Thursday, January 31, 2008

Breaking News: Kuhl Endorses McCain

And with that, I'll also report that I, too, have decided to vote for John McCain next Tuesday. As Drudge would say, developing...
UPDATE: More on the endorsement from the Star-Gazette.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Well That Was Quick

So I was about to go to bed, when I saw I had a new email message in my inbox. It was from somebody high up in the McCain campaign, expressing his condolences and saying, "Rudy is a class act (and tremendous on taxes). Very good speech (though Mitt was incredibly rude to interrupt)." It's personal communications like these that will certainly help in making my decision on who I'm going to support now, hint, hint.

Florida Results

Fox News and AP have just called the race in Florida for McCain, with McCain beating Romney by about 5 points with 62% of precincts reporting. In addition, Mark Halperin of Time Magazine is reporting that Rudy may endorse McCain as early as tomorrow.

Naturally, I'm very disappointed with the results, as anyone would be sad that their chosen candidate, who you've campaigned for, blogged for, and donated money to, didn't win. Rudy inspired me like no other candidate. I looked past his views on social issues because of his marvelous record in NYC and his leadership on 9/11. Once he promised that he would appoint conservative judges, he sealed my support. Rudy will always have my admiration and support in his future endeavours. And who knows where the road leads him. In just two short years, a fairly unpopular governor from New York will be up for reelection, so who knows...

Yet, tomorrow's another day, and there's still several Republican candidates to choose from, all with strong records and resumes. If, as reported, Rudy does drop out tomorrow, I will have to go through the process of selecting another candidate to vote for next Tuesday. Just for fun, I took one of those online presidential candidate selectors tonight, and here are my results for the top four candidates still left in the GOP field:

68% - Mike Huckabee
58% - Mitt Romney
55% - John McCain
33% - Ron Paul

Of course, other factors will also play a large role in my decision making, such as electability and endorsements. Right now, the polls show that McCain is the best candidate to beat either Hillary or Obama. Plus, if he receives Rudy's endorsement tomorrow, on top of his endorsement from Sam Brownback (who is actually the closest to me ideologically), that will increase points in McCain's column for me. However, I'm still in the process of making my decision. Ironically, for someone who has never understood the "undecided voter" (I always know who I'm voting for weeks, if not months, in advance), I'm now an undecided voter with less than one week to make up my mind. Certainly an election year like no other!

SOTU, Earmark Reform, and Florida

Last night, President Bush gave his State of the Union address, and it was nice to see a familiar face like Congressman Kuhl in the gallery. Here are Congressman Kuhl's thoughts on the SOTU and Bush's legacy.

Prior to the speech, Congressman Kuhl wrote a post on his blog about earmark reform, an issue mentioned a bit in the SOTU, asking Democrats to join Republicans in this effort.

Finally, I thought I'd give my thoughts on the Florida primary before the results come in later tonight. It goes without saying that the polls aren't looking too favorably for Rudy right now, with each day showing that either McCain or Romney has the edge for first place. The results are going to be close, so I'm prepared for a long night. A lot of early votes were cast in this race, which certainly helps Rudy, and I would love for him to pull it off tonight, though I've prepared myself for a defeat. We shall see (and keep cross our fingers)...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Congressman Kuhl's Press Release on SCHIP

About an hour ago, I linked to a story which appeared in the Daily Messenger over the weekend, which "reported" that Massa had accepted Congressman Kuhl's challenge to a debate on SCHIP, and included a statement from the Massa campaign that the debate "details were being worked out." I did find it odd that such a forum was being hosted this early in the campaign, especially since Congressman Kuhl has indicated that he would make a formal announcement on whether he's running for reelection around the time that the Massa people claimed the debate would be hosted. But I linked to it anyway since I couldn't believe that the Daily Messenger would be this wrong in its reporting.

Turns out that there is no debate, and that Massa's campaign misread Congressman Kuhl's press release. Rather than being an invitation to debate, it was a challenge to Massa to get his facts straight on SCHIP. In addition, it seems very clear to me that the Daily Messenger didn't even bother to contact Congressman Kuhl's office about this supposed debate (as doing so would have immediately put any rumors to rest on this), which doesn't surprise me at all for a paper that continues to show its bias for Massa. I can only imagine what went through their heads on this one: "Well, Eric's people say there's a debate, so it must be true, let's not even bother contacting Randy's office."

Here's the press release in its entirety, issued last Wednesday:

WASHINGTON – Jan. 23 - U.S. Representative John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr. (R-Hammondsport) issued the following statement today:

"Mr. Massa continues to regurgitate the same ill-informed and incorrect statements about a deeply flawed SCHIP bill. From the levels of expansion to who can access this program, Mr. Massa needs to consult with his friends in the Democratic Party before spewing falsities about this particular bill. I am astonished at the amount of inaccuracies in Mr. Massa's position since prior to this bill he had simply repeated what Speaker Pelosi had told him to say. A puppet is only as smart as its master, and unfortunately this time the puppet decided to speak for itself and got the facts wrong.

I invite Mr. Massa to actually examine the flawed SCHIP bill and then take a stance. I refuse to vote for any SCHIP legislation that includes the most regressive tax increase in American history, enables coverage for illegal aliens, higher-income children, and adults, and spends billions of dollars to substitute private health insurance coverage with government-run healthcare coverage. Since Congress has already reauthorized and fully funded SCHIP for 18-months, we should not be rehashing last year’s battles, but instead working in a bipartisan manner to develop a longer-term reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program."

Here are the facts about the H.R. 3963:

1. H.R. 3963 enables illegal aliens to fraudulently enroll in Medicaid and SCHIP.

· H.R. 3963 severely weakens the current law by removing the documentation requests under the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA), specifically the burden that citizens and nationals provide documentation proving their citizenship in order to be covered under Medicaid and SCHIP. Instead, the bill would require that a name and Social Security number be provided as documentation of legal status to acquire coverage and that those names and Social Security numbers be submitted to the Secretary to be checked for validity.

· In addition, this provision does not require that the individual presenting the name and Social Security Number (SSN) to document in any way that he or she is actually the person he or she is claiming to be. This is an open door to fraud and

2. H.R. 3963 taxes the poor to benefit the rich. The bill uses the funding gained from taxing the poor to pay for expanding SCHIP eligibility to higher-income families.

· In their official analysis of the H.R. 3963, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that 1.1 million new enrollees will be added to SCHIP as a result of an "expansion of SCHIP and Medicaid eligibility to new populations." This means that these children live in families whose incomes are too high in order to qualify for the SCHIP program today. H.R. 3963 will also allow New Jersey to receive full SCHIP reimbursements for families with incomes up to 350% of the Federal Poverty Level, which is $72,275 for a family of four this year and $84,455 for a family of five.

3. H.R. 3963 spends billions of dollars to substitute private health insurance coverage with government-run healthcare coverage.

· CBO projects that 50% of the 1.1 million new enrollees in the "expansion of SCHIP and Medicaid eligibility to new populations" category already have private health insurance coverage. This means that the taxpayers will simply be paying for the government to buy out the health insurance premiums of these children who already have quality private health insurance coverage instead of focusing on actually enrolling low-income, uninsured kids.

4. H.R. 3963 focuses on enrolling higher-income kids instead of low-income, uninsured kids.

· While CBO projects that H.R. 3963 will enroll 1.1 million kids who are in families with incomes too high to qualify for SCHIP now, only 800,000 currently SCHIP eligible kids will be enrolled as a result of H.R. 3963. This means that almost 50% more higher-income kids will be enrolled than current SCHIP eligible kids. Shouldn't SCHIP be focused on insuring low-income kids, not families who can already afford to purchase health insurance?

5. H.R. 3963 creates the most regressive tax increase in American history.

· In order to pay for 5 years of SCHIP and increased spending in Medicaid, H.R. 3963 will increase tobacco taxes by over $70 billion over the next 10 years. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) calls tobacco taxes "the most regressive of the federal taxes," meaning that the vast majority of any increases will be on the backs of low-income American families

6. H.R. 3963 increases the number of adults on SCHIP, allowing even more resources to be taken away from low-income, uninsured kids.

· According to official CBO projections, there could actually be over 500,000 more adults on SCHIP in 2012 than there are today. There were 700,596 adults enrolled in SCHIP at some point in FY2006, and CBO projects that up to 1,258,000 adults could be enrolled on SCHIP at some point during FY2012.

Kuhl in the News

On Saturday, I was at a Randy Kuhl fundraiser at All Things Art in Canandaigua, where a great time was had by all, so with that I give you the latest items on Congressman Kuhl in the news:

Congressman Kuhl discussed his thoughts on the economic stimulus package with the Jamestown Post-Journal, reiterating his position that this plan is a short-term solution and that the government should not forget to give incentives to small businesses, as they provide jobs, which is the "best economic stimulus."

Congressman Kuhl also joined with Congresswoman Louise Slaughter in telling the Bush administration to backoff on its new border requirements, stating that the new regs would cause "more delays in passport backlogs and cost an already strapped American family more of their income."

Last, but not least, Eric Massa has accepted Congressman Kuhl's offer to debate the facts of SCHIP, which will most likely occur in March. Money quote: "A puppet [Eric Massa] is only as smart as its master [Nancy Pelosi], and unfortunately, this time the puppet decided to speak for itself and got the facts wrong. I invite Mr. Massa to actually examine the flawed SCHIP bill and then take a stance."

Friday, January 25, 2008

In Case You Missed It: Congressman Kuhl's Statement on the SCHIP Veto Override Vote

I was very busy at work yesterday, so I didn't have time to post this statement from Congressman Kuhl on the SCHIP veto override vote. IMHO, he hit the nail on the head:
Today I maintained my support for the original purpose of the State Children's Health Insurance Program – to provide health insurance to low-income children. The effort made to override this veto is needless political maneuvering and achieves nothing more than continued gridlock in Congress. In December, Congress, in bi-partisan effort, passed a bill extending SCHIP for 18 months and increased funding and resources to cover current enrollment levels without raising taxes.

This veto override vote is especially disheartening in light of last week's attempt by both parties to work together on a plan for America's faltering economy. I was optimistic that we could work together to fix our nation's problems during the remaining months of the 110th Congress. However, by choosing to delay this vote from mid-December to just days before the State of the Union Address, it is the majority who has once again shown their vested interest in political pandering at the cost of America's children.

SCHIP is a pivotal program and I am pleased that we extended the program for 18 months. There are still half a million children eligible for the SCHIP program, but not enrolled. Before we begin expanding this program to cover adults, illegal immigrants, wealthier families, and kids who already have private insurance, we must ensure that the 500,000 children who go to bed tonight without healthcare get the priority status that they deserve. No parent should have to wonder what will happen to the son or daughter if they become ill. By continuing to push for a flawed bill, the majority refuses to serve the children that the program is intended for and continue to jeopardize the health of our most vulnerable citizens.

Those who call for me to support the veto override continue to turn a blind eye to the realities of bloated and bureaucratic programs. We must create a program that actually provides underprivileged children with healthcare, and does not put them in line behind adults, wealthy children, and illegal immigrants. If those who want this bloated program feel so compelled to aid these groups, they should offer separate bills on the floor of the House of Representatives for a yes or no vote. The reality is that no member of congress would ever offer such a bill, not because they are afraid, but because they know that it is not the will of the American people to cover these individuals. Congress needs to be focusing on protecting our borders, stimulating our economy, and serving America's children, not rehashing last year's fights.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This SCHIP Won't Sail, Again!

Despite the Dems' failure last year to expand SCHIP in their efforts to make political fodder over trying to cover health expenses for upper income families, illegal immigrants, and adults provide more aid for Poor Children™, the Dems are trying to exploit the SCHIP issue in the New Year (again), scheduling a SCHIP veto override today. Here is House Republican Leader John Boehner's press release on the latest chapter in this never ending saga on the Dems exploiting a loser issue for them in the name of the Poor Children™, i.e., upper income families, illegal immigrants, and adults.

UPDATE: The Dems failed, again, to override the veto.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Conservatives Against McCain, For Rudy

As you know, many prominent conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh and George Will, have been making the case over and over again against John McCain as the Republican nominee, with Rush going as far as saying that Rudy, Romney, and Thompson are the only candidates in this race who are trying to continue "the conservative tradition."

So it should come as no surprise to see a conservative columnist like Dennis Prager or an objectivist like Robert Tracinski coming out for Rudy one week before the Florida primary.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Congressman Kuhl Cosponsors Bill to Help Homeowners

Congressman Kuhl has cosponsored a bill to help homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages "to withdraw up to $25,000 from retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s without the standard 10 percent penalty in order to avoid falling behind in mortgage payments. In addition, the withdrawn funds would not be taxed if repaid into their fund within five years." To be sure, there is some criticism to the bill, mostly because of the fact that the funds would come from one's retirement savings, but if it's the choice between having a larger nest egg in the future or keeping your home right now, I think most would prefer the latter choice.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Congressman Kuhl Commends Dems for Attempting Bipartisanship, Massa Attacks

For months now, Congressman Kuhl has been critical of the Dem leadership in the House for not trying to work with Republicans on a host of issues. So when the Dems approached House Republican Leader John Boehner to discuss an economic stimulus package, Congressman Kuhl commended it as a positive step forward. Eric Massa, of course, took this as an opportunity to be critical of Congressman Kuhl, because our good congressman actually had the audacity to be critical of the Dem leadership in the past. For shame!

Frankly, I don't see what's wrong with Congressman Kuhl calling out the Dems when they're not working with the Republicans on Capitol Hill, and then commends them when they appear to be reaching out. To me, that seems like healthy bipartisanship. Eric Massa, on the other hand, finds it to be an opportunity to complain. So much for Mr. "I Speak Donkey and Elephant" Good Ol' Bipartisan Eric Massa...

Nevada, South Carolina Results

Romney's win today showed that he was smart to back out of South Carolina and campaign hard in Nevada this week, where according to the exit polls, 25% of the caucus-goers there are Mormon and 94% of them voted Romney. One thing that I have not seen played up at all is that McCain finished in third place, with 13% of the vote, in a state that borders his own...

In South Carolina, I was hoping that Huckabee would beat McCain to slow the Senator's momentum going into Florida, but with a three percent margin of victory for McCain, there is no question in my mind that Huckabee would have won South Carolina but for Fred Thompson staking his whole candidacy in this state, taking many votes away from Huckabee.

But now it comes down to Florida, and the Giuliani campaign is up for the fight. Here's a statement from Tony Carbonetti, Rudy's senior political advisor, which contrasts Rudy's views on taxes with the other candidates:
We congratulate Senator John McCain on winning the South Carolina primary. While the race remains wide open, we welcome the candidates to Florida for a real discussion of the issues we've been talking about since day one. Florida voters know that in a field where one candidate twice voted against the Bush tax cuts and another wasn't even sure they were a good idea, Rudy is the only candidate who has a record of cutting taxes, a plan for the largest tax cut in modern American history, and a proven ability to jumpstart the economy.

Friday, January 18, 2008

ATR Releases Presidential Candidate Tax Reform Matrix

Today, Americans for Tax Reform released a "Presidential Candidate Tax Matrix", which serves as a quick reference guide for all of the major presidential candidates' positions on taxes. According to ATR President Grover Norquist, "When taxpayers go into the voting booth to decide who the best pro-taxpayer candidate is, this guide will save time and energy." And the matrix clearly shows that Rudy Giuliani has supported the most pro-growth tax reforms of all the major presidential candidates.

Congressman Kuhl Believes Economic Stimulus Package Should Include Tax Cuts

Congressman Kuhl proves once again that he's a Taxpayer's Best Friend. From the Corning Leader:
U.S. Rep. John R. "Randy" Kuhl Jr. supports some kind of congressional action to give the ailing national economy a boost.

Exactly what should be included in a stimulus package will likely be debated in weeks to come. Kuhl believes at least some of it should include tax breaks for businesses and investors.

"What we need to do is put more money in the hands of people of who invest in money or invest in creating jobs," he said.

That could also include making permanent part, or all, of President Bush's tax cuts adopted in 2001 and 2003. The tax cuts are expected to expire in 2011.

Democrats have criticized the Bush tax cuts as breaks for the wealthy. Kuhl defended them as being effective and more inclusive than Democrats portray.

"In one shape or another they can be very, very good for boosting the economy on a national basis," Kuhl said.

Kuhl said he would also favor a reduction in capital gains tax for corporations and lowering the prime lending rate.

Kuhl said he is skeptical that giving Americans one-time rebate checks of $300 to $600 would have the desired effect.

"It puts more money into the economy but that's just wealth redistribution. That doesn't create jobs, per se," he said.

Congressman Kuhl Helps Form Bipartisan "Congressional Appalachian Caucus"

From Business First of Buffalo:
Rep. John "Randy" Kuhl Jr., whose congressional district includes Olean and all of Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, has joined with a bipartisan group of House lawmakers to form the Congressional Appalachian Caucus.

Kuhl, R-Hammondsport, said the group will focus on building federal support for work of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The ARC is a federal-state partnership that aims to create opportunities for economic growth in 410 counties in the 13 states included in the Appalachian Region.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Congressman Kuhl Co-Sponsors Legislation to Regulate Political Robo-Calls

Today, Congressman Kuhl announced that he was co-sponsoring legislation to expand the scope of the Do Not Call Registry by adding to the list politically-oriented Robo-Calls.

There is no question that this will be hugely popular with most people (including myself, who, despite all of the data shown to me indicating that these calls "increase turnout," believes they "anger voters"), but there is certainly a First Amendment issue here, and if this bill becomes law, there will definitely be a legal challenge to it.

In 2004, SCOTUS refused to hear an appeal on a Tenth Circuit decision which held that the Do Not Call Registry is a "valid commercial speech regulation" (emphasis added). The key word, of course, was "commercial," and this bill would be a limitation on "political" speech, which naturally raises far more red flags with the courts than commercial speech. However, because this regulation would be a content-neutral restriction, it would only be subject to immediate scrutiny by the courts, as opposed to a content-based restriction, which would be subject to strict scrutiny. All the government would have to do is prove that the law serves an important objective (citizens view Robo-Calls as an invasion of privacy, and we want to protect citizens), the law is narrowly tailored (only bans pre-recorded mass phone calls to individuals who sign up not to receive such calls), and there remains ample alternatives for the communication (live people making the calling, TV ads, mailers, demonstrations, etc.). Granted, that's a very simplified overview of the issues involved here, but frankly, IMHO, if the government can prove the above to the satisfaction of the courts and the law is drafted properly and would survive either a vagueness or overbreath challenge, it should pass muster with the courts, or at the very least make for extremely interesting law review articles.

In the meantime, if you don't want to continue to receive such calls, one of the easiest way to decrease the frequency of political Robo-Calls is to not put your phone number down on your voter registration application. It's listed as "optional" for a reason! Plus, by not listing your phone number on your voter registration application, you will substantially limit even live calls from a campaign, political party, 527, etc. Granted, I love volunteering to do phone banking for a campaign, but by not listing your phone number, you would save yourself from receiving a call you consider "unwanted," and I would save myself from being yelled at or hungup on. It's a win-win!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rudy At His Best

Hillary can cry all she wants to, but this is the type of unscripted moment that makes one look truly presidential:

It's moments like these that remind me of where I was on 9/11 and why I strongly support Rudy for president. I was in DC at the time, starting my junior year of college. Back in those days, I had the luxury of staying up at all hours of the night and sleeping in the next day, so since I had a 10:00 am class, I decided to sleep in, when I got a call around 9:00 am from a friend telling me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I immediately turned on the news to see what happened, and one of the first scenes I saw was of Mayor Giuliani at Ground Zero, taking immediate control of the situation. I remember seeing him looking out for one of his aides and scolding him for not wearing his mask, but if I recall correctly, the Mayor didn't seem to keep his mask on as much given that he had to take command. Moments later, NBC turned to its Pentagon correspondent, who immediately informed them about a loud "boom" he heard outside and that the complex was being evacuated. Classes hadn't been cancelled yet, so I walked to my class (which was a religion course taught by a wonderful DeSales-Oblate), and before our professor arrived, all of us were talking about the rumors we heard going on in DC: "they bombed the Capitol building," "a bomb was found at the Mall," etc. Our professor always started class with a short prayer, but the prayer that day lasted at least 10 minutes, which certainly helped and calmed us, after which we discussed the day's events. We received word that classes were cancelled a short time later, and as I walked back to my dorm, I could see the smoke billowing from the Pentagon, which was just a few short miles away. I spent the rest of the day, as most people, watching the news and seeing Mayor Giuliani lead us all through the crisis. The next few weeks, we saw the Mayor go through the struggle of attending countless funerals, hugging the loved ones of 9/11 victims, and helping this nation heal. This video certainly brought me back to those days, showcasing Rudy's leadership, kindness and warmth.

A quick note about the protester: From those at the podium, it appeared he was protesting the war, when he was in fact a pro-life protester. As a pro-lifer who has participated in the March for Life, I was truly disgusted by this display. When the mother of a fallen soldier takes the stage to speak about her son, who sacrificed his life for our country, you do not heckle her about Rudy's position on abortion. I'm not saying that pro-lifers shouldn't exercise their First Amendment rights, but this was clearly neither the time nor the place for such a demonstration. Also, as a retort to the protester on Rudy's views, here's my take on the issue.

Rudy's New Ad in Florida

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Michigan Results

With about 10% of precincts reporting and Romney up by 6 points, both Fox and NBC just called the MI race for Romney, who essentially had to win tonight to have any shot at winning the nomination. It's one thing to lose a state that borders your current home where you were governor, but quite another to lose in a state where you were born and raised and where your own father was governor.

I predict that this result will end McCain's NH bounce, which came at Rudy's expense. Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics put it best, posting the following a few hours ago after the exit polls were released:
How does the saying go? Once an accident, twice a coincidence, three times a trend. If Romney wins tonight we'll have three different winners in the first three primary states (no offense, Wyoming) which means the only thing consistent about this year's Republican race thus far is chaos - and that makes Rudy Giuliani one very happy camper.
It also makes his supporters happy campers too!

"Giuliani -- Still Very Much In It"

From the WaPo blog, The Fix. Money quote:
The truth of the matter is that the fundamentals that Giuliani needed to be in place to have a chance at the nomination remain. The GOP field is muddled, the wealthy candidate could be out of the race as early as Tuesday, and it is clear that Florida's primary will matter. The stories of an alleged fundraising shortfall have the potential to gum up the works for Giuliani, but it now seems likely that he will have the chance his campaign has long hoped for: To have a win in Florida mean something.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Rudy "Strategery"

For months now, I've written several posts on Rudy's big-state "strategery" and how it was the most effective one given the (a) delegate math; (b) new, front-loaded primary schedule; and (c) lack of a clear primary challenger against him. National Review columnist Rich Lowery, a Romney backer, offers his thoughts on it here.

I'll admit that I've been feeling frustrated these last few days, something I should have prepared myself for earlier knowing that Rudy was putting much of his hopes on winning Florida and backing away from the earlier states, so seeing Candidate A or B winning the first few contests and seeing Rudy slip in the polls hasn't been fun. On the other hand, I refuse to think that the sky is falling for Rudy in such a scrambled race at this point, given how all the talking heads have been proven so wrong. After Hillary's loss in Iowa, the MSM was already gearing up to write (and in some cases, did write) her political obit. Even her own campaign was spinning about her upcoming loss last Tuesday, and yet she still won in New Hampshire. After Romney lost both Iowa and New Hampshire, the conventional wisdom (which even I speculated) was that he was done for, and now he has a slight lead in the polls against McCain in Michigan, with the voters going to the polls later today. Heck, as of last summer, everyone was saying that McCain's campaign was over, and in September, Thompson looked like to be the Savior of the GOP to some. Frankly, it's been decades since both parties have had such topsy-turvy primary races.

Right now, the RCP average in Florida shows a dead heat between Rudy and McCain, with McCain obviously receiving a nice bounce from his win last week, and it goes without question that McCain's bounce is at Rudy's expense, as Huckabee's bounce was at Romney's and Thompson's expense. However, we still have two weeks to go between now and Florida, with Michigan, Nevada, and South Carolina all between. From all of the relatives and friends I know in Florida, they all tell me that the only ads they're seeing down there are for Rudy, which certainly bodes well for the former mayor as all the other candidates are splitting their ads and money between two to three states. If McCain loses or comes in close tomorrow in Michigan, his bounce will surely end, and if he does manage to win by a good margin tomorrow, his old adversaries will surely come back to haunt him. Granted, I'm not a big fan of fellow party members viciously attacking any GOP candidates, as any one of them could be the nominee, and whoever that is, the party should come behind him and do everything it can to help him win in November (Note: There is a difference in promoting your candidate of choice and showcasing the other's policy differences and/or potential weaknesses, but not to the point of completely trashing them, as frankly, all of the major GOP candidates would be far better than Hillary or Obama). But, because of all the dynamics and possibilities, plus "front-runner" backlash, this race remains very much wide open, and that's exactly where Rudy's campaign wants it in the run up to Florida. As I always say, we shall see...

UPDATE: Clips like these certainly keep my hopes up:

UPDATE 2: Jon Voight, one of my favorite actors of all time, endorsed Rudy today!

Congressman Kuhl's Website Wins Award

A few months ago, I listed some of the wonderful features which Congressman Kuhl's website offers constituents. And I'm not the only one to take note: The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) gave Congressman Kuhl's website a "Silver Mouse Award" in its "Best Web Sites on Capitol Hill" category. Of the best websites, Congressman Kuhl's was the only website recognized of all of the Rochester-area representatives, and one of three to be recognized from New York. The CMF is a "non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting a more effective Congress."

Hat tip: Rottenchester.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Reaction to Massa Presser

One of these days, I would absolutely love to attend a Massa press conference. I wonder how welcomed I would be...

Regardless, here's my reaction to his presser:

1) If the NH primary results are an indication that people are "fed up with politics as usual in Washington, DC" and want to dismantle the "good old boy network," how come the Dems voted for the establishment candidate there? True, Hillary's not physiologically a "boy", but she's most certainly part of that damn network!

2) I highly doubt that Congressman Kuhl's recent mailer on SCHIP cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money." And what's exactly wrong with informing constituents directly on where he stands on an important issue, and even informs them on how to apply for this program?

3) The complaint that Congressman Kuhl has with the "Post Office Congress" isn't that they choose to honor distinguished citizens by naming post offices and federal buildings after them, but rather he believes that on top of doing nice things like that, Congress should also be passing laws that have a real positive affect on the country, and the Dem leadership has failed to do that in 2007. The reason for dubbing it the "Post Office Congress" is because of "the 155 bills signed into law, over one-third of them renamed post offices and court houses" and that "only six [of the 155 bills] will really have a positive affect on the American people." You see, Eric, Congress can rename a post office or two (which Congressman Kuhl has no problem with for a distinguish American, like Congressional Medal of Honor winner Jason Dunham) and pass substantive laws too!

4) Massa repeated his shtick that he's "bi-lingual," i.e., he "speak[s] donkey and elephant, eat[s] carrots and peanuts." You see, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Massa was once a Republican, but switched parties for political gain because he felt "disenfranchised" by the GOP. But as a former Republican, he thinks he can still speak "elephant." Of course, I can't find a single major issue that he runs on in which he has a conservative viewpoint. You see, Republican voters primarily fall into three groups: social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and foreign policy conservatives. If Massa genuinely wants to claim that he speaks "elephant" (and I will define "speaks" as being at least somewhat fluent, merely because you can say "Bonjour" doesn't mean you can "speak" French), then he should prove that he appeals to at least one group of these voters. For example, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) can legitimately claim that he speaks "elephant" since he appeals to social conservatives with his pro-life views. NM Gov. Bill Richardson (who sadly exited his quest for the presidency today) speaks "elephant" to fiscal conservatives, given his tax cutting record as governor. And when he was still a Democrat, Joe Lieberman's views on Iraq and the War on Terror greatly appealed to the foreign policy conservatives (yes, I know, he got pushed out of his party because of these views and is now an Independent, but since he held these views back when he was a Democrat, he's still a good example). Yet, Massa doesn't hold a view on any significant issue in which he can honestly claim that he "speaks elephant" and "eats peanuts." Instead, he's a proud pro-choice, economic "progressive," who vehemently opposes the Iraq War. Sounds like a typical liberal to me, at least through the ears of one who actually speaks "elephant."

MSNBC Pundits Say Rudy's Strategy is "Perfect"

ATR, Club for Growth Both Praise Rudy's Tax Cut Plan

Here's the press release on the Club for Growth's praise of Rudy's tax cut plan.

And here's the press release from Americans for Tax Reform, which also reminds voters that neither John McCain nor Fred Thompson have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge:

Plan would cut the capital gains tax, slash the corporate income tax, and create a simplified alternate tax system for families and small businesses

WASHINGTON, DC – Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani today released a pro-growth tax cut package. This $6.3 trillion measure is the largest tax cut of all time. It is the most pro-growth tax cut package of anyone running for President.

Giuliani’s tax plan makes all the Bush tax cuts permanent, including full repeal of the death tax. It indexes the alternative minimum tax (AMT) to inflation, and eventually repeals it. It reduces the corporate income tax from today’s 35 percent, the second-highest in the developed world, to 25 percent, more in line with our European competitors. It slashes the capital gains and qualified dividends tax rate from 15 percent to 10 percent (and indexes capital assets to inflation), which will boost the value of every American’s 401(k) and IRA. It replaces the
current hodgepodge of dozens of tax-advantaged savings accounts with a simplified system of Retirement Savings Accounts and Lifetime Savings Accounts. It gives all Americans the ability to purchase health insurance pre-tax through a health care standard deduction.

“This tax cut—the largest in history—would represent a monumental leap forward for the American taxpayer and the U.S. economy,” said ATR President Grover Norquist. “In particular, cutting the corporate income tax and the capital gains tax is just what is needed to keep us from falling into recession.”

In addition, the Giuliani tax cut plan creates an alternate “Fair And Simple Tax (FAST)” system that American families and small businesses could choose to go into each year, with a three-bracket structure, a 30 percent top rate, and only the most popular deductions in place.

“Most Americans, when given the choice to go into this simplified system, will flock toward it and never switch back,” continued Norquist. “Hong Kong has had an alternate tax system for years and the vast majority of residents use it happily.”

In addition to his tax cut proposal, Giuliani has committed in writing to the American people to oppose and veto all tax increases. This pledge has also been adopted by every other Republican presidential candidate except John McCain and Fred Thompson. It hasn’t been adopted by any Democrat presidential hopeful.

More of the Do Nothing Congress

Congressman Kuhl has a recap of the reactions in the editorial pages across the country regarding the Dems' underwhelming year in Congress.

Rudy Retains Lead in Florida

Given the results of the Hawkeye Cauci, I was anxious to see what the polls looked like in Florida. And a new poll has Rudy still up by 5 points in the Sunshine State, and the RCP polling average has him up by 5.2 points there. And while McCain, Romney, and Huckabee move onto Michigan, Nevada, and South Carolina (joining Thompson in the latter state), Rudy can keep pounding the pavement and airing his ads in Florida with virtually no competition for weeks. I had projected that if Romney didn't win New Hampshire, he was done. But McCain beat Romney by only five points in NH, and has spent most of his resources there, while Romney still has the money to pose a serious challenge in MI, where he grew up and where his family had significant political power, and NV, which has a significant Mormon population. While I don't think Romney has a shot at winning the nomination at this point, he can act as a spoiler for McCain and Huckabee in the mid-January races, drying up their money and resources before Florida and Super Tuesday, which ultimately plays into Rudy's strategy.

Also, if this election has proven anything, it's that you can't trust the MSM punditry when they tell you that a candidate is dead. Hell, just yesterday, they were speculating big time about Hillary exiting the race and her staffers running away in droves to Obama's campaign, something I never believed (she would fight to the death before ever conceding). So nobody should think Rudy's out simply because the MSM "speculates" so.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The NH Election Night Speeches

After all the excitement and positives things said about Obama's and Huckabee's victory speeches in Iowa on Thursday, here are my thoughts on tonight's speeches:

Romney: He seemed very upbeat, even though at the time he made his concession speech, he was down about 9 points (he eventually catched up to McCain, down only by 5 points right now). He is a very good speaker, very eloquent, and I can understand why people are appealed to him. But if it wasn't for his flips and flops and such negative tone in this race, he might actually be leading at this point. Instead, you get him, in good 'ol Olympic fashion, talking about his two "silver place" finishes and him taking the "gold" in that all important primary state: Wyoming!

McCain: Boy did his age show tonight! He wins NH, keeps his campaign alive, and he bored me. Now, I'm a big Rudy supporter, no question about it, but one of the main reasons (aside from the issues) is that every time he speaks, I'm on the edge of my seat. I do have misgivings with McCain, but his life story inspires me and I would naturally support him (or any of the other GOP candidates) if he ultimately wins the primary. Yet, if he wins the primary, he has to generate excitement to win in the end, and tonight's speech didn't do it for me. And with NH proving that a win in IA doesn't translate into a win in other states, and with his lack of resources at this time, he's going to have to be more inspiring than he was tonight.

Edwards: Why is he still in the race? How does he inspire people? He has always come across to me as a complete and utter phony. The Southern charm shtick just doesn't work for me.

Obama: Truly the best speech of the night, and it came after a stunning loss. I hardly agree with him on any issue (though he is good on pork spending), but he definitely inspires people. My only concern is how long can he keep this "change" momentum up? It worked in Iowa, but after a certain point, he'll need to start being much more specific, and as he details his positions on more issues, people will ultimately realize just how liberal he is. In fact, most of the criticism about his unspecified "change" sounds just like Russell Kirk's sixth tenet of conservative thought: "Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress. Society must alter, for prudent change is the means of social preservation; but a statesman must take Providence into his calculations, and a statesman's chief virtue, according to Plato and Burke, is prudence." Nevertheless, his speeches do work much more effectively when he's not so issue-oriented, i.e., laundry list proposals don't inspire most people, and actually appear to be very similar to Ronald Reagan's style, who of course was the "Great Communicator."

Hillary: Please, please, please, let me NOT have to listen to this for four years. For all of her husband's failings, he was certainly a great speaker. You knew he was lying through his teeth, but at least you wouldn't mind talking one-on-one with the guy at your local bar. Hillary is certainly the anti-Obama speech-wise, doing a short laundry list tonight and in most of her other speeches. And tonight, I was not inspired at all. It was all "me, me, ME" and not enough "you, you, YOU" as Obama's speech was tonight.

NH: Mid-Counting Analysis

Shocked doesn't begin to describe how I feel about the results coming in tonight. Right now, Hillary is beating Obama by 3 points, and the AP just called this race for Hillary. While McCain was projected the winner earlier this evening, Romney has closed the gap to 6 points at this time. I won't do the "Winners and Losers" feature as I did with the Iowa Caucus results, since everything has been turned upside down at this point. But I will note one HUGE loser: the MSM and their opinion polls. While the GOP race is somewhat mirroring the weekend polls (so much for that "late Romney surge"), the MSM blew it in the Dem race. It was wall-to-wall Obama coverage since Thursday, with all the polls showing him with very large leads. Early reports today stated that the Dems were running out of ballots, and since Obama was projected to win the independents, that was an early indication of another big Obama victory tonight. Because of this, many, including myself, predicted that Obama would win by a double-digit margin in NH.

But one thing is certain: Both races remain wide open, with no single "frontrunner" in either race.

NH: Pre-Results Analysis

With the polls about to close in a few hours, I thought I'd offer some pre-results analysis of the race. During the weekend in NH, I thought McCain would edge out Romney in NH. Even though I saw far more signage for Romney on the ground, I thought his loss in IA, coupled with more people knowing about his constant flip-flops, would get the better of him. But with (a) the latest polls showing that McCain has plateaued, i.e., he started the weekend with around a 6 point lead but now has dropped to a 3.6 lead over Romney, with the latest poll showing Romney beating McCain by 3 points (though this is the only poll that has Romney up); (b) Romney's performance in the Fox News roundtable on Sunday night; and (c) the fact that independent voter turnout in the Dem primary caused them to run out of ballots earlier today, while McCain needs the independent vote, suggests to me that McCain won't have the big night that most people projected, and may in fact fall short to Romney. Bob Novak also sees Romney "rallying" in NH these last couple of days.

However, even if McCain wins tonight, he still doesn't have the money to compete effectively elsewhere, using up most of his resources in New Hampshire after several months of poor fundraising. I think McCain has to win big in NH, over 5%, in order to compete effectively against Romney in Michigan. And if he loses tonight, his campaign is, for all intents and purposes, over.

As for where Rudy stands, I'm sure his campaign would prefer a Romney victory tonight. Not because they prefer him over McCain (far from it), but because they believe (correctly) that most of McCain's supporters would choose Rudy over the other candidates if McCain drops out, and the sooner, the better.

I'm thinking the Republican race will be close, less than a 3% margin. The more this race scatters in the early states, the better for Rudy in the long run.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention what I thought of the Dem race. Obama, by 12!

Huge Turnout: NH Running Out of Ballots

Well, Drudge has the siren out, so we all know this is big! While most people's first thoughts on this will be "Obama-mania" (which it is), my first thought was that this is yet another reason to move to electronic voting machines. I know, some of you will say (panting), "But, OR, we can't, we just CAN'T, evildoers could rig the machines, voter fraud, AHHH!" So I guess we'll just have to stay with the current system in most places of the country, because polling places running out of ballots is far better for democracy than going electronic.

Regardless, if the Dems are running out of ballots, I predict that Obama will have another huge win tonight. In addition, this also shows that far more independents are voting in the Dem primary than the Republican one, indicating to me that McCain, who is depending on the independent vote, will not have as great of a night as most people are predicting. But we shall see...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Massa Weighs in on the Presidential Race

Eric Massa believes that the Iowa Caucus results showed a "mandate for change in both parties." Fair enough. But then he goes on to say, "We have to elect people who are bilingual, who speak both donkey and elephant." And the question I have for him is, "When have you ever spoken 'elephant'?"

Friday, January 4, 2008

Campaigning in NH this Weekend for Rudy

Tomorrow morning, a group of Ontario County Republicans, including myself, will be travelling to the Granite State to campaign for Rudy, arriving back late Sunday night. I'm very excited to see firsthand what it's like in New Hampshire just days before the primary, and I'm sure a great time will be had by all.

DA Investigating Allegations of Voter Fraud in Victor

We'll see how this plays out. From the D&C.

Cheerful Rudy

Following up on my Hawkeye Cauci results post, John Podhoretz agrees with my assessment that the Iowa results benefit Rudy.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Hawkeye Cauci Results

As you know, both Huckabee and Obama came out on top tonight, and if you're listening to the MSM or surfing the web right now, you'd think this was SHOCKING! "OMG, who could have predicted this???" Well, Bob Novak for one on the Democrat race, who also predicted Clinton coming in third, which it's appearing to be right now. And on the Republican race, the RCP polling average was very close with the candidate placements, i.e., Huck 1st, Mitt 2nd, McCain and Thompson virtually tied, etc.

So after all of the money spent and not a single delegate being awarded tonight (at least on the Republican side), here's who benefited tonight:

1) Obama: Clearly the HUGE winner tonight, even more so than Huckabee in that Obama needed to win here to have any chance in other states, whereas I could have foreseen Huckabee still winning in South Carolina even if he lost here and New Hampshire (plus should Rudy win, I still view Huck as runningmate material, which is still a nice prize, whereas I don't see Hillary picking Obama). Obama has certainly dented the Hillary campaign, especially if she ultimately finishes in third place. But now he actually has to win some other states, and since Hillary currently leads in essentially every other state (save perhaps Illinois), he still has a big mountain to climb.

2) Huckabee: If you're in first place, and by a much larger margin than what the polls showed, then you've certainly had a good night. Now let's see how his win impacts NH...

3) Giuliani: Despite finishing in last place for the major candidates (though in a state that he hasn't seriously campaigned in for months), Huckabee winning Iowa helped Rudy, more so than McCain. Whereas Rudy and McCain are competing mostly against Romney in NH, MI, etc., Rudy needed a Huckabee victory to stop Romney's momentum. Rudy doesn't need to even win in NH next week to win the primary, i.e., the Florida firewall strategy, though a third place or close fourth place finish there would help.

4) McCain: Not beating Thompson here hurts [wow, as the numbers keep coming in, he may have bested Thompson; but wait, new numbers now show Thompson back in third, my mind's about to explode!], but again, McCain, like Rudy, needed Huck to beat Romney here for McCain to have a shot at winning the NH primary next week. However, McCain just needs to hope that Huck's finish here doesn't ultimately give him enough momentum for Huck to best him in NH next week.

5) Thompson: For such a lackluster campaign, finishing in third place or close to tied with McCain isn't quite bad at all. I mean, hell, he beat Ron Paul!

And now for the losers:

1) Edwards: Was there any way for Edwards to win the nomination without winning Iowa? Not at all. He may still keep the campaign going for a few more weeks, hope for a surprise in South Carolina, but frankly, he's done, and it's about time. I never understood why he was chosen as Kerry's runningmate in '04. Despite polls showing that he couldn't even win reelection for his Senate seat in NC, they still picked him, because you know, "We need to compete in the South." And what happened? The race was decided in the Midwest. Back in October of 2003, as a panelist on a local access cable TV talkshow in Ithaca, I was asked who I thought would win the Dem primary. Given Dean-mania at the time, everyone said Howard Dean, except for me who predicted a Kerry/Gephardt ticket, believing correctly that Dean would somehow implode (I had no idea by how much, though). And had Kerry followed his gut and picked the Midwestern, union-backed Gephardt instead of the Southern Ken doll, we just might be looking at Kerry's reelection campaign this year (granted, I shudder at the thought!).

2) Romney: It's not shocking that he lost; it's shocking that he lost by 9 points after all of the money and volunteers he pumped into this state. The domino effect against him started tonight!

3) Clinton: Certainly an embarrassing loss that will be covered endlessly for the next few days before NH, but she's still the frontrunner.

4) Biden & Dodd: They dropped out tonight. Raise your hands if you actually knew they were running...

5) The rest of the field: We hardly knew thee, literally!

Number of Republicans in U.S. Increases in December to Two-Year High

With New Year's and all of the coverage going on with Iowa and New Hampshire, here's a new poll of which I haven't seen much coverage, but it certainly bodes well for the GOP:
The number of Americans who consider themselves to be Republicans jumped nearly two percentage points in December to 34.2%. That's the largest market share for the Republican brand in nearly two years, since January 2006 (see history from January 2004 to present).

At the same time, the number of Democrats fell to 36.3%. That's down a point compared to a month ago. During 2007, the number of Democrats has ranged from a low of 35.9% in July to a high of 37.8% in February. ...

[I]t is startling to note that the Democrats have lost two-thirds of the partisan advantage since taking control of Congress. ...

[Speaker] Pelosi herself is viewed favorably by 38% and unfavorably by 51% of voters nationwide. At her peak, shortly after becoming the first woman Speaker of the House, Pelosi was viewed favorably by 49% of voters. [Editor's Note: I wonder if it's because she's leading this "Do Nothing Congress"?]
Rasmussen also notes that these figures are for "all adults, not Likely Voters." During my years of political involvement, I've always been told that Republicans do far better in likely voter polls than just adults polls, so if this is an all adults poll, I would speculate that the numbers look even better for the GOP when the sample is likely voters. I think polls like this give further proof that other polling outfits should stop substantially underestimating the number of Republicans in their samples.

On top of this poll comes this article on how the RNC has raised $32.5 million more than the DNC in 2007, and has $14.4 million more in cash-on-hand. Happy New Year, indeed!

Is Conservative Blog Readership on the Rise?

This post led Rottenchester to speculate that the national left-of-center blogs might be decreasing in viewership because of the rise of local left-of-center blogs. Andrew Sullivan ponders whether "the intellectual ferment among conservatives [is] more engrossing right now" in explaining the rise of viewship of national right-of-center blogs.

Both offer valid points. As the blogoshere continues to expand in both content and readership, the "ol' stalwarts" like Daily Kos lose readers to more independent, locally run liberal blogs that cover both national as well as local politics. I believe the same phenomenon will eventually happen to national conservative blogs like Red State as more local conservative blogs like mine continue to grow.

But why the rise of national conservative blogs over the last few months? I think Sullivan has a valid point here. Prior to December, most people knew that Hillary was the inevitable Democrat nominee, while the Republican race was still fairly scattered, with Rudy appearing to lead the pack but not by runaway numbers. Over the last few months, the Republican primary has gotten even more uncertain, with many conservative pundits and bloggers scattering their endorsements. In fact, read the last few days of Red State posts, and you'll see several different endorsements by their editors for each of the top five candidates. Even though Obama and Edwards are rising in Iowa, the latest polls still show Hillary leading both nationally and in every other state contest, making the Democrat primary much more of a snoozer, despite the MSM's panting for Obama. (Editor's note: I'm not bashing Obama here. Between him and Hillary, I'd choose him in a heartbeat, but one must admit that the MSM did everything it could to level the playing field here and create a horserace, generating much news for them to "report" in the last month, leading to the rise of both Huckabee and Obama, for better or for worse.)

However, you will notice the greatest rise in national conservative blog readership came in October, and has been slightly decreasing since. Back in October, the Republican primary was not as in flux as it is today, since Rudy appeared to be the clear frontrunner then. I'm not exactly sure what caused this rise in October, particularly since my blog readership has only increased since then. Granted, I started this project in October, so one can only hope for more readers today. Scrolling through Michelle Malkin's October postings, I noticed that the whole Rush Limbaugh "phony soldiers" controversy and auction of that silly letter all happened then, so that could be one of many reasons for this, as nothing solidifies hardcore conservatives (including me) like the MSM and liberal blogs misreporting a story, along with Democrat senators trying to censor a conservative, particularly if that conservative is Rush Limbaugh.

Your comments and speculations on this are both encouraged and appreciated.