Get Ready to Govern; We’ll Be Watching

Message to our incoming House:

The GOP has been slammed before for being “nice.” Now is not the time to be nice; now is the time to be clear. “Meeting in the middle” is not an option. That way gives undue advantage to your opponents. That way allows the left to frame the debate. You must be ready and willing to present your own positive agenda. Don’t allow the media to portray you as the obstructionist “party of no”.

Obama is now calling for compromise. Of course he is, because that line has worked on the GOP before. That is why government spending has increased since 1994 (the last time we had a big red electoral wave). You need to stop this spiral. If you don’t cut spending, the voters will once again turn on you and bring in the party that doesn’t even bother to be fiscally responsible. It’s stupid, I know, but it has happened time and time again.

Printing more money is not going to solve our woes. We need to tighten the national belt.

Alas, Poor Fimian

It looks like VA-11 is going to Connolly. I received an email from Fimian yesterday which stated that his campaign has decided not to seek a recount, as Fimian feels he can’t justify the expense to the taxpayers of Virginia (the vote was close enough that, under state law, Virginia would have to foot the bill).

On the one hand, I appreciate that this is a classy move. On the other hand, I sure wish our candidates weren’t such good sports, as that definitely puts us at a disadvantage when we battle the Democrats (who certainly have no such scruples when it comes to spending money to divine voter intent from dimpled chads).

This result is not unexpected – most people around here work for the federal government and therefore have a vested interest in keeping it bloated and wasteful – but it is still a heart-breaker. Phooey!

More on Voter Turnout

Recession, contested races spur turnout increase over 2006 midterms
Matthew Daly, AP

With more than 95 percent of precincts reporting, election data indicate that turnout Tuesday was up in at least nine states, including significant increases in Florida, Minnesota and Texas. Turnout appeared to be down slightly in several other states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Overall, turnout in the midterm elections was projected at 42 percent of registered voters, about 1.2 percentage points higher than in 2006.

The total popular vote nationwide was expected to reach about 90 million people, 6.2 million more than voted in 2006.

So there you have it. If you use a valid comparison – 2006 – turnout was actually up this year on the whole. Yes – in certain states, there were dips in participation, but there is no evidence that those missing voters would’ve supported the Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda if they had shown up at the polls. As a matter of fact, it is just as legitimate to suppose that those voters stayed home because they opposed the left but couldn’t bring themselves to fly against their lifelong habit and vote Republican.

Still, I encourage the left to continue nursing the fantasy that the American populace is secretly leftist in orientation. As you guys fly into outer space on clouds of your own fart gas, the rest of us will actually be able to get down to the business of developing practical solutions to our problems.

A Harsh Truth

Here’s the left’s latest spin on last week’s election: “The GOP wave doesn’t represent the will of the people because the voter turnout was low.”

My response: The size of the voter pool doesn’t matter. The civic engagement of the voter pool does.

The midterm voter pools have always been smaller, and the people who vote in these lower-profile races are generally people who are more invested in the future course of our nation. I hate to say it, but the opinions of people who keep carefully up-to-date on important political issues and vote in every election should take precedence over the opinions of those who can’t be arsed to get off their butts and vote when the presidential office is not up for grabs.

I suppose on this issue, I’m a bit of an elitist. I don’t want 100% voter participation. I don’t want a 100,000 18-year-old know-nothings flooding our polls to vote for the Daily Show ticket. I prefer to leave our fate in the hands of a much smaller group of informed teenagers regardless of their political leanings.

What Now?

Okay – so we conservatives and independents have spanked Obama good and hard. Now what do we do?

Allow me to make a few of my own proposals.

First, let’s talk about transparency. I do think Obama was right about one thing in his press conference yesterday: the voters were rejecting the current culture in Washington. Most Americans hate the smokey back room dealing – not to mention the thousand-page, waste-laden bills that result from these invisible negotiations. If our new Republican majority wishes to win over independent voters in particular, they need to aggressively fight for a decrease in pork barrel spending (perhaps via a line-item veto amendment). Obama stated yesterday that he would like to see an end to earmarks; congressional Republicans should hold him to this.

Moreover, the new Congress should do what Obama and the Democrats failed to do: they should televise their negotiations and debates. If Republicans want to make Obama look like an idiot (a goal I certainly support), they should fulfill his C-SPAN promise. And when they encounter hostility in the mainstream media – and they will for sure – they should bypass the alphabets and the newspapers completely and go right to the people. They should visit their constituents often and hold regular town halls. They shouldn’t do what the Democrats did; they shouldn’t hide from the voters or belittle them. If there’s one thing Americans hate, it’s elitism.

Second, let’s talk about the economy. Republicans do need to push for tax relief, but that’s not a panacea. We also need to relax innovation-killing regulations. If an African-American woman in inner-city DC wants to make money styling her neighbors’ hair, she shouldn’t be slammed with penalties for the sin of not being a “licensed hair salon.” Some regulation is necessary, but it’s time we start making distinctions between those regulations that are obligatory and those that are merely onerous for small businesses. Of course we don’t want sweat shops filled with child laborers, but letting Moesha earn a living braiding hair certainly won’t cause the end of civilization as we know it.

Third, let’s talk about Obamacare. Obama refused to admit it, but the American public is pissed about that law — and that did drive them to vote Republican.

Admittedly, I find it hard to be wholly objective in this particular instance. As a patient with a pre-existing condition who currently has to pay extremely high premiums for a bottom-of-the-barrel plan, I’m inclined to agree that people in my position should receive some form of relief. I am not above self-interest, I’m afraid. That doesn’t mean, however, that I support the new health care law as it stands; indeed, I generally agree that we should just scrap the whole thing and start over.

However, it is unrealistic at this point to push for a repeal; Obama would never sign such a measure into law. What we need to do is break the bill down into its particulars and affirm or challenge each provision in turn. We also need to add some things that the Democrats “forgot”. Here are some of my specific suggestions:

  • We should protect people with pre-existing conditions somehow — but keep in mind that if we are going to demand that insurance companies cover people like me, we either need an individual mandate (whose constitutionality is dubious) or we need to limit enrollments to certain times of the year to discourage last minute plan shopping. Otherwise, people will sit around and wait until they get sick to get coverage, and our insurance pools will be too small. I like the second option better because, you know, I like the Constitution — and because I will always prefer incentives to force. If some people want to forgo health insurance, they should be allowed to do so — but they should also know that they may not be able to get onto a plan right away if they do eventually get sick.
  • Keep coverage mandates to a minimum. Birth control is an industry standard at this point, so we need to keep that, but we shouldn’t force insurance companies to cover visits to the chiropractor, nor should we mandate coverage of purely cosmetic procedures and items. Did you know, for example, that Massachusetts mandates the coverage of hair prostheses? I feel for all those cancer patients who lose their hair due to chemotherapy treatments, but I’m sorry – a wig mandate is completely unnecessary.
  • Allow patients to purchase plans from other states! Republicans need to repeatedly stress the benefits of genuine competition.
  • Tort reform! Prices are up in part because doctors have to pay sky-high malpractice insurance premiums to protect themselves from ambulance-chasing trial lawyers.
  • Give young, healthy customers the option to purchase cut-rate catastrophic insurance. That way, you can pull at least some of their money into the general pool. Forcing young folks to pay for a Cadillac plan will only drive them away entirely.
  • Remember that the House controls the government’s purse. Congressional Republicans should block funding of the health care law’s more objectionable measures — but, as I noted above, they should clearly explain why they are doing so. Go around the media if necessary and talk to the people directly.

I know the temptation is great to start with a big, dramatic gesture, but I think our best bet is to begin with the stand-next-to-it-and-smile issues listed above. We will be much more successful in our larger campaign to embarrass Obama (again, a campaign I whole-heartedly embrace) if we give him the chance to reject modest reforms that most of the populace likes.

And don’t forget the local races!

The Morning Briefing: The Tsunami
@ Red State

The real story is the underreported story of the night — the Republican pick ups at the state level.

There will be 18 states subject to reapportionment. The Republicans will control a majority of those — at least ten and maybe a dozen or more. More significantly, a minimum of seventeen state legislative houses have flipped to the Republican Party.

The North Carolina Legislature is Republican for the first time since 1870. Yes, that is Eighteen Seventy.

The Alabama Legislature is Republican for the first time since 1876.

For those saying this is nothing because it is the South, consider these:

The entire Wisconsin and New Hampshire legislatures have flipped to the GOP by wide margins.

The State Houses in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Montana, and Colorado flipped to the GOP.

The Maine and Minnesota Senates flipped to the GOP.

The Texas and Tennessee Houses went from virtually tied to massive Republican gains. The gains in Texas were so big that the Republicans no longer need the Democrats to get state constitutional amendments out of the state legislature.

These gains go all the way down to the municipal level across the nation. That did not happen even in 1994.

Don’t let any liberal convince you that yesterday was a failure simply because we didn’t flip the U.S. Senate. Our gains were huge by any honest measure.

How to Vote

I present for your edification the minimum standard every eligible American should apply to their voting practices each year. “Look, honey, did you know there were elections on odd-numbered years??” 🙂

Most of us don’t have the energy, the passion of conviction, or the time to stay 100% informed on every election. We do, however, have the ability, on the night before election day, to spend a few hours researching the candidates and educating ourselves at least a little. This is precisely what I did last night with my significant other in order to prepare to vote in New York for the first time.

I am one of those people who, frankly, did not have the time to follow the campaigns with the same zeal that I follow presidential campaigns. My taste for political spin lessens with every passing month and I can’t bring myself to wade through the muck-raking and spin-doctoring for an entire campaign. That doesn’t mean I sholdn’t vote (we NEED to vote!)…but it does mean I have to do a little homework before I do. As I am not native to New York and don’t waste my time with network news anymore, I know virtually nothing about the inner workings of New York’s political engine. I do, however, have access to the internet and knowledge of non-partisan information sites. One such good site for disseminating general info about the candidates is the League of Women Voters. They are good enough to provide detailed backgrounds and web links for all of the various candidates in your jurisdiction and smart enough to avoid endorsing any candidates despite the fact that their rank and file workforce is left-leaning.

So I spent a good four hours last night methodically reading candidates’ responses to some simple interview questions provided by the LWV for NY (no spin in the questions…every candidate got the same form letter), clicking on links to those candidates’ websites. TONS of spin there…but I pride myself on being able to read through the spin and recognize buzz-words from actual ideas. If you don’t have that particular knack, it’s a skill you should hone…I mean that seriously. To be an informed voter, you need to be able to listen to what a candidate tells you about his platform and understand what word choices are rhetorically laden.

So I’ll go through the ballot in New York and explain my thoughts.

Starting with Governor.

In New York, the gubernatorial race is unfortunately very lopsided. The Democratic candidate – Andrew Cuomo has a very slick, very swag-driven campaign. His website is snazzy, he took the time to answer the LWV questionaire, he’s got his platform very skillfully laid out. The Republican candidate – Carl Paladino – is evidently clueless. Not only did he completely fail to provide a link to the LWV (a web search turned up his very rustic looking website) or answer their questionaire…but his television commercials (which I YouTube searched) were comically poorly produced and he failed entirely to expressed his agenda…they were attack ads on liberal policies in New York and nothing more. I know spin when I see it…Cuomo’s undoubtedly a political insider with a lot of “in crowd” support, which would normally turn me off, but Paladino seems completely without a clue as to what he would actually do in New York and hopelessly inept at communicating to the people of New York. I therefore voted for Andrew Cuomo.

The State Comptroller race was an interesting one. The incumbent democrat (DiNapoli) definitely has a resume that is largely driven by who he has known over the years. His political track record is…pretty weak…he has three election losses under his belt and he was not amongst the finalists for the Comptroller position when the committee to oversee the transition after the previous incumbent resigned under a cloud of suspicion regarding ethical violations (kick backs for businesses who supported his campaigns, etc) met to make its recommendation. His nomination was a big surprise. However, he does get a lot of credit for leading the panel that ousted the unethical incumbent. On the GOP side we’ve got Wilson…a man whose background includes such ENORMOUS feathers in his cap as being a leading figure on the team that reworked General Motors and saved the huge company from bankruptcy and a reputation as being somewhat ruthless in his quest to make companies run under fiscally responsible budgets (there are attack ads comparing DiNapoli pro-job-creation policies to Wilson’s firing of thousands of employees at an upstate industrial plant and suggesting that Wilson would cut government jobs and clobber New York’s artificial middle class). His ideas all seemed to be driven by logic whereas DiNapoli’s ideas seem to be driven by momentum and establishment. If you do a modicum of reading about both men, it becomes clear that this is a classic race between a politico and a foot soldier who actually knows what he’s doing and has therefore pissed a lot of people off by doig the necessary but unpopular thing on many occasions. I therefore voted for Wilson.

For State Attourney General, we’ve got a battle between a pie in the sky idealist with a background in public policy advocacy and a district attourney with a track record for being tough on crime and ending corruption in his New York City district. I’ll give you one guess which one is the GOP representative? 🙂 Eric Schneiderman’s own website emphasizes his background defending abortion clinics from “anti-choice obstructionists,” defending women in sexual harrassment litigation, protecting immigrants from swift deportation, etc etc. Dan Donovan, meanwhile, inherited an office which was hopelessly corrupt, cleaned house, and successfully raised that jurisdiction’s conviction rate to over 90%…the highest in the state for Felony conviction rates. This is a man of (outmoded) ideas vs. a man of action. My vote WITH CONFIDENCE goes to Dan Donovan.

The Federal congressional and senatorial seats are less interesting, unfortunately.

In the senate, it looks like the GOP was punting the race against Chuck Schumer. Their candidate Jay Townsend has not made more than a handful of public apeparances in New York media…nor has he bothered to answer the simple questionaire for the LWV. That’s a FAIL. Chuck Schumer reluctently got my vote.

The other senate seat is to replace Hilary Clinton (YAY!!)…and here we’ve got Kristin Gillibrand for the Dems and Joseph DioGuardi…DioGuardi is a center-pulling GOPer if ever there was one…for example, he’s pro-green-economy (but includes Nuclear Power on his list of ways to be more green…YES!), he’s anti-closed-border (not strict on immigration reform), pro-gay-marriage…he’s a fiscal conservative, but he emphasizes needing to protect medicare and Social Security (by workig to repeal Obama’s harmful “Obamacare” package and write a bill that has a chance of working long term). His opponent is a raving left-wing moonbat…LOL Seriously…google her website and enjoy the show. 🙂 DioGuardi got my vote (one from each party…that’s balance for ya)

The Congressional race that I had access to…the 1st NY State district…was very unpopular incumbent Tim Bishop vs. newcomer Randy Altschuler…Bishop is not favored around these parts because he has not been particularly forthcoming with his plans for the district and his two-year term has produced no measurable gains for the region. Altschuler is running some very aggressive attack ads and doesn’t strike me as all that great a candidate, but the tie goes to the right in my book, so Altschuler got my vote.

Beyond that, there were a half dozen new positions in Nwe York Circuit court, family court, and civil court…I abstained there because I do not know enough about New York’s justice system to make an informed decision. I did, however, support two propositions from Brookhaven Township regarding putting a cap on property tax hikes and on county spending budgets (not more than 4% per year for either).

That is a MINIMUM standard for voter preparation. I wish this standard was taught in our public schools.