January 20, 2021

Branding and the Cheesehead Summer: Wisconsin recall fails

Posted on 08. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics, Social/Cultural

Never thought I’d see the day when my beloved Wisconsin was branded!

Last year we were living in what was called, the Recovery Summer. This year it’s the summer of the Cheesehead Revolution and the failure of Wisconsin’s Democrats to unseat and recall their controversial Governor, Scott Walker.

We’re pretty accustomed to branding in the West. Without our brands we’d be rustling and feeding on each other’s livestock.  So, from a practical point of view, the identification aspect of branding makes sense, but the brands have to mean something and stand for something of value.

Re-branding America’s Dairyland

Nothing is immune from branding, not even our states or our state representatives.  I don’t want a brand representing me in Congress or anywhere else for that matter. Nor do I think that states should be branded.

I want representatives and Governors with slightly rough edges who actually say something rather than rolling out a sound-bite, and I certainly don’t want any of our fabulous fifty states straying too far from their beaten paths, creating whole new identities for themselves, either.

Last night, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin survived an intense recall effort designed to unseat him. Our normally understated laissez-faire cool as cucumbers Wisconsinites spent $17 million of their hard-earned tax dollars for the pleasure of airing their dirty laundry in public, only to confirm the validity of their initial vote. Result: Walker stays. Status quo wins.

Millions more dollars were spent by the organized labor movement in their propaganda campaign leading up to last night’s vote in an effort to brand Walker as a union-buster and the Republicans as cold-hearted callous anti-democratic storm troopers armed with cattle prods on a search-and-destroy mission bound for Local Teachers’36.

Move over Darth Vader

From the outset, the contest was branded as an epic confrontation between good and evil. It was the forces of darkness (Walker and his gang) against the people (organized labor) – the prize being the power to chart the Dairy State’s fiscal and political course for the future.

The only thing the branders seemed to leave out of their argument were the facts, facts like Wisconsin’s dire economic straits due to the escalating cost of public sector union benefits that were bankrupting the state when Walker took office.

But last winter the branders didn’t let those facts get in the way. Instead, they mobilized both in-state and out-of-state and headed for the Wisconsin Capital Building and occupied it, illegally. They shouted, screamed and in general threw a tantrum in the public square. The real victim, though, was decorum which they successfully trounced during days of heated protests with authorities.

Exit Democrats stage left

Their actions were Act II of the Cheesehead street theatre play which started with eleven of Wisconsin’s Democrat legislators fleeing the state for neighboring Rockford, Illinois to avoid doing their elected duty (voting on the legislation that would enable communities to negotiate pension benefits, locally).

After the legislation passed without their vote, the floodgates were opened. The recall petition drive that followed was impressive (garnering 900,000 signatures), and it revealed the strength of the Democrat Party apparatus and of labor unions’ organizational skills.

The opponents of Walker forgot one thing in their zeal to brand him and his supporters of fiscal responsibility as radicals. They forgot that no matter how well organized you are or how fat your checkbook may be, there is nothing, repeat nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.

Maybe the Cheesehead Summer in the State of Wisconsin has come just in time for the rest of us to have a serious discussion about the path our country should take going forward.

Wisconsin did prove one thing, however, that where there’s the whey there’s the will.

- Editor

America’s heartstrings are not for sale

Posted on 04. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Energy/Environment, Healthcare, Politics, Social/Cultural

I think we’ve finally reached the dead-end on the long political road of seduction. After being subjected to one year of campaign promises and three years of governing promises from President Obama, many Americans have managed to shake themselves awake from a mind-numbing REM sleep induced by the most elementary marketing tactic known to man – appealing to our deepest-seated desires…and fears.

And to be fair, the Obama win was also based on the incumbent fatigue that nearly always occurs after a political party has been in power for eight years, irrespective of its failures or successes.

It’s really pretty impressive how the President and his acolytes constructed a campaign organization whose singular purpose was to win the power of the Presidency, and it’s equally impressive how they’ve kept the campaign going for three additional years! They would all deserve an ‘Emmy’ for their performances if this were a made-for-TV movie. Unfortunately, this is no movie. This is reality, American style.

The great PR victory

And while we must give them all credit for this remarkable PR accomplishment, America cannot afford to swoon in admiration of its theatricality any longer, especially when our country is smarting from unprecedented deficits, obscenely high unemployment, a vacillating and seemingly sophomoric foreign policy, along with a new class war that can only be described as a bait and switch tactic designed to move voters’ focus from the Administration’s many failures.

The Presidents’ men are convinced that Mr. Obama’s personal likeability will save his Presidency, but they forget that the voters didn’t elect a class president. They elected a real President that was supposed to represent all of the people and not just those that subscribed to his own political philosophy (and that goes for his own party that has repeatedly refused to vote for his proposals like the budget)!  This President’s modus operandi has been to avoid working with the opposition, and in some cases even demonizing them.

This is not statesmanship. It is blind stubbornness and a total affront to Americans’ sensibilities and a misreading of their inherent fairness. It is also unworthy of a leader who resolutely adheres to a narrow economic and social philosophy that has effectively stiff-armed the desires of millions of moderate Democrats and independents who cast their votes for him in the hopes that he would bring us together as he so often promised on the campaign trail in 2008.

Leadership not followship

Presidents’ decisions must never be based solely on political polling, nor should they totally ignore them, especially when they concern foreign policy or social issues that affect all Americans. Every President must occasionally swallow his pride and cross the aisle of the political divide to get things done. Stern looks, veiled threats and smugness will not win the day, neither will condoning ramrod techniques to pass massive social legislation (the Affordable Healthcare Act) in the dark of night.

While some may judge his actions as courageous, and encourage him to redouble his efforts and take off the gloves, others will call his intransigence hubris and arrogance, not audacity.

I believe that most Americans are tired of bare knuckle street fighting tactics and want their leaders, starting with the Commander-in-Chief, to unclench their fists and extend their hands in bi-partisanship (though this may be wishful thinking in a political season that can only be described as a free-for-all). That shouldn’t stop us from wanting it, however.

Critics of the President will accuse him of being a totally political animal, one that cares little for the Constitution or the institutions of government if they get in his way. Supporters will say that process shouldn’t stop progress, and that if the President can get what he wants by going off script (Executive Orders, etc.) then so be it.

It’s getting harder to ascribe the best motives to Mr. Obama’s actions when indications of his willingness to go rogue are everywhere. The latest example is the ‘forced contraception coverage’ decision that mandates religious institutions discard their own strongly-held theological beliefs and accede to an overbearing government’s view of what those beliefs ought to be.  If that doesn’t skirt the edges of the First Amendment, I don’t know what does.

Should likeability trump good governance?

In the end, I’m convinced that the likeability factor will loom large in the 2012 campaign for the Presidency, probably accompanied by the have and have-not (the 1%) argument. We’ll have to accept that fact as part of the package, but what we should want to see and hear is a serious discussion of the candidates’ visions for America, absent the usual platitudes and harkening back to shining cities on a hill or I have a dream-like references that sounded much better when uttered by their original authors.

We are electing a leader in November and not a heroic figure conjured up from the wellspring of our own imagination or one that is based on a composite of our own personal desires. If we really want a President that can help get us out of the metaphorical ditch we find ourselves in, then we need to elect one with the skills, talent and the experience necessary to truly lead our fragmented nation into the next four years.

To do that, you and I will need to reboot our decision-making process in favor of a rational, objective assessment of the candidates’ records. There’s an old saying in the entertainment business, “You’re only as good as your last performance,” and performance is the one metric that Americans have traditionally chosen over advertising when buying anything of enduring value.

- Editor-   Opposing viewpoints are always welcomed and may be sent to: editor@newmexicanvoice.com

We’ve come a long way in the climate change war

Posted on 02. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

“We are winning the war!” was a phrase I heard repeatedly this week. Congressman Sensenbrenner, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, said: “We won on these issues because we were right.”

What “war” brought together more than 60 scientists from around the world—including astronauts,  meteorologists, and physicians; politicians—comprising the Congressman, a head of state, and a member of the European Parliament; and policy analysts and media for two-and-a-half days in Chicago?

The battle over climate change and the belief that there needs to be real science—more “about honest debate than ideological warfare.”

Assembled by the Heartland Institute, the seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7) provided the second opportunity for Congressman Sensenbrenner to address the group. In his opening comments, Sensenbrenner said, “We’ve come a long way.”

He recounted: “When I last spoke, the House of Representatives was poised to pass the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill; the United Nations was promising the extension and expansion of the Kyoto Protocol; and President Obama was touting Spain as our model for a massive increase in renewable energy subsidies.

Three years later, cap-and-tax is dead; the Kyoto Protocol is set to expire; and Spain recently announced that it eliminated new renewable energy subsidies.”

Sensenbrenner told about the behind the scenes wrangling that went on to get the Waxman-Markey bill passed. “I was on the House floor on June 29, 2009, when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi desperately pulled Members aside to lobby, beg, and bargain for votes for the Waxman-Markey bill.”

It did pass. But “the electoral consequences for the proponents of these policies was severe.” Just 16 months later, in the 2010 elections, “over two dozen of the Members she convinced to vote ‘yes’ lost their jobs.”

It wasn’t just the Members who suffered harsh political ramifications for their support of the Waxman-Markey bill—which was supposed to nullify the impact of manmade global warming through a cap-and-trade scheme.

Sensenbrenner contends that support of the manmade (anthropogenic) global warming position (AGW) also cost Al Gore the presidency back in 2000. He explained: “West Virginia’s 5 electoral votes would have tipped the election for Gore, and Gore’s near-evangelical support for climate change easily cost him the 42,000 votes he would have needed to win there.”

While there is little debate that the climate does change, there is debate as to what causes it. The camps are divided into two general groups along the line of human’s role—with Al Gore’s camp believing that the “science is settled” concluding that man’s driving of SUVs burning petroleum products that emit CO2 (and other symptoms of the developed world) is the cause, and the other disagreeing.

The “other” is who gathered in Chicago last week amid the thousands of NATO protestors. The “other” not only disagrees with Al Gore’s AGW position—but they disagree with each other.

I attended session after session where sunspots were addressed, deep ocean circulation changes were discussed, the CO2 contribution of volcanoes was brought up, and the health impacts of a warmer planet were touted—just to name a few. I brought home reams of documentation, some of which are, frankly, beyond my comprehension.

Whether or not the documentable climate change—cooler in the seventies, warmer in the nineties, stable for the last decade (just to point out some recent changes)—is due to the sun or the sea, or myriad other causes, the key take away is that the science is not settled.

Four former NASA employees presented at ICCC7—two astronauts: Walter Cunningham (Apollo 7) and Dr. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt (Apollo 17). They talked about a letter sent to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr., in which they requested that NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) “refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and websites.”

The March 28 letter, signed by 49 former NASA employees, declares that they “believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data.

With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.

“The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.”

It is the “unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change” that should concern you and me—and, it is not just coming from NASA. It is coming from the White House and the EPA, from environmental groups and protestors.

The belief that CO2 is causing catastrophic climate change is the driver for today’s energy policy.

Based on a supposed “consensus,” politicians, and the nonelected bureaucrats they appointed, have, and are, making risky investments with taxpayer dollars (think Solyndra, et al); subsidizing “alternative” energies such as wind and solar that are not effective, efficient, or economical; blocking access to resources that are abundant, available, and affordable—which raises gasoline prices and punishes those who can least afford it; and regulating America’s most cost-effective electricity out of commission.

The increasing energy costs are hurting all of America—individuals and industry—and our competitive edge.

Roger Helmer, a member of the European Parliament, offered these comments regarding wind energy and the entire green project in his presentation at ICCC7: “Wind plus gas back up results in virtually zero emissions savings.

So, we are desecrating the countryside, we are wasting huge amounts of money, we are impoverishing our children, we are choosing poverty over prosperity—and after all that, we are not even achieving what we set out to achieve. This is madness, madness, madness writ large.”

Once you remove the manmade climate change/CO2 concerns, the foundation for expensive, intermittent “renewable” energy goes away—and there is a huge investment, emotional, ideological, and financial, in keeping the ruse alive.

In comparing the manmade climate change scheme to the European single currency, Helmer said: “Both of the projects are falling apart before our very eyes.

But, as they fall apart, the true believers, especially the people with a financial interest—let’s not forget that these projects have attracted vast political and intellectual capital, but they’ve also attracted vast numbers of rent seekers and hangers on, and people whose jobs depend on these projects, and these people do not want to see them go away so these people are coming forward and—are thinking of every possible excuse which might explain what has gone wrong with the projects.”

No wonder there is a war. One side wants to “defend its findings,” while the other wants to “find the truth.”

While America is in an economic war, “advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers, is inappropriate.”

In this election season, all candidates would do well to remember the fate of Al Gore and his many AGW supporters. Sensenbrenner offered these wise words on energy policy: “Going forward, we must continue to oppose bad ideas and continue to support technological development the only way it works—by allowing markets to determine the technological winners and losers.”

Echoing the war theme, Helmer offered encouragement in his closing remarks: “This is a battle that we must win. We must win it for America. We must win it for Europe. We must win it for our children and grandchildren.

And, we must win it for all mankind. I’ll tell you why we will win it, because, we have two weapons in our armory that the bad guys don’t have. The first weapon is the truth, and the second weapon is the climate.”

Whether scientist or politician, policy analyst or media, one message that came through loud and clear at the ICCC7 is that we’ve come a long way in the climate change war, and we are winning, but we haven’t won yet! The climate change battle is at the center of global energy policy, and the countries that have the ability to develop their natural resources to produce cheap energy will be the victors!

This article was submitted by the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon, who serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.


April Sales Numbers Continue on 2012 Upward Trend

Posted on 01. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy

1,234 sales were reported to the REALTORS® Association of New Mexico during April 2012.  This number is just over 11% higher than the number of sales reported in April 2011.  Year to date sales (4,227) are 8.6% higher than 2011 year to date sales and 1.8% higher than 2010 January through April totals.

The 2012 year to date median price of $160,000 is lower than the 2011 January through April median, however, April’s median of $165,000 is higher than last month’s median and equal to that reported during April of 2011.

“Sales of distressed properties are still weighing heavily on median prices in New Mexico,” according to Debbie Rogers, 2012 RANM President.  “RANM leadership just returned from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) MidYear meetings in Washington, D.C., where we found optimism for a slow, steady recovery of the market and sales prices.”

While nearly two-thirds of reporting counties showed an increase in the number of sales comparing April 2012 to April 2011, only half of the reporting counties show an increase in median prices for the same period.

Bernalillo County reported an increase in number of sales and an increase in median prices comparing April 2012 to April 2011.  Dona Ana, Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Taos Counties reported an increase in sales numbers but a decrease in median prices.

NAR’s composite quarterly Housing Affordability Index rose to a record high of 205.9 in the first quarter of 2012, based on the relationship between median home price, median family income and average mortgage interest rate.  The higher the index, the greater the household purchasing power.

“Market conditions are optimal for home buyers.  For those with good credit, we’ve never seen better housing affordability conditions or market opportunities than we see at present,” according to RANM Executive Vice President Steve Anaya.

“Home prices are stabilizing and sales are rising, but some buyers still have to jump through a lot of hoops to convince a lender that they are creditworthy, even for a mortgage that would be well within their means.  Home sales would be much higher if lending standards would return to normal.”

The trends and numbers reported are only a snapshot of market activity.  If you are interested in buying or selling, consult a REALTOR familiar with your market area; he/she can provide information on specific trends in your neighborhood.

Statistical information and trends are based on information furnished by New Mexico Member Boards and MLSs to U. S. House Stats.  Current reporting participants are: Greater Albuquerque Association of REALTORS, Las Cruces Association of REALTORS MLIS, New Mexico Multi-Board MLS (Artesia, Carlsbad, Clovis/Portales, Deming, Gallup, Grants, Hobbs, Las Vegas, Sierra County areas), Otero County Board of REALTORS, Roswell Association of REALTORS, Ruidoso/Lincoln County Association of REALTORS, Santa Fe Association of REALTORS, San Juan County Board of REALTORS, Silver City Regional Association of REALTORS, and the Taos County Association of REALTORS. Reports represent single family residential data only.  Information does not necessarily represent all activity in any market/county.  Figures based on reports run 5/16/12.  Visit www.nmrealtor.com (housing trends) for county and board statistics.

This article was submitted by The REALTORS Association of New Mexico, one of the state’s largest trade associations, representing over 5,300 members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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