Political Diatribes

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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 »

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 »

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 »

One Reaction to Last Night’s Election

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on January 20, 2010

One can’t hardly host a political blog without some comment about last night’s stunning upset in Massachusetts. There is such a plethora of information and opinions out there that there really isn’t a whole lot more to be said, I suppose.

However, I ran across one insightful analysis of the situation, from Hitler himself:

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

Support Sean Duffy to Unseat Dave Obey

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on December 18, 2009

I did something I almost never do a couple days ago.  I contributed to a political campaign. 

Until now, I have felt the hopeless realization that Dave Obey will be me Representative until either I die or he dies.   This is the man who violated the trust of Wisconsin’s citizens by playing such a large part in the stimulus package getting passed.  This is the man who included Billions in the “crucial” stimulus package for an exercise in nepotism.

Obey does not fairly represent our voters, and hasn’t for some time.

The issue is that, for years now, there has been no viable candidate step forward to take him on. While I’m firmly entrenched in the “Anyone But Obey” camp, even I have to admit that the GOP candidates have been pretty weak.

For the first time in a while, I feel like we have a very strong candidate, and I fully support him. His name is Sean Duffy.

Today’s politics are seldom just a local thing. Please help, no matter where you are, drive Obey out and Duffy in. You can contribute here.

I’ll be trying to get the word out more on this site on reasons why it’s time for a real change.

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

What should the Stimulus package have looked like?

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on February 18, 2009

From this post on Hot Air, we see the following attempt at a reasonable stimulus package…  from  Democrat.  From the article they quote:

Rep. Walt Minnick, a freshman Democrat from Idaho, is pushing a better idea: The Strategic Targeted American Recovery and Transition Act (START).

Minnick is a member of the Blue Dog caucus of occasionally conservative Democrats. His START plan is a $170 billion “bare bones” pure stimulus approach that would put $100 billion immediately into the pockets of low- and middle-income Americans, then use the other $70 billion for basic infrastructure projects that create jobs. START requires that all funds not spent by 2010 be returned to the Treasury. START also stops stimulus spending when the nation’s Gross Domestic Product increases in two of three previous quarters, and all START payments are required to be posted on a public website.

Minnick introduced START as an alternative – just in case the legislative process stalls out, says press secretary John Foster. As one of the brave 11 Democrats who voted against Pelosi’s stimulus bill, Minnick explained to folks back home that he opposed the speaker’s version because it was so “Christmas-treed up” with wasteful spending, like $300 million for golf carts. Foster told The Examiner that the House leadership encourages members to do what’s best for their districts, so there has been no backlash. We’ll see how long that lasts.

This was posted on another board that I frequent. In general, liberals, independents, and conservatives all seemed to agree that this was a preferable approach. That is not to say that conservatives liked the stimulus package, period, but that if we are going to do such a thing, the above approach at least seems somewhat reasonable.

Which begs the question as to why Congress felt the need to push through such a huge bill? In my opinion, something 25% the size probably gains a ton of political capital from both sides of the aisle. The conservatives would have had much less to point to as being egregious, and liberals could always say they only did what was absolutely necessary, with an eye towards doing more if needed in the future.

It seems like it was a very risky political maneuver, because the price tag is so immense that now people absolutely expect that it had better work – or else. And most people, even on the liberal side who see certain merit in the bill, all seem to agree that there is too much spending on unnecessary projects.

Some comments from others discussing the proposal:

I like the plan. – a liberal

Sounds good. I especially like the 1 year time horizon and automatic stop when economy recovers. – leans left

it is not so bad but very unlikely that a Democratic House would have voted for such a plan without loading it up with earmarks or other pet projects. Sometimes people forget the reality is that the House is very Democratic and not beholden to Obama….. – independent who voted for Obama

I’m not convinced that any stimulus bill will actually do what it purports. But this one’s a helluva lot cheaper (only $170 billion!), so, hey, I’ll sign on. – conservative

If I only get to choose between the two plans this one wins hands down. conservative

This would pass if only you added in 530B of tax cuts so that the GOP would sign onto it as well without threatening to fillibuster in the senate. there’s always one in the bunch…

Discussion points:
Would the GOP have still forced tax cuts into a much more modest proposal? Was the goal of the GOP to maximize tax cuts and minimize spending regardless of the amount? Or was the GOP’s goal to make Obama spend political capital and take ultimate responsibility for the outcome?

I think the GOP would have been very reasonable with a counter-proposal like this given the fact that it is in the context of an $800 billion proposal. It’s probably true to say that there are separate goals here: ideological and political. The ideological position would be to implement true stimulative tax cuts even on a smaller bill like this. That is because conservatives don’t look at tax cuts as a “cost” to government. It is not the government’s money to begin with, so how can it be a cost? Obviously, there is a revenue implication. It may sound, then, like splitting hairs, but the differentiation is important on ideological grounds. But I dispute that the amount is not key. There was so much in the $800 billion plan that goes against the grain of even moderate conservatives that it had to be opposed on ideological grounds. And inclusion of tax cuts is encouraged on ideological grounds.

But there probably is also truth is the political reality – especially given the ideological concerns – that opposing the bill is the better political position to take. Not that we want it to fail – I don’t and I think all Amercia hopes it works. But we think it will fail. Sorry about that, but I don’t see any way of this turning things around. In fact, I think it makes things worse. So, there is no way in heaven I’m going to support this thing. If I’m wrong, it’s good for the country, and even if I supported it Obama and the Democrats would get credit anyway. If I’m right, then I don’t get dragged down with them when people start revolting against their ideological positions. So, the best political move is to make this whole thing Obama’s.

Probably the most maddening part of this whole thing is that there was zero need for a great deal of this bill to be all lumped together. This bill could have been split up into numerous packages that could have been voted on separately. Each part could be assessed on both the merits of the idea and the stimulative impact. Obviously, the reason this didn’t happen was so Congress could spend countless billions on pet projects that they have wanted for years and have not been able to get. Gee, what a surprise that the Dems would take advantage of an economic downturn to enact this piece of legislation that is not what it was presented as…

Posted in Opinion, Politics, Stimulus | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

It’s Time for Dave Obey to Go

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on February 7, 2009

Stimulus-National Parks

Photo credit: Lawrence Jackson (AP). Dave Obey, looking like he has just screwed over Wisconsin - and everyone else.

For a stalwart of the House who has been re-elected in his Wisconsin District for 40 years because of name recognition and lack of viable candidates as opposition, Dave Obey flies under the radar pretty well. Even in his District (in which I live) you could ask 1000 people what they know about him and you’d maybe get a handful of people who really know anything about him.

He could be the most powerful no-name in Washington.

And he is an embarrassment to Wisconsin. But we don’t know it.

Oh, to be fair, there are certain things he has represented us well on. We are a rural and farming community with a lot of blue-collar workers. Any viable candidate will need to recognize the make-up of the district which he or she represents. But in a multitude of other ways, he is the antithesis of what we are about. We are not spendthrifts here who shun fiscal responsibility. We are not liberal on social issues. We are not socialists.

Dave Obey is all of these things. And he has the means of direct influence in Washington to help enact exactly the opposite of the issues we truly hold dear.

So, am I saying that the Wisconsin District is stupid for continuing to vote for him? No. They are not stupid. I would say that they are not properly informed. And that is not entirely their fault. The last time there was any remotely viable candidate to oppose Obey was probably 15 years ago or so, when an opponent named Scott West actually gave him a run for his money. Other than that little glimmer of hope, there has been nobody that had any money to compete. The seat has never looked endangered, so the Republican Party never bothers here. So, for decades, there has been little to no informational campaign that highlights Representative Obey’s issues.

Case in point is the recent stimulus behemoth. From NPR:

U.S. Rep. David Obey (D-WI), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, helped write the bill and says he doesn’t like being asked about earmarks.

“We simply made a decision, which took about three seconds, not to have earmarks in the bill,” he says. “And with all due respect, that’s the least important question facing us on putting together this package.”

Leaving out the earmarks does mean Congress will have less control over how the money is spent. But, Obey says, “So what? This is an emergency. We’ve got to simply find a way to get this done as fast as possible and as well as possible, and that’s what we’re doing.”

That doesn’t mean Congress will be responsible if the money is spent badly, he says.

“The person who spends the money badly will be responsible. We are simply trying to build as many protections in as possible,” Obey says. “We have more oversight built into this package than any package in the history of man. If money is spent badly, we want to know about it so we can hold accountable the people who made that choice. And guess what? Regardless of what we do, there will be some stupid decisions made.”

That may not sound all that bad, but the most important point here is that Obey was instrumental in putting together a $900 billion spending bill. And there isn’t a lot of control over how the money that will trash our dollar will be spent. And his response: “So what?”

Oh, but there’s oversight so that after “stupid decisions” are made and the money’s already spent, then they’ll hold people accountable.

Whoop-de-doo.

But there’s more. As this source explains:

House Republicans are questioning a section of the economic stimulus package that routes nearly $2 billion to national parks, saying the money could be a hidden pet project for Obey’s son. Craig Obey, a senior vice president of the National Parks Conservation Association, is a top lobbyist for the nonprofit group, which made public appeals for funds to repair and maintain national parks in the weeks before the House passed the bill.

That is pretty sleazy. $2 billion! When talking about the staggering amount of $900 billion, perhaps we start to lose sight of how big each billion actually is. Think, everyone. It takes a $1000 coming from one million people to total a billion. And Mr. Obey recklessly pushes through $2 billion in pork as a favor to his son? Is this what the people of Central and Northwestern Wisconsin want out of their Representative? No way.

This is egregious. It is mortgaging our future. And all he says is “So what?”

I am calling on the new RNC Chairman, Mr. Steele, to start today in developing a campaign strategy against Dave Obey. Pound his efforts in passing this bill over and over and over. Even if there is a short-term bump from this spending, we all know it’s irresponsible. Go with that. Over and over.

Anyone and everyone – in Wisconsin or not – let’s figure out a way how to get this guy out. Start today. I’ll help however I can. 527s, PACs, whatever. I know nothing about all that, so we need legal people and political people and RNC people and strategy people and advertising people and grassroots people…

Pass it on.

Anyone who has anything at all that I can post regarding comments by Dave Obey or votes by Mr. Obey that can help me get the word out here, send them to me at geezep@yahoo.com, or post a comment.

Anyone with contact information for anyone who could actually help organize any kind of campaign, let’s do it.

And no, I won’t be running. My wife would kill me. But I will help where I can.

Posted in Dave Obey, Elections, Opinion, Politics, Wisconsin | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

No Moderation: The liberalization of America Now Underway

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on January 23, 2009

Well, it hasn’t taken all that long for the expected to happen. But now that we’re underway, the mental preparation for it hardly sweetens the taste. Instead, it’s downright uncomfortable to watch.

My guess is that there is the segment of liberals who are paying attention and favor all the early moves of the Obama administration, either because they truly want socialism or because they don’t understand what socialism is and think they are simply transferring wealth and being good stewards. While the latter may be a generous motive, I fear that it will not turn out as they anticipate when all is said and done.

Then, there are those who are simply flummoxed by the fact that we Americans have allowed this course of events to take place, and are lamenting each and every move, as we realize that the election was won on symbolism, but that we have real consequences on multiple fronts, from the social to the financial.

If I were to guess, I would say that the two above camps do not total more than 25% of the populace. That means that 75% of us either don’t care enough to pay attention, or – more likely – have the attitude that the election is over, our job is done, and let me know in 2 to 4 years what I should care about for the next election. Most people simply don’t feel compelled to continually scrutinize, contact, and communicate with their elected representatives.

Unfortunately, elections have consequences. Many of us understood the ramifications of the election, and many of us didn’t. Many of us voted and celebrated the outcome based on symbology and diversity, and simply didn’t care about policy. Many of us convinced ourselves that there is a social justice component that outweighs everything else. What is, in reality, feel-good liberalism was packaged, sold, and bought as compassion.

So, let’s review, after only three days, what is so important to this administration that things could not wait any longer:

Executive Order closing Guantanimo Bay and Eliminating ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques.

This move wasn’t so bad on its face, but the reality is that it accomplished nothing by way of what we actually do with the people at Gitmo, and basically limited all interrogation techniques to nothing. Even the administration admits this. They have absolutely no plan right now, other than to form committees to come up with a plan. Given this, the Executive Order, at best, is premature. It is an appeasement to people who don’t like America. It’s an appeasement to the UN, and other liberal leadership around the globe. Not that there is anything wrong with wanting to help our image around the world, but if you just say you’ll do something with no answer about what you are actually going to do, it’s lip service.

Bush wanted to close Gitmo, but there was no good way of deciding how to deal with the bad guys at Gitmo. The issues are complicated, which is why Gitmo wasn’t closed under Bush, and why Obama – after two years of talking about this – has nothing more than a committee to try to figure something out in a year. So, what happens if and when they don’t have a good answer? Well, it means they either do something stupid, like letting these guys free, in order to save face. Or it means Gitmo doesn’t close. Or it means that we move them to another Gitmo.

On the torture issue, I do not advocate torture. But again, the order here is overbroad by limiting techniques to an Army field manual. Even the administration admits that this needs to be looked at and the manual enhanced. So, why not take care of that first before tying the hands of our military and intelligence services? Because it’s feel-good liberalism to put the cart before the horse. The consequences are that we have no leverage at all with anyone at the moment from whom we need information.

This may make us feel nice, but as an American, do you feel safer now? I sure as hell don’t.

Green Light for US Stem Cell Work and lifting the ban on overseas abortion funding.

That’s embryonic stem-cell research. On the anniversary of Roe V Wade, Obama thumbs his nose at the largest gathering of Pro-Lifers of the year at the “March for Life” and allows the killing of human embryos as a means to an end, and allows my tax dollars to fund abortions overseas. I’m incensed. I knew it was coming, and it still ticks me off. Thanks to all those who voted for Obama on the grounds of “social justice.”

Economic ‘Stimulus’ Package

This farce is unbelievable. Giving money to people who don’t pay taxes is now considered a tax cut. This idiot Robert Reich is at least honest with us when he lays out that the stimulus package is really all about transfer of wealth:

But if there aren’t enough skilled professionals to do the jobs involving new technologies, the stimulus will just increase the wages of the professionals who already have the right skills rather than generate many new jobs in these fields. And if construction jobs go mainly to white males who already dominate the construction trades, many people who need jobs the most — women, minorities, and the poor and long-term unemployed — will be shut out.

What to do? There’s no easy solution to either dilemma. But there’s no reason to think about “green jobs” as simply high-tech. Many low-income and low-skilled workers — women as well as men — could be put directly to work providing homes and businesses with more efficient and renewable heating, lighting, cooling, and refrigeration systems; installing solar panels and efficient photovoltaic systems; rehabilitating and renovating old properties, and improving recycling systems. “Green Jobs Corps” teams could be trained to evaluate and advise homeowners and businesses on these and other means of conserving energy.

In other words, this isn’t a stimulus package. It’s a jobs package, or a redistribution of wealth. Or it’s a welfare package. Or a social program. Or something. But it’s not a stimulus package. It isn’t a tax cut.

Now, you may or may not agree that this is a good thing to do, but the point is that we are simply being lied to. Listen, I don’t want the government to send out checks or spend any more money, period. I don’t want a stimulus package or a jobs package or redistribution of wealth. I want government to stop trying to solve all our problems while creating brand new ones. But others disagree with me and think that we need to avoid a recession, so they want a stimulus package.

The truth is – and even the liberals know this – that if you really want a consumer-stmulus package, you cut taxes immediately. It makes no sense to send checks out instead unless you are trying to accomplish something else altogether. Since sending checks out creates an expense to government and creates more market inefficiency, it’s purely a socialistic move. Worse yet is that this package is not that simple. Over half of the money is not expected to be spent until 2011. What kind of ‘stimulus’ is that? It’s not. In the name of ‘stimulus,’ the package includes expansion of government health care, among all sorts of other pork that would make your head spin.

I disagreed with the bailouts, so you can spare me the lecture on how Bush spent $700 billion. I know he did. I am mad at him for it. But to try and argue that because he did something stupid is an excuse to do something even more stupid is lunacy. And as much as I disagreed with it, at least the money is being spent on what I was told it is used for. Now, I’m not thrilled about the accounting of it all, and there may well be issues of waste, but I was told that the money is going to banks, and it is. Well, except for that whole auto bailout thing… But at least that was made public, too.

But how many people have even bothered to figure out what makes up this $825 billion package we’re talking about? We Americans should be outraged that the government feels that it is necessary to spend almost $3,000 for every man, woman, and child in the entire country. What kind of lemmings have we become? To put it in perspective, it would only cost us $200 billion if the government adopted a program to give $50,000 to the first 4 million people everyone who lost their job. And we’re going to spend more than four times that amount, to do what? Look at the numbers – it’s to create a couple million jobs.

The stupidity of this is remarkable.

You don’t have to believe me, but watch all this play out. If this package passes, the American way of life is history. It may already be too late – hopefully not. The bailouts at least have the hope of a repayment. This package does not. Whether this package is the straw that breaks the camel’s back or just moves us to that point much more quickly, I don’t know for sure. But this is unsustainable. There will come a day when other governments/investors refuse to buy our bonds (i.e. lend us money). The day that happens, we will have no money to repay expiring bonds, and since we operate at a deficit anyway, we will not have enough money to cover our obligations. When this happens, we need to “create” more money. As it is, the Fed is already doing this.

With virtually no more room to manipulate its main lever for the economy, the Fed has also been running its dollar printing press to flood credit markets with liquidity.

This quote isn’t technically correct, because most of the money creation isn’t even backed by a dollar bill. It’s a credit on a computer screen. But it doesn’t matter. It becomes part of the system and the more money that gets created, the more upward pressure will be put on inflation. When nobody lends us money, the ponzi-scheme that is our government financial system (where you need current influx of dollars to pay investor yields) will make the Madoff scheme look like child’s play. Hyper-inflation will ensue, the dollar will crash, and all hell will break loose.

I am not rooting for that. I hope I am wrong. But I have yet to have anyone explain how in the world we can ever dig our way out of the mess we’ve already created, and will be exacerbating very soon. I’m open to correction.

Posted in Barack Obama, Liberals, News, Opinion, Politics | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Hoping and Praying for Obama’s Success… and Failure

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on January 20, 2009

Obama InaugurationJoseph Farah, at http://www.worldnetdaily.com/, offers a perspective on praying for Obama’s success: don’t do it.

Farah presents his view from the point of view of a Christian who believes that praying for Obama’s success means that you are praying for success in his specific positions that are contrary to our moral position. These things by now are no particular secret. Clearly, abortion rights is a major issue, and any attempt to expand these rights through the Freedom of Choice Act, his past voting record as an Illinois State Senator, voting against an act that wouold protect infants who were born alive after botched abortion attempts, and the appointment of liberal judges can’t be supported. During the campaign, Obama and Biden both stated that they are not for gay marriage, though they favor civil unions. But in the past, Obama has said he favors it, and even since the election he does not support constitutional bans of same-sex marriage, and ‘respects’ state Supreme Court decisions that thwart the will of the people. When asked to discuss one of his greatest regrets, of all things he could have chosen, he decided to point to his support to review the case of Terri Schiavo. Why, of all matters possible, would an intervention to simply review the case one last time to ensure justice to a woman who is being starved and dehydrated be the one thing that comes to mind? It’s somewhat galling. This clearly presents Obama in a different camp than us Christians on the issue of euthanasia. It’s also been no major secret that Obama supports publicly funded embryonic stem-cell research.

These are moral issues. I cannot and will not support Obama in any of these issues if he continues to take the path he has taken in the past, and claims to want to take in the future.

But does this mean that I should pray for Obama’s failure as a president? Well, I guess it depends on what it is you focus on.

Here’s my thought: Hope and pray for America’s success. Pray that Obama succeeds in doing God’s will. Pray for his safety. Pray that, on issues that are not moral issues, he succeeds and fails in accord for what is best for our country.

Let’s leave the moral issues aside at this point. We have strict differences there, and my opinion is known. I most certainly hope the promotion of these issues fails. It is nothing personal against Obama, and it is not for political expediency that I feel this way. It is because my convictions in these areas must outweigh any perceived lack of patriotism some misguided souls may inappropriately apply to such hope for failure.

But on other issues, should we pray for failure? I suggest that the answer is ‘no.” Don’t get me wrong here. I wholeheartedly disagree with increasing our tax burden. I disagree with trillion dollar debts and more bailouts. I disagree with increased regulation. I am less certain about the best strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, and foreign policy. There may well be a few nuggets that I can agree with and support Obama on, as well. But these issues are debatable. They are not strict issues of morality (not even welfare, social security, and the role of government. That is NOT a moral issue. It is the strategy of attacking a moral issue which all of us fundamentally agree is an issue, but with different ideas of addressing it. That is why it is so maddening to have people compare that to abortion).

Let me outline my thinking here by providing the analogy of working for a company. Let’s say the company is discussing a new marketing strategy. Let’s say you have an idea on the best route to go with it, and someone else has the polar opposite view. Now, let’s say the polar opposite view from yours wins out as a strategy. Now, you may personally believe that this is a mistake, and it could be a disaster. You have made your opinion known, you have had the debate, but now the decision has been made.

So, do you undermine your own company and try to cause the new strategy to fail? Not if you have any integrity. Unless we’re talking about moral or ethical issues, you do your part to try and make this new strategy succeed. You assist when called upon, you do your best, and you falt-out hope that your perception of this was wrong. That’s right, you humbly hope you are mistaken, and wish success to the company President, the team, the whole company, and the guy who had the idea in the first place. If necessary, you shoot for success even if it’s in spite of the decision that was made in lieu of a potentially better way to go.

I personally believe we’re heading for disaster if we introduce a near-trillion dolalr stimulus package. I believe that an effort to roll back the Bush tax cuts is ill-timed and could cause even worse economic hardship. I am concerned that we will withdraw too quickly from Iraq. I am concerned about over-regulation in a number of areas, and even a restriction of our rights via the ‘Fairness Doctrine.’. I’m concerned that the left will go bonkers and start trying to send former administration officials to jail for political purposes.

Some of these I feel more wary about than others. But in the end, what I hope for is that, whether or not I can see the wisdom of a certain action, that whatever is decided is the right thing for America. Maybe that means Obama fails miserably in terms of getting his way, and that is what’s best. Maybe it means that he gets his way and I am wrong about the implications for the country. Maybe it means that Obama is more willing to stand up to the extreme left than I give him credit for, and that he really does want to govern from the center. Maybe it means that the Republicans get a spine and get energized, and thwart bad policy. And however it happens, if it’s the best for America, that means we’ll be better off in four years. And it may be because of Obama or it may be despite Obama. But that’s what I hope for.

It’s what we all should hope for.

So, hoping and praying for Obama’s success, in my opinion, is not the same as hoping and praying for a successful institution of his policies. It is at once reasonable to be praying and working for a failure of some policies, while praying and working for the overall success of our President and our nation.

Posted in Barack Obama, Inauguration, Opinion, Politics, Prayer, President | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Iraqi Shoe-Thrower: Pardon me…

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on December 18, 2008

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In a show of swift reaction time, George Bush demonstrates the art of avoiding a moving shoe.

OK, so a reporter in Iraq tosses his shoes at our President and creates quite a hubbub.  It’s a strange world we live in.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, here’s the 10 second recap:  Bush is talking to the press in Iraq, an Iraqi reporter who apparently doesn’t like Bush and the “U.S. Occupation” throws a shoe at Mr. Bush.  Bush duscks.  Reporter is tackled and arrested.  Bush later says “I saw the man’s sole.”  You have to admit, that’s funny.

Well, protests break out across the Middle East hailing the man as a hero.  People want him released.  Now, before we get too carried away with this, let’s keep in mind that the press has a nice way of making protests seem like a big deal when they want to.  I don’t know one way or another exactly how widespread this “free the sho-guy” sentiment was, but I won’t necessarily simply accept that it was some huge, riotous, widespread activity.  TV cameras showing 200 people can make a protest look like a huge deal.  On the other hand, the annual March for Life walk/protest numbers over 100,000 and most people never see a thing about it.  So if you want to attribute the worthiness of a cause to actual protest numbers, the mainstream media isn’t exactly the most trusted source in equating coverage to size of protest.   Let’s face it… whetehr 200 people or 200,000 people, our media was not about to pass on an opportunity for airtime about protests related to a guy in Iraq who threw a shoe at our President.

Anyway, some unfortunate reports came out that the guy got a little roughed up during his time in the clink.  I’ve heard about a possible broken arm and cracked ribs, though I don’t know what has been verified and what hasn’t. 

Now, according to this little article the guy wants a pardon.

So, what are we to think about all this?  I’m torn.  On the one hand, it was a freakin’ shoe.  Apparently, there’s some custom in Iraq that,  fortunately,  has not caught on with is Americans where it’s not uncommon to throw a shoe at somebody you disagree with.  Or something like that.  On the other hand, it’s still an assault against a head of state.  And one might say we have our own customs in America: we punch someone we don’t like.  But guess what?  If we tried to punch a foreign national, we wouldn’t be hailed as a hero regardless of how unliked the particular character is.  And we’d most certainly be in jail, and most people would understand why.

Now, had this guy thrown a shoe at Saddam, you can be pretty sure that he’d be a dead man.  But, on the flip side, with the reports of abuse, there’s still a problem with the civility of their jailing process, it would appear.  I guess old habits die hard.

But at the most basic of levels, Iraq is still trying to integrate itself into the world as part of a civilized society.  It appears there is still a lot of mentality at large in the general population that accepts certain unlawful actions as long as the cause or the target is acceptable.   And they need to rise past that.  The government needs to treat him fairly, certainly.  And I’m not saying this should be a life imprisonment, by any stretch.  But for a country trying to find its way in the world, basically pardoning the guy and accepting it as a cultural reaction sends the wrong message.

I guess I don’t know how long I’d be in jail if I threw a shoe at Obama.  But I have to believe I wouldn’t be seeing my family real soon.

So, whether you’re Iraqi or American, whether you love Bush or hate Bush, and whether or not you think “it was just a shoe,” it still needs to be treated seriously enough to discourage similar reactions in the future.  Only when the people realize that there really are lines drawn regarding their behavior will they take that next step forward – preferably with their shoes on.

Posted in George W. Bush, Iraq, News, Opinion, Politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »