Daily Archives: September 18, 2008

>Obama Keeps Hitting McCain As Flip-Flopper On The Economy

>Highlighting the way the race’s dynamics have shifted dramatically, Obama assailed McCain for his sudden switch from deregulator to pitchfork-wielding populist.

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Filed under Barack Obama, economy, Flip-Flop, John McCain

>Focusing on Palin was the smart approach

>Good news for the Obama campaign, it seems as though the Palin bounce has started its return to earth.  The Daily Kos is reporting that her poll number for the past week have taken a nose dive as people are beginning  learn more about her:

“Bloggers and tradmed reporters took a hard look at Sarah Palin and began raking her over the coals for myriad transgressions. She is a liar with theocratic tendencies, sports an intellect that makes Bush look like a Mensa member, and features an obvious fondness for Cheney-style abuses of power. And that’s not even the worst of it.

But then the worriers began to question, “Why are we focusing on Palin? McCain is getting a pass! We’re tilting at windmills, since she’s too popular to damage!” We were told to stop talking altogether about Palin, as if ignoring her would remove the spell she had cast on America. This Andrew Sullivan post must’ve been emailed to me two dozen times by panicked worrywarts. A few bad polls, and people seemed to be losing their minds and sense.

But we continued to focus on Palin. Republicans were busy trying to build a positive narrative about Palin — the “hockey mom” who was so folksy she could “field dress a moose” and had “said no to the Bridge to Nowhere and other government waste” and was overflowing with “small town values”. McCain had shot up in the polls because of Palin. Common sense dictated it would be hard to knock him back down as long as she consolidated her popularity. So we set out to build the negative narratives about Palin. This is stuff straight out of Taking on the System. I have a whole chapter on it, in fact.

So we focused heavily on Palin, and make no mistake, it’s exactly that intense focus that has taken its toll on her numbers”:

Approve Disapprove No Opinion
9/11: 52 35 13 +17
9/12: 51 37 12 +14
9/13: 49 40 11 +9
9/14: 47 42 11 +5
9/15: 47 43 10 +4
9/16: 45 44 11 +1
9/17: 44 45 11 -1
9/18: 42 46 11 -4

Click on the headline to read more  from the Daily Kos about Palins drop in the polls 

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Filed under Barack Obama, Daily Kos, John McCain, Polls, Sarah Palin

>How John McCain lost me

>A lot has been written the last couple of days about the defection of Lady De Rothschild’s defection from the Hillary/Obama camp to John McCain, but what about the defection of one of his biographers, Elizabeth Drew, who authored “Citizen McCain”?

She describes why and how she lost her faith and admiration for the maverick who would be president at politico.com.
” have been a longtime admirer of John McCain. During the 2000 Republican presidential primaries I publicly defended McCain against the pro-Bush Republicans’ whisper campaign that he was too unstable to be president (aware though I was that he had a temper). Two years later I published a positive book about him, “Citizen McCain.”

I admired John McCain as a man of principle and honor. He had become emblematic of someone who spoke his mind, voted his conscience, and demonstrated courage in bucking his own party and fighting for what he believed in. He gained a well-deserved reputation as a maverick. He was seen as taking principled positions on such issues as tax equity (opposing the newly elected Bush’s tax cut), fighting political corruption, and, later, taking on the Bush administration on torture. He came off as a man of decency. He took political risks”…

Click on to the headline to read more from Elizabeth Drew on Politico.com 

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Filed under Citizen McCain, Elizabeth Drew, Politico.com

>What Obama Needs to Do

>By William Galston – Real Clear Politics


I’ll get right to the point: You are in danger of squandering an election most of us thought was unlosable. The reason is simple: on the electorate’s most important concern – the economy — you have no clear message, and John McCain has filled the void with his own.

This is more than my opinion. The Democracy Corps survey released yesterday proves the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Backed by a wealth of persuasive detail, here is the nub of their conclusion:

In the absence of a coherent change message from Obama, many voters are accepting McCain’s definition, particularly since they want to change Washington and clean up government. As a result, Obama has lost his double-digit advantage over McCain on the right kind of change. When I say you have no message, here’s what I mean:

First, you are not offering a coherent account of what has gone wrong with the economy – why it is no longer working for average families. People are anxious and bewildered; they want to know why jobs are disappearing, why incomes are stagnating, and why prices are soaring. If you don’t offer an explanation, McCain’s will carry the day by default: the problem is the corrupt, self-interested politicians in Washington; the solution is getting them – and government in general – out of the way.

Second: you are not offering a focused, parsimonious list of remedies for the economic ills you cite. As a result, few if any voters can actually cite a single signature economic proposal you have made. It’s not that you don’t have ideas. If anything, you have too many. At some point, more becomes less, and you are well beyond that point. You need to decide which three or four economic proposals are most important and repeat them relentlessly for the next seven weeks.

Your campaign already contains everything you need to do this. You could offer a focused economic message with four elements: rebuilding the United States, with an infrastructure bank, generating millions of good jobs that can’t be outsourced; creating millions more jobs by leading the world in environmental innovation; significantly reducing the tax burden on average families; and offering health insurance to everyone at a price they can afford. If you say that about your economic plan – and nothing else – from now until November, there’s a good chance your message will get through.

Third: you are not drawing crisp, punchy contrasts between your plans and McCain’s. An example: the centerpiece of his health care plan is the taxation of employer-provided health care benefits. Pound away at that, and let him explain why throwing workers into the individual health insurance market unprotected is such a wonderful idea. And by the way, while your plan would increase coverage, his would do the opposite. Is that the change Americans want?

Fourth: your stump speech is too long and discursive. It shouldn’t last more than fifteen minutes, it should focus on your agenda, not today’s news story, it should feature short, declarative sentences, and it should leave no doubt about what you care about the most. Right now, regrettably, few Americans believe that you feel real passion about their economic plight and are willing to wage a tough fight on their behalf. It’s your job to convince them otherwise, and you don’t have much time to do it.

A message is a thought not only sent, but also received and understood. If your hearers aren’t getting it, it’s not a message. The essence of political speech is functional, not aesthetic. It is a tree judged by its fruit, and the fruit is persuasion. Right now you’re not persuading the people you need to persuade, and nothing else matters.

Fifth: there’s no coordination between an economic message and the rest of your campaign. If you want the focus to be on the economy, that’s what your paid advertising and your surrogates should be doing as well.

Attacking McCain for employing lobbyists is a waste of precious time and resources; it plays on his turf and accepts his definition of the problem. Moreover, It diverts attention from the core issue – a Republican approach to the economy, shared by Bush and McCain, that shafts ordinary Americans and does nothing to help them deal with the challenges of global competition. So far, while the McCain campaign has gone for the jugular, you’ve gone for the capillaries.

Some Americans won’t support you because they think you’re too young and inexperienced to be president, or that you’re too liberal, or not patriotic enough, or because you might raise taxes, or because you’re African-American. That’s inevitable. The good news is that by themselves, these Americans are not a majority. The bad news is that they might become part of a majority if they are joined by the many Americans who are open to supporting you but are turning away because they don’t hear you speaking to their concerns in a manner that they can understand.

This is not about you alone; it’s a matter of political responsibility. Millions of Americans have invested their hopes and dreams in you, and you owe it to them to campaign effectively, which isn’t happening right now. Yes, the McCain campaign is replete with exaggerations, evasions, and outright fabrications. It’s your responsibility to defeat them, not complain about them. If this means listening to advice you don’t want to hear, and getting out of the “comfort zone,” so be it.

Three months ago, when you were riding high, the McCain campaign was flat on its back. But give McCain credit: when he was told that to win he had to change, he did. He focused, and he accepted a kind of discipline that he had previously resisted. Now it’s your turn.

William Galston is a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and co-editor of The Democratic Strategist.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Brookings Institute, John McCain, Real Clear Politics, William Galston

>Wall Street’s Just Deserts

>By Harold Meyerson-The Washington Post

At the risk of speaking ill of the dead, what good was Lehman Brothers, anyway? And if Merrill Lynch was so bullish on America, why is it that, despite the torrent of foreign investment that flowed in to Lehman, Merrill and their Wall Street peers over the past half-decade, so few jobs were created in America during that period of “recovery”?

During the late, lamented Wall Street boom, America’s leading investment institutions were plenty bullish on China’s economy, on exotic financial devices built atop millions of bad loans, and, above all — judging by the unprecedented amount of wealth they showered on the Street — on themselves. The last thing our financial community was bullish on was America — that is, the America where the vast majority of Americans live and work.

Over the past eight years, the U.S. economy has created just 5 million new jobs, a number that is falling daily. The median income of American households has declined. Airports, bridges and roads are decaying. Rural wind-power facilities cannot light cities because our electrical grid has not been expanded. New Orleans has not been rebuilt. And as productive activity within the United States has ceased to be the prime target of investment, household consumption — more commonly known as shopping — has come to comprise more than 70 percent of our economy.

The banks’ underinvestment in America was hardly due to a lack of capital. But even as petrodollars and China’s dollars poured into Wall Street, the investment houses directed trillions into new and ever more dubious credit instruments, which yielded massive profits for Wall Streeters and their highflying investors, and put chump change into efforts to improve, to take just one example, American transportation.

It was not ever thus on Wall Street. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, bankers such as August Belmont and J.P. Morgan invested European capital in American railroads and steel. Moreover, by the 1830s, a major political party, the Whigs, had arisen on a platform of “internal improvements” — fast-forwarding the nation’s development through a public commitment to building roads, rails and canals. Their successor party, the Republicans, continued these commitments, as Lincoln’s support for the transcontinental railroad and land-grant colleges makes clear.

By the mid-20th century, the behemoths of American manufacturing reinvested their own resources to meet most of their capital needs, while New Deal-era and subsequent administrations (including that of Republican Dwight Eisenhower) invested heavily in the nation’s infrastructure. Wall Street played a diminished role during the golden years of mass American prosperity but came roaring back beginning with the financial deregulation of the Reagan era.

Finance set the terms of corporate behavior over the past quarter-century, and not in ways that bolstered the economy. By its actions — elevating shareholder value over the interests of other corporate stakeholders, focusing on short-term investments rather than patient capital, pressuring corporations to offshore jobs and cut wages and benefits — Wall Street plainly preferred to fund production abroad and consumption at home. The internal investment strategy of 100 years ago was turned on its head. Where Morgan once funneled European capital into American production, for the past decade Morgan’s successors have directed Asian capital into devices to enable Americans to take on more debt to buy Asian products.

Worse yet, as Wall Street turned its back on America, so did government. The Bush administration and congressional Republicans (John McCain among them) kept American incomes low by opposing hikes in the minimum wage; helping employers defeat unionization; and shunning policies to modernize infrastructure, make college more affordable, and boost spending on basic science and research.

Today, it’s the Democrats who sound like Lincoln’s Republicans. In recent months, the Obama campaign and liberal think tanks in particular have generated numerous proposals for heightened public commitment to infrastructure and education. Unlike tax cuts, which chiefly bolster our ability to consume imported goods and commodities, infrastructure investments make us more productive and have a multiplier effect that creates more jobs over and above those that the government funds directly. Congressional Democrats have included major infrastructure investments in their pending new stimulus bill, which Bush and GOP leaders oppose.

Someone needs to invest in the United States of America. For the past decade and, in a broader sense, for the entire duration of the Reagan era, both government and Wall Street have opted not to. Should Barack Obama win, the era of neglectful government will probably come to an end. No matter who wins, Wall Street is vanishing before our eyes. And by the measure of their contribution to America’s economic strength and well being, both Reagan-age government and Wall Street’s investment banks plainly deserve to die.

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Filed under Economic Crisis, Harold Meyerson, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Wall Street Disaster. Barack Obama, Washington Post

Interview with Pat Walsh

I have found attack letters from local republicans in the papers recently with many false and misrepresented statements regarding Middletown Democratic Candidate Patricia Walsh. Many of which,stretched the truth so I thought I would check out the latest statements to see if they had any merit. I reached out to the Mrs. Walsh to ask for her to answer my questions based on statements in these letters.

Here are her responses.

Question: Are you responsible for taking 60% of property taxes to operate the schools in Middletown?

Answer: No. Speaking personally, I have to say that the statement is inaccurate for several reasons. First of all, the school budget is presented to voters for their approval every year unlike the township budget. For the last five years suburban school districts like Middletown were flat funded by the state forcing more of a burden on local taxpayers.
The funding formula for school districts in New Jersey was recently revised and voted on the legislature. There are many inequities built into the school funding formula and I have been advocating for changes to it that would benefit the taxpayers of Middletown for the last four years.
I believe the quality of our schools is one of the reasons we are in the Money Magazine’s top one hundred places to live and why many people choose to live in Middletown.

Question: Are you responsible for taking $1.5 billion of our tax dollars and raising taxes 100% during you tenure on the board?

Answer: No. Speaking for myself, I have to say that the school district cannot receive any taxes that are not approved by the voters. In addition, I am one member of a nine person Board of Education and have only one vote. Only with a majority vote of a board, is the budget adopted and then put on the ballot.
I have been re-elected to the Middletown Board of Education four times by the voters of Middletown, and just as the price of gas has increased dramatically in the last 12 years, so has the cost of providing an education to the children of Middletown.
What is interesting with the township budget, is their use of Deferred School Taxes to reduce the town budget, something they have done for approximately 20 years. Most towns shy away from the use of Deferred School Tax. Every year the Township Committee collects taxes at the higher rate for six months in advance and uses those funds as additional revenue, making it appear the Township’s tax rate is lower. At this point the amount of Deferred School Taxes in Middletown is 56 million.

Question: Did you pay two superintendents, six figure salaries for nearly two years?

Answer: The New Jersey State law sets strict requirements with regards to bringing tenure charges against any school employee that must be adhered to. As a board member I am required to abide by the law. The law requires a board of education to pay tenured employee’s salary after 180 days after the filling of tenure charges. The former superintendent was found guilty of those tenure charges.
But I ask you, if you found an employee misappropriating funds, what would you do; ignore it or hold that person accountable?

Question: Did you lobby for the contractor who has defaulted on the High School North Field?

Answer: No. School boards are required by law to approve contracts on the basis of the lowest responsible bidder. A school board can only act on the recommendation of the superintendent that are placed on an agenda of a voting meeting. At no time did I have any contact with or lobby for any contractor. It is prohibited by law and I adhered to the law.

Question: Did you fight to rehire a bus company whose driver supplied drugs to a Middletown student?

Answer: NO. As a board member, I voted to take action against the bus company because of this horrifying incident. I was pleased that an administrative law judge has disqualified this company from bidding on any bus routes for the school district.

Question: Did you make a motion to sign a contract for a cell tower on High School South property against the wishes of parents and the surrounding community?

Answer: Yes, I made the motion as a parliamentary procedure to put that agenda item on the table for discussion and voting. There were no members of the public that argued against the cell tower at that voting meeting.

I want to thank Mrs.Walsh for taking her time to answer my questions honestly and truthfully.
I hope that this will help in set her record straight as it pertains to her many years as a member of the Middletown Board of Education.

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Filed under attack letters, Midddletown Board of Education, Middletown Democrats, Middletown GOP, Patricia Walsh

Obama Keeps Hitting McCain As Flip-Flopper On The Economy

Highlighting the way the race’s dynamics have shifted dramatically, Obama assailed McCain for his sudden switch from deregulator to pitchfork-wielding populist.

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Filed under Barack Obama, economy, Flip-Flop, John McCain