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Politics &Tea Parties Richard Falknor on 19 Jan 2011

Obamacare Repeal: Senate Next? Debate “Hits and Misses”

TWO UPDATES JANUARY 20!  From Real Health Reform: Our Money, Our Health, Our Choice! Greg Scandlen asks Was I Too Harsh? “Not at all. My skepticism about Republicans and health care is well-earned. Most of the leadership of the Republican Party over the past twenty years has been perfectly willing to discard free markets when it suits them.” Ross Schriftman points to HIPAA, The Glaring Omission “Listening to the debate on repeal I heard one Democratic member of Congress after another claim that if someone changes jobs and has a pre-existing condition they couldn’t get coverage with their new employer or that condition would not be covered.  Between their statements and the report from the Administration there is not one word mentioned of the protections most Americans already had prior to the passage of last year’s massive ‘reform’ bill. . . . To the Republican members’ discredit I didn’t hear one word about HIPAA protections in their response during the debate.”(Underlining Forum’s throughout.)

* * * * * * * * * *

This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a simple repeal of Obamacare by an overwhelming vote.

So what happens now?

Heritage’s Brian Darling at RedState explained yesterday in the Repeal of ObamaCare in the Senate – How To Do It

“If Senators don’t take any action when the bill is transmitted from the House to the Senate, then there is little to no chance to pass the House repeal measure.   This will show that Senate Republicans are not serious about a full repeal of ObamaCare.  It is possible for conservative Senators to force a vote on H.R. 2, when the time is right, if they follow two simple procedures in the Senate to protect their rights.  

The bottom line is that it is possible for opponents of ObamaCare to set themselves up for an extended debate on ObamaCare in the Senate — if they have the will.  It is also possible to pass the bill in the Senate, if conservatives are patient and ready to spring a vote on liberals when the time is right.”

But Darling cautions – –

“As I said over at the Foundry, ‘if the supporters of a full repeal of Obamacare don’t use the Senate’s rules to force a vote on full repeal, don’t take them seriously when they say they . . . really want to repeal President Obama’s de facto government takeover of health care.’ A repeal vote is fully within the power of Senators — if they are serious about repeal.”

Greg Scandlen of Real Health Reform: Our Money, Our Health, Our Choice! gives us a scorecard of  Hits and Misses of the Repeal Debate

“Granted I may have missed something, but overall, I am left once again to wonder if the Republicans have the slightest idea of what they are talking about or how to craft a debate — other than maybe Mike Pence and Paul Ryan.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

One Scandlen “hits-and-misses” example:

“MISS. Several Democratic congressmen from New York and New Jersey have said that if ObamaCare is repealed, thousands of their constituents will be deprived of health insurance due to their pre-existing conditions. No Republican has pointed out that those states have guaranteed issue (GI) for all lines of health insurance, so presumably there is no one in either state who would be deprived of health insurance for having a pre-ex.”

Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Scandlen of course is a strong opponent of Obamacare, but readers may profit from going through his list of “hits and misses” by both parties in today’s House debate.

And the “misses” illustrated in this debate will likely reappear in the positive portrayal of government medicine in much of the major media.

The list illustrates, in our view, the need for GOP incumbents to get on top of the details of government lest the machinery of government stay on top of us. 

The need to do our government homework runs not just to Obamacare — but to rolling back industry-suffocating EPA rules, maintaining our infrastructure, and making the right choices in national  defense — as well as to state and local topics such as public-employee-pension reform and stopping eminent-domain abuse. 

And if we Tea Partyers and the conservative grass-roots want our elected officials to do their homework, of course we will also have to do it right along with them.

Common Defense &Politics Richard Falknor on 07 Apr 2010

Flash Points 6: RNC’s Steele Again| Eliminating Nukes?

Regrettably but necessarily in view of the wide public attention to Michael Steele’s most recent mishap, we have to say something about the current discontents with the Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman – – having already written so much about Mr. Steele’s policy missteps.  It is ironic that the “sex club scandal,” not serious policy blunders here and here and here and here now appear to be bringing the RNC chairman down.  But to paraphrase Machiavelli, it is the little but easily grasped errors that are often the most perilous politically.

Last year Maryland Republican leaders of many stripes appeared to celebrate their native son Steele’s selection as Republican National Committee chairman. Unfortunately the Old Line State‘s former lieutenant governor’s faulty judgment as well as policy deafness have now come back to haunt them: at the kick-off today of former governor Bob Ehrlich’s campaign, as well as the Party itself during an election year. Let’s hope the fresh energy that the Tea Partiers can bring to the Maryland GOP will help head off future unwise selections.

 * * *

We began this post with “regrettably” because conservatives everywhere in the U.S. now need to focus on the grave threats the Obama Administration poses not just in domestic matters – – but also to our national safety.

As chief national-security-policy sentinel Frank Gaffney explained yesterday in his “Disarmer-in-Chief” on National Review on Line (NRO) – –

“I believe that the most alarming aspect of the Obama denuclearization program, however, is its explicit renunciation of new U.S. nuclear weapons — an outcome that required the president to overrule his own defense secretary. Even if there were no new START treaty, no further movement on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and no new wooly-headed declaratory policies, the mere fact that the United States will fail to reverse the steady obsolescence of its deterrent — and the atrophying of the skilled workforce needed to sustain it — will ineluctably achieve what is transparently President Obama’s ultimate goal: a world without American nuclear weapons. (Underscoring Forum’s.)

Former Reagan defense aide Gaffney earlier revealed in his “False START” – –

“[T]he newly unveiled START accord fails to take into account or otherwise limit several thousand Russian ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons.  The Kremlin has focused for twenty years on such low-yield devices; some with the explosive power of the Hiroshima weapon and fitted on submarine-launched cruise missiles are deployed off our coasts today.  While the administration says such armaments could be the subject of a future, bilateral treaty that makes still deeper reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear stocks, don’t count on it.  In any event, they will constitute a real, asymmetric advantage for Russia for many years to come. This is a particularly worrisome prospect to American allies in Europe who have long relied on America’s ‘extended deterrence’ to counteract such threatening Kremlin capabilities.

“Then, there is the matter of missile defense.  The Obama administration tried to finesse Russian insistence on including in the new accord language that would capture American defenses against missile attack by confining to the preamble an acknowledgement of a “relationship” between such systems and offensive forces.  The United States claims that, by its nature, such preambular language is not binding.  Yet, a Kremlin spokesman has already served notice that Moscow will feel free to abrogate the START follow-on treaty if it believes that U.S. missile defenses in Europe are a threat to its deterrent.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

John Hinderaker at Power Line points to another danger in his “A Dumb Policy on Nuclear Weapons: Does It Matter? ” – –

“Does anyone doubt that the administration would use nukes in a heartbeat if it considered such measures necessary? I don’t. The problem is that when the time comes to actually use nuclear weapons, it is too late. The danger here is not that the Obama administration has really gone pacifist. On the contrary, the significance of today’s announcement appears to be entirely symbolic–just one more chance to preen. The problem is that our enemies understand symbolism and maybe take it too seriously. To them, today’s announcement is another sign that our government has gone soft, and one more inducement to undertake aggressive action against the United States.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

Illustrating Hinderaker’s concern, Chuck Downs, in a 2000 Heritage lecture, explained how past U.S. foreign-policy misstatements contributed to disasters – –

“In a speech before Washington’s National Press Club on January 12, 1950, Secretary of State Dean Acheson described a ‘defensive perimeter of the Pacific’ encompassing countries like Japan and the Philippines which the United States would be compelled to defend. Korea, he said, was an area of ‘lesser’ interest, susceptible to ‘subversion and penetration’ that ‘cannot be stopped by military means.’By 1950, the government of Syngman Rhee appeared to the North to be weak and fraught with internal disunity. Hearing Acheson’s public statements and seeing that the United States had not intervened when mainland China fell to the Communists, Communist leaders concluded that the United States would not support Syngman Rhee with troops. These indications of U.S. indifference to Korea are likely to have given weight to Kim Il Sung’s arguments in Moscow and Beijing. Finally, the Soviet Union and China gave in to Kim Il Sung’s persistent pleas to permit him to seize South Korea.His remarks earned intense public scrutiny. At the same time, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) concluded that the United States had ‘little strategic interest’ in its bases in Korea. The JCS conclusion was classified, but Soviet spy Kim Philby may have relayed it to Moscow.”

Herman Kahn used this sequence of events in his seminars as an example of the “inscrutable Occidental.”

But blogger Hinderaker assumes, of course, that, in his ultimate scenario, we would still have reliable nuclear weapons and delivery systems and well-trained operators.

Somehow in spite of all the other mischief from Team Obama – – and distractions from a few of our inept Republican friends, we have to keep watch on this administration’s undermining of our military capability, and guard our alliances – – yes, our ’special relationships’ with our long-time friends, as well as demanding vigilance on our southern border.  While first disabling, then repealing Obamacare will be a hard climb, the rebuilding of our alliances and upgrading our defenses could be an even harder one – – if we do not pay attention now and push back.

Conservatives &Politics Richard Falknor on 23 Feb 2010

Flash Points: Beck; EPA; Hawaii; Obamacare; ABL

  • MARK LEVIN TO GLENN BECK: ‘STOP DIVIDING US’ ” Video via NRO: “Right now [the Republicans] are holding the fort and they deserve reinforcements.” For post-CPAC perspective on Beck, see C. Edmund Wright’s “American Thinker” articles here and here.
  • FEDERAL REGULATION OF GREENHOUSE-GAS EMISSIONS: “At an EPW [Senate Environment and Public Works Committee] hearing that began at 10, Senator Inhofe has just released this report and called on EPA to reconsider its endangerment finding on the basis that EPA relied on IPCC reports, which have now been revealed to be full of faulty science.” – – Myron Ebell from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Background here.
  • NATIVE HAWAIIAN GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION ACTAloha Segregation A bill expected to pass the House today with overwhelming Democratic support would accomplish something peculiar for a liberal republic in the 21st century: It would partly disenfranchise a portion of one state’s residents, create a parallel government for those meeting a legislated criterion of ethnic purity, and would portend the transfer of public assets, land, and political power from those who fail to satisfy the standard of ethnic purity to those who do. For these reasons and many more, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act richly deserves opposition.” – –NRO Editors. Background here and here. See House vote tonight [February 23]  here.
  • OBAMACARE REVIVED:  “PRELIMINARY POINT #1:  OBAMACARE CANNOT BE PASSED THROUGH RECONCILIATION.”- – Mike Hammond a former general counsel to the Senate Republican Steering Committee, summarizes the most recent Obama health care proposal. And here is theRSC Policy Brief: President Obama’s Proposal – Still a Government Takeover of Health Care.”
  • AIRBORNE LASER: James Carafano declares in the Washington Examiner  “dumping airborne laser leaves America vulnerable,” explaining “At 8:44 p.m. PST Feb. 11, 2010 … for just a second … man made night into day. A short-range ballistic missile launched from a sea-based platform off California’s Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center. Moments later, the Airborne Laser carried aloft in a specially modified 747 detected it.Then it cranked up the high-energy laser. That beam struck home, burning a small hole in the missile. A split-second later, its structural integrity destroyed, the missile vaporized in a tumbling corkscrew.” Comments Cliff May who pointed us to the James Carafano post – – “An ABL could help neutralize the threat of ‘scud in a bucket,’ which, Jim says, in many ways is ‘the ultimate weapon.”‘

The senior policy-makers in the Obama Administration seek to take advantage of their long-awaited opportunity to carry out a domestic statist as well as an America-disarming agenda.  Last weekend’s CPAC, on the other hand, had some uplifting moments and offered an opportunity to working-level conservatives from around the nation to meet and compare notes.  But conservatives will have to learn to understand policy fine print and how to work the gears of government if they are to slow the Obama Agenda. Today’s danger is so great that we will have to master these details of government not only until November 2012, but for quite some time afterwards.  We all saw what happened while too many of us took a passive role after the Gingrich and Bush victories of 1994 and 2000 respectively. In short, the buck stops with each of us – – however attractive emerging Republican politicians may appear.


First things . . . &Politics Richard Falknor on 26 Jan 2010

“Citizens United”: Crucial for Grass Roots & Tea Partiers


. . .[T]he FEC has created a regime that allows it to select what political speech is safe for public consumption by applying ambiguous tests. If parties want to avoid litigation and the possibility of civil and criminal penalties, they must either refrain from speaking or ask the FEC to issue an advisory opinion approving of the political speech in question. Government officials pore over each word of a text to see if, in their judgment, it accords with the 11-factor test they have promulgated. This is an unprecedented governmental intervention into the realm of speech.” – – Justice Anthony Kennedy (2010)

. . . . .

The federal election campaign laws, which are already (as today’s opinions show) so voluminous, so detailed, so complex, that no ordinary citizen dare run for office, or even contribute a significant sum, without hiring an expert advisor in the field, can be expected to grow more voluminous, more detailed, and more complex in the years to come–and always, always, with the objective of reducing the excessive amount of speech.” – – Justice Antonin Scalia (2003)  (Underscoring Forum’s throughout.)

Last Thursday’s Supreme Court holding in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is a step forward for grass-roots organizations with limited funds, and a check on unaccountable incumbency for members of both parties. Here is a birds-eye view of the Court’s action by National Review on Line’s (NRO) Ed Whelan.

The Weekly Standard’s Mary Katharine Ham guides us to Politico’s Ben Smith “Ginsberg et al.: A drastically altered landscape”.  Smith declares – –

“Leading Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg and four colleagues at Patton Boggs are circulating a memo today with the clearest outline I’ve seen of the consequences of a ruling that, they write, will ‘drastically alter the landscape for candidates and political parties.'”

Here are two extracts from the January 21, 2010 Ginsberg memorandum – –

501c4s and 501c6s: Likely to emerge as the biggest players in the 2010 and 2012 elections, ideological groups and trade associations also have been granted the ability to engage much more robustly in the political process. Meager disclosure requirements of their donors will make them a favorite repository of funds for independent expenditures.

. . . . .

Vendors: The opinion should drastically increase the number of voices singing in the First Amendment choir. This is very good news for those who assist those efforts.
(Underscoring Forum’s throughout.)

Readers can view the entire memorandum here as it appeared in Ben Smith’s Politico article.

Last week in our own post “High Court Boosts Free Speech, Curtails McCain-Feingold,” we drew readers’ attention to Bradley Smith’s “The Myth of Campaign Finance Reform” here.

If there is a “magic bullet” to deconstruct so-called campaign-finance-reform schemes, former Federal Elections Commission (FEC) chief Smith has invented it in his National Affairs post and his earlier writings – –

“Considered in detail, each step in the effort to limit campaign spending turns out to advantage the party that sought it. If its own numbers are insufficient to pass the legislation (as was the case with McCain-­Feingold in 2002), then it seeks to broaden its base by adding incumbent-­protection sweeteners to attract enough members of the opposing party to create a bipartisan majority. John Samples notes that McCain-­Feingold drew most of its support from Democrats — who, he argues, saw long-term electoral disaster in the growing Republican fundraising edge, which was increasing after Republicans won the presidency in 2000. But to gain a legislative majority, the minority Democrats had to gain Republican votes; Samples finds that the Republicans who supported McCain-Feingold were, by and large, those most in danger of losing their seats. For them, the incumbent-benefit protections of the law made it irresistible.

Samples makes the Madisonian observation that ‘politicians use political power to further their own goals rather than the public ­interest….Campaign finance laws might be, in other words, a form of ­corruption.’ Noting that ‘scholars date the largest decline in congressional electoral competition from 1970’ and that the Federal Election ­Campaign Act — the foundation of modern campaign-finance law — was passed in 1972, Samples points out that ‘the decline in ­electoral competition and the new era of campaign finance regulation are virtually conterminous.’ ”
(Underscoring Forum’s throughout.)

When chairman Smith resigned from the FEC in 2005, his letter doing so to then president Bush warned that – –

” . . . [T]he trend toward greater control of politicking–online and offline–may eventually have grave consequences. ‘Political activity is more heavily regulated than at any time in our nation’s history,’ he wrote. ‘For example, in accordance with the law, during my tenure the FEC has assessed penalties against parents for contributing too much to the campaigns of children; against children for contributing to the campaigns of parents; and against husbands for contributing to campaigns of their wives,’ he wrote. ‘We have required citizens to respond to complaints for the display of homemade signs supporting a candidate. These are just a few examples: The commission’s regulations take up nearly 400 pages of fine print.'”

If there is any doubt that incumbency protection motivated many of the supporters of McCain-Feingold (the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act), Justice Scalia gave us chapter and verse in his dissent in McConnell of December 2003 – –

 But let us not be deceived. While the Government’s briefs and arguments before this Court focused on the horrible ‘appearance of corruption,’ the most passionate floor statements during the debates on this legislation pertained to so-called attack ads, which the Constitution surely protects, but which Members of Congress analogized to ‘crack cocaine,’ 144 Cong. Rec. S868 (Feb. 24, 1998) (remarks of Sen. Daschle), ‘drive-by shooting[s],’ id., at S879 (remarks of Sen. Durbin), and ‘air pollution,’ 143 Cong. Rec. 20505 (1997) (remarks of Sen. Dorgan). There is good reason to believe that the ending of negative campaign ads was the principal attraction of the legislation. A Senate sponsor said, ‘I hope that we will not allow our attention to be distracted from the real issues at hand–how to raise the tenor of the debate in our elections and give people real choices. No one benefits from negative ads. They don’t aid our Nation’s political dialog.’ Id., at 20521—20522 (remarks of Sen. McCain).”      (Underscoring Forum’s throughout.)

Readers may see who in the Congress voted in 2002 for this free-speech-restricting act here and here.

In our view, the faith-based groups (along with many other voices on the center-right) erred in not going to the mat with president George W. Bush over his March 2002 signing of the McCain-Feingold legislation.  Neither pro-life nor pro-free-market nor immigration-enforcement nor defense advocates can do their jobs if their political-speech freedoms are continually curtailed. We all finally ended up having to do our part, spectacularly, more than three years later in October 2005, fighting the president’s nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. (The force of the Miers pushback arose from a culmination of conservative frustrations with the Bush Administration.)  Presumably by now we have all learned a great deal from the current and the previous administrations.

Grass-roots conservatives, Tea Partiers, Ralliers, and other center-right activists need to keep tracking and exposing the governmental and institutional efforts to limit free political speech. As Mark Levin writes, [I]t took the Statist nearly eighty years to get here, and it will take the Conservative at least as long to change the nation’s direction.


“President Wrong on Citizens United Case ‘This is either blithering ignorance of the law, or demagoguery of the worst kind.'”

. . . . .

“What Citizens United actually does is empower small and midsize corporations—and every incorporated mom-and-pop falafel joint, local firefighters’ union, and environmental group—to make its voice heard in campaigns without hiring an army of lawyers or asking the FEC how it may speak.”



Conservatives &Politics Richard Falknor on 28 May 2009

Will New Money,Tea Parties Spur Changing of GOP Guard?

“Republicans suspect that Powell’s upbraidings are designed to create a party of which he and Obama would approve — a substantially liberal, socially inclusive, race-sensitive party that doesn’t step on corporate toes but rather helps build cartels.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)– –  Chris Stirewalt in the Washington  Examiner.

General Colin Powell’s ideal party might well be shared by too many Beltway Republicans.

Unfortunately some statewide Republican Establishments might also find the corporatist but politically-correct model tempting to the degree they depend on large-organization money.  Tertium Quids’s Norman Leahy points us to Tuesday’s FREE luncheon where gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell carefully steers his course in this Virginia gathering “of the titans of business, education and politics in Northern Virginia.” The back-and-forth with candidate McDonnell is illuminating. (Conservatives will want to encourage Mr. McDonnell to sign the no-new-taxes pledge.) But somehow this FREE [Virginia Foundation for Research and Economic Education] gathering doesn’t sound like a meeting of the Reason Foundation’s Mobility Project or even plain-vanilla smaller-government voices.

War Among the Elephants

Throughout May, we have written here and here and here on an underlying but growing national theme the Examiner’s opinion editor Mark Tapscott yesterday  termed

“internecine war . . .heating up between the professional political consultants who run the Washington GOP establishment and insurgent conservatives beyond the Washington Beltway, who are fed up with seeing their money go to anti-life, big-spending, tax-hiking people like Arlen Specter and Lincoln Chaffee.”

RedState Weighs in on NRSC Primary Meddling

A key grass-roots insurgent is RedState’s Erick Erickson who explained on Monday – –

 During World War II, the Vichy Regime arguabl[y] ran France as an independent nation, but were puppets of the Axis powers. In Norway, a similar situation occurred under the illegitimate regime of Vidkun Quisling. Today we use the word ‘quislings’ to refer to those who collaborate with and help the enemy.

Call Powell, Ridge, etc. quislings, Vichy Republicans or whatever you like, but one thing is clear — these respected men have chosen to use their positions and media adoration to take on not Rush and Dick Cheney, but conservatives.

Earlier this month NRO’s Jim Geraghty asked – –

Must National Committees Jump Into Primaries?

John Miller questions the wisdom of the NRSC’s[link added]immediate endorsement of Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio in the Florida Senate primary. I would only add the question, how many Republicans have ever said, “Thank goodness the NRSC intervened in that primary”? (Underscoring Forum’s.)

National committees intervening in primaries certainly has a messy history — Ramesh wrote about some cases of NRCC intervention in Kansas in 2004, and Matt Lewis wrote about some cases in 2006.”

On May 19, Erick Erickson counseled

“The NRSC has decided to play favorites. And their favorites are increasingly at odds with the base of the GOP. If the NRSC wants to distance itself from the base, the base should distance itself from an NRSC that is showing increasingly bad judgment.

They can take cold comfort in thinking we’re just upset because they endorsed a liberal. The reality is we expect them to in some cases. But this case they did not have to, should not have done so, and must be made to pay a price.

Here is the list of donors to the NRSC. I encourage you to go through the list. If you see people you know, tell them how the NRSC wants their money, then wants them to shut up.”(Underscoring Forum’s.)

Tea Parties Also Protest Republican Establishment

Mark Tapscott makes a key point —

 The fact that just doesn’t register with Washington GOP establishmentarians is that the Tea Party Protests seen around the country in April were aimed as much against them as they were against the tax and spending policies of Obama and the Democratic Congress.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

From very recent observations around Washington, we certainly agree. And just last April 15, the National Republican Senatorial Committee support for senator Arlen Specter became one of the grievances raised at the Reston, Virginia Tea Party.

  Getting Around Beltway Republicans in the Florida Senate Race

National Review on Line’s (NRO) Kathryn Jean Lopez notes governor Mike Huckabee’s endorsement of Marco Rubio in Florida commenting “I wonder if Sarah Palin winds up down there before long. And she won’t be campaigning for Crist.”

NRO’s Lopez cites this CNN report – –

“Rubio’s campaign picked up another endorsement closer to home on Wednesday, that of Jeb Bush, Jr., the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The former governor, who remains popular among Republicans in Florida and nationally, is a Rubio mentor, but he has so far avoided weighing in on the Senate race.”

Free Marketers or Crony Capitalists?

Jonah Goldberg makes the split between the grass roots and the GOP Establishment more explicit in his April 6, 2009 National Review article (subscription only) — “Democrats and Businessmen, Sitting in a Tree . . . Big corporations love free enterprise, as long as it isn’t too free.” Goldberg elaborates – –

” . . . [W]e’re constantly hearing from strategists who insist that the answer is to loosen up, baby — become more socially liberal while staying fiscally conservative. The key problem is that fiscal conservatism, whatever its merits, isn’t economic conservatism in the free-market tradition of Hayek, Friedman, Reagan, et al. As a generalization, when people say they are fiscal conservatives but social liberals, what they are really saying is that they are, simply, moderate liberals. Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Arlen Specter, and the rest aren’t socially conservative, and they aren’t economically conservative either.”

. . . . .
“Reaganite, pro-life conservatives also tend to be Reaganite free-marketers. Phil Gramm, the greatest deregulator of the last 20 years: pro-life. Ron Paul, the libertarian crusader: pro-life. Christine Todd Whitman and Colin Powell: They’re pro-choice and pro-activist-government.

The really odd part about it all is that full-spectrum conservatives greatly outnumber the socially liberal crowd — yet they’re supposed to be the problem. They — heck, we — enter the party as cheap dates and in due course become battered spouses. We make apologies for CEOs who don’t care what we think, and we never complain about the ingratitude of institutions we support. We fight for free-trade agreements and tax cuts, and they repay us time and again by jumping into bed with Barack Obama. And they don’t even bother to wash off the smell of his cologne.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

Mark Tapscott is right on target when he concludes here – –

 “If the NCCF [link added by Forum] effort succeeds in raising a significant amount of funding and is able to make a difference in upcoming primaries like the Crist-Rubio contest, even as the Tea Party Protests expand, then the infrastructural heart of a new GOP could be in place.

This struggle is among the most important political stories of 2009 because upon its outcome depends in great part whether there will be a genuinely effective opposition to Obama and the Democrats in the years ahead.” (Underscoring Forum’s)

Conservatives &Politics Richard Falknor on 12 May 2009

What Can the Republican “Establishment” Be Thinking?

As some Republican Party nabobs flee from conservative candidates and positions, long-time conservative Richard Viguerie understandably wrote last Sunday – –

 “To learn where to position themselves, some big-government GOP loyalists are going on so-called listening tours. The trouble is, skulking around the country on pandering tours isn’t leadership. Politicians, lobbyists and campaign consultants who caused the problem cannot fix it. You can also rebrand damaged goods all you want, but they’re still damaged goods, which is why GOP establishment leaders are incapable of understanding the problem — it’s them.”(Underscoring Forum’s.)

         . . . . .

The political establishment is averse to conservative boat-rockers, which is why conservatives should withhold financial support from all GOP national committees and establishment politicians but support principled organizations and candidates. They should run candidates for every party and public office except when there’s a principled incumbent conservative.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

Read the entire Viguerie piece here.

Today National Review on Line’s Jim Geraghty asks – –

Must National Committees Jump Into Primaries?

John Miller questions the wisdom of the NRSC’s[link added]immediate endorsement of Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio in the Florida Senate primary. I would only add the question, how many Republicans have ever said, “Thank goodness the NRSC intervened in that primary”? (Underscoring Forum’s.)

National committees intervening in primaries certainly has a messy history — Ramesh wrote about some cases of NRCC intervention in Kansas in 2004, and Matt Lewis wrote about some cases in 2006.”

John Fund in the Wall Street Journal’s “Political Diary” today writes that governor Crist – –

“was lobbied heavily by Republican recruiters from Washington who believe that, with approval ratings of 66%, Mr. Crist is the best bet to hold the seat for Republicans.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

As we reported early this month before former governor Tom Ridge announced he would not be a candidate for U. S. senator from Pennsylvania – –

“. . . [T]he National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) apparently continues in its anybody-but-Toomey mode to replace Arlen Specter in the U. S. Senate next year. Former governor Tom Ridge is reportedly the most recent Republican establishment addition to their Pennsylvania stable of acceptable Senate candidates.  From Pennsylvania, the Lincoln Institute’s Lowman Henry here writes about the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee’s “resounding slap on the face” of Pat Toomey and thus of the Keystone State’s conservative base.

The NRSC support for senator Specter slightly over a fortnight ago was one of the grievances raised at the Reston, Virginia Tea Party.”

Focussing for a moment on the Old Line State, here is how some of the newspaper-reading Maryland public must see the state Republican nabobs as they once again ‘pile on’ state Party chairman Jim Pelura – –

“For some, the price is wrong for GOP gala” –reports Alan Brody in the Gazette

“‘I think that low level is a mistake and shows the lack of sophistication in the current leadership, which is why the party finds itself in such a significant financial hole,’ said Dirk D. Haire, who chairs the House and Senate Republican Slate committees, which raise money for incumbent GOP lawmakers.”  (Underscoring Forum’s.)

“‘The Maryland Republican Party has shown no strength in being able to raise funds to be competitive, and I think this is just another example of it,’ said former state GOP chairman John M. Kane, a frequent Pelura critic. ‘Unfortunately, they’re more interested in ideology and grass roots than they are in raising money to fund either one, and that’s been their failing through the last couple of years.'”
(Underscoring Forum’s.)

Here is the translation of these Maryland quotes for rank-and-file Republicans:

The Maryland Republican Establishment’s purpose is to protect incumbents even in the primary. The message? Don’t even think about the kind of housecleaning that Viguerie (and many other conservatives) suggest.  And forget about “ideology” and “grassroots” — you’ll take what the Party dishes out and you’ll support the incumbents with an “R” after their name.  If they didn’t vote the way you wanted, they must have had a good Establishment reason.  Either go with the program — or, heh heh, run yourself. 

Commentator Viguerie likely gets to the root of the matter when he declares–

Democrats have nothing to fear from today’s Republican Party leaders. That’s why Democrats have taken to targeting Rush Limbaugh and others who aren’t in formal leadership positions in the GOP but who forcefully articulate a conservative vision.”

What can they be thinking?

Maybe the big donors and consultants helping shape Republican “Establishment” decisions from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) to Annapolis to Richmond are the folks who can best answer that question.

Conservatives &Politics Richard Falknor on 08 May 2009

The Conservative State of Play in Maryland and Virginia

Here is our quick take on the state of conservative play in Maryland and Virginia. 

The Old Line State – gubernatorial contenders and Party chiefs

We wrote last month about a letter reportedly circulated among some Republican state lawmakers calling for the resignation of Republican Party chairman Jim Pelura from his post — a letter which in our view represents the voice of the state Republican “Establishment.” But the anti-Pelura effort could be losing momentum.  The Republican Spring Convention, last weekend in Hagerstown, came and went without incident.  In our judgment, long-time Republican stalwart Pelura has been a soft-spoken, hard-working conservative. One wonders if there are more goals behind the anti-Pelura effort than its proponents reveal.  Maryland conservatives should ask their Republican state legislators now if they have signed the questionable anti-Pelura letter.

Former Republican governor Bob Ehrlich, who managed during his tenure to vex important elements of the conservative base, continues his efforts to build his own war chest. “You’ll be able to contribute online soon!” crows his website.

And new political face and business executive Charles Lollar is considering a run for governor himself in 2010. The former Marine showcased his “New-Day-in-Maryland Vision” at the Republican state convention in Hagerstown last weekend.

Although the majority of House of Delegates Republicans have managed to come together to vote against this year’s operating budget, only thirteen (out of the 36) could bring themselves to vote against the pork-laden capital budget

The one issue on which nearly all House of Delegates and State Senate Republicans did come together was to insist on lawful presence for anyone getting a Maryland driver’s permit.  This, in our judgment, came about because of the grass-roots pushback of Help Save Maryland and Maryland Citizens First  (neither associated with the Republican Party) against making Maryland a “sanctuary state” — and because of the patient and highly focussed efforts of delegate Ron George.

Unfortunately, there are no statewide Maryland grass-roots organizations, for example, monitoring the totality of Maryland “green” laws resulting from global-warming alarmism — laws with significant fiscal and liberty costs.

The Old Dominion – Bill Stanley Jumps into Party Race

Virginia conservatives are still smarting from the heavy-handed removal of former Virginia Republican Party chairman Jeff Frederick.  Whatever Mr. Frederick’s strengths and weaknesses, many conservatives viewed the proceeding against Mr. Frederick as a proxy attack on them by the Virginia Republican Establishment. Not only presumptive gubernatorial candidate Bob O’Donnell but also Virginia Republican U. S. Representatives joined the unseemly clamor for Mr. Frederick’s head. 

As Brendan Miniter pointed out in the Wall Street Journal’s “Political Diary,” Mr. O’Donnell has been a tax hiker. His policy guru  Ed Gillespie is also a big-government and pro-amnesty voice with close Bush ties. Representative (and Republican Whip) Eric Cantor’s big-governmentalism (two votes for TARP) and recent tax-foolishness is a matter of record, and he now is reportedly the driving force behind the National Council for a New America which he calls a “listening tour.”  Others could see it a “pandering tour.”

And Virginia conservatives should help deconstruct the urban myth of the GOP establishment about “socially liberal but fiscally conservative” Republicans.  As Jonah Goldberg explains —

” . . . [W]e’re constantly hearing from strategists who insist that the answer is to loosen up, baby — become more socially liberal while staying fiscally conservative. The key problem is that fiscal conservatism, whatever its merits, isn’t economic conservatism in the free-market tradition of Hayek, Friedman, Reagan, et al. As a generalization, when people say they are fiscal conservatives but social liberals, what they are really saying is that they are, simply, moderate liberals. Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Arlen Specter, and the rest aren’t socially conservative, and they aren’t economically conservative either.” — National Review, April 6, 2009 (subscription only).

The Virginia Republican state convention is slated for May 29 and May 30

What response to the Virginia Republican Establishment will conservatives make?  Of course, many will likely be supporting lawyer and Franklin County Republican chief Bill Stanley who yesterday jumped into the race for state chairman.  Will conservatives also use the state convention to market conservative governing principles to Virginia — no-new-taxes and fostering entrepreneurship in commerce and consumer choice in health care; smaller state and local government with tax-and-expenditure limits; the culture of life including transmission to our children of our civilization’s values; and stout defense at home as well as abroad?  

Conservatives Have to Lead Themselves Out of the Wilderness

Republicans have, we suspect, too long thought they could do their bit in opposing big government and high taxes and then quietly spend most of their time in their business and personal callings.  There may have been a time when this was possible, but it is now long past.  What we now face is an ongoing revolution from the left that will touch every part of our lives — and there is no place to hide.  

The conservative grass-roots don’t need to ask permission of the state or national Republican Establishment to do the right thing — if those folks had a clear idea of what the right thing was, they wouldn’t have to go on a ‘listening tour’ to find out.

Ask yourself — do you work with other conservatives to hold errant elected Republicans accountable when they appear at local Party meetings?  Are you tracking your Republican politicians’ voting records?  Look at these activities as essential training for the confrontational skills you’ll need to face down Hard Left activists who become more emboldened during Mr. Obama’s term. 

On the positive side — we do have some fine and courageous conservatives in both houses of the Congress.  They may or may not be the members representing your particular district, nor the senators from your state, but the presence of these conservatives is heartening and without them our country would be in far worse straits.  The House Republican Study Committee is the gold standard both for conservative alternatives and for detailed analysis. And the Tea Parties should be an inspiration!

Conservatives &Politics Richard Falknor on 03 May 2009

Will the New Republican ‘Listening Tour’ Hear the Base?

ADD-ONS Rush Limbaugh“Let’s Replace the Listening Tour with a Conservative Teaching Tour”

Cantor, McCain announce initiative
“In a conference call with reporters, McCain described Cantor as ‘the driving force’ behind the organization.
— Richmond Times-Dispatch

Will the New Republican ‘Listening Tour’ Hear the Base?

The Washington Times’s  Joseph Curl reports today here in “Jeb Bush, GOP: Time to leave Reagan behind – Party leaders go on ‘listening tour’ with eyes on future” – –

“Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Saturday that it’s time for the Republican Party to give up its ‘nostalgia’ for the heyday of the Reagan era and look forward, even if it means stealing the winning strategy deployed by Democrats in the 2008 election.

You can’t beat something with nothing, and the other side has something. I don’t like it, but they have it, and we have to be respectful and mindful of that,’ Mr. Bush said.”(Underscoring Forum’s.)

Some conservatives would say that the Bush family has been trying “to leave Reagan behind” for at least two decades and that the past Bush departure from the Reagan path is at least partly responsible for the lamentable situation in which Republicans find themselves today.

The Washington Times also reports  —

“The Florida governor joined former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and House Republican Whip Eric Cantor on Saturday at a small pizza parlor in Arlington for the inaugural event of the National Council for a New America [NCNA].” (Underscoring and bolding Forum’s.)

Many Virginia conservatives are already aware of  Mr. Cantor’s big-government and high-tax missteps (see story here), and of his two votes here and here for the disastrous TARP legislation last fall. They also may have noted his vote this year here for what the National Taxpayers Union here called “a targeted tax hike to recoup the money [which] is a misguided policy that would set a terrifying precedent for punitive taxation on unpopular businesses or individuals.”

In parallel developments, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) apparently continues in its anybody-but-Toomey mode to replace Arlen Specter in the U. S. Senate next year. Former governor Tom Ridge is reportedly the most recent Republican establishment addition to their Pennsylvania stable of acceptable Senate candidates. 
From Pennsylvania, the Lincoln Institute’s Lowman Henry here writes about the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee’s “resounding slap on the face” of Pat Toomey and thus of the Keystone State’s conservative base.

The NRSC support for senator Specter slightly over a fortnight ago was one of the grievances raised at the Reston,Virginia Tea Party.

It is no surprise that the National Council for a New America website (go to the “Principles” panel) doesn’t include illegal immigration, assimilation including strengthening the use of English – our national cement, or pressing values issues — even those listed by Mike Pence’s House Republican Conference.

Tea Party veterans should consider showing up at coming NCNA local events. Now that would be an exchange worth hearing.

And between meetings with Tea Party folks, Council heavy-weights could bone up on the basics by reading Mark Levin’s new Liberty and Tyranny.

Conservatives &Politics Richard Falknor on 03 Apr 2009

Steele: Lobbying for wrong ends-missing the bigger picture?

“It is as hard to get rid of an ineffective chairman of the RNC as it is to get rid of a bad teacher in the New York City public schools.” – – Ken Blackwell here.

Today’s Ralph Z. Hallow post – “Steele urged to target stimulus” – in the Washington Times brings us back to the truly lamentable tale of this Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman.

Lamentable because so many Republicans became invested in the star-like qualities they expected from Mr. Steele; lamentable because so many of our Maryland friends hoped they could bring someone whom they believed was one of their own conservatives, attractive and articulate, on to the national stage; and lamentable because it is increasingly apparent that the good Mr. Steele may simply be over his head with all that implies for those who elected him and the party of which he is a representative. Continue Reading »

Conservatives &Politics Richard Falknor on 24 Mar 2009

Several Conservative State GOP Chairs Come Under Fire

Last week we wrote about attempts to unseat conservative Republican Party state chairmen in Maryland and Virginia: “The Republic Groans While Some Maryland Midgets Natter” here and “The Virginia Republican Party Galloping Off a Cliff?” here. Continue Reading »

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