Monday, May 30, 2011

"Tea Party Ordnance"

Marco Rubio eloquently clarified the role of the Tea Party in accurately describing it as a "grassroots" movement. It is not and was never intended to be a Washington based poltical action committee. Maybe that's why the media has encountered difficulty "pigeonholing" it. As was said about co-operative advertising in the eighties it's like "trying to put jelly on the wall with thumbtacks."

In short, there are "many strains striving for the same common objective."

This objective seems to be clear. "America must learn to live within her means, which translates to cutting spending." As Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul emphasized, "we do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem." Essentially, the idea echos Ronald Reagan's 1980 plea: "we need to reduce the cost of government."

History has taught us that whenever a decisive plan is introduced, there are critics. In most cases it is criticism without alternatives. Paul Ryan can vouch for this! From there it becomes tainted and even personal. Usually, there are slurs that border on "exhibitions of hyperbole." The best example of this is alleged racism. Referring to the Tea Party as "racist" is as accurate as describing John F. Kennedy as "a Mormon."

Predicably, when Tea Partier, Randy Paul introduced a serious proposal that would make a dent in the nations' 15 trillion dollar deficit, it was impugned as "extreme" and "radical." In reality, even this "extreme, radical" plan accounted for only one-third of the number. So, where would the rest come from? Medicare? Social Security? Defense?

The Tea Party has raised awareness regarding Americas' precarious financial position. While Paul's detailed reductions are appalling, they crystallize the true dilemma.

Liberals and Moderates alike ruefully acknowledge that "shared sacrifice" in the form of higher taxes are both necessary and imminent. Obama's bi-partisan commission said as much. It wasn't received with a red carpet. When Congressman Ryan put forth a plan to save Medicare, he received cold shoulders from Democrats and "R.I.N.O." Republicans.

Ryan's plan didn't touch Social Security. But Paul admitted during his campaign that "the age would need to be raised eventually." This is inevitable because at "time of inception, the average age was less than 65." People are living longer. Even those on the far left acknowledge this!

Let's assume that we adopted both Paul and Ryan's plans. Then we raised the age of social security to the levels proposed by Obama's commission. Wouldn't we still be short? It would appear without some increase in revenue, we would be! Or, at least, the experts would suggest such. However, there may be additional help in the form of new proposed legislation. Enter the "E" Amendment!

Hidden inside a decisive plan to improve literacy standards in America are numerous, money saving "offshoots" that would result automatically from the "E" Amendment's passage. They would be realized mostly at state level.

One of the greatest criticisms of Paul's plan was that it "placed additional financial burdens on the states." The "E" amendment removes existing expenses as fast as new expenses might be created! English only voting ballots would put the reins on aggressive Justice Department mandates as was seen in Cuyahoga County, Ohio in October 2010. English only drivers license testing would check efforts by free spending Governors such as Kentucky's Steve Beshear, to offer written drivers tests in multiple languages. No doubt you would hear "howls" from those crying "diversity!" But we are talking about "shared sacrifice."

A moratorium on "outsourcing jobs that utilized Americans' social security numbers" would take hundreds of thousands off the unemployment roles here at home. Of course, big business would complain! They would say that "profits would drop, stock prices would drop." But we are talking about "shared sacrifice."

Selling the postal service to private enterprise, then introducing a "residentual access tax on commerically oriented direct mail" would generate massive revenue. I can imagine what the postal workers union would say about that one! "What if U.P.S. got rid of our overfunded pension in favor or a minimal annuity?" It goes back to "shared sacrifice."
What about the direct mail companies? They never had a problem with their "bulk mailing permits!"

Striking Phyler versus Doe would remove masses of illegal aliens from entitlement rolls. "How heartless! How draconian," they would say! This "shared sacrifice" would impact children! Never mind that they are in the country illegally!

Would these provisions be enough to make up the difference? Possibly! It would be close enough to merit a study. Meanwhile, the average American would know that there were alternatives. Alternatives to a gasoline tax, an increased income tax, a "value added tax," or the elimination of a deduction currently enjoyed.

In essence, the Tea Party, a loosely constructed army of Americans from coast-to-coast, united in their quest for fiscal sanity would have their ordnance; in the form of the "E" Amendment. The "E" Amendment would quietly remove obstacles. These "obstacles" can be defined as dogmatic politicians and nuisance lawsuits that would attempt to protect an unsustainable system of spending money that we don't have.

The "unholy alliance" between the Tea Party and the left might actualize in the form of newly hatched "Eagles for America." The Tea Party advocates foreign military intervention only with Congressional authorization. This could translate to "no nation building, no foreign give-a-ways." Establishment Republicans wince at this thought. "Eagles" are on board with it and go one step further: "after we balance the budget, return any surplus to the states on the condition that the money is used to facilitate four-year public higher education for qualified students."

The idea is based on "charity beginning at home." While we may be investing in countries for the purpose of "protecting our national interests," the question becomes, "what" is defined as "our?" Americans may have different ideas regarding our "national interests." To many, affordable higher education at home may take on a higher priority than substidizing a foreign government.

Thus, the Tea Party becomes more than a "fringe element" of the Republican party. In effect, we are seeing a formitable coalition emerging that strives for fiscal sanity coupled with the notion that all Americans are "relevant and significant."

It puts one in awe to imagine how fast this thing could develop.

Friday, May 27, 2011

No Romney!

Establishment Republicans must be smiling!

After carefully, deliberately testing the water, it appears that Governor Romney is finally going to drop the other shoe in New Hampshire next week. Not that anyone is surprised!

The former Massachusetts governor brings hefty creditials to the table. He has a deep private sector background. He has executive experience. He has money. He has an organization. He has name recognition. He's a clean living family man. He looks like a Television anchor man. On paper, he sounds like the perfect opponent to take on Barack Obama in 2012. What more could Republicans want?

These attributes notwithstanding, Mitt Romney is perceived by many as the "slick, rich guy." He is not someone most of America can identify with. And there are some questions. Such as, "how does a professed conservative get elected Governor in probably the most liberal state in America. True, people in Massachusetts are quick to identify problem candidates and even quicker to elect alternatives. That may have been the key to Scott Brown's upset win. William Weld won the Governor's mansion in 1991 after his Democratic opponent's corruption became known. Weld may be Romney's true reflection: fiscally conservative, socially progressive. There wasn't a dimes worth of difference between Weld and 1992 Democratic Presidential candidate, Paul Tsongas. Tsongas referred to himself as a "pro-business liberal." Could this be an accurate description of Mitt Romney?

No doubt, Romney is business friendly. Banks and Wall Street will cast their lot his way. They have seen the alternative. It is a given that Romney will pick up semi-affluent independents who voted for Obama in 2008. The real question looming is "how will he do with the party base?"

I recall talking to a Georgia Republican who declared Romney "was simply too slick for me." Does that suggest that he would vote for Obama? No. It does hint, however, that he might stay home. This would also be the case for many "Reagan Democrats." They are registered Democrat but generally vote GOP in the national elections. Exceptions abound. But many have already decided that they will not vote for Obama. So why not Romney?

A devout Evangelical friend told me that he would vote for Romney if the alternative were Obama. But he would do it "while holding his nose." This was after acknowledging that Romney was a "good moral person."

What about Latinos? Mitt scored some points with Tom Tancredo and his friends when he proclaimed that illegal aliens needed to "get in line and wait their turn." This is the position of the American majority. But how will he fare with Hispanics? Not to mention other immigrants? Does he have an alternative?

Amazingly, the Massachusetts health care law could work in his favor. Because it was a state instigated fare, it would be easy enough to say that "we need to dump what Democrats voted in because something like this can only work if initiated on the state level." There are holes in that argument for certain. Beginning with the idea of government run health care. Conservatives would be outraged. Moderates would find such a position disarming. It may be the best position altogether; if the goal if to repeal Obamacare!

Where would the votes come from? Romney's people insist they can win Michigan, Ohio and Florida. There could be some credence to that conclusion. Michigan lost a huge chunk of it's population during the recession. Much of it came from the Detroit area. Most of those departing were Democrats. Ohio's economy isn't happening. With the governer and House Speaker in his corner, it could be interesting. A large part of Florida is under employed and underwater with their mortgages. A business savvy player like Mitt Romney would be seen as their lifeboat.

Overall, it comes down to the idea that people will vote for "the lesser of two evils." Romney's strength is the economy. He at least talks tough on national defense. Some of his views are murky. Would he support Paul Ryan's budget plan? What can be done to make social security solvent? Does he favor eliminating the education department? Others, such as the need for a domestic energy policy are clearly defined. The real question would be "can he win the general election?"

Obama's game plan against Romney is highly predictable. It will be "class warfare." The "rich Romney against the people." And who who will be christened the "people's champion?" Who will be the "advocate of the little guy?" Who will be called the "friend of the common man?" You can anticipate the media bias that's coming.

People tend to look inward when pulling that voting lever. The politics of resentment can be a potent weapon. Obama has it down to a science. Romney, unfortunately has no counter.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Monitoring the Chessboard

Mike Huckabee's decision not to run has left a void in the Republican field that is becoming painfully evident. While it is very early in the process, some fundalmental conservatives are not liking the way things are shaping up.

For some, the former Arkansas Governor seemed to be the answer. He was socially conservative, but had a history of compromise on fiscal issues. He was "clean" from a "past personal baggage" point of view. He wasn't offensive to Hispanics. He had demonstrated an ability to attract "blue collar" Democrats. He was the darling of Evangelicals. He was more than a regional candidate. The chance of him getting the necessary number of electoral votes was good.

Why isn't he going to run? Maybe it is because he can run later. Currently, he has a successful program on Fox News that builds his platform with every broadcast. His radio potential is boundless. He has other "irons" in the fire. And, he knows that in the event that he becomes bored, he can always return to politics in a big way by opposing Mark Pryor for his Arkansas Senate seat in 2014. Would Governor Huckabee want to be a U.S. Senator? He has not indicated a desire for such. But, you can never tell! Especially when common sense would suggest an easy victory. From there, he could decide if he wanted to finish his career in the Senate or run for the Presidency. And, there is always the possibility that he might want to stay in broadcasting. Nobody could spite Governor Huckabee either way.

The dilemma that has resulted for party conservatives is "what other candidate in the present field" could bring those three aforementioned factions to the Republican column? Not to mention unite Tea Partiers and Establishment GOP members?

Jeb Bush tops the Establishment GOP wish list. He represents a successful Governor from a large swing state, who would not only has money but a Mexican wife. In college Jeb majored in "Latin American Studies." His written and spoken Spanish is flawless. He would be very difficult to beat in Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, three states won by his brother in '04 that broke for Obama in '08. Not to mention his home state! But, Jeb is evidently going to pass. Perhaps he is looking at 2016. Maybe his advisors are saying the country needs four more years to forget about George.

After that, it begins to look bleak. Romney will run but how will he rate with "Hispanics, Evangelicals and "blue collar" Democrats?" Can he unite the "Tea Party and Establishment?" Smart money would say "poorly and no."

Tim Pawlenty just doesn't have the sizzle. He is a good man and should be on the top of everyone's list for Vice President. Same would hold for Mitch Daniels. If there is anything that is good about this years GOP field, it does have some outstanding candidates for Vice President. You could easily add Chris Christie to that field although it's unlikely he will be available. Ron Paul makes some good points. But he is too old for either President or Vice President.

Newt Gingrich has self destructed. Not that he ever really had a chance. He was always too polarizing. While he might be a strong debator, his best move is to drop out of the race ASAP! He has done nothing but help the Democrats with his questionable assertions regarding mandated healthcare coverage and Paul Ryans proposed budget plan.

Cain, Huntsman, Santorum, Bachmann? Wouldn't bet on it!

Sarah Palin? It doesn't look like she will do anything other than sit on the sidelines and pick a winner. Some suggest that she may be positioning herself for a cabinet appointment. And it may be that she likes the money that she's making and wants to leave it at that. As with Governor Huckabee she will have the option to challenge a liberal Democrat in a conservative state in the 2014 Senate election.

Rick Perry? A very good record in Texas. But it is likely that his differences with many of the key state players might be at odds with his running in 2012. But don't count him out for a possible 2016 bid!

Are we out of options? Well, maybe not. It may come down to how badly the Republicans want Obama to be a one-term President. It also comes down to how realistic and pragmatic Republican elites truly are. These are not facitious questions! At stake is the leadership and direction of the party. Often "passing the mantle" is not done without reservation or resistence.

Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul's new book "The Tea Party Goes to Washington" strategically distinguished "Constitutional Conservatives" from "Neo-Conservatives." The crowning difference between the two is governments size and role. As Paul put it, "Neo-Con,"George W. Bush wanted a big government to implement conservatism. The Tea Party is all about "reducing the size and cost of government" based on what is actually written in the constitution. This is the key difference between "Establishment Republicans" and "Tea Party Republicans."

What is wrong with the current field(Ron Paul being the exception) is virtually all of the declared candidates are "Neo-Cons." It is easy to forget that it was the "Constitutional Conservatives" who resurrected the Republican party from their 2008 death. It would be unrealistic for Establishment types to expect be given full control after their abysmal performance in the last decade! They can use their control to nominate one of their own. But do you not smell a repeat of 1996? I do!

Which leave us one real choice for the 2012. This candidate would do well with "blue collar Democrats, Hispanics and Evangelicals." He would score well with both women and the newest and most volitile political faction: "Young, upwardly mobile professionals and technicians."(Yuppietechs). He would even make inroads in traditional Democratic strongholds, thanks to his conservative Roman Catholic values.

I am speaking of Florida Senator, Marco Rubio. We must remember however, he was not the choice of the Establishment. Mitch McConnell and Lamar Alexander urged him not to run for the Florida Senate in 2010. They warned him that their support and GOP money was headed Charlie Crist's way.

Without money and the support of the Republican hierarchy, Marco Rubio rolled up his sleeves and went to work. His weapon was modern communication, namely Facebook, You Tube and Twitter. He made it clear that the election was "about an idea, not me." People were amazed at his ability to speak "noteless" for an hour or more. He quickly labeled Crist(never using the Governor's name) as the "Arlen Specter wing of the party." In May of 2009 he was 40 points behind the popular Crist. In May 2010, he was 30 points ahead in the polls. Crist quit the Republican party and ran as an independent. In the end, Rubio pulled 52% of the total statewide vote. The remaining 48% was divided between Crist and the Democrat, Kendrick Meek.

True, Rubio has said that he is not running for President. But, most of those answers were rendered when Mike Huckabee was thought to be running. The landscape is different now that Huck is out of the race. Rubio and Huckabee are friends. Without question, Huckabee would endorse and actively campaign for Rubio. Ditto for Jeb Bush.

Could a 41-year-old Rubio have a realistic chance against Barack Obama? Think about it! John F. Kennedy was 43. Bill Clinton was 44. Rubio has more experience than did Obama at the time Obama launched his Presidential bid. After all, Rubio was previously Speaker of the Florida House of Representives. He is the son of a bartender and a hotel maid. Both were Cuban exiles. He still owes money on his college education. Sound familiar?

He is a first generation American. His wife immigrated from France as a child. They have four children. How many immigrants could relate to him as their President? How many traditional Roman Catholics in states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island might cross party lines on his behalf?

Liberal pundit Arriana Huffington called Marco Rubio "the Obama of the right." She predicted that if he were the Republican nominee, "California would be in play."

Rubio himself might need to be convinced. But when the potential electoral votes are projected,with the exception of Jeb Bush, it begins to sound like any Republican candidate other than Marco Rubio would be a waste of time.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A.C.O.R.N.- "Down but not out.."

A.C.O.R.N. is attempting to re brand itself.

In Arkansas, they are the "Arkansas Community Organizations." In Minnesota they go by "Minnesota Neighborhoods for Change."

Pretty slick!

Amazingly, the organization has rehabilitated itself. This can be attributed in part due to the friends on Capital Hill and in the Obama White House.

According to Judicial Watch investigative findings, definitive documents proving that the Obama Justice Department has already shut down federal investigations into A.C.O.R.N. voter registration fraud.

In itself, this is a remarkable development. It is remembered that Jame O'Keefe's clutch piece of investigative work  revealed Lavelle Stewert and the 2009 scandal. The corruption of the organization became painfully apparent. Smart money would have considered it a death warrant. When the U.S. Census Bureau severed its ties to A.C.O.R.N., it appeared that the game was up. Not so! It's merely a matter of "moving across the street, changing the name and starting afresh."

The idea behind A.C.O.R.N. is to cheat. Never was this more obvious than in the Coleman-Franken Senate race in Minnesota in 2008. Franken allegedly won by 312 votes. But how many times did they count and recount these votes? How many were disallowed? What were the political affiliation of those on the Minnesota Supreme Court?

Unfortunately, this is not the first time there have been key elections that held clouded outcomes. Two that come to mind are the 1960 Presidential election and the question of Chicago votes. The more recent dispute happened in 2000 in Florida. The country survived but in both cases, the victor emerged slightly tarnished.

Our voting process must maintain integrity at the highest level. We must never have another Coleman Franken election. We cannot have groups like A.C.O.R.N. in existence. For the sake of a unified America, we must have a fool proof system in place that maintains 100% credibility. Which brings us to the question of "is this sufficiently serious to consider voter identification cards?"

I think that it is. When voters are required to present I.D. cards that bear both a photo and a thumbprint, cheating will be difficult, although not impossible. To eliminate it totally the answer is "voting booth retinal scans."

Are we kidding?

I don't think so. To totally eliminate voter fraud, the combination of I.D.'s with thumbprints and photographs, used in conjunction with voting booth retinal scans will guarantee voting integrity. And accurate results! We will never need to worry about A.C.O.R.N. and other "rogue organizations" attempting to undermine our system.

America is the leader of the free world. What we do influences so many souls world wide. We simply cannot allow anyone or anything to compromise our process. To some, these options may be considered drastic. But elections such as the 2008 Minnesota Senate election should serve as a wake up call to those who still don't feel that voter fraud is a problem.