Thursday, February 25, 2010

Campaign ads for 2012 already written

(Illustrated by RW--click to enlarge)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

(Illustrated by RW--click image to enlarge)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

You know you're in trouble. . .

(illustrated by RW--click to enlarge)

. . .when you ask Harry Reid to explain something to the crowd--ANY crowd! Is there any doubt about who's setting the agenda on Capitol Hill right now?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Illustrated by RW--click image to enlarge.

(illustration by RW--click to enlarge)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

what will determine the outcome in 2010?

I remember a wise person--my brother--writing during the 2008 campaign that it is hard to tell what issues will happen in the next several months that will help shape the outcome of a November election.

We are now less than 9 months away from the next "big" election, and again the question becomes: what will be the issues that get voters to the booth and help make up their minds?

Unquestionably the GOP has momentum right now. But things change in politics, sometimes even overnight. And there's a lot of "overnights" between now and November.

For example, who expected the unemployment rate to drop below 10% in January? I know that people "in the know" still found that report less than reassuring, but let's look at the number for what it is: at face value, a move in the right direction. And elections are determined at face value. A few more reports of this nature and the Dems may have an avenue to sweep aside the "moderate" angst about the stimulus. The GOP hasn't, in my view, succeeded in associating the stimulus with corruption, political favors, or out-and-out fraud--the negative narrative surrounding the bill is about the rising unemployment rate. And the time to change that argument is really lost. So the stimulus is associated with the unemployment rate--and I personally do believe that number is going to continue to improve (mostly because it is a horrible marker for the strength of the employment picture).

If the Dems are smart, they'll stop talking about HCR now (in this regard, maybe Obama's ego will actually save this issue for the GOP). That bill will be forever tainted by the backroom deals of January. Even non-followers of the political process understand that having labor unions forging legislation while the minority party isn't even in the room is not how "bipartisanship" works, and the Dems paid for that move dearly in MA. If the Congress presses forward on this bill in March and April, I expect anger to still be alive and well in November. Which is why I honestly believe that, barring any enormous missteps by the GOP delegation at the Health Care Summit later this month, that meeting will be much ado about nothing.

I also expect the market to continue a resurgence. There is an enormous amount of optimism in the market, and even Obama is starting to talk nice regarding major free market forces. It's funny that nobody expects the real estate market to return to pre-bubble levels, but I rarely hear a similar talking down with regards to the stock market. DJIA stand at over 10K right now; if by October that number is up to 11K (and it's been over 10.5 already this year), then expect the Dems to get some credit for improving the confidence in our economy.

So if the job situation is SEEN as improving, and health care (and by association all the rest of the leftist liberal agenda) is shelved for a spell, and confidence in the economy is improving, what issue will drive "independent" voters in November to "throw the bums out"?

My vote: gas prices.

Keep in mind: the summer of 2008 saw the average price of a gallon of gas shoot to over $4, and it was such a "winning" argument that some GOP Congresspeople stayed in DC during the August recess demanding that the Congress take action to alleviate the cost pressure. The GOP's attempts, however, went nowhere, because they were the minority party and the Dems didn't care to do anything except Blame Bush.

But there's something important to understand here: AT FACE VALUE, Bush WAS Washington. The American people were quite comfortable associating everything bad in DC with W. So even though Bush likely couldn't have done anything to help the gas prices settle lower, in the public mind it was just another failure of his Presidency.

Enter 2010. Gas prices right now are, on average, about 90% of what they were at this time in 2008. Already that's a bad place to start; in '08 gas prices peaked 33% higher than their Febrary levels, and last year they increased almost 50% from their February levels.

Keep in mind: those increases over the Spring and Summer of the last two years were driven by market forces. Those same market forces may well be in play this year (in fact, the Dems NEED them to be in play--especially last year's recovery), but there's one major new player at the table this year: Iran.

When does the saber-rattling turn into something more? When does A-jad DEMAND an end to sanctions in terms that the whole world feels? And please keep in mind: Iran's rulers have taken stock of Obama by now, and found him to be weak. Fear of reprisal is unlikely to dissuade Iran from doing anything this summer.

Put it all together, and I think this summer is going to hurt at the gas pumps. And when the pain is felt this time, there will be no question who's hands are at the wheel.

And August anger is not a good thing for a majority party heading into November.

Hence the reason I advocate every single GOP candidate has a clear, concise AND OFT- ARTICULATED energy policy: "all of the above" (thank you, T. Boone Pickens), with an eye towards incorporating zero- and low-carbon footprint energy sources when such technology is both real AND cost-beneficial. For now, though, it means exploring, developing and utilizing our natural resources--and all the JOBS that come with such work are not exactly an unmentionable side-effect of such initiatives.

If the GOP gets in front of this energy wave--and means it!--there will be enormous gains in November.

While you still can (i.e. before the primaries have passed), get your candidates on the record regarding how they propose to solve America's energy crisis. That's the next great arena where DC--as it's governed today--is out of touch with the people, and as such it should be the target of the minority party. It's just very convenient--maybe even karma--that this particular arena is one where conservative principles (market-based solutions, discounting of phony science as a cause for policy) have a natural alignment to the best solutions.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

To go or not to go???

So the President has invited Congressional GOP leaders to attend a summit in two weeks to help get health care back on track.

There's a lot of hemming and hawing on the right about this. Let me give you my 45-second take:

1. Go--but you better go prepared. Which includes. . .
2. Expect the President to change the rules as the event unfolds. This is a trap, plain and simple. Which isn't to say the GOP shouldn't be there--just that we should not expect anything other than a trap, and should plan accordingly. Expect that the "understanding" of the ground rules prior to the event will not necessarily reflect the actual event. The GOP "leadership" has 2 weeks to learn the ins and outs of the substantive arguments on the table AND the agreed-upon rules to the meeting; the Dems have 2 weeks to game the rules to maximize the optical impact for their side (understanding of the issues is secondary to those who make the rules). Our side has the tougher task, even if they. . .
3. Are very clear about a few things, to the point of even putting it in an opening statement and releasing that statement to the media well in advance of the event. No matter where the conversation goes, keep hitting back to these very digestible points. Those things should be:

a) Health Care reform is not the People's priority--it is the President's. And honestly, Mr. President, we've got more important things to talk about (like jobs, "rights" for terrorists, and did I mention jobs?). And if the Dems state that people are dying and that changes need to take place now, simply ask where is that urgency in any of the bills considered to date? Where is it stated that any CARE is going to change the day after the bill is signed? Lack of urgency in the legislation betrays any urgency in passage of the legislation--and reference the stimulus if you must. (In fact, please do!);
b) Have you, Mr. President, reviewed the proposals offered by the GOP? Have you asked Pelosi to review the proposals?
c) All the Dem proposals require increased revenue from the taxpayer base--how can you allow this, Mr President? Bottom line is that any person paying more for their health care (which of course includes all the people that might get stuck with a "mandate") OR having their insurance change for the worse while paying the same (or higher) rate as a result of any bill is an effect that we can ill-afford in the current economic reality;
c) Where is tort reform? We'll know you, Mr. President, are serious about health care reform when all options are on the table; we have studies that show tort reform can save 8- or 9-digits per year off the deficit starting immediately--why is this not part of the package? To put it as plain as we can: we will not vote for any bill that does not INCLUDE significant Tort reform--period;
d) The continuous repeating of the "tons of money saved by cutting down on inefficiencies of Medicare" needs to stop now! Cut back on the inefficiencies immediately--you've been President for a year and your party has had control of Congress for three years. If there's any savings to be had in current government-provided programs, why haven't you realized that already? Are you incompetent--which really says a lot about how this health care reform will be implemented--or are you simply stating something which you know is impossible to realize? Either way, Washington has not shown a penchant for gleaming Medicare efficiency dollars back into the Treasury--and we won't believe you will start until you SHOW us a track record of success in that arena;
e) Refuse to even talk about either the Senate or House bills, or anything that Reid and Pelosi throw together in the interim. If the GOP hasn't participated in a Congressional bill, it has no place at this "bipartisan" meeting. If the President mentions "his" bill, ask him to present it, ready for publication to the major media. In the absence of a bill from the White House, if the President wants a bipartisan effort, that effort needs to start with a clean slate and a finger-wagging from the President to Reid and Pelosi about the corruption of their earlier efforts. Obama at least tacitly approved of their tactics--if he wants to start anew, he needs to set the tone. Disgust over the health care proposals was AT LEAST as much about process as it was about specifics--and you, Mr President, own that process as much as anybody else at the table.

4) Just because the President will want to limit the participants doesn't mean we have to accept without negotiation. Get Ryan and Gregg in the room! If they are not allowed, make sure that point is made every which way til Tuesday--what kind of bipartisanship is the President interested in if he won't even allow all the voices to be heard?

And as was written somewhere else--probably HotAir--it sure would be nice if one of the GOP's legislators would remember to ask probing questions of the President. Make him committal while the GOP remains non-committal (except on Tort reform); make him state his priorities, not just in vague pie-in-the-sky terms but in specifics (coverage for illegal aliens, for example); in short, take advantage of the cameras and a supposedly two-way conversation and make him talk off-script for a second. Remember: we WANT to engage on every topic under the sun. We are not the party of "no"--we're the party that can stand up and say "not that way" when the way proposed is wrong. And we have alternatives to what the current Congressional leadership is offering--what a great way to get those ideas heard!