Political Diatribes

Another conservative take on the world around us

Obama’s Response to a World’s Chaos

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on February 23, 2011

It started in Tunisia, and is being dubbed the The Tunisia Revolution. The official word is that the revolution was initiated due to economic conditions (high food prices, inflation, and unemployment) along with a boiling-point reaction to corruption and general suppression of freedom.

Then came Egypt. Buoyed by the successful ouster of the Tunisian President, we are told that some Facebook revolutionaries ushered in the eventual ouster of long-time leader, President Mubarak.

Both of these events should rightfully be highlighting the news, but we can’t keep up with new unrest. Even while Egyptians were taking to the streets, there were new uprisings in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, China, and Sudan, among other areas of the globe.

And then our eyes turned inward, to Madison, Wisconsin in what could be a harbinger for similar knockings of heads in other states as they battle their budget woes.

But even this was only front and center for aa few days, when the next – and as of yet most significant as it pertains to U.S. interests – domino in the Middle East looks to be falling. Libya is falling out of Gadaffi’s control and this has the largest economic implications to the U.S. in terms of rising oil costs. It also comes with the most humanitarian baggage, including a literal execution of protestors and an ordered military bombing campaign against civilians. Further, there are indications that the unrest is turning toward a conclusion of a radical islamic state.

All this means that, what would normally be headline news for the entire 24-hour news cycle, rockets fired at Israel is almost an afterthought.

So many big things are happening in so many places that it’s impossible to figure out what is the most important and/or impactful story of the day, hour, or minute.

A turbulent world is nothing new, but one doesn’t have to be a sociopolitical analyst and Ivy League graduate to recognize that something strange, interesting, and possibly dangerous is going on. Some of this unrest can be looked at with positivity – people standing up for their rights, and a desire for freedom. Protests in and of themselves are not a bad thing. I am not here to say that Armageddon is a breath away, but if one doesn’t pause and realize that much of this is a high-risk balancing act taht can get ugly in a hurry, then I’d be remiss in not pointing out the sand around that person’s head.

But, our President has a plan.

Well, not on Libya yet, due to scheduling issues with Hillary Clinton.

But other than that, he has a plan.

This plan is the way back to sanity. In the face of rising oil prices, Middle East conflict and instability, domestic unrest over labor issues, unprecedented bedget deficits and runaway debt, here’s the answer: No more defense of the Defense of Marriage Act!

In these difficult times where energy is required elsewhere, it only makes sense to consider the family unit a low priority, don’t you think? Now is the time to raise this issue. As for the rationale:

“[T]he President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny,” Mr. Holder said. “The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases. I fully concur with the President’s determination

.

Thank the heavens for the guidance of President Obama and the Administration. Let us defend to the death the Constitutionally-suspect Health Care Reform bill, let us challenge the Constitutionality of the Arizona Illegal Immigration Bill, and let us publicly flog in a verbal manner the Supreme Court at the State of the Union address the decision to strike down the unconstitutional campaign finance law. But Defense of Marriage? No way.

One wonders how the President found time to deal with this issue with his around-the-clock attention being given to the Libyan turmoil.

What a multi-tasker.

Posted in Barack Obama, Egypt, Libya, Middle East, President, Wisconsin | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on November 4, 2010

The Biblical version of this might be “To whom much is given, much is expected.” But the title above comes from my beloved Spider-Man. One of those things that just always stuck with me after reading it as a kid. It may only be a comic book, but it always struck me as filled with wisdom.

So, I don’t have a lot of time to provide an in-depth analysis of the 2010 mid-term elections. I hardly need to do so, since there are thousands of such opinions out there, many of whome will echo my own thoughts.

So, real quickly, let me just say “It was a very good night on Tuesday.” Speaking from a central Wisconsin perspective, it is the first time in my entire lifetime that my district has gone Republican. Sean Duffy defeated Julie Lassa! And on top of that, Ron Johnson defeated Russ Feingold. This was simply a pipe dream mere months ago, and I never even seriously thought there was any chance that old Russ would fall. The capitol went GOP, as well, with Scott Walker defeating Barrett. I don’t even know how to respond, this is such an unusual trifecta.

But it doesn’t end there. Both statehouses flipped from Democrat to Republican.

We all know by now that, nationally, the House had a historic number of seats switch from Democrat to Republican. We also know that the Senate will stay in Democrat hands, but there will be a minimum pickup of 6 seats, which is nearly double the norm for a mid-term election.

But my take on this is not one of euphoria, though I will admit it is one of relief. If these guys do nothing but stop the flood of horrible agenda items crammed through in the last 2 years, it will help us greatly.

But here’s the deal: This isn’t like the old days. Believe me, I am a dyed-in-the-wool conservative and that means I almost always end up on the side of the GOP. That’s true in the general election. In the past, I think many of us – even myself to an extent – believed that the GOP would live by its core principles and it didn’t necessarily matter who the individuals were. In the past, sins of incumbents were often forgive because, well, this or that GOP incumbent has the best chance in the general election, even if not perfect.

I’m not saying perfection is demanded, but I am saying that any abandonment of core principle is not going to be tolerated. The Tea Party movement needs to stay focused, needs to hold all of our politicians accountable, and needs to stay on message. And this message needs to be harsh. We need to be willing to stand up and say “Hey, we supported you, we elected you, and you let us down. We’ll find somebody else next time.”

In fact, that threat needs to be there even if it means we lose the general election. A big deal is being made in some circles about how the GOP could have won the Senate if the Tea Party hadn’t been so… so… principled in Delaware and Nevada. Imagine that. The largest criticism of the Tea Party is that they put forth candidates who didn’t win in the general election, even though they knew that candidate would have a more difficult time in the general election. And the reason they did it was because, out of principle, they couldn’t support someone that did not see things the same way the Tea Party did. That may not be the most strategic, but it’s the most principled approach. And even in that losing effort, it sends a clear and strong message: if you go off the reservation, we won’t save you.

Besides, who really cares about not winning the Senate? They wouldn’t have veto override power of a Democratic President, so whether they have a slight majority or a slight minority is, quite honestly, close to irrelevant. Others have delved into that analysis, and I won’t do it again here. But it’s a point worth noting in the context that the criticism of the Tea Party for “costing the GOP the Senate” is entirely a red herring. The analysist know it wouldn’t matter, in real terms. They also know that there may even be some political value in not owning both the House and the Senate. But it’s all they’ve got right now to try and undermine that movement.

It won’t work, mainly because the Tea Partiers don’t care. I can guarantee you that there aren’t a whole lot of Tea Party supporters wringing their hands today and wondering “If only we had supported the other guy in the Primary…”

Nope, Tuesday was a victory for the GOP, and it’s because of the zeal of the Tea Partiers. More importantly, it was a victory for America. But it’s only one game. Whether or not America is on its way back to being a Championship team depends on whether or not those who campaigned on Tea Party principles govern in the same way, and whether or not the movement that put them there continues to be vigilant, watch ALL of our elected officials, and approach 2012 the same way it approached 2010, without regard to party of incumbents who fail to pass the test.

Posted in Elections, Opinion, Politics, Sean Duffy, Tea Party, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Congressional District 7 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

It’s Time to Party Like It’s 1969!!!

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on May 5, 2010

I’m giddy.

I didn’t see it coming.

After more than 40 years, the man I never thought I’d see leave his House seat is leaving.

This is a good day. May 5, 2010. A day I have longed for.

The day Dave Obey announced his retirement.

Party on.

Seriously, I want top pinch myself.

Link to Politico.

Posted in Dave Obey | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Bart Stupak – From Pro-Life Hero to the Most Despised Man in Pro-Life Circles

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on March 23, 2010

A few short days ago, Bart Stupak, Democratic Representative of the 1st District in Michigan, was a heroof the Pro-Life movement. In many ways, he was the face of the vigilant defender of life. This is not in any way to neglect the good Pro-Life members of Congress on the other side of the aisle, but in the Health Care Reform debate, their vote was a given. No, there was a small group of brave and heroic individuals who placed life over political affiliation. We had a face of a man who was willing to stand up against the threats of the goliath of his largely pro-abortion party, and say that “I cannot compromise on this point.”

To be sure, he held up well for a great deal of this debate. He nearly saw it through.

But in the end, he caved.

He claims that he received proper assurances that his position and everything he fought for has prevailed. But he hasn’t. And he’s a smart enough guy that he knows he hasn’t.

One can’t help but wonder what his gut really feels like right now. All this time and effort and work… pushed away for an Executive Order with little teeth, that can be reversed by any President at a whim. At best, Obama keeps the deal and abortion will be left alone for some period of time long enough for Democrats to think that people will not notice when they change the rules. Not that the EO can trump law, anyway. Stupak knows this.

The sad reality must be that he finally had just had enough. He had to have been tired. He had to have felt the overwhelming pressure of the Speaker and the President and God only knows who else. It’s understandable, in a way, to see how that can happen. I do kind of feel for the guy.

But despite all that, it is not an excuse. We are talking about the introduction of a system which – if not immediately – is sure to foster in government mandated abortion coverage at taxpayer expense. Anyone – including Stupak – who believes otherwise, simply is lying to himself.

It’s plainly obvious what happened here. Stupak reached a point where he wanted it to be over. He reached a point where he wanted any kind of an olive branch to be handed over where he could firstly convince himself that he had not sold out on principle. This, I’m sure, was a tough sell to himself, but with less sleep and high-pressure politics the sale became easier. And he finally made it. I’m also pretty sure that his gang of six was just waiting for his tacit approval, lest they appear to be breaking ranks and coming across as caving in. As a block, I’m sure they convinced themselves that they could present a united front to the Pro-Life community and claim victory.

It hasn’t sold. We aren’t buying. This looks like exactly what it is – a Pro-Life Democrat who truly was our last hope abandoned ship because he couldn’t handle the storm any more. The one man who had it in his ability to make a difference to however many babies will now be aborted who otherwise wouldn’t have been has decided that he no longer wanted to fight the good fight.

When you set yourself up as the point man in a fight like this – whether it be on purpose or by circumstance – it comes with a very sober responsibility. That responsibility is to those you are tring to defend, it is to those who are with you, and it is to your God.

Only God really knows what Mr. Stupak really udnerstands about his decision, and while I’m pretty sure I know as well, I’ll allow that my opinion is one of reasoning and induction, so I can’t know. But God does, so He’ll sort that out.

What I do know is that the Pro-Life community feels let down. All the good Mr. Stupak has done, and can do going forward will forever be tainted by this. He is now a man without a rudder. The Pro-Life community does not embrace him, and the rest of his party is laughing at him. They don’t respect his position. They’ve duped him. I can only hope it’s as innocent as that, and that there is no other buy-off we’ll find out about later on.

I truly do feel for Mr. Stupak. I fear he has now been pressed into conscienceless political mode. I fear that he knows he did wrong, but now must defend his “yes” vote. So, we will surely see him defend and defend and defend, and soon even he will believe what he is saying. This could be the official end of the Pro-Life Democrat. If there ever was such a thing to begin with.

It’s a sad day for America. It is a sadder and lonelier day for Mr. Stupak.

I have plenty of things I will need to explain when I meet my Maker, so I understand human weakness. Mr. Stupak, you too will have this to explain. The sooner you come to grips with it and work to correct it, the better for you. Please don’t dig a deeper hole for yourself. Time here is fleeting. Even for the President himself, it’s just not worth it.

Posted in Abortion, Bart Stupak, Health Care | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Irony in Atlanta

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on March 6, 2010

http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/woman-charged-with-killing-344266.html?imw=Y

A 45-year-old woman, charged with ending a domestic dispute by killing her 26-year-old husband of five days, is a registered lobbyist for a group fighting domestic violence.

Arelisha Bridges was ordered held without bond in the Fulton County Jail. She is scheduled for a preliminary hearing later this month on charges of felony murder, murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Well, I guess that’s one way to settle a dispute.

Posted in News | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Is New Jersey The Canary in the Coal Mine?

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on March 5, 2010

Usually the reference to a canary in a coal mine is used to cite some negative occurence. If the canary died, toxins in the air were high, and people would soon follow. Miners used this as a way of knowing when it was time to get out.

So, usually we’ll see the analogy used when something goes wrong somewhere, that may be an indicator of worse things to come.

But I’m turning that around. Strange things are happening this year in the political landscape. First, Massachusetts sends a Republican to the Senate in Ted Kennedy’s old seat. OK, so he’s a New England Republican who isn’t what I’d consider a staunch conservative, but he nonetheless is a departure from the liberal establishment that has ruled that state.

But let’s take a look at New Jersey. Remember when Obama tried to save Corzine? Christe, a Republican, won. And he won on a message of fiscal conservatism. OK, we’ve heard it all before. Politicians run on the flavor of the day, and then they take some symbolic steps along the way so they can claim that they kept their promises, but for the most part it’s business as usual.

Not this time, and not – shockingly enough – in New Jersey. The Governor has taken his own words seriously. He is taking dramatic action, and he is basically doing what he feels is right, even at the risk of his own political life. And indications are that the people are finally realizing that things are so screwed up, that they are willing to give this a go. When I say people, I mean the regular folks like you and me. Obviously, the teachers unions want to string Christie up, and they are running their PR campaigns about how this will destroy the state. In the past, such things usually worked. It looks like it’s not working right now. Almost nobody wants to take on the fight and look as if they are supporting tax increases and deficit spending.

Here is a link to Christie’s own words, and his plan of action. Let’s hope he can follow through. And maybe – just maybe – other states will take notice and see that the problem really is spending, and that we can learn to live without.

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2010/03/governor-christie-time-to-hold-hands.html

In the time we got here, of the approximately $29 billion budget there was only $14 billion left. Of the $14 billion, $8 billion could not be touched because of contracts with public worker unions, because of bond covenants, because of commitments we made accepting stimulus money. So we had to find a way to save $2.3 billion in a $6 billion pool of money.

When I went into the treasurer’s off in the first two weeks of my term, there was no happy meetings. They presented me with 378 possible freezes and lapses to be able to balance the budget. I accepted 375 of them.

There is a great deal of discussion about me doing that by executive action. Every day that went by was a day where money was going out the door such that the $6 billion pool was getting less and less. So something needed to be done.

People did not send me here to talk, the people sent me here to do. So we took the executive action we did to stop the bleeding.

As we move forward, and we evaluate what we need to do three weeks from now in our fiscal year 2011 budget address, you all need to understand the context from which we operate.

Our citizens are already the most overtaxed in America. US mayors hear it all the time. You know that the public appetite for ever increasing taxes has reached an end.

So when we freeze $475 million in school aid, I am hearing the reverberations from school boards saying now you are just going to force us to raise taxes.

Well there is a 4% cap in place as you all know, yet school boards continue to give out raises which exceed that cap, just on salary. Not to mention the fact that most of them get no contribution towards the spiraling increase in health care benefits.

Now, we are going to reduce spending at the state level. And we are going to continue to reduce it because we have no choice but to do so. Our obligation to you is twofold. One, is to let you know that. So I’m’ letting you know that.

Second to work with the legislature to give you the tools helping you to reduce spending at the municipal level. Now the pension and benefit reform package that was passed unanimously in the senate this week begins to give you some of those tools.

But it is only a beginning.

Do we need to change some of the rules of arbitration to level the playing field to allow municipalities and school boards to have a more level sense of collective bargaining?

I think the evidence of ever increasing raises being given to public sector workers as a result of the arbitration system tells us that we do. [Applause From Mayors]

But you have to stand up and give the support to the legislators in this building to get them to do that. I can guarantee you this, that more pension and benefit reforms which I will consider arbitration reform to be one of them, are things that when they come to my desk, they will be signed. [Applause From Mayors]

Because we can no longer continue on a path where we say we are going to reduce spending at the state level but we are not going to give you any tools to do that at the municipal level and the school board level.

By the same token I am tired of hearing school superintendents and school board members complain that there are no other options than raising property taxes. There are other options.

You know, Marlboro, after a two year negotiation, they give a five year contract giving 4.5% annual salary increases to the teachers, with no contribution, zero contribution to health care benefits.

But I am sure there are people in Marlboro who have lost their jobs, who have had their homes foreclosed on, and who cannot keep a roof over their family’s head there is something wrong.

You know, at some point there has to be parity. There has to be parity between what is happening in the real world, and what is happening in the public sector world. The money does not grow on trees outside this building or outside your municipal building. It comes from the hard working people of our communities who are suffering and are hurting right now.

I heard someone in the legislature say two days ago that they wanted no fare hike in New Jersey Transit, no cuts in service, and no cuts in subsidy. And I was thinking to myself, man I should have made this guy treasurer. [Laughter] Because if you can pull that one off, you’re obviously magic.

This is the type of awful political rhetoric that people sent me to this city to stop.

I would love to be able to do that, but I can’t. I would love to tell you that municipal aid will stay level, but it’s not. And it’s not because we don’t have the money. So you need to prepare. You need to prepare for what’s coming down the line because we have no choice but to do these things.

And so we need to get honest with each other. In this instance, the political class,for which unfortunately all of us are a member of, the political class is lagging behind the public on this. The public is ready to hear that tough choices have to be made. They’re not going to like it. Don’t confuse the two. But they are ready to hear the truth.

In fact, they find it refreshing to hear the truth.

They are tired of hearing, don’t worry I can spare you from the pain, because they have been hearing that for a decade, as we have borrowed and spent and taxed our way into oblivion.

We have done every quick fix in the book that you can do. And now we are left, literally holding the bag.

Leadership should be about making tough decisions. I’m not hear to tell you that anything you are going to have to do as mayors, council people will be easy. But I firmly believe after spending the last year traveling around the state of New Jersey, talking to regular citizens, that this is what they are expecting us to do.

They are also expecting us to ferret out waste and abuse. But they also know that old song that waste and abuse is going to balance the budget is an old and tired one, and it’s not going to.

Now we are going to have a fight about COAH. And I have engaged in that fight and I have engaged in it directly. Not only will I be fighting COAH, I will be fighting the courts too. [Applause From Mayors]

That’s OK.

We need to understand we are all in this together. And you know, all of you know in your heart, what I am saying is true. You all know that these raises that are being given to public employees of all stripes, we cannot afford. You all know the state cannot continue to spend money it does not have. And you all know that the appetite for tax increases among our constituents has come to an end.

And so the path to reform and success is clear. We know what it is. We just have to have the courage to go there. What we are doing is showing people that government can work again for them, not for us. Government has worked for the political class for much too long.

There’s no time left. We have no room left to borrow. We have no room left to tax. So we merely have room left now, to do this. We are all reaching the edge of a cliff. And it reminds me a bit of that part of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where the had a seminal decision to make. So what did they do? They held hands and they jumped off the cliff.

We have to hold hands at every level of government, state county, municipal, school board. We have to hold hands and jump off the cliff.

I firmly believe we will land and we will be fine. It does not mean it will not be a scary ride on the way down. And it does not mean there won’t be moments of fear and moments of apprehension.

But for certain, the troops of the decades of overspending and overborrowing and overtaxing have gained on us. So the ruination of New Jersey’s economy, and of the quality of life we want all our citizens to have, is certain if we do not take this course.

It’s time for us to hold hands and jump off the cliff. It’s time for us to do the difficult things that need to be done and to stop playing the petty politics of yesterday, of lying to the people telling them they do not have to pay for it because someone else will.

We are going to make the leap because that’s what people elected me to do. We are going to make the leap because it is the responsible thing to do. We are going to make the leap and we are going to do it together because that is what leadership demands for us. That is what the responsibility of the offices we hold requires of us.

Forget about the next election. Forget about the next editorial in the newspaper, and forget about the next angry letter or phone call you are going to get from someone who wants something for nothing.

One thing is certain. The alternative will lead to certain defeat. And so it is time for us to show courage, and resolve. And we can do it because we are from New Jersey. And I have never, in all my travels around the country, met a group of tougher people than we all have the opportunity to lead.

I’d be interested to hear from anyone in NJ at the moment, and get their take on this.

Posted in New Jersey, Politics | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

China’s Warning Shot?

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on February 25, 2010

China is selling off U.S. Bonds.

Evidence is mounting that Chinese sales of US Treasury bonds over recent months are intended as a warning shot to Washington over escalating political disputes rather than being part of a routine portfolio shift as thought at first.

Use of China’s $2.4 trillion reserves to challenge US foreign policy is fraught with problems, not least because any damage to America will recoils immediately against China – which depends on the US market for its mercantilist growth strategy. Beijing cannot stop accumulating dollars unless it is willing to let the yuan ride, eroding the margins of its export industry. Some reserves can be parked in gold or even copper, but liquid commodity markets are not big enough to absorb the scale of Chinese surpluses.

China and America are locked together by fate. Any petulant action by either side involves a degree of `mutual assured destruction’. But sometimes in politics – as in life – emotion flies out of control.

Some discussion notes on this:
Zero Hedge is covering a lot of information on this issue.

The dollar’s value is really tied to this debt. China is in a position to manipulate the value of the dollar by strengthening or weakening their holdings. This is because a release of these bonds forces the United States to find another buyer. If that buyer is not there, then absent fiscal responsibility in Washington, then one alternative is to print money, which devalues the dollar. Another alternative is to attract a buyer by increasing interest rates. But because so much of our debt is short-term debt, an increase in interest rates will cause debt service to skyrocket. Absent fiscal discipline in Washington, this requires more lending and/or money creation. When one holder of our bonds is in a position to create these sorts of problems, they own us. When two holders have the potential to coordinate actions to crush us (Japan is now the largest debt-holder) it is a recipe for concern.

China pegs its currency to a basket of currencies. They have problems of their own. And they will devalue their currency to protect exports if they consider that in their best interest. But make no mistake… the day could come when China makes a determination that they can afford to see the U.S. crash, and that it may in fact be in their best interest for that to happen, even if there are short-term issues on their end. China is not all about economics. They will be willing to hurt themselves economically if ideology or other considerations outweight that.

The U.S. could alleviate this problem by installing some very harsh – but necessary – fiscal discipline. And it’s not about more revenue, it’s about less spending. That won’t happen, but one can hope.

The more China spreads its interests around the world and diversifies away from the U.S., the more they are able to withstand an implosion in the U.S. China is reaching out globally. Not just Europe – which has its own problems – but in Africa as well.

Some believe that the Chinese are only sabre-rattling, and are in no position to do anything to endanger their position with the U.S. Some things of note here are (1) demographic issues spawned by the 1-child policy: too many males, too severe a ratio in elderly to young people, etc.; (2) political corruption; (3) environmental issues they’ll need to deal with, similar to many issues all developing countries deal with as they grow; (4) overall poor relations with neighbors (distrust, hate, fear…); (5) the India factor – a very large population and resource that could be tapped instead of China, if needed. These all point to China needing to rely on the assistance of other nations, or suggests they require some sort of friendship or standing in the world community.

I don’t buy that completely, though I see the point. China doesn’t think like the rest of the world. The one-child policy alone shows that. They will take dramatic measures (dare I say evil ones) if needed to correct demographic problems. They can and will do that on their own. And political corrpution? Nothing new, and certainly not unique to China. Environmental issues can be rectified there, just as they have been rectified here. You grow into those things. I honestly don’t think China cares about its standing in the eyes of the world community except as a means to an end. If other interests dominate, they don’t care what anyone else thinks. And as for India, I think China simply believes that they can pretty much do what they want, and there will always be countries willing to use their services. And they’re probably right.

The largest issue China has to deal with is trying to balance its antipathy towards Islam with the need for relations with the oil-producing Islamic countries.

We need China more than they need us. Sad, but true. We’re backed into a pretty uncomfortable corner.

Posted in China, Dollar | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Can Obey Be Coakley’d? – From the National Review

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on January 23, 2010

I’ve already suggested that the answer is “yes.” Now, the National Review asks the same question. See full article here.

Among the beneficiaries of this invigorated sense that no seat belongs to an individual or his party, regardless of rank, tenure, or his family’s place in the American imagination, is Sean Duffy, a Republican running for Congress in Wisconsin. This 38-year-old father of five, currently serving his fourth term as Ashland County district attorney, is effectively reminding Democrat David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee (who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1969, before Duffy was born), that his congressional seat is not his, but the people’s. This former reality-TV star — Duffy and his wife, Rachel, were both cast members of The Real World — may benefit from the new real political world created by the election of Scott Brown.

Go to the article to see a short interview with Duffy. The more national press for Duffy, the better. As far as I’m concerned, this is a national campaign as much as it is a local one. Yes, I live in District 7, and there are local issues. Many of these are important. But there is too much at stake at a national level to ignore that element of it. Obey is one of the drivers of economic policy and spending that is affecting all of yus – not just those in District 7.

I present here the final few questions that Duffy responded to:

Q: What does Senator-elect Brown mean for your race?

A: If Scott Brown can win in a state that President Obama won by 26 points, I can win in a district that Obey won by just 20 points against an unknown, underfunded challenger in the Democratic landslide of 2008. It means there is not a single Democrat in the country who is safe. And, as the author of the failed stimulus bill, David Obey will be at the forefront of the debate about jobs, the economy, and wasteful government spending. If he continues to tax and spend our country into bankruptcy, he’s going to get Coakley’d.

Q: What are you hearing most on the trail?

A: People want a job and a paycheck. People want real answers, not more political spin and inaction. They want government to live within its means and to stop intruding into their daily lives. Voters want to remain in control of their lives and health-care decisions, and they want a congressman who will bring common-sense Wisconsin values to Washington — not the other way around. Unfortunately, Dave Obey represents all that is wrong with Washington.

Q: What’s the most important lesson of this race?

A: Presented with a clear choice, Americans reject the fiscally irresponsible agenda of Obama and Obey.

Q: What are you offering the voters instead?

A: We are running on a message of free enterprise, job creation, and fiscal responsibility. My philosophy is resonating with Wisconsin voters.

The Wall Street Journal has recognized Obey’s part in playing left-wing politics:

We had been encouraged a year ago by Mr. Obama’s selection of Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff because we thought he would have learned from the Clinton failure of 1993-1994 and knew enough to stand up to the Congressional left. How wrong we were. Mr. Emanuel and his boss have instead deferred to Congress’s liberal barons on every major domestic policy.

These committee chairmen are all creatures of the Great Society and what was called the New Left of the 1960s and 1970s. They have spent their lives in government and know almost nothing about the private sector or how to grow an economy. They view the Reagan era as an historical aberration, and they have stayed in Washington for decades precisely in wait of this moment to realize 40-years of pent-up policy ambition. They believe this is their 1965, or 1933.

While Mr. Obama campaigned as a young postpartisan Democrat who wanted a new era of comity in Washington, his victory has instead empowered these ancient left-wing warriors. These are the men who have run Washington this past year, and they are Mr. Obama’s de facto cabinet.

And who is one of these ideologues?

Wisconsin’s David Obey, elected in 1969, is the House Appropriations chairman who steered the $787 billion stimulus to focus on Medicaid expansion and other transfer payments that have done nothing for economic growth.

The consequences?

It is the combination of all of these and other policies that has ignited the political revolt we are now seeing in Massachusetts, and first saw last November in Virginia and New Jersey. Had Democrats modified their agenda to nurture a fragile economy and financial system, they could now claim their policies worked and build on them later.

Instead, their frenetic agenda has frightened voters and businesses about the vast expansion of government power and enormous tax increases to come. The resulting uncertainty and the anticipation of higher costs for labor, taxes and energy have undermined what ought to be a more robust pace of job creation and overall recovery.

The lesson of Mr. Obama’s lost first year is that an economic crisis is a terrible thing to exploit. As they have each time in the last 40 years that they have had total control of Washington, Democrats are proving again that America can’t be successfully governed from the left.

And if America can’t be governed well from the left, and Obey is one of the entrenched 40 yearers driving this failed agenda, it’s simply time for him to go.

Posted in Dave Obey, Sean Duffy, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Congressional District 7 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Let’s take a closer Look at Scott Brown Before we Canonize Him

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on January 22, 2010

Before I begin, let me say that I was as thrilled as anyone with the result in Massachusetts. However, let’s evaluate why that is: it was a repudiation of Obama, of Obamacare, and the overall Democratic agenda as well as their maneuvering in trying to further that agenda.

Now, I know there’s wide debate about whether or not this was all about Health Care and Obama, or about whether or not this was because Coakley ran a horrible campaign, or whether this was a bout local issues. I think everyone is lying if they claim to know exactly how much of each contributed to the final result. Clearly, all those things, if not the sole reason for the Brown win, contributed in some way, or at least helped people solidify the vote they planned on casting.

Give credit to Brown, who ran a smart campaign. But let’s also not ignore something very important: Brown took conservative positions on the few issues that were of immediate and highlighted importance. He did this in Massachusetts, and he won. You can make all sorts of excuses on all kinds of levels, but that in itself is pretty amazing.

But let’s face it: from my view, this was really less about Brown than it was about vote #41 in the Senate. It was less about Brown than it was Obama and Health Care, and Cap and Trade, and other things that were slated for 2010. Brown happens to be the guy who was elected to give us that 41st vote, and that’s great. But before we get too carried away and try to canonize the guy, let’s take a closer look at him and celebrate his strengths and recognize his weaknesses. Let’s just be honest about who he is and what we should expect.

The best source is usually straight from the candidate. His web site lists issues. It’s likely that he won’t take a firm position on something in print in a generally liberal state if he doesn’t mean it. So, if he’s straightforward, I’m inclined to believe that he feels strongly about an issue. If he’s kind of wishy-washy, it probably means he’s likely to compromise or cave on that issue. Let’s review, issue by issue, the “Issues” page on his web site:

Health Care
I believe that all Americans deserve health care coverage, but I am opposed to the health care legislation that is under consideration in Congress and will vote against it. It will raise taxes, increase government spending and lower the quality of care, especially for elders on Medicare. I support strengthening the existing private market system with policies that will drive down costs and make it easier for people to purchase affordable insurance. In Massachusetts, I support the 2006 healthcare law that was successful in expanding coverage, but I also recognize that the state must now turn its attention to controlling costs.

This is actually interesting to me. Of all the issues, most would agree that this is the one that had the greatest impact on the outcome of the election. He came right out and said he would be the 41st vote against Health Care. It’s clear that everyone believes him, since even Pelosi admits she doesn’t have the votes to pass the Senate version in the House, which has made them realize more and more that Health Care Reform is either dead, or will be scaled back substantially.

But his actual words on this aren’t that of a guy who is against some sort of Health Care Reform, and he voted for the 2006 Massachusetts system. He doesn’t specifically highlight specific ideology on what kind of reform he supports, other than general positive ideas of lower costs in a private market. Is he for tort reform? Is he in favor of opening up competition across state borders? Is he for reducing government-mandated provisions in health care plans so that companies can offer lower-coverage/lower-cost options? I don’t know. Perhaps he has stated his positions on some of these things, but they are not outlined here. So, it’s great that he is against a public option, but there is a little concern on my part on what exactly it is he may support down the line.

Economy
I am a free enterprise advocate who believes that lower taxes can encourage economic growth. Raising taxes stifles growth, weakens the economy and puts more people out of work. Our economy works best when individuals have more of their income to spend, and businesses have money to invest and add jobs. I have been a fiscal watchdog in the state legislature fighting bigger government, higher taxes and wasteful spending.

This is pretty cookie-cutter stuff, and even moderates/liberals tend to paint themselves in these terms to some extent. So, hopefully he really means this and lives by it. If he does, this is a strong positive.

Energy and Environment
I support common-sense environment policy that will help to reduce pollution and preserve our precious open spaces. I realize that without action now, future generations will be left to clean up the mess we leave. In order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, I support reasonable and appropriate development of alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal and improved hydroelectric facilities. I oppose a national cap and trade program because of the higher costs that families and businesses would incur.

I don’t have a real problem with anything written here. I particularly am thrilled that he opposes Cap and Trade. I have no issues at all with continuing research and development of alternative energies, and I like the fact that he focuses his environmental position on actual pollution. My concerns are what has not been said. By “pollution,” does he mean Carbon Dioxide? While opposing Cap and Trade, would he support other measures to “combat global warming/climate change?” That isn’t clear. Also, while I respect his willingness to further alternative energy, does he support utilizing our own fossil fuel resources? Tapping our oil and coal reserves? What about expansion of nuclear energy? All this is left unsaid, which concerns me.

Education
I am passionate about improving the quality of our public schools. Accountability and high standards are paramount. I support choice through charter schools, as well as the MCAS exam as a graduation requirement. I have worked to ensure that all children have access to a quality education. I am a strong advocate for the METCO program, which provides lower income students with broader educational opportunities.

Since it’s well beyond the realm of possibility to expect a privatization of all education any time soon, I don’t have an issue with what I read here. I am particularly happy that he stated that he favors choice. Even if we insist on publicly funding all education, if we can allow competition through choice and vouchers (he didn’t say vouchers, but I have to assume the two go hand-in-hand) we will have a much stronger system.

Immigration
I recognize that our strength as a nation is built on the immigrant experience in America. I welcome legal immigration to this country. However, we are also a nation of laws and government should not adopt policies that encourage illegal immigration. Providing driver’s licenses and in-state tuition to illegal immigrant families will act as a magnet in drawing more people here in violation of the law and it will impose new costs on taxpayers. I oppose amnesty, and I believe we ought to strengthen our border enforcement and institute an employment verification system with penalties for companies that hire illegal immigrants.

This is actually fairly strong language. It’s not particularly solution-oriented, but it does show some backbone. And I agree. I am not stone-hearted on this issue, but I think priority number one is to stop the inflow. He doesn’t specifically mention the wall along the border, but whether strong border enforcement means support for guards, more sections of barrier, and enforcement of penalties against companies hiring illegals, we need to first find a way to plug the hole. We need to balance the need for human dignity and protection of our society and costs. This is not a cut and dried issue, and no matter what actions we take it will not be pretty. It takes backbone, and I see a little bit of that here with these words.

Veterans
As a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard, I am uniquely aware of the importance and sacrifice of our men and women serving in the military. I have been a vigorous supporter of legislation providing benefits to returning service members, as well as, benefits for the families of those killed in action. I believe we need to recognize the sacrifice of all of our servicemembers by keeping better track of returning military personnel so they get the services they deserve. That includes providing them with first-class medical care and other benefits to which they are entitled. I am known as a leader on veterans’ issues through my work on the Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee, the Hidden Wounds of War Commission, and the Governor’s Task Force on Returning Veterans.

Very strong in this area.

Gun issues
I support the Second Amendment and believe that citizens have the right to keep and bear arms as a basic constitutional liberty. I support safe and responsible gun ownership.

This looks solid.

Death penalty
I believe there are some crimes that are so heinous that they deserve capital punishment. Our Government should have the ability to impose the death penalty in cases where it is justified.

This is fairly vague, but since he doesn’t repudiate the Death Penalty, it generally fits the conservative position. It may surprise some of you to know that I am actually generally not in favor of the Death Penalty. I’m not universally opposed, but my acceptance is a very limited and narrow one.

Abortion
While this decision should ultimately be made by the woman in consultation with her doctor, I believe we need to reduce the number of abortions in America. I believe government has the responsibility to regulate in this area and I support parental consent and notification requirements and I oppose partial birth abortion. I also believe there are people of good will on both sides of the issue and we ought to work together to support and promote adoption as an alternative to abortion.

While I am happy to see him take a position against the particularly heinous partial-birth procedure, and also happy that he supports notification and consent laws, the rest of this is pretty wishy-washy stuff. If I had to guess, he will not be among the strongest pro-life Senators, and for me this is a big issue. For some of you, not so much. So, this is probably my largest area of disappointment.

Marriage
I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. States should be free to make their own laws in this area, so long as they reflect the people’s will as expressed through them directly, or as expressed through their elected representatives.

Generally speaking, this is good. I’m pretty sure it implies that the decision should not be made by judicial fiat. I’d prefer for him to go further and defend the Defense of Marriage Act, but all in all it sounds like he won’t be supporting a radical pro-gay-rights agenda.

Israel
Israel has made enormous sacrifices in an attempt to secure peace – including unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. I support a two-state solution that reaffirms Israel’s right to exist and provides the Palestinians with a place of their own where both sides can live in peace and security. As our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel lives every day under the threat of terror yet shares with America a dedication to democratic ideals, a respect for faith, and a commitment to peace in the region. Until a lasting peace is achieved, I support the security barrier erected by Israel which has proven successful in protecting Israeli civilians from terrorist attacks.

Scratching my head on this one. In favor of a two-state soluition for Israel? I flat out don’t agree with this. At the very least, I don’t agree with the United States attempting to impose this solution. If Israel and Palestine mutually agree on that solution, then fine. But until then, Israel currently exists and has borders. If someone said the U.S. should give Texas to Mexico, or that we should give California to illegal immigrants as a two-state solution… hey, wait a minute… maybe that isn’t a bad idea.

Iran
I support the bi-partisan Iran sanctions bill and believe that until Ahmadinejad gives up his nuclear ambitions he should be isolated from the rest of the world. With its reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons, Iran represents the biggest threat to Israel. Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier who has threatened to wipe Israel off the map. Meeting with him confers legitimacy when the only correct response is to treat him as an outcast. A personal meeting with Ahmadinejad, as suggested by my opponent, would embolden him and be used as a propaganda tool to strengthen his position.

Good. No words on whether or not we should just annihilate Iran, but I guess I can understand why that isn’t the most politically astute approach.

Conclusion: B or B+ in my book. There are definite questions, and definite concerns. There are areas of good stature and things that encourage me. You may well disagree with some of my takes on the issues and how I read his words. You may have better information that helps flesh out his positions. That’s all good. The intent here is not to suggest agreement with me, it’s to suggest that we all take an honest look at the guy.

This is not at all intended to temper enthusiasm over his victory. There are many, many reasons to be excited about this. There are many reasons to believe it provides some hope for a moderation in liberal policy – forced or not. There is hope that the upcoming election brings us good and bold candidates, unafraid to espouse conservatism. Candidates who are Republicans not because they represent what the Party does, but who are Republican because they present to the Party how it should be. Candidates who will not make the same mistakes of hypocritical government spending and straying from conservative principles. It’s one thing to be a moderate if you run as a moderate. It’s another to give lip-service to fiscal responsibility and then engage in pork-barrel politics.

Now, in closing, let’s also be willing to admit that our Republican leaders are not perfect. It’s OK to laugh at them when appropriate, and to poke a little fun at them when it’s called for.

Can we really ignore the fact that Mr. Brown ever did this?

And we all know that we’d be making fun of a liberal who said this during an acceptance speech:

“And just in case anyone who’s watching throughout the country they’re both available. No, no. No. Only kidding, only kidding. Only kidding, only kidding. Arianna… Arianna’s, definitely not available. But Ayla is. This is Arianna. This is Ayla. I can see I’m going to get in trouble when I get home.

And please… can we nip any talk about Scott Brown for President now, already? Let’s at least see the guy perform in the Senate for a while before going there.

OK, he’s not perfect. But he’s taken us on a fun ride the last week or so, and for that we thank you, Mr. Brown. Good luck in Washington.

Posted in Elections, Massachusetts, Scott Brown | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Massachusetts and Wisconsin District 7

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on January 21, 2010

The Old

The Old - 40+ years in Washington

The New

The New - Fresh, energetic representation

What can we take from something that happens in Massachusetts? Quite a bit, actually.

Lesson: If a Republican can actually win a seat in a Democratic stronghold – a seat held by Democrats for nearly 60 years – then it can happen here.

It won’t come easy. Scott Brown rode a wave of discontent, and was a gainst a Democratic candidate who, by all accounts, did not run a strong campaign. But even so, he won by getting out there and working hard, and the message he presented was a conservative message in large part. OK, let’s not appoint him a savior or anything… there are some issues where he is center to left, but the key issues that were the focus of the campaign were clearly conservative versus liberal in nature. And the conservative won.

Lesson: No matter where you are, or who you are running against, it is best to stay true to your core principles and not water them down. Sure, you need to present them well and make the case for why those ideas make sense, but you don’t run from them.

So, can it possibly be that a Congressman who holds a powerful seat in Washington, and who has been there for over 40 years, can be beaten?

Lesson: Yes!

How? Well, first we need to be respectful and honest. Clearly, Dave Obey once represented Wisconsin interests well. You simply do not remain in office as long as he has without there being a reason for it. I may not agree with many of his policies or ideas, but many here did. There is no reason to demonize him on every issue. However, it is quite fair to point out where he has gone wrong. The fact is that Dave Obey last met any reasonable challenge 12-14 years ago against a candidate named Scott West. I know Scott, and he’s a good guy. He would have been a fine COngressman. He had a good message and worked hard, and it is the closest race I can ever remember against Obey. Having said that, he was not all that dynamic. But there was still a positive response to his message. Had he presented more charisma, I think he could have won. Plus, that was during a time where Obey hadn’t really done a whole lot to irk people, other than policy differences.

Since then, there has been no serious contention for his seat. Truth be told, prior to that race, there had been no serious contention for years. In fact, I’m 42, and in my memory, that is the only close race I can remember for this seat.

That may be refelctive of Obey’s strengths, but it is just as much a factor of weak candidates due to a perception of invincibility.

I believe that times have changed. 2009-10 has brought general discontent with trillion dollar stimulus packages and health care reform. Dave Obey cannot hide from his part in this mess – in fact he assisted the drafting of the stimulus package, enriching his son’s department a mere $3 billion in the process. Massachusetts voters – and I believe thinking people everywhere – are not in favor of the health care overhaul. Add to that some general issues that simply does not reflect his constituents: general tax policy, social issues such as abortion, etc. and the time has come where people who are paying attention will recognize that he is not representing Central Wisconsin, but instead throwing his lot with the Democratic machine.

Sean Duffy provides us with an option, possibly unlike any other in my lifetime. Younger blood, energetic, truly representative of central Wisconsin values, a bit of star power, good presence, and a beautiful family to boot… it is time for real change in our district this coming November.

For those of you who are not from Wisconsin, this race could have national implications, and support from a broad base is needed. We’re talking about the possible ouster of a very key House Democrat here, currently the chair of the Appropriations committee. How sweet would that be? And believe me, this is possible. If you don’t believe it, take a look at Massachusetts.

In that spirit, I share the new e-mail from the Duffy campaign:

It was the vote heard ’round the world.

Last night, in the place where freedom in America was born, Scott Brown stunned the political establishment to become the 41st vote against the Democrats’ stranglehold on Washington. Scott Brown’s election, to Ted Kennedy’s seat no less, was a decisive rejection of the government’s takeover of health care and Washington’s disastrous spending spree.

Our Massachusetts victory is also a lesson that the right to represent the people is always earned, and never given. After 40 years of one party control of Massachusetts’ two Senate seats, the citizens of that state finally said “Enough.”

Here in Wisconsin, we are challenging our own 40-year political machine. Dave Obey first came into office the last time Massachusetts had a Republican Senator. And with your help, he will leave office this year in an historic sea-change election.

Let’s show Dave Obey that Massachusetts was not just a blip on the radar or a bump in the road. Today, we can show him that no Democrat is safe — and especially not the one who has been responsible for giving us trillions of dollars in new spending, waste, and debt.

Please contribute $40 to end Obey’s 40 year reign.

We are strongly positioned to give Dave Obey the race of his life and end his political career this November. The Wall Street Journal recently featured our campaign as the leader of the “new Young Guns” who are fighting to clean up Washington and end the creeping march of government intrusion in our lives.

In Massachusetts we fired the first shot, but the real battle lies ahead. Help me defeat the Appropriations Chair and secure another historic victory for our party and our country.

Let’s roll!

Sean

Click the link above to contribute.

Posted in Dave Obey, Elections, Massachusetts, Politics, Sean Duffy, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Congressional District 7 | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »