threats.

In defense of the EPA, the Justice Department argued the Sacketts were not entitled to a “pre-enforcement hearing” under the law. The Sacketts “face a dilemma largely of their own making, since they discharged fill into wetlands without first seeking a permit or consulting EPA,” the government’s lawyers told the high court.

The legal authority for regulating wetlands comes from the Clean Water Act, which forbids the “discharge of any pollutant” into the “navigable waters of the United States.” Since the late 1970s, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have claimed broad authority to protect wetlands, even when they are not connected to rivers or lakes.

As the Sacketts learned, putting gravel on a dry lot amounts to “discharging pollutants” into the “waters of the United States” if the lot is deemed to be wetlands.

They might get a friendlier reception from the Supreme Court. Justice Antonin Scalia once complained that the EPA has used its authority over wetlands to claim control over an “immense” area of the nation, “including half of Alaska and an area the size of California in the lower 48 states.”

In a 2006 decision, Scalia and three other justices agreed that the EPA’s anti-pollution authority extended up rivers to free-flowing streams, but not to nearby marshy fields. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, in a separate opinion, said the EPA could protect marshy fields or other wetlands, but only if it could show that filling them would harm nearby rivers or lakes.

According to the EPA, Wetlands provide many benefits: flood control, water purification, groundwater recharge, feeding and breeding habitat for fish and wildlife, erosion control, and recreation and beauty.

Some of those benefits can be quantified in dollars. Some can’t.

For example, Wetlands are often inviting places for popular recreational activities including hiking, fishing, bird watching, photography and hunting. More than 82 million Americans took part in these activities in 2001, spending more than $108 billion on these pursuits, this according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

The Nation’s wetlands are also vital to fish health and thus to the Nation’s multibillion dollar fishing industry. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Wetlands provide an essential link in the life cycle of 75 percent of the fish and shellfish commercially harvested in the U.S., and up to 90 percent of the recreational fish catch. Wetlands provide a consistent food supply, shelter and nursery grounds for both marine and freshwater species.

Statistics from USFW show landings of crab, shrimp and salmon were valued at $1,167 billion in 2004. These species are dependent on wetlands for at least part of their life cycles. In 2004 the dockside value of fin fish and shellfish landed in the United States was $3.7 billion and was the basis for the $7.2 billion fishery processing business.

Historically, however, some have viewed wetlands as merely empty lands, available for other public or economic use. When Europeans first settled what is now the United States, there were an estimated 220 million acres of wetlands in the “lower 48″ — more than half of which have been lost. Alaska holds an estimated 170 million acres of wetlands, comprising more than 40 percent of the state’s territory. More than 99 percent of those wetlands remain intact to-date.

Wetlands are lost and degraded in any number of ways, including all kinds of construction, be it commercial or residential because such construction destroys wetlands by altering hydrologic regimes. Other wetlands are lost to resource extraction, industrial sites, waste disposal, dredge disposal, forestry, silviculture, and mosquito control.

The Supreme Court must therefore yet again balance these benefits against the needs of those who wish to engage in activities that may pollute or otherwise impact the continued existence of these wetlands, even though not directly addressing the issue of whether construction of the Sacket’s dream home will denigrate protected wetlands.

My view is the Court will likely rule in favor of the Sackets simply because this is really a question of due process and the Sackets have the right for the government to show why they should comply with its order.

But that will in by itself start new litigation which will likely go up the appellate process and could take another several years in which case the Sackets would be probably better off finding other ways to comply with the EPA order, even including giving up on their hopes to build their dream home in that area for the larger good of protecting the environment.

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Republicans Have Skirt Problem, Bush Problem and Wobbler Problem Which Can Only Be Good News For Obama

Republicans Have A Skirt Problem; A Bush Problem and A Wobbler Which Must Be Good News To President Barack Obama.

When Politico broke the story about two women who filed sexual harassment complaints against Herman Cain when he was the head of the National Restaurant Association (NRA) in the late 90s, it was a question of when would the other shoe drop as is often the case in these types of cases.

That other shoe dropped on Monday when Sharon Bialek of Chicago became the first woman accusing Herman Cain of sexual harassment to go public, describing an alleged incident in Washington in 1997 in which the presidential contender, then the president of NRA stuck his hand up her skirt and tried to pull her head toward his crotch.

Bialek was quoted by ABC News Online, as telling Cain, who she had contacted for help getting a job, “What are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend. This isn’t what I came here for.”

According to Bialek, Cain answered, “You want a job, right?”

Bialek claims that after the incident she rejoined her boyfriend and told him that Cain had been “sexually inappropriate” and further claimed that she recently confronted Cain at a Tea Party event and asked him, “Do you remember me?” and that he had confirmed that he remembered her and he “kind of looked uncomfortable.”

“All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false,” said J.D. Gordon, Cain’s spokesman in a terse statement, adding, “Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone.”

Bialek, now 50, did not file any complaint at the time this incident is alleged to have occurred but she appeared with attorney Gloria Allred at a press conference at New York’s Friars Club where she provided details of what she alleges happened.

Two other women who filed complaints of sexual harassment against Cain at the same time when Cain was head of NRA both declined to speak publicly. On Friday, Joel Bennett, an attorney for one of the first two accusers said she would decline to come forward and discuss the case further.

On Monday, Bennett described Bialek’s story to ABC News as familiar. “I’m not authorized to give specifics, but the conduct is similar and it’s corroborating evidence for the complaint my client filed.”

ABC News said the blonde Bialek “is similar in appearance to the two earlier accusers,” whose identities ABC News had earlier confirmed.

Allred described Bialek as a Republican and the single mother of a 13-year-old who had worked for an educational branch of the National Restaurant Association in Chicago between 1996 and 1997. The NRA confirmed to ABC News that Bialek worked for the trade group from December 1996 to June 1997, but the organization could not provide further information citing company policy that precludes commenting about personnel issues regarding current or former employees other than to confirm dates of employment.

According to the Associated Press, a fourth woman also alleges sexual harassment by Cain while working at the trade group, but said did not file an internal complaint because one of her coworkers had already done so.

Bialeck told reporters that she had first met Cain at an NRA event in Chicago in 1997, and then arranged to meet with him in Washington shortly thereafter when she found herself out of a job.

According to Bialeck, when she arrived in Washington, her hotel room had been upgraded and that Cain “smirked” when telling her he had arranged it.

After drinks and dinner, when they were in Cain’s car, she said, “He put his hand on my leg and reached for my genitals. He brought my head toward his crotch.” When she protested, said Bialek, Cain agreed to take her back to her hotel.

Cain has denied the allegations of sexual harassment, and has charged the presidential campaign of Texas governor Rick Perry with leaking the story. Perry’s campaign denies any involvement, which surfaced in Politico more than a week ago.

Cain reacted angrily after his Saturday night debate with fellow GOP candidate Newt Gingrich in Texas, during which a reporter tried to ask Cain a question about the scandal and he accused the media of failing to follow “journalistic standard(s)” in reporting the sexual harassment story and refused to answer the question he didn’t even let the reporter finish asking, saying “everything has been answered.”

This being politics, one can assume Cain has not answered the last question on this scandal yet and certainly “everything” has not been answered.

What is ironic is, when Clinton was faced with similar accusations before and after the elections of 1992—the so-called “bimbo eruptions,” Republicans tried to derail his candidacy to no avail but, when Clinton could not keep his sex drive under control during his presidency and had one Monica Lewinsky and a stained dress introduced to Americans in language never before used together with the presidency, the Republicans went for a kill in the form of impeachment that Clinton not surprisingly survived, primarily on the strength of his and his supporters argument this was all just about sex and an overzealous sex obsessed prosecutor.

It would, of course, emerge later that the those shouting the most that Clinton should be impeached, including one who wants to be the Republican nominee this time around now, were themselves guilty of hanky panky and other related sins.

The tables are turned and now it is Republicans who have a Clinton in their hands on matters skirt and sex, with the question of the week being, will Cain survive these accusations like Clinton did?

Going by the fact the latest polls show Cain holding on in his lead or closely second to Romny in critical states like Iowa, and given his money raking having gone up, not down (even though the latest reporting is for the quota), the Republican party, especially its Tea Party wing is sending the message Cain is their man to beat their other man, Romney, unless 10 more shoes drop, with at least one belonging to a nun or someone shows up with a stained dress with his DNA on it.

This is not likely to happen, so the contest is going to be Cain v Romney for the Republican nomination and who wins in that contest is largely going to determine whether Obama is re-elected in a landslide or by a squeaker.

If Republicans nominate Cain, then Obama is sure to be re-elected in a landslide not because of Cain’s skirt problem, but largely because the views he represents are too extreme to be embraced beyond the Tea Party wing of the party and certainly not among independents who always determine close elections, except this one would not be close if Cain is the nominee and thus the landslide possibility.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, can give Obama a run for his money.

The only thing standing in the way of Romney’s match to the White House, is Romney himself.

The man unquestionably holds the unenviable title of the Most Wobbler of All Presidential Candidates and part of that is really the reason his fellow Republicans don’t trust him and that is, because they believe he is a closet Democrat trying to win the presidency from the Republican side because he can flip and wobble all the time as he does but he cannot suddenly switch and try to run as a Democrat, especially knowing he would have to wait at least another 5 years to do so.

Interestingly, I think he can make a better case and stands a better chance of being nominated as a Democrat rather than by Republicans.

This, on the other hand, is one reason Obama would not want him to be the Republican nominee because, besides coming across as the only one among the Republican pack of presidential contenders who can match Obama in debate and political rhetoric, he does also come across as the compassionate Republican George W Bush promised but never became.

But the Republican Party led by it Tea Party wing is not bothered by this minor fact; rather, they are operating on the premise that anyone even a Cain with a stained dress with DNA evincing inappropriate sex will beat Obama at the polls, come 2012.

This can only be good news for Obama, however, because when it’s all said and done, it would matter who the Republicans nominate as their flag bearer.

I do not advise the Obama campaign but if I were to do so, I would tell them to beat the drum on this, namely, anyone the Republicans nominate will beat Obama and let them buy into it only to have the person flattened by Obama, if the Republicans actually believe that and nominate an unelectable person just because their Tea Party wing and other non-moderates within the party cannot stand the idea of Romney being the Republican nominee.

Meanwhile, while Cain is struggling with accusations of sexual harassment against him, Governor Rick Perry, the other candidate for the anti-Romney vote and the proceeding “star” in that category, is on a slow but steady one man self-destruction journey, which started when called his supporters heartless for daring not to like his stance on immigration.

In what is being dubbed by most analysts and political observers as the worst gaffe in political history, Rick Perry could not remember which one of the federal agencies he wants to kill; he remembered Education and Commerce, but try as he did, he could not come up the “three agencies” he said would be “gone” once he is elected president.

Employees in those agencies and those who depend on it can breathe easy knowing this gaffe may be overlooked by the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party and non-moderates in the party who in all likelihood will determine the Republican nominee this year, but everyone else including moderates will not likely overlook this and many other intellectual missteps Rick Perry has committed in each of the past 10 or so debates and many more likely to come, going by his track record.

Indeed, upon bursting into the national scene, it quickly emerged and Perry himself admitted as much that he was another George W Bush not just because the two share the Texas swag, but because things fall of their lips in a manner and demeanor that does not exude confidence and ability to think on their feet, or just dumb to be more blunt.

However, with Perry’s repeated and continuance total under-performance in the debates, his recent speech in New Hampshire he would have been better off admitting he gave while drunk as many suspected to give him the benefit of doubt, all combine to make one conclude his comparison to W is not apt; he is 10 times worse in that department.

Let’s then recap where things stand on this autumn 10th day of November, 2011, just under a year from the next general elections:

First, the Republican Party nominating process remains to be the most unusual and in Cain’s case, most unorthodox anyone can remember. In essence, the battle in the Republican party is not who can beat Obama in the general elections next year but who is a better option than the inevitable nominee this time around, Mitt Romney.

Second, in this mad scramble to get the anti-Romney vote, Cain is at the controls of the leading car even though he may crush anytime as others holding the same position have before him only to regroup and are on the race with battered cars with barely enough gas to even go another round in the race.

Third, even though the economy is still struggling and unemployment in the record high despite Obama’s best effort to address both, and even though economists predict the situation would not improve much come election time, Obama is got to be the happiest man the way Republicans are going about nominating their flag bearer who may come gift-wrapped for Obama to trounce, if it is Cain, Perry or Newt Gingrich, the man even Republicans themselves admit would be a sure walk-in for Obama 10 times worse than the other two.

Finally, but not least, even though the man to watch for is Mitt Romney, and even though he has the best chance of all in beating Obama, he may also be a blessing for Obama because his (Romney’s) nomination would be so demoralizing to the Tea Party/Right Wing of the Republican Party, a significant number will simply stay home and not vote, or turn up to vote for an as yet but likely to emerge Third Party candidate or Write Ins either or both of which must be music to Obama’s ears.

And a sure ticket to his victory and re-election as the 45th President of the United States.

Article first published as Republicans Have Skirt Problem, Bush Problem and Wobbler Problem on Technorati.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2011 in Politics

 

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The Tea Party Is Bolstering Itself To Remain Influential and Relevant in 2012

According to an Associated Press, the Tea Party movement aims to spend significantly more in their bid to defeat President Barack Obama and take control of the U.S. Senate in 2012 this time around than they did in 2010, when they spent tens of millions of dollars to help sway congressional races.

The groups say they are merely helping a grassroots movement seeking a voice but critics say movement is exploiting individual Americans’ anger over economic troubles to promote big business and a partisan political agenda.

The Tea Party movement is essentially building on what groups like Americans for Prosperity (AFP), which is financed by the conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch of oil and gas conglomerate Koch Industries, has been doing since before the Tea Party wave took off in 2009.

“We by years anticipated the Tea Party movement,” said (AFP) president Tim Phillips, adding “folks look at that and go, I like the idea that it is long term and real infrastructure. Donors like that.”

AFP works with local Tea Party affiliates and has staff in more than 30 states who coordinate with regional Tea Party groups, Phillips said.

The AFP president said AFP spent $40 million on 2010 races and plans to spend more than $100 million for the 2012 races.

The organization spends the funds on a number of activities, including advertising, local bus tours and rallies that support issues that are at the core of the Republican marketing philosophy—cutting spending and curbing government growth.

The Tea Party has proven itself a major player in U.S. politics. Every leading Republican presidential candidate has addressed a Tea Party rally and embraced its platform of limited government and spending.

Much as the Tea Party movement and Republican rail against “big government,” an August Gallup survey found that about a quarter of registered voters called themselves either backers or strong backers of the movement.

Other groups that existed before the Tea Party movement, include the extremely conservative FreedomWorks, led by former House of Representatives Majority Leader Dick Armey and supported by billionaire Steve Forbes, which embraced the Tea Party movement almost as soon as it started.

Like AFP, FreedomWorks plans to spend heavily on 2012, with a budget of more than $45 million, after spending a fraction of that in 2010.

The emergence of the Tea Party movement in the scene is attributed to an increased grassroots anger about the country’s economic problems, so it made sense that conservatives would be best placed to take advantage of the movement, given the Democrats are in charge, said Jeremy Mayer, a George Mason professor who studies social movements.

“There were large corporate interests that were very excited about turning the focus toward the right,” Mayer said, adding, the “anger is not manufactured, but to a degree the direction” of it is.

Like AFP, FreedomWorks, is hoping to tap into this anger which has not shown signs of subsiding anytime soon, to also beef up its fund-raising muscle with a Super political action committee, or Super PAC.

Thanks to recent court decisions, the new entity will be able to take in unlimited funds they can immediately spend it at will in trying to have a hoard of conservatives elected to as many elected offices across the country, which is their primary goal for now but they also plan to involved in the presidential race.

Meanwhile, these groups find themselves in conundrum because none of their preferred presidential candidates is catching fire.

“We’ve been very critical of Mitt Romney — we’re hoping one of these other guys emerges as the conservative alternative,” FreedomWorks organizer Brendan Steinhauser said, adding “we plan to be on the ground in South Carolina and Florida,” important early primary states in the presidential race.

Another fundraising committee with Republican leanings, the Tea Party Express, is also bolstering its donor base but the group is subject to federal $5,000 donation limits to candidates and, for this reason, the group is forming an entity that lets it raise unlimited funds — without having to disclose donors.

The co-founder of the group, Russo said the group is on track to be “way ahead” of the $8 million the group raised in 2010.

The Tea Party movement has positioned itself as the alternative to “centralized parties controlled by one or two or three groups,” which do not “necessarily reflect the spirit of the Tea Party, with hundreds of local unaffiliated groups nationwide,” argues Republican strategist Christian Ferry, who worked on past presidential campaigns of Republican Senator John McCain.

There is no question the Tea Party movement had an impact and was, in fact, largely responsible for the Republican take-over of the House and in helping the party win many seats across the country in State and local elections.

However, it remains to be seen whether this group and others trying to exploit both the high unemployment in the country and lingering anger over government spending, can repeat, let alone do better than they did in 2012.

On the other hand, the Tea Party may in the end be a blessing in disguise for the embattled President Barrack Obama in that its adherents may force the nomination of a far right wing candidate like Herman Cain, who has little to no chance of unseating Obama.

Conversely, if the Republican Party ignores the wishes of the Tea Party adherents and nominates a moderate like Mitt Romney, we might have a repeat of 1992 where an independent candidate emerges to tap into the anger of these disillusioned and angry Tea Party faithfuls, much to the delight of Obama and Democrats.

What an irony that would be: The Tea Party movement is born out of anger over government spending, only to help keep in office a man they either blame for the spending or simply hate.

Stay tuned.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2011 in Politics

 

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The Sluggish US Job Growth: Who Is To Blame?

In a report that is likely to ease fears that the economy is hurling toward another recession, the government reported today that nonfarm payroll employment edged up by 103,000 in September, leaving the unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent.

The increase in employment partially reflects the return to payrolls of about 45,000 telecommunications workers who had been on strike in August but there were also job gains in professional and business services, health care, and construction, while Government employment continued to trend down, noted the report published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Although the report shows that manufacturing payrolls also shrank, there is nonetheless some encouraging signs. For example, the Labor Department said the average workweek for all private-sector workers edged up in September and employers in August added 57,000 jobs, not zero as previously reported, and July’s job count was also revised up to 127,000 from 85,000 initially reported.

Overall, the third quarter’s average monthly job growth at 96,000 jobs is not enough to keep up with the population growth and bring down the unemployment rate.

Indeed, the ranks of the unemployed, remained at about 14 million and about 45% of these workers last month said they had been without jobs for six months or more.

Some other good news in the report, if one can call it such, is the number of part-time workers who want full-time hours rose sharply over the month, to 9.3 million, from 8.8 million in August. But as has been a mixed bag in these recent reports, real unemployment rate, meaning those looking for work, those not working or looking for work but indicated that they want to work and are available for work, and those employed part time but desire to work full time, that rate slightly rose to 16.5% in September, up from 16.2% in the prior month.

The question that remains in the minds of many is, why is there such a weak job growth?

The answer, not surprisingly, depends on who you ask and their party affiliation: Every Republican that gets within a reporter’s mike sings the mantra the blame must be squarely be placed under Obama’s feet.

Democrats, on the other hand, say look to Republicans and their “rich” allies who are trying to make sure Obama is a “one term president.” According to Democrats, the benign “explanation” for why the Obama administration is responsible for the slow growth is because “businesses are afraid to expand and create jobs because they fear costly regulations and higher taxes,” says Paul Krugman, a leading economist in the country.

Who is right?

Krugman says there is no evidence supporting this by Republicans that businesses are afraid to expand and create jobs because they fear costly regulations and add, instead, there is “a lot of evidence showing that [this claim] is false.”

I tend to agree with Krugman for several reasons:

First, it makes sense as the party out of power, the Republicans would milk every opportunity there is, to make sure their man or woman (more man than woman) is propelled to the White House as president and hopefully with enough coattails to maintain control of the House and hopefully regain majority control of the Senate.

If that means blocking Obama’s jobs creation legislation, so be it but with a caution: I do not believe Republicans are united in this strategy for I am certain there are those not this conniving enough to throw some breaks for the potential for the strategy to backfire, especially given it would give Obama and the Democrats the opportunity to campaign against the “Do Nothing Congress”—a counter strategy that should pay dividends even notwithstanding the fact that Democrats are part of the Congress and control the Senate, anyway.

However, those Republicans pushing for this “let’s stall and block” strategy must be counting on the fact that there is enough angry Tea Party types out there and if you add the number of the unemployed, assuming they remain in 10-15 million range, and the good old Republicans, they sure are likely to be dancing all the way to the White House.

Indeed, according to this school of thought, it would matter less that the unemployment could even explode to double digits if a Republican assumes the presidency and attempts to return the country to the Bush policies which have been demonstratively proven to be ten times worse than what Republicans claims Obama’s are.

Second, I tend to agree with Krugman that the Republican argument about “uncertainty” in the business community is demonstrably false. Indeed, the economist Lawrence Mishel of the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute very persuasively argues in a new paper published by the institute that this “uncertainty” explanation by the Republicans is “phony.”

It is from all of this, Mishel summizes, that Republicans and conservatives have propped up this false narrative that employment growth is therefore sluggish because “firms are turning down, and will continue to turn down, opportunities to make goods and services that are profitable today (current sales are very profitable) because they fear regulations will not allow these sales opportunities to be as profitable in the future and they fear making the longer-term commitment of hiring permanent workers.”

This, according to Mishel, is a false narrative because EPI’s economists have reviewed the available evidence and found that, taken in their entirety, neither studies on the economy as a whole or ones on particular sectors support the view that regulations cause substantial job losses.

“Instead of uncertainty about regulations, there is strong evidence that the absence of job creation reflects the continued unwinding of the financial collapse and the corresponding lack of demand,” concludes Mishel, adding that what employers say in private surveys and trends in hours worked in a week, among other, points to other factors not having to do with “uncertainty” of regulations in explaining why these firms are not hiring.

Third, given the increasing rhetoric about Obama waging a “class warfare” between the rich and the middle class, it is more plausible that business owners in the upper income range, and ostensibly the job creators, have an ax to grind against Obama and therefore one way to do so, is to withhold hiring.

In the absence of any evidence to overcome all of this, it therefore must be the case Republicans, not Democrats or Obama, are to blame for the sluggish job growth.

The sooner people call them on this, the better.

I have done my part; do yours!

Write to your members of Congress and tell them their gig is up and if they don’t listen and continue to hold American workers ransom with their quest for power, be prepared to boot them from Congress and re-elect Obama.

This article first published as The Sluggish US Job Growth: Who Is To Blame? on Technorati.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2011 in Economy, Politics

 

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What Are God’s Plans for US Elections Come 2012?

The other day, a reader sent me a comment after reading one of my blogs and essentially cautioned me not to put my trust in any man seeking political office. The thrust of his point was, we should only trust in God to give us good leaders.

This comment had me thinking and the more I thought about it, I became more curious and have now decided to blog about the topic.

The primary question I ask is, if God decides who our leaders are to be, what’s the purpose of going through the electoral process? Can’t we just have a list of names and have people vote and whoever God has chosen, wins? In the context of the next year’s elections here in the US, what are God’s plans? Has God pre-destined the next president of the US come 2012?

The relationship between God and secular government is greatly dealt with in the Old Testament and Jesus defined it even more in the New Testament and in his own crucifixion and death.

The book of 1 Samuel chapter 8 provides foundational tenets of this relationship for there Israel demanded that God give them a king, so that Israel could be like all the other (heathen) nations, and so they could have a visible leader, who would go before them and would fight for them. God told Samuel that it was not his leadership, but God’s that was being rejected. He also warned the people that they would be heavily taxed by their king, and that the price of this government would be high. The people nevertheless insisted and they got their king.

In the New Testament, we see Jesus as Israel’s King, but they rejected Him. Instead of bowing the knee in obedience to Jesus as Messiah, the leaders of the nation sought the help of the Gentile government to serve their self-interest by putting Jesus to death, which they did. In other words, they chose a Gentile government over God. As we are told in John 19:15 (NIV), “But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”and when the Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your king?” the chief priests declared, “We have no king but Caesar!”

Remember also how prior to this, the Pharisees laid out a plan to trap Jesus on the tax question but he cleverly exposed their foolishness in saying pay to Ceaser that belongs to him and to God what is His. Mathew 22:15-22.

Because of the rejection of the Messiah and opting to rely on the secular government, we as Christians are where we are today with largely secular governments albeit sometimes led by God fearing men and women.

Contrast this to a religion such as Islam where Sharia law reigns supreme such that the secular leadership is completely alien in the strictest of Islam nations.

In other words, even though Government was designed by God to be an extension of His rule for us as Christians, sinful men have often looked to government as a replacement or a substitute for it as was clearly the case in the crucifixion of Jesus.

The question then is, does God care about who is elected as our leaders and if so, why do we have to go through elections if God can simply pick for us the best leaders being all knowing and omnipotent?

I am no scholar in these matters but to my lay understanding, yes, God cares about who leads us but He basically says, “look, I have given you all the necessary tools to figure who among yourselves is best fit to lead you; use them!”

One such tool, is ability to assess leadership ability and, to the extent we put God central in our decision making, we shall reach a decision pleasing to Him but if we don’t, he can only dismiss us as having rejected Him no different as he did when the Isralites rejected Him as we are told in the book of 1 Samuel chapter 8 and demanded a worldly king.

In other words, God is not necessarily choosing leaders for us but has given us the wisdom and ability to choose among ourselves.

I would therefore agree completely that we must trust in God and not to put confidence in man but only to the extent man has the conniving and evil design as those visited upon our Lord Jesus Christ by the Pharisees.

Put differently, I trust in any man or woman who is without evil designs and has nothing but good intentions in leading a people for that is the type of person who can be an extension of God’s government as originally intended but rejected with the crucifixion of our Savior Jesus Christ.

In the context of 2012 elections in the US, and from the perspective of an Obama supporter, the  best I can put this, is to say, let Obama put forth his best case and let’s pray that God softens the hearts of those who are out to avenge his election in 2008 to take it easy.

The man has and continues to do more than most presidents could have possibly done under these circumstances to reverse 8 years of bad policies, it would be a miracle of its own, if he were to succeed in doing so within this his first term in office.

More realistically, it would take at least the beginning of his second term to really get to even where most presidents start in making their mark in their first term, especially given the global economic meltdown that occurred soon after Obama took office thereby rendering his first term unlike any other president’s.

That Republicans (the party of God) have been and continue to be recalcitrant and dogged in their determination to block Obama from achieving any success, is more so the reason he needs some serious prayers and God’s intervention.

To that end, I believe God will answer the prayers for Obama to have another term for it would be uncharacteristic of Him not to do so under these unique circumstances.

This article first published as What Are God’s Plans For America Come Elections 2012? on Technorati.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Politics

 

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