Hurricane optics: how important is “looking presidential?”

From Human Events:

Everyone is wondering how the “optics” of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath will affect the presidential election.  Obviously, the sitting President has more to do with disaster relief than his challenger, which gives him opportunities to “look presidential.”  President Obama duly sat for some photo ops in which he held a telephone and looked deeply concerned.  The defensive nature of such optics is important to remember – it would be deadly for any incumbent to appear even slightly disconnected during a hurricane aftermath.  The winds of Hurricane Katrina will forever blow through the windmills of the media mind.

Unquestionably, one of Obama’s greatest political advantages to come in the wake of Hurricane Sandy is the domestication of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  Christie was formerly an outspoken critic of the President, and one of Mitt Romney’s most forceful surrogates, but now he has nothing but gushing praise for Obama’s handling of the disaster.

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President Obama Jabs At Ayn Rand, Knocks Himself Out

From Forbes:

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama stated, “Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up.”

I’m not trying to mock the President here – he is just repeating an old propaganda line that was hatched by Rand’s opponents – but I have to ask the “adults” who claim they outgrew Rand exactly what earth-shattering insight they have learned against her solution to the problem of universals? Against her solution to the is-ought problem? To her foundation of knowledge in the axiomatic validity of sense perception? To her theory of the locus of free will? How about her theory of aesthetics?

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Morning Bell: The Specter of Taxmageddon Rises

From The Foundry:

On this Halloween, a truly frightening specter is looming.

No amount of garlic, crosses, or exorcists can help us—only Congress and the President can chase this ghoul away.

It’s Taxmageddon.

A horrifying combination of expiring pro-growth tax policies from 2001 and 2003, the end of the once-temporary payroll tax cut, and just a few of Obamacare’s 18 new tax hikes, Taxmageddon will be the largest tax increase EVER to hit Americans. It’s nearly $500 billion in one year, starting January 1. That’s two months away.

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Former AG Mukasey: we haven’t gotten competence or honesty from Obama on Benghazi

From Human Events:

Mukasey runs through the forest of red flags surrounding the Benghazi consulate prior to September 11, and discusses the “stand down” orders emanating from yet-mysterious sources somewhere within… well, somewhere, because everyplace they could be within has denied they are within there.

He also discusses the inability of American intelligence teams to interrogate the captured Tunisian linked to the attacks.  ”This is a case of people who are blinded by ideology,” says Mukasey, “looking through an ideological lens, and seeing a ‘crime’ where everyone else sees an act of terrorism.”

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Fast and Furious: Where Was the Leadership at the Department of Justice?

From The Foundry:

On Monday, Representative Darrell Issa (R–CA) and Senator Charles Grassley (R–IA) released Part II of their promised three-part report titled Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation.

As described in a Heritage Legal Memorandum, Part I focused on the involvement of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which ran the operation from its Phoenix bureau. It contained a compelling narrative regarding this botched law enforcement operation, especially the lack of serious supervision of some terrible on-the-ground decisions that had deadly consequences, including the fatal shooting of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

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What’s Scary: Federal Spending Per Household

From The Foundry:

On this Halloween, ghastly, ghoulish garb and haunted houses aren’t the only sources of spookiness in Washington. Americans across the country have cause for alarm, because the federal government spent a spine-chilling $29,691 per household in 2012.

As The Heritage Foundation’s “Federal Spending by the Numbers—2012” shows, federal spending per household has grown 29 percent since 2002, when it stood at $23,010. Put another way, $29,691 is about two-thirds of the median household income. On a larger scale, total federal spending in 2012 reached $3.6 trillion, or 22.9 percent of the entire U.S. economy.

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Obama’s revised pitch features hard sell of record, mockery of rival

From The Washington Times:

In the home stretch of his final campaign, President Obama has ditched the language of lower expectations once prominent in his stump speech, focusing instead on a repackaged jobs plan and adding a heavy dose of ridicule for Republican rival Mitt Romney.

When he embarked on his re-election bid more than a year ago, the president often sounded as if he was on a mission to win back liberal supporters in a nonexistent Democratic primary. In his standard campaign speech, Mr. Obama would remind voters of the excitement generated by his candidacy in 2008 and would try to explain in apologetic tones why the pace of change was so slow in the four years since.

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Reform for California Only a Vote Away

Anyone who still has the hope of reforming California knows that it must begin with the political system. Far too many politicians in California are so heavily influenced by big money that constituents seem to be nothing more than an afterthought and a group to pander to for political advertisements.

For many years politicians have sought political contributions from corporations and unions, then voted the way those special interests ordered.

And, unfortunately, too many politically ambitious Republicans have gone along with the big-government party plan instead of thwarting the political dominance from unions and big corporations.

The only way to begin real reform in the Golden State is to neuter the money influences. Proposition 32, the “Paycheck Protection” ballot initiative, could begin the reform process.

Big bucks spending

Prop. 32 would end the questionable practice of the automatic deduction of funds from employee paychecks for political purposes; would end union and corporate contributions to political candidates; and would end government contractor contributions to elected officials. The prohibition applies to labor unions and corporations, as well as to government contractors.

In only the last 10 years, the California Teachers Association, the Service Employees International Union, and the California State Employee Association, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying and political contributions, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission. Prominent members of the FPPC’s “Billion Dollar Club,” the CTA, a public employee union, spent $211.9 million, and the SEIU spent $107.5 million.

Between 2000 and 2010, the CSEA spent $31.8 million and the California Correctional Police Officers Association spent $32.4 million. Both are public employee unions.

From the private sector, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spending came in at $104.9 million between 2000 and 2010, the California Hospital Association spent $43.2 million, and the California Chamber of Commerce spent $39 million.

Utilities spent a great deal of ratepayer money as well: PG&E spent $69.3 million, AT&T $59.6 million and Southern California Edison $43.4 million.

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians spent $83.6 million, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians spent $69.3 million, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians spent $49 million. There were three additional bands of American Indians that spent a combined $77 million.

The California Realtors Association spent $33.3 million. Even the trial lawyers association spent $21.3 million between 2000 and 2010.

Local political spending

The shocking spending increase in local political races should prove that the big political spenders think that local races matter even more than local voters do.

In 2010, a friend of mine ran for the Sacramento City Unified School District Board of Directors. She was eminently qualified for the position. What should have been a local grassroots campaign turned into a dogged political battle when the AFL-CIO gave her opponent $30,000. She lost to union power.

I recently reported on the three Charter City initiatives on the November ballot. EscondidoCosta Mesa, and Grover Beach, currently general law cities under the California Constitution, are asking voters to allow the important change to charter cities.

Currently, California’s 121 charter cities have the authority to determine their own policies concerning their municipal affairs. Some cities have used the charter more wisely than others. The three cities vying for charter approval plan to use the new charters to circumvent overbearing state mandates requiring that they pay prevailing union wages on public projects.

But the labor and public employee unions aren’t going to allow this to become law without a fight.

In the Costa Mesa charter city battle, the “Taxpayers for Open and Accountable Government,” a group largely funded by the Orange County Employees Association, already has spent $360,000 to defeat the measure. Kevin Dayton, with Labor Issue Solutions, broke the contribution down:

* $274,634 from the Orange County Employees Association;

* $20,000 from the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association;

* $10,000 from the California Federation of Teachers;

* $5,000 from the Orange County Labor Federation AFL-CIO;

* $5,000 from the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals.

Dayton reported that $110,000 has been collected by “Committee for Costa Mesa’s Future,” which is sponsored by labor unions. In fact, Dayton found that all of the $110,000 came from the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperation Committee.

And $8,229.30 has been spent by “Costa Mesans 4 Responsible Government” against Costa Mesa’s Measure V. This big labor organization has collected a total of $39,439.67, according to Dayton. “Besides opposing Measure V, this group is trying to get a slate of three pro-union, anti-charter candidates elected to replace three fiscally responsible, pro-charter incumbent city council members,” Dayton reported.

Prop. 32′s lofty goal

Should Prop. 32 pass, the current pay-to-play, “money-in, favors out” system will largely end, and unions will be neutered monetarily. Employees should be able to decide where their vote and political contributions go, instead of by a union boss or board of directors.

The fight may not be a new one. But it’s clear that unions have outlived their usefulness. Today unions are only political money laundering machines.

(Katy Grimes is a longtime political analyst, writer and journalist, and CalWatchdog’s news reporter. Originally posted on CalWatchdog.)

California: The Honey Boo Boo State

If the latest polling from the Los Angeles Times/USC from October 15-21 holds true, California voters will pick Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by 14 points. Among the results of the bluest of the blue states, California’s vote will be, at best, mediocre. According to Real Clear Politics, New York is expected to go for Obama by 29 points, Massachusetts by 20 and Maryland by 19.

On ballot propositions, mediocrity also will rule.  Less than 30 percent of the state’s likely voters feel the state is going in the right direction, according to a September PPIC poll. But these same voters appear ready to sheepishly accept the wrong direction and cast votes that will shove the state further down a path they don’t like.

According to the October 26 Around the Capitol polling averages, Californians are expected to vote for continuing the Sacramento status quo of tax and spend, and for granting public employee unions a continuation of their dominant power.Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax hike, is ahead by eight points. And Proposition 32, which would deprive the public unions of guaranteed political contributions from their members, is trailing by over five points.

The people also appear to continue their longstanding willingness to buy any fear-mongering thrown their way by trial attorneys with the expected passage by more than 10 points of Proposition 37, the genetically engineered foods labeling law. Did Californians learn anything from the biggest of the trial attorney propositions, 1986’s Proposition 65, which has soaked businesses for nearly half a billion dollars in fines and settlements, while providing no perceivable benefit to society? Apparently not.

Sub-par the norm

What’s going on with California? Simple: It’s become the Honey Boo Boo state, where the sub-par has become accepted as the norm, as personified by Shannon, Mike and Honey Boo Boo Thompson on TLC’s reality show, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”

Cal State University Fullerton economist Mira Farka recently referred to the sluggish national economy as “the Honey Boo Boo economy,” but the term fits the state of affairs in California even better. We may not lead in many measures, but clearly we’re way ahead in accepting what should be defiantly rejected.

The Hollywood Reporter called the Honey Boo Boo show “horrifying,” and added, “’Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ is a car crash, and everybody rubber-necks at a car crash, right?” How many times have we heard California referred to as a car crash or a train wreck? How often do visiting friends and family from more functional states grill us about what’s wrong with California, in the rhetorical counterpart to gawking at a crash scene?

They ask why San Franciscans qualified a ballot measure (since thrown out by the courts) that would have banned circumcision? Why, in the face of a $16 billion budget deficit, do California legislatures busy themselves considering banning the sale of push pins (AB 1820)? And how can these same chronic spendthrifts vote with a straight face to support a resolution recognizing frugal shoppers through National Coupon Month (ACR 99)?

Why, if the state spends three times more on social welfare programs than it should, according to national per capita averages, is any cut to these programs reported as “cutting a swath through programs for the poor”? And how can Brown propose to hike the state’s income tax to the highest in the nation, while still pursuing a $62 billion high-speed train to nowhere?

The answer is simple: Voters in the Honey Boo Boo state appear content to vote again in 2012 to endorse the policies, politicians and power-brokers that have made mere mediocrity a seemingly out of reach goal for the state.

(Laer Pearce is a California public affairs consultant and the author of Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State. Originally posted on CalWatchdog.)

ZoNation: Pro-Death Democrats Need to Stop Accusing Republicans of Extremism