Karl Rove vs. the Jaspercrats

With a 60 percent to 40 percent Republican majority in the New Hampshire House, you would expect the New Hampshire House to be standing up to the budget proposed by Governor Hassan, which grows government, by 6.4 percent over the biennium, more than three-times the rate that the New Hampshire economy grew under Hassan.

But no, as I posted previously, the immediate reaction of Speaker Shawn Jasper, who was elected Speaker by the Democrats and a small splinter-group of Republicans, was to praise  Hassan: “I think there are a lot of good things in there … .”

Fortunately, Crossroads GPS is out with a radio ad that does some of the job that the “Republican” House is supposed to be doing:

YouTube Preview Image

 

Is it Time for Governor Hassan to Drop her Proposal for a COO for New Hampshire?

I previously blogged about Governor Hassan’s proposal to create a position of COO -Chief Operating Officer- within New Hampshire state-government here and here.  In a nutshell:

In the private sector, businesses often have CEOs, Chief Executive Officers, and COOs. The CEO’s role is to make strategic decisions, while the COO’s role is to run the business’s day-to-day operations. … That model does not fit the Governor’s office. In state government, policy is set by the Legislature. … The Governor’s job is more analogous to the role of the COO. His or her job is to make sure that the Legislature’s policy decisions are carried out.

Today the National Republican Senatorial Committee hit Hassan on the COO issue, more specifically that the COO is to do Hassan’s job while she runs for Senate:

YouTube Preview Image

Hassan’s surrogates immediately hit back, but their arguments were extremely weak.  For example:

Sullivan.25FEB15 As I noted previously:

The claim that New Hampshire should have a COO because a commission recommended it avoids justifying a COO. Just because a commission comes up with an idea does not make it a good idea.

Until Hassan can come up with a credible reason why a small State like New Hampshire needs a COO, she can expect to be hit with the charge that she wants a COO to free her up to run for the United States Senate.  That she cannot come up with such a reason suggests its good politics for her as well as good policy for New Hampshire to drop the idea.

Why Is It Being Called a Shutdown, When DHS Stays Open?

The New Hampshire Democrats’ non-stop mantra as of late has been that Kelly Ayotte is willing shut down the federal Department of Homeland Security in order to block Obama’s executive amnesty orders.

The problem with that narrative is that DHS will not be shut down when their current appropriation runs out.  From the Washington Post, which anything but conservative media:

In the event of a shutdown, work continues for federal employees whose jobs are “necessary for safety of life and protection of property.” At Homeland Security, that includes personnel who patrol borders, inspect cargo and screen airport passengers, among a long list of other duties.

The remaining DHS workforce, known as non-exempt, would be furloughed, or forced off the job until Congress grants new funding.

Most of Homeland Security’s roughly 240,000 employees would be exempt in the event of a shutdown, due to the nature of their work. The department has said it will send home about 13 percent of its workforce, or 30,000 employees, if its funding lapses.

Furloughed workers — many of whom would be administrative staff — would stay home without pay until the shutdown ends, while exempt personnel would work with no compensation until that time.

So why is it being called a shutdown?  Simply because that scores much more political points than the accurate statement, “Ayotte willing to have non-essential DHS workers furloughed and DHS workers paychecks delayed until executive amnesty dispute resolved.”

I still haven’t seen anyone in the New Hampshire press report that the New Hampshire Democrats’ claim that DHS will be shut down is misleading.

And a Little Child Shall Lead Them …

Isaiah 11:6:  The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

No, I don’t think that Isaiah Thomas will lead the Celtics as presently constituted to another NBA title.  I do think he could play a key supporting role.  He can put the ball in the hole.  So he can fill the need for offense off the bench.

But the Celtics are going to need a major upgrade in the front-court to be competitive again.  Jared Sullinger is out the rest of the year with a stress fracture in his left foot, while Kelly Olynyk is still battling a bad ankle.  But even when healthy, I don’t think that either is the long-term solution.

I think that Sullinger has reached his peak.  More specifically, I don’t think he is going to be either a Wes Unseld, who despite being listed at 6’7″ (probably two inches too generous), was a dominant rebounder and defender, and set some of the most jarring picks, or a “stretch” four like Kevin Love.  The big worry with Sullinger, and why I wouldn’t invest in him long-term, is that he cannot stay on the court.  His body broke down his rookie season, and now again in his third year.

I think it is pretty clear that Olynk is going to be the next Christian Laettner, not the next Dirk Nowitzki.  A decent pro, but not a cornerstone.

With the turnaround after cutting ties with Josh Smith, the odds of Greg Monroe staying in Detroit are much better.  But I would love to see him in green.

Only ten minutes for James Young last night?  Are you kidding me?

Does New Hampshire Need a COO, the Case for and Against

In her proposed budget (which increases spending by 6.4 percent over the two-year budget cycle) Governor Hassan proposed a new state government position — Chief Operating Officer.  Here is a collection of the arguments for and against.

I think I was the first or one of the first out of the gates against:

In the private sector, businesses often have CEOs, Chief Executive Officers, and COOs. The CEO’s role is to make strategic decisions, while the COO’s role is to run the business’s day-to-day operations. … That model does not fit the Governor’s office. In state government, policy is set by the Legislature. … The Governor’s job is more analogous to the role of the COO. His or her job is to make sure that the Legislature’s policy decisions are carried out. 

Conservative firebrand Jeff Chidester also panned the proposal:

All of this brings me to the most disturbing part of Gov. Hassan’s budget, the “hiring” of a chief operating officer. This is not a hiring, but the outsourcing of the responsibilities that belong with the governor of New Hampshire. This proposal of a “state CEO” is not only insulting to the people of New Hampshire, but a clear indication why our economic future is in the wrong hands. Gov. Hassan is not only admitting she is ill-equipped to handle the duties of governor, but that she is publicly abdicating those very duties she sought and was elected to fulfill.

Subsequently, Charlie Arlinghaus of the Josiah Bartlett Center also weighed in against:

To begin with, the governor is already chief operating officer of the state. If we hire someone to do her job for her, we would need to stop paying her.

The Union Leader criticized the proposal today:

And now Gov. Hassan wants to create an unelected chief operating officer to operate the state while she does what, exactly?

The idea is ridiculous. … 

And here is the response from the Democrats:

Sullivan.22FEB14.COO

Sullivan.COO.22FEB15.2

Jacobs.COO.22FEB15

As for the claim that New Hampshire should have a COO because businesses often use COOs, I explained why that argument does not work in my first post.

The claim that New Hampshire should have a COO because a commission recommended it avoids justifying a COO.  Just because a commission comes up with an idea does not make it a good idea.

The claim that one cannot criticize Hassan’s proposal because other States have COOs is a variation of avoiding justifying a COO.

The verdict:  Democrats have so far been unable to make any substantive case for why New Hampshire needs a COO.

UPDATE:  After posting this, I saw the following tweet in response to a tweet about today’s Union Leader editorial on Hassan’s COO proposal:

Reardon.22FEB15

Not only does the Senator Shaheen staffer’s tweet make no substantive argument in favor of a COO, it is a purely gratuitous personal attack.  The intent of this tweet and tweets like it is to stifle political debate.  Mocking and insulting Mr. Reed personally is obviously intended to punish him for expressing a point of view the staffer disagrees with and to discourage him from participating in public discourse.

Marco Rubio and New Hampshire – An Unfortunate Mismatch

Let me start with a disclaimer.  I like Marco Rubio.  I like the way he responded to the predictable questions from the left-of-center press regarding Mayor Giuliani’s comment that President Obama does not love America.  From WaPo’s The Fix:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) proactively declined to criticize Giuliani’s comment that President Obama “doesn’t love America,” while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) seemed unprepared for the question and didn’t really weigh in.

But another 2016 contender — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — was ready. Here’s his response … :

I don’t feel like I’m in a position to have to answer for every person in my party that makes a claim. Democrats aren’t asked to answer every time Joe Biden says something embarrassing, so I don’t know why I should answer every time a Republican does. I’ll suffice it to say that I believe the President loves America; I think his ideas are bad.

The GOP nominee is going to face a hostile press.  That’s a given.  While Scott Walker hit it out of the park at the Freedom Summit in Iowa, he has not shown the ability to deal with a hostile press the way Rubio does.  Before it was the question on Giuliani, it was the evolution question in London.

And in addition to being a “gifted messenger“, I really like Rubio’s message on the economy, on jobs, and especially on foreign affairs, national defense and terrorism.  And unlike some of my conservative friends who cannot get past Rubio’s support for the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill, that’s not a disqualifier in my eyes.

Unfortunately for Rubio, New Hampshire and he are not a good match.  Consider the recent NBC/Marist poll.  Only 20% of potential Republican voters said ISIS, which we can use as a surrogate, for foreign affairs, national defense and terrorism, was their top issue.  Significantly lower than either Iowa or South Carolina:

Iowa — 25 percent

New Hampshire — 20 percent

South Carolina — 28 percent

Should Rubio pursue what is rumored to be the Mike Huckabee strategy of going straight from Iowa to South Carolina?  Or should he just start in South Carolina?

No, RealClearPolitics, New Hampshire is Not a Presidential “Swing State”

RealClearPolitics has an article up by Caitlin Huey-Burns regarding the headwinds the GOP Senate class of 2010 is facing because they are up for reelection in a presidential year.

With respect to New Hampshire, the article says:

New Hampshire figures to be one of the most competitive presidential swing states this cycle and to also feature a tightly contested Senate race. Kelly Ayotte has built a high profile in the chamber, especially on foreign affairs. Elected in 2010 by a 23-point margin, ...

In the words of John Boehner, “are you kidding me”?

YouTube Preview Image

New Hampshire is not a Presidential swing state.  The last time the GOP candidate cracked 50 percent was in 1988.  Yes, George W. Bush carried the State in 2000, but with less than 50 percent of the vote.  He won only because Ralph Nader took votes from Al Gore.

Prez.Results.2000

In 2004, even with Nader on the ballot, Bush still lost:

Prez.Results.2004

In 2008, Mr. New Hampshire primary, John McCain, lost by ten points, a blow-out:

Prez.Results.2008

And, in 2012, Mitt Romney, who owns a house in New Hampshire and was the Governor of neighboring Massachusetts, was handily defeated:

Prez.Results.2012

I cannot see Hillary running any worse than Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s 52 percent in the 2014 midterm.  Which means that Senator Kelly Ayotte starts at a considerable disadvantage against her likely opponent Governor Hassan.

Also, not discussed by Caitlin Huey-Burns is that Ayotte’s foreign policy credentials will mean much less in New Hampshire than in other States.  Despite foreign policy being front-and-center in the 2014 midterms and Shaheen’s lockstep support for Obama’s failed foreign policy, she still was reelected.

Some Questions Joe Biden Should be Asked, But Probably Won’t

So Vice President Joe Biden is visiting New Hampshire next week.  Here are some questions Mr. Biden should be asked, because he is a potential Presidential candidate.  Unfortunately, I don’t think he will be asked these or similar questions because the New Hampshire press is largely left-of-center.  Nevertheless:

1.  Mr. Biden, since the United States initiated military operations against ISIS, ISIS’ footprint has expanded markedly from just Syria and Iraq:

ISIS.map.20FEB15

Mr. Biden, isn’t it fair to say that your ISIS strategy has been an abysmal failure?

2.  Mr. Biden, what makes the Obama/Biden stewardship of the economy unique is that unlike prior recoveries there was no rebound in middle class incomes after the recession you inherited ended.  In fact, middle class incomes have continued to shrink.

Earnings soared 14.5% during the 1990s to $56,800, then dipped during George W. Bush ’s first term. They rebounded smartly in 2007 almost to the 1999 peak, and then plunged as expected amid the recession.

The brutal difference of the Obama years is that incomes continued to fall and didn’t rebound with the recovery as they did in every other expansion. Only in 2013 did they finally pick up, ever so modestly.

The Congressional Budget Office reports that total transfer payments to the middle 20% of taxpayers increased 25.9% on average between 2007 and 2011, the latest year for which data are available. The average tax liability for this group fell 24.4%. Yet their after-tax income nonetheless fell by 1.9% over the same period. That’s what happens with years of subpar economic growth.

Mr. Biden, isn’t it fair to say that Obamanomics has been an abysmal failure?

3.  Mr. Biden, it has recently been asserted that the Clinton Foundation, while nominally a charity, has been for all practical purposes a Super PAC for Hillary Clinton:

Most family charities exist to allow self-made Americans to disperse their good fortune to philanthropic causes. The Clinton Foundation exists to allow the nation’s most powerful couple to use their not-so-subtle persuasion to exact global tribute for a fund that promotes the Clintons.

Oh sure, the foundation doles out grants for this and that cause. But they don’t rank next to the annual Bill Clinton show—the Clinton Global Initiative event—to which he summons heads of state and basks for a media week as post-presidential statesman. This is an organization that in 2013 spent $8.5 million in travel expenses alone, ferrying the Clintons to headliner events. Those keep Mrs. Clinton in the news, which helps when you want to be president.

Mr. Biden, do you believe that the Clinton Foundation is essentially a Super PAC operating outside the rules that apply to other Super PACs?

VIKINGS – Season 3, Episode 1

This is not a review, just some random thoughts.  But there are some spoilers.  So consider yourself warned.

In general, it did not disappoint.  Just when I began thinking that it was going to be a slow build up to Ragnar and Lagertha meeting King Ecbert again in Episode 2, Ragnar, Lagertha and their people were in Wessex riding to the meeting.  It was like going from second gear to fourth.  And from there it was directly into battle with the Mercians.  To continue the car analogy, from second to fourth and then keeping the pedal to the floor as the rubber burns.

Rollo — seems to be at peace with a supporting role to his brother.

Siggy — I don’t think she is going to play much of a role in Season 3, with Rollo no longer interested in outdoing Ragnar and with the scene shifted from Scandinavia to England.

Ragnar — acknowledges that he is torn between his gods and Christianity.  The other theme involving Ragnar is whether power will change Ragnar.  That is, will he be content farming in fertile England, or as the theme song goes … I want more, more, give me more, give me more … .  Actually, we already know the answer from the trailers … . Paris beckons …

Princess Aslaug — she seems slated to play the peripheral role that she cast Lagertha into in Season 2.  A little more complicated than just Princess Kwenthrith pushing her out.  Ragnar’s youngest son, Ivar the Boneless, apparently has caused an estrangement between her and Ragnar even before Ragnar returns to Wessex.  At one point she asks Ragnar if he loves her and, unlike the direct “of course” he gave when Aslaug asked if he loves Ivar, Ragnar hesitates … and the scene ends … .

Princess Kwenthrith — looks like she will be Ragnar’s new flame.   Or at least that she intends to be.

Floki — looks like Floki, and not Rollo, will be the greatest internal threat that Ragnar faces.  Ragnar’s flirtation with Christianity seems likely to increase the tension that developed between these two in Season 2.  It’s still not clear to me whether Floki was always a double-agent with respect to King Horrik in Season 2, or whether in the end he just couldn’t bring himself to betray Ragnar.

Athelstan —  looks like there is going to be trouble between Athelstan and King Ecbert’s son   Aethelwulf over Aethelwulf’s wife Judith, who appears smitten with Athelstan.

Bjorn and Thorunn — zzzz

Lagertha — looks like she is going to have a leading role this season.  Does King Ecbert know what he is getting himself into?

Aethelwulf — expect him to stir up some trouble between the Viking settlers and the Saxons.

King Ecbert — how long can he coexist with Ragnar?

 

Jaspercrats Still Fighting the Last War

The phrase fighting the last war means focusing on how the last war was fought instead of how the enemy will fight in the present and future.

And that’s a good description of a press release from Jack Flanagan, who is Democratly-elected Speaker Shawn Jasper’s choice for Majority Leader.  The press release has to do with some Democrat State Rep’s bill for a sales tax:

“House Bill 673 would end what we call ‘The New Hampshire Advantage.’ New Hampshire continues to lead by example when it comes to low personal tax burdens. Being the only state in the region without a sales tax enhances our ability to attract visitors, commerce, and economic activity. House Republicans have pledged to stop any effort to establish a broad based tax. This bill would undoubtedly grow government on the backs of consumers and jeopardize our economic recovery.” 

Now instituting a general sales tax upon New Hampshire’s existing mish-mash of taxes, which actually includes a room-and-meals tax, which is a tax on tourists, is, to borrow a phrase, a half-baked idea.  But there is no realistic chance of such a sales tax being enacted into law. For just one thing, Governor and anticipated Senate candidate Hassan has said she would veto such a sales tax or an income tax.

And it’s not going to score any political points.  With the exception of 2002 (Mark Fernald) and 2000 (Jeanne Shaheen) every Democrat gubernatorial candidate since 1996 has taken the “pledge.”  While Shaheen won without taking the pledge in 2000, she didn’t build any political capital for a sales tax and was unable to get one passed.

Voters no longer see the divide between Democrats and Republicans in New Hampshire as one party supporting a broad-based tax or taxes and the other opposing.

Republicans need to come up with a new narrative on fiscal issues.  Otherwise, the likely future is that the House will continue flipping back and forth between Presidential and midterm elections, and the Democrats will continue their lock on the Governor’s office.

The problem is that there really is not that much difference between the Jaspercrats and the Democrats on fiscal issues as was revealed by Speaker Jasper’s first reaction to Governor Hassan’s proposed budget, which would increase spending at three-times the rate the New Hampshire economy has been growing:  “I think there are a lot of good things in there …”