Monday, October 20, 2014

Deep Thoughts for the Day

1. We are advised to NOT judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge ALL gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics.
Funny how that works.  And here's another one worth considering...
2. Seems we constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money.  But we never hear about welfare or food stamps running out of money?  What's interesting is the first group "worked for" their money, but the second didn't.
Think about it.....and Last but not least,
3. Why are we cutting benefits for our veterans, no pay raises for our military and cutting our army to a level lower than before WWII, but we are not stopping the payments or benefits to illegal aliens.

Dan Frei's Political Future is Non-existent

Dan Frei ran a strong campaign against U.S. Congressman Lee Terry in the primary earlier this year.    He could have used that effort to leverage himself for a future campaign opportunity in 2016 again against Terry or for another office.

Sadly, Frei has chosen to continue his campaign against Terry.  First, unlike most members of a party who lose a race against an incumbent or lose in an open seat race, Frei chose to not endorse or congratulate the winner, Terry, after the primary.    Frei has had several changes to step up to the plate and show his Republican credentials since.   It was even rumored he'd do a radio spot to support Terry.   But apparently pursuing his own selfish goals, Frei has now criticized Terry for the ads being run by the Republican Congressional Committee (an organization whose help he would certainly need in a future congressional campaign).   He has burned any bridges possible to show that he would support Terry and by so doing showed he has no interest in helping the party that he claims to be a member of.

Frei's selfish efforts are no doubt directed at the notion that Terry will lose and come 2016, he, Frei, will be the 'conservative' nominee who will go after Brad Ashford.   Frei's naïveté doesn't recognize that Ashford, if elected, will stay in Congress as long as he desires or until the next Republican 'wave'.   His naiveté doesn't recognize that after facilitating the loss of Terry, should it happen, he will be no more than a pariah in the Republican party come 2016.

In the end, when Frei could have stepped up to the plate and acted like a loyal Republican he chose to pursue his own selfish and vindictive goals.   In the end, he'll find his tactics have boomeranged.   The only way he will find himself on the ballot in the fall of 2016 is if he registers as an independent or a Libertarian.   In any event, Dan Frei's political career and any respect or good well he may have gained through a well-run primary is over.  

Cartoon of the Day

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thought for the Day: Ted Nugent on Deer Hunting and Democrats

Ted Nugent, rock star and avid bow hunter from Michigan, was being interviewed by a liberal journalist who is also an animal rights activist.

The discussion came around to deer hunting.

The journalist asked, "What do you think is the last thought in the head of a deer before you shoot him? Is it, 'Are you my friend?' or is it 'Are you the one who killed my brother?'"

Nugent replied, "Deer aren't capable of that kind of thinking. All they care about is what am I going to eat next, who am I going to screw next, and can I run fast enough to get away. They are very much like the Democrats in Congress."

Cartoon of the Day

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thought for the Day

“A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”  --  Melton Friedman

National Media Says Terry Fizzles

From The Hill's Ballot Box, we have an article that doesn't exactly inspire confidence that 2nd District U.S. Congressman will serve another term.    We expect a long night for Lee on November 4th.     In the interim, the those who are running his opponent's campaign are doing everything possible to see that he keeps out of their way and remains totally detached from the campaign.   Amazing.....

Neb. GOP congressman fizzles

Congressional Republicans are increasingly giddy about riding a Republican wave to victory in November, but it’s longtime Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) who is suddenly strapping on his lifejacket. 
Just a short time ago, Terry seemed to be primed for reelection. He bested a tough challenge in the May primary, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) hadn’t even budgeted ads against him in his GOP-leaning Omaha-based district. 

But a few months later, the tide against him is rising. National handicappers rate the race a toss up, and Terry is now in one of a handful of vulnerable GOP incumbents in his race against state Sen. Brad Ashford (D). Overall, Republicans are on track to make gains in the House, but Terry’s is one seat they very well might lose. 

“I don’t want to say they’ve got a perfect storm, because certainly there’s not a tide that benefits the Democrats [nationally], but there’s definitely an anti-incumbency tide here in this district,” said Randy Adkins, the head of the political science department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Terry has held this seat since 1999, but his margin of victory has trended smaller over the past few elections. After winning three elections by 30-point margins, he won by just 2 points in 2012.
Republicans have started losing enthusiasm for Terry, Adkins said. But he said Democrats haven’t capitalized because they’ve had trouble matching a “quality candidate” with the right financial backing. 

Now with Ashford, who has won the endorsement of the city’s largest newspaper, and substantial help from the DCCC, the Democrats have their best chance yet, if they can sway independent voters. 
That’s why both candidates are trying to grasp the center and paint each other as out of touch and too partisan for the district, but still trying not to leave their bases behind.

“My opponent is doing a great job of showing how liberal he is,” Terry told The Hill. “My opponent says he’s independent, but yet, he’s almost verbatim spouting out the DCCC’s talking points.” 
Terry is the chairman of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee and is a vocal supporter of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which he says is vital to decreasing America’s energy dependence.
But Terry has not always helped himself. He made a crass joke earlier this year about General Motors’ faulty ignition switches, which caused crashes that killed 13 people. And he dismissed the idea of giving back his paycheck during the federal shutdown.

“Dang straight,” he told The Omaha World-Herald in October 2013. “I’ve got a nice house and a kid in college.”

In Ashford’s mind, the gaffe is critical and indicative of larger issues. That’s why both he and the DCCC have repeatedly dogged Terry on the comments. Three recent DCCC ads all dig up the comments, and unrelated Ashford statements sometimes pivot towards the quote.

Although Terry admits he doesn’t know how important the remark is to voters, he said he apologized and doesn’t understand why it’s blanketing the airwaves.

“It was unlike me, and that’s what hurts me most when I see those ads,” he said. In his mind, the strategy is just a way for Ashford to “hit me without having to talk about his views on the issues.”
Ashford’s campaign pitches the Democrat as a contrast to the dysfunction of Washington. He touts his time as Judiciary Committee chairman in the Nebraska Legislature, a unique single-house legislative branch. That record is one of the reasons The Omaha World-Herald endorsed him on Monday over Terry, whom the board called “a prisoner of D.C. gridlock.”

“He’s been in Congress for 16 years but has been ineffective in passing legislation, he votes with the Republican party on hyper-partisan bills instead of creating change,” Ashford said in an emailed statement. “I’ve got a proven 16 year record in Nebraska’s Unicameral of reaching across the aisle to solve the tough issues facing our state.”

But that same record could also spell trouble for Ashford.

Starting with their first debate in late September, Terry began hitting Ashford as soft on crime, specifically targeting his support for a Nebraska law that effectively cuts almost all prison sentences in half, as long as inmates remain on good behavior.

In a tragedy that sent shockwaves through Omaha, prison inmate Nikko Jenkins left jail early in 2013 and went on to kill four people.

Terry slammed Ashford for failing to implement legislative fixes to Nebraska’s “good time” laws and for “putting people in jeopardy.”

 “He had the opportunity, through the governor’s bill, and state legislators had a variety of bills, to fix the problem and refused to,” Terry said in an interview.

Ashford responded during the debate that the state’s penitentiaries were to blame for not taking away part of Jenkins’s sentence reduction despite the fact that he did not stay out of trouble while in prison. His new campaign ad includes a former U.S. attorney and a former judge praising Ashford’s push to up consequence for gang and gun crimes.  

“Congressman Terry is lobbing baseless and desperate attacks from his flailing campaign,” he said in a statement. “The Omaha World-Herald endorsed me and said that, ‘few lawmakers have done more to enhance public safety,’ than me.”

The two sides continue to spar over the issue in ads, but Adkins called the move “very effective.”
“The Terry campaign really changed the direction and discussion that was going on almost since the gaffe,” he said. “Nobody was talking about his government shutdown comment, everyone was talking about ‘good time.’”

And with just a few weeks left in a tight race, controlling the message will be vital, whether it be on the “good time” laws, Terry’s gaffes or something else. 

“I think it’s going to be a close race, so anything that can move the needle a couple points may influence the outcome of the election,” Adkins predicted."

Cartoon of the Day

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thought of the Day

Questions About County Board Candidate Cavanaugh's Campaign Spending

Most candidates get to the first N.A.D.C. (Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission) reporting point in the fall campaign, October 1, hoping to show how much money they have on hand to clobber their opponent over the next 34 days.   Omaha's 'Watchdog' and others have reported that a number of legislative candidates have raised a lot of money, six figure amounts, and are will situated to execute their campaign plans.  

Well, such is not the case for one candidate running for Douglas County Board.   That would be Lincoln lobbyist and lawyer James Cavanaugh who is running for Douglas County Commissioner in District 2 against Sam Clark.     Cavanaugh, who has a record of financial indiscretions and mismanagement seems to be running his campaign in a manner that reflects his personal record.

N.A.D.C. reports for Oct. 1, show that Cavanaugh has raised a boatload of money, over $63,000!    One would think he would come to the last month of the campaign well situated to execute a campaign.   But, wait (as they say on those late night commercials)!   Seems Cavanaugh has already spent $60,450 and shows just $3,878 in the bank!   Even worse, his campaign shows debts of $7,318!!

It's not unusual to spend money on a campaign but it is very strange for a candidate to end up in a position like this.   Looking at his N.A.D.C. report, Cavanaugh has spent an outrageous $9,789 on fundraising/fundraisers.   He's spent an even more outrageous $7,788 on 'research'.   And in a really strange amount, he's spent over $6,000 on payroll.  

One can't help but wonder what's going on with this campaign, who is managing it and who has the checkbook?   Unions have given a significant amount to Cavanaugh's campaign.   They ought to be scratching their heads about how their money is being used.   Individuals have given the majority of the money and certainly they should be asking what Cavanaugh has done with their contributions.

Cavanaugh now goes into the last few days of his campaign in a bankrupt campaign position while his opponent Sam Clark shows some $30,000 in cash on hand, having spent less than $10,000 thus far.

One can't help but wonder what Cavanaugh is doing with his money and how he can look contributors in the face when he has spent more than he has taken in and goes into the critical last days of the campaign with no funds left?   One can't help but wonder what kind of board member a Cavanaugh would be when he hasn't shown the ability to manage either his own or his campaign finances.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Thought for the Day - Ronald Reagan

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
– President Ronald Reagan

Cartoon of the Day

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thought for the Day: Apolitical Aphorism

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office

On Purple Penquins -- John Chatelain

According to Fox News' "The Kelly File" and an article in today's Omaha World- Herald entitled "'Boys' and 'Girls' still have place in Lincoln schools", it appears Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent, Steve Joel, is now back-peddling after having been caught trying to blur the gender line in the elementary schools.

LPS wanted to make sure the littlest transgenders felt welcome at school.   The administrators had been studying replacing the words "boys" and "girls" with gender-neutral terms.

The WH article first quoted Joel as stating there's "absolutely no truth" to news that his district is mandating that teachers replace the words "boys" and "girls" with gender-neutral terms.

Later in the WH article, he stated he had no data on how many kids enrolled in his district identified themselves as other than a boy or a girl.   He vowed that his district officials would not be deterred from continuing to look for ways to make every student feel comfortable.

Apparently, being able to speak out of both sides of his mouth, almost simultaneously, is why Mr. Joel earns the big bucks.

And is it even possible to have a system where boys who identify with being boys, girls who identify with being girls, boys who identify themselves as girls, girls who identify themselves as boys and those who aren't sure, are all to feel welcome in the same class room?

What do we always hear from our public schools?  That they need more money.    The problem in our educational system is not a money problem.  If anything our schools have access to entirely too much taxpayer money, if they can waste dollars on such foolishness.

Knock it off, Mr. Joel, and get back to teaching math, English, history, science, geography, etc.

Cartoon of the Day

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Terry Continues to be National Attention Getter

From Roll Call's At the Races we have the following about the Lee Terry congressional race.  

Meet the House Republican Still Sweating the Shutdown

"OMAHA, Neb. — Mention Rep. Lee Terry’s name in this town, and almost everyone has an opinion about the embattled Republican.

“I know I was not happy with the shutdown and his comments,” said Patrick Ryan, a veteran of the Air National Guard turned Burke High School social studies teacher, before a Friday night football game. “I was kind of taken aback by it, thinking it was kind of arrogant considering the kind of job he’s in.”

“There’s a litany of times when he has literally stuck his 10.5 [size shoe] in his mouth,” state Sen. Bob Krist, a Republican backing Terry’s Democratic opponent, told CQ Roll Call in his colleague’s kitchen on Sunday morning. “Which time do you want to apologize for?”

“Don’t get him started,” said a woman seated at the bar at The Drover on Oct. 3, an old school downtown steakhouse, pointing to her husband, who regurgitated an unprompted verbatim account of the exact words dogging Terry’s quest for a ninth term.

More than a year ago, when the federal government shuttered and federal employees — including active military service members and civilian contractors — feared they wouldn’t get their paychecks, Terry was adamant he would keep his own.
“Dang straight,” Terry told the Omaha World Herald for an Oct. 4, 2013, story. “I’ve got a nice house and a kid in college, and I’ll tell you we cannot handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That’s just not going to fly.”

He’s apologized for the remarks, but the 16-year incumbent can’t seem to get out from underneath them. It’s an example of how just a few ill-suited words can ruin a congressional career — and the key reason Terry is struggling for re-election in this GOP-leaning district against state Sen. Brad Ashford.

Riding in a red pick-up truck in between stops on a tour of local businesses in La Vista, a suburb of Omaha, Terry acknowledged the challenge ahead of him this year, thanks to his comment during last year’s shutdown.

“I made a mistake; it wasn’t me. That’s not who I am because everything I’ve ever done in my life has been to help people,” Terry told CQ Roll Call as the truck pulled into the Nebraska Brewing Company’s brew facility covered in corrugated gray siding. “I had a moment when I let frustration get the better of me.”

Terry’s gaffe is compounded in the Cornhusker State’s 2nd District — a geographically small area by Midwestern standards, encompassing the city of Omaha and its surrounding suburbs. The district is changing, thanks to an influx of young people who have moved here for job opportunities at companies such as PayPal and Yahoo, which have opened data centers in the area dubbed  ”Silicon Prairie.”

Most importantly for Terry, the district’s single media market makes it easy for Democrats to hammer his comment home.

“That’s the only theme they’ve been on,” Terry added before his aide’s truck parked in warehouse lot outside the brewery.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC, a super PAC that supports Democrats, will have spent nearly $1 million combined on ads hitting Terry for his comments, according to a source tracking buys in the district. On Monday, the DCCC added an additional week of television airtime here, even as it scaled back ads on other races elsewhere.

Public polling shows why Democrats are shelling out cash in the midterms for a district that voted for Mitt Romney with 53 percent last cycle. An August survey showed the race in a statistical dead heat. The race is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call and is one of just three GOP-held House seats in that category.

In a cycle where Republicans look poised to gain in the House, Terry’s seat in ruby red Nebraska serves as an ironic bright spot for Democrats.

But this is not Terry’s first tough re-election bid.

In 2012, he won re-election by a 2-point margin, even though national Democrats didn’t make a major investment in the race. Earlier this year, Terry had an uncomfortably close 6-point primary victory over an unknown opponent, whom he outspent 20 to 1.

Not only is Terry disliked by Democrats, Nebraska political operatives say, but the problem is exacerbated by the area’s splintered Republican base — split between business-friendly Republicans and tea party conservatives.

But these midterms present Terry with an additional challenge: There’s a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage in Nebraska from $7.25 to $9 an hour by January 2016. It’s a cause Terry doesn’t support, and one operatives on both sides said it will drive turnout from voters who are more likely to support Ashford.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has responded by blasting district with ads highlighting Ashford’s record, calling the challenger too liberal for Nebraska for his votes on bills they say raised taxes on hair cuts and auto repairs. All together, the NRCC is spending more than $700,000 to blanket the district with ads paining Ashford as an ally of President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Terry’s campaign fueled the fire this week, releasing a new ad saying Ashford is a legislator soft on crime, tying his support to a “good time law” they say allowed violent criminals out early.

It’s the Terry campaign’s attempt to change the trajectory of this race, which is otherwise tilting in Ashford’s favor.

As Ashford walks down the street in the Dundee neighborhood on Oct. 4, the upper-middle-class area where he grew up, a passenger in a car stops to roll down her window and wish him luck. At Pitch, a gourmet pizza joint on a strip of restaurants where Ashford stopped for a Pilsner and spicy orange wings, two separate groups of diners offer their support, unprompted. 

“The comment reflects the sense that being in Congress is a job when in fact it’s public service,” Ashford said of Terry’s shutdown remark as he walked around Dundee to knock doors. “It’s the, ‘I need to get paid’ comment when everyone is kind of hurting. And I think that when you’re at $175,000 a year, and you work, at least when you’re in Washington, less than 130 days a year, the sense is you need to work harder. And if nothing’s getting done you’re getting paid too much.”

Ashford wasn’t his party’s first choice of candidate.

A year ago, Omaha City Councilmember Pete Festersen entered the race in the wake of Terry’s shutdown comments, but he bowed out in February, citing his young family. Ashford, a 64-year-old state legislator, jumped in the race days later, just before the deadline to enter the contest.

Democrats are fully behind Ashford, a long-winded former trial lawyer and 16-year legislator with deep Omaha roots. He ran for Congress as a Republican in 1994, but lost the primary to Jon Christensen. In 2013, Ashford unsuccessfully ran for mayor as an independent, coming in fourth in a seven-candidate field.
While his legal background and legislative career kept him keen on policy, Ashford struggles to stay on message and on task.

He disregarded his staffer’s walk sheet, which identified homes with likely supporters, instead taking a winding route to houses where Ashford’s friends and family lived. All the while he told stories about people who used to live in the neighborhood when he lived there in the 1950s.

“Brad marches to the beat of his own drum,” said state Sen. Heath Mello, a Democrat who serves with Ashford. Mello — along with Krist and state Sen. Steve Lathrop, a Democrat — gathered around the rectangular kitchen table at Lathrop’s home in Omaha to voice their support for Ashford’s bid.

But that may not matter. So far, this race is not about Ashford; it’s about Terry.
And the congressman may have run out of time to fix that.

“Whatever they’re trying to say about Brad, people are going to say I don’t care,” Lathrop added. Terry’s “gotta go.”"

Thought of the Day

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Lee Terry Has a Target on His Back

The National Journal reports today that Lee Terry has a target on his back and a big one given the decision of the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee to start cutting its efforts to help its own 'second tier' challengers. 

DCCC Shifts More Funds to Endangered Incumbents

The committee is spending more on four vulnerable Democrats and less on the party's challengers.

"October 6, 2014 House Democrats are scaling back their ambitions for the 2014 midterms, announcing a series of decisions Monday that will reduce support to the party's second-tier challengers while reinforcing its most vulnerable incumbents.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is increasing its investment in six races: four in which Democrats face serious threats, one in an open-seat race, and one with a vulnerable Republican incumbent, according to a DCCC aide. It's also cutting air time in eight media markets covering 12 districts: seven districts in which Democratic challengers have failed to gain much ground, four open-seat races, and one where a Democratic incumbent appears safe.
The shifts are bad news for a few high-profile Democratic challengers, including Amanda Renteria, the first Latina chief of staff in Senate history, who is challenging Republican Rep. David Valadao in California's majority Latino 21st District. It's also a letdown for former county Judge Ann Callis, who was one of the DCCC's top prospects when she entered the race last year to challenge Rep. Rodney Davis in Illinois's 13th District.

The move confirms that Reps. Brad Schneider and Bill Enyart of Illinois, Rick Nolan of Minnesota, and Sean Patrick Maloney of New York are some of the party's most vulnerable incumbents. It also confirms that Republican Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska is a top target, and that the party's hopes are high for former Iowa state Sen. Staci Appel to pick up retiring Rep. Tom Latham's seat.

"In the face of millions of dollars from outside Republican groups aggressively pouring into our races, House Democrats are fortifying our vulnerable incumbents and focusing in on top-tier competitive races," DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner said in a statement.

Several major Republican outside groups jumped into high-profile House races last month after initially appearing to stay on the sidelines, saving money for Senate races. In the last two weeks of September, the American Action Network, the Congressional Leadership Fund, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Freedom Partners Action Fund, the YG Network, and American Crossroads reserved nearly $12 million in air time.

The Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC also recently cut air time in eight districts, scaling back in areas where Democratic challengers haven't made much progress or where Democratic incumbents appear safe.

Republicans called the DCCC's changes a sign that Democrats are on defense.

"Nancy Pelosi has hit the panic button, and she's doing everything she can to stop the bleeding by consolidating her millions and playing defense in seats President Obama actually won," said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Daniel Scarpinato. "The fact that Democrats are retreating in key swing battleground districts shows just what a disaster their candidates and policies have been."
Districts where the DCCC is increasing its investment include:
  • Iowa's 3rd District: The DCCC is adding a week of broadcast air time supporting Appel, who has had a significant financial advantage over Republican former congressional aide David Young.
  • Illinois's 10th District: The committee is adding a week of broadcast and cable air time defending Schneider, who faces a challenge from former Rep. Bob Dold.
  • Illinois's 12 District: The committee is adding a week of broadcast air time defending Enyart, a first-term representative with low name recognition, who faces a challenge from well-known state Rep. Mike Bost.
  • Minnesota's 8th District: The committee added four weeks of broadcast air time defending Nolan, who faces businessman Stewart Mills, whose long hair has earned him the nickname, "the Brad Pitt of the Republican Party."
  • Nebraska's 2nd District: The committee added one week of broadcast air time against Terry, who became a target for Democrats when he refused to give up his pay during last year's government shutdown, saying he had "a nice house and a kid in college." Democratic state Sen. Brad Ashford and the DCCC have both harped on Terry for the comment. 
  • New York's 18th District: The committee is adding four weeks of cable air time defending Maloney, who faces former Rep. Nan Hayworth.
Markets where the DCCC is cutting air time include:
  • California's 3rd and 10th Districts: The committee is cutting one week's reservation in the 3rd District, defending Rep. John Garamendi, and in the 10th District, where Democratic farmer Michael Eggman is challenging Republican Rep. Jeff Denham.
  • California's 21st District: The committee is cutting two weeks of reservations supporting Renteria against Valadao.
  • Iowa's 4th District: The committee is cutting its Sioux City broadcast supporting veteran Jim Mowrer, who is challenging Republican Rep. Steve King.
  • Illinois's 13th District: The committee is cutting a week of its St. Louis broadcast supporting Callis.
  • Michigan's 7th, 8th, and 11th Districts: The committee is cutting a week's reservations in Detroit. In the 7th District, Republican Rep. Tim Walberg is likely to fend off attorney Pam Byrnes. In the 8th District, Republican former state Sen. Mike Bishop is likely to win retiring Rep. Mike Rodgers's seat over the Ingham County treasurer. In the 11th District, Republican lawyer Dave Trott is likely to beat former State Department official Bobby McKenzie after defeating Rep. Kerry Bentivolio in the Republican primary.
  • New York's 21st District: The committee is cutting two weeks of reservations supporting documentary filmmaker Aaron Woolf, who seems to have fallen behind former Bush White House aide Elise Stefanik.
  • New York's 23rd District: The committee is cutting two weeks of reservations supporting Tompkins County legislator Martha Robertson, who has failed to gain ground on Republican Rep. Tom Reed.
  • Pennsylvania 6th and 8th Districts: The committee is cutting a week's reservations in Philadelphia supporting physician and veteran Manan Trivedi, who has fallen behind Republican Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello in the race for retiring Rep. Jim Gerlach's seat; and Army veteran Kevin Strouse has failed to make an impact in his challenge against Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick."

Thought for the Day: Apolitical Aphorism

There ought to be one day -- just one -- when there is open season on Congressmen.
~Will Rogers~

Cartoon of the Day

Monday, October 6, 2014

Thought of the Day

Straight Talk on the Minimum Wage

The following editorial was published in the Wall Street Journal opinion page   It's a pretty good argument against federally mandated minimum wages and to a lesser extent against what we're seeing here in Nebraska.   The bottom line is that in either case the increase of minimum wages is at best political.

Minimum Wage, Maximum Politics

A mandated 40% increase in labor costs will put people out of work. But, hey, anything to help get out the vote.

By  Andy Puzder

"As the midterm elections approach, President Obama is calling on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25. “Let’s give America a raise, and make our economy stronger,” he said on Thursday at Northwestern University. That sounds nice, and the hike would give a raise to Americans who already have jobs earning the minimum wage, assuming that they’re still employed after the required raise. Unfortunately, this 40% minimum-wage hike would also reduce employment opportunities for those who need them most.

The middle class and working poor are struggling. While the stock market soared to historic highs, the labor-participation rate dropped in September to 62.7%—the lowest since 1978—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than six million people, BLS reports, are “not in the labor force” but “want a job now.”

Will a 40% minimum-wage increase improve this picture? No. Let’s examine how it would affect a restaurant franchisee, a typical small business owner attempting to run a profitable enterprise. My company, CKE Restaurants, has more than 200 franchisees running about 2,000 restaurants nationwide.

Our typical franchised restaurant employs 25 people and earns about $100,000 a year in pretax profit—about 8% of the restaurant’s $1.2 million annual sales. Our general managers, often also the store owners, are responsible for the success or failure of the business. They manage the employees and are in charge of a million-dollar facility. General managers are responsible for at least 25% of store profits. The other 24 employees are responsible for the remaining 75%, which comes to about $3,125 an employee. That is a generous estimate, as entry-level employees likely contribute less than their more experienced colleagues.

If minimum-wage crew members working 25 hours a week received a 40% raise, they would earn an additional $3,705 a year. That is $580 more than what the employee contributes to the restaurant’s profits.

The point is simple: The feds can mandate a higher wage, but some jobs don’t produce enough economic value to bear the increase. If government could transform unskilled entry-level positions into middle-income jobs, the Soviet Union would be today’s dominant world economy. Spain and Greece would be thriving.

But here’s what middle-class business owners, who live in the real world, will do when faced with a 40% increase in labor costs. They will cut jobs and rely more on technology. Such changes are already happening in banks, gas stations, grocery stores, airports and, more recently, restaurants. Almost every restaurant chain in the country from Applebee’s to McDonald’s is testing or already implementing automated ordering with tablets or kiosks.

The only other option is to raise prices. Yet it would be near-impossible to increase prices enough to offset the wage hike, particularly given today’s economic conditions. More important, price increases burden consumers, particularly those with low incomes who are supposed to be helped by a minimum-wage increase.

The better policy would be to encourage the private sector to create more middle-income jobs. North Dakota enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 2.8%, thanks to the state’s energy boom. The state minimum wage is $7.25, but entry-level employees typically make $12 to $15 an hour. This happened because the state’s dynamic economy created a demand for labor and supports increased pricing to offset increased wages.

But if the administration succeeds in persuading Congress to raise the wage, the new law should at least attempt to mitigate these negative economic consequences. A more modest increase would help. So would spacing out the increase over time.

An effective minimum-wage policy would also recognize that there are at least two distinct groups of workers who earn the minimum wage. First, there are breadwinners trying to support a family. This is relatively uncommon; such individuals represent only about 15% of minimum-wage earners, or about 0.3% of all wage and salaried employees, according to the nonpartisan Washington Policy Center.

Then there are young people who need entry-level job experience to get on the ladder of opportunity. Half of people earning at or below minimum wage are under 24 and 24% are teenagers, according to BLS. While a minimum-wage increase would benefit heads of households, who retain their jobs, it would typically price America’s youth out of the labor market, particularly America’s working-class youth. A sensible minimum-wage policy would exempt teenagers and students who need these jobs.
Finally, an effective policy would consider geography. Take California: In San Francisco, the unemployment rate was 4.7% in August thanks in large part to the tech boom in nearby Silicon Valley. A mere 80 miles away in Stockton, it was 10.3%. San Francisco’s economy can sustain a higher minimum wage, but in Stockton many people need any job they can find. States and cities should be allowed to adjust the minimum wage based on regional economic conditions or local needs.

While a 40% across-the-board increase in the minimum wage may have political appeal, any politician sincerely attempting to help those in need would recognize the negative impact of federal increases and the need for policies that increase economic growth. At the very least, they would recognize the impact such an increase would have on our youth, particularly in regions where unemployment remains alarmingly high.

The failure to address these issues suggests that the administration’s motive is political, not compassionate. The president’s minimum-wage hike might cost 500,000 jobs, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates. But the pre-election push is mostly about safeguarding the jobs of a smaller group of people: congressional Democrats."

Mr. Puzder is the chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants.

Cartoon of the Day

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Breaking News -- White House Updates Concerning Pensions, Healthcare and Benefits

Update from the White House
Concerning Pensions, Healthcare,
and Benefits               
 اگر رفت سايه پيدا نيست نقش ديوار و
چشم خيره
ما نقش سايهدگر نمي دان نور اگر رفت سايه. ر رفت
نور اگر رفت سايه پيدا نيست نقش ديوار و چشم خيره ما نقش سايهدگر نمي دان نور اگر رفت سايه. ررفت ديوار و چشم خيره ما نقش سايه دگر نمي دان نور اگر رفت سايه پيدانيست نقش ديوار و چشمخيره ماسايه
ديوار و چشم خيره ما نقش سايه دگر نمي دان نور اگر رفت سايه پيدانيست نقش ديوار و چشم خيرهماپيدا
نيست نقش
If I Hear
Anything Else,
I'll Let You Know.

Even Bob Kerrey Gets it Right Occasionally

It seems even the liberal Bob Kerrey can be counted on once and a while to view the essence of reality.    Such appears to be the case when the former Nebraska U.S. Senator talked about the president's handling of ISIS and the Secret Service scandals of late.   And, although we don't agree with his assessment that most people think Hillary Clinton would do a good job, we do agree that she will be the Democrat nominee in 2016.

This information from a Kerrey radio interview courtesy of The Hill:

Kerrey: Obama 'dropped the ball' on ISIS

By Rachel Huggins - 10/04/14 10:01 PM EDT
"Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) criticized President Obama for underestimating the impact of Islamic extremist groups, saying his decision to remove U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 "was a mistake."
"We underestimated the threat of a global jihad … ISIS is just a part of it," Kerrey said during an interview on John Catsimatidis' radio show to air Sunday on New York's 970 AM. "This is a global jihad that comes out of the Muslim religion. Our intelligence underestimated the threat, and the president did as well.”
The former presidential candidate noted Obama's recent military involvement, but said he would have launched the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) earlier to help curb jihadist fighters.
He "dropped the ball," Kerrey said. "It’s not just about ISIS. "This is a global jihad with many locations ... Nigeria, Somalia and elsewhere where organizations have sworn themselves to kill as many Muslims, Christians and Jews as they can to establish their religious order.”
A former Navy SEAL officer, Kerrey suggested that the Secret Service's recent security lapses around Obama could encourage global terrorism. 
"Our president should never be in that kind of security risk," he said of the incident last month where an armed man jumped the White House fence and wasn't apprehended until he entered the mansion's unlocked front door.
The backlash culminated in former director Julia Pierson's resignation this week.
Kerrey also weighed in on the upcoming midterm election, which is less than a month away. He predicted that Republicans would add Senate control to their House majority.  
When asked about a favorite presidential candidate for 2016, Kerrey placed his bet on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who he considers a friend.
"The odds of Hillary Clinton being the nominee of the Party are almost 100% … I think people just trust that she can do the job.”"

Cartoon of the Day

Friday, October 3, 2014

Senator Bob Krist Once Again Shows His Stripes

We're not sure at times whether State Senator Bob Krist isn't the next Brad Ashford.  

Krist sometimes acts like a Republican and sometimes like an emotional child.   He portrays himself as a Republican but doesn't miss the opportunity to take shots at them.  Such is the case today when he told the Nebraska Watchdog that he wouldn't vote for Congressman Lee Terry.  Why?  Because of what Terry said about Ashford's support of good-time laws and the recent Nikko Jenkens' murders.  

Krist, after a close election to the legislature the first time and after sailing through his second (and final) one unopposed apparently simply doesn't understand how campaigning works in tough races.    

Krist could have shut up and said nothing but existing in his personal lala-land chose to once again to undermine his party and frankly any future he has in it.   But then if you recall, he recently suggested he might run for congress himself and wasn't sure whether he would run as a Democrat or a Republican.

Like Ashford and Ernie Chambers, the press can always count on Krist to give them some fodder to throw at other political candidates.  

Thankfully, Krist is serving his last term in the legislature and has no political future unless like his buddy Ashford he decides to become a Democrat, an independent, a Democrat or whatever and as often as convenient.

Thought for the Day

Cartoon of the Day

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Boys and Girls No Longer Boys and Girls But Penguins -- At Least In Lincoln

The non-muckraker 'Watchdog' Deena Winter brings to light a new aspect of educating our children today.   Yes, seems a Lincoln elementary school had now decided that boys and girls are not boys and girls.   No, they may be purple penguins, campers, readers, etc., but not boys and girls because that might offend some child that isn't comfortable being a boy or a girl.   Give us a break.   Of course, the administrators tell us that this is a way of dealing with the 'one-size-fits-all' mentality.

You can read more on this at:

All we can say is LOL and wonder how they are going to teach these kiddies sex education???

Understanding Common Core Math

Here is yet another example of Common Core math.   We're glad we finally understand it since obviously we learned a much easier way that apparently is considered cheating now.

Thought for the Day

If there was one hand that noted economist Milton Friedman favored, it was the “invisible hand” of the free market.   -- Melton Friedman

Happy Days Ahead For Republicans in the House?

Below is the latest from the Rothenberg Political Report and like Sabato's Crystal Ball (see below), things seem to be picking up for the Republican prospects for gaining seats in the house, although Rothenberg still regards Lee Terry as one of his ten vulnerable current house members.

"Shift in Landscape Makes Bigger GOP House Gains Possible" from "The Rothenberg Political Report"
"Only three times since the Civil War, as any political junkie knows, has the president’s party gained House seats in midterm elections — in 1934, 1998 and 2002. It now seems quite clear 2014 won’t be another exception to that rule.

But a year and a half ago, that wasn’t a sure thing. In fact, while everyone understood the House playing field would be narrow once again in 2014, questions about the GOP’s political dexterity raised the possibility of small net Democratic gains this cycle.

President Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012, with Democrats gaining eight seats in the House and two in the Senate. Younger voters turned out in big numbers, and Democratic targeting and turnout efforts got plenty of credit, raising the question of whether the party could repeat that success during the second Obama midterms.

Then, on Dec. 14, 2012, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings took place. Democrats expected gun control finally to become a decisive political issue, especially with suburban women, giving them a new wedge issue for the midterms.

In a February 2013 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, the president’s job approval stood at 50 percent. The GOP’s positive rating was 29 percent and its negative was 46 percent. Democrats’ positive image was 41 percent, their negative image was 36 percent. The survey found 46 percent of respondents identified themselves as Democrats, while only 34 percent identified with the GOP.

On most issues, including dealing with taxes and the economy, Obama’s party had the advantage.

The environment looked great for Democrats, who also expected that a year and a half of GOP internecine warfare would produce more weak nominees in the next elections.

In June 2013, my newsletter dismissed the idea Democrats could re-take the House but put the most likely outcome of the fight for that chamber as anywhere “from modest Republican gains to modest Democratic gains.”

Four months later, the partial government shutdown played right into the Democrats’ hands. The GOP was widely blamed for the shutdown, which never really put control of the House in doubt but certainly gave Democrats an important talking point in their effort to make gains in the House — and even the chance of netting five to 10 House seats in the next election.

The botched launch of Obamacare turned the political environment on its head. The shutdown quickly became ancient history, and Obama’s poll numbers plummeted.

Since then, the national mood and the midterm dynamics have combined to put Democrats on the defensive.

Unlike Senate Democrats in competitive districts, who are spending millions of dollars — or are benefiting from the millions of dollars spent on their behalf by outside groups — House Democrats have a tougher time creating identities apart from the president. That makes it more difficult for them to “localize” their contests.

Colorado challenger Andrew Romanoff has a chance to oust Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, but the incumbent still leads and it’s not clear that Romanoff, a prized Democratic recruit, can win this year.

Martha Robertson, an allegedly strong Democratic challenger against underperforming Republican Rep. Tom Reed, seems to have flopped in what should be a competitive, polarized district in upstate New York.

In Illinois, Democratic challenger Ann Callis, a star recruit against Rep. Rodney Davis, has gone nowhere. The same is true for Democrat Jennifer Garrison against Ohio Rep. Bill Johnson and Democrat Erin Bilbray against Nevada Rep. Joe Heck.

Republican Reps. Dave Joyce of Ohio, Dan Benishek of Michigan and David Valadao of California started among the 10 most vulnerable Republicans in the country, but now look to be headed to re-election.

Yes, a handful of Republican seats are at risk. New York Rep. Michael G. Grimm’s legal problems have him in trouble, and Reps. Steve Southerland II of Florida and Lee Terry of Nebraska continue to struggle. Rep. Gary G. Miller’s open seat looks certain to flip.

Some incumbent Democrats in difficult districts seem to be swimming against the GOP current. Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Florida is the best example, but California Rep. Raul Ruiz also is showing strength now.

But overall, at this point Republican nominees are looking better in individual House races than expected, and Democratic candidates are not doing as well as party insiders once hoped. This isn’t a coincidence, and there is no reason to believe that it will change before Election Day.

With five weeks to go, Democrats now are likely to swipe between two and six GOP House seats, while Republicans are likely to capture between six and a dozen seats from Democrats. If the breeze at the backs of Republican candidates is strong enough (sweeping in GOP nominees who would not win in a “neutral” environment), then net Republican House gains in the double digits certainly are possible."

Republican Odds of Senate Takeover Increasing

It's Thursday and we always check in on the Crystal Ball, Larry Sabato's blog.   He is becoming increasingly positive about the possibility of a Republican 'takeover' of the U.S. Senate and like us keeps in mind the possibility of a gaffe changing that or the possibility of another Pat Roberts (KS) situation torpedoing that opportunity. 

Here's part of what we get from the Crystal Ball today:

"The race for the Senate is perceptively moving in the Republicans’ direction, but not so dramatically that we’re ready to call the race definitively for them.

While we’ve long said the 2014 map and midterm dynamics make a GOP takeover of the Senate a probable outcome, there are just too many close races left and more than a month to go, when big gaffes, unexpected legal actions, and national events can potentially flip a Senate seat or two.

But right now, Democrats are behind the eight-ball (as well as the Crystal Ball). So many undecided contests are winnable for the GOP that the party would have to have a string of bad luck -- combined with a truly exceptional Democratic get-out-the-vote program -- to snatch defeat from the wide-open jaws of victory. Or Republicans would have to truly shoot themselves in the foot in at least one race, which has become a clear possibility over the last few weeks in Kansas.

The Republicans are seeing some encouraging public polling in a couple of states President Obama won in 2012, suggesting their increasing potential for gains beyond the comfortable red-tinted territory where they are already positioned to make considerable inroads in November.

Despite the uncertainty about the Sunflower State contest, the potential outcomes still mostly favor Republicans. About the best Democrats can hope for is a 50-50 split with Vice President Biden breaking the tie, a point we made several weeks ago when we upgraded our Senate outlook to a Republican gain of five to eight seats (the current Senate is 55-45 Democratic). A small one-to-three seat GOP Senate majority (51-49, 52-48, or 53-47) appears to be the likeliest outcome as of this writing and as the final month of the 2014 midterm campaign begins."