Friday, July 29, 2011

Whose stature will grow in the Straw Poll?

Republican candidates are gearing up for the Ames Straw Poll Aug. 13 and a debate two days earlier. How candidates do in the straw poll is an indication of their grassroots support in Iowa as they prepare for the first-in-the-nation caucus early next year. The results will  likely determine the political future of certain candidates. But media and other organizations have repeatedly taken the pulse of voters in recent months with their own polling. What they've found is Michele Bachmann shooting from obscurity to being a contender with Mitt Romney, who generally leads in the polls. Bachmann plays up her Iowa roots when she's in the state and formally launched her presidential bid here. Although Romney leads the pack, he hasn't necessarily gained more traction in the time Bachmann gained favor with voters after a debate in New Hampshire. That could indicate Republican voters' concerns that Romney isn't really against ObamaCare --- since he pushed through something similar as governor of Massachusetts and hasn't denounced it. As a result, Romney and other candidates --- mostly polling in the single digits --- look like dwarfs next to Bachmann with their diminutive favorability ratings. Many of them still have squishy personas to all but the closest political watchers and their ardent supporters. So, they can easily get characterized by any negative waves they make or anything distinctive about them --- good or bad. "Michele Bachmann and the Seven Dwarfs" engages in some of those characterizations. There's Newt Gingrich's troubled, floundering campaign. You've got Romney and Jon Huntsman who --- along with Gingrich --- won't be showing up at the straw poll as they try to lower any expectation about how well they have to do in it. Despite a lot of effort, Tim Pawlenty's poll numbers haven't increased in contrast to fellow Minnesotan Bachmann. Pawlenty, who sometimes get characterized as yawn-inducingly boring, says he doesn't need to win the straw poll to remain viable, but he does need to have a good showing. Rick Santorum, who's at least competing for Mr. Conservative, has been dogged in recent years by an Internet prank to associate his name with something that would make his supporters blush. Googling his name may cause the uninformed to think there's a sleaze factor with him. Ron Paul may sound too much like a hippie for some Republicans curmudgeons with his anti-war views and some of his other libertarian tendencies.  It's been months since Herman Cain made a bizarre and unnecessary pronouncement about Muslims in his administration, but he's still dealing with the fallout. We'll see if the straw poll shows that any of the candidates have moved beyond these perceptions.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Government takes control, one lock box at a time

Since they were already in an anti-Government mood, a bunch of Cedar Falls residents seized on the City's plans to expand the requirement for lock boxes at businnesses and apartments. After all, wasn't this something being done by the Government? Well, then it had to be bad. And everybody hates unfunded mandates, so let's call it that. Of course, if the Government funded the purchase of lock boxes, that would be an expansion of said Government and, therefore, bad. Those poor city councilmen just can't win! And then the firefighters, there might be a bad apple in the bunch. It's getting to be that you can't trust anyone who draws a paycheck from or even volunteers for the Big Bad Government. Pretty soon you're going to need your own militia and bucket brigade! Luckily, those Cedar Falls folks had the technology to let others know how the Government was tramplinig their private property rights and plotting to seize their stuff! They recorded council meetings and created videos for You Tube. Soon the entire internet was buzzing with the Government conspiracy. And that meant it was time for Fox News and The Washington Times to let the Patriots out there know what the Government was trying to do in Cedar Falls. Since the Government prevailed in this fight, now the Cedar Falls folks say they'll file a lawsuit. The fight against the Government and its trampling of private property rights and imposing unfunded mandates never ends!