But Is He Competent?

by Dave Schuler on July 29, 2014

Speaking of competence, if his ad campaigns against Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn are any gauge, Republican (or, perhaps, “Republican”) challenger Bruce Rauner may be running on his own:

The Illinois governor’s race pits incumbent Pat Quinn, a Democrat, against upstart non-politician Bruce Rauner. Why are the stakes so huge? Because Illinois is arguably the worst-run state in America. It’s a blue state that has been run for many years by corrupt and bungling politicians, including Rod Blagojevich, who went to jail for trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat, and Mr. Quinn, who has run the state’s finances into the gutter.

This year shows no improvement. Even as the national employment picture has improved, Illinois actually managed to lose more than 15,000 jobs throughout the first half of 2014. In June of 1998, Illinois had 5.07 million private-sector jobs. In June of 2014, Illinois had just 4.98 million. Somehow, Illinois managed to lose jobs during this 16-year time frame.

Being competent as a manager, financier, or in business may not be the same as being a competent elected official. There’s a similarity among them but, given the increasing institutionalization of just about everything in our society, the skills may not be entirely the same. That may be particularly true of a candidate who has largely financed his campaign himself to date. It may well be the ase that no one is competent to be governor of Illinois (or president of the United States) any more.

Don’t get me wrong. Unless he does something catastrophic and unforgivable I plan to vote for Rauner in November. The sad reality is that if Quinn is re-elected there is simply no hope for change and Illinois is in desperate need of a change.

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The Unfairness of It All

by Dave Schuler on July 29, 2014

This morning I’m reading a lot about President Obama’s “incompetency”. The gist of it is that a majority of the American people do not believe that the president “can manage the government effectively” which strikes me as terribly unfair. He was not elected to be a manager.

I disagree vehemently with Erick Erickson of RedState’s contention that the president is not incompetent but malicious. My own view is that he’s just not interested.

Chris Cilizza muses on the issue:

Obama was elected in 2008 on a stated promise that he would restore competence to government. He pitched himself as the antidote to “Heck of a job, Brownie” and the Bush years, the person who would always put the most qualified candidate in every job in his Administration. That the basic functioning of government would never be in question.

Almost six years on from that election, however, Obama is faltering badly on the competence question and, in so doing, badly imperiling not only his ability to enact any sort of second term agenda but also Democrats’ chances this fall. A series of events — from the VA scandal to the ongoing border crisis to the situation in Ukraine to the NSA spying program — have badly undermined the idea that Obama can effectively manage the government.

That illustrates the complete unfairness of our electoral system. When you run as a reformer, people have the outlandish view that you intend to reform. When you run as a technocrat, people expect you to devote attention to the mechanics of policy and of the government. When you run as a post-partisan, people expect you to be, well, post-partisan.

President Obama has done many of the things on which he ran in 2008. He has gotten us out of Iraq; he has left us in Afghanistan; he has transformed America or, at least, a sixth of it.

Most of all he is not Bush. In that he has been tremendously successful. Not that it will be of much solace to Democrats come November.

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Disappointment

by Dave Schuler on July 29, 2014

You know, I’m really disappointed. Here I am gone a whole three days and the problems are all the same.

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The Three-State Solution

by Dave Schuler on July 29, 2014

I am not a great supporter of the state of Israel. Israel is without doubt the most liberal and democratic state in a very tough neighborhood. However, the Israelis are pickle and it’s their pickle. The only solution to their problems with their neighbors is finding some sort of modus vivendi with them. The more we make it our pickle, the worse the problem becomes.

However, that having been said, I agree with David Ignatius. What in the world was John Kerry thinking?

Secretary of State John Kerry has made a significant mistake in how he’s pursuing a Gaza cease-fire — and it’s not surprising that he has upset both the Israelis and some moderate Palestinians.

Kerry’s error has been to put so much emphasis on achieving a quick halt to the bloodshed that he has solidified the role of Hamas, the intractable, unpopular Islamist group that leads Gaza, along with the two hard-line Islamist nations that are its key supporters, Qatar and Turkey. In the process, he has undercut not simply the Israelis but also the Egyptians and the Fatah movement that runs the Palestinian Authority, all of which want to see an end to Hamas rule in Gaza.

What is the end state of his approach? A three-state solution—Israel, a Hamas-dominated Gaza, and a Fatah-lead West Bank? Hamas taking control of both segments of the Palestinian territories? Diplomacy is not Slap-Jack. You’ve got to think at least one step ahead if not several.

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Life Goes On

by Dave Schuler on July 29, 2014

Over the weekend I attended the wedding of one of my nephews. He’s an intern. She’s studying to be a veterinarian. I wish them life, love, and happiness.

The wedding was held at the Glen Iris Inn at Letchworth State Park in upstate New York, an incredibly scenic setting. How scenic?

That scenic.

Each state in the Union has its places of great natural beauty. California has everything—six times over. However, for some reason I think that New York is a distinctively and wonderfully beautiful state.

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Ch. Kendara’s Notorious, 1998-2014

by Dave Schuler on July 25, 2014

Her complete formal name was Ch. Kendara’s Notorious RA, OA, AXJ, NJP, WSX. We called her “Tally”. More affectionately, “Roo”, after her characteristic call. If you pay close attention, dogs will tell you their real names and that was hers.

When she came to us she was a tiny puppy with an enormous spirit, a spirit reflected in the way she stood up to Qila, our full-grown male Samoyed. When she left us, she was a thin, wan shadow of what she had been in her prime, still completely equipt with that enormous spirit.

She was born out-of-doors. Our breeders found her in their backyard, a tiny newborn puppy. There was nowhere she would rather be than outside. That was true right down to the very last time I took her out. When outside her step was surer, she was more confident, she was more at ease. The grass beneath her feet gave her a solid footing and there was nothing to run into that might injure her or that she might overturn.

She excelled at everything. She finished her championship in just one month. She loved the activity, excitement, and teamwork of agility. She was our lead dog. When she could no longer run as she once had, she loved working with my wife in rally obedience. Those letters following her name represent her many, many titles.

She was an outstanding therapy dog. She was our friend.

Tally
The 10:00am Howl
Chicagoland Samoyed Club Summer Specialty Show, 2006
Dog Pictures on a Beautiful Fall Day
Life in a Dog Pack: Old Age
Tally at 13
Tally at 14
Tally at 15

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About Last Night…

by Dave Schuler on July 25, 2014

I may be relatively quiet today. I spent the whole night dealing with a veterinary emergency.

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Annus Horribilis

by Dave Schuler on July 24, 2014

Larry Sabato predicts the 2014 midterm elections will be sui generis and handicaps the results like this:

Last year, and even in the beginning of 2014, we and others were inclined to think that 2014 would be another wave midterm, like 2006 or 2010. After all, it’s the “sixth-year itch” of the Obama administration — always a dangerous time for the White House party — and President Obama’s popularity had been sinking well below the 50% level. Then there was the Senate map for 2014. Arguably, this year features the best lineup for the Republicans since 1980. Almost all — some would say all — of the GOP’s 15 Senate seats are either in the bag or will be by Election Day, owing to the Red nature of the states. By contrast, many of the 21 Democratic seats are located in Red or Purple states, some with shaky incumbents and others left vacant for easy Republican pickup. Finally, midterm turnout usually (not always) favors Republicans, with poor turnouts registered by Democratic-leaning groups such as minorities and the young versus decent turnouts by GOP cohorts, including whites and those over age 60.

Well, it’s late July, and so far at least, this election hasn’t gelled quite the way it earlier appeared on paper. President Obama’s popularity isn’t impressive, but his job approval seems to have stabilized in the low-to-mid 40s — not as bad as President Bush’s level in 2006 (about 37% approval roughly this time eight years ago). Several of the most vulnerable Democratic senators on the ballot are proving more durable than expected, fending off challenges or at least holding their own so far. In 2006, Democrats at this point were up double digits in most surveys of the House generic ballot, a poll measuring the general mood of the country that suggested not only Democratic gains in the House, but also the Senate. Four years ago, Republicans by this time had taken a three-point lead in the generic ballot surveys, a lead that would only grow. Now, Democrats retain a tiny, one-point edge.

Basically, he says that Republicans will hold the House and will pick up between 4 and 8 seats in the Senate. That translates into between 49 and 53 Republican seats in the next Senate. Since I’ve been predicting that Republicans will hold 50 seats in the next Senate which means that Democrats will retain control of that house, I still think it’s a pretty solid prediction.

I also think that barring some cataclysm turnout will be at record-breakingly low levels. That means there could be some surprises.

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If You Build It…

July 24, 2014

Peter Van Buren kvetches about federal job training programs: Obama’s new call for job training also belies the fact that the government already spends approximately $18 billion a year to administer 47 job-training programs. The actual value of those programs remains unclear. The Government Accountability Office found that only five programs assessed whether people who […]

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Getting Into Line

July 24, 2014

In considering how to end “inversion”, the decision by corporations to change their national headquarters for tax reasons, Rober Samuelson proposes: Let’s lower taxes on corporations that can move from the United States; let’s raise taxes on the people who own their stock. Although the odds against this bargain are long, it would be a […]

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