pulling no punches

Ah…seems that our RNC Chairman had something interesting to say about Senator Specter becoming a Democrat.  This bridge has been incinerated.  There’s no turning back now, Senator Specter.  Either way it’s going to be a tough election campaign.

Here’s Michael Steele (quoted at Politico):

Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not.

Let’s be honest-Senator Specter didn’t leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record.

Republicans look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don’t do it first.

And Steele’s not quite done yet.

CBS News:

Steele called Specter’s maneuver a “cold, crass political calculation by a senator who could not get reelected through a nominating process in the Republican party.”

“This has nothing to do with philosophy and principle and all those wonderful-sounding words.”

It’s rich of Senators Specter, Snowe, and to some extent, Lindsey Graham to accuse the Republican Party of wanting to throw the moderates overboard.  I say to them:  Where’s the evidence?  President Bush supported Specter, as did many other prominent Republicans, including the unfortunate Rick Santorum, over the more conservative Pat Toomey.  The Republican Party ultimately supports the candidate they believe has the best chance to win the contest.  In some cases,  that candidate happens to be a moderate.

Our party is more pragmatic than conservative.  That’s why we are struggling – because we value winning over any other objective.  Ideas motivate people.  Ideas fire people up and get them excited about their involvement in the party.  Where’s the creativity?  Where’s the ideas?  What does our party stand for, and how do we get back to those core values? There’s nothing wrong with being the party of NO when the current policies are wrong.  But it wouldn’t hurt us to come up with a few alternative proposals to the Democrat agenda that won’t continue to compromise our nation’s financial future.

see ya

Senator Arlen Specter finally makes the decision to leave the Republican Party and officially join his fellow Democrats by running for re-election as a Democrat.  I can’t say I’m terribly upset about this news.  His motivation for doing this doesn’t really matter to me.  It does open up more options for challengers like Pat Toomey…or it could lead to a different Democrat replacing Specter, because there’s no guarantee that he gets the Democrat nomination without the other candidates pulling out of the contest. I do think that his announcement was self-serving, and it failed to acknowledge those Republicans, such as President Bush and VP Cheney, who supported him against Toomey the first time.  The national Republican Party hasn’t thrown Specter under the bus.  He chose this path for himself.  When he votes the way he does, he should expect conservatives to loudly oppose those votes.  But the Beltway Republicans have a far different agenda than the rest of us — they would have us go further to the left and abandon social conservatism or any pretense of fiscal accountability / responsibility.

It is not the agenda of the leadership of the Republican Party to weed out the moderate / liberal elements of its membership.  If you need evidence of that, witness our presidential nominee, John McCain.  He agreed more than he disagreed with Barack Obama on domestic policy, although I suspect he would have embraced keeping more tax cuts than President Obama has.  Our party supported Arlen Specter, even though he hasn’t done very much to merit our support.  We don’t even consider challenging Snowe and Collins.  So our far-right takeover hasn’t occurred yet, and my guess is you won’t see that until we can recruit much stronger candidates to challenge the Republicans already in the Senate and House.

There’s much about this move that I can be happy about.  Allowing the Democrats a  60-vote majority means they take full responsibility for anything they screw up.  On the other hand, I’m not sure I am willing to accept the consequences of the Democrats passing whatever laws they want to pass, no matter how crazy or misguided those laws may be — and I’m certainly not optimistic that all the damage done would be reversible.   Once we all get national health care, there’s no going back.  Look at Britain.   If you even hint at NHS (national health service) reforms that would assign some responsibility back to the recipients, don’t expect to win any national elections.  That’s the danger here.  We need to keep a close eye on what’s happening in Washington, and raise awareness of how all this will affect our lives in the long run, because we might only get one chance to keep this country from absorbing some big mistakes made by the politicians.

moving on — part 1

After spending part of my weekend with my fellow right-wing extremists from the York County Republican Party,  the experience left me feeling more reflective on the current direction of the national party rather than energized about the good stuff happening on the local level. I’m going to try to put those impressions into words, but it may not all make sense.  I’m still trying to work through what I believe the next steps should be for the Washington Republicans, but I’m going to suggest a few things and throw them out there for discussion.

So here goes…

Step #1:  Recognize and acknowledge your own failure to live up to the standards you set when running for office. For the Party itself, acknowledge the deviation from what we claim as our core values — limited government and a commitment to fighting wasteful spending. It also wouldn’t hurt to find strong candidates to replace any corrupt Republican survivors in our Congress.

There is so much criticism of Democrats and President Obama (most of it well-deserved) about their agenda and the outrageous sums of money that will be spent by this administration. Republicans (and especially fiscal conservatives) are correct to be concerned about that. What Republicans fail to recognize is their own culpability in the wilderness state than our party now finds itself in. We did start this fiscal irresponsibility, and a few folks in our party are in fact corrupt. Failing to admit that continues to damage our credibility, and it prevents my party from becoming a viable alternative to the President and the Democrat party.

Admitting there is a problem with the lack of direction / leadership in our party is not the most painful part of this recovery process, however. We must make a choice to change our behavior — not so much to attract the independents and moderates, but to regain lost credibility on the issues we used to own over the Democrats. You can’t win elections without the base, and moving left loses that base for the Republicans.

Taking this first step won’t automatically fix our problems. There may be a few more lost elections in the current future of the Republican Party. But we can accelerate the process of regaining what we have lost if we start by admitting our mistakes and making a clear break from our past failures. Then when we attack the Democrats for wasteful spending and President Obama for his entire agenda, people might actually start listening to what we have to say.

happy jackie robinson day!

Well…at least it was around the world of MLB. For the rest of the country, the discussion was about tea parties and the annual rite of passage for taxpaying citizens to fund wasteful government programs for all Americans. Another April 15th has come and gone, but nothing really has changed. The tea parties, while meaningful and important because of the message the participants delivered (no on Washington and the wasteful spending), will not sustain whatever momentum could have been gained from these events. For a political protest to have any staying power in the long run it requires some kind of ongoing commitment to the cause for those who are involved in that protest. Many of the participants have that kind of commitment — to keep fighting for limited government, lower taxes, and reduced government spending — and they will stay involved locally and hold their local politicians accountable in these areas. That would have been true without the tea parties. The success or failure of Tea Party Day should be measured by what happens next. Will this spark lead to more involvement in the political process by those who are disconnected from both parties as a result of finding common cause with these protesters? Or will we all go back to our own lives and forget all the great things that happened today?

Future results are TBD.

it’s not going to happen

Newt Gingrich knows how to say things conservatives like to hear.  He can dish the red meat as well as anyone in our party when he has the inclination to do that.  It’s easy to appreciate those who are speaking out against the policies of the Obama administration, even though we realize that reversing course requires winning elections and developing alternatives to current policy that people can support.  Concerning alternatives and ideas, Newt’s got a few.  Actually more than a few.  Some ideas may be useful, and others may not be practical to implement.  That’s his strength — advancing big ideas.  Unfortunately for Republicans, what Gingrich has been proposing is compassionate conservatism on steroids.  I think it’s fair to question some of his agenda items as less than committed to this limited government ideal we keep talking about.

He is entertaining and has piles of figures on every possible subject.  But he has no chance of ever becoming President, or even the Republican nominee.  This is good for all of us.  Newt Gingrich could never survive the vicious vetting process of the media in addition to winning the trust of anyone yet undecided about his fitness for the Presidency.  If you believe that Sarah Palin got a raw deal (regardless of her qualifications to serve as VP), can you imagine how much harder it would be for Newt once he officially announced his intention to run for President?  Some of the bad press Newt gets he deserves, but I can’t imagine a scenario where he could shed enough of his baggage to make a 2012 presidential run successful.  God may forgive and forget, but the media never does.

ringing endorsements

First, we have EU President and the Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolanek, and his comments about the stimulus:

From the New York Times (which has sounded rather sensible on fiscal issues lately)-

The European Union’s crisis of leadership during the economic downturn was thrown into sharp relief on Wednesday, as the current president of the 27-nation bloc labeled President Obama’s emergency stimulus package “a way to hell” that will “undermine the stability of the global financial market.”

But perhaps this guy is an outlier, and all the other Europeans are on board with this new massive spending — that takes the bad precedent set by the Bush administration and explodes the deficit by an outrageous amount.  Or maybe not.

More from the Times:

Mr. Topolanek is not alone in his concern that Mr. Obama’s stimulus package, which will push the United States budget deficit this year to 10 percent or more of gross domestic product, will put a huge strain on global financial markets. German officials have also criticized the evolving American program, and many other European nations have declined to create fiscal stimulus programs anywhere near as large as that of the United States, arguing that too much extra money will lead quickly to inflation.

If even some of the European countries – some former Communist countries, some not — believe that this stimulus is a bad idea, and that more state interference in the economy is an undesirable thing, maybe we should rethink President Obama’s grand plan.
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right on

We could learn so much from history if we choose to acknowledge the wisdom of those who have lived before us. I’ve been reading P.J. O’Rourke’s On the Wealth of Nations, a condensed version of the famous economist Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Only P.J. O’Rourke could get me to read a book about economic theory in my spare time. He’s always a must-read.

Here’s an interesting quote:

It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expense… They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expense, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will.

Adam Smith
The Wealth of Nations, Book II, Chapter III

michael steele doesn’t get it

This started out as such a brilliant idea — getting one of those “clean and articulate” African-Americans Vice President Biden always talks about to be the new chairman of the RNC. Then the Republicans’ grand plan started to unravel. The first strand was Steele v. Rush.  Attacking Rush Limbaugh always gets you points with the Democrats and with the leftist media, but it doesn’t do much to keep the support of the conservative base of the Republican party. What I believe Chairman Steele fails to understand about Rush’s influence is that he expresses what the majority of his audience already believes.  Rush Limbaugh is not the leader of the Republican Party, and he would never want to be. That’s not his job.  He is an entertainer, as Steele said, but he is also an important voice for conservatism. In addition to the occasional mindless drone who looks to Rush to tell him/her what to think and believe everyday, Rush’s audience also includes grassroots activists who are motivated by their ideology to volunteer for the party in their local communities, and to encourage others to do the same. In the Steele v. Rush debate, all the Chairman accomplished by his scattershot comments is to alienate many of my fellow conservatives who wish to be included in this new big tent we are creating in the party with all those important moderates and independents. In the absence of Republican leadership, many voices clamor to be heard, and there is much competition to be the most powerful and influential representative of my party.  Right now that person doesn’t seem to be the chairman of the RNC.

The second so-called controversy that’s currently getting airplay is about his comments on abortion in GQ, and how he believes that it’s a woman’s “individual choice”. Well, yeah. Of course it is.  I’m not sure we can win hearts and minds to the pro-life position by arguing over this point. I don’t think that this says anything significant about Michael Steele’s personal beliefs on the abortion issue, although those who were initially skeptical about his abortion views won’t be reassured by his current comments on the subject. While there may be room for a difference of opinion among my fellow Republicans on abortion, ultimately the Republican Party is and always has been a pro-life party. Social conservatives have a home in this party, and they make up a significant portion of the grassroots army the Republicans need to win elections. That’s why the current mindset of our RNC chair is troubling to me. He doesn’t seem to understand a significant portion of the people he represents, and yet he wants to expand our base to include moderates and independents. This would mean watering down the principles we claim to have always stood for, even if the execution of those ideals has never been perfect.  If he can’t keep the trust of the base, then all the moderates and independents he could gain won’t do much to our electoral prospects going forward into ’10 and ’12.

Do I think we should throw Michael Steele under the bus?  Not yet.  Possibly not at all.  The Democrats managed to succeed in spite of Howard Dean, didn’t they? Right…so there is still hope for the RNC to get its act together in time for the next election.


All of the House Republicans voted against the stimulus package.  Good for them.  President Obama doesn’t need their support, and he shouldn’t expect it when the legislation being proposed doesn’t achieve (or come close to achieving) what should be the primary objective — stimulating the economy.  This is pork-laden legislation as well as some tax cuts to people who don’t EVEN PAY taxes (otherwise known as welfare).  Bad proposals are bad proposals.  It does the Republicans no political good to go along with all of President Obama’s plans, and it might continue to hurt them with the conservative base.  In addition to that, if this stimulus fails to get the job done (and it will),  the blame will be solely on the president and the Democrats.  That is, unless the Senate Republicans fail to follow the lead of their colleagues in the House.

sarah palin’s pay raise

She doesn’t want it.   Maybe someone smarter than me can explain to me why pay raises have any relationship to fiscal conservatism, or the lack of same.  If that’s the standard, there are no fiscal conservatives, at least in politics.  Not many politicians say no to pay raises.  In addition to that, there’s also a difference between spending public (taxpayer) money and donor money.  This does not matter to Sarah Palin’s detractors.

Fiscal conservatism, in terms of its relationship to government,  should be defined as the way public money is spent and allocated.  It doesn’t have anything to do with Sarah Palin’s personal spending, or her accepting pay raises as governor, or even allowing the RNC to spend $150,000 on a VP wardrobe. (Although I don’t think the RNC itself has any credibility as fiscally conservative because of the actions of its membership in Congress…)

The election is over.  Leave Governor Palin alone.  There’s no guarantee she’s going to try again, or any guarantee that she will do enough in 4-8 years to become a credible candidate for President.  Let’s see what happens, and who else may emerge from the Republican chaos of 2008 to become a contender.