It really is about Free Stuff

The Cochran Mississippi Republican primary victory is a week old and almost everything that could be written about has been written.  It was eye opening in several ways.  I have to say as a tactic, going after Democratic Black voters to vote in the Republican primary, was a brilliant one. It’s probably one of the most original campaign tactics I’ve heard of in years.

But that shows the depths of the hatred that the Establishment Republicans have for the Tea Party. This seat wasn’t in danger of going Democrat if McDaniel won, but the establishment so didn’t want another Tea Party candidate in office that they would rather smear their own base as racist and take a chance that the seat would flip to Democrats after these sorts of tactics. Think about that. The national party would rather a safe senate seat go to the other party than to the Tea Party!

Republicans are not usually this dirty towards Democrats.  Can you imagine Republicans sending out defamatory fliers like this out on a Democratic candidate?

 

 

Considering the dirty pool involved, I wouldn’t be surprised if a fair amount of Tea Party votes stayed home in November, putting the seat at risk.  But that was a risk the establishment was more than willing to take.

But the race was revealing in another way that I have not seen remarked on much since last week.  I often debate and view political debates online and a consistent charge from the right is that the Democrats win by promising “free stuff.”  This is of course highly insulting to Democrats since they think voters are attracted to the great ideas of the Democrats, not mere voter bribery, but in this case for the runoff, Cochran ran as the guy who could bring home the bacon and McDaniel would cut spending (insert shocked moan of the crowd here), yes cut it!  Promising to cut spending is usually one of those things that goes over well in a Republican primary or runoff, but in this case Cochran bet correctly that the new voters he was bringing in wouldn’t find that an attractive policy.  So in the war between “free stuff” and fiscal discipline, free stuff won hands down.

Normally I would at least enjoy the comfort at having been proven correct on many Democratic voters’ intentions, but it’s a rather sad commentary that voter bribery can still sway enough votes to swing an election.  And it’s dangerous for the future of the country. This runoff was a pretty good test case that free stuff is sweet candy and fiscal discipline is castor oil.  But if I had my way, I would rather take the castor oil now than the chemotherapy later.

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 “Don’t Fund it” Option

The latest, and perhaps last, opportunity to toss a few stop sticks in front of Obamacare is coming up with the upcoming 2014 spending bill.  The Tea Party coalition wants to strip Obamacare funding from the spending bill, giving the President the option of either vetoing the bill, and effectively shutting down the government October 1st, or signing the spending bill stripped of Obamacare funding; stopping it in its tracks.  It’s not repeal, but it’s a delay, and delaying Obamacare implementation I would think is worth taking some chances.  Obamacare is bad law and worse public policy, and if there is a clear path to even delaying this bill (hopefully for some future period in which there is a change in political leadership), then that path should be followed.  Of course there are two (at least) problems with this: the House leadership and establishment Republicans want nothing to do with this idea, and it’s not clear there is an effective path to getting Obamacare defunded.

Official portrait of United States Senator Mik...

Official portrait of United States Senator Mike Lee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The “Don’t Fund it” option is a real organized effort.  It even has a website to track the progress and pledges of the various Republican Senators and Senate candidates. However, as usual, the establishment is opposed to doing anything that might make either Democrats or the Washington media mad at them.  This default bowing to possible media reaction means that they don’t want to take the chance of looking “obstructionist” in front of the national media.  Speaker Boehner is particularly uninterested in anything that would make the House Republicans look confrontational. So I cheer the Tea Party Republicans who are willing to take a risk at slowing down a bad law.

On the other hand…

The House Republicans have failed to impress in follow-through before. Last year’s fiscal cliff disaster was an eye opening view into how dysfunctional the House Republicans can be.  Before Christmas they voted against an option, what was then known as “Plan B” in order to finally agree and vote for a worse plan, as I chronicled last January.  These guys are not master strategists.  This isn’t House of Cards. It’s not even Pee Wee’s Playhouse. I’ve seen no evidence that there are wheels within wheels of planning and maneuvering to accomplish the goal of defunding Obamacare.  Both the debt ceiling fight and the fiscal cliff debacle demonstrated the amateur hour of the GOP and nothing they’ve done since last December has given me any confidence that they have learned from past mistakes and could prevail in this fight.

That’s not to say there aren’t options available to getting Obamacare defunded.  Some ideas include:

The Republicans could fund the government in multiple spending bills, isolating the Obamacare funding into a separate bill, and basically passing everything but that. Then it will be on the Democrats in the Senate to vote against the rest of the clean government funding.

They could just add an amendment to the bill holding off the implementation of Obamacare for one, two, or even three years. Since the exchanges and a lot of other moving parts aren’t ready, this might be tempting for some Senate Democrats. Obama basically did something similar by fiat.

The House Republicans could offer to fund Obama’s infrastructure and jobs bill with the funds that are not spent on Obamacare implementation.

These are just a couple of ideas that I thought of, off the top of my head.  I imagine a skilled parliamentarian would have a much longer, and perhaps more realistic list.  But in reality it seems unlikely that there is either a skilled parliamentarian or a list of options of any kind available. So I’m left to wonder,

-      Is there an actual strategy that has a possible favorable outcome?

-      Are there contingency plans depending on different possible White House or Senate Democrat responses?

-      Is there a united message and talking points for all participants to use in media contacts?

-      Has this scenario been “war-gamed?”

I wouldn’t be surprised if none of these issues had been seriously considered.  And that’s why, although I would love, love, love to throw my whole hearted support behind a “don’t fund it” plan, I would only want to do it if I thought there was at least a reasonable chance of success, rather than the Republicans ending up worse off than if they had just done nothing, and the media spinning the Republicans as both stupid and evil, like with the fiscal cliff.  And there is a possibility that the Republicans could end up worse off than if they hadn’t done anything.  If the President and Senate Democrats stand firm (and why wouldn’t they?), all the blame will be spun in the media as Republicans taking away Social Security from the elderly, paychecks from the military… you get the idea.  At that point the ball will be in the Democratic court, and they may have their own conditions to get government funded again.

Catching a few media interviews with Senator Mike Lee over the past week, I didn’t get any indication that there was a well thought of plan that has a reasonable chance of success.  Instead, it sounded more like a last gasp.

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Dear Senator Rubio

This afternoon the Senate passed its version of Immigration Reform, 68-32.  14 Republicans voted for the bill, including my Senator, Marco Rubio, severely damaging his chances for the Republican nomination in 2016.

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

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

As frequent readers to this blog know, I strongly oppose the current Senate Immigration Bill and the concept of blanket amnesty in general.  I’ve contacted my Congressman on this and am satisfied that we are of like minds on the issue.  However my Senators are another story.  Bill Nelson is Harry Reid’s lapdog so he does whatever he’s told.  Marco Rubio on the other hand, is one of the architects of this immigration proposal.  If there has been a bigger Tea Party disappointment in both the House and Senate, I can’t think who it would be.

I tried calling the Senator’s office this week and got a voicemail to leave my comments after the beep.  Unsurprisingly, the box was full.  Apparently I’m not alone.  So I wrote this letter and emailed it to the Senator.

Dear Senator Rubio,

As your constituent, I have to say that you’ve profoundly disappointed me.  But what really bothers me is that you’ve managed to fool me.   I remember your debate with Charlie Crist in which you took the risky position (in Florida) that Social Security may have to be trimmed in order to save the program.  You took a difficult and courageous political position while Crist looked like a weasel in comparison.  “That’s a guy I can get behind.”  I thought to myself.

And I did.  I voted for you and was proud to do it.  I had heard you speak enough times that I felt sure of your Tea Party bonafides.  You sir, were the real deal.

Or at least that’s what I thought.  I knew you had a special interest in immigration, but you had spoken out against amnesty enough in the campaign that I didn’t think that you were secretly harboring that as a legislative goal.  I was sympathetic to your Dream Act proposal.  Those kids didn’t commit crimes.  They were brought into this country when they were too young to have any moral responsibility for what their parents did.  Some sort of accommodation should be made for them.

After the border was secure of course.

But instead you rolled me.  Me, and many others who had voted for you.  After the experience of Obamacare, I wouldn’t have thought a Republican, let alone a Tea Party “darling” would support any bill that is billed as “comprehensive.”  The purpose of comprehensive bills is to smuggle in what you really want by covering it with tons of other things.  That’s certainly what your comprehensive immigration bill does.  Every day I’m reading of new revelations of Easter eggs buried in your bill.  You know them of course, since you helped put them there.

I’m not opposed to cooperating with Democrats; that’s politics after all.  I’m upset that you are not representing a Republican or conservative position in immigration reform.  This wasn’t a compromise; this is a Democratic / liberal bill.  You’ve merely provided cover for a liberal bill.  I can’t tell where you begin and Chuck Schumer ends.  Do you have any differences on this issue?

Frankly, I can’t see that I’ve gotten anything different from you than if Charlie Crist had won the senatorial nomination.  Oh one thing; Crist was honest about his support for amnesty.  He didn’t lie about it like you did.  You may argue that technically you weren’t lying, “go back and check the transcript!”  But if you were parsing your words from the beginning, then what other conclusion can I draw but that you intended to deceive?

Virtually everything you’ve promised has already been promised in the Simpson-Mazzoli bill.  Since we didn’t get any of the border security promises then, why should I think we would get them now?

I can see both the political and policy benefits for the Democrats.  It will over the long run provide millions of Democratic voters, effectively neutering the Republicans as a national party.  Policy-wise it creates an ever expanding underclass that will need the entitlement services that the Democrats will be peddling.  The Democrats have been at their strongest when, as FDR said, “one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, and ill-fed.”

That’s what you are importing.

Your position doesn’t even make sense on its own merits.  It goes without saying its bad politics.  It’s a slow motion suicide of the Republican Party as a national contender, but I could forgive that if it was good policy.  But it’s not.  It’s bad policy too.  It lowers the wage rates of the native working poor, it increases income inequality, it increases by millions the numbers of American poor, it inflicts long term financial stress on our entitlement programs, and creates a massive new underclass.

Your bill is unfair.  It grants sweeping immunity for crimes that would throw a citizen in jail.  And no, I’m not talking about merely crossing the border illegally or overstaying a visa.  Using,  false identification and Social Security numbers aren’t minor misdemeanors, they are felonies.  How can that possibly be justified?

Since you seem committed to this dangerous course of action, you’ve left me and many others no choice but to support your primary opponent for your re-election, whoever that may be.  And there will be a primary opponent.  Don’t think that your former supporters will shrug and figure better you than a Republican who can’t will the general election or a Democrat.  If your bill becomes law, in the long run there won’t be a real future for Republicans anyway.  So if you are going to burn down the house, I want to at least make sure you don’t get re-elected to collect the insurance money.

Of all the political issues I’ve researched, I’ve never understood how someone on the right could support blanket amnesty.  If there is an intelligent argument to be made on its behalf, I’m still waiting to hear it.  Instead, I hear insults to my intelligence like the kind your fellow gang member, Senator Graham offers.

You really had a promising political future and I’m flummoxed at why you decided to throw it away in order to help Democratic political ambitions.

Sincerely,

A Republican Primary Voter

If I get anything more than an automated response to this, I’ll be sure and post it, but won’t expect any sort of response.  Rubio, even if ever read this, which is unlikely, won’t have an answer for it.

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Some Like It Hate

“If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard,”              

-An anonymous right wing extremist

I hadn’t really planned to write about this issue, even after ekg wrote her blog, Are they trying to someone killed…which featured a twitter message from Sarah Palin using the word “reload” as well as a map featuring Congressional districts as” targets.”    If this is what has liberals shaking in their boots, they’re pussies.

But… I didn’t see it as an issue worth pursuing, since what else could I say about the real acts of incivility, not to mention threats, which had been made by people opposed to the recently passed healthcare bill?  I do not condone that behavior, they don’t represent the majority and your side does it too, let’s move on.

But the left doesn’t really seem to accept that both sides are equal in this regard.  Not surprisingly they view themselves as much more the victim against crazed “Tea Bagger” hordes, spittle and N words flying, than as perpetrators of such threats and violence themselves.  And they are quick to make wild eyed accusations before all the facts come out.

Remember Bill Sparkman?  The Kentucky census worker found hanged with “fed” scrawled on his body?  As memory serves, ekg tried to pen his murder on right wing commentators in general and Michelle Bachmann and Glenn Beck in particular.  Of course, what really happened was that Sparkman committed suicide.  No apology from the left of course, on to the next hate message.

 And then there was James Von Brunn, the white supremacist who shot up the holocaust museum in Washington DC?   Von Brunn was a white supremacist, but he was a lot of other things as well.  He was a registered Democrat, a 9/11 truther, and hated neo-cons.  He would have fit in perfectly well at a Kos convention.  But he took his hatred of neo-cons to the next level.  He had intended to attack the offices of The Weekly Standard, the neo conservative political magazine.

So the left gets it wrong; a lot.  Mainly because they can’t wait for the facts, they already know them.  Those “facts” are bouncing around in their heads just waiting for a headline, so instant accusations need not wait for verification.

The Seattle Times originally reported that a rock was thrown threw the window of the offices of Democratic Representative Driehaus.   The problem?  His office is located on the 30th floor.  There are some Tea Party giants afoot!

Then there was the misreported Congressman Carnahan coffin incident, which was first reported as practically a scene from the Godfather, with a coffin left on Carnahan’s front lawn as a warning.  Practically a horse’s head.  The actual Tea Partiers who actually had the coffin tell a different story.

Contrary to reports that a coffin was placed on Rep. Russ Carnahan’s (D-Mo.) lawn on Mar. 21 while the House voted on the health care bill, the casket was never put on his property and was not used to signify a threat against him, according to the tea party activists who used it.

The coffin, in fact, was used as a prop at a prayer vigil on Mar. 21 to symbolize the “loss of freedom and the loss of lives due to government medical rationing,” said the activists. Further, the coffin, made of wood and stained a medium brown, was always in the possession of Bill Hennessy, a member of the St. Louis Tea Party Patriots, and is in his possession now in his garage.

On Thursday, Hennessy told CNSNews.com in an e-mail: “How I found out about this story is last night [Wednesday] a local reporter called me and asked me if I knew anything about it. He said that Carnahan’s office called and told him that someone left a coffin on his lawn last night — and I didn’t.”

Hennessy also explained that the prayer vigil started in front of Carnahan’s district office in St. Louis and then was continued in front of his home. “The coffin was never placed on anyone’s lawn,” said Hennessy, and “the coffin was not left behind.”

Politco reported on the issue on Mar. 24 with a headline, “Coffin Placed On Carnahan’s Lawn,” and a lead paragraph that read: “A coffin was placed on a Missouri Democrat’s lawn, another in a string of incidents against lawmakers after their vote Sunday on a health care overhaul.”

 The biggest story of course is the “N Word” Controversy. Congressman Lewis was alleged to have been called the N word at the Tea Party protest in Washington DC the day before the Health Reform bill was voted on.  I say alleged, because even though it was widely reported in the MSM as fact, the only witness to hearing the word is Rep. Cleaver, of spittle fame.  Congressman Lewis, canny as ever, never confirmed that he heard that particular epitaph, instead related that he heard “kill the bill.”  The fact that the encounter was taped with multiple video cameras by Rep. Jackson doesn’t really lend creditability to the charges.  If the target of the word didn’t hear it, and multiple video cameras didn’t catch it (and if they had we would have seen it a hundred times by now), I will maintain my call of shenanigans on this.  I’m perfectly willing to change my mind of course, as soon as either some video or multiple witnesses come forward.

I’ll be waiting.

There is big money on it too.  Blogger Andrew Breitbart had offered $10,000 (now raised to $100,000) donated to the United Negro College Fund for evidence that the N word was used towards Lewis even once.  A sure loser if he was opening the bet up all the way back to the civil rights era, but for this most recent incident?  No one has tried to collect it yet.

Shame too.  A phony racial incident is a terrible thing to waste.

Give credit to Al Sharpton for trying to say he had seen a tape for it, before having to backtrack  (starts around the 4 minute mark)!

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”

     -An anonymous right wing extremist

These purposefully misreported incidents, amusing as they are, shouldn’t detract from really incidents of course.

Every reasonable person of good will regardless of political persuasion, should be quick and clear in condemning any death threats, intimidation, or acts of violence and vandalism. Right?

Apparently no.

And that’s what inspired me to write this.

Ekg, in responding to me in a comment on her blog, saw no comparison between the violence and hate that the left perpetrated.  Why?  Because the violence and hate of the left was justified!

let’s not forget the outright hate and anger caused by 8 years of GOP policy and let’s face it, a black man being President..

Mike will never admit that these things are a problem for some people though.. so he will never see the reality that is being played out all around him. Which in a way is sad, because it’s historic and to be a part of history but burying your head so you don’t witness it.. is a waste..the fact is there was anger and distrust under Bush.. and it was well deserved

Although the perennial call to racism as excuse was interesting, that was still more of the same from some one who can’t view dissent against the policy positions of this administration in any other terms than racism, the Frank Rich meme, I found myself most fascinated with the her view that that the hatred and anger towards the Bush administration was a perfectly legitimate response to Republican control of government.  Of course people threatened to assassinate Bush!  They had no choice!

I despair sometimes, that if we can’t even agree on civility without one side feeling their incivility was justified while the other side’s incivility is based on racism, sexism, homophobia, or whatever the current hot buttons of the left are, then how can we ever talk?

If your hate is justified, then you can excuse anything your side does.  So far, only the left seems to have that position, but how long will that last?      

It’s scary enough that one side has already figured out how to justify their threats and violence.  Imagine what happens when the other side does as well.

 

“Things got a little out of hand.  It’s just this war and that lying son of a bitch, Johnson.

            - Jenny’s dirt foot hippie boyfriend from “Forrest Gump”

 

 *Update*  ekg streniously objected to my characterization of her comments on her blog as being indifferent at best and supportive at worst of political violence committed by the left  on the Muche weboard.  It’s only fair of me to note that she totally disagreed with how I viewed her words, and as she emphatically stated that she does not in any way support political violence by the left, I will take her at her word and withdraw that characterization of her remarks.

 

 

 

 

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