Tag Archive: Bush

Polls. Damn Polls.

With the first presidential primary six months away and the election more than 14 months away we are besieged by polls. There appears to be little doubt that Governor Christie will be included in Thursday’s Fox debate open to the top-ten poll-ranked candidates. The aggregator of polls, Real Clear Politics, Politico, and Huffington Post today all rank him at 9th place. Fox’s poll yesterday ranks him tied at 8th place. The fact that Christie’s PAC recently paid Fox $741,000 for national campaign ads can only help his chances.

Patrick Murray, Director of the Monmouth University Poll, raises serious questions. He says, “Only five candidates – Trump, Bush, Walker, Cruz, and Huckabee – are definitely in the top tier of candidates, while just two – Pataki and Gilmore – would not make it into the top ten even when margin of error is taken into account. The poll results for the remaining 10 candidates overlap when the margin of error is considered, making it unclear who is truly in the top ten.”

With so many candidates in the running, many close to each other in ranking, the margin of error negates differences. Also polls often round up to whole numbers such that one candidate at 3.6 and another at 3.9 are both rounded up equally to 4.0. Lee Miringoff of Marist Poll, points out: “Some polls take out undecided voters and recalculate based on 100%. Some polls are based on “likely voters,” others on registered voters. Some polls probe undecided voters to include “leaners,” while others do not.”

Marist Poll decided not to query respondents on their choice for President. It believes polls are not designed to pick the top ten and should not be used to determine who will be on Fox’s top-ten stage. Lee  Miringoff says, “Herding is for horses. Not for pollsters doing horserace polls. Neither should the media herd the field in a political horserace via debates.” However, the show must go on.

Every Reformy Politician Is Modeled on Bush

Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman

Doesn’t matter if it’s Christie or Cuomo or Scott or Walker or Emanuel or Bloomberg or Duncan or even Obama: all reformy politicians got their moves from studying the master himself:

The first to discover that teachers make perfect scapegoats was George W. Bush. When he ran for president for the first time twelve years ago, Bush had a problem. He wanted lower taxes to be his rallying cry, but while taxes in Texas, the state where he was governor, were indeed low, the schools in Texas were notoriously bad.

The numbers are no better today: Texas ranks 47th in the county in literacy, 49th in verbal SAT scores and 46th in math scores. To blind the public to the evidence of what low taxes do, Bush produced evidence of a miracle: When it comes to education money is not what matters, he declared; what matters is holding teachers accountable. In Houston, Bush told voters, the superintendent of schools held teachers accountable, and as a result Houston saw a dramatic improvement in school quality, particularly when measured by high school graduation rates. So convincing was the miracle that as soon as he took office Congress agreed to pass the Bush tax cuts and the No Child Left Behind law.

Eight years later the “Texas miracle” was exposed. It turned out that the numbers had been cooked: Instead of the 1.5% drop-out rate that Houston had reported, the actual rate was somewhere between 25 and 50 percent. And in order to boost test results children who were considered weak in even just one subject were prevented from entering the 10th grade, the year in which the tests were administered. But by then the truth no longer mattered because the ideas that taxes are not needed to run a democratic government and that teachers, not budgets, are responsible for the failure of schools had invaded the body politic. [emphasis mine]

America famously suffers from short-term memory loss, and the image of the idiot cowboy who drove this country (and several others) into a ditch is fading fast. But we can’t afford the luxury of forgetting history this time.

It Fell On Deaf Ears: my warning for the Lieberman 2006 campaign

This is such an interesting coda to the diary I wrote last night. In my read, it’s both sad and inspiring. For sure, Joe Lieberman didn’t deserve Stephen, who is a candidate for office right now Berkeley Heights Township Council – Rosi

I read Rosi’s article on the front page of Blue Jersey with great interest. It was wonderful to see how she and so many NJ-DFA members came up to Connecticut to support a progressive Democrat in Ned Lamont.

However, I have a confession to make: not only was I not among them, but at the time I was trying to help his opponent win renomination. It was a futile effort on my part, and one I now regret.

Heckuva Job, Cerfie!

So what’s the big deal about about Christie’s cronies on the State Board of Education voting to relax the standards for hiring superitendents for New Jersey’s most “troubled” schools?

Under the new regulations, applicants will only need a bachelor’s degree and management experience to apply for superintendent positions. Boards of education will then evaluate candidates using a rubric of professional standards previously adopted by the state Board.

Superintendents in districts without failing schools must meet much more rigorous standards. They are required to have a master’s degree and a number of job-specific credentials. The certification process is extensive and involves testing, an internship and at least one year’s work with a mentor.

Run a school system; run a McDonald’s – what’s the diff, right? Besides, we’re keeping the high standards for the less… uh… urban districts.

(Some of my best friends are urbanright, Senator Cardinale?)

I don’t think those of you complaining about this understand the unique experience Christie has with relaxing standards for office. Remember: he made his bones with Karl Rove’s… uh, sorry, Alberto Gonzales’s Justice Department. So the man saw first hand what “relaxing” standards did for the Bush administration:

The Iraqi reconstruction crew. Qualifications: 20-somethings who had posted their resumes on the Heritage Foundation website.

Michael “Heckuva a Job, Brownie” Brown, Director of FEMA. Qualifications: ran horse shows.

Bernie Kerik, nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security. Qualifications:Tax cheat, liar.

David Safavian, head of GSA. Qualifications: Buddy of Jack Abramhoff

Liz Cheney, State Department. Qualifications: You might remember her father…

I could go on: Harriet Miers, Julie Myers, Gonzo himself…

So Christie’s just taking a tip from his mentor, George W. Bush; in fact, I’d argue he’s modeling his entire term as governor on Bush’s style AND substance.

And look how well THAT turned out!

So relax, OK? Everything will be just fine…

“Those who refuse to learn from history…”

ellington: What Booker & Sweeney could learn from Weinberg & Stender – promoted by Rosi

Cross-posted at Jersey Jazzman; click through for all links.

Winston Smith (funny!) in the comments got me thinking:

Like Chris Christie, George W Bush was a trainwreck of a leader: a dangerous combination of hubris, bombast, and stunning incompetence.

The problem liberals and Democrats faced with Bush wasn’t documenting his many, many flaws and catching his many, many contradictions and hypocrisies. The problem was introducing this portrait of Bush into the mainstream.

9/11 provided a suit of armor for Bush that he wore for a good, long time. He was able to start a war with a country that was never a threat to us, fail to capture the mastermind of the worst terror attack in US history, push an insane package of tax gifts for the wealthy, destroy the environment, and still get reelected – all because the media refused to see him as he really was.

It was only a matter of time before the entire thing came crashing down, but the media needed a catalyst; a failure so catastrophic that they couldn’t help but change their views of Bush. Katrina was that catalyst. Because it was a disaster so unprecedented in scale, and because Bush’s response was so staggeringly inept and uncaring, the punditocracy was forced to bring their perceptions of Bush in line with the reality of Bush.

Looking at history, it is very tempting to draw the parallel to Christie. The Great Recession is his 9/11; it shields him from real scrutiny of his foolish behavior and despicable policies. All we have to do is wait for some major screw up to become his Katrina and undo him. And maybe hope it happens early enough to unseat him in three years. I find myself wondering if this fiasco with Bret Schundler could possibly qualify.

But now I realize that I’ve been making a huge mistake. Because the real lesson to be learned from the Bush years is that you can not assume good faith on the part of a man who has none.

Too many Democrats voted for the original Bush tax cuts, which gave him cover to cut even more in 2003. Too many Democrats voted for the Iraqi War resolution, which Bush abused by starting a war before weapons inspectors had finished their job. Too many Democrats negotiated with Bush on No Child Left Behind, which became quite possibly the largest unfunded mandate in American history (let alone an education abomination).

Now that pattern is repeating here in New Jersey. Cory Booker, a man who should be leading the loyal opposition as a presumptive gubernatorial candidate in 2013, stands next to Christie and supports his insane property tax cap that will decimate cities and towns like Newark. Steve Sweeney, who should be leading a forceful legislative defense of our towns, our schools, our taxpayers, and our public servants, poses side-by-side with the governor and abets him in pushing a tax cap that is even worse than the one the governor originally proposed.

I believe Booker and Sweeney are decent, honorable men who want to return the Democrats to power. But they have made a strategic blunder of epic proportions. They must learn the lesson of the Bush years: fight Christie early, fight him often, and don’t assume he is as honorable as you are.

Even if they think a tax cap is good policy (I don’t, because it does nothing to address the real cost drivers and regressive taxes that are killing this state), it is unacceptable for our Democratic leaders to campaign side-by-side with Christie on an issue where they are adamantly opposed by the Democratic base. It is unacceptable for him to set the terms of a cap. It is unacceptable to stand idly by while he mischaracterizes both Democratic positions and his own policies.

The only thing their bipartisan show will gain them is a swift kick in the teeth whenever it suits Christie’s purposes. He has shown that he will throw even his closest allies under a school bus whenever it serves his political agenda or his ego.

Much better is the example set by Linda Stender and Loretta Weinberg. Don’t back down; use everything you’ve got; stand on principle; allow Christie no easy wins; and don’t assume he is a good faith actor, because he is not. And remember: it’s not a cheap shot if it’s true.

Had national Democrats stood on principle in Bush’s first term, they would have had a much better chance of installing John Kerry in the White House. They would have had a much better chance of having a competent director of FEMA in place when Katrina made landfall. They could have presided over a faster withdrawal from Iraq. Many people quite literally died because the Democrats fell in line too easily behind Bush.

The stakes are smaller here in New Jersey, but the concept holds. Democrats should not allow our state’s schools to be destroyed, our economy to be left in tatters, our middle-class homeowners to be taxed out of their homes, our AIDS patients left to die, our state’s environment to be ravaged, our towns to be cut adrift, and our public servants to be vilified because we could muster up little better than a watery resistance to Christie’s incompetence and incoherence.

This fiasco with Schundler was not Christie’s Katrina. We can’t wait for his Katrina; we must oppose him NOW. He has proven that he can’t be trusted, and we must never, ever forget that.

We’re the deciders!

The politics of John Adler’s vote, and why I don’t want to hear him defended

Politicker NJ has a notable quote about John Adler by Democratic State Chairman John Wisniewski (in an interview that otherwise focuses on bashing Christie’s terrible budget choices) that defends Adler’s no vote on health care reform:

“I certainly in my legislative district feel comfortable making the case healthcare reform – for the reform the House adopted,” Wisniewski added. “I believe John Adler made the right decision for his district. He knows his district.”

Obviously, Wisnewski wants us to understand this as just another vote. It’s not unusual, after all, to see members feel pressure. Democrats have picked up Republican votes in swing districts this way from time to time. So we hear that it is just necessary politics, and it’s the voters’ fault after all. Adler is admirable for siding with the Republicans in his district. Even if Wisnewski doesn’t really believe this, he surely thinks his job to publicly support his incumbents. Political parties, after all, are as much about a group gathering and holding onto power as they are about advancing some noble principles.

But principles do come into it, especially for ordinary voters and the activists who make up “the base.” The Democratic base is very unhappy with John Adler, because this wasn’t just another vote. We all know the Republicans decided to oppose a moderate bill to destroy Barack Obama’s Presidency and the Democratic Congress, openly admitting that they aimed to make it his “Waterloo.” Meanwhile, Democrats, as Ted Kennedy’s beautiful memoir reminded us, have been fighting for universal health care for over a generation, and Obama and Adler promised health care reform in their campaigns. In this context, for Adler to join the other side and attack the bill was an astonishing betrayal. (Let me say, too, that his announcements in both votes came while we know frantic negotiations with Stupak et al. to round up votes were still going on; I believe Adler was not “released” by leadership.)

Perhaps Wisniewski would think we’re worrying too much about a bill, that after all, passed anyway. But I would remind him, and any other party leaders, of the tremendous disasters of the last decade. You see, to the people who vote and volunteer Democratic, from 2000-2008, and even earlier, the disasters were not solely due to Republicans. Democrats acquiesced as Republicans lead us into those disasters. Some Democrats in Congress voted to invade Iraq, not only due to their “districts” but many because they thought it would help their presidential campaigns! Some Democrats voted for the Bush tax cuts that wrecked our finances. Some Democrats voted to dismantle the system of financial regulation that had served us since the New Deal (I include the 1990s votes here) returning us to the pre-FDR world of financial panics every decade. Democrats voted to curtail civil liberties. They agreed to torture detainees and bypass the court system. In short, Republican administrations have easily found Democrats to go along with every lousy, disastrous, extreme conservative idea they could dream up. (Only on privatizing Social Security in 2005 did Nancy Pelosi finally keep Democrats together to say no, or rather, “Never. Is never good enough for you?“)

And so, I fear, and I suspect many in the base fear, that John Adler has shown that the lessons he learned from the Bush (43) Administration is that the cowardly Democrats, the Democrats who voted with the conservatives, were the smart ones. This is why, I think, Adler’s no vote on health care reform is even worse than a vote to abandon one core principle and undermine his party’s President. if John Adler remains in Congress long enough, and finds himself in Congress with a Republican Administration, for all I know he’ll be voting to invade Iran, end the inheritance tax, deregulate the banks, or give Social Security to Wall Street. It could be any crazy conservative idea, because “It’s the right thing for his district.” I definitely don’t want Republican Jon Runyan to win. I’m even putting my time into that. But the truth is, I no longer really want Adler to win.

Blue Jersey readers, what do you think? Am I too harsh? Do you feel otherwise? Should Wisniewski defend Adler’s vote?