By Buck Shott
August 24, 2011 (San Diego) – How is all that political wrangling in Iowa impacting the presidential race? Which candidate has boots on the ground in San Diego’s East County? What are the latest actions and shenanigans by local politicians? Which Congressional members constituents are hosting an “empty chair” forum to substitute for a representative who isn’t coming home for town hall meetings? You’ve got questions, we’ve rustled up the answers!
REPUBLICAN PRIMARY HEATS UP: Who will be left standing by the end of the Republican presidential primary season is this week’s top political question. Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll, edging out Ron Paul, an ex-Libertarian-turned-Republican who surged from behind to finish just one point behind Bachmann.
POST-IOWA MUSICAL CHAIRS: Rick Pawlenty through in the towel and Texas Governor Rick Perry threw his hat in the ring after the straw poll, while Sarah Palin remains coy as to whether she plans to run while traveling in a bus to places like Iowa. We’re sure that’s just a coincidence.
CASHING IN ON CORPORATE POWER: Mitt Romney, who some pundits favor to win the White House, skipped the Iowa straw poll completely. But he did speak at the Iowa State Fair, where he declared that “corporations are people” —after pocketing hefty donations from all his corporate friends.
A COMIC’S TAKE ON IOWA: Humorist Andy Borowitz called the straw poll results “alarming” and issued a statement that “Standard and Poor’s took the unprecedented action of downgrading Iowa’s IQ.”
MEDIA IGNORES RON PAUL: It’s not often that a conservative complains about media bias. But San Diego Taxpayers Association’s Richard Rider railed about spin by media outlets including Fox News. Why did major networks minimize Ron Paul’s strong showing (most failed to mention it completely!) in Iowa while focusing coverage on losing candidates or those not even in the race instead.
DAILY DISSES THE MEDIA: “We have to rely on the acerbic wit of John Stewart,” said Rider, who linked to the Daily Show comedian skewering the media for skewing the Iowa primary news: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-august-15-2011/indecision-2012---c...
Daily also roasted the media for describing billionaire Warren Buffett as a “socialist” fueling “class warfare” after Buffett called for tax fairness. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-18-2011/world-of-class-warf... . Buffett had stated his views that it’s wrong for him to have more tax breaks than his cleaning lady, and urged Congress to eliminate some tax breaks for billionaires and millionaires, particularly when so many “fellow citizens are suffering”: http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/08/22/3304637/buffett-sparks-a-needed-...
OH MAMA! OBAMA CAMPAIGN TAKES ON RURAL EAST COUNTY: Meanwhile “East County for Obama” has been mounting efforts to reelect the president, recruiting supporters at farmer’s markets and even in conservative bastions such as Alpine, Lakeside, Santee and Jamul. The group has released this new video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edVN7r7jrxg&feature=mh_lolz&list=LLYitOQh...
POKING HOLES IN PERRY’S JOBS CREATION CLAIMS: San Diego Republican Congressman Darrell Issa has become the latest to rip Texas Governor Rick Perry’s claim of leading his state to create over a million new jobs. “I’m not sure I could vote for a man whose only brag is that what we threw away he took in,” Issa sniped. But that pales to criticism levied by the New York Times, which pointed out that Texas actually leads the nation in minimum-wage jobs without health benefits—and budget cuts approved by Perry are expected to slash over 100,000 jobs.
DOES THE WATCHDOG NEED WATCHING? Issa himself has been the target of sharp criticism in numerous media reports this week. A ThinkProgress investigation asked if Issa, who dubs himself the Congressional Watchdog, “turned the House Oversight Committee into a bank lobbying firm with the power to subpoena and pressure government regulators?” ThinkProgress found that a Goldman Sachs vice president changed his name, then later went to work for Issa to coordinate his effort to thwart regulations that would harm Goldman Sachs’ bottom line. http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/08/18/298485/exclusive-goldman-sa...
GOLF GATE: ISSA COMES BACK SWINGING: A New York Times report http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/us/politics/15issa.html?_r=1 that accused Issa of profiting off his Congressional earmarks through properties he owns (among other allegations) quickly drew fire from Issa. Issa claimed several factual areas—including stating “billions” instead of “millions” and claiming his office has a golf course view (a published photo shows treetops, not tee offs): http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/aug/20/issa-comes-out-fighting-a.... Still there was enough sizzle behind the smoke to lead even posters at the conservative blog San Diego Rostra to question why Issa hasn’t put his substantial financial holdings into a blind trust as other Congressional leaders have done. http://sdrostra.com/?p=19530
ALL IN THE FAMILY: San Diego School District Trustee Shelia Jackson, a Democrat, took heat for voting on a contract that affects her daughter’s job. As Voice of San Diego revealed: http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/education/schooled/article_a3bfe62a-cd31-.... That's after VOSD raised questions over whether Jackson still lives in her district.
TEED OFF VOTERS TO HOLD EMPTY CHAIR FORUM: Constituents of Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-San Diego) have announced plans to hold an “empty chair” forum to discuss national issues – since Bilbray hasn’t held a townhall forum and has been noticeably absent from public forums around town, even though August is traditionally a time for members to come home to their districts for face-to-face meetings with the people they represent. Set for August 24 at 6 pm at 10940 Rosell Street in San Diego’s Sorrento Valley neighborhood, the empty chair forum will be facilitated by small business owner Martha Sullivan. (Comments will be written down and sent to Bilbray. But will he read them?)
JOINING THE JOBLESS: Former San Diego State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth is losing his job as a highly paid member of the state’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. The Sacramento Bee reports that Governor Jerry Brown is axing Hollingsworth’s appointment made by outgoing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. But a new job opportunity may be opening for the conservative Hollingsworth: redistricting has created an open Assembly district that includes his home in Riverside County—and he’s not termed out for a new Assembly term.
FIRED UP: Assemblyman Brian Jones fired off testimony opposing new fire parcel fee. Calling it an illegal tax, Jones testified at the State Board of Equalization August 23. “This is nothing more than political sleight of hand and clearly does not pass Constitutional or ethical muster,” the freshman legislator from Santee told the Board.
SCAVENGING RACOONS? Nebaska Republican Senate candidate Jon Bruning won’t win the congenialty award. After comparing people who need a hand up to “scavenging raccoons”, Bruning drew fire from the media—including the Lincoln Journal Star editorial board, which said he’d embarrassed the entire state.
TEA PARTY REVOLT BREWING? Call it revenge of the scavenging raccoons….a new Gallup poll shows Democrats with a 7-point lead (51% to 44%) over Republicans when voters were asked which party they’d support if Congressional elections were held today. Gallup also asked registered voters how a Tea Party endorsement would affect their likelihood of voting for a congressional candidate. The effect is nearly 2-to-1 negative, with 42% saying they would be less likely to vote for such a candidate versus 23% saying they would be more likely.
PERPLEXING POLLS: Those high Tea Party disapproval ratings don't mean that voters are ecstatic over President Obama's performance, however. The latest Gallup Poll of likely voters shows Obama's approval rating at just 40%. Some of those critics are from the left side of the aisle, however, with liberal voters dismayed at compromises made with Republicans over the debt ceiling to cut some social programs and conservatives wanting even deeper cuts.
CRYSTAL BALL GAZING: Looking to the future, one thing looks clear: nobody is a shoe-in yet in the 2012 presidential race. Expect lots of shoe-leather and boots on the ground--along with a plethora of political ads--as the election season draws closer.