"Once abolish God and the government becomes the God." -G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Can Dr. Campbell Pull the Scott Brown Upset in Texas?

It’s always encouraging when a candidate demonstrates an understanding of grassroots campaigning and calls on the new media to get the word out about her candidacy. It was with just such gusto that Dr. Donna Campbell, Republican for U.S. Congress TX-25, breezed through the lobby of the Sheraton on Saturday looking for red state support. This was just minutes after giving a speech at a rally for doctors opposed to Obamacare in front of the Capitol.

And while her entry was chaotic, her enthusiasm was contagious.

Count me as someone glad to see some fight in this race, especially from an overlooked candidate in an uphill battle against one of the Democrats most established Texas politicians. Her willingness to embrace the conservative blogosphere, to connect with the voice of the people instead of the political establishment, was a breath of fresh air and exactly what our founding fathers were looking for in citizen representatives. But can Dr. Donna Campbell win? Does a conservative stand a chance against an entrenched Democrat like Doggett in a traditionally blue district?

The answer may surprise you. It certainly surprised me. I’ve looked inside the numbers, deeper than I care to look at numbers, and the congressional district Lloyd Doggett represents is a wildcard with all sorts of unpredictable factors at play. It’s far from a safe seat for Democrats in this election. In fact, this could end up being the Scott Brown victory of Texas. Here are the 10 reasons why Campbell can beat Doggett:

1) TX-25 has been redistricted and reconfigured a number of times, mostly as a Democratic stronghold, but the voter make-up in its current shape (which has only existed for four years due to a court decision in 2006) gives more influence to rural and suburban voters than traditional liberal Austinites.

2) Hays County, just south of Austin, is the second largest county in the district and voted for John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008, albeit closley. It is one of the fastest growing areas of Texas with 400% growth in the last four years. Most of this represents middle class families looking for affordable homes with good schools, which tends to make them more conservative.

3) Statewide Republican candidates have carried the district. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison won the district as recent as the last midterm, winning seven of the eight counties by an average of almost 20 percentage points. The only county she lost was Travis County, but she still garnered 43% in what is considered a liberal stronghold. Republican Lt. Governor David Dewhurst achieved similar success in 2006, garnering 44% of the Travis County vote. If Donna Campbell can hit 40% in Travis County, she will most likely win.

4) Lloyd Doggett won the 2008 election with 191,000 votes but Barack Obama was on the ticket (not to mention there was conservative backlash against Bush who couldn’t even speak at his own convention). However, Doggett only garnered 109,800 votes in the midterm election two years prior. Given the historic nature of the 2008 election and record turnout by minorities and first-time voters, I want to call Doggett’s showing in 2008 an outlier.

5) Doggett’s opponent in 2008, Republican George Morovich, received nearly 90,000 votes in a losing effort without running any ads or spending more than $30,000. Assuming the enthusiasm gap for Republicans is accurate this year and taking into account Dr. Donna Campbell’s larger advertising budget and more effective campaigning, she should be able to surpass George Morovich’s numbers (and top 100,000 easily). That puts her within striking distance.

6) Donna Campbell is kicking Lloyd Doggett’s butt on facebook. Trailing him by 1500 facebook fans just a few months ago, she has not only surpassed him, her lead has grown to nearly 400 people, showing where the energy in this campaign lies.

7) This is the worst political environment for incumbents since 1994, which is ironically the first year Lloyd Doggett was elected to Congress. It’s also a bad year to have a D next to your name, as so many Democrats’ political ads have demonstrated by omitting their affiliation. These factors will cost Doggett votes he used to take for granted.

8) Gender counts for something. Hillary won Travis County over Obama in the Democratic primary. There appears to be a gender bias here (again, see Kay Bailey Hutchison) that will help give Donna Campbell a two to three point boost.

9) Lloyd Doggett continues to make his job more difficult. He fled a town hall to bash his constituents on Hardball with Chris Mathews and just recently singled out Texas to qualify for education dollars every other state received without stipulation. Rick Perry has made this a big issue of his campaign and major newspapers have given both candidates negative press for the unnecessary political showdown that is costing Texas school children.

10) Donna Campbell is a fresh, dynamic, energetic, and likable candidate, as she demonstrated at the redstate gathering on Saturday. Lloyd Doggett is a stodgy, old, out-of-touch millionaire.

The bottom line is Dr. Campbell can score an upset in District 25 if her base turns out (and it will) and she gains 60% of independents (very manageable in this midterm). In other words, this is not the farfetched scenario political pundits would have you believe. The only reason it looks like such an upset is because the dinosaur media is assuming 14 years of voting patterns in the district when they should only be examining the last two (and giving added weight to the midterm of 2006).

Dr. Campbell will get no financial support from the party establishment (the same one that throws money away on Charlie Crist and Mike Castle), so once again it’s up to us. What conservative wouldn’t want to help the good doctor? Not to mention destroy the Democrats morale by stealing one of their “safe seats.”

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Breaking: Shots Fired on UT Campus: School on Lockdown: 1 Gunman Dead

I have been listening to KLBJ-AM all morning long and they are doing a great job of filling in details from eyewitnesses. The best news so far is that there are no victims other than the gunman, who has been confirmed dead on the 6th floor of one of the big libraries (PCL Building) as the result of a self-inlicted wound. Eyewitnesses report seeing a gunman in a gray suit with a black ski mask carrying an ak-47 entering the building around 8:30 this morning. That may or may not be the dead gunman, and due to conflicting descriptions, police are searching for a second possible gunman near the Calhoun building across the street from the library.

A cab driver who saw the gunman and heard shots fired may have saved lives by alerting as many students in the area as possible to seek safety. Classes have been cancelled for the day and students in many classrooms remain on lockdown while police sweep the area for a second possible suspect. No motive is known, and there's not enough info at this time to even know if the gunman was firing at other students or just in the air. Again, no victims other than the gunman are being reported at this time.

We will certainly have the next few days to discuss possible motives, gun laws, etc. Texas is a conceal and carry state but the entire UT campus is a gun free zone. No doubt liberal bloggers are holding their breath and hoping this is a tea party member and if he ever visited this blog we are surely doomed to be labeled as hate speech.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the students, faculty, and employees of the University of Texas and their families. Let's hope no one else gets injured or killed during this ordeal.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Obama Malaise and the Captive Economy

Earlier this week, a panel of economists came to the consensus that the recession ended over a year ago, in June of 2009. Why is this important? Because it means the lack of a recovery, the continued high unemployment, the decrease in wages, and the record low consumer confidence Americans have experienced for the past 14 months is not the result of the “great recession.” How could it be if it had already ended? No, it must be the result of an environment of economic uncertainty and hostility towards businesses created since then. In fact, if these economists are correct, the recession ended before even a dime of Obama’s $900 billion “game-changing” stimulus could be circulated through the economy.

If only we had stopped there. Business would be in a full recovery. Of course, the turtles wouldn’t have gotten their tunnels, the military bases wouldn’t have gotten their spas and saunas, and the Austin hippies wouldn’t have a new Frisbee golf course to sell and purchase their hydroponic. But we would have jobs (come to think of it, maybe some slackers wanted the stimulus to keep from getting jobs).

In every previous recession, once adjusting for market irregularities, America has bounced back. Well, except for the Great Depression. Unfortunately, instead of letting the markets dictate business activity, this administration has done everything to intervene, to basically arm wrestle the free hand of enterprise into submission. They have used the economic downturn as an excuse to push their Big Government, far left agenda, fundamentally transforming the relationship between the individual and the state, and not in the favor of the individual.

All of this is supposed to lead to some grand utopia down the road if we can just be patient enough, if we can just learn to be dependent on food stamps and unemployment benefits for the next four of five years. We are told the sacrifice of this transformation will be worth it, that the government will take care of us until that day of glory comes.

“Don’t give the keys back,” we are told by Obama... not to the businesses and wealth producers and individuals who want Americans to succeed or fail based on free market principles. No, instead we should let the government artificially prop up losers and steal from winners. We have to rule and regulate firmly if we are ever going achieve equality. 

This is the same promise of every socialist state, from Venezuela to Cuba to Moscow. I don’t have to tell you that day never comes – and why would God let it? A society of equality of outcome is a society absent of consequences for good or bad decisions, providing no incentive for moral behavior. It only encourages citizens to turn on each other in hope of currying the favor of the almighty state. It’s no coincidence that the workers’ paradise promised by the October Revolution led to the most hostile working conditions on the planet in the Soviet Union.

As I wrote last year, an economic recovery will come eventually so long as President Obama and the Democrats don’t kill it in the womb. Now that we have the data, it looks like it’s too late. Like all neo-progressives, they think they know better than the people. They are the smartest guys in the room. If no one has been able to bounce a square ball before, it’s only because they haven’t tried it with the right people in charge. And while it fails, they work even harder to create the illusion that progress and wealth are just around the corner.

In some corners of the world, they call this a captive mind. Here in America, we have seen it at work in cults and corrupt business practices like Enron. What we end up with either way is an economy bound by the chains of ruling class elites.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ready to Bailout Higher Ed? Obama's Education Policies Mimic Clinton on Housing

President Obama and Congressional Democrats have been quick to laud their takeover of the student loan business (in the healthcare overhaul bill, mind you) to bypass private lenders and go directly through the government. We are told by the administration that this will reduce the deficit and increase the amount of loans available to students, but in reality this move could cost taxpayers another huge bailout.

Over the past two decades, the cost of higher education is probably the only thing that has gone up faster than health care costs. Why? By encouraging everyone to go to college (and ostracizing those who don't), and by making it easier and easier to qualify for student loans, we are increasing demand and artificially inflating the cost of tuition. Meanwhile, college and universities NEVER shrink, as anyone who has visited their alma mater recently can atest, and they're more likely to cut student services (like music, film, and art series) than to cut staff, salaries, or pensions (a recent article by Victor David Hanson had me laughing in that the only professor he knew during his 20 years in academia to be terminated was let go only after he was arrested for decapitating another human being).

The good news has always been that banks tend not to loan money to those who can't pay it back. This used to be how it worked in housing until the federal government got involved. Enter political agendas and socioeconomic factors outweighing the ability of the individual to pay off their debt, not to mention government guarantees with no profit-driven incentive to be reimbursed, and you have the subprime mortgage crisis. Bad loans were handed out in record numbers, housing prices went sky high, and a bubble was created. When it popped, taxpayers were on the hook for record bailouts and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still hemorrhaging money.

This is pretty much the same way the scheme works in student loans, which all have the backing of the federal government, only President Obama's legislation makes it easier to apply and qualify for these loans as well as forgive large portions of debt should the individual face financial "hardship" or choose to go into "public service" (where compensation and job security are already grossly outpacing the private sector). No doubt the government will also weigh certain socioeconomic factors over the ability of students to actually graduate and gain employment so they can pay off the debt. Tuition prices will skyrocket since affordability has been divorced from the marketplace, and when all of these student loans get defaulted on, the taxpayer will be on the hook to bail out higher education (which everyone knows is too big and too important to fail).

But the comparisons don't end there. Twenty years ago, President Bill Clinton made home ownership for every American a priority of the federal government, especially for lower income families. He promised it wouldn't cost the taxpayers a thing. In his own words from June 5, 1995:

"As the Vice President and I said in a book we put out in the election campaign in 1992, our economic strategy includes a commitment to work to provide decent, safe, affordable homes to all Americans... Our home ownership strategy will not cost the taxpayers one extra cent. It will not require legislation. It will not add more Federal programs or grow Federal bureaucracy. It's 100 specific actions that address the practical needs of people who are trying to build their own personal version of the American dream, to help moderate income families who pay high rents but haven't been able to save enough for a downpayment, to help lower income working families who are ready to assume the responsibilities of home ownership but held back by mortgage costs that are just out of reach, to help families who have historically been excluded from home ownership. Today, all across the country, I say to millions of young working couples who are just starting out: By the time your children are ready to start the first grade, we want you to be able to own your own home"

The speech received thunderous applause. Of course, by the time he was proven wrong and it cost the taxpayers everything, including the worst recession in 25 years, his words were long forgotten, even though his policies continued to dig a deep fiscal hole. Now listen to President Obama make the same promise about a college education in Austin last month:

"I want us to produce 8 million more college graduates by 2020, because America has to have the highest share of graduates compared to every other nation. And that’s why I'm absolutely committed to making sure that here in America, nobody is denied a college education, nobody is denied a chance to pursue their dreams, nobody is denied a chance to make the most of their lives just because they can’t afford it... As a result, instead of handing over $60 billion in subsidies to big banks and financial institutions over the next decade, we’re redirecting that money to you, to make college more affordable for nearly 8 million students and families across this country. Eight million students will get more help from financial aid because of these changes."

Sound familiar? As with all well-intended, economically unfeasible, redistributive policies of the left, the question isn't if this will create a bubble, but when will the bubble pop? You can be sure of one thing. President Obama will be well out of office by the time it does, and Democrats will singing their favorite note, trying to blame their economic failures on Republicans once again.