Sunday, January 24, 2010

How to Prepare for an Emergency

We live in an uncertain world. An emergency might be as localized as a house fire or burglary or it might cover an area as wide as several states. Natural disasters, pandemics, terror attacks, riots or a myriad of other occurrences could cause an interruption of food, water and power for extended periods of time.

Such an interruption could cause severe difficulty for families even if they are not directly affected by the disaster. Even though in most cases help will be quick to arrive, we should be prepared to fend for ourselves for at least a short period of time. In rare cases, such as Hurricane Katrina or the LA riots, help might not arrive for days. In the worst case scenario, such as an electromagnetic pulse or dirty bomb attack on the US, help might not arrive for months.

In modern times, it can be disconcerting to think about surviving for even a short time without cell phones and computers, much less without any running water, heat, or electricity at all. If we are wise, we will give more than a passing thought to how we would deal with such an uncomfortable situation.

One of the most basic tenets of emergency planning is to put together a kit containing supplies that will help you to survive an emergency. The government recommends putting together a kit that will allow you to survive on your own for at least three days. gives the government’s recommendations on what your emergency kit should contain.

First think of immediate survival. Your kit should contain nonperishable food and water. The government recommends one gallon of water per person for three days. One way of stockpiling water is reuse plastic milk jugs or two-liter bottles. If you have a freezer with extra space, you can freeze your water in these bottles to help prevent it from becoming contaminated over time. You might also want to purchase a portable water filter and/or water purification tablets. These can be obtained from camping supply stores.

You should ensure that any food that you stockpile is nonperishable. Canned goods have a long shelf life, but are heavy to transport. It may seem obvious, but if you elect to stockpile canned goods, make sure that you also stockpile at least one can opener! You can easily build an emergency pantry by simply buying a few extra canned goods on each trip to the grocery store.

Another alternative is to purchase freeze-dried foods. These are available from camping supply stores as well. Freeze-dried foods are often more expensive, but are lighter and easier to transport. Most can be used in dried form without rehydrating. If you choose freeze-dried foods, you might want to increase the stockpile of water due to the need for water to rehydrate your food supply.

Also consider military surplus MREs (meals-ready-to-eat). MRE’s are essentially a complete meal in a bag. They include an entrĂ©e, snacks, drink mix, and even toilet paper. They are compact and easily stored with a long shelf life. You can often buy MREs locally at army surplus stores at relatively inexpensive prices.

Don’t neglect items such as prescription medications, fire extinguishers, baby formula, and diapers as well. If you have pets, consider stockpiling appropriate food and water for your animals as well. Eyeglasses, pacifiers, and a camp stove with matches are a few other items that you might find useful in an emergency. Baby wipes can be used for bathing and cleaning if water is short.

Along with food, a first aid kit is another basic survival must. Commercial first aid kits are available, but if you elect to purchase a kit, make sure the contents meet your needs. Many commercially available first aid kits contain little more than band-aids and aspirin. It is often easier and more cost effective to put to together your own first aid kit.

Recommendations for a first aid kit can also be found online at At minimum, your first aid kit should contain bandages in a variety of sizes, antibiotic cream, and commonly used medications such as aspirin or Tylenol. Burn ointment and rubber gloves are also good items to include in your first aid kit. An anti-diarrhea medication such as Imodium AD is also recommended. You should also consider taking a first aid course.

Once you have met your basic survival needs, you should next think about shelter. When considering shelter, think about the climate that you may to survive in throughout the whole year. Even if your house is undamaged, you may need an alternative heat source for winter. This might include extra firewood, space heaters that do not require electricity (along with extra fuel), and warm sleeping bags. In an emergency, even trash bags can be a lifesaver. When worn over the body, plastic trash bags can trap the body’s heat, keeping you warm enough to survive.

Survival shelters might also include a tornado shelter in certain parts of the country. A tent or recreational vehicle could provide shelter if your house is destroyed, even in winter. In some emergencies, a basement might also be a good place to take shelter.

Next, consider a portable radio. I recommend a radio that can be powered by a hand crank so that you are not dependent on batteries. Your radio should be able to receive National Weather Service (NWS) advisories. Many inexpensive emergency radios even include jacks to charge your cell phone with the hand crank.

Flashlights are also very important. Even a basic, cheap flashlight is worth a lot when all the lights go out. You can also purchase flashlights that do not require batteries. These lights can be powered by shaking.

It is important to note that if you stockpile radios and flashlights that require batteries, you should also stockpile plenty of batteries. Additionally, you should replace them with new batteries regularly. A battery-powered device is worthless without batteries. A battery is worthless if it is dead.

To provide security for your shelter, include basic tools in your emergency kit. Wrenches, screwdrivers, and a hammer and nails might be necessary to make repairs or board up windows. Know where important valves, such as shut-offs for gas and water, are located in your home, as well as the electric circuit box.

Additionally, consider the possibility that you might be isolated for a long period of time. Include books, puzzles, paper, and pencils in your emergency stockpile. One book that should definitely be included is an emergency survival manual. You may also want to include inspirational or religious literature to help keep the morale of your group up. People who believe in something bigger than themselves have a much better chance of being survivors.

A final item of emergency equipment to think about is a weapon. In a major emergency, law enforcement may not be available to protect you and your property. In recent years, we have seen law enforcement overwhelmed by events during the 1992 LA riots and post-Katrina New Orleans in 2005. Even in an individual emergency, such as a home-invasion burglary, you might be forced to defend yourself for long minutes before the police arrive… even if you have an opportunity to call them.

Before purchasing a gun, find out about your local gun laws. Some cities and states all but ban the ownership of firearms or require a permit. If you are unfamiliar with guns, you should take a firearms training course through your local gun shop or the NRA. Any gun you plan on using, especially one that you might use in the dark under intense pressure, you should become very familiar with. Plan on practicing with your gun. You should also consider how your gun will be stored, since some states require trigger locks or similar equipment.

For home defense, a shotgun is probably the best choice. A shotgun fires a cartridge containing small pellets. When fired, these pellets scatter in the direction of the target. This means that a shotgun doesn’t require pinpoint accuracy. Bad guys know this. The downside to a shotgun is that it is a long weapon. This means that it can be more clumsy to use as well as causing storage problems.

A second choice is a handgun, or pistol. Pistols are stored more easily and can be used effectively in tight quarters. Pistols are available in a variety of sizes, styles, and calibers. A possible problem with pistols is that they fire a bullet instead of buckshot. Hitting a target with a bullet can require practice.

After your emergency supplies are set up for your home, consider putting together similar kits for your vehicles. Cars can be stranded in almost any type of weather, but winter storms are particularly hazardous. A first aid kit, warm clothing or blankets, and signaling devices such as flares could be a lifesaver. Car window breakout tools are available to help you break car windows in the event that your car becomes submerged in a flood or auto accident.

Make sure that your vehicle is ready to travel. In a widespread emergency, you may not have time to stop by a gas station. Gas might not even be available. It is good practice to keep a reasonable amount of gasoline in your tank. For instance, make it a habit to fill your tank when the level drops to a half or a fourth. Also make sure that you have local maps and/or a portable GPS. Many roads might be jammed or otherwise impassable. Have a destination in mind. For instance, you might want to travel to relatives who live away from the city in an emergency.

Finally, the most important thing that you can do to survive an emergency is to develop a survival mindset. You must make up your mind to not be a victim or become a statistic. Make up your mind to take control of your destiny. Don’t sleepwalk your way through life. Pay attention to weather and news so that you won’t be surprised when an emergency occurs. Consider the risks before putting yourself into a situation that is likely to leave you in an emergency situation. Always have a backup plan in mind.

Don’t think that it can never happen to you. Think that it might. Be prepared. Hope that you never have to use your preparations.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Where Martha Coakley and the Democrats Went Wrong

Yesterday Massachusetts state senator Scott Brown pulled off an upset defeat of Democratic candidate Martha Coakley in a special election to fill the seat of the deceased Senator Ted Kennedy. Senator-elect Brown, the first Republican senator from Massachusetts since 1978 and the only current GOP member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, staged a stunning come-from-behind victory. His poll numbers surged over the past few months as the Democrats became increasingly desperate to pass a health care reform bill.

Senator Brown’s victory is all the more remarkable because Coakley had led the race by as much as 30 points only a few months ago [1]. Likewise, President Obama carried Massachusetts in November 2008 by a comfortable 26% margin [2]. What could have caused such a drastic shift in the electorate in slightly more than a year?

The answer is likely to be that the Democrats have lost the moderate voters. US elections are typically won in the middle of the political spectrum. Estimates of size vary, but the US electorate is split into three groups: the left, the right and the center. My estimate is that the left is smallest group at roughly 20%. The remainder is split roughly equally between the moderates and the right. Neither the right nor the left have the numbers necessary to win elections; they must appeal to moderate voters.

Barack Obama won because he won the moderates. Moderates and independents responded to Obama’s calls for “hope” and “change.” He promised a new era in which we would move past partisan politics. He promised fiscal responsibility and an end to government waste and corruption. Much of his campaign rhetoric actually sounded conservative. The reality of his administration has been somewhat different.

President Obama and the Democratic congressional leaders, Senator Harry Reid and Representative Nancy Pelosi, misread the election returns. They interpreted Obama’s victory, as well as Democratic landslides in congress, as a rejection of conservative principles. Once in office, they embarked on an orgy of spending programs and extreme left-wing growth of government. As the stimulus bill passed in February 2009, their popularity started to fall. When the senate passed the health care bill ten months on a strict party line vote, Democratic approval ratings plummeted. Partisanship was at a fever pitch. Legislation was cobbled together in secret meetings. Representatives voted for bills that they had not had time to read. This was not what the American people had signed up for. What’s more, it scared them. Then it made them angry.

The cracks in the Democratic support began to show in November 2009. In gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, both states won by Obama, Republican candidates won the moderate vote, and the elections, handily. Exit polls showed that Republicans won the moderate vote by a two-to-one margin [3]. It was a short distance from there to Scott Brown’s unexpected victory in solidly blue Massachusetts.

What comes next for the Democrats is likely another round of electoral losses in November unless a strong course correction is made. Attempts to continue to push through unpopular legislation such as the health care reform and cap-and-trade will likely ensure the coming losses. If, as some Democrats have suggested, the Massachusetts secretary of state should refuse to certify Brown’s victory or the senate refuse to seat him until after the health care vote [4], then they will compound their arrogance and further anger the voters all around the country.

It remains to be seen whether (and what) President Obama and the Democrats will learn from Martha Coakley’s defeat. With ten months until the next general elections, there might be time to rehabilitate their image and prevent a catastrophic loss if they act quickly.

If the Republicans do win a large victory this year, it also remains to be seen if they have learned from their past mistakes. Just like the Democrats, the Republicans became spendthrifts with taxpayer money and caused government to grow too large. They also became corrupt and arrogant. For the sake of the country, let’s all pray that they have learned their lesson well.


Villa Rica GA
January 20, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

2010 Georgia Elections

Many people probably don’t vote because they simply aren’t sure when the elections are. As a frequent traveler, I’ve almost missed several due to being out of town and forgetting to request an absentee ballot. In this blog, I’ll try to fill in the important dates to remember for Georgians in 2010. There might be additional city and county election dates as well, so check with your local elections officials and mark your calendar.

The first elections in Georgia will occur on March 16, 2010. This will be a special election held to fill vacancies only. Check locally to see if you need to head to the polls. To vote in this election, you will need to register to vote by February 16. There will be a similar special election held on September 21. Register by August 23, to vote in this election. If needed, runoffs for these elections will be held on April 13 and October 19 respectively.

The first truly statewide election of the year will be the Georgia primary election. The primary will be held on July 20. To vote in the primary, you must register by June 21. A runoff for the primary will be held on August 10, if it is required.

The general election, 2010’s main event, will be held on November 2. If you haven’t registered by this point, you have until October 4 to do so. A runoff for the primary election will be held on November 30, if needed.

If you cannot visit a polling place on election day, you can request an absentee ballot. In Georgia, the deadline to request an absentee ballot application is the Friday before the election. Absentee ballots can be cast up to 180 days before the election. I will discuss the process for absentee voting, as well as the registration process, in later posts.

Mark your calendar with these important dates. Remember that voting is a civic right and duty. It is also your duty to be an informed voter. Follow my posts to learn more about the issues at stake in Election 2010.

Chicago IL
January 11, 2009

2009 Predictions Revisited

Last February, after Barack Obama had been president for about a month, I posted a series of predictions for the next several years on my blog, CaptainKudzu. Almost a year later, as Obama’s first anniversary in office approaches, I decided to revisit my forecasts and see how well I fared. The unedited version of my original predictions can be found at I should note that I did not say that my predictions would be fulfilled within 2009, but over the next several years.

The current stimulus bill will fail, just as the TARP program and the 2008 stimulus checks failed.

At this point, it is generally agreed (outside the Obama Administration at least), that the stimulus bill had little or no stimulative effect on the economy. In truth, the stimulus bill was a special interest spending bill that cobbled together numerous pork-barrel projects.

The ineffectiveness of the bill can be seen in the administration’s claim that without the stimulus, the unemployment rate could top 8.5% [FNC]. With the stimulus, unemployment continued past the 8.5% and remained at 10% for December 2009 (

While some sectors of the economy have seen short-term surges through programs such as cash-for clunkers and mortgage modifications, these have not lasted. These surges reflect government-created bubbles rather than a truly recovering economy.

Additionally, there have been widespread reports that many of jobs that were reported as created by the stimulus were reported incorrectly or fraudulently. The stimulus job numbers were often inflated to ridiculous proportions or were outright fabrications.

When the current stimulus bill fails, the government’s solution will be enact another, probably larger, stimulus bill.

A second stimulus bill is still in the future. Such a bill has been discussed throughout 2009, but has been slowed by both voter anger and the gridlock that has met the healthcare reform bill. This is still a possibility for the future.

Massive government spending will create high inflation as the government prints money to pay its debts.

Inflation is also a possibility for the future that has not been realized. Currently the inflation rate remains very low with some economists concerned about the possibility of deflation due to the contracting economy.

The Obama Administration has already over more than $1 trillion to the national debt and there are no signs that the spending spree is drawing to a conclusion. There remains a strong possibility that as the government prints money to pay its debts, the dollar will become further devalued and inflation will return. This is especially true if China slows or stops its purchase of US government securities.

The government will also raise taxes. They may not call it raising taxes. They may call it “allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire,” but most Americans who pay taxes will be keeping less of their own money.

Some taxes have already been increased. Others are yet to come.

The first Obama tax increase came in April 2009 when the federal tobacco tax increased by 62 cents per pack. This tax increase primarily affected the middle and lower-class taxpayers that Obama had pledged would pay higher taxes under his administration.

Next will likely be an extension for the estate tax. Under Bush-era legislation, the estate tax was scheduled to be repealed for one year in 2010. Democrats tried, but failed, to reach an agreement to extend the tax into 2010 at 2009 levels. Extending the tax retroactively is likely to be a priority for the first sessions of Congress in 2010.

Another upcoming tax is related to the healthcare reform bill. Most obviously, the bill would require Americans to buy health insurance and fine those who do not. Senator Max Baucus calls the fine an “excise tax” (fnc).

Additionally, however, the bill also contains a surtax on the wealthy and a tax on so-called “Cadillac” health plans. Some reports are that the surtax is not indexed for inflation and will capture more and more middle-class taxpayers in a manner similar to the alternative minimum tax. Many union workers would find their health plans taxed.

The recession will be long and the recovery will be slow.

The accuracy of this prediction is self-evident.

Job creation will be stagnant in most sectors of the economy. Government jobs will be an exception.

As noted earlier, the unemployment rate remains at 10%. It has been noted that the real unemployment rate, counting underemployed workers and those who have given up looking for work may be as high as 17.5% [cnbc].

As to the second half of the prediction, government jobs have increased since Obama took office. Not only are there more government workers, they are also earning more than in the past. USA Today reports that the number of federal workers earning more than $100,000 is at an all-time high, even before bonuses and overtime are considered.

Unemployment will continue to remain at or above current levels for the next several years.

As noted earlier, unemployment remains at 10% with real unemployment rates as high as 17.5%.

A nationalized healthcare system will be enacted in some form.

The enactment of a national healthcare system is still ongoing. There are two healthcare bills at this point, one of which includes the so-called “public option.” The senate version has no public option, but either bill would stack the deck against private insurance. As insurance rates skyrocket due to federal mandates, congress would likely blame a failure of the market and revisit the idea of a national healthcare system.

There will be new restrictions on guns and ammunition.

The Obama Administration has not attempted to enact new gun control legislation yet. To this point, they have been pre-occupied with their version of healthcare reform.

There is a real concern that if the government takes control of the healthcare industry, they could pursue gun control as a matter of public health. This has already been considered by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health.

The Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller affirmed an individual right to keep and bear arms. Public opinion is also firmly against strict gun control. Neither obstacle should be considered as a permanent impediment to the desire of many Democrats to enact strict gun control laws. Again, the fact that healthcare reform has become so bogged down in Congress has likely slowed the Democratic agenda.

There will be at least one terrorist attack on US soil.

Sadly, there were several terrorist attacks in 2009. Two of the most notable were US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s massacre of soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas on November 5 and the failed bombing of a Delta airliner on Christmas day. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, now known as the “Dingaling Bomber” or the “Underpants Bomber,” failed to successfully set off his bomb, but his attack called a success by a Yemeni branch of al Qaeda because it exposed holes in US security.

Iran will obtain a nuclear weapon.

Iran is still edging closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon. So far as we know, they have not yet been successful. Likewise, western efforts to convince Ahmadinejad to abandon his nuclear weapons programs have also been unsuccessful.

Iran’s announcement may come in the form of an attack on Israel. Even Iran does not attack, it will cause an increase in tensions in the Middle East.

Iran has not yet attacked Israel… or vice versa. Tensions remain high, however.

In an unforeseen development, the Ahmadinejad regime is fighting for its life against its own subjects. A protest movement launched several protests in 2009 after fraudulent elections which President Ahmadinejad won handily. Shamefully, the US has done little to support the dissidents. The ultimate outcome of the second Iranian revolution is yet to be seen, but is the best hope for peace in the Middle East.

The slow economy will keep oil prices fairly low for the next few years unless/until an Iran-Israel war drives prices higher.

In recent weeks, gas and oil prices have increased, due largely to cuts in production. January 2010 saw an increase to $80 per barrel. Oil consumption is still down from 2008 levels due to the recession and winter weather. In the short term, prices are forecast to remain near this level throughout the winter.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that both oil and food prices have been inching upwards. Many economists see this as a sign of a recovery. Others believe that the recovery will be “W” shaped with a second dip to come. No forecasts that I have seen predict a return to the near $150 per barrel prices of July 2008 in the near future.

A federal carbon tax, probably in the form of a cap-and-trade system, will drive energy prices, including electric bills, higher.

Again, a cap-and-trade bill is on the Democratic agenda, but has been slowed by the failure to pass a healthcare bill.

The carbon tax will also drive the prices of other goods and services higher, due to increased production costs.

It has been suggested that one reason for the slow recovery is that businesses are waiting to see the effect of impending legislation. This applies to both the healthcare bill and cap-and-trade.

An attempt will be made to censor conservative media with a revived Fairness Doctrine, although it probably will have a different name.

This has not yet been introduced, but might be in the future.

The situation in Pakistan will continue to deteriorate. Militants from Afghanistan will flee across the border to safe havens there.

Afghanistan and Pakistan remained a hotbed of terrorists in 2009. The situation in Afghanistan deteriorated even as Iraq became more stable. President Obama committed more US troops, and asked our allies for more, in the spring and finally decided to commit even more troops in the fall. Taliban attacks and both allied and American troop deaths increased in 2009.

In Pakistan, Taliban militants actually took control of the Swat Valley before being ousted by the Pakistani army. The Pakistani army also took on the insurgents in the province of South Waziristan. There are reports that insurgents who escaped the government offensives have regrouped in the mountainous areas around the Afghan border.,2933,580076,00.html

The Republicans will make large gains in the 2010 elections, possibly taking control of one or both houses of Congress.

We will know the accuracy of this prediction in another few months. Early indications are that the Republicans will indeed make large gains in both houses of congress.

The Democratic Party will become fragmented as moderate Blue Dog Democrats are pressured to support increasingly leftist legislation and their constituents become more and more angry.

This prediction has already come true. Since the Democrats hold a 60 seat majority in the senate, the Republicans cannot defeat or block any legislation. It is moderate Democrats who are providing the key resistance to the healthcare bill and other controversial legislation.

Interestingly, abortion is the root of much of the dissension in the Democratic ranks. The original bills in both houses provided federal funds to pay for abortions, violating longstanding precedent. Pro-life Democrats were able to insert language in the bills to keep the ban on federal funds for abortion in place. It remains to be seen whether this language will survive into the final versions of the bill, but, if not, the loss of key Democratic votes may block the bill entirely.

By the time he leaves office, President Obama will have an approval rating that is equal to or lower than President George W. Bush’s approval rating at that future time.

As of this writing, a Real Clear Politics average of polls shows President Obama’s approval rating as 48.8% [RCP]. A new poll also shows that Obama is losing ground to George W. Bush with only 50% of people preferring him over Bush and 44% saying that they would prefer Bush as president [Politico].

According to Politifact, President Obama is tied for the worst approval rating at the end of the first calendar year in office. Interestingly enough, the other president with a 49% approval rating at the end of the first year was President Reagan. A key difference in subsequent approval ratings will be that President Reagan’s policies improved the economy and national security, where President Obama’s do not.

For the record, President Bush’s final approval rating while in office was 22% [CBS] to the low 30s (politifact), depending on the poll. Obama has some distance to go to reach that range, but he is off to a good start. His current rating is a sharp decline from the 70+% that he enjoyed when he took office.

The biggest unforeseen development of the year was the legislative quagmire that President Obama and the congressional Democrats found themselves in. I thought that they would use their majorities in both houses of congress to quickly ram through a healthcare bill on the heels of the stimulus package, followed quickly by cap-and-trade. The fear instilled by voters into the Blue Dog Democrats is the primary reason that this did not happen.

By my count, ten of my twenty predictions have already become fact. Another ten have not yet happened but are still likely to happen over the next few years. None of my predictions have been proven incorrect. Of the ten predictions that have not yet occurred, I will be happy if they turn out to be incorrect, but my belief is that we are still on course for their fulfillment. To prevent such predictions as inflation and nuclear Iran from happening, it will be necessary for the US to change course. That will likely require a Republican win in 2010. That, in turn, may prevent Obama from being more unpopular than George W. Bush as he leaves office.

January 8, 2009
Secaucus NJ

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The First Test of 2010

Believe it or not, the first election of 2010 is just around the corner. On January 19, citizens of Massachusetts will select a senator to succeed the late Ted Kennedy, a Massachusetts senator for 47 years.

In the special election, state Senator Scott Brown, a Republican, is narrowing the lead held by the Democratic candidate, Attorney General Martha Coakley. A Rasmussen poll from January 5 puts the gap at only 9 percentage points. This in itself is notable since Massachusetts is a dark blue state that is heavily Democratic. Senator Kennedy won 69% of the vote in his last campaign in 2006. Obama carried the state with 62% of the vote [1].

The close (by Massachusetts standards) race may be an early indication of a bad year for Democrats. If so, this will continue a trend that began in 2009 as moderate and independent voters began to desert the Democratic Party in droves. The Democrats lost the gubernatorial race in Virginia by a wide margin and by a closer margin in New Jersey. The sole good electoral news for the Democrats was the retention of the New York 23rd congressional district after the Republican candidate dropped out of the race and endorsed the Democrat. Even then, Democrat Bill Owens only bested Conservative Party challenger Doug Hoffman by 3% of the vote.

Since the election of Barack Obama, the fortunes of the Democratic Party have taken a turn for the worse. Amid widespread opposition, the stimulus bill was passed, but has not brought about the promised economic recovery. Costly bailouts of banks and auto manufacturers stoked voter anger as the deficit and national debt reached record-breaking proportions.

But what has probably angered voters the most is the Democratic insistence on passing a government takeover of the healthcare industry in spite of dwindling support and fiery opposition. Voters simply do not believe President Obama’s claims that the healthcare reform bill will be revenue-neutral. Most voters believe that the reform bill will increase the cost and decrease the quality of healthcare [6]. The arrogance of the Democrats who insist on ramming through and increasingly unpopular and unworkable plan is driving a growing voter revolt against Democrat rule.

The problem for the Democrats is also evident in the growing numbers of Democrats who are deciding not to run for re-election. The latest retiring Democrats are Senators Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan. Senator Dodd had a prominent role in the financial crisis as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and an opponent of Bush-era legislation that would have reformed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac… before their holdings of subprime mortgages imploded [9]. Both Dodd and Dorgan faced strong Republican opposition.

Scott Brown may not win Senator Kennedy’s seat. Massachusetts is a hard place for a Republican to win. Even a strong showing in a loss could signal a very difficult year for Democrats. A win for Republicans could be disastrous for the Democrats. The Democratic majority in the senate is razor thin. A loss of a single seat will mean the loss of the ability to stop a Republican filibuster. If Brown takes office before the healthcare bill is passed, he could be the vote that preserves private healthcare in the United States.

Additionally, Brown exemplifies the differences between Democrats and Republicans on a host of other issues. He stands for lower taxes and stands in opposition to gay marriage, which is legal in Massachusetts. He opposes cap-and-trade energy taxes, which would likely be next on the Democratic agenda after the healthcare reform bill is passed. Rarely in our history have the two parties held such widely different views of what the course for America should be.

The stakes are very high. I encourage anyone who opposes the government takeover of healthcare to make a contribution to Scott Brown’s Massachusetts senate campaign. There is still time to make a difference. This time, let’s make a change for the better.
200 Reservoir St.
Needham MA 02494