Scott Olin Schmidt

Managing The Machines of Politics

Many science fiction movies have a common plot: The machines created by humans rise up to take power over their creators. And while the real world version is far more benign, our addiction to knowledge has created a world where we are, for better or worse, increasingly defined by machines.

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It’s Still the Economy, Stupid

If it feels like the 1990’s are back, you are not alone. After O.J. Simpson’s return to the headlines – and cable TV – and the resurrection of Hillarycare, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sudden dirty plaid flannel shirts as Grunge makes a comeback.

And when it comes to politics, there’s a 1990’s catch phrase that may once again define the 2008 Presidential contest: “It’s the economy, stupid!”

Conventional wisdom says that the 2008 election will be determined by one issue: the war in Iraq. Will Americans withdraw into a protectionist cocoon or will we choose to stick things out and clean up the mess that was made? But conventional wisdom this far out from an actual election can often be wrong.

More often than not Americans vote on what they perceive to be their best interest. As the 21st Century opened, housing prices soared, liquidity sloshed through the economy and incomes rose with relatively no inflation and we could care about things like Iraq and what our troops were doing over there.

By and large, the war in Iraq has little effect on the day to day lives of most Americans. If you are not in the military or do you have a family member serving, the Iraq is little more than a philosophical or partisan discussion to be had mostly among people you know agree with you. If you are serving or know someone who has, your view is not filtered by the media and you likely know why we’re there, what we’re doing and the costs of failure.

But what will matter to most Americans when they go to the ballot box in 400 days is what affects their day-to-day lives. All signs are indicating that we’ll be feeling an economic pinch by then.

In Stockton, California, home foreclosures have increased ten-fold in the last year as rising interest rates sting homeowners tricked to believe that the housing bubble would not burst.

Consumers are staying away from retail stores in droves leading to lowered expectations from Lowe’s, Target and other retailers, many of them catering to the middle class.

The trucking industry is seeing declining tonnage month-to-month, signaling a decline in economic activity across the nation.

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Outing a Hypocrite

Mike Rogers is proud of himself. But he’s not proud in the gay-pride kind way. He’s proud in the self-important kind of way. By playing into America’s fears of homosexuals, and exploiting homophobia, Rogers has managed to get himself labeled the “most-feared” man on Capitol Hill by none other than the Washington Post.

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Sub-prime Shakedown Has Upside Potential

It’s March Madness in the media as people are jumping off the rooftops—metaphorically—over the collapse in the sub-prime lending market. The recent housing boom was fueled, in part, by people chasing the American dream of homeownership when they were in no position to do so—and a complicit industry of bankers

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Battle for Republican Soul Begins!

But in 2007, the party seems adrift, as if it suffered from the Democratic malaise of struggling to find a soul. Take a look at the topics to be discussed at this week’s edition of the Conservative cabal and you’ll see what I mean: Beyond Our Pocketbooks: Social Issues and the Conservative Movement What Happened to the Fight Against Big Government?… There’s no telling what will come from this year’s meeting of the Conservative Cabal, but we’ll be there to see how the Right plans to strike back in 2007—and let you know against whom, the Democrats or themselves?

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Texas-Sized Energy Crisis Looms

While Californians happily debate how to spend the billions of dollars in excess revenues generated from last year’s stock market surge, the state is facing an energy crisis eerily similar to that of seven years ago. Only by this time, the pending shortages will be almost entirely of our own doing…. Obviously the kind gentlemen at Chesapeake Energy Corp and the other gas companies which are funding this Texas-based front group believe that their profits will increase if, all of a sudden, the second-largest state in the union suddenly switches to using their product to replace coal for electric generation.

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