Thursday, November 15, 2007

# Posted 5:15 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE FOR THE McCAIN SURGE? At some point in October, the debate ended about whether there was a significant drop in violence in Iraq. The numbers were clearly there and those arguing for a rapid withdrawal had to fall back on arguing that progress was either not sustainable or insufficient on the political front.

I wonder whether the debate about the McCain surge is reaching a similar turning point. Supporters like myself are hoping that the surge is more than a trend we are compelled to see because of our faith in our candidate. After all, there is a lot of buzz around his resurgence, although there was lots of buzz just a month or two ago about McCain being dead in the water. So is there evidence?

The latest poll from FoxNews is clearly good news for McCain. For the first time in many months he has second place all to himself, well behind Giuliani but clearly ahead of Thompson. (See question 14.)

The McCain staff is also very excited about evidence from Fox and elsewhere that McCain performs the best against Hillary Clinton in general election trial heats. (Question 16) I've been wondering/hoping whether the electability factor will rise in importance as it becomes more and more apparent to Republicans that they really will be facing Hillary in a general election.

For a comprehensive look at the polls, it is of course always best to visit RealClearPolitics. I'd say that even a supporter like myself has to concede that none of the other GOP primary polls look as good as Fox. Collectively, those polls show a neck-and-neck fight for second place behind Giuliani. McCain is fighting for second place in New Hampshire, but the real big story is Mike Huckabee's surge in Iowa.

With regard to trial heats, the news is better. McCain certainly runs better against Hillary than Giuliani does, but Giuliani was winning his trial heats against her less than a month ago. The data on McCain isn't so robust, however, since the pollster have responded to the conventional wisdom of McCain's demise by running fewer heats, whereas there is plenty of data to analyze for the Clinton-Giuliani matchup.

In summary, I would say this: Mark Twain would have a good chuckle at the premature reports of Sen. McCain's demise. Those who expressed such certainty in that outcome have plenty of egg on their face. But McCain has a long way to go before anyone can call him a front-runner again.

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(5) opinions -- Add your opinion

Mike Huckabee offers us a clear difference from all other viable presidential candidates with his ardent advocacy of the FairTax Act of 2007 (HR 25/ S 1025). A signed FairTax bill will represent a power shift of massive proportions in America. It lays out a practical ideal of voluntary payment of taxes, based on a substantial level of taxpayer choice that the plan affords. Since FairTax untaxes basic necessities (up to socially-accepted poverty-level spending), what is taxed is marginal, and/or desired or preferred, on a broader base of retail products and services. This is to say that the taxpayer may, under the FairTax, choose to purchase used products and avoid paying the tax. And, to the extent desired, the taxpayer may choose to self-perform certain services rather than pay for them. This will stimulate do-it-yourself education, improve citizens' self-reliance; indeed the FairTax represents the possibility of ushering in a new can-do, citizen psychology that would accrue to greater demands for government accountability - truly, a cultural sea change.

Government is the "necessary glue" that enables the social fabric to cohere. It does this by effecting "rules" that ostensibly provide members with equitable access to wealth and resources. It also must provide ostensibly equitable enforcement of those rules in order to mitigate threats to the social fabric. It is unrealistic to believe that the structures of a national government can be supported on donations, thus the need for taxes. Naysayers love to characterize anything purporting to be a "fair tax" as an oxymoron - but it is not true. The idea of fairness has to do with equitable sharing in the cost by all members who depend upon the social fabric for food, shelter, clothing and post-necessity economic enterprise. And, because of the shift of power from politicians and special interests under an enacted FairTax, the elected will find it more difficult to both enlarge government, and implement any dual system of taxation. FairTax strategist, Dennis Calabrese, discusses how the FairTax repeals the income tax, how it does away with the IRS, and how it addresses other aspects of frequent concern to skeptics.

The FairTax has a much greater opportunity for success to operate as a "self-regulating" mechanism because of increased visibility. One finds that the current system, ostensibly regulated by the Internal Revenue Code, is in fact poorly regulated because of continually increasing complexity (the effect of tax favors from politicians, through lobbyists, to favored corporations and other special interests) stemming from the desire by those holding government position to steer public behavior using tax code "carrots." We have seen how 100 years of this type of behavior has eroded the Nation's currency and the purchasing power of working family incomes. "Visionist," Tom Frey believes the current tax system will simply collapse; and economist Laurence Kotlikoff heralds - short of enactment of FairTax (or an otherwise unlikely change in spending habits) - the U.S. will shortly face an irrevocable economic breakdown. (Kotlikoff believes that passage of the FairTax can stave off the economic ruin we're facing, but would be surprised to see it happen.)

Frey and Kotlikoff may be right on both counts, and we may not be able to successfully evoke change; but shall we not try?

(Permission granted to republish, in whole or part. -Ian)
Must be his elevation of the discourse, David.
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