Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ed Martin Healthcare Townhall

Enthusiastic Ed Martin Supporters with Video Cameras
Russ Carnahan's (D-MO) Republican opponent, Ed Martin, held the last of the three debates turned townhalls Tuesday night. Martin had suggested the debates with Carnahan shortly after the August primary; however, Carnahan declined all three. This last debate focussed on healthcare though veterans affairs, unemployment, and the economy were also discussed. I will be posting video later.

Previous debate coverage:

Unemployment and the Innumerate Left

Harvard economist Robert Barro explains the political folly of subsidizing unemployment in The Wall Street Journal:
To get a rough quantitative estimate of the implications for the unemployment rate, suppose that the expansion of unemployment-insurance coverage to 99 weeks had not occurred and—I assume—the share of long-term unemployment had equaled the peak value of 24.5% observed in July 1983. Then, if the number of unemployed 26 weeks or less in June 2010 had still equaled the observed value of 7.9 million, the total number of unemployed would have been 10.4 million rather than 14.6 million. If the labor force still equaled the observed value (153.7 million), the unemployment rate would have been 6.8% rather than 9.5%.

Consider how the prospects for Democrats in the November elections would look if the unemployment rate were now only 6.8%. Obviously, this change would make all the difference, and President Obama can reasonably blame his economic advisers. They should have protected their boss by standing firm and arguing that a reckless expansion of unemployment-insurance coverage to 99 weeks was unwise economically and politically. Congressman Boehner's advice to Mr. Obama seems correct, though possibly too late to matter.
The first thing I look at in the monthly BLS Employment Situation report is the number of discouraged workers. Most news organizations ignore that number, so the general public doesn't understand its importance. In Barro's hypothetical the discouraged worker number would be much higher—perhaps we would even see a month-to-month million plus bump in that number. That's not the sort of thing that would go unreported in the New York Times. Then the issue would be how a public suddenly familiarized with the concept of discouraged workers would react. I'd say it might not be any worse that the 9.5% unemployment rate we now have.

The employment-to-population ratio is a much better metric than the unemployment rate. It's not as easily (or foolishly) gamed.

Armey: Tea Party Movement Will Revolutionize GOP

Dick Armey on the revolutionary Tea Party Movement:
The tea party movement will revolutionize the GOP – and the nation’s political landscape in the process, says former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

Armey, now the chairman of FreedomWorks, and FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe predicted in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview that America's 1 million-plus tea partyers will reform the GOP and remake it into a force serving the cause of liberty rather than breaking away and forming a third party.

Monday, August 30, 2010

GOP Takes 10-point Lead on Generic Ballot

Gallup is reporting the first ever double-digit lead for Republicans on the generic ballot:
Republicans lead by 51% to 41% among registered voters in Gallup weekly tracking of 2010 congressional voting preferences. The 10-percentage-point lead is the GOP's largest so far this year and is its largest in Gallup's history of tracking the midterm generic ballot for Congress.
As the Instapundit would say: "don't get cocky." This is a strong lead, but a lot can happen between now and November. On the other hand, don't get complacent. Republican's like Ed Martin need canvasing and phone call support. Martin is running against Russ Carnahan (D-MO) in a D+7 district.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stimulating Texas

Will Franklin at WILLisms.com examines the economic miracle occurring in Texas:
Texas rejected huge portions of the federal stimulus-- the hundreds of millions of unemployment insurance dollars with strings attached. Texas has received the second lowest number of stimulus dollars per capita. Texas has one of the freest economies in the country, with one of the lowest debt loads per capita in the entire nation. Texas necessarily limits government by virtue of the legislature meeting for only 140 days every two years. Texas has relatively low taxes, keeps state government spending growth basically in line with population and inflation growth, and Texas has enacted among the most sweeping tort reform packages in the nation.

The result is that Texas' foreclosure rate is far below the national average and its bankruptcy rate is near the bottom. Texas has added far more jobs than all other states combined over the past few years, and income growth in Texas is far ahead of all other states.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Restoring Honor Rally

The picture above was sent to me by a friend from As a Mom. It was taken about two hours before the start of the Restoring Honor Rally in DC. More coverage:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Helicopter Ben Bernake to the Rescue

The Financial Times reports that Wall Street was reassured by Ben Bernake's remarks that the Fed stands by to boost US growth:
Treasury yields rose after Mr Bernanke spoke, as the market had expected an indication of more bond buying or quantitative easing by the central bank.

Richard Volpe, co-head of interest rates at RBS Securities, said: “The chairman has raised the bar for the market, as we can expect more QE only if the economy deteriorates significantly.”"
While Wall Street is comforted by this news, others are worrying about hyperinflation.

Tell Ike Skelton to choose Principle over Pelosi

Yesterday, I received the following from the Heritage Foundation:
Today, the Washington-based Politico said Democrats now believe Congressman Ike Skelton’s job could be in jeopardy.
Yet Democratic concern continues to manifest itself in a variety of ways, including the purchasing of ads in districts — like that of veteran Ike Skelton of Missouri — that historically are only in play in miserable political years and were not considered at risk several months ago. And then there are more subtle hints that professional Democrats are worried — lobbyists are reporting a noticeable uptick in House committee staffers looking for jobs.
I just wanted to reiterate that Heritage Action for America is engaged in an television ad campaign in MO-4, asking why Ike Skelton has not signed the discharge petition that would repealing the new health care law, which he opposed in March. The ad ties him to Nancy Pelosi. It also directs people to our webpage so they can email and call the Congressman, asking why he is siding with Pelosi, instead of the American people.

This is building into a major narrative this fall – whether or not Democrats from conservative districts can distance themselves enough from their Speaker and the policies of the party.
There's more at the Heritage website. If Democrat Ike Skelton is unwilling to sign the discharge petition voters in MO-4 should vote for his opponent, Vicky Hartzler. They may want to do that anyway.

Ed Martin asks: Where'd the Money Go?

Ed Martin, the Republican opponent of Russ Carnahan (D-MO), talks about the closing of the Chrysler plant in Fenton, MO, and the stimulus money spent in Missouri's Third Congressional District.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Adding More Debt

Bill Bonner of The Daily Reckoning explains how Washington is Fighting the Correction in the Worst Possible Way:
This correction is a good thing. Consumers have too much debt. They’ll be better off when they get rid of half of it. But the feds want to fight this correction in the worst possible way. What’s the worst possible way? Adding more debt!

While the private sector de-leverages, the public sector leverages up. Eventually, this will have the result that everyone expects…bonds will crash, and the dollar will collapse…BUT PROBABLY ONLY AFTER PEOPLE STOP EXPECTING IT.

GOP Sweeps Trust on Issues Survey

Issue                            GOP Dem Not sure
Economy                          47% 39% 14%
National security/War on Terror  49% 37% 14%
War in Iraq                      43% 40% 18%
War in Afghanistan               43% 36% 20%
Immigration                      44% 35% 21%
Government ethics and corruption 40% 38% 22%
Taxes                            52% 36% 11%
Health care                      48% 40% 11%
Social Security                  44% 38% 18%
Education                        41% 40% 19%

Those are the toplines from a Rasmussen Reports Trust on Issues survey that shows the GOP leading on all ten issues. Also from that link:
National Survey of 1,000 Likely Voters
Conducted August 19-20 & 23-24, 2010
NOTE: Margin of Sampling Error, /- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Democrats Expect to Lose the House

Politico is reporting Democrats privately fear that their prospects of retaining the House are worsening:
Yet Democratic concern continues to manifest itself in a variety of ways, including the purchasing of ads in districts – like that of veteran Ike Skelton of Missouri -- that historically are only in play in miserable political years and were not considered at risk several months ago. And then there are more subtle hints that professional Democrats are worried -- lobbyists are reporting a noticeable uptick in House committee staffers looking for jobs.
If you'd like to bring change to Washington by supporting the opponent of Ike Skelton (D-MO), checkout Vicky Hartzler (R-MO). She's running a strong campaign in America's heartland. The Politico article continues:
What Democrats are watching most closely right now is to see if the field of at-risk seats does indeed keep expanding. There are fresh concerns about Reps. Allen Boyd of Florida, Jim Marshall of Georgia and Leonard Boswell of Iowa – all of whom were recently moved into the toss-up category by respected handicapper Charlie Cook.

In addition, Reps. Ben Chandler of Kentucky and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota were both outraised by their opponents this past quarter, increasing concern about their races.
That field of at-risk seats will soon include Russ Carnahan (D-MO). His opponent, Ed Martin (R-MO), is running a strong campaign. Of course, Carnahan makes Ed's job is easier when he ignores a constituent's question and runs away, claims to be fiscally conservative despite his Porker of the Month award, and confirms that a disgruntled employee "firebombed" his office. The scary thing is all three of those stories broke in the past twenty-four hours.

The Carnahan crew's yacht is taking on water, and we're not talking a little water like you might see from a leaky roof at the Crystal Ballroom or his residence. No we're talking about water in quantities not seen since his lobbyist funded trips to the Great Barrier Reef, Hawaii, and Antarctica.

Chris Powers Ruins Russ Carnahan's Recruitment Effort

Gateway Pundit reports that Russ Carnahan (D-MO) is NOT a reliable source of jobs in Missouri's Third Congressional District: "Suspect Chris Powers reportedly was upset because he did not get paid so he firebombed the Carnahan finance offices at 2 in the morning."

Let this be a warning to anyone thinking about working on Carnahan's campaign: demand higher wages and require him to prepay!

UPDATE: Welcome Gateway Punditeers! I've got other recent Russ Carnahan news and notes, too. And here's a short video of Carnahan's opponent Ed Martin.

Russ Carnahan: "Fiscally Responsible" Porker of the Month!

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit posted a Russ Carnahan (D-MO) campaign flyer:
Oh brother…
These people have no shame.
Big spending liberal democrats are coming back home to their districts and trying to persuade constituents that they are fiscal conservatives.
Here is a Russ Carnahan flyer that a friend picked up this week.
The flyer says in part:
Fiscal Responsibility
As an original sponsor of Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO), Russ fought to restore the fiscal restraint that helped build record surpluses in the mid-1990s.
The irony is that Citizens Against Government Waste named Russ Carnahan the July 2009 Porker of the Month! As a commenter at Gateway Pundit pointed out, Carnahan's lifetime rating with Citizens Against Government Waste is 4%. For 2009 his rating isn't even that high. In the year in which he co-sponsored PAYGO, his rating is 0%.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Market Failure by Regulation

Steve Connor in the NZHerald.co.nz reports on a bit of American regulation that is destroying the market for helium:
It is the second-lightest element in the Universe, has the lowest boiling-point of any gas and is commonly used through the world to inflate party balloons.

But helium is also a non-renewable resource and the world's reserves of the precious gas are about to run out, a shortage that is likely to have far-reaching repercussions.

Scientists have warned that the world's most commonly used inert gas is being depleted at an astonishing rate because of a law passed in the United States in 1996 which has effectively made helium too cheap to recycle.
We're all familiar with helium balloons; however, this noble gas has less frivolous applications in medicine and science. For instance, it's used to cool MRI machines. The reason that helium has become scarce is government regulation:
"In 1996, the US Congress decided to sell off the strategic reserve and the consequence was that the market was swelled with cheap helium because its price was not determined by the market. The motivation was to sell it all by 2015," Professor Richardson said.
But this is not the only regulation induced market failure in the news today. The Wall Street Journal's Dennis Berman examines the regulatory underpinnings of the recent stock market:
The May 6 "flash crash" was the culmination of 35 years of relentless stock-market reform, much of it rightly making the markets cheaper and faster, largely free from the 20th-century market makers who feasted on huge trading spreads and occasional chicanery.

Yet somehow we have wound up right where we began: with a market that many perceive as tainted and prone to gaming by a cadre of insiders. Only this time, instead of wielding the biggest, baddest berth on the New York Stock Exchange floor, they are wielding the biggest, baddest computers.

When BlackRock Inc. surveyed 380 financial advisers earlier this summer about the flash crash, their perceptions said it all: The mayhem had been primarily caused by an "overreliance on computer systems and some types of high frequency trading" strategies that roam the market en masse, looking to pick off pennies of profit.


Behind these changes, beginning in 1975, was a zeal to liberate the individual investor from the clutches of the archaic market makers who made a good living taking "eighths"—12.5 cents—for every share bought and sold.

The government later found Nasdaq dealers were even more gluttonous than first imagined. And by the time the last big market reforms were issued in 2005, the intent was to "give investors, particularly retail investors, greater confidence that they will be treated fairly," the SEC said at the time.

As spreads squeezed from eighths to pennies, a new batch of electronic-trading networks blinked into action. Volume trading was the only way to make money.

Ed Martin is #1

Breakout your big foam fingers and wave 'em around because Ed Martin is #1 in National Review Online! NRO examines some long shot pickups for the GOP:
But with so many promising Republican challengers this year, a bunch of potential upsets are flying well under the radar. And with the political environment going from bad to worse for Democrats, it is increasingly likely the night of November 2 will include some winners that almost no one saw coming. If you’re searching for some of these long shots who are looking shorter these days, here is a dirty baker’s dozen of GOP challengers to keep an eye on. They’re underfunded, unrecognized, rarely mentioned, and given no chance and they may just win anyway.

1. Ed Martin vs. Russ Carnahan, Missouri’s 3rd District.

Reasons the challenger should have no chance: It’s a D+7 district on the Cook Partisan Voting Index. Russ Carnahan won with 66 percent of the vote in 2004. The Carnahan name is supposed to be magic in Missouri politics, and his sister Robin is running for Senate.

Reasons the challenger has a chance: Robin Carnahan’s lousy polling indicates that the family name doesn’t carry the weight it once did. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has already declared that Martin is “giving Carnahan the toughest general election campaign of his congressional career.” A recent poll puts Martin within striking distance, 39 percent to 48 percent.
There are a lot more reasons for Ed Martin to pickup this seat. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) just isn't a very good candidate. To put it charitably, he neglects his constituents. For example, Carnahan refused to take my question at the end of a healthcare forum last summer; his staff denied me my first amendment press freedom; and they did the same to Sharp, too.

Then there's the stuff he says: "...over ten years [healthcare reform] will create a six billion dollar surplus..." or this old saw: "my door is always open."

His habitual abuse of power also works against him: a lobbyist funded trip to the Great Barrier Reef, $90 million dollar earmark to his brother's wind farm, using campaign contributions to pay himself, and dodging personal property taxes in St. Louis. It's not surprising to me that Ed Martin posses a threat. It's surprising that Democrats overwhelmingly backed the corruptocrat Carnahan in the recent primary. Incumbency helped that happen which is why I have long felt that legislators should not be allowed to serve consecutive terms.

Economic Expectations Worsen

Gallup's latest polling on the economy shows worsening expectations:
Regardless, probably the most troubling aspect of the current economic confidence data is that they show no improvement from a year ago. In fact, Americans are slightly less optimistic about the future direction of the economy today than they were at this time in 2009. This is not good news for retailers or for incumbents facing re-election this November.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Organic Guilt

Eric S. Raymond at Armed and Dangerous on organic guilt:
Ah, but then came the deadly disclaimers. “VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE NO GMOs NO TRANS FAT.” and “We support local and fair-trade sources growing certified organic, transitional, and pesticide-free products.” Aaaarrrgggh! Suddenly my lovely potential snack was covered with an evil-smelling miasma of diet-faddery, sanctimony, political correctness, and just plain nonsense. This, I find, is a chronic problem with buying “organic”.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Growing Leviathan

Matthew Mitchell of George Mason's Mercatus Center on state spending:
State and local government spending has grown at a remarkable clip over the last half-century. Since the close of World War II, aggregate state and local spending grew 34 percent faster than the private sector and 37 percent faster than federal government spending. In recent years, the difference in growth rates has widened. From 2000 to 2009, state and local government spending grew nearly twice as fast as the private sector (while over the same period, the federal government grew even faster). Spending growth has not been uniform across spending categories, and Medicaid spending is by far the fastest-growing component of state expenditures.
One of the dirty secrets fueling the growth in state spending is the relationship between the states and the Federal Government. Every state (except Vermont) has a balanced budget requirement. The Federal Government does not. Nearly a third of Missouri's budget is funded by the Federal Government. I suspect that the Federal Government, unconstrained by a balanced budget requirement, is abetting the growth of state and, probably, local governments.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Unexpected Unemployment

CNBC reports Weekly Jobless Claims Post Surprise Jump, Hit 500,000:
New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed to a nine-month high last week, yet another setback to the frail economic recovery.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 500,000 in the week ended August 14, the highest since mid-November, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast claims slipping to 476,000 from the previously reported 484,000 the prior week, which was revised up to 488,000 in Thursday's report.
There's that word again: unexpectedly. The economic train wreck that began in 2008 continues to surprise.

Congress is Ripe for Rebooting!

I think the money stat from Scott Rasmussen above is on the question: "Is your own representative the best for the job?" With 44% saying "No" and 29% "unsure", this bodes well for significant turnover in November. In light of Russ Carnahan (D-MO) being identified as an endangered Democrat and recent poll results showing Ed Martin within nine points, Missouri's 3rd could be one of the districts to finally bring change to Washington.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What's Going on at Carnahan's Office?

The campaign headquarters of Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO) was broken into and a fire was started in the finance office the other night. Carnahan's Republican opponent, Ed Martin (R-MO), quickly condemned the attack.

While the story to that point looks like boilerplate, I agree with Dana that "things seem a little .... odd" after reading KMOV's coverage:
When I went by the building this morning I got a weird vibe. I saw a campaign worker coming out of the back of the office with big Bread Company to-go bags. I jokingly said, "Are you with Bread Company or the Carnahan campaign?" He said, "Bread Company," then tossed the bags in the dumpster and went to the front of the building, presumably back in the office. Weird.

(I talked to a reporter at another station who worked on this story who told me when she was there, she met a campaign worker outside the building who also denied being associated with the campaign. When she went inside to talk to a spokesperson, she saw that person who denied being with the campaign IN Carnahan's office.)

Then when I talked to a campaign spokesperson she refused to comment on anything beyond what police already told us. I tried to ask "What do you make of this?"... "How are workers and volunteers inside dealing with the fact their office was attacked?"... but Angela Guyadeen would have none of it. She wouldn't even tell me why she wouldn't answer these simple questions.

Blurring the Passport

Josh Gerstein of POLITICO.com has the picture above in his post: Don't look, birthers: Obama's passport:
Here's something new for the birthers to chew over: President Barack Obama's passport. Says he was born in Hawaii! But the White House has strategically fuzzed out certain data, so the mystery continues.
This took me back to the good ol' days of Numerical Analysis during my junior year of college. You see, it turns out that you can un-blur a picture if you know how blurred it is. Typically you wouldn't have to do this, but if your government had deployed a cutting edge satellite for imaging the remotest parts of space, it might be cheaper to do a lot of hard math than go fix it (at least for a little while). Or, if you had a blurred picture of a known pedophile, you might be glad to learn that Interpol had un-blurred it.

I don't have the time or inclination to clarify this image, but I do have a hypothesis about how to go about doing so. First, what a blur does is distribute the color of one pixel to the neighboring pixels. Second, you'll need a complete version of the passport's background image—the flag and seal. With those two inputs, several cups of coffee, and a clue about graphics programming, you should be able to figure out the obscured dates.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Hostile Takeover of the GOP

Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe in the Wall Street Journal: A Tea Party Manifesto:
But let us be clear about one thing: The tea party movement is not seeking a junior partnership with the Republican Party, but a hostile takeover of it.

The American values of individual freedom, fiscal responsibility and limited government bind the ranks of our movement. That makes the tea party better than a political party. It is a growing community that can sustain itself after November, ensuring a better means of holding a new generation of elected officials accountable.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Welcome Home Russ Carnahan!

Just a little something to let Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO) know how glad we are to have him back in the district for the August recess. I'd recommend watching this one full screen with the volume cranked up.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mapping Obama's Mistakes

Jay Cost at RealClearPolitics' Horse Race Blog talks about What Went Wrong with Obama?:
Obama simply lacked the broad appeal to guide the House's liberal proposal through the Senate. So, the result of 'going big' was an initially liberal House product that then had to be watered down to win over red state Senators like Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson, and Pryor. The end result was a compromise bill that, frankly, nobody really liked. Liberals were disappointed, tantalized as they were by the initial House product. Conservatives were wholly turned off, recognizing as they did that the guts of the bill were still liberal. And Independents and soft partisans were disgusted by congressional sausage-making and wary of the bill's provisions.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Primary Parties

The photos in the album above were taken at three post primary parties. Bill Corrigan is running for St. Louis County Executive. Chuck Purgason lost his bid for US Senate, but had a great party anyway. Roy Blunt and Ed Martin held a combined party at a local manufacturing plant that was well attended by supporters and the media.

Missouri's August 3rd primary saw the passage of the first statewide ballot initiative, Prop C, to repeal Congress's healthcare reform. Prop C passed with over 70% of the ballots cast in favor of it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ed Martin Votes in Missouri's Republican Primary

On August 3rd, Ed Martin went to the polls to vote for both himself and for Prop C on the Repulican primary ballot. Martin is running to represent the Republican party in November and ultimately Missouri's 3rd Congressional District after defeating Russ Carnahan in the general election. Prop C is Missouri's effort to further the cause of healthcare freedom and repeal Washington's recently passed healthcare reform.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Phone Bank Photos for Prop C

"Yes" on Prop C volunteers took to the phones over the weekend to contact Missouri voters and encourage them to vote to repeal the healthcare reform law that was passed by Congress earlier this year. The grassroots volunteers pictured above turned out to the Missouri GOP's Victory Headquarters on Watson Rd in St. Louis Sunday night. While there were only about twenty people making calls during my visit, Rush James, the GOP's Regional Director, told me that they hit a milestone Saturday with sixty concurrent phone calls.

Conservatives in Missouri are looking for a big win on Tuesday. Please remind your Show Me State friends and family to go to the polls and vote for Prop C!