"A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take away everything you have."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas to all!

If you haven't seen it already (or even if you have) I encourage you to watch Charlie Brown Christmas. Here is my favorite part, with Linus on "what Christmas is all about." Can you believe they used to show this stuff on TV, and that it's still running today!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Food Safety Modernization Act

I had intended to write about this piece of legislation in a more timely fashion (shortly after it came up for vote in the Senate Thanksgiving week) but other things came up. Now I see that S. 510, the so-called Food Safety Modernization Act, has passed the House and is heading to the President's desk. This occured in spite of consitutionality questions; since this legislation is considered revenue-generating it should have originated in the House, not in the Senate. The Complete Patient (also see previous posts) has written several posts with great analysis.

The bill is intended to bring food safety into the present after outbreaks of foodborn illness. In fact it greatly increases FDA oversight of farming and the food industry, and increases extremely burdensome regulations on food production. Senator Tom Coburn, who outspokenly opposed the bill, believes that the increased regulation would not actually make food safer. He said: "The problem with food safety is the agencies don't do what they're supposed to be doing now. They don't need more regulations. They need less." Sen. Coburn also objected to the cost of the new legislation, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates as a "negligible" $1.4 million over four years.

Originally there was a great deal of outcry (from the few who knew this bill existed) because the new regulations would apply to all food production regardless of size. Sen. John Tester proposed an amendment as a solution to this problem, exempting small farms and those who sell at farmer's markets. Though this appeared to be a solution for small farms, instead of simply exempting them it apparantly places the burden on the farmer to prove that he is exempt. It looks like the FDA could inspect any time it chose. It also appears that the legislation would resurrect the failed National Animal Identification System, which required farmers to register every animal owned. Farming is not a neat and tidy business that can be laid out on paper and expected to remain somewhat constant (is any business, really?). To require extensive records from any business is a huge imposition and only impedes that business' activity and progress. The farmer, depending on his operation, must either hire someone to do the additonal paperwork or do it himself. Either way this greatly reduces the efficiency of his resources and prevents his business from performing to the full extent of his capability. Greater oversight makes the system more cumbersome and will do nothing to keep the people safe.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dennis Prager Calls Out the Music Industry

This column by Dennis Prager is excellent, although it is a very sad indictment of the American music industry (and pop culture at large).

More Thoughts on WikiLeaks

In my previous post on WikiLeaks, a commenter included a link to this Salon article by Glenn Greenwald defending WikiLeaks' actions as good and even necessary. The article is very long and I can't respond point-by-point to everything in the article, but I wanted to respond to some of the major claims made in the article, which are similar to some other comments that I have heard in conversations on the topic.

Key to everything Greenwald writes is his claim that "those who expose secrets are far more hated than those in power who commit heinous acts using secrecy as their principal weapon." Now, the question is, what exactly are these "heinous acts" that Greenwald refers to? He doesn't explicitly define them, but one can hazard a pretty good guess about what he means by reading the entire article. He clearly considers the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to be in this category -- later in the article he goes so far as to include a "superb" quote that claims the U.S. "lie[d] blatantly to the entire world in order to invade a country it has long wanted to invade." This is completely false, of course -- Bush relied on U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies in determining that Iraq had WMD's, and nearly everyone else in Congress with access to that intelligence believed the same thing. The war was definitely based on faulty intelligence, but that is very different from claiming that Bush lied or misled the public into a war, a claim for which there is zero evidence. It is also fairly clear that Greenwald considers pretty much all of our country's tactics in the War on Terror, from wiretapping to enhanced interrogations to military tribunals to drone attacks against terrorists, to be "heinous acts."

This is an extremely important point to understand about Greenwald's argument. He not only does not support an aggressive prosecution of the War on Terror, but he actually thinks the U.S. has committed war crimes and deliberate murders of innocent civilians. Therefore, he believes the leaking of classified documents by WikiLeaks is justified because it exposes these crimes by our government. He believes the U.S. government is committing heinous crimes and therefore must be exposed, thwarted, and opposed in whatever way possible. Now, whether my readers agree or disagree with this, I don't see how there can be any debate that it is a deeply anti-American position. It assumes the U.S. is to blame for most of the problems in the world, and therefore cheers an organization that exists for the sole purpose of embarrassing its leaders and jeopardizing its international missions.

I couldn't be more passionately opposed to such a view. I believe our government has become sadly incompetent and corrupt in many ways, but I do not believe for a moment that the U.S. has committed heinous crimes on the international scene. Supposedly, according to Greenwald, WikiLeaks is shining a spotlight on these heinous crimes, but he provides not one example of a heinous crime committed by the U.S. government in any of these thousands of leaked documents. That is because the documents do not expose wrongdoing by the U.S. government. They do not reveal heinous crimes. It would be one thing if Assange were leaking a couple of specific documents that reveal crimes perpetrated or covered up by our government. That, in my opinion, would be justified. Instead, Assange is indiscriminately leaking thousands of classified documents, none of which expose crimes but all of which compromise our government's position in some way on the international scene. Assange is not a whistle-blower; he is an anti-American troublemaker. This provides an answer for the question that seems to puzzle Greenwald -- the question as to why so many liberals as well as conservatives have condemned WikiLeaks so harshly. The answer is simple: liberals as well as conservatives love our country and want to see it succeed and prosper.

What Greenwald doesn't seem to understand (or care about) is that our country is at war. There is an organization out there called Al Qaeda that wants to kill as many Americans as possible. Al Qaeda is supported and aided by many other radical organizations and national governments around the world. It has been a long time since 9/11, but several recent terrorist attacks and narrow escapes should remind us that this war is still very real. Because our enemies transcend national borders and operate with deception and secrecy, we cannot wage a conventional war against them. We also have to operate with deception and secrecy to track them down and destroy them. We have to take proactive measures such as enhanced interrogations to determine their plans before they strike and kill thousands of civilians. And of course, there is the little fact that we have hundreds of thousands of troops on the ground in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. Classified documents are classified to protect their lives and the lives of foreign individuals and governments who are cooperating with and helping them. When that classified information is released indiscriminately, the lives of our military men and women are endangered and their mission is threatened. Leaking classified information is always dangerous, but especially so during wartime. Perhaps Greenwald doesn't think the wars are just, but is that any reason to put the lives of our troops in danger? They are just following orders and putting their lives on the line to defend us. Must they be sacrificed as collateral damage so Assange and Greenwald can get their kicks from embarrassing the U.S. government?

Greenwald's attitude is sadly typical of a sizable group of liberals and libertarians who think they are being patriotic when in fact they oppose our country at every turn. I am proud of our country and the fact that we have stood and continue to stand on the side of freedom and democracy around the globe while opposing tyranny and aggression (admittedly, this is becoming less and less of the case under Obama). You can argue about whether not the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were worth the cost or whether they made us safer, but you can't argue about the fact that we rescued millions of Muslims from two of the most evil, repressive regimes in the world -- Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. After taking control of Iraq, we worked to create a stable government and transition to local rule instead of exploiting it for personal gain. When we entered Iraq, we were welcomed as liberators, and the Iraqi people willingly tried Hussein for war crimes and executed him. We rescued Kuwaiti Muslims from Iraqi invasion, and Bosnian Muslims from Serbian brutality. We saved Grenada, South Korea, and most of Europe from the evil of Communism. We have spoken out against human rights abuses around the world, stopped genocide in Rwanda, fought the AIDS epidemic in Africa, and stood in solidarity with dissidents in China and Iran. Not every action we have taken internationally has been successful or turned out the way we wanted (think Vietnam War), but I would challenge Greenwald to point out even one example where our intention was not clearly to protect the security of our country and our allies and to promote freedom and democracy. Our international involvement for the past century has meant nothing but good to the world. When our country fails in its international missions and goals, democracy is set back and terrorists and dictators everywhere are emboldened. If we fail in Afghanistan, who wins? The Taliban and the terrorist organizations they support. If we fail to kill terrorist leaders and dismantle terrorist organizations around the world, then the lives of millions of Americans are endangered. Our country is at war, and Greenwald apparently is not on our side.

Some of Greenwald's points are just laughable. For example, he ridicules Wolf Blitzer of CNN for making the obviously correct point that the government should take swift action to keep our national secrets secure. The fact that Greenwald thinks its an outrage for journalists to call on the U.S. government to guard important national security secrets more closely shows just how radically anti-American he is. Sorry, but in wartime every government has the obvious right to keep certain information secret, and if you don't believe that you are either too clueless to be writing a national column or you are actively rooting for our country's military to be defeated. To attack journalists for taking steps to protect sensitive information that could endanger the lives of our troops or our allies is really rather shocking to me. If the New York Times is too hawkish and pro-military for Greenwald, then he truly is delusional. The fact is, even an organization as deeply distrustful of the U.S. military as the Times still has enough moral decency and respect for our troops and our country to not blab every national security secret willy-nilly. The American media has an ethical responsibility to not endanger our troops overseas or to unnecessarily oppose our country's legitimate international objectives. They take that responsibility far less seriously today than they have for most of our country's history, but apparently the fact that they have any moral qualms whatsoever about actively rooting against our country's wartime interests is upsetting to some people.

That doesn't mean that EVERYTHING Greenwald writes is off base. He is right that Assange cannot be tried for treason, as he is not an American citizen. However, the army private that stole the documents for our government IS an American, and he can be tried for treason. He also makes a good point that the U.S. government needs to be very careful about assassinating supposed enemies without due process, including Assange, and that we as conservatives should be careful to be responsible and thoughtful in our comments about the government "eradicating" people we don't like. But overall, I think Greenwald is deeply misguided and is supporting an organization that is deeply hostile and dangerous to U.S. interests.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Update on Yesterday's Prayer Vigil

I wanted to give my readers an update on the press conference and prayer vigil from yesterday. There was a large crowd of people there -- especially impressive given the fact that there was only 72 hours notice. The Washington Post reported 300 people, but I think the number was significantly higher than that. (Remember the big Tea Party protest in Washington DC last year that drew 300,000 - 500,000 or more people? The Washington Post reported that "tens of thousands of people" showed up.) My sister-in-law counted around 600 people during the prayer walk, and a number of people including myself had already left by that time. I saw 30 people from my church there, and there were probably more I didn't see. There were also a few counter-protestors -- probably no more than 30 or so. Many of them were holding signs saying "Pro-Child, Pro-Faith, Pro-Choice. Come on, didn't you know that sending a healthy baby into fatal cardiac arrest is GOOD for the baby?

Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition started the rally by asking everyone to kneel and pray, reminding us that we come in humility to plead for God's mercy. Throughout the event, I was impressed with the spirit of the attendees. There were no violent signs or angry rhetoric. Several of the speakers emphasized God's love for both mother and baby and His offer of forgiveness to women who had had abortions. The event was carefully coordinated with the police to ensure that there were no disruptions and that everything was peaceful. We were there not so much because we are against something but because we are for something -- something precious and valuable. We stand for life and for the protection of innocent children. It was encouraging to stand alongside so many other like-minded people.

Several local pastors, including my own, spoke briefly. Two of the speeches that touched my heart the most were from women. One was a Catholic woman who had held a prayer vigil with her two children outside the Germantown abortion clinic every Friday for four years. She had been toiling alone for years, and you could see how much it meant to her to finally see the Christian community mobilized. Another powerful speech was from a woman who had a late-term abortion when she was 14 years old. Her abortionist was George Tiller, a close associate of Leroy Carhart's. She deeply regrets her decision to kill her healthy baby and has become a pro-life advocate.

After the speeches there was a brief question-and-answer session with the press, and then the crowd walked around the shopping center, praying alone or in small groups. The center was cordoned off with yellow tape, which Mahoney noted was significant. After all, the police use yellow tape to denote a crime scene.

While it was encouraging to see such a large turnout, this rally is just the beginning, as several speakers noted. We had held out hope that the board of directors of the condo association that runs the shopping center would decide to kick Carhart and his clinic out of the shopping center during their emergency meeting yesterday, but apparently they decided they did not have a legal option to do so. We have to continue to keep the pressure on Leroy Carhart and his clinic and make it clear that we are not going away. My pastor said that we have a four-pronged strategy to fight this evil: continuing prayer, continuing protests, opening up a pregnancy center in a vacant building across the street from the clinic, and working to pass legislation to ban late-term abortions in Maryland. It is an uphill fight in a left-wing pro-abortion state like Maryland, but with God all things are possible. To stand by and do nothing while a grave injustice is being perpetrated right in our back yard makes us just as responsible as the people perpetrating the injustice.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Follow-up #2: Late-Term Abortions in Maryland

I wanted to follow up further on A.K.'s excellent postings about Leroy Carhart coming to Germantown, MD. Here are some additional thoughts:

1. It's important to understand that Carhart's specialty is killing babies in the 3rd trimester of the pregnancy--right up to the day before the baby's due date. In a large majority of these cases, the "fetus" that Carhart kills and disposes of like a piece of trash is viable and would survive outside the mother's womb. Operation Rescue describes the method of "late-term abortion" practiced by Carhart here. It is well worth reading the entire article, but a summary of the practice would be that the baby is injected with a massive dose of digoxin directly through the mother's abdomen, which is designed to give the baby a fatal heart attack. A couple days later, the woman gives birth to the dead baby over a toilet. In addition to the obvious evil of killing a living, breathing baby with tiny fingers and a beating heart that is capable of surviving outside of the mother's womb, this barbaric procedure causes pain and suffering to the baby. Massive heart attacks are frightening and painful, and studies have indicated babies as young as the 2nd month of pregnancy are capable of feeling pain. Of course, there have been numerous botched cases of late-term abortions, including ones in which the baby is delivered alive and left to die and ones in which the baby is born alive but severely disabled as a result of the procedure.

Now, I think all abortion is the taking of innocent human life and as such is a moral evil and a deep injustice (excluding those abortions necessary to save the life of the mother). I believe it is a moral issue, not a religious one, and I believe that there is abundant scientific evidence to support the pro-life position. However, I can understand why non-Christian people who do not hold to biblical principles about life beginning at conception might be open to supporting legalized abortions in the earliest stages of pregnancy. After all, the fetus seems quite undeveloped and doesn't look a whole lot like a baby in the first month or two. But it is impossible for me to understand how any person with a functioning conscience could support legalized abortion on demand (that is, abortion not due to rape, incest, or protection of the mother's life) past the point of the baby's viability. This is killing a living human baby capable of surviving outside the mother's womb -- and killing it in an inhumane, brutal fashion. It is infanticide and morally unconscionable by any conceivable community standard, religious or not. Huge majorities of Americans -- including self-described pro-choice Americans -- oppose late-term abortions.

2. If we care about justice and the protection of the most needy and helpless in our society, the slaughter of innocent babies in abortion should deeply grieve and anger us. But what really upsets me is that this is happening in my own backyard, in a town literally 15 minutes from my home. Because Leroy Carhart, one of the few individuals in the whole country brazen enough to perform late-term abortions, is setting up his practice right here in Montgomery County, MD, those of us who live in the area have a unique opportunity to speak out and take a stand on this issue. I am thankful that since the story first broke on Tuesday, my pastor has been at the forefront of the issue. He helped to organize the meeting yesterday with local pastors and activists that A.K. mentioned, and he had a 30-minute interview with a local Christian radio station earlier this evening about Leroy Carhart and the prayer vigil coming up on Monday. He has always been deeply reticent (correctly, in my view) about getting involved in any issue that could be seen as political, but this is not a political issue. It is an issue of life and death, and I think we are failing in our mission to be salt and light if we don't speak out and get involved.

3. So what can each of us as individuals do? The most immediate opportunity for those of us in the Montgomery County area is the prayer vigil coming up on Monday from 11:00 to 1:00 near the location of Carhart's new office in Germantown. The location of the vigil will be at 13233 Executive Park Terrace, Germantown, MD. For anyone interested in coming, there has been a new website set up called http://www.kickoutcarhart.com/ which has a detailed map showing where to park and additional information. There will be a press conference held right at 11:00 am, and we are expecting to have many local and perhaps even national media representatives there. After the press conference, we will spread out and pray. If you are like me and can only come for part of the time, then my pastor is encouraging people to come right at 11:00 for the press conference. We are hoping for a large turnout which will send a strong message that our community does not want Carhart performing late-term abortions here. The vigil and press conference are purely peaceful and we are coordinating with the local police to avoid disruptions; we want our testimony to demonstrate peace and love rather than anger and violence.

Carhart's background is extremely disturbing. He was the abortionist whose negligence apparently contributed to the death of Christin Gilbert, a woman with Down Syndrome who lost her life due to a botched late-term abortion. Also, the radio host who interviewed my pastor last night mentioned that Carhart is apparently moving to Maryland to avoid pending investigations into his practices by other states. It seems the board of the shopping center where Carhart's clinic is located is not too happy about him coming and about the negative response from the community, and they are holding an emergency board meeting to discuss the issue at noon on Monday -- during the prayer vigil! We should pray that the board will deny Carhart and his clinic space in the shopping center. Even if you do not live in the area or cannot come to the press conference and the vigil, you can still stand united with us in prayer. And wherever you live, you can volunteer and offer financial support for crisis pregnancy centers in your area. This is the front line in the fight against legalized abortion -- it offers an alternative to abortion for pregnant women, many of whom are scared and alone and who need love and support.

Follow-up: Late-Term Abortions in Maryland

There was a meeting yesterday at Shady Grove PCA of local clergy, pro-life activists, and the director of the Christian Defense Coalition. The purpose was to pray about this new evil coming into our community and discuss the appropriate response.

Very few doctors in the country perform these types of procedures and there are currently no abortion clinics in Maryland that perform abortions after 19 weeks. LeRoy Carhart is a very prominent late-term abortionist, and will perform the procedure up to the 9th month of pregnancy. He is moving from Nebraska now that the state has outlawed abortions after 19 weeks.

Our pastor forwarded this information he received about late term abortions from Gail Tierney, Director of the Rockville Pregnancy Center: “Late term abortion can be performed up until the day of birth. It involves inserting a needle into the baby's heart, injecting medicine which will produce a fatal heart attack. This is done on viable babies.”

LeRoy Carhart could begin performing late-term abortions at Germantown Reproductive Health Services as early as Monday, December 6. There will be a prayer vigil and press conference held outside the office on Monday from 11am-1pm:
Germantown Commons Shopping Center
13233 Executive Park Terrace, Germantown.
Organizers are expecting that both local and national news will be reporting this event. The event will be peaceful and organizers are working with the police department. The intent is to stand up for these defenseless babies and to publicly show that the faith community and others in Montgomery County are opposed to the practice of late-term abortion in our community. Please come out to the vigil if you are in this area, and wherever you are pray that some change will come out of this event.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Late-Term Abortionist Moving to Maryland

Shortly after Nebraska courageously banned abortions after 20 weeks, late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart is moving to Germantown, Maryland. He chose the area to continue these procedures due to favorable laws. Though it is not particularly surprising to me that Maryland would offer such a favorable environment, this is horrifying and saddening. More background is available here.

Thoughts on WikiLeaks

Once again, WikiLeaks is back in the news. You know, the organization that specializes in leaking stolen classified documents to a eagerly complicit press, endangering the lives of thousands of Americans and American allies.

On the Washington Post website, Marc Thiessen blasts the Obama Justice Department for taking no action to shut down WikiLeaks and prosecute its founder Julian Assange. I guess they're too busy suing Arizona for enforcing federal immigration law to bother with threats to our national security.

Over at National Review, Andrew McCarthy notes the irresponsibility of The New York Times and other media sources and also addresses the constitutional questions of free speech and the "right to know."

Also at National Review, Rich Lowry notes the raw anti-Americanism of WikiLeaks and discusses how Obama's election has done nothing to appease these America-haters, contrary to fashionable liberal opinion.

Peter Wehner from Commentary Magazine's Contentions blog notes that the confidential, private conversations of Arab leaders leaked in these documents demonstrates that most of them recognize the grave threat that Iran poses to the world -- a threat that cannot be defeated through appeasement. It's a sad day when the Arab world is more hawkish against Iran than much of the American left (and the current administration).

And then of course there are the liberals, who simply can't seem to get too upset over these leaks, no matter how many lives are endangered or no matter how much our international relations are damaged, as long as our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are hindered and Bush is made to look bad. Enter Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, who manages to allow that he doesn't "much like" what WikiLeaks has done before spending the rest of the column exulting in how the leaks supposedly embarrass Bush and make the war in Iraq look bad. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that liberals like Cohen are happy to see America embarrassed and defeated for the sake of their ideology.

Assange and the Army private responsible for leaking many of these documents, Bradley Manning, should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I don't even think the death penalty is too extreme, given the fact that these treasonous leaks have (and will) doubtless cost American lives. Also, the Justice Department should determine how these leaks were able to happen in the first place. Whoever was responsible for the lax security of such important confidential documents should lose their job, and new measures should be put in place to prevent this from happening in the future. Our government must send a clear message that such leaks will not be tolerated, if we expect other countries to trust us and continue to cooperate with us in the future.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

General Thanksgiving
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America
WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houzes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Source: The Massachusetts Centinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789

[I have updated some of the spelling for easier reading.]

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thoughts on Food, Inc.

I had the chance recently to watch the documentary Food, Inc. The film-makers traced what they see as a change in the way we eat and the way our food is grown. They described the increasing distance between consumer and consumed, noting that the traditional farm is a thing of the past. The film outlines the rise of fast food. According to the film it arose partly as a result of corn subsidies that led to increased and inexpensive corn supply and made corn a primary feed for beef and other meat animals, in turn making meat production much less expensive than it would otherwise have been. The corn lobby influences legislation and also led to the discovery of innumerable ways to use corn products, which can be found in many processed foods (such as high fructose corn syrup). The film also discusses the growth and centralization of the meat industry and how “big business” now runs most large farms instead of farmers. It discusses poor feedlot and chicken house conditions for both animals and workers and it blames those conditions and even a high proportion of corn in animals’ diets for the rise of a dangerous strain of E. coli virus and other contaminants. The contributors describe how fast food diets have led to poor nutrition and diseases such as type 2 diabetes. They trace the rise of organic production in response to the mainstream industry’s problems. The film discusses genetically modified seeds and abuses by the companies that own the patents, in addition to the connections between these companies and regulatory agencies and political administrations. The film closes with a list of actions viewers can take, including buying organic or locally grown produce and meat from those who respect both animals and workers.

I will readily admit that I did not expect to find much of value, but I had heard various things about the film and decided to watch it myself. In some ways my fears were confirmed, but I felt some of the material was good. I expected that it would be a biased portrayal of a controversial issue. I expected the scary music and footage. I also expected that I would have to research afterwards to determine the whole truth. I will continue to research some ideas and may write further in future, but here are some thoughts.

First of all, viewers should realize that the film has an agenda. By all means watch it, but realize that you will be unable to take the information at face value. If it makes you think and research to find the answers, your viewing time will not have been wasted. One of the aspects I disliked was the lack of documentation for the numerous assertions made. I would have appreciated seeing both sides of the story and deciding for myself, but I don’t believe this was the way the film-makers handled it. If the film-makers want to promote their agenda they should at least give the studies, the research, and the reasoning that led them to these conclusions.

I am still researching various issues discussed in the film. I saw a significant bias against big business, and even against capitalism (one of the individuals featured was clearly anti-capitalist). The discussion of E. coli contamination implied that organic produce was safer, when in fact the FDA has questioned this and has recalled organic produce in the past due to contaminants.

I did appreciate a very significant topic covered in the film, the issue of subsidies in agriculture. The film focused on corn subsidies and their effects on meat production. I wholeheartedly agree that subsidies to agriculture are a significant problem and one that is commonly overlooked by those who are otherwise politically conservative. I believe the film did well in describing how they have affected the industry overall. It described how the subsidies have resulted in a great amount of corn being produced very cheaply, which led to its becoming a primary meat animal feed and enabling the cost of meat production to fall as well. It has led to an industry that looks for ways to use corn in processed foods (HCFS, and many others). The film also discussed how US corn subsidies forced Mexican corn farmers out of business and forced some to illegally emigrate and work for US corn producers. The film attributed the rise of the fast food industry to corn subsidies, which enabled beef to be inexpensive enough for chains to sell it at a very low price.

The film did not follow through with this valuable store line, however. In the closing thoughts the writers made no mention of subsidies and how change in this area of agriculture might improve the system. One of the instructions was to contact the USDA. I think the implied meaning was that viewers should ask for more oversight and regulation of the industry. In fact less government involvement and removing subsidies to agriculture would benefit the market and consumer even more by removing unfair advantage (subsidy created artificial prices) and making the industry more responsible to the consumer.

Factory Farms
The film was very critical of factory farming. While I agree that subsidies have artificially affected prices and in the process have affected industry growth, much of the rest of the discussion was counter to good economic reasoning. The division of labor and the standardization that results increases efficiency in any area. The problem with factory farming is not that these operations follow the factory system, but that the subsidies have led to growth that would not have been sustained in a regular market. Use of the division of labor and factories has made innumerable products affordable when otherwise their cost of production would have made them prohibitive for many people (for example assembly lines used to produce Ford cars). Without division of labor our society would not be nearly as economically advanced as it is today.

There is nothing inherently wrong with organic farming or the idea of a self-sufficient farm, and you may choose to buy from such an operation. Realize, however, that you will be paying higher prices due to the higher cost of production. By nature that farm cannot produce as much food as efficiently as a more specialized farm. Location is another aspect of specialization, as some areas are more conducive to certain kinds of agricultural production than others. A small farm that grows all kinds of products may be able to do it, but it will be less efficient. The film profiled a family whose budget and time constraints forced them to eat mainly fast food and avoid fresh produce. They were already seeing ill health as a result. Unfortunately I doubt that the grass-fed beef, free-range chickens and eggs produced by Polyface Farms (featured in the film) are a viable solution for this family. The farmer himself mentioned that his products cost more than the mainstream. One would expect this and it is fine for consumers who are willing and able to pay, but this family is not in that category.

If it were not for the large, specialized factory farms, food would be much more expensive and there would be much less of it. Those who believe that only organic production is moral should seriously think about the repercussions such a belief would have if put into practice. Small, self-sufficient and organic farms are not a practical way to feed the world. Specialization and standardization allows products to be much more plentiful and affordable. Given the number of people struggling economically and the many who cannot afford to eat, whether in the US or elsewhere, I believe that any increased efficiency in this area is wholly positive. This does not mean that there should be no change in the factory farming system (halting agricultural subsidies would be a good start), but the system as a whole is not the problem.

I do not intend this to be a full discussion. I mainly want to provoke more careful thought about these issues and encourage viewers to research before making judgments based on this film. I encourage you to read the following excellent article “The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-Intellectuals,” by Blake Hurst. In evaluating Michael Pollen’s (a Food, Inc. contributor) book The Omnivore’s Delusion, Hurst discusses many of Food, Inc.’s claims from a farmer’s perspective. He also outlines some of the reasons for the supposed cruel conditions like those described in Food, Inc.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Eleven Reasons For Hope

I found this National Review article by Ramesh Ponnuru very encouraging, especially since Ponnuru is generally rather pessimistic and even critical of Republicans, whom he often views as weak and ineffective. He gives 11 reasons why 2011 should be significantly different (and better) for the Republicans in Congress than it was for them the last time they took over the House in 1995.

It is always wise not to put your trust in politicians or political parties, as they will always disappoint at some level. Nevertheless, I have to admit that I am cautiously hopeful and optimistic for the new Congress. So far, I am quite impressed with John Boehner, the new Speaker of the House. While I don't have a great deal of knowledge about him, I know he has been a reliable conservative vote in Congress for many years. In 20 years of service in Congress, he has never requested an earmark for his district and was instrumental in getting the Republican House conference to ban earmarks. He is a genuine American success story, growing up in a working-class family and working his way to the top through hard work. As a former small business owner, he understands how business works. He has shown a lot of humility since the election, acknowledging that Republicans made many mistakes the last time they were in the majority and insisting that he does not want to repeat those mistakes. I was impressed with his "hell no" speech on the House floor right before the health care vote as well as his leadership in opposing the bill, and I thought his emotional speech on election night was sincere and humanizing.

The House has not just a Republican majority, but an outright conservative majority now. In the Senate, the GOP has a conservative core of at least 41 senators who should be able to effectively filibuster the worst pieces of legislation. Mitch McConnell, the GOP Senate leader, is a political insider with a long history of pork barrel spending, but even he seems to be getting the message from the election. He recently agreed to support a ban on earmarks for the GOP Senate conference as well, which has now passed with almost unanimous GOP support.

Certainly the best we can hope for over the next two years is an uneasy stalemate. But Obama will no longer be able to force his agenda through, and the Republicans will have a chance to offer some alternative ideas and solutions. If they do a good job, they may be able to put the GOP presidential nominee in a good position to run against Obama in 2012. That is our only hope for repealing ObamaCare.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"American Narcissus"

I think anyone who has been following Obama's career over the last few years knows he has a bit of an ego. It was alluded to about a month ago by Time magazine's editor-at-large Mark Halperin, who gave the following devastating indictment of his administration:

With the exception of core Obama Administration loyalists, most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusions: the White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters. This view is held by Fox News pundits, executives and anchors at the major old-media outlets, reporters who cover the White House, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders and governors, many Democratic business people and lawyers who raised big money for Obama in 2008, and even some members of the Administration just beyond the inner circle.

Of course, there are many factors that have contributed to the slow-motion train wreck alternately known as the Obama administration. But Weekly Standard reporter Jonathan Last seems to have put his finger on one of the most significant factors in this excellent article called "American Narcissus." Last makes the point that Obama is one of the most astonishingly narcissistic politicians our country has ever seen, and he does in a devastatingly effective manner by using quote after quote from Obama himself and from numerous individuals close to him. On top of this is an opinion article from the Fox News website called "The Trip About Nothing," which details the utter ineffectiveness of Obama's recent trip to Asia. The final sentence contains this modified quote from Winston Churchill: "An empty plane arrived in Asia, and when the door was opened, Mr. Obama got out."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Election 2010 Awards

Here are my Election 2010 awards:

1. Most Surprising House Result: A tie between Illinois District 8 and Texas District 27. In the Illinois race, Democrat Melissa Bean was no longer considered vulnerable after she drew an underfunded, unemployed Tea Party candidate named Joe Walsh as her Republican opponent. Walsh ran a strong grassroots campaign under the radar and stunned her on election night. In the Texas race, Democrat Solomon Ortiz was a 14-term incumbent in a 74% Hispanic district who was not on anyone's list as being even potentially vulnerable until the last few weeks of the campaign, when allegations about ethic violations began to surface. (It should be noted that both these races are very close and neither have been officially certified yet.)

2. Most Surprising Senate Result: Probably the Alaska Senate race. Again, the results are not finalized yet, but it appears very likely that Lisa Murkowski will win as a write-in candidate -- the first time a write-in candidate has won a Senate election since Strom Thurmond. As much as I dislike Murkowski, this is an impressive feat and one that I did not expect her to pull off.

3. Most Surprising Governor Result: The Illinois governor's race. Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn was extremely unpopular and suffering from an association with the corrupt former governor Rod Blagojevich. Despite trailing badly in polls virtually the entire year, Quinn managed to hold on and narrowly defeat Republican Bill Brady in an otherwise dismal year for Illinois Democrats.

4. Most Satisfying Election Result: The Florida District 8 House race. Democratic incumbent Alan Grayson said on the House floor last year that the Republicans' health care plan was for patients to "die quickly." He aired an especially vicious ad against his Republican opponent Daniel Webster, whom he dubbed "Taliban Dan." The ad took Webster's quotes out of context to make it appear he was saying the opposite of what he really said and to make it appear that he supported the subjugation of women, Taliban style. Apparently being an obnoxious loudmouth and partisan hack doesn't win you votes; Grayson was crushed on election night.

5. Most Disappointing Election Result: Harry Reid's re-election to the U.S. Senate. This one's not even close. For years, Harry Reid has been a thorn in the side of conservatives. His nasty rhetoric, extreme partisanship, and left-wing ideology have not earned him any friends across the aisle and have made him extremely unpopular both in Nevada and in the country at large. Reid has made too many outrageous comments to list here: everything from insensitive comments about blacks and Latinos to calling the President of the U.S. a "loser" to likening ObamaCare to the movement to give blacks the right to vote. Yet, Reid was re-elected by a wider margin than expected on Tuesday.

6. Most Embarrassing Incumbent Loss: Blanche Lincoln's Senate loss in Arkansas. It is rare for an incumbent -- especially a Senate incumbent -- to fall below 40% of the vote. Yet Lincoln managed to scrape together a mere 37% of the vote as she got crushed by Republican John Boozman, after polling as low as 29% earlier in the cycle. Lincoln achieved this feat by alienating the conservative Democrats who had fueled her previous victories by voting in favor of health care reform, while at the same time managing to anger her liberal base by refusing to support a public option.

7. Most Impressive New Member of Congress: Marco Rubio, newly elected Florida senator. Although only in his early 40's, Rubio already has an impressive resume, including a highly influential Speaker of the Florida House. No one gave him a chance when he launched a long-shot primary challenge to sitting Republican governor Charlie Crist last year; running a principled, issues-based campaign, he succeeded in driving Crist out of the party to avoid an embarrassing primary loss and then beating him and Democrat Kendrick Meek soundly in the general election, pulling nearly 50% of the vote in a three-way race! Rubio is one of the most articulate candidates I have ever heard, and he has achieved his success without watering down his conservative message or compromising his Christian faith. I wouldn't be surprised if a presidential bid is in his future.

8. Most Unprincipled Politician: Even in a category this crowded, Charlie Crist stands out. As recently as May of this year, Crist was the self-described conservative Republican governor of Florida running for the U.S. Senate. As the above-mentioned Rubio moved ahead in the polls and Crist realized he was likely to lose the primary, he left the Republican party and launched an independent bid for the Senate -- just a couple of weeks after solemnly promising on national TV that he would stay in the Republican party! As he realized he needed to pull a significant number of Democratic votes to win, he began dramatically shifting his positions on issue after issue. By the end of the campaign, Crist had become the de facto Democrat in the race and had flip-flopped on almost every major issue from abortion to government spending to education to the environment. Calling Crist "unprincipled" is actually putting it charitably.

9. State With the Most Favorable Election Results: This would be a tie between Pennsylvania and Ohio, both of which provided the GOP with significant victories on election night. In Pennsylvania, Republican captured the governor's seat by a comfortable margin and elected a conservative Republican to the Senate -- both were pickups of Democratic seats -- and picked up five Democratic House seats (falling just short in two others). In Ohio, Republicans succeeded in defeating an incumbent Democratic governor who Obama campaigned hard for, and also easily defended an open seat Senate race. In addition, they defeated five Democratic House incumbents, an impressive feat.

10. State With the Most Disappointing Election Results: This would also be a tie between California and Massachusetts. Although both of these states are heavily Democratic, the GOP had high hopes for both this year. In California, Republicans nominated two top-tier, self-funding candidates to run for Senate and governor. Although at times both candidates seemed to be well-positioned to win, both ended up falling well short in the final count. Republicans made a real effort against at least 4 House incumbents in the state as well, but they lost 2 and 2 are currently too close to call. Democrats retain their stranglehold on the U.S. House delegation from the state and on the state legislature. Republicans also had high expectations in Massachusetts, still feeling a bit euphoric from Scott Brown's shocking victory in January. This election brought them back to reality. Their gubernatorial candidate fell well short, foiled by a third-party candidate who split the anti-Democratic vote. They recruited strong candidates to run in several of the state's House districts, including against Barney Frank, but fell well short in all the races. Democrats continue to control all the state's 10 House districts and an overwhelming majority in the state legislature.

11. Most Important Win for Conservatives: This is certainly a matter of opinion, but I would argue that it was the Pennsylvania Senate race. In perhaps no major statewide race in the country was there a sharper ideological contrast between the two candidates. Republican Pat Toomey was a former congressman and president of the Club for Growth who has been a reliable economic and social conservative throughout his career. Democrat Joe Sestak, by contrast, had an extremely left-wing voting record in Congress, which included championing leftist causes like gays in the military, opposing Israel, and bragging about his pro-ObamaCare vote. Democrats knew the stakes of this race, as Obama came numerous times to campaign for Sestak. And the race was closer than expected, which means conservatives dodged a bullet in a Democratic-leaning state.

12. Most Embarrassing Statewide Candidate: Alvin Greene, Democratic candidate for Senate in South Carolina. This unemployed military veteran living in his parents' basement somehow managed to win the Democratic primary with 59% of the vote, despite never spending a dime or holding a single campaign event. Despite facing felony charges relating to pornography, Greene soldiered on during the campaign, proposing such "out of the box" job creation ideas as making action figures of himself to sell to the public. Listening to him speak and do interviews was almost painful to watch. In the end, however, he managed to get a whopping 28% of South Carolinians to vote for him.

13. Biggest Waste of Money by a Political Candidate: This award has to go to Meg Whitman, GOP candidate for governor in California. Whitman spent nearly $150 million of her own personal fortune -- a record -- on her gubernatorial bid, yet (with final results still pending) she appears to have barely gotten over 40% of the vote and lost by over 1 million votes. This is proof positive that you cannot buy an election, especially when you are running in a state that is not a good ideological fit for your candidacy.

14. Least Gracious Winning Candidate: This would have to be a tie between two delightful public servants -- Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia. Frank, upon winning a tough race against Republican Sean Bielat, gave an angry victory speech in which he lashed out against Fox News and other favorite liberal bogeymen and complained that his GOP challenger and other Republicans had run campaigns "beneath the dignity of democracy." Er, yeah. Thank goodness for congressmen like Frank, who has respected the dignity of democracy by allowing his previous gay partners to grow pot and run prostitution services out of his house. And then there's Congressman Moran, who refused to take an election night concession phone call from his opponent. How dare you challenge me? Don't you know I'm congressman for life?

15. Most Underreported Story of the Election: The increasing ethnic diversity of the Republican Party. Like Martin Luther King Jr., I am tired of liberals focusing more on the color of people's skin than the content of their character, and I think the media's obsession with racial diversity is harmful to our country. Still, it is important to point out the increasing diversity of elected Republicans, because it shows how ridiculous the charges of racism are against conservatives in general and the Tea Party movement in particular. For the first time since 2000, there is now a black Republican member of Congress -- in fact there are two. Allen West defeated a Democratic incumbent in a House race in South Florida, and Tim Scott won 72% of the vote in a primary runoff against Strom Thurmond's son and then easily won the general election in a heavily white and Republican district in South Carolina. Scott and West were both interviewed on Hannity last night, and I was impressed with how eloquently they articulated conservative principles. Numerous other black conservatives ran in House races around the country but came up short.

Many other conservative minorities were also elected on Tuesday. Indian-American Nikki Haley, another very articulate conservative, became the first woman and the first minority to be elected governor of South Carolina; she joins fellow Indian-American conservative Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Despite Harry Reid's comment that he couldn't imagine how any Hispanics could be Republicans, many conservative Hispanics won on Tuesday. Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants and an outspoken proponent of limited government, won a resounding victory in the Florida Senate race, while South Florida elected a new Cuban Republican congressman, David Rivera. Two other Hispanic conservatives won resounding victories in key governor's races -- Susana Martinez in New Mexico and Brian Sandoval in Nevada -- while Hispanic conservatives picked up Democratic House seats in Washington, Idaho, and Texas. And many conservative women were elected to the House, including in New York, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Alabama, Washington, and South Dakota. So much for the Republican party only electing white males.

Election 2010 -- Senate & Governor Focus

As I watched the election results, one of my first reactions was to wonder why the GOP wave was manifesting itself so much more strongly in the House results than in the Senate & governor's race results. In House race after House race, GOP candidates were generally outperforming expectations -- winning all the races they were expected to win and also picking up some unexpected seats along the way. By contrast, in many of the statewide races the GOP was performing no better than expected, and in some cases seemed to be underperforming. While they were sweeping into a sizable majority in the House, Republicans did not even come close to taking control of the Senate. They fell short in a number of statewide races which they were considered at least even money to win, including the Colorado and Nevada Senate races and the Illinois and Oregon governor's races. They also underperformed their expected percentage of the vote in several other key races, including the Pennsylvania, California, and West Virginia Senate races and the Ohio and Maine governor's races. I thought this was rather strange, since close statewide races usually all trend in the same direction in wave elections.

There are a few things to remember when comparing House results to Senate and other statewide results, however. First, every 2 years all 435 House seats are up for election, while only 1/3 of the total number of Senate seats are up for election. In the House, all the newly-elected congressmen swept in during the Democratic waves of 2006 and 2008 were now facing the voters in a very different political climate. By contrast, none of the newly-elected senators from 2006 and 2008 were facing the voters. Instead, the senators facing the voters were those last elected in 2004, a relatively good year for the GOP. The Republicans had a number of vulnerable seats of their own to defend (including five tough open seats), and a very limited number of pickup opportunities. Of the 19 seats that Democrats were defending this year, 13 of them were in states that have not supported a Republican presidential candidate in more than 20 years, and 14 were in states that Obama carried by more than 10 points. Thus, from the beginning the playing field was heavily stacked against the GOP in the Senate, which is why political analysts early in 2009 initially expected the Democrats to actually increase their Senate majority in the 2010 elections. Thus, the outcome of the House races gave us a much more accurate sense of the overall mood of the country than did the Senate races, and from this perspective it is impressive that the Republicans managed to pick up as many seats as they did in the Senate.

Second, heavy turnout in Democratic strongholds in the large cities enabled the Democratic candidates to stay close or even win in many statewide races, despite a strong trend toward Republicans in the suburban and rural areas of those states. This explains why, for example, Democrats were able to dominate the New York statewide races and stay so close in the Illinois Senate and governor races, the Ohio governor race, and the Pennsylvania Senate race, despite losing 4-6 House seats in EACH of those states. Obama worked hard to turn out the liberal urban vote in places like Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, and New York City in the final weeks of the campaign, and while this had no impact on the House vote (since it was heavily concentrated in a few safe Democratic districts), it helped offset GOP enthusiasm on the statewide level.

Finally, the Republicans missed some golden pickup opportunities in the Senate due to the failures and gaffes of their candidates. There seems little doubt that campaign missteps and controversies from her past made Christine O'Donnell's big loss in Delaware seem almost a foregone conclusion. Republicans were unable to find top-tier candidates to run for the top offices in New York, enabling Democrats to get over 60% of the vote in both the Senate races and the governor's race. As strongly as I supported Ken Buck in Colorado, Sharron Angle in Nevada, and Joe Miller in Alaska, they all proved to be weak and gaffe-prone candidates who fumbled races that should have been clear GOP wins. This does not mean that Tea Party candidates can't win -- insurgent conservative candidates like Marco Rubio of Florida, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Rand Paul of Kentucky proved that. But what it does demonstrate is that candidate quality matters, even in a highly favorable political climate. While the Tea Party movement had a very positive impact on the election in favor of the Republicans, it needs to work harder to nominate conservatives who are articulate and capable of persuading independents and swing voters if it wants to maximize its effectiveness.

Still, despite the tough playing field and missteps by some of their candidates, conservatives have a lot of things to cheer about in the outcome of the Senate and governor races. In the Senate, Republicans succeeded in comfortably holding all of their own seats, despite having to defend five open seats in swing states (Kentucky, Missouri, Florida, New Hampshire, & Ohio) and two vulnerable incumbents of their own (in Louisiana and North Carolina). All of the new senators from the above mentioned swing states, as well as additional new ones from Utah and Kansas, should be strong conservative voices in Congress, and in several cases, the newly elected Republican senator is a significant improvement over the outgoing one. Rob Portman of Ohio and Marco Rubio of Florida will both be much more consistent conservative voices than were their predecessors, George Voinovich and Mel Martinez, respectively. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Mike Lee of Utah should also be at least marginally better than their predecessors.

In addition, all of the six new Republican senators elected in previously Democratic seats will be a marked improvement for the conservative cause. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania is a principled economic and social conservative who is light years better than both the previous occupant of the seat, Arlen Specter, and the far-left Democrat he defeated, Joe Sestak. Conservative businessman Ron Johnson defeated a deeply entrenched incumbent who is also a darling of the progressive movement, Russ Feingold. Dan Coats of Indiana, John Hoeven of North Dakota, and John Boozman of Arkansas are all genuine conservatives who replaced pseudo-conservative Democratic senators Evan Bayh, Byron Dorgan, and Blanche Lincoln, respectively. These senators talked a moderate game to their constituents back home, but were reliable votes for the Obama agenda when in Washington. The only new GOP senator who is likely to disappoint conservatives is Mark Kirk of Illinois, but even he will be a huge improvement over his predecessors Roland Burris and Barack Obama.

The governor's races are much the same story. Some races, such as those in Illinois, Oregon, Minnesota, and Connecticut (results not yet official on those last two), were agonizingly close but slipped through the fingers of Republicans. Colorado, Maryland, and California proved to be big busts, and the Republican candidate in New York lost by an embarrassing margin. Yet the Republicans did very well in most of the key swing states that will decide the 2012 presidential election. They made a huge resurgence in traditionally Democratic Michigan and Pennsylvania, winning both governor's races by sizable margins (granted, both GOP candidates are fairly moderate). More conservative GOP candidates eked out narrow wins in two other key states rich in electoral votes, Florida and Ohio, and the GOP also swept all other top offices in those two states. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker headed a strong swing to the GOP at all levels of government in the state. Republicans maintained their lock on Southern governorships, dominating races in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, and Tennessee. Of special note from this list is Nikki Haley of South Carolina, an exceptionally articulate Indian-American woman and a rising star in the conservative movement. Jan Brewer and Susana Martinez were propelled to big victories in Arizona and New Mexico partly on the strength of their commitment to get tough on illegal immigration; Martinez joins fellow Hispanic GOP governor Brian Sandoval who won big in Democratic-leaning Nevada. Only in New England did the GOP significantly underperform expectations, losing 5 of the 6 governorships in the region, all of them by close margins (with Vermont and Connecticut still not officially decided). Maine was the exception to the rule, electing Tea Party Republican Paul LePage by a narrow margin.

The Republicans' success in many of these key governor's races will stand them in good stead in the future. Successful governors have the opportunity to practically implement conservative ideas, and thus often become the leaders of the party's agenda. Successful presidents (Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush) are often former governors, and thus the current crop of Republican governors will likely provide the party with excellent presidential prospects in the future. Also, governors can provide help to their party's candidate in presidential elections and, along with state legislatures, have a great deal of influence over congressional redistricting in most states.

Election 2010 Links

Here are some interesting articles regarding the outcome of Election 2010:

Charles Krauthammer: "A Return to the Norm"

Peggy Noonan: "Americans Vote for Maturity"

Jonah Goldberg: "Defeat, Then Denial"

Sean Trende: "Biggest GOP Gain in Statehouses"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Election 2010 -- House Focus

So the results are largely in for Election 2010, although there are several House races and a couple of Senate and governor races that have yet to be officially called. Overall, it looks as though the GOP is going to end up with a net gain of about 64 seats in the U.S. House, for a 243 seat majority. This is a significantly larger swing than they enjoyed in the 1994 election, when the GOP only gained 52 seats, and gives them the largest majority they have had in the House since the 1940's. Their gain more than offsets the total gains Democrats made in the House in the past two elections in 2006 and 2008. In addition, the Republicans have apparently picked up 6 seats in the U.S. Senate, assuming that Washington ends up going for the Democrat and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska remains a Republican. This is a smaller haul than the 8-seat pickup the GOP enjoyed in 1994, and gives them 47 seats in the new Senate. Finally, the GOP has a net gain of at least 6 governorships, with several races that have still not been determined, which means they will hold at least 29 of the 50 governorships. Included in those governorships are some of the most important swing states in the country -- Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. And they have apparently gained more than 600 state legislative seats and taken new majorities in more than 19 legislatures, which has dramatic consequences for congressional redistricting.

The Republicans' most impressive performance on Tuesday was in the House. They took almost all of the "low-hanging fruit" -- the seats they were expected to win -- but also picked up a number of more difficult seats that they were not favored to win. They ousted a sizable number of long-time House incumbents, some of whom were powerful committee chairmen -- Rick Boucher (VA), Ike Skelton (MO), John Spratt (SC), James Oberstar (MN), Gene Taylor (MS), Chet Edwards (TX), Allen Boyd (FL), and possibly Solomon Ortiz (TX). In addition, they came up agonizingly short in a number of other races -- there were probably at least another 12-15 seats that they lost by just a couple thousand votes or less.

Looking more closely at the anatomy of the House gains, the GOP did especially well in open seate races. Of the 16 Democratic-held open seats considered competitive, the GOP won 14 of the 16. The only two they lost were Democratic-leaning seats in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. They also lost only one of their own open seats -- in heavily Democratic Delaware -- despite facing some tough challenges in several other Republican-held open seats in Illinois, Florida, Arizona, and Michigan. GOP incumbents also performed extremely well. Only 2 lost, and both of those were unusual cases. One, Anh Cao of Louisiana, won a 74% black district in a fluke runoff election in December 2008 with extremely low turnout, defeating a congressman under a huge ethical cloud. The other one was Charles Djou of Hawaii, who captured a heavily Democratic seat in a special election in May by winning 40% of the vote in a three-way race. All other GOP incumbents won by comfortable margins.

There was at least one Democratic House incumbent who lost in every region of the country, but by far the majority of those losing incumbents were in the South and the Great Lakes/Rust Belt regions. The biggest concentration of incumbent losses were in a belt stretching from Wisconsin across the Great Lakes states to Pennsylvania and New York. Four incumbents lost in New York, four in Pennsylvania, five in Ohio, one in Indiana, one in Michigan, four in Illinois, and one in Wisconsin, totaling 20 seats. The Democrats also lost four incumbents in Florida, three in Texas, and another three (possibly four, pending a recount) in Virginia, as well as a total 7 in a band of Deep South states stretching from North Carolina to Mississippi and Tennessee. In the Rocky Mountain region, they lost two incumbents each in Colorado and Arizona. On the other hand, New England was a bust, with only one incumbent losing in New Hampshire. And the Democrats may hold their incumbent losses on the West Coast to only one as well, with at least a couple of races undecided.

A large variety of Democratic incumbents lost. Voting against Obama's agenda did not protect many incumbents in heavily Republican districts -- Gene Taylor and Travis Childers of Mississippi, Jim Marshall of Georgia, Bobby Bright of Alabama, Lincoln Davis of Tennessee, and Walt Minnick of Idaho all lost, despite their conservative voting records. However, a large number of liberal Democratic incumbents lost as well -- among them Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, Phil Hare of Illinois, Steve Kagen of Wisconsin, John Hall of New York, Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio, Tom Perriello of Virginia, Alan Grayson and Ron Klein of Florida, and Mark Schauer of Michigan. The outcome of the House races proved that a financial advantage is not enough to guarantee a member's re-election if voters are unhappy with that member's performance. The five Democratic incumbents who were the biggest recipients of spending by outside liberal groups (mostly union groups) all lost -- Tom Perriello of Virginia, Mark Schauer of Michigan, Dina Titus of Nevada, John Boccieri of Ohio, and Harry Teague of New Mexico. One clear pattern that emerged from the election was the relationship between a district's presidential voting habits and their House vote this year. My rough estimate is that about half of the Republican pickups this year came in districts that supported McCain in 2008, and a large majority came in districts that supported Bush in 2004. Republicans did win in a few Democratic-leaning districts, such as James Oberstar's seat in Minnesota, Phil Hare's seat in Illinois, and open seats in New Hampshire and suburban Philadelphia, but for the most part their wins came on Republican-friendly turf. While this explains some of the GOP disappointments in New England and the West Coast, it also may bode well for an enduring majority in the House. With so many Republican seats held in Republican-friendly districts, it will be that much harder for those incumbents to be defeated in the future.

In this post that I wrote right after the Democrats pushed ObamaCare through the House in March, I listed 47 Democrats from districts that voted for Bush in 2004 who voted for ObamaCare and said that a large majority of them had to go. Well, looking back at that list, 33 of those 47 were defeated either in the primary or the general election -- around 70% (and that is not even counting two others whose races have not yet been decided). That's a pretty high casualty rate! Also, last week I listed 35 liberal Democrats in competitive races that I especially wanted to see defeated. Of those 35, at least 22 were defeated, with three others in close races that have not yet been called. That's a 63% casualty rate -- again very high and very satisfying. Overall, I think the American people sent a pretty loud message, and it remains to be seen whether the Democrats have heard and understood that message.

This post has focused primarily on the House results. I will make another post soon discussing the Senate and governor's race results, as well as analyzing how accurate my predictions were. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Update #3

Well...not a huge number of statewide races have been called since my last post. Nikki Haley did survive in South Carolina, and Russ Feingold lost to Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. The GOP seems poised to win the close governor's races in Ohio and Florida and the close Senate races in Pennsylvania and Illinois. The Illinois governor race is much closer than I expected and it's questionable whether Bill Brady can pull it out for the GOP. Barbara Boxer is projected to win in California; this doesn't surprise me, but the fact that it was called so early does. The GOP is trailing right now in the Colorado Senate race, but apparently some of the most Republican areas of the state have not yet been counted. Again, the news in these statewide races is good, but not great.

In contrast, the news in the House races IS pretty great. A LOT of Democratic incumbents are going down in the South and the Midwest. Five seats lost in Pennsylvania and another five lost in Ohio, at least three in Virginia, at least three and maybe four in Illinois -- we're talking 16 or 17 losses just in FOUR states. I think the GOP is on track for a pickup of over 60 seats -- maybe close to the 68 I predicted this morning. Democrats running in districts carried by McCain are doing especially badly.

I'm not particularly encouraged by the news I've heard from Nevada so far -- from what I'm hearing Democratic turnout has been high and that could spell doom for Angle. No matter how many other seats the Republican pick up, it will be a big disappointment if Reid hangs on.

Given the apparent GOP bust in California, I'm also doubtful now that the GOP can pull things out in the Senate race in Washington state. The early vote shows Rossi well ahead, but it is all from the more conservative rural areas. Heavily Democratic King County has not yet reported.

Update #2

As the returns continue to pour in...overall the Republicans are meeting but not exceeding expectations. They're winning most of the House races they should win, but not by overwhelming margins. They're not winning some of the longshots that could have portended massive 70+ seat gains. They're probably on track to win about 60 seats or so. The results look great for the GOP in Virginia, Ohio, and Florida House races especially. The results are disappointing in North Carolina, where most of the vulnerable Democrats are squeaking out wins.

It's disappointing that the Pennsylvania Senate race hasn't been called yet. But the Pennsylvania governor's race has been called for the Republican, and Toomey is only running about three percentage points behind the gubernatorial candidate Corbett, so I think it's likely Toomey will squeak it out, probably by a closer margin than expected. In Illinois the Republicans appear to be trailing, but apparently the early vote is mostly from heavily Democratic Chicago. I'm very surprised with how close the South Carolina governor's race is. I thought Nikki Haley would win that by a wide margin, as pre-election polls were clearly suggesting. The Ohio and Florida governor's races are also closer than I would like, but I think the Republicans will be able to win both of them. And the Democrat has won the Massachusetts governor's race -- this is a disappointment. I went out on a limb and predicted a come-from-behind GOP win in this race. However, I think the GOP might win the governor's race in Connecticut -- this was a come-from-behind win that may yet materialize.

Again -- not the tsunami I thought, but still a solid night for the GOP so far. But a lot of big races still to be decided -- Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, Washington, Wisconsin, etc.

As the Early Returns Come In....

The early results look very good, but not fantastic for the GOP. It's a little disappointing to see the Delaware and Connecticut Senate races called so early for the Democrats, and there have been disconcerting rumors swirling about Harry Reid doing very well in the early vote in Nevada. Also, just seeing now that the West Virginia Senate race has been called for Democrat Joe Manchin. None of these races are really surprising, but I was definitely holding out hope for West Virginia at least, and possibly Connecticut too.

On the other hand, the House results look pretty good. Democratic incumbents Tom Perriello and Suzanne Kosmas going down...good news but not shocking. 100-term Democrat Rick Boucher has also lost...that is surprising and excellent news. Also, the GOP looks in good shape to defeat Baron Hill and is close against Joe Donnelly and Ben Chandler. Most analysts thought Donnelly and Chandler would hold on, so either of them losing would be a great sign.

Mixed bag so far...good but not the blowout I was hoping for.

More later....

What to Watch For on Election Night

I was planning to put together a quick election night guide which shows you what races to keep an eye on in each state as the polls close and the night progresses. That way, when you watch the results come in, you can know what signs to look for in order to determine how well the Republicans are doing compared with expectations. However, I found two good election guides online, so there's no point in me taking the time to make my own.

Here is one, put together by Nate Silver. Silver is a liberal -- but a very smart and honest one. Check it out here.

And here is another good one from the conservative-leaning Washington Examiner.

I was originally thinking about live blogging the elections. I don't think I'll be doing that. However, I will be posting regular updates throughout the evening and commenting on some results -- so check in regularly if you're a political junkie!

Final House Predictions

Here are my final U.S. House predictions (drum roll please). Like pretty much everyone else, I'm seeing strong movement toward the Republicans in the final week or two. Race by race, the numbers are looking terrible for the Democrats, with literally dozens of seats in play that were thought to be safe for the Democrats just a few short weeks ago. Another sign that the wave is coming is in the final Gallup poll. Usually the generic ballot question tightens as we move toward election day, but Gallup is showing a huge margin of 15 points in favor of the Republicans! Obviously, if this number is even close to right, it portends huge gains for the GOP today. (And Gallup has an excellent track record of accurately predicting House results with their generic ballot numbers.) Here's more commentary from Gallup:

"Taking Gallup's final survey's margin of error into account, the historical model predicts that the Republicans could gain anywhere from 60 seats on up, with gains well beyond that possible. It should be noted, however, that this year's 15-point gap in favor of the Republican candidates among likely voters is unprecedented in Gallup polling and could result in the largest Republican margin in House voting in several generations."


Other prognosticators have also commented on the very real possibility of stratospheric Republican gains. Nate Silver, a Democratic-leaning political and statistics guru, also provided a possible blowout scenario and 5 reasons why this is possible here.

I have made my best effort, given time constraints, to predict the outcome of all the House races. I am confident that at least some of these picks will be wrong, because there is limited or non-existent polling in many of these races. Also, in a wave election like this, there are always seats that stay beneath the radar and end up being huge surprises on election night. We saw it in 2006, and we will see it again this year. But I think (and hope) that my overall net gain prediction is close to accurate. I am predicting the Republicans will pick up 71 Democratic-held seats, but lose 3 of their own, for a net gain of 68 seats. This is a bold prediction, but not as much out of line as you might think from other prognosticators. For example, Stu Rothenberg is projecting 55-65 seat gains, and RealClearPolitics has a pick-up range from 45 to 89, with an average of 67.

Here are the likely or certain Republican pickups:

1. Open (Gordon) (TN)
2. Open (Melancon) (LA)
3. Open (Snyder) (AR)
4. Open (Massa) (NY)
5. Open (Ellsworth) (IN)
6. Open (Moore) (KS)
7. Debbie Halvorson (IL)
8. Mary Jo Kilroy (OH)

And the competitive seats that lean toward a Republican pickup:

1. Open (Tanner) (TN)
2. Betsy Markey (CO)
3. Suzanne Kosmas (FL)
4. Chet Edwards (TX)
5. Steve Driehaus (OH)
6. Kathy Dahlkemper (PA)
7. Alan Grayson (FL)
8. Allen Boyd (FL)
9. Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ)
10. Glenn Nye (VA)
11. Steve Kagen (WI)
12. Jim Marshall (GA)
13. Tom Perriello (VA)
14. Open (Stupak) (MI)
15. Carol Shea-Porter (NH)
16. Frank Kratovil (MD)
17. Harry Teague (NM)
18. John Boccieri (OH)
19. Open (Baird) (WA)
20. Travis Childers (MS)
21. Earl Pomeroy (ND)
22. Open (Obey) (WI)
23. Open (Berry) (AR)
24. Harry Mitchell (AZ)
25. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD)
26. John Spratt (SC)
27. Phil Hare (IL)
28. Paul Kanjorski (PA)
29. Dina Titus (NV)

And the seats that are tossups which I am predicting to go narrowly for the GOP:

1. Open (Sestak) (PA)
2. Baron Hill (IN)
3. Zack Space (OH)
4. John Hall (NY)
5. John Salazar (CO)
6. Bill Foster (IL)
7. John Adler (NJ)
8. Patrick Murphy (PA)
9. Bill Owens (NY)
10. Jerry McNerney (CA)
11. Ron Klein (FL)
12. Chris Carney (PA)
13. Lincoln Davis (TN)
14. Scott Murphy (NY)
15. Larry Kissell (NC)
16. Mark Schauer (MI)
17. Open (Mollohan) (WV)
18. Ciro Rodriguez (TX)
19. Open (Hodes) (NH)
20. Bobby Bright (AL)
21. Sanford Bishop (GA)
22. Michael Arcuri (NY)
23. Kurt Schrader (OR)
24. Ike Skelton (MO)
25. Charlie Wilson (OH)
26. Gene Taylor (MS)
27. Jim Costa (CA)
28. Ben Chandler (KY)
29. Joe Donnelly (IN)
30. Martin Heinrich (NM)
31. Mike McIntyre (NC)
32. Bob Etheridge (NC)
33. James Oberstar (MN)
34. Ed Perlmutter (CO)

And the tossup seats which I am predicting to go narrowly to the Democrats:

1. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ)
2. Walt Minnick (ID)
3. Open (Delahunt) (MA)
4. Raul Grijalva (AZ)
5. Gerry Connolly (VA)
6. Tim Bishop (NY)
7. Rick Boucher (VA)
8. Mark Critz (PA)
9. Christopher Murphy (CT)
10. Jim Himes (CT)
11. Gary Peters (MI)
12. Loretta Sanchez (CA)
13. Heath Shuler (NC)
14. Ron Kind (WI)
15. Chellie Pingree (ME)
16. Dennis Cardoza (CA)
17. Melissa Bean (IL)
18. Rick Larsen (WA)

And the competitive seats that lean toward a Democratic hold:

1. Dan Maffei (NY)
2. Mike McMahon (NY)
3. Leonard Boswell (IA)
4. Tim Walz (MN)
5. Jason Altmire (PA)
6. John Yarmuth (KY)
7. Maurice Hinchey (NY)
8. Adam Smith (WA)
9. Solomon Ortiz (TX)
10. Michael Michaud (ME)
11. Jim Matheson (UT)
12. Frank Pallone (NJ)
13. Open (Rhode Island) (RI)

And the likely Democratic holds (where an upset is at least possible):

1. Bruce Braley (IA)
2. Betty Sutton (OH)
3. Dave Loebsack (IA)
4. Nick Rahall (WV)
5. Tim Holden (PA)
6. Rush Holt (NJ)
7. Russ Carnahan (MO)
8. Barney Frank (MA)
9. John Barrow (GA)
10. Mike Ross (AR)
11. Carolyn McCarthy (NY)
12. Peter DeFazio (OR)
13. Brad Miller (NC)
14. Steve Israel (NY)
15. Anthony Weiner (NY)

All in all, this adds up to 117 Democratic-held seats that are competitive or potentially competitive. I'm predicting the GOP will pick up 71 of those seats.

On the Republican side, there are a LOT fewer seats in play. I am predicting the Democrats will easily pick up the seat of Joseph Cao (LA). Mike Castle's open seat in Delaware leans toward the Democrats. And Mark Kirk's open seat in Illinois is a tossup race that I think the Democrats will narrowly win. That adds up to 3 losses.

A few other Republican seats are vulnerable, but I think the GOP will hold on. In Hawaii, Charles Djou's race is a tossup that I think the GOP will narrowly hold. There are three competitive seats that lean toward the Republicans: Dan Lungren (CA), Open (Diaz-Balart) (FL), and Open (Shadegg) (AZ). And there are five additional seats that are likely GOP holds: Charlie Dent (PA), Open (Putnam) (FL), Dave Reichert (WA), Open (Griffith) (AL), and Michele Bachmann (MN).

That adds up to 12 competitive or potentially competitive GOP-held seats, 3 of which I think they will lose.

In less than 24 hours, we will know the outcome of most of these races....

Monday, November 1, 2010

Final Senate and Governor Predictions

I have made my final Senate and governor predictions. You can access the Senate predictions here and the governor predictions here. (The links on the left side of the page are also current.)

To summarize: I am predicting a 9-seat pickup for the GOP, bringing them to 50 seats in the Senate. The Democrats will still retain the majority (assuming Independent Joe Lieberman continues to caucus with the Democrats) because Vice-President Joe Biden will be the deciding vote for organizing the Senate. I predict the GOP will pick up seats in North Dakota, Indiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nevada, Colorado, and Washington. However, they will lose close races in California and West Virginia, as well as not-so-close races in Connecticut and Delaware. Also, the GOP will hold all their previously held seats, including Kentucky and Missouri.

In the governor's races, the GOP will pick up a net of 9 seats, bringing them to a total of 33 out of 50 governorships. The Democrats will lose a net of 10 and end up with 16 governorships, with the remaining one held by Independent Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island. The GOP will win competitive races in Minnesota, Florida, Oregon, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Maine, Illinois, Georgia, and Texas, as well as less competitive races in Michigan, Iowa, and Nevada. However, they will come up short in Connecticut, Colorado, Vermont, California, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Maryland.

If my predictions are correct, it will be a very good night for the GOP!

Stay tuned for my final House predictions and some other thoughts on the election tomorrow....

UPDATE: I have made one additional update to my governor's predictions -- have now moved Connecticut into the GOP column. This results in a net GOP pickup of 10 seats and a net loss of 11 for the Democrats.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Guess "Post-Partisan Healer" Means Different Things to Different People

Obama's latest quotes:

In an interview on a Spanish-speaking radio station, he said that Latinos need to "punish their enemies" in the upcoming election by voting against Republicans.

At a recent rally, he said that after the election the Republicans could cooperate with his agenda if they wanted to, but they would have to "sit in the back." (Think Rosa Parks.)

This is on top of earlier comments about how Republicans don't want blacks to vote and video appeals to the "blacks and Latinos that powered my 2008 victory."

This president is a post-partisan, post-racial healer all right...in the mold of Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton, and David Duke. He is using racial identity politics to blatantly divide our country. He is exacerbating racial grievances by pitting one group of Americans against another, provoking suspicion and mistrust. He is using Nixonian terms like "enemies" to apply to his political opponents. He is a national embarrassment.

The Red Corner of Montgomery County

Check out this recent article from The Washington Post, which profiles my hometown of Damascus, MD, and how dramatically it differs culturally and politically from the rest of Montgomery County. I'm sure our county will once again elect a slate of left-wing candidates to local, state, and federal offices, but thankfully the town I live in won't be to blame for that....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Not All Democrats Are Created Equal

As we approach Election Day, there has been a lot of speculation about how many House (and Senate) seats the Democrats are going to lose. However, I think it's important to point out that not all Democrats are created equal. While pretty much all the Democrats in the Senate are liberal (every single one voted for ObamaCare), there is a small cadre of genuinely moderate-to-conservative Democrats in the House. As Obama and Pelosi have lurched the Democratic agenda farther and farther to the left, these conservative Democrats -- almost all from the South -- are finding themselves in greater and greater jeopardy merely as a result of the "D" after their name on the ballot.

Now, I won't be shedding tears over any Democrat who loses his seat next week, no matter how conservative. After all, even the most conservative Democrats did choose to enable a Democratic majority which has advanced a radically progressive agenda and to vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. However, as I have said before, when it comes to politics I am a conservative first and a Republican second. I want to see conservative gains in Congress, not merely Republican gains. I don't want to see all Democrats lose indiscriminately -- I want to see those specific Democrats lose who have carried water for the Obama/Pelosi agenda and advanced policies like ObamaCare and cap-and-trade in defiance of the will of their constituents. As the results roll in on election night and the House losses begin to add up for the Democrats, I will be looking beyond the raw numbers to see which types of Democrats are being defeated. If many conservative southern Democrats lose while many liberal Democrats from swing districts survive, I will be disappointed -- even if the Republicans take the House comfortably.

This is why it is a little disappointing to me that the national Republican party is spending heavily to defeat conservative Democrats like Gene Taylor and Travis Childers of Mississippi, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Lincoln Davis of Tennessee, Bobby Bright of Alabama, and Jim Marshall of Georgia. In one sense, I can understand it. After all, the entire point of the NRCC's existence is to succeed in electing as many Republicans as possible, and these congressmen are not Republicans. However, there are so many competitive House districts this year that the Republican party cannot come close to funding all of them. I would much prefer to see them directing their scarce resources to defeating the Democrats that are responsible for supporting Obama's agenda. After all, Big Labor is focusing its resources on re-electing those specific Democrats who have voted for that agenda -- why aren't Republicans and Republican-leaning groups keeping a similar focus?

I don't see that defeating Democrats like Gene Taylor and Bobby Bright is going to make much difference for conservative principles. Taylor is a long-time conservative who voted to impeach President Clinton way back in the 1990's. Bright scored an astonishing 79% on my congressional scorecard -- higher than many Republicans. All of the Democrats listed above scored well over 50%. Instead, I would like to see the following Democrats defeated on election night (their percentage of conservative votes on my scorecard are in parentheses). They are listed in approximate order of their vulnerability.

Debbie Halvorson (IL) - 25%
Mary Jo Kilroy (OH) - 7%
Betsy Markey (CO) - 29%
Steve Driehaus (OH) - 21%
Kathy Dahlkemper (PA) - 25%
Tom Perriello (VA) - 21%
Paul Kanjorski (PA) - 18%
Earl Pomeroy (ND) - 29%
Alan Grayson (FL) - 11%
Steve Kagen (WI) - 7%
Patrick Murphy (PA) - 11%
John Boccieri (OH) - 29%
Dina Titus (NV) - 21%
Baron Hill (IN) - 29%
John Hall (NY) - 14%
John Salazar (CO) - 21%
Mark Schauer (MI) - 21%
John Spratt (SC) - 21%
Bill Owens (NY)
Gabrielle Giffords (AZ) - 21%
Phil Hare (IL) - 4%
Jerry McNerney (CA) - 18%
Ron Klein (FL) - 18%
Leonard Boswell (IA) - 14%
Ciro Rodriguez (TX) - 25%
Kurt Schrader (OR) - 18%
Sanford Bishop (GA) - 21%
Charlie Wilson (OH) - 29%
Martin Heinrich (NM) - 11%
Tim Bishop (NY) - 11%
Raul Grijalva (AZ) - 0%
Gerry Connolly (VA) - 14%
Gary Peters (MI) - 18%
Loretta Sanchez (CA) - 14%
Tim Walz (MN) - 14%

All of these 35 Democrats voted for ObamaCare (most also voted for cap-and-trade). All of them are being challenged by at least reasonably conservative Republicans. Most of them are well to the left of the conservative or swing districts they represent. All of them are considered vulnerable. If a large percentage of these congressmen do not lose, it will be a disappointing night for me, regardless of what the total number of pickups is for the GOP.

So as you follow the election results next week, keep an eye out for which types of Democrats are losing. That will tell you a lot about the prospects for conservative principles in the next Congress.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A lot of hot air

I moved to Maryland a few months ago.  As I have settled into my new home state, I have quickly learned that the people of Maryland, or at least their elected representatives, seem to like government regulations.  Over the weekend, I got a notice from the Maryland Vehicle Administration that says my car has to be tested for compliance with emissions standards.  According to the notice I received in the mail, the purpose of this test is to reduce "the amount of ground-level ozone in the air we breathe". 

However, the notice also says what to do if your car fails the test. 
  • Move your vehicle into a customer parking space, come in the office and speak to the Customer Service Representative on Duty.
  • You may apply for a repair waiver after the vehicle fails the test, is repaired, then fails again.
  • You must present proof that at least the minimum amount required for the waiver was spent for emissions related repairs.  Refer to the "If Your Vehicle Didn't Pass" brochure or www.marylandmva.com for further information.
In other words, you can still drive a non-compliant vehicle as long as someone tried to fix it.  It's the thought that counts.  My guess is that this ineffective and useless law was passed so the people in office could prove that they had done something to protect the environment.  At least the test only costs $14.