Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Politics of Purification Not New


Reprinted from 

            The purification process — hard-core and uncompromising partisans driving heretics from their ranks — has been going on for a long time. 

            The recent Republican convention in Utah, the one in which conservative Senator Robert Bennett was defeated for being not conservative enough (despite an 84 percent approval rating from the American Conservative Union), is just one more step in a decades-long effort to drive independent thought from the political decision making process.

            This year, of course, attention has been focused primarily on Marco Rubio’s success in driving Florida Governor Charlie Crist out of the Republican Party (he’s now running for the Senate as an Independent) and former Congressman Pat Toomey’s success in converting Republican Senator Arlen Specter into a Democrat.  But in both of those cases one can argue that the targeted incumbent was simply too far out of step with his own party. 

            The same ACU ratings index on which Bennett scored an 84 gave Specter a 40.  The ratings only measure members of Congress but Crist had more than once angered party members with his support of initiatives that were fiercely opposed by most Republicans.  But given Bennett’s long embrace of conservative positions, with relatively few departures from the party-line script over a period of nearly two decades, what happened in Utah was something of a very different and disturbing nature.  It was checklist politics, a demand for suspension of judgment and lockstep adherence to an ideological instruction manual that would brook no deviation.
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Raising Arizona

BY Gary Andres

From Weekly

When Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed her state’s new immigration law on April 23, reaction from the political Left was swift and furious. They predicted jack-booted rogue cops staging midnight raids on the homes of everyone.

But after over a month of national debate and media coverage – including criticism from both the American and Mexican presidents, and a host of newly minted experts, a curious thing is happening.  The state’s new law has not led to massive deportation or racial cleansing in the desert. And there is even some evidence it’s growing in popularity, both in Arizona and nationally.

Ironically the same liberals, intent on tearing down the new law through hyperbolic invective, may be contributing to its widening support.

Arizona’s immigration law deeply offends the sensibilities of most liberals – particularly those who don’t live there. Their rhetoric would be comical if it weren’t so predictable.

Miguel Guadalupe, writing at the Huffington Post, described the measure as a “Gestapo Law.”  Colombian singer Shakira called it “unjust and inhuman.”  Seth MacFarlane, creator of the TV show “Family Guy,” told Reuters Television, “Nobody but the Nazis ever asked anybody for their papers.”
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Transparency Time for White House


Just like the BP camera has allowed us to watch millions of gallons of oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico after the collapse of the “Deep Horizon” oil rig, President Obama should install an Oval Office camera or “Oval Cam” in the White House after the botched handling of Rep. Joe Sestak’s job offer. [See who contributes to Sestak.]

The American people are starving for transparency. Time and again, they have been lied to or misled by government and private institutions. Politicians who offer it willingly are praised while those that reject it or begrudgingly accept it are scorned. Transparency demonstrates that leaders and companies are on the level. It means as President Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” BP quickly learned that once the camera broadcast the oil leak to millions of people in real time, the company can’t turn it off without sparking conspiratorial outrage.

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Job Opportunities for Joe Sestak


On ABC’s weekly gab-fast “This Week” yesterday, America’s last remaining Whig, the bow-tied George Will, blithely dismissed the kerfluffle surrounding the latest accusations surrounding illegality in the White House.  “Business as usual,” he huffed.

But moments later, on a separate network, the one who was offered the bribe, Joe Sestak, acknowledged that he was offered such a deal – a high-ranking government appointment in exchange for a discontinued Senate.  “I was offered a job, but I am not going to tell you what it was.”

Most people assumed that it was Secretary of the Navy.  For those keeping notes, an appointment to become Secretary of the Navy is not worth a chance to knock off Arlen Specter, at least not at the current market rates.

This morning, a writer for the left-wing opinion site Slate, Joe Conason, opined that what the White House offered was probably illegal.

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Victims and Villains: A Dangerous Game


            The oil spill catastrophe has set off a new round of finger pointing. Oil company executives were crawling over each other a week ago to place blame on each other. 

            And, the President is doing what he does extremely well, branding oil company executives as villains and the rest of us as victims of their villainous behavior.  

    Who knows where the blame will ultimately lie.  There will be plenty to go around. 

    I have no interest in, or sympathy for, British Petroleum.  They ought to pay out of the wazzoo.

            My concern is with the politics of the blame game, especially during these times when nerves are shot, the public nerves are on edge already and people are just looking for an excuse to get mad.  Also of concern is the more profound impact on the civility of our political dialogue. 
            Throughout the campaign, while candidate Obama was promising to be a healer and a uniter, he was engaged in a sophisticated strategy to divide, to create victims and villains in American politics, identifying for his supporters at whom they should be mad and for whom they should show pity.  That is par for the course in political campaigns.  But to my surprise, the strategy was intensified after he became President.  Over the past two years he has created the false imagery of a society in which you’re either a victim or a villain.  In a constant display of high dexterity finger pointing he has made villains of lobbyists, Wall Street firms, doctors, insurance companies, auto executives, talk radio celebrities, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Fox News, bankers, tea partiers, Republicans, conservatives, gun owners, the entire state of Arizona, and now, for a repeat performance, oil company executives.

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Doing the Dance of the Double-Standard


 Something that frustrates me most as a conservative and a Republican is my inability to ever, and I mean ever, “win” an argument with a liberal.  Just when I think they are ready to cry “Uncle,” the rules always seem to change.

 Want some examples?  Go to a recent “dateline” in the Sunday Washington Post magazine.  Two young Capitol Hill staffers are put together.  Both happen to be Jewish.  They each say their faith is important to them and that they want to focus their dating among only Jews inasmuch as they have already decided whoever they eventually marry will be of their faith.  The young man also says he is a liberal so it would be difficult for him to marry a “right winger.”  As a person of faith myself, I actually very much respect them making this as important as they seemingly have.  However, I ask you what sort of reaction we might anticipate if all that changed was that the youngsters were Evangelical Christians and that the man indicated only a person of a conservative political ideology would be a candidate for marriage?  Do we think these two might be portrayed as and/or perceived to be “intolerant and close minded?”  How can it be just fine for those of one faith to be “exclusive” and wrong for another faith?

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The Party of Debt

BY Gary Andres

 Reprinted from Weekly Standard

 Two seemingly unrelated news stories unfolded in Washington last week — developments that could further stoke the flames of voter discontent across America. Taken together, these reports could also label the Democrats with an ugly and hard to erase moniker heading into the November elections:  They are now the Party of Debt.

 The first piece of news concerned Congressional Democrats’ plan to forgo passing a budget blueprint this year – an unprecedented display of fiscal policy malpractice.

 A January 2010 Congressional Research Service report demonstrates that only four times in the past 35 years have lawmakers not adopted a concurrent budget resolution (a document projecting long term spending and revenue goals). And even when the two legislative bodies have failed to reach an agreement, in every year since the enactment of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, at least the House has produced its own blueprint and given members a chance to vote on it. How do we get our fiscal house in order if lawmakers can’t even develop a plan?

 Democrats might still reverse course and produce a budget this year.  But as recently as yesterday, Senate Budget Committee chair Kent Conrad told the Washington Post the chances of doing so were “fading.”

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Choosing the Next Justice


  Reprinted from

Given the increased focus on, and increased fealty to, one’s political party as an overriding factor in the decision-making process, it is highly likely that every Democratic member of the Senate will feel a strong sense of obligation to confirm the Supreme Court nominee of a Democratic President. 

Add the fact that many members of the Senate, as confused about a Senator’s duties as are most journalists and private citizens, will assume that a President is entitled to have his nominees confirmed absent some overriding disqualification, and the path to Kagan’s confirmation would seem reasonably obstacle-free. 

Republicans would love to have a reason to show that Kagan is a tool of some great socialist plot to undermine democratic values, but they’ve played that card to death and might actually long for a breather from that unending war.  Which suggests that the Solicitor General might want to go shopping for some classy-looking black robes.

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Appropriators Abandoned by Voters


From the Feehery Theory

No wonder David Obey retired.

Last night, Alan Mollohan, the West Virginia Congressman and proud member of the House Appropriations Committee, lost his primary against an opponent who attacked the incumbent’s behavior on the Committee.

Over the weekend, Robert Bennett, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, lost in his efforts to gain his party’s nomination to run for re-election.

Next week, it is looking increasingly likely that another appropriator, Arlen Specter, might lose his party’s primary.  Specter switched political parties because he knew he couldn’t win the nomination of the Republican primary voter.

Congressman John Murtha, who died earlier this year, was under intense scrutiny from the Ethics Committee and from the Justice Department for alleged malfeasance on the Committee.  It looks like his seat will go the Republicans.

Two years ago, the long time Appropriations Committee Chairman, Ted Stevens, narrowly lost his bid to win reelection because of an ethical cloud dusted up by a Justice Department indictment.  His case was later thrown out.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and longtime member of the Appropriations Committee, resigned from Congress four years ago under an ethical cloud.  Duke Cunningham actually is spending quality time in jail because he auctioned off earmarks to the highest bidder.

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Half of Country Shocked and Appalled


Reprinted from Washington Times

This country is divided into three parts concerning national politics. About a third think President Obama is moving in the right direction, with many of them impatient for the president to be bolder with his leftist agenda. Somewhere in the vicinity of 40 percent to 50 percent of Americans are shocked and appalled at the nation’s rush toward bankruptcy, socialism, fundamental transformation of our way of life and the permanent weakening and impoverishing of America. And some 15 percent to 30 percent are quite concerned about the current state of the country but see no imminent crisis and think that with some substantial adjustments, Mr. Obama’s efforts may end up being useful. (The foregoing numbers are merely my subjective judgment, not based on any particular poll.)

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Congress Needs Servant Leadership


Reprinted from the Weekly Standard

Congress has a black eye, and it’s starting to swell. As an institution, its approval ratings bounce near all time lows, creating a crisis in confidence among voters.  Can Americans count on an institution so anemic in trust to heal the difficult and major problems confronting the nation?

Many believe the legislative branch is insular, arrogant, and dominated by special interests — and not without cause.

The current Democratic majority’s polarizing behavior has only reinforced these views by passing partisan and controversial legislation — like the health care bill — opposed by a majority of Americans, according to the most recent average of polls aggregated at Real Clear Politics.

The House and Senate will never win popularity contests.  Congress underperforms other institutions when it comes to stirring good feelings.  Analyzing polling data from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, political scientists John R. Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse in their book Congress as Public Enemy: Public Attitudes Toward American Political Institutions show the legislature nearly always lags the presidency and the Supreme Court when it comes to public confidence.

This pattern continues today. President Obama’s approval now hovers around the 48 percent mark, but Congress’s is only half that (23 percent), according to Real Clear Politics.

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The Decline and Fall of The Washington Post


From the Feehery Theory

“Politics and Film”, a local film festival in Washington D.C., re-ran the epic movie “All The President’s Men”, and then held a discussion with Bob Woodward, one of the protagonists depicted in the show.

In the movie, Woodward and his sidekick Carl Bernstein, risked personal safety and career advancement investigating the malfeasance of the Nixon Administration, and ultimately created the dynamic that led to the President’s resignation.

No matter where you are on the political spectrum, the movie is terrific.  Great action, great plot, great storyline and great acting all make this one of the most interesting movies about politics in history.

What the movie really highlighted was how courageous it was for the Post to investigate a President.

Fast forward three and some decades to the present version of the Washington Post.

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The Black Swan Looms Over Budget


             As I write this, cable and broadcast television, radio, and bloggers, and government officials, are giddy with the news released 90 minutes ago that the economy created almost 300,000 jobs last month. 

     “We’ve turned the economic corner.”

      “The recovery has become self-sustaining.”

      “That 1,000 point drop in the Dow was merely because of a human being putting erroneous sell information into a computer,”

      Yet, the official unemployment rate increased to 9.9 per cent and the broadest measure of unemployment continues to rise.  How can this be?  Are good times here again?

      In short, “no.”

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Politics of Victims and Villains


Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress didn’t invent the politics of vilification, and they will not be the last to practice it. The president and his political allies, however, have refined the practice to an art form – they say they abhor vilification, yet consistently demonize when promoting their legislative aims.

But will it work?

Some of the best stories include the worst villains. And political tales are no exception.   But the president and Democrats in Congress jumped the shark, in terms   of predictability. A clear blueprint has emerged over the past 16 months. Every time the White House and its allies on the Hill decide to promote a legislative initiative they slaughter a sacrificial lamb. 

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Random Thoughts


 Some things to ponder, just not too long:

 I was watching ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and complaining about the blurriness of the picture. I thought I’d better call Comcast when my wife, who knows about such things, said it wasn’t the TV.  It was ABC softening the lighting to make Diane’s wrinkles and the bags under her eyes less noticeable.  The next day the Washington Examiner ran a picture of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s cover shot in Capitol File magazine that makes her look half her age.  The reason: “There is airbrushing around her eyes…her upper lid has been airbrushed to make it look like there is less fat on the inside…and there is airbrushing on the line of her jaw…her neck has been blended, and the lines on her face are very subtle,” according to a plastic surgeon.  The next day in the Washington Post, a big Style section splash about Rep. Kevin McCarthy and colleagues toning up the muscles with celebrity trainer Tony Horton in the exclusive House gym.  I guess it’s important to look good when you’re doing well.

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You Say You Want A Devolution


From the Weekly Standard

Public opinion about the appropriate role of the federal government moves like the moon cycle, causing tidal shifts in citizen attitudes and election outcomes. After watching Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress over the past year and a half, attitudes about Washington are changing again, possibly giving those who advocate devolving power to the states a political advantage in the midterm elections.

Political scientist James A. Stimson nailed the ocean metaphor in his insightful book, Tides of Consent: How Public Opinion Shapes American Politics. Stimson demonstrates that the overall public mood about government starts to run counter to victorious political parties soon after they win.  For example, voters typically elect  Democrats when a more liberal, pro-activist federal government sentiment hits an apex.  But for the big government crowd, Election Day is about as good as it gets.  Going forward, sentiment soon starts to shift in a more conservative direction.
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Solutions Are in the Center, But It’s Invisible


            “The Vanishing Middle in American Politics” That headline made me reach for the reading glasses Sunday morning.   Holy voter! Batman, when did the middle vanish? 

            The headline on a story by AP reporter Ron Fournier was misleading, of course. The great middle of American politics–centrists, independents, moderates, whatever you call them (it’s instructive that they don’t have a brand), has not vanished at all.  Those voters, in the words of Democratic consultant Steve McMahon, make up “the invisible middle.”   The middle is ignored, he said in the article, because the politicians are concentrating on the noisemakers. 
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