Let’s take a moment to remember Russell Long, the former Senator from Louisiana. He used what is called reconciliation – a part of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 that was intended to provide a way of adjusting the numbers, so to speak, of a budget between the first and second resolutions in a way not intended by the law’s framers. He saw that its language provided a far broader interpretation just a year later in 1975, and effectively used it to cut off debate on a tax cut bill he was trying to push through. So some 40 years later, we now have the GOP thinking out loud about using reconciliation to, not repeal in the full sense of the word, but to overhaul Obamacare. Mitch McConnell stated that they would use reconciliation in the Senate to nullify the bill’s most onerous provisions while putting forth a patient-friendly alternative with a wider range of options that any individual or family could choose between. The key is that it would only require 51 votes instead of 60 and McConnell is not too optimistic about the GOP reaching 60 seats come this Tuesday night. Employer mandates on health care and the 30 hour workweek regulations are two examples they believe they could gain consensus on and perhaps change. But remember, it still has to pass the president’s desk. Would Obama sign a reconciliation bill that amended his prized legislative baby? Do people like McConnell or Barrosso, the Republican Senator from Wyoming, really believe that? Or would it be a chance to let the president lower his job ratings even more? And would it work? Perhaps, lowering Obama’s approval ratings seems to be something everyone, especially the president himself, is getting good at. It might instead, however, be the first stage of 2016’s election platform for the GOP. Healthcare, or more specifically, the Republican’s alternative to Obamacare, will certainly be a defining part of the presidential elections in 2 years time. Perhaps reconciliation is not the first blow, the House has been swinging for some time, but it is certainly the latest volley in the ideological battle over how to keep America healthy.

Happy Obamaween, Kids!

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Filed Under Humor on Oct 30 

A little Halloween political humor. Laughing on the outside and crying on the inside.

Photo credit: Someecards

Harvard’s Institute of Politics has released a poll showing millenials are turning away from Obama and the Democratic Party after showing overwhelming support a few years ago. They are now evenly split on which party should run Congress and are fairly disillusioned with both parties, but their support for the President and his party has shrunk dramatically. Do they sense that top-down, centralized statism is out of touch with their own reality? In today’s world millennial act much more like subcontractors, developing particular skills and using them across a broad range of work experiences, as opposed to spending your working life in a couple of jobs in the same industry. This sort of statism does not solve their problems. Complex rule-based centralized systems, whether for health care, or taxes, or environmental regulations, or for labor market regulations if you are a millennial putting together a small business, is a burden and a throwback to the industrial age.

At the same time, younger millionaires who have made their wealth in high-tech tend to vote more Democrat than Republican. Some have suggested that money made quickly – in a few years with an IPO that arises from a cool idea that becomes a useful product in the fast and furious online business cycle – do not possess the same values that a business owner who has built up their wealth over years of controlling costs and delivering quality. This seems to be a contradiction. A business owner in a non-tech industry will vote Republican, legacy industry workers will trend Democrat, information age owners will vote Democrat, while tech workers are trending Republican. Clearly these categories are far being neatly defined in real life, and a small business owner is likely to be knee deep in technology in order to control costs and meet demand in a quality manner.

The important issue seems to be one’s attitude to wealth – how you value it and how you earn it. Until recently, creating wealth has never been easy. It tends to be a long slow laborious process that reaps dividends after years of effort. Speculation has been around for longer than tulip crazes in Holland or gold and silver from Peru sloshed around the decaying Spanish Empire and riddled it with inflation. Incredibly bright and savvy minds have been able to create untold wealth for themselves in relatively short time periods, and one can wonder whether those gains are closer to speculation or to wealth building. Time always tells and the best of the tech world clearly have built up their wealth, rather than rushing unproven products to an IPO, if at a rate unseen ever before. And sometimes they realized that building wealth requires a certain set of values. Steve Jobs had a meeting with Obama at San Francisco airport in 2010 and he told the president he was headed for a one term presidency unless he developed business friendly policies. He also criticized America’s education system, declaring it was “crippled by union work rules.” Maybe designing some of the most beautiful and disruptive technologies the world has seen and creating untold wealth, made him realize he needed to reboot his values. So let’s see where some of the tech millionaires are casting their votes these mid-terms and in 2016, and beyond. Maybe they realize that Adam Smith has a lot more to do with their lives than they thought.

In an unusual display, the undeniably talented cast of Saturday Night Live performed a monologue slamming President Obama and his lack of┬áhandling of the current ebola crisis. We’ve seen SNL poke fun at politicians for ages, but this really seems like the first time to actually bash the president. The second half of the video mocks the newly appointed Ebola Czar, Ron Kain. Again, SNL got it right this week. Check out the video.

Maybe Tom Harkin felt he was getting a little old to be the junior senator from Iowa. In fact, he is ranked the most senior junior senator in the US Senate, and he likely felt it was time to move on. He has stepped aside before, during the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992, to let Arkansas native Bill Clinton have a clear path to the party’s nomination. And that was after leading in some polls. So now we have a Senate race in Iowa with no incumbent. Joni Ernst; Iowa born and bred, a state senator, and as Republican as they come, is in a tight race with about a 3 point lead over Bruce Braley; Iowa born and bred and about as Democrat as they come. In other words, on most issues there is a continent’s worth of distance between the two candidate’s positions. For example, Joni Ernst, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, would like to eliminate the Federal Education Department and leave Education up to each individual State’s department, as a way of reducing the size of the federal government and devolving power over education back out to the states. Braley apparently complained about the House gym and the cutbacks to certain services offered by said facility. Ernst is in favor of eliminating the EPA and is a climate change skeptic, while Braley can’t wait to enact reductions in emissions and has voted for emissions trading. Braley voted for Obamacare and Ernst is in favor of replacing it. Braley is pro-choice earning a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Ernst is pro-life and co-sponsored a state bill that would have made marriage an act between a man and a woman.

In other words, the choice between the two candidates, in terms of policy and values, is very clear. A RealClearPolitics polling average has Ernst ahead by 47.3 to 44.8. She had trailed earlier in the year but in late spring/ early summer shot up in the polls to make it a tight race, one that it now appears she will win. In a fascinating and fairly wonkish article by Shawn McCoy, someone who knows Iowa politics fairly well and applies innovative statistical modeling, he points out two key factors that seem to be pointing clearly to an Ernst win. The first one is that Joni Ernst has managed to come on strong in the home stretch in terms of fundraising, meaning she is finishing strong in terms of getting her message out to Iowa voters. The second reason is that Republicans seem to be winning the ground war, doing a much better job with no-party or independent voters. Those advantages should help undecideds vote for Ernst in large enough numbers to give her a close win. The choice for undecideds could not be clearer between the two candidates. Let’s see which way they do vote. Iowa will be one to watch on November 4.

The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 never occupied the popular imagination, or has it’s place within the media, in the way it should have after the horrifying plague stopped as suddenly as it had started in the year or so after WW I. It is only in the last decade or two, after SARS and other bird flu scares that it’s ghost has been revived and the disease that claimed so many lives began to take it’s place alongside the bubonic and other plagues that devastated Europe centuries ago and have been part of popular culture ever since. With the Spanish flu, which killed up to 5% of the world’s population, there seems to have been a roaring silence in the years that followed. Had the Influenza virus continued it’s progression for another year, the effects on the world’s population can only be imagined. Even then, in an era of slower and less frequent communication, it was impossible to stop. And today with the legal and logistical difficulties of imposing quarantines of any kind it seems, a horrifying but relatively focused outbreak of Ebola is now spreading case by case around Africa and to America and Europe, and perhaps elsewhere.

What can be done to prevent Ebola’s spread? Maybe a reasonable period of isolation for any health care worker who was exposed to a patient would be a good idea? Instead of climbing aboard a cruise liner in Galveston? So far the worker on the cruise ship is under self-imposed isolation and is self-monitoring her temperature and shows no signs of the disease. How reassuring. What is it like to know that your folks or your aunt or some loved one or close friend is on that liner? And do you give them a big hug when they arrive back home to let them know you still love them? Any policy of pandemic containment runs up against our egotistical habits, as well as concerns that a strict quarantine would tank the local economy in which it is imposed. So what does the CDC do? Perhaps worrying less about causing “panic” and providing as much information and warnings as the evidence suggests is necessary. I suspect most people would prefer that than a tardy admission that Ebola, or any virulent infectious disease, is already here. And maybe less centralization in one headquarters in Atlanta would help. And finally, the CDC is also a warehouse if you will, of deadly plagues that have or rare occasion been sent to at-the-time allies like Iraq. The organization clearly has a double role – in part to enable response strategies to any attempt at biological warfare by an enemy state or rogue group – as both defender against and provider of deadly plagues. Perhaps the double role is unavoidable in today’s world of terrorist threats, but one hopes the CDC is always painfully aware of what color hat they are wearing and that they don’t mix roles up. Being a little more forthcoming might help.

Amendment 3 in Tennessee would permanently enshrine their no-income-tax policy and is being pushed by various groups after an opinion by their AG suggested the state could at some point reimpose an income tax to meet budgetary needs. Aside from some worries about voting “no” when seeing the word “tax” on the ballot, the measure seems to have a good chance of passing. And Tennessee has one of the lowest overall state tax burdens despite having a relatively high sales tax rate of 7%. The average per capita state and local tax paid was $2.777 according to the Tax Foundation and that’s the 2nd lowest in the country. They do have a tax on dividend and interest income however, not good for retirees who depend on that income to meet monthly expenses.

More generally, the problem of spending by state governments, and by the federal government as well in each individual state, presents interesting evidence. A study of the net federal contribution of each state as a percentage of individual gross state products produces something of a contradiction. States that raise less money in federal taxes than that spent by the federal government in their state, tend to want to reduce the size of government at the same time that they benefit from overall transfers from Washington. Tennessee for example, contributes 18.7% of it’s GSP to federal revenue and receives 24.4% of it’s GSP in federal spending, for a 5.7% shortfall, coming between Hawaii at a shortfall of 4.3% and Lousiana at a shortfall of 5.8%. Now Hawaii is no red state so the contradiction of net contributors voting Democrat is not always the case. But assuming there is this contradiction in some cases – Mississippi and Kentucky have shortfalls of 13.3% and 17.9% – then is it hypocritical for them to wish to reduce the size of government? Salon ran an article gleefully pointing out 10 offending states, Mississippi and Kentucky are on the list. But all states are captive to federal welfare policies and must spend money that they perhaps would rather not, on policies like Obamacare for example. The real test is how willing voters in Tennessee, for example, would be to cut back all government spending until taxes balance out what they receive from Washington. I suspect that many in Tennessee would be willing, but I also suspect that Washington will never allow them that freedom. Is there fiscal hypocrisy on the part of low-tax states? Sure, but they operate within the constraints that the federal government imposes on them.

It’s hard to think of an appropriate sports metaphor to extend that of the NY Times headlines that basically stated that the Democrats have benched Obama, and turned to Hillary as the effective leader of their party. After all, she was precisely that – or more specifically the Clintons had been since 1992 – until Obama suddenly upstaged her in 2007 – 2008. Former star rookie replaced by former Coach’s wife? The left has no one left to turn to but Hillary. Her voting record as senator suggests she is a somewhat hawkish liberal, but who else can they turn to? Perhaps Elizabeth Warren, and stories have circulated in the last few months that Obama himself might consider backing the senior Senator from Massachusetts, as he feels she would be more activist and left-leaning and Hillary more of a pragmatic centrist. But given the president’s isolation, (one wonders if he actually wandered over to the bench himself, or up into the stands, or out into the parking lot, rather than being benched by his party), will Obama’s possible support of an Elizabeth Warren run for president make much of a difference? It certainly wouldn’t unite his own party, and would be one more barb between himself and the Clintons.

Time will tell on that one, but Obama’s isolation seems to be growing by the day. Whether he has the inclination to attempt to recognize and fix some of the shortcomings of his administration is a question for Hillary’s team who have to somehow rescue their party’s legacy before November, 2016. But then again, Obama’s isolation can be seen directly as a product of the Clinton’s return to center-stage politics and they seem to be not at all unhappy – to not say joyful – about the President’s sorry state in the polls. One nasty night in November in a few weeks, and then the Dems can really start cleaning house and prepare the way for the returning royalty. They seem certain that they – Hillary and Bill we have to start saying now – can regain the balance and drive the party completely lacks and whip things into shape. The GOP, once they have counted up their seats in the Senate, will need to move with purpose and ideas to make sure Hill & Bill don’t make hay by dancing on a sitting president’s grave come this November.

Maybe Governor Jerry Brown should have paid more attention to the situation in Sweden when he passed into law California’s Affirmative Consent, or “yes means yes” law. The Scandianavian cradle of political correctness has a date with Julian Assange to question him over alleged sexual molestation and possible sexual assault. Assange is not charged, strictly speaking, but could be after questioning. At the same time, in Sweden last year, a gang of 6 teenagers were acquitted of raping a 15 year old female in a bedroom at a house party because of a change in the laws from the victim having to be in an “incapacitated state” to being “particularly vulnerable.” In this twilight zone of process and progressive nanny statism run amok, justice seems to go missing in both cases. We are step by step approaching the logical end point of marxist liberation theory as applied to gender relations, where maleness in itself becomes guilty unless it can prove it’s innocence. California, and now New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire all have on the books, or have sponsors attempting to test-run, a yes-means-yes policy on campuses in their states.

Part of the problem with consent is how to decide if it has been given when alcohol and/or drugs have been consumed. Surveys done by the CDC or the Justice Department have been criticized for the wording of the questions and the methodology used. As a result, their findings of 1 in 5 college women experiencing some form of sexual assault can certainly be questioned. And when substance abuse is involved, the question becomes a judicial nightmare for all involved, and certainly for the accused. Substance abuse has been a widespread problem on and off campuses across America for decades now. It is also one that has resisted all sorts of solutions, from stricter laws to tough-love, to softer-therapy intervention, to faith-based intervention. The successes seem to trail the failures and the problem continues. With this in mind, two approaches to sexual consent laws might help: a set of statistically sound, clearly worded surveys, done across broad samples to clearly define and then see how prevalent sexual assault is, on and off campuses, and sexual assault laws that provide reasonable due process to the accused. Campus rape is a problem, although it is not clear how large a problem, but the solution must be crafted with a little wisdom. The debate over what consent involves is unavoidable nowadays. Judicial process needs to be balanced and clear eyed in response.

It sounds better saying you’re Libertarian, rather than saying you’re a pacifist. Sean Haugh seems to be both, but he is not shy about his pacifism. “I want to stop all war. Not only real war, but metaphorical war as well.” From military drones to militarized police to arms exports or even, one would suppose, any military support for allies abroad, Sean Haugh is dead set against it.. As he says on his page, “If everyone got comfortable inside their own skin, this world would be a much happier place.” But we don’t really need to shed a light on Haugh’s easy going libertarianism, he’ll do that himself in the debates in North Carolina. He’s running as the Libertarian Party candidate and if polls showing him receiving over 6% of the vote turn out to have been accurate on election night, he might upset the balance and draw voters away from either incumbent Kay Hagan or Republican Thom Tillis and hand victory to the other side. That is if voters don’t peel away and come to his cause in even proportions.

But Sean Haugh’s real calling card is not his chill-out-y’all philosophy, it’s the fact that he works delivering pizzas. Mainstream media now seem to have a crush on the oddball guy from Raleigh – although he was born in Arizona and raised in Tucson – and one wonders if he didn’t deliver large pepperonis with extra cheese for a living, whether they would have given him a second thought. He hasn’t just delivered pizzas of course. Back in 1980, he worked on Ed Clark’s libertarian campaign for president. David Koch, as in the Koch brothers, was Clark’s running mate. After taking some distance from libertarianism as a reaction to it’s brainy, debate-club posture, he returned to the cause in North Carolina in the 90’s leading the State Libertarian party and working for the Libertarian National Committee. He retired from politics in 2010 and now he’s back. What would Sean Haugh do if he were a Senator? Give the media lots of great sound bites from the Senate floor? Who knows. Who knows in fact, if he will even have a measurable effect on the North Carolina Senate race. He is certainly having a measurable effect on the media coverage in Raleigh.

Louisiana knows the Landrieu family well; Moon Landrieu was mayor of New Orleans from 1970 to 1978 and HUD Secretary in the last two years of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. By the time Moon cleared out his office in early 81, his daughter Mary was already a representative in the Louisiana State House where she would remain until 1988. And when Mary cleaned out her desk, her brother Mitch took over the work of representing the 90th district from his sister. Mary that same electoral year, (1987), ran against only Democratic opposition for State Treasurer and won with about 40% of the vote. She was re-elected in 1991 without opposition. Her shot at Governor in 1995 failed, but she won a US Senate Seat in 1996 and has been there since, coming into the spotlight for her pugnacious media presence in the aftermath of Katrina.

And now in 2014, mere weeks before midterms, she seems to be having a panic attack as she trails Rep Representative Bill Cassidy by about 5% in the polls according to RealClear Politics. That means that campaign manager Adam Sullivan is being shunted into an advisory role and will be replaced by Ryan Berni, who by the way, used to work for her brother Mitch, who by the way, is now Mayor of New Orleans. It is fair to ask then, if Louisiana needs a break from the Landrieu clan and her support of Obama’s policies. Despite trying to paint herself as a tough conservative Democrat, Landrieu’s voting record according to govtrack.us is merely pragmatic, joining or writing bipartisan bills, and is among the most conservative 30% of Democratic Senators …. Ok, so it’s not a remarkable record, and some sources have her voting over 90% with Obama’s proposals in 2013. And earlier in 2009, her support for Obamacare was conditional on a $300 million check being written for Medicaid in the State of Louisiana. Bill Cassidy is also known in Louisiana. The physician, and now US Representative, helped found the Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic to provide uninsured residents access to health care. Local,on the ground, and involved. It’s a very different strategy from beltway quid pro quo politics involving $300 million checks written by Washington. With new blood like Bobby Jindal in the Governor’s office, maybe the voters of Louisiana will decide that in the Senate, a change is gonna come.

Representative Peter King, R-N.Y. got it partly wrong when he stated, “You get radical chaplains who then radicalize them and turn them toward terrorism or turn them toward violence.” He was referring to how prisons in America, in imitation of a trend in the UK for example, are becoming breeding grounds for radical islamic terrorists. The part he got wrong of course is the that they get “turned toward violence.” It might seem like nitpicking on a topic that Peter King is clearly informed on and very much involved with, but it bears reminding of the simple fact that prisoners are targeted by radical islamic clerics and other crazed militants precisely because they have proven to be violent. From the world of closed cells of terrorists, radical islam, like ISIS, now are trying to go viral by using social media to convert and incite lone wolves or anyone they can to their bloodthirsty cause. And prisons are one place they seem to be targeting.

This brings us to the case of Alton Nolen, an ex-con who had converted to Islam, and the horrifying attack he perpetrated at Vaughn Foods in Oklahoma. Shortly after being fired from his job at the company, Nolen returned with a knife and beheaded one of his co-workers – attacking her from behind – and fatally stabbed another. It was only when company owner Mark Vaughn shot him in the arm and abdomen that the attack ended. He reportedly shouted Koranic verses as he carried out the attack. Was this a planned act of terrorism or a violent revenge, another case of a fired worker going postal? Wrong question according to Patrick Dunleavy, former inspector general of NY State Police’s Criminal Intelligence Unit, and author of a book on radical islam and prisoners. It can be both things he argues. The need for violent revenge is framed within the context of a call to violence by islamic groups who are even calling for a caliphate in America. It is a case of using social media – Nolen apparently viewed the beheadings carried out by ISIS, perhaps repeatedly – to produce human time bombs that are targeted to go off and perpetrate horrifying crimes like the one at Vaughn Foods. It may be that to fight this emerging phenomenon, islamic clerics should be carefully screened before gaining access to any prison, and be denied that access if any reasonable suspicion arises as to whether they sponsor radical violence. As to social media and ex-cons already out of jail who risk being converted to violent causes like that of ISIS, it’s a problem of whose dimensions little is still known, but much needs to be found out. We need to listen to people like Patrick Dunleavy. Right now.

Who Tom Cotton Is

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Filed Under Obama News on Oct 6 

As a recent Gallup poll demonstrates, voter opposition to Obama is at a 16 year high, when comparing those who want to send a message opposing the president at 32%, against those who wished to send a message of support, at 20%. That’s noticably worse than what Clinton faced in 98 in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal. So in a perverse sort of logic, we now have Clinton working the stumps in Arkansas to desperately separate Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor from the president. Unfortunately for Pryor, his Republican challenger Tom Cotton has managed to use Pryor’s voting record – he voted 93% of the time with the Obama’s proposals according to Cotton – to keep precious little daylight between the sitting Arkansas senator and Obama. In Arkansas, Obama’s job approval rating is at 31% with a disapproval rating of 62%. While the race for senator in Arkansas is reasonably close, Cotton is clearly ahead in a majority of the polls and seems to have numbers that are very solid and are holding up well in the final weeks leading up to November. By using Pryor’s voting record as a proxy for the Democratic senator’s approval of the job Obama is doing, he has forged an effective rhetorical weapon that he uses every time he hits the stage during the final run of his campaign to unseat Pryor. In a state with a 31% approval rating, where in the world can you find someone who gives Obama a 93% approval rating? That’s how Cotton starts off most speeches and it certainly seems to play very well in Arkansas.

Mark Pryor is, of course, the son of former Arkansas Governor and U.S. Senator David Hampton Pryor, who served in the US Senate from 1979 until 1997. He is currently considered one of the more vulnerable candidates in the upcoming elections and maybe Arkansas is more than ready for a change. Tom Cotton, the son of Vietnam veteran, and a veteran himself with several decorated tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, is also a Harvard educated lawyer. To say he is an achiever is an understatement. With Tea Party ties and also the support of John McCain as well as Mitt Romney, he has built up solid relations within the GOP within a relatively short time. His famous letter – it was an email in fact, sent by the young lieutenant – to the NY Times, calling for charges of treason to be laid against reporters that revealed key details of a secret program against terrorist financial backers, has been used against him when he first ran for a House seat in 2010. It did not work, and despite the discomfort certain defenders of the 1st amendment might feel, it was a legitimate criticism of an editorial decision that likely ended up compromising the program itself, and costing lives. Lives like those of the soldiers under Tom Cotton’s command. What he wrote in that email is what many felt at the time, whether a majority or not. It was a bold and risky, even intemperate act to send that email, and it shows something about who Tom Cotton is. We will likely be finding out a lot more about who Tom Cotton is and what he believes over the following years.

According to a just-released AP-Gfk poll, Congressional approval is at 7%. People are also mad at Obama. 58% of those polled are angry with the administration, and 74% are angry at the Republican leadership in Congress. What does this mean to the midterm elections? Will a surge of angry voters converge on the polls on November 4th and wreak a vengeful justice on Washington DC? Unfortunately for Obama, likely not. Likely not, because midterm elections have consistently produced lower voter turnouts than presidential elections; around 40% compared with around 60%, depending on how you calculate the size of the eligible voting public. Unfortunately for Obama, because lower voter turnout favors the party not in the White House. Republicans have this key advantage then going into these midterms; their voter engagement will pay more dividends. Plus there’s the why of midterm election’s low turnout. Several reasons have been proposed including the fact that presidential elections are galvanizing and tend to produce a swing towards one party that energizes it’s partisans to vote in larger numbers. Come midterms, however, there seems to usually be a reckoning of sorts, and Obama is certainly facing one now. Voters that came out in 2012 are much more likely to stay home and hence the shouting about voter registration: Democrats know they are going to lose seats in Congress. The only question is how many?

So what is on the mind of all these angry votes, who might just stay home rather than vote. As often is the case, it’s the economy for 90% of those polled in the AP-Gfk poll. When people say the economy, they mean jobs. When people say jobs, they wonder why the recovery is so slow. When they think of that, the administrations policies – taxes, regulations, energy policy, etc come under attack. As does Obamacare, because of the added costs imposed on business. These are the kinds of problems that require sensible tax polices and steady handed management that does not get too heavy handed or distracted. Unfortunately, we have a distracted president, some of it for understandable reasons like ISIS even if his response to ISIS has not always been appropriate, and some of it because of worries in the White House about losing the Senate. Not the best way to get people back to work. Once the GOP has taken advantage of a distracted president and an angry bunch of voters, they too will have to bring clear ideas to the table about putting people back to work. Not that they lack them. They just need to show voters they have a plan, a coherent, understandable one. And then Congressional approval ratings can soar back up to 30%, or even higher. Who knows?

According to a disclosure form filed back about 7 years ago, Ed Gillespie had accumulated a fortune of between $7 and $19 million from his high-profile consulting business. Senator Mark Warner went about accumulating his $200 million and rising net worth the honest Washington DC way – he used his beltway contacts and his interest in telecommunications to start a venture capital firm, Columbia Capital, which was an early investor in technology companies. Like Nextel, for example. So you could say that the Democratic Senator From Virginia is a man of substance. Unfortunately for Warner, so is Gillespie. That is, if by substance you mean policy. As in being one of the drafters of the Contract With America back in 94, for example, and as a firm critic of Obamacare.

In a fascinating piece in Real Clear Politics, Sean Trende uses regression analysis to show that over the last 12 years, voter trends have regressed to the mean, or the fundamentals, as election night draws near. What he means by that is that the fundamentals – as measured by the sitting president’s job approval ratings – tend to set a base line around which candidates of the president’s party whose polling was above the approval rating had stagnant numbers going into the last month or so, while those below the approval rating tended to rise towards the job approval ratings. That means that given Obama’s low job approval rating,, GOP candidates may be much more likely to pick up undecided voters between now and November 4th, while Democrats have already picked up most of the voters they can. That brings us back to Ed Gillespie and the race for Senator in Virginia and his critique of Obamacare. There is no doubt that Mark Warner is a successful businessman and is popular in his home state. But there is now an interesting chance that even in a race like Virginia, where Ed Gillespie is closing what was a 20 point gap, the final results could surprise. It may be that if Ed Gillespie keeps focused on policy issues like Health Care, Defense, and Energy – he is a supporter of Keystone – he may just swing enough undecideds and upset Mark Warner, Virginia’s 200 million dollar man. The final count in the Senate, come November 5th, is still very much undecided, and it may surprise on the upside for the GOP. Among the other key senate races, spare a thought for Virginia on election night.

With a jacket in one had and a cup of coffee in the other, President Obama disembarked Marine One, and raised his cup-o-joe to the saluting Marine. A pitiful display of our Commander in Chief. No, he never served in the military, but he is the Commander in Chief who is the leader of our military, and they deserve more respect than that. The behavior displays a lack of respect to his position as POTUS, so how are people supposed to respect his position when he doesn’t even show respect for it?

The White House shared a video of the moment as Obama was returning from a United Nations meeting in regards to Climate Change and airstrikes in Syria. Is it proper respect and etiquette for the President to salute? Yes. However, in this case he would’ve been better off not saluting at all. This isn’t something that politically biased to a party, or something dems will accuse FOX news for blowing out of proportion. Democrats, Republicans and others just aren’t impressed with this display. Bottom line, the President should be ashamed.