Tea Party Defeats Itself

Just like with the Fiscal Cliff, the House drove us right to the brink until the Senate grabbed hold of the steering wheel, with the news that the Senate has put together a deal to end the government shut down, at least for a while.

As I predicted two months ago, there was no plan, nor any strategy for using the budget CR to defund Obamacare. Everything that happened, from the media spin, to plummeting poll numbers, to final defeat was all perfectly predictable.  There was never any reason that President Obama would negotiate.  He was never going to negotiate on defunding Obamacare. In fact, it’s obvious that he would have been perfectly willing to let us go right through the debt ceiling.  In fact, that could have worked to his advantage.  Any economic upheaval that would have been brought about by stopping the government’s ability to borrow more money could be blamed on the Republicans.  The 2016 campaign slogans write themselves.  Republicans broke the economy, Obama came in and fixed it, and Republicans broke it again.  Are you voting for the breakers or the fixers?

The only thing not predictable was how poorly the Obama administration bungled their handling of the shut down.  Between Harry Reid’s War on Cancer Kids to the administration’s fake and unnecessary closing of the nation’s monuments and other static displays that are normally opened 24/7 without being manned anyway, including the World War II Memorial; which lead to the unpleasant sight of Park Police strong arming elderly national heroes. How badly have you bungled when you pick a fight with cancer kids and World War II veterans in the same week?

Even the administration’s high fiving themselves on the fact that they were “winning” didn’t make them look too smug, since they were in fact winningConsidering that a government shutdown could only help the administration, there was really no way for them to lose, and that’s what irritates me the most; the Tea Party picked a fight in which there was no option that would have allowed them to win.

Although Ted Cruz is given most of the credit/blame for this debacle, I think a good portion of that has to go to talk radio.  Senators Cruz and Lee have appeared on Hannity multiple times talking up their “Don’t Fund it” strategy, but they never exactly explained how the strategy was going to actually achieve its goal of defunding Obamacare.  At no time did Hannity or Rush, who also was in favor of charging this windmill, question how this was supposed to succeed.  That’s a question I’ve been asking for two months and the reason I never got an answer is because there never was an answer.  Meanwhile talk radio egged it on.  On September 25th Hannity had Rand Paul on as a guest, who explained to Hannity that there was no mathematical way there would be votes to defund Obamacare.  Hannity seemed stunned and surprised that Rand couldn’t insure this strategy would work.  As recently as October 3rd, Rush was insisting that the Democrats were imploding on the issue.

The only thing that imploded was the Republican chances of winning the Senate in 2014.

The Sean Hannity Show, brought to you by Ashley Madison

I had cut on the Sean Hannity Show this afternoon, and caught the show midway through a discussion between Hannity and his producer, Lynda about the pros and cons of Ashley Madison, the cheating website.  “Again?”  I thought.  It seemed like more than once I had heard Hannity either talking about the website or arguing with the Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman, about the website.  Was Hannity going through a mid-life crisis?  After berating Anthony Weiner for a half hour, was Hannity now one red corvette away from having his own affair?

hannity 7

hannity 7 (Photo credit: JPatch.net)

The discussion between Hannity and his producer waged on for what I thought was an uncommonly long while.  Air time is valuable and with Zimmerman-IRS-Immigration going on this week, I would expect the time would be allotted to those tidbits rather than Lynda the producer taking a pro Ashley Madison position and Hannity of course taking the disapproving Catholic, finger wagging position.  Considering how much the very concept of a website to facilitate cheating on your spouse apparently offended Hannity, why would he give so much free air time to promote a business he morally opposed?

Promotion…

Knowing how careful radio hosts are about spending airtime to promote businesses that are not sponsors, I got a little bit suspicious.  Could Ashley Madison, the red warning sign of the decline of Western Civilization, and promoter of the disintegration of the American Family, be a paid advertiser of the Sean Hannity radio show?

I did a little snooping on Hannity’s website.  No banner ads from Ashley Madison with cute adverts like, “get your cheat on.” were visible.  However I did see that the Ashley Madison CEO had been on the Hannity show quite a few times:  Today, July 24, 2013, May 17, 2013, June 15, 2011, and May 12, 2010, at least from the archaic search function on the site, so I suspect it’s probably more than that.

The website addicting info.org carried an article that addressed Ashley Madison’s attempt to buy advertising time on The Rush Limbaugh Show.  The author of the article, Wendy Gittleson, did make the point that it’s not a natural fit to sell infidelity to the family values set:

In my opinion, only an act of desperation would tempt Limbaugh’s show to take the offer. Ironic as it might be, he speaks for those who fancy themselves the “family values” party. The largest segment of his demographic is 65+. I don’t know how well Grandpa and particularly Grandma will take to his biggest sponsor being a website geared toward adulterers. Ashley Madison does advertise on Sean Hannity and Howard Stern.

OK, Howard Stern I get.  If ever there was a natural fit, it would be between Ashley Madison and the Howard Stern Show, but Sean Hannity?

Doing an on-air plug is not only the best sort of radio advertising; it’s generally the most expensive,  since the radio show host, who presumably you trust since you are listening to their show, is telling you how great  the product or service is.  But in this case, the host is telling you how terrible the service is.  But he’s telling you over and over.

I’m no expert on the radio business, but I’ve never heard of selling negative plugs, just to get your name out.  If this works, and perhaps only Ashley Madison knows for sure and they’re notoriously discrete, that could be an opportunity for political talk radio.  “Wait, I hate you, and you want to pay me to talk about how much I hate you?  Where do I sign?”

Still, it has an air of dishonesty to it.  Hannity’s finger waging of disproval doesn’t seem as nearly as disapproving if he’s collecting a big fat check for it.

This post brought you to you by the Sean Hannity Show.  Hannity, for all your conservative needs (j/k).

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Why Is Rubio in the Gang of 8?

Contrary to popular opinion, both in the national press and in the Republican Party, the conservative movement is split on the amnesty issue.  Just cast your mind all the way back to…last year.  During the Republican Primary battles, all of the conservative candidates were in favor of some version of amnesty.  The single hold out?  Mitt Romney, the “moderate.”

English: Former Speaker of the Florida House a...

English: Former Speaker of the Florida House at CPAC in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So it’s a confusing battle space that has anti tax activist Grover Norquist on the same side as liberal Senator Chuck Schumer, and moderate, establishment Republican columnist David Frum on the anti amnesty side while traditional conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer is pro amnesty.  On the talk radio side the views are more what you would expect, Rush Limbaugh  and Mark Levin are reliably anti-amnesty, however Sean Hannity switched sides after the election and now supports amnesty (although he is still cagey about it).  Otherwise, things are more what you would expect from a conservative split on immigration.  The neo-cons are pro amnesty (think William Kristol) and the paleo-cons are anti (think Pat Buchanan).

So where does that leave Tea Party darling Marco Rubio?  Square in the middle.

Rubio is a real conservative.  I’ve listened to enough politicians talk to know when they are the real deal and when they are just using the conservative movement to advance their own careers  *cough* Newt Gingrich* cough.

Rubio has long been a supporter of some variation of the Dream Act, which are a series of proposals to legalize illegal aliens brought over as children.  Given that as children they didn’t really have a choice about crossing the border illegally; it’s fairly easy to make the moral case to anti-amnesty conservatives for creating some mechanism for them to stay, after border security.  But it was a shock when he joined in with a group of liberal Senators and pro-amnesty Republicans, the Gang of 8, to craft a comprehensive immigration bill.

First, it was a shock that after the disaster of Obamacare, any Republican Senator would try to make common cause on a bill that intends to be “comprehensive.”  For conservatives, comprehensive is code word for cramming as much crap as possible into a massive bill and hope no one notices what’s in it.  The purpose of comprehensive bills is to slide revolting items through the process that would never pass on their own.  Of course, in the case of the immigration bill, the sole purpose is to get amnesty through.  Everything else in the bill is a sweetener to buy votes for amnesty, even though there are plenty of real, needed issues that need to be worked on.  Instead, nothing is more important than amnesty.  Steve Jobs found this out while trying to convince President Obama to loosen up on the H1-B Visa program.  From the Wall Street Journal:

According to Mr. Isaacson, Jobs “stressed the need for more trained engineers and suggested that any foreign students who earned an engineering degree in the U.S. should be given a visa to stay in the country.” The president reportedly replied that this would have to await broader immigration reform, which he said he was unable to accomplish.

“Jobs found this an annoying example of how politics can lead to paralysis,” Mr. Isaacson writes. “The president is very smart, but he kept explaining to us reasons why things can’t get done,” Jobs said. “It infuriates me.”

A simple bill to allow graduates of US schools to get a Visa would enjoy large bipartisan support and would pass easily.   So therefore we can’t allow it until we make sure we drag 11 million other people along with them!

So now Rubio is stuck riding this tiger all the way to completion.  Meanwhile, his reputation will be marred by every little crazy line item that is stuck in the bill, such as the one creating a biometric data base of all US adults.  So why would he join in with the Gang of 8?  How could this benefit him?

Just a couple of ideas and I don’t know if any of them are close to the mark:

+             He knows it won’t pass and just wants to build up some “moderate cred” for 2016.

+             He’s inexperienced and doesn’t realize  that Schumer and his gang are taking him for a ride.

+             He’s extremely experienced (a former Speaker of the House in the Florida legislature) and he’s playing the Gang of 8 by trying to “cooperate” up to the point that he can exploit the weaknesses of the bill and then blame the Senate Democrats and the Obama administration for sabotaging the bill with poison pills to keep the bill from passing and keep it as a political issue.

I’m sure there are probably many more possible reasons, but I don’t see any way for this to end well for Rubio’s political future other than at some point he disowns the bill.  If he doesn’t and ends up voting for whatever monstrosity slithers out of the Senate, than Rubio’s reputation will be damaged.  To conservatives, he will be a traitor, and to liberals he’ll be a gullible fool.

Which pill will he choose?  The red or the blue one?

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Fiscal Cliff Hangover

Although we called it the fiscal cliff, I always imagined it as more of a fiscal log flume, in which as we slowly go over the edge we hold our arms out, feel our stomach drop, then scream until we hit the end, with water splashing all over us.  Whee!  That was a blast!  Want to go again?  But we can talk about the debt ceiling later.

As deals go, it wasn’t a terrible one, particularly since the House Republicans had no cards to play, as I had pointed out previously.   What the House Republicans had was the total unpredictability of how they were going to vote on the deal.  Boehner didn’t even bother to whip the House body (easy now, I’m talking about getting a count of yes votes before the actual vote and politic to change some no’s to yeses).  He basically blew on his dice and was probably surprised that the House voted yes.

On the negative side, there were no spending cuts and not all of the tax cuts, particularly for the “rich”  were carried over, as I predicted two weeks ago.  So for all of the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, among conservatives of all types, we got as good of a deal as we were ever going to get; and easy to predict if you assumed that President Obama really would have liked to have taken us over the cliff, or if you prefer, log flume.  He would have been laughing all the way to the bottom.

On the positive side (yes there is one), the Bush tax cuts for those making under $450,000 for couples are now permanent.  So we don’t have to go through the end of the year farce of renewing these “temporary” cuts.  Same thing for the AMT tax.  They were fixed and made permanent.  The AMT fix, like the Medicare “doc fix” was an end of year ritual that couldn’t be resolved permanently.  Why you may ask?  Because any permanent fix would reflect in the CBO’s deficit and debt estimates for the years going forward.  Fixing the AMT for any one year was considered a cost for that particular year, but the CBO would base their estimates by current law, which would have the AMT not being fixed for the next year and every year afterwards.  Fixing the AMT for one year is a cost of 92 billion dollars.  A permanent fix it for the next ten years costs almost a trillion dollars.  From a purely crass, political position, having the costs of a permanent fix to the AMT and Bush income tax cuts accrued under the Obama administration ( two items that Republicans wanted to do but could never find the money for):

Priceless.

However all is not well in conservative talk radio land.  I made it a point to listen to what I think was a fair cross section of conservative radio for their take on all things fiscal cliffdom, and I must say, it was a muddled mess of incoherence.  They’ve been off their game since the election in my opinion really dropped the ball on the issues related to the fiscal cliff.  To summarize:

Rush:  No last name needed, you know who I mean.  Agreed with me (or is it I with him?) that Obama wanted to go over the cliff.  However he still wanted to oppose any deal that didn’t have the full Bush tax cuts and spending cuts.  And he regarded the deal that cut taxes as one that raised taxes; simply because not all the Bush cuts were included.  The practical result of his stonewalling any deal without the full Bush cuts?  All the tax cuts would have vanished.   Great job Rush!

Neal Boortz:  This odd combination of Paleo-Conservatism and Libertarianism also opposed any deal, however he thought that the Democratic Senate didn’t want to go over the cliff and would prevail upon Obama to accept all the Bush tax cuts rather than let them all expire.  Considering that after the failed vote on Plan B, The Republican House went home for Christmas, and ultimately didn’t vote on the deal until New Years Day, I would say events didn’t prove him correct.

Mark Levin:  Although I only caught his show once during the fiscal cliff debacle, Levin is being credited with organizing a call in campaign that helped bring about the defeat of Plan B.  Considering that from a conservative position Plan B was a better deal than the deal we actually got, I would have to say that turned out to not be a good move.

Sean Hannity:  Hannity has managed to have it both ways.  Before Christmas, he held the Rush position; that Obama wanted to go over the cliff and to oppose any compromise that didn’t have the full Bush tax cuts and spending cuts.  Post House vote, he is equivocating on whether Obama wanted to go over the cliff.  Too late to be even more wrong.

I think talk radio got it wrong on this one.  The deal wasn’t great, but it could have been so much worse considering that for the Democrats, going over the cliff was as close to a political dream situation as they could have hoped for, with Republicans being forced to bear all of the political costs.  I think conservatives should move on to the debt deal, a situation in which they have a bit more leverage.  That’s a situation guaranteed to generate several scowling Obama photos.

There’s a Lynch Mob Down South…

…and by down south, I mean Sanford Florida, which is south of me, about 10 minutes away.  So the Trayvon Martin issue was a local news item several weeks before it became an international one.  But the character of the tragedy has changed over time:

SANFORD, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) – Investigators with the Sanford Police Department are still trying to figure out exactly what happened during an altercation which resulted in a fatal shooting in the Twin Lakes area.   The shooting happened just after 7 p.m. Sunday evening on Twin Trees Lane.  A man who witnessed part of the altercation contacted authorities.

“The guy on the bottom, who had a red sweater on, was yelling to me, ‘Help! Help!’ and I told him to stop, and I was calling 911,” said the witness, who asked to be identified only by his first name, John.

John said he locked his patio door ran upstairs and heard at least one gun shot.

“And then, when I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on the top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point.”

So in this eyewitness version, the attacker was the one who ended up dead, and Zimmerman was the one crying for help.  That leads me to think there is ample reason for the police to at least take seriously a possible self defense angle and it makes sense that the police would investigate this thoroughly before either making an arrest or closing the case. But as far as the mass media is concerned, there has only ever been one issue in this case: race.  Of course, this incident occurred almost a month ago.  And apparently it’s not nearly as good a story as the one that the media decided to run with. The news coverage this week has had quite a different flavor.  Over the top is more like it.

The big tent of this particular circus is MSNBC, (Leaning Leftward!).  Today hosting on the Martin Bashir Show, Karen Finney, frequent MSNBC guest, went into what seemed to be a prepared monologue in which she blamed both Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich for the climate that lead to Trayvon’s death. Morning Joe’s Mika Brzezinski went out of her way to blame the shooting on Rush Limbaugh.  Also on Thursday she stated that that if Zimmerman was bloodied and disheveled, he probably did it to himself.  Great police work there Mika!

The entire coverage of this incident has resembled much more peasants lighting their torches and sharpening their pitchforks than actual coverage.  Of course, there are motives.  Hysteria is a good sell, but the racial issue warps our attention away from facts to make this issue only about race.  For some on the MSNBC payroll, like Al Sharpton, racial rabble rousing is his career.  Even though he is responsible for more dead bodies than George Zimmerman, Sharpton can be expected to ride this to even more influence.

The basic facts of the case don’t seem to make this a racial issue, but everyone wants it to be.  However the basic facts no longer matter. Usually, the US has a fairly adequate, if by no means perfect, justice system.  However when it comes to race, everything goes out the window.  Race makes us lose our damn minds.  That’s why Casey Anthony can get a fair trial and get acquitted (even though we all know she did it), but the police who beat Rodney King were given a second trial in violation of constitutional protections against double jeopardy to make sure the second trial gave the “right” verdict.

This isn’t an attempt to excuse Zimmerman.  The minute he decided to follow Martin after the 911 dispatcher told him not to, he was in the wrong.  The problem with police wannabes like Zimmerman is that they do tend to attract police attention one way or the other.  Even if Martin later turned around and attacked Zimmerman for some unknown reason, the whole thing could have been avoided if Zimmerman had just sat in his car.  He didn’t and now a teenage boy is dead.

It would be easy to get on the bandwagon and demand Zimmerman’s head on a pike.  That is what all the cool kids are doing.  However I’m perfectly content to see what the investigation uncovers.  I’ve no desire to join the other villagers in burning down the windmill until we have more facts, instead of inaccurate ranting from MSNBC hosts.  Ultimately though, it may not matter what facts are uncovered.  We’ve moved beyond mere facts now.

Meanwhile, as Sanford has its own bonfire of the vanities, I expect Tim Wolfe will write the nonfiction version of this story. Another thing I’m sure of is that Zimmerman will be indicted for something; anything.

The mob demands it.

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