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Sunday, July 11, 2010

 
It's one thing when this blogger poses the possibility, or even probability of a GOP takeover of the House this November given my admitted right wing bias. It's quite another when a veteran political handicapper with a moderately liberal bias like Charlie Cook does the same. Mr. Cook passes himself off as a totally objective pundit, and indeed, his biases are so subtle, you have to be especially alert to pick them up, but a careful reader will see it in his choice of words when describing impending Dem achievements vs GOP. Yet, Mr. Cook now believes that a GOP gain of 40 or more seats is already pretty much cooked in.

The Dems see it too, hence their increasing desperation to pour money into key races and dig deep for embarrassing tidbits about GOP opponents. It's not really helping though. First of all, while Dems have swollen war chests thanks to incumbency, the new PAC money is drying up as private businesses see the chance for the GOP to win, and have had it with being demonized by the Obama Administration. Second, for every stupid Michael Steele quote, there are three incidents of Obama Administration and Congressional Dems inserting feet in mouths. While it would make sense for Steele to quit and stop providing his distracting comments, I don't know how the Dems go about muzzling Holder, Shumer, Reid, Emanuel, Axelrod and all the rest. And sending Obama out on the road to campaign in swing districts just seals the doom for the Reid's of the world. Independent voters and Obama Republicans have already had it with him and his Socialist agenda. So I agree with Cook, there is no way out for the Dems, most people have already decided, GOP voters and Tea Party independents will come out to vote, depressed Dems will not, and the only question is how many Senate seats will also flip.

This is not to say the GOP campaign so far is especially effective. Cox in NY is doing an especially terrible job (he should quit too). There is no serious leader yet to emerge to lead the GOP charge (Sarah Palin - please!). So the rout might not be as big as it would be given a galvanizing force among Conservatives.

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Some of the talk radio types are sounding the alarm about Congressional Dems' plan to pass significant tax and other leftist legislation in a lame deck session following the expected November debacle. I think they are just keeping their listeners scared straight. With 41 Senate seats, the GOP should be able to keep anything really serious from passing during such a session. I think even the Northeastern Senate Republicans would draw the line there.

Could Dems pass a value added tax (VAT) or Cap and Trade using budget reconciliation in a lame duck session? Will it be more possible because a budget has not been passed for fiscal 2011 (you knew that right?). Personally, I don't really think so.

The Dems who will be wiped out in November will be from swing districts, i.e., largely "blue dogs." Since they will have lost, Pelosi will not have so much influence on them, and they won't want to be pariahs with no future prospects in their districts. So the Dems will not be able to move anything important in November and December in my opinion.
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If you study the financial reform bill, still awaiting Senate passage, you may or may not like certain aspects of the legislation. But you can't miss the fact that Congress has delegated most of the new powers to regulators, with only minimal direction. Why do Dems produce 2000 page bills broadening regulatory powers while providing only general policy prescriptions?

The fact is that this tactic is a sop to the party's trial bar allies and public employee union allies. The new regulatory agencies created by such bills provide employment and new members for the unions. The vague policy provisions provide limitless litigation opportunities for the tort bar. It doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to understand this.

These bills add to regulatory friction for private business interests. The financial reform bill, in particular, will reduce ROE's for banks and other financial players, increase costs of borrowing and banking services for all businesses, and will murder investors who are already suffering enough. Whatever the bill's merits, and there are some, it did not have to be this debilitating.

I will devote a future post to an analysis of the bill, unless it somehow dies in the Senate next week, admittedly a long shot.

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It's pretty ironic when the Czech Republic turns down an invitation to join the EU because no one has a clue how long it will take to solve the problems of the Euro zone. The socialist arteriosclerosis impeding the EU economies has long been known to true capitalists, and is now a cause for concern to the comparatively new capitalists of Eastern Europe.

We are learning the hard way about the costs of extending endless benefits to those in our society who appeal to our better nature. It would be nice to simply give everyone prosperity and the social amenities that go with it, but it's not affordable, as the Jamestown colonists leaned in 1607. Venezuelans are learning as well, and my feeling is that Chavez' days are numbered, along with Obama's fellow travelers in Cuba, the Castro brothers. Capitalism had a little bear slump in 2002-2010 but people are remembering that the Reagan days were really better, at least economically.

These things go in cycles. The rehabilitation of Newt Gingrich is almost complete. The conservative/capitalist resurgence has already begun. The key will be to extend it to ethnic groups that are natural allies. That means not only Eastern Europeans, but Latinos and Asians. Conservatives, since they are a little xenophobic by nature, have done a lousy job about opening their tent to those folks. That has to change. Once it does, the Dems will be a minority party for a generation.

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The Mets were 2-4 on the home stand, which I attribute to pretty good opposition, and some unfavorable scheduling because of the Puerto Rican trip. The All Star break comes at a good time. There is no way that Pagan should not continue to play center field, especially at CitiField. On the road, there may be some center fields that Beltran can still patrol, otherwise, he should play left or right. There should be plenty of playing time for Beltran, Bay, and Francour to split the two corner outfield positions.

As for the pitching, I like what Jerry did today, using Parnell for the eighth, and saving Feliciano to use as a specialist to get lefties out and keep tied games tied. Eventually, Parnell should become the closer (next year). He throws strikes, at high velocity.

I am glad the Mets did not go for Cliff Lee. We should not rent players. In fact, I don't like bidding for free agents at all. I'd rather pay to keep good young home-grown players in place. The Mets have a good nucleus of them now.
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AS for soccer, people might forget that Spain entered the tournament as co-favorites with Brazil. Their short passing game enabled them to control the ball and they made few mistakes. Goals occur when mistakes are made. It's no coincidence that the champs won a lot of 1-0 games.

When I was a freshman sports writer for the Haverford News, one of my first interviews was with veteran soccer coach Jimmy Mills, who had been a US Olympics coach when not handling the Haverford program. He emphasized that short passing game, a difficult thing to execute at the Division III level, but the Fords always overachieved on the soccer field (er, pitch). A good education for a neophyte who knew next to nothing about soccer then (and not much more now).
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On Tuesday, we bought 400 shares of our Australian Aluminum Company (AWC) at 5.31, a value buy. On Wednesday, we bought 2000 shares of Bank of Granite (GRAN) at 1.06, a zero buy. Please don't try this at home. I was happy to see (again) that the FDIC did not close GRAN on Friday. On Friday, we sold the last 200 shares of First Niagara (FNFG) out of the IRA, though we still have plenty of those shares left in the taxable accounts. We got 12.78 for shares purchased on 5/12/03 for 12.98. We are selling because the shares we received in exchange for the Harleysville National shares we gave up in the merger left us with an oversized position in FNFG.

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