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Toying with us

In a sane and rational world, and in light of the illegal delays and waivers issued by the administration, insisting that the individual mandate be delayed for a year was not a particularly radical demand.

Despondency surged as I realized Obama was toying with us, much like a predator might play with its prey before delivering the death-blow. The administration took extraordinary care to make sure the shutdown was as inconvenient as possible, shutting down things that it is not ordinarily possible to shut down, such as open-air monuments, private businesses and homes,… and the ocean.

At first I thought Obama’s strategy might backfire. Surely he had overplayed his hand! Then I watched the 6:30 news for a few evenings. And what finally convinced me that the administration would get away with it was the concern-trolling by the media about the Obamacare rollout failures.

–Oh, if only the Republicans’ antics weren’t sucking up so much oxygen, we might be able to report more about these glitches in Obamacare!–

Really? What have I experienced in the last five years would lead me to believe that the media was eager to report on a story reflecting negatively on Obama? Would that be the failure of the stimulus? Or Fast and Furious? Or Benghazi? Or the IRS?

No, they were pretty openly mocking conservatives. They knew what an empty promise they were suggesting.

Brian Williams’ snarky asides during the evening newscasts would have made Dan “fake but accurate” Rather blush.

Speaking of Benghazi, the modus operandi was pretty similar. Put out some bogus story for the weekend/Sunday show cycle, allow the media to go with it, and let the story die within a week, because heaven knows neither the media nor the American public has an attention span longer than a week. With Benghazi it was that ridiculous story about the YouTube video. With Obamacare, it was the fairy tale about overwhelming demand for the product.

Though nobody was exactly covered in glory in the public’s eye, polls showed Republicans faring worse than Democrats on the subject of the “negotiations” long before any actual negotiations took place, and in spite of the fact that it was the publicly stated position of both Harry and Barry that they would not be negotiating at all. The mind boggles.

And to top it off, you’ve got the likes of John McCain, who should be ejected from the party for serial violations of the eleventh commandment. If anybody invents a time machine, they need to loan McCain the Delorean so he can go back and retire 15 years ago.

This is not an environment in which any serious policy debates can be had, let alone won.

Oh, and the next time somebody says we’ll have more leverage on the debt ceiling rather than the continuing resolution, just go ahead and slap that person in the face for me.

October 16, 2013 at 10:55 pm Comments (0)

Deroy Murdock: How to Defund Obamacare

I’ve tried to make the case that Obamacare should be defunded, and Deroy Murdock shows us how to defund Obamacare at National Review.

Some highlights:

Republican lawmakers should stop quivering in fear of a president with a 44 percent Gallup job-approval rating. With a little courage and creativity, Republicans could fight the defunding battle effectively — if not to immediate victory, then to this dreadful program’s ultimate detriment. Here’s how:

[...]

Second, Republicans should adopt the Left’s practice of giving bills delicious titles. How can they counter liberal claims that they want to padlock Washington? Call their Obamacare-defunding vehicle the Keep Government Open Act of 2013.

[...]

Fourth, with news cameras present, every House Republican should march this physical bill through the U.S. Capitol and over to the doors of the Senate chamber. “The Republican House has voted to fund federal services,” Speaker John Boehner should declare. “We hereby deliver this bill to the Democratic Senate to complete the people’s work and keep America’s government open.”

September 2, 2013 at 9:32 am Comments (0)

Teaching Chimps to Fly F-16s

You’ve done your required reading, right?

I could probably write ten thousand words about the pair of NYT articles I’ve begged people to read, but I’ll keep my response to a few select points.

Digital Divide

Overall I find little fault with the article’s take on this issue. One simple graph makes that apparent. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

Demographics

From what I can gather from various reports about the Romney strategy, there really was no messaging strategy. They decided to make one last go at the white-majority strategy, with catastrophic results. As pollster Kristen Anderson was quoted in the NYT piece, “Did you not see the census? Because there was one! And it had some pretty big news — like that America’s biggest growing population is the Latino community! Surprise, surprise! How have we not grasped that this is going to be really important?”

We’ve known about the diminishing white majority for some time. We didn’t just wake up one morning to a bunch of Latin-American immigrants and their children.

The excuse of the bad polling model not is a very good one. Not because it was impossible to have gotten that wrong, but because the strategy they decided to implement was a narrow, skin-of-your-teeth strategy that required every last thing to go right with no margin of error, even if they did manage to get the demographic weighting right, which they didn’t. There was no room in the Romney strategy for expansion. No room to persuade anybody, and the results show it.

Issues and Deal Breakers

Issues have some importance, though not all issues are created equal. The evidence that people really don’t vote exclusively on issues keeps piling up. I might even be persuaded to argue that issues are not even of primary importance. There are certain issues though –the deal-breakers– that deserve some attention.

In my opinion, abortion and the entirely fabricated birth control issue should not be deal breakers for most swing voters. (For the sake of brevity, I’ll leave it at that.) Same-sex marriage may for some folks be a deal-breaker, though I can’t imagine it’s too terribly many since Obama ran in 2008 on a tepidly anti-SSM position. At the very least SSM combines with abortion and birth control to create a social super-issue. I really don’t have a good answer to this, though I would like to point out something that rubbed me the wrong way. The above-mentioned Kristen Anderson was said to identify herself as “socially tolerant” rather than “moderate”, as “moderate” is something like “Satanic” to base conservatives. I object to this supposedly improved designation on the grounds that everybody else must be “intolerant” if they object to gay marriage. I suggest reworking this, perhaps to “libertarian”.

Immigration reform is a deal-breaker for Hispanics. No, it is not going to mean Hispanics will suddenly wake up to Republicanism. It means we get an opportunity to make our case. And yes, as the article suggests, Rubio qua Rubio will not save us.

Nobody Ever Gets Fired

Eric Telford:

“I think there’s a very incestuous community of consultants who profit off certain tactics, and that creates bias and inhibits innovation.”

I’ve been complaining about this for a long time. If major changes don’t occur in the wake of 2012, the GOP should just pack up shop.

More than Tech – The Tin Ear problem

Of course, the problem is much greater than just the internet and social media. (I think most of the subjects interviewed in the article would agree to that general proposition.)

A major component of the techie complaint is that the Romney team ran an old-style TV and traditional media campaign. This is true, but I would also argue that even on traditional grounds the Romney camp exhibited a lackluster showing. They seem to have regressed from the Bush-era campaigns. “Applebee’s America” was published in 2006, so long ago that its antiquated title sells short the wisdom within its pages. Democratic campaign operations have taken this wisdom and expanded upon it. It seems to be a remedial reading recommendation for the Romney campaign.

Something the NYT article doesn’t directly address is what I’ll call the “tin ear” problem. Do Republicans not understand how they sound?

How many times lately have you heard the term “balanced approach”? How many times have you heard a Republican competently respond to that phrase? Even Deval Patrick and Harold Ford Jr recently talked about “economic growth” on Sunday morning talk shows. Most astonishing to me is the jujitsu reversal Obama has managed on closing tax loopholes. This is a Republican issue! Yet somehow Obama has made Congressional Republicans defenders of everything that is wrong with the tax code.

Do they not understand how badly they are being beaten? The more I see this pattern of behavior, the more I am convinced that they really don’t get it.

Forget “rapid response”, there’s not even a competent slow-response team.

Sometimes I think our problem is so enormous it would be easier to teach chimpanzees to fly F-16s.

March 10, 2013 at 5:56 pm Comments (0)

Required Reading

From, of all sources, the New York Times.

Yes, I know.  But they’re good.

Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence?
Behind the Cover Story: Robert Draper on Why the G.O.P. Is So Slow to Adapt to the Digital World

I plan on eventually commenting on these as I don’t quite agree with everything, and think a few things were overlooked.

And yes, these are absolutely required readings.  There will be a quiz afterward.

February 18, 2013 at 5:47 pm Comments (0)

VP Full of Sh!t

… and the sun rises in the east.

When trying to verify Joe Biden’s recent story that he was golfing within earshot of the Oct. 2, 2006, shooting at Nickel Mines, one thing is clear.

There are a lot of places to enjoy a round of golf in the region.

But whether the 70-year-old vice president was playing at any of the courses on the day of the one-room schoolhouse massacre still remains a mystery.

If he was in the area, he wasn’t at Moccasin Run Golf Club in Atglen.
Curt King, the owner of the club, said there is no record of Biden — then a U.S. senator — visiting the golf course that day.

“When someone of that stature comes to your business, you don’t forget something like that,” he said.
Moccasin Run, the closest club to the Nickel Mines community, is about six miles away.
King said he has combed through his club’s database, which records the name of every player who uses the course, to double-check the claim.

“We have no record of him being here that day, or that he has ever golfed here,” he said.

As for the scene at the course the day in question, King said it was just like every other day.

“There was no outing or special event,” he said. “Like most days, it was open to the public.”

Was he “literally, literally” there?

Or just the usual Joe?

January 25, 2013 at 6:54 pm Comments (0)

Will we really do any better on the debt ceiling negotiation?

It’s been said that the GOP will get serious about spending reductions when the debt ceiling comes to a vote. Supposedly we have more leverage on that issue.

I’m thinking not. The GOP has less leverage on that issue.

The basic structure of the debt ceiling vote is similar to the fiscal cliff vote. Republicans have the ability to block something the President wants, with a painful consequence if a deal is not struck.

However, with the debt ceiling, the overall breakdown value is worse than it was with the fiscal cliff vote, and is far worse for Republicans than Democrats. If the fiscal cliff had broken down, there would have been some negative economic consequences, public pressure, and if it dragged on long enough, perhaps some electoral pain. Had we gone off the cliff in a meaningful way, we might have even eventually worked out a better deal. But Congress was unable to bear the pain.

The debt ceiling is worse for Republicans in several ways. Firstly, the overall consequences of a breakdown are worse in the sense that a sovereign default would almost guarantee a severe and long-lasting depression that would make the Great Recession look like a walk in the park. Secondly, knowing that this consequence is unbearable to Obama as well, we should anticipate his actions. Who doubts that Obama would invoke the 14th Amendment, or perhaps pull out the old platinum coin trick? The breakdown value of the debt ceiling negotiation could be a massive unconstitutional power grab by the executive. Huzzah!

If we try to play hardball with the debt ceiling, we’d get a repeat of the fiscal cliff vote, and we’d walk away with out pants around our ankles.

Does anybody think that a Congress unable to explode the daisy-cutter they were sitting on will have the intestinal fortitude to explode the debt ceiling nuclear device? I thought not.

No. Pass the debt ceiling, relatively cleanly. I mean, sure, try to get some cuts, but when push comes to shove, just pass the thing.

Then shut down the government – Gingrich style. Don’t pass another spending bill. Save for defense and homeland security, don’t so much as appropriate toilet paper for government lavatories. Not one dime.

Deprive Obama of something he wants. The relative pain of the breakdown values should be reversed. Obama loves government. So do Republicans, but less so than Obama. Take it from him. Perhaps for months.

And if you think a prolonged total government shut-down is too harsh, you really didn’t have the stomach for the debt ceiling vote in the first place.

(“Plan B” is looking pretty sweet right now, ain’t it? Remember that.)

January 2, 2013 at 11:51 pm Comments (0)

re: Perspective

Of course the constructive thing to do is take a deep breath and soldier on, … swinging pendulum or whatever.  The darker part of my psyche thinks that with this election we’re going to start seeing some of those irreparable consequences folks have been talking about, and that even if things swing back our way in four years there might not be much left for us to work with.

As for learning our lessons, I’m not holding my breath.  You’d have thought we would have learned something from Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle, but no.  And that’s not to pick on the Tea Party, because the Establishment ran losers too (-most notably, Mitt Romney).  Candidate quality is of utmost importance.

Since every other pundit in the universe has spun this election to fit his or her own pet Theory of Everything, I might as well too….

The winning formula that I have discussed at great length is to find a high quality conservative candidate who knows how to translate conservative ideas to non-ideological/moderate/middle voters.  We had pretty much the opposite of that in Mitt Romney, a mediocre candidate with a wobbly conservative history who had no chance of conveying conservative thoughts to moderate voters because he really didn’t understand them himself.  (This would be why I was for Pawlenty, self-professed “Sam’s Club Republican”.)

Agreed, Fred, we should entirely reject the notion that we must become Democrat-lite and either abandon or moderate every conservative position under the sun.  Everybody say it with me now — swing voters don’t vote on ideology.

The one policy exception I see is immigration.  I don’t like to play this card too often, but I’ll BLAME BUSH for screwing up the immigration issue.  The “comprehensive piece of sh*t” he cooked up was so bad that even notable immigration softie Bill Kristol didn’t like the bill.  That fight brought out the worst of people on both sides of the argument, and the real loser was the GOP –even after we nominated John McCain, king of comprehensive immigration reform.  Now Obama will get to be the guy who claims credit for delivering immigration reform — ironically after avoiding the issue in his first term, and while following a bizarre gun policy wherein a key element was that there would be a bunch of dead Mexicans.

Going forward, I’ll try to be as positive as possible.  Just understand that privately I’ll be shopping for miscellaneous firearms and lingering at Cabela’s.  And I am definitely interested in Fredistan.

November 18, 2012 at 5:09 pm Comments (0)

Perspective.

I don’t know if you’ve read any commentary about the 2012 elections recently–heaven knows it’s hard to find–but from what I can tell, the only chance that Republicans have of ever winning another election for anything anywhere is to immediately run to the left of Debbie Wasserman Schultz on everything.

Let’s all just take some Nyquil and listen.

Conservatives are textbook manic depressives. Remember on November 5 when we were going to win everything–White House, Senate–everything? Then November 7 came and we, reassured by all the pundits on the left and right, became convinced that, conservatism and the Republican Party were so discredited that all elected Republicans should just give up their seats to the nearest Democrat?

Apart from just being insane, that kind of thinking betrays a complete lack of perspective. In 2001, Karl Rove talked about a permanent Republican majority. In 2004 George Bush won 97 of the 100 fastest growing counties in the US. In 2006 and 2008 we had back-to-back Democrat waves which supposedly irrevocably altered American politics. That lasted until 2010 when Republicans picked up 63 seats in the US House and finished election night with 30 governorships. That has all happened in the last 11 years of the 236-year history of the Republic.

Politics is a constant state of ebb and flow. We need to learn our lessons from 2012 (e.g., don’t nominate idiots for the US Senate, even in red states), correct the mistakes we can (e.g., if you nominate an idiot for the US Senate, make him drop out at the soonest possible opportunity using whatever shameless and/or barely-ethical tactics are necessary), and get ready for 2014. Everything else is just navel-gazing, and it’s not productive.

Case in point: if you’re not familiar with Morton Blackwell, he’s a guy you should get to know. He’s been involved in conservative politics longer than many of us have been alive, and he has this to say about the election of 2012.

I had a very exciting time at the Republican National Convention. My conservative allies and I all worked very hard in the presidential election.

When I woke up the day after the election, everything I had worked for appeared to be in ruins. An extreme leftist had been reelected president of the United States.

Some liberal Republicans immediately began to blame newly activated conservatives for the presidential defeat. I knew they were wrong. It was clear to me that these newly active conservatives would be the key to major future victories for conservative principles.

The day was Wednesday, November 4, 1964.

Perspective.

Read the whole thing.

November 17, 2012 at 8:40 pm Comments (0)

Will Sandusky And Corbett Defeat Romney?

The Governor’s mishandling of the Sandusky investigation may doom the GOP

Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. It’s all about Ohio. Win the Buckeye state — win the White House.

Very true, especially for Mitt Romney, since no Republican has won without it.

But the monumental point is being overlooked.

Ohio is only kingmaker by default.  Its 18 electoral votes would not be needed if Romney wins Ohio’s larger neighbor — Pennsylvania and its 20 electors.

That’s not wishful thinking, but eminently achievable. Or at least it was, until two men severely diminished hope for delivering the Keystone State: Jerry Sandusky and Republican Governor Tom Corbett.

*****

Make no mistake. Pennsylvania should have been a lock for the GOP.  The fact that it has not voted Republican for president since 1988 is misleading. When there is a solid candidate, Pennsylvania is always in play, where a small vote swing changes the election result (George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004).  Conversely, bad candidates lose handily (Bush I in ‘92, Dole in ’96, and McCain in 2008). And remember that Ronald Reagan won it twice, and George H.W. Bush in ’88.

In 1994, it became the most Republican state in the country in terms of elected officials, with the GOP claiming both U.S. Senate seats, the governorship, total control of the state legislature, a majority in its congressional delegation, and two of three statewide row offices.

Fast forward to 2010, when GOP Governor Tom Corbett rode to victory with a massive ten-point margin.  Conservative Pat Toomey was elected U.S. Senator, and Republicans gained control of the State House in historic fashion, smashing the Democrats and taking a ten-seat majority.  The State Senate remained solidly Republican — as it has for three decades.

So why is it likely that Romney will lose the Pennsylvania Prize?

Enter Corbett and Sandusky.

*****

The most worthless commodities in politics are endorsements. Party leaders endorsing their own is expected, swaying no one.  And celebrities choosing sides only makes for good cocktail talk.  Romney doesn’t benefit from Clint Eastwood, nor Obama from Bruce Springsteen.

But while endorsements don’t sell, popularity does. And they are distinctively different.

If a leader possesses a bold vision — and the ability to articulate ideas in a common sense, bipartisan way — he will have followers from the entire political spectrum. New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie is the best example, having achieved monumental victories despite both legislative chambers being heavily Democratic.

While no single Republican could swing Jersey to Romney, that feat should have been in the bag in much more Republican Pennsylvania. If Christie could rack up wins in The People’s Republic of New Jersey, gaining immense popularity, how could Corbett not deliver Pennsylvania?

Because he is an MIA governor.

After the first year of his Administration, when virtually nothing was accomplished, Corbett’s own legislators nicknamed him “Christie-lite.” But after the second year, with an even more startling lack of achievements, the nicknames became unprintable.

We’re not talking about a failed extreme right-wing agenda, but common sense ideas Corbett promised but didn’t come close to delivering, despite holding all the cards.

-Was the nation’s largest state-controlled liquor system dismantled — a move overwhelmingly supported by most Pennsylvanians? Nope. Zero action.

-Was any effort made to 1) solve the state’s massive pension crisis, 2)lower the job-killing, corporate net income tax (second-highest in the nation), or 3) reform the nation’s most hostile legal climate? All drive businesses away, but no action was taken. The can was kicked down the road.

-Did state union workers receive a contract in line with private sector employees? No.  Instead, Corbett gave them guaranteed raises, no increases in health care premiums, and eliminated layoffs for economic reasons. At the same time, he raised salaries of his inner circle, aides who apparently couldn’t get by on $135,000.

While his inaction sunk the Governor’s favorable ratings, it was his handling of sexual predator Jerry Sandusky that really put him in the toilet, flushing away whatever attractiveness he had left.

Corbett’s attempt to steal the national limelight at Penn State news conferences by portraying himself as the savior who took down Sandusky rapidly backfired. Instead, his decisions in that case (he was the investigating Attorney General) grew into a firestorm that continues to explode.

No one is buying Corbett’s claims that he didn’t play politics with the Sandusky investigation. A whopping 69 percent of Pennsylvanians don’t view Corbett favorably, making him the nation’s least popular governor.  And a miniscule 17 percent think he handled the Sandusky investigation well.

Why? Maybe because:

-It took three years to get Sandusky off the street. Within the law enforcement community, it’s almost unanimous that Sandusky should have been nailed much, much earlier. Ten cases weren’t needed, as Corbett maintains, but only two or three to make an arrest while continuing to build the case.

-Corbett ordered a narcotics agent to lead a whopping team of two to investigate Sandusky, while scores of agents — including child predator units — prosecuted a political corruption case.

Because of Corbett’s colossal inconsistencies, Republican leaders were forced to abruptly end a legislative session, killing a motion requesting a federal investigation of Corbett’s handling of the case.

As a result, Corbett’s numbers have stayed in the basement. The erosion of his popularity, transcending Party lines, stems from the nagging feeling that Corbett placed politics above the protection of innocent children.

*****

The most far-reaching result of the Governor’s failures will be the political earthquake that never was. If Corbett had been just a fraction of Chris Christie, and had run the Sandusky investigation properly, Mitt Romney wins Pennsylvania hands down.

Instead, because of Corbett’s toxicity, Romney was forced to focus on Ohio, which he will likely lose, and with it, the White House.

But that may be the least of Corbett’s troubles. Kathleen Kane is poised to become the first elected Democratic Attorney General in Pennsylvania history.  Should that occur, the political embarrassment for Corbett would be immense, since he would be seen as the main contributor to a Kane victory.

If elected, Kane promises an intense review of the Sandusky investigation, with no hesitation to charge anyone —including the Governor — should improprieties be uncovered.

And who thought politics wouldn’t be interesting after this election?

As published in Daily County Daily Times:
http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/11/05/opinion/doc50979500780a2499235935.txt

Philadelphia Magazine:
http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/11/05/sandusky-corbett-defeat-romney/

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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November 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm Comments (0)

Romney Running PA Ads

He’s blowing it, really.

October 30, 2012 at 3:45 pm Comments (0)

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