Duane

Duane

Friday, 11 September 2015 00:00

Perry's Out, Who's Next?

It's ironic that Perry quits this race just four years (almost to the day) after he peaked in the '12 race with 32% (another ironic number).

If history sheds any light on how the primary campaign unfolds from here, the bottom of the stack will continue to flounder and drop out, and the top of the stack will be toppled as "King of the Hill" at all the wrong times for any hope of recovery.

If that plays out, the candidates in the middle of the stack right now have the most promise. Pataki, Graham, Jindal, and Santorum are essentially the walking dead. Fiorina's performance in the debate next week may launch her into the middle or sink her. Trump, Carson, and Bush are in the top danger zone. Sometimes even money can't flat out buy you votes.

Personally, I think Kasich and Christie will find themselves out of line with the base. Walker has been in a tailspin and I am not sure Huckabee is raising enough money.

The polling trend has been fawning for 'outsiders'. That would be Trump, Carson, Fiorina, and to some extent Cruz and maybe Paul (if voters don't hold their current elected position against them).

The only ones starting this Fall with the money to last are Trump, Bush, Cruz, and Rubio (in that order).

Here's a wake up: Starting Aug 1, Rick Perry was #5 in money raised among Republican candidates. Christie, Paul, Kasich, Carson, Jindal, Graham, Huckabee, Fiorina, Pataki, and Santorum all trailed him.

So, Trump gets a boost for being an outsider and having money.  But he's got all guns pointed at him as "King of the Hill".

Bush only has money going for him.  He's perceived as the establishment's nominee and an insider.  His money may do him no good.

Carson and Fiorina have outsider status, but haven't shown they can raise money, yet. Carson is also flirting with being next in line for "King of the Hill", which will make him a big target.  If he doesn't have the money to defend himself, he'll go down, too.

Rand Paul isn't raising enough money, but his fellow senators, Rubio and Cruz are right where I think you need to be at this stage of the campaign - the middle.  Currently, Cruz has about $20 million on hand more than Rubio.  That, coupled with his "outsider" status gives him a huge advantage.

In reality, there's a lot of race to be run.  We've got a much bigger field than in years' past, so there are a lot of hands out for Republican dollars.  If bottom tier candidates see the light as Perry did, and get out, then the ones left have a chance to raise good money in the 4th quarter.  But, if all these variables continue on their current paths, I see a Trump, Bush, Cruz contest come March.  They've got a huge jump on the money game and have three different sets of appeal. Bush gets the lion's share of the establishment, Cruz the conservatives, and Trump the disaffected and "sick and tired".  Bush and Trump will split the vote of those who only care about supporting someone they think can win. Cruz and Bush will split the vote of those looking for political experience.  Trump and Cruz will split the vote of those looking for an "outsider".

By that point in the game, however, Senator Ted Cruz will have one ace of unknown value.  The evangelical vote.  His only competitor for that bloc will have been Mike Huckabee.  Without money, Huckabee will be out at some point and evangelicals will have few options. Cruz is a stand out in that community and has actively campaigned for that vote.  Turnout will be the key.

But, we're just looking at an endpoint on a map.  There's a lot of campaign left with a (record?) number of candidates yet to drop out.  So, who's next?

I know some Republicans that are running the party in fear of shadow puppets.  They think that the social platform of the Republican Party is a pariah to be ran from and kicked under the coffee table to be ignored when talking to other people.  I had fellow Republicans warn me that the worst thing we could do in North Carolina was to pass the Marriage Amendment because it would doom all of our candidates in the fall election (when we won an unprecedented veto-proof majority in both House and Senate).

I've had several advise that we never speak of social issues and focus on the economy and jobs.  Ok, I'm fine with discussing the relevant issues at hand, but I don't agree that we should run from who we are (which is defined in our Platform). In truth, these fellow Republicans are simply believing the perception of what people think, not the reality.  The consequence is that Republicans appear to be all over the board when it comes to their platform and the greatest complaint among unaffiliated voters is they don't really know where Republicans stand.

Coinciding with the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a just-released Knights of Columbus/Marist poll reveals that 62% of Americans believe that abortion is morally wrong.  84% want restrictions on abortion, with 57% advocating strict limits to only include cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.  This poll agrees with a similar, but simpler Gallup poll that has been run every year since 1975 showing that 72% of Americans want abortion to be at least limited, or illegal altogether.  By the way, that number was 76% in 1975.  After over 40 years of indoctrination, people's core values have not been swayed.

The KOC/Marist poll goes on to show that those identifying as "pro-choice" are softer in their stance than pro-lifers.  For example, while 50% identify as "pro-choice" in this poll, 79% of them (pro-choicers) concede that it is possible to have laws that protect the health of a women while protecting the life of the unborn. 64% of "Strongly pro-choice" and 84% of "Somewhat pro-choice" respondents believe that there should be a waiting period between consultation and the procedure. 62% and 78% of the same groups believe parental notification should be required for underage daughters.

57% of Americans think abortion does more harm than good, and 53% believe that life begins at conception.

A May 15, 2013 Gallup Poll clearly illustrated the problem Republican leaders often have managing by perception.  In their poll, self-described pro-lifers outnumber pro-choicers 48% to 45%.  Yet, in the same poll when asked what they think their fellow Americans views are, only one-third thought they were predominantly pro-life.

To hit another hot social topic, Gallup did another poll that found that, on average, people thought 25% of their fellow Americans were gay or lesbian.  With an unprecedented large polling sample of 120,000 Americans, Gallup found that only 3.4% of the population identified at LGBT.  What a difference between the perception and reality.

My dad always said, "Tell the truth.  It's easier to remember" and "Remember who you are".  Republicans are having a bit of an identity crisis.  We need to remember who we are and tell the truth about it.  Some folks may not like what we say, but that's the cost of taking a stand.  A certain Senator Helms of North Carolina got votes from people who disagreed with him for 30 years simply because they knew exactly where he stood.  It's a lesson we can still learn from today.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013 00:00

How to Get a "Seat at the Table"

Here's a graphic to help you understand why the Precinct Meeting is so important if you want to have a "seat at the table".

I Want a Seat

 

Tuesday, 08 January 2013 23:11

Am I Doing It Wrong?

or
How .0008% of the Population Changed the World

Maybe I'm doing it wrong. Recently, while discussing political activism with a local group of like-minded folks, I postulated that part of our focus should be "infiltrating" the local party organizations so that "good people" (you know, real conservatives) would be in positions to affect platforms and policies up the chain that would eventually influence politicians, candidates, and party leadership. I was chided with the response, "Well, we tried that and it didn't work!"

If it were my children explaining they had looked but couldn't find something, I would tell them, "Well, look again!" or in this case, "try again".

Could we agree that ultimately politicians are only influenced by voters (in large numbers) or money (also in large numbers)? I don't mean to infer that all politicians are on the take (wink, wink, nod, nod), but that they want to keep their job. Voters and donors are what they need to keep their job, so they respond to those who wield large enough numbers of either or both to affect their election. Everyone else gets a form letter.

Aside from those variables, the only thing that has more affect on a politician's actions is their sense of morality (or lack thereof). That is something that you and I can not influence.

Now, we must visit Basic Government 101 before proceeding. Who makes laws? Is that task given to citizens in the Constitution? Not specifically. Is it given to super-organized groups of citizens? No, not them either. The legislative branches of federal or state government are given that responsibility and the executive and judicial branches are given some input. At the local level a county commission or town board of aldermen may make the laws and in your neighborhood a HOA has the power to make certain rules.

The commonality between all of these folks empowered to make laws and rules? They're all elected.

That is a significant factor in this process because unless you are elected to change the rules, you can only hope to influence someone who is. To do that, we get back to the basics of needing sufficient numbers of voters or dollars to either un-elect bad politicians or threaten them with removal in order to get the result you want.

On this particular evening, the group with whom I conversed suggested that organized political activism was needed, but they were adamant about not going through a party system. The group numbered less than 20 and they reminisced about the halcyon days when they had 100 or more "involved". So, let's crunch these numbers.

On August 1, 2012 hundreds of thousands of people showed up at over 1,600 Chick-fil-A locations across the country to voice support for the owner's statements regarding gay marriage. It was a great occasion, but no legislation was on the line and legally not much changed as a result. I'm not saying we should not have done it. I'm just pointing out that a large group of people can get excited about something, yet not change policy.

There was great public outcry against the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, yet it was still passed into law. In 2004, that bill was allowed to sunset without much fanfare. The difference was not that more super-organized groups protested in 2004. In fact there was less demonstration. The real difference? In 1994 there was a Democrat President and Democrats controlled both the House and Senate. In 2004, there was a Republican President and Republicans controlled both houses.

In 1913, the Federal Reserve Act passed through a full Democrat House, Senate, and Presidency. In 1935, the Social Security Act passed under total Democrat control. It's the same story for the Wagner Act that ushered in Unions, and the formation of the Department of Education in 1978. Roe v. Wade was passed 7-2 by an activist Democrat-appointed Supreme Court in 1973. Not to let Republicans off the hook, moderate Richard Nixon formed the EPA in 1970 with a Democrat Congress.

How many state and local laws have followed the same course? By contrast, what organized protests have yielded any similar policy changes? Did you know that since January 22, 1974 250,000+ pro-life supporters have consistently gathered every year in Washington, D.C. to call for the overturning of Roe v. Wade? Yet this month, we will observe its 40th anniversary and it's still the law of the land.

We all feel better when we have marched, yelled, and carried clever signs. But, how much does that truly accomplish? Without some underlying activism that produces change in leadership, I'm afraid it's not much.

On the other hand, a young Barack Obama was successful in eliminating primary opponents and garnered all 16,254 votes in the 1996 Democratic Primary for Illinois Senate, District 13. He went on to win 48,476 votes (82.2%) in the heavily Democrat district that fall to become an Illinois State Senator. Less than 1/1000th of the population at that time made a decision that has impacted the world.

The number is actually much smaller than that because Obama really owes his 1996 victory to the very small group of activists that cleared the way for him to have an uncontested primary in a heavy Democrat district. Do you see where I'm going with this?

To my friends I ask, "Would you rather be one of the quarter-million protesters that meets in January every year to protest Roe v. Wade, or one of the handful of local party leaders that might make a decision that puts a true conservative in a great position to win?" The answer is, "Why not be BOTH?" One brings public awareness, the other does the thankless work behind the scenes, but both are important elements of activism.

Or, am I doing it wrong?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 00:00

All Is Not Lost

After having some time for last week's election results to set in, it is easy to see a future of doom and gloom.  I have heard it said that we are now a nation of takers, not makers.  It is true that a significant portion of our population is now benefiting from the receipt of a government check in some form.  As that number grows, it is increasingly difficult to see how anyone would willingly back away from the government trough. Perhaps though, all is not lost!

In Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs, he postulated that all humans have the same underlying motivations that are prioritized in a hierarchy.  A group of us may share the same external experiences yet react differently because 1) we may each perceive a different prioritized need at risk, and 2) we respond uniquely to the deprivation of these needs based upon our own individual nature and set of life experiences.

Some folks are happy about the election because they feel it will help them realize their needs of achievement, respect, or self-actualization.  Others are upset about the election because they fear in impending deprivation of their needs for achievement, respect, or self-actualization (that's right, the very same things).  In addition, there are many who fear the loss of security, safety, property, and other basic needs.  So, why should you not feel all is lost?

Throughout the history of civilization, there has been advancement then upheaval in alternating shares.  Through it all, human kind has always found some kind of equilibrium and status quo.  At a smaller level, American politics has done the same thing.  Certainly, there are some changes that will become a permanent part of the landscape as we move forward, but sometimes the best cure for wanting something is to get it.

While there is a growing dependent class in this country, not everyone who voted for Obama is a part of it.  Some folks were simply deluded to think that their set of needs would be met by re-electing him.

With the exception of Andrew Johnson (of the National Union party) 28 of the 29 Presidents since Abraham Lincoln have been either Democrat or Republican.  18 were Republicans, and 10 have been Democrats.  88 years have been under Republican rule, 60 years have been under Democrats.

Do you remember that everyone "liked Ike"?  Eisenhower was the only Republican President between 1933 and 1969 - eight years out of 36!  Ironically, though everyone liked Ike, they promptly handed control back to Democrats when he finished his two terms.

The point I'm trying to make is that the national mood has historically swung backwards and forth trying to find a point of equilibrium.  It's been that way throughout history and is likely to be that way as long as we live upon this earth.  We have a lot of folks that just haven't seen the squeeze yet.  Political junkies like us feel our most basic needs are threatened while some haven't had a blip on the radar yet.  We know that the Left's economic policies will fail.  We're already seeing an economic reaction to Obama's re-election.  As more folks get squeezed, we'll see more of them open up to an alternative.  We've just got to make sure we're there with a credible solution and leader to offer them.

This will not be without pain, so get ready.  But, we must continue doing the fundamentals so we're there to catch our nation when she proves this path is unsustainable.  Of the 240 million folks of voting age in this country, little more than half actually turn out to vote.  There's a good place to start our work in getting ready for 2016.

Saturday, 03 November 2012 13:37

Vote Now!

I've been pretty silent on this blog as the election has drawn near.  It's more important to do than to say.

I pause for this moment to give you some of my picks in North Carolina if you have yet to make up your mind.  This isn't an exhaustive list.

  • Most Important Race - NC Supreme Court - Paul Newby
  • Court of Appeals - David Robinson
  • Court of Appeals - Chris Dillon
  • Court of Appeals - Marty McGee
  • Wake District Court - Dan Nagle
  • Wake District Court - Charles Gilliam
  • Pres/VP - Romney/Ryan
  • 13th Congressional - George Holding
  • Governor - Pat McCrory
  • Lt. Gov - Dan Forest
  • Sec. of State - Ed Goodwin
  • Treasurer - Steve Royal
  • Comm. of Agriculture - Steve Troxler
  • Comm of Labor - Cherie Berry
  • Insurance Comm. - Mike Causey
  • Supt. of Public Instruction - John Tedesco
  • Wake Co. Commissioner - Dale Cooke
  • Wake Co. Commissioner - Paul Fitts

You should be familiar with your local House and Senate Reps.  Email me if you're unsure.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012 08:00

So He Won. What Did He Win?

After a convincing and unprecedented win in the first debate by Romney, we all knew that Obama would have to make up a lot of ground in the second debate.  We saw a taste in the Vice-Presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.  Personally, I thought Obama would use Joe's performance to recalibrate his own in order to achieve the right level of excitement without going over the top.  I guess that didn't happen...

Obama came out on the attack and Romney rose to match him.  It was an ugly affair, but I don't think Romney had much of a choice but to match Obama's rhetoric and pace.  Of course, all of that is commentary on style, but then again perhaps that's the only reason some folks thought Obama won.

So, what exactly did Obama win?  The CBS News poll shows that 37% of respondents thought Obama won the debate overall, 30% thought Romney won, and 33% hailed it a tie.  It's within the margin of error, but let's give it to Obama.  A 7-point victory still pales in comparison to the 24-point victory Romney garnered in the same poll for the first debate.  It's doubtful even on face value that the 2nd debate will halt or turn around the momentum Romney is enjoying at the moment.

If you look at the "crosstabs" of the poll, you'll find even more devastating news for Obama.  While he barely edged out Romney among people who thought he "won" the debate, it's a completely different story when you go issue-by-issue.  When looking at the other questions within the poll, we find that while folks may have thought Obama won the debate (style), they gave Romney the nod when it came to issues (substance).  Romney won huge points over Obama on the Economy, besting him by over 30 points (65%-34%)! Romney logged similar wins among debate-watchers for Taxes (51-44), the Deficit (59-36), Leadership (49-46), and even Obama's signature territory - Healthcare (49-46).

I would credit him if I could find the article again, but one commenter suggested the result of this poll was like one team scoring all the points, but the other team winning because they looked good in their uniforms.  The Democrats are all out metaphorically carrying Obama through the streets on their shoulders celebrating a "big win".  However, the folks out there aren't going to vote for someone based on how they did in a debate, but where they stand on the issues.  An old phrase echoes in my ears - "It's the economy, stupid!"

Monday, 08 October 2012 08:00

Everyone Loves Leadership

One thing has been proven in the post-debate analysis - everyone loves leadership.

All of us have given Romney our advice of what he needs to do to win (even if he wasn't in earshot), and pundits have surely had their critical analysis of the campaign.  There are lists of things he needs to do in order to win women, minorities, young people, seniors, and just about any other demographic.  In the debate last week, Romney showed that he was in command of the facts, had a plan, could take control, and was effective at selling and defending his position.  In other words, he demonstrated leadership.  That's something that has been tremendously lacking in this administration and politics in general.

I'll be the first to say that I don't agree with Romney 100%.  You'll remember that a lot of people didn't agree with Jesse Helms completely either, but still supported him.  At the end of the day, none of us will be in complete agreement with our President, but we sure do appreciate when someone steps up to the plate with confidence.  We all want to follow someone who acts like they know where they're going.

Pew's poll shows a big jump in support from women, non-Hispanic whites, and voters under 50.  There was movement among many other groups and across the board everyone agreed that Romney won the debate. Don't celebrate just yet, though.   There's still have a lot of campaign left and we know that the left-leaning pollsters are still oversampling Democrats. Look for them to do their best to erase Romney's post-poll bounce as best they can.

The point is, Romney's key to winning is to continue showing that leadership.  Conventional political thought dictates that he run to the middle and pander to independent voters that the Democrats may be leaving behind. Now that he's got his base on board, advisers are no doubt urging a centrist approach to pick up those needed votes.  I would contend, however, that throughout time it's leadership far more than ideology that earns support. We certainly have to work on getting back to our founders' intent, but right now some competent ANY REAL leadership would be a good step in the right direction!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012 12:00

Tax Brackets vs. Effective Tax Rates

The democrats have been successful at focusing the mainstream media on Romney's taxes. They've also been successful at either lying or at least deceiving voters when they talk about middle class citizens paying more taxes than Romney. It is true that Romney's income generally falls in a lower tax bracket, but in reality most middle class Americans pay a lower effective tax rate than Romney.

Let's sort out just how our tax system works. Capital gains (money you make on investments) is generally taxed at a rate of 15%. Ordinary Income (the money you earn from working) is taxed at different levels with brackets from 10% to 35%. The press keeps alleging that Romney pays less taxes than most middle class folks because his income is virtually all from capital gains.

I'll focus on that 15% mark so we keep our comparisons "apples-to-apples". To keep things simple, I've eliminated all the calculations, but you can find many online calculators to check my numbers - like the one here

Your effective tax rate would be 15% if all of your income was all salary and you had nothing other than the standard deduction as follows:

  • $62,500 - Single - 25% tax bracket (Ranks in the top 38% of US total household income)
  • $125,000 - Married, filing jointly, no children - 25% tax bracket (Top 16%)
  • $143,500 - Married, filing jointly, 2 children 28% tax bracket (Top 12%)

If your income is all from salary, you give 10% of your income to charity, and have $3,000 in mortgage interest that you deduct, your effective tax rate would be 15% with the following gross income levels:

  • $74,000 - Single - 25% tax bracket (Top 30%)
  • $139,000 - Married, filing jointly, no children - 25% tax bracket (Top 13%)
  • $162,500 - Married, filing jointly, 2 children - 28% tax bracket (Top 9%)

At the above numbers, your income would be taxed at the exact same 15% whether your income was either 100% salary or 100% capital gains.

As you can see, a rewarding income could be earned without exceeding an effective tax rate of 15% and still filing one of the simplest income tax return forms. For comparison, the median houshold income in 2010 was $49,445.

So, the press is misleading voters in saying that Romney pays a lower rate than most of us. He pays about what the mid-section of America pays, but as a broader point, how many Americans put almost $2 million into the government coffers last year? Not many, that's for sure. Romney certainly paid for government services that go to a lot of folks not paying any taxes at all.


DEFINITIONS:

Tax Bracket: Based on gross income, this represents the rate at which you would be taxed on your Taxable Income.
Taxable Income: This is the amount your tax rate would be applied to and is calculated by subtracting any deductible items from your gross income.
Effective Tax Rate: This represents the actual amount of taxes you paid as compared to your gross income.

Bracket Breakdown

 Bracket  Married, Filing Jointly  Single
10% $0 – $17,400 $0 – $8,700
15% $17,400 – $70,700 $8,700 – $35,350
25% $70,700 – $142,700 $35,350 – $85,650
28% $142,700 – $217,450 $85,650 – $178,650
33% $217,450 – $388,350 $178,650 – $388,350
35% Over $388,350 Over $388,350
Monday, 24 September 2012 18:00

How Can That Many People Be So Wrong?

So I was looking at Real Clear Politics online and saw that Obama is currently leading Romney in their poll average 48.6% to 44.9%.  They show Obama leading in 11 out of 12 of the top battleground states by a margin of 1% to 8.9%.  Intrade has Obama with a 71.6% chance of being re-elected.

Today is September 24.  There are 43 days until the election.  We have just been through a busy news cycle over the last couple of weeks in which a U.S. Ambassador was killed in Libya under circumstances that point to ineptitude by the administration.  While Romney made a statement about 47% of the country not likely to vote for him, Obama called the death of our Ambassador and the surrounding unrest "bumps in the road".

Unemployment remains over 8% and his inauguration day remains the record for lowest unemployment during Obama's reign.  There has been no appreciable rebound in the economy for the average American, and our debt has increased astronomically and sits at over $16 Trillion.  Welfare rolls have doubled under Obama with Food Stamps approaching similar numbers.  The dollar is declining, median income has declined every successive year in his regime, and we're facing the largest tax increase in the history of the world come January.  Even though our law requires it, there has not been even one budget since Obama took office.

Obama's campaign has recycled the promises and rhetoric from the '08 campaign and he even made the statement that he couldn't change Washington from the inside.  In essence, his campaign statements have amounted to, "it could have been worse".

So, why would Americans be at a point right now where they prefer Obama to continue being our President by a margin of almost 4%?  Perhaps the question is, "do they really?"  Knowing what we do about the accomplishments (or lack of) of this administration how is it conceivable that a majority of Americans in any poll could favor Obama over nearly any other candidate?  Perhaps it is because the polling is skewed.  As blatantly portrayed in the image above, most of the main stream media no longer hides their love of Obama.  Most of the pollsters are lefties.  If you're the one creating the poll, you have certain leeway to skew it to your ideology without most people catching on.

Rasmussen, who is regarded as the most accurate pollster, has the race much closer.  When you get into the cross tabs, you'll find that more people polled say that they'll definitely vote for Romney than those who will definitely vote for Obama.  At this stage in the 1980 campaign between Reagan and Carter, the pollsters had Carter ahead of Reagan by 4-8 percentage points.

Perhaps the polls are a result of wishful thinking by the left, or perhaps they're moderately accurate.  We hope (and there are plenty of indicators to back it up) that the polling is simply padded for Obama.  After all, how could the people we live and work with be so willingly ignorant?  But, if the numbers are even close, how can that many people be so wrong?

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