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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Brokering Jeb

Could a disaster be brewing for the RNC when they get to Tampa this year? I don't push much credence in the continued chatter about the Republican nomination going to a brokered convention, but I thought I'd weigh in based on a report in The Hill getting some play. Apparently, some people want to make Jeb Bush the nominee:
The Bush secret agenda has been a subliminal theme for months with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the favored proxy and pitchman. At CPAC it broke through to the surface: Al Cardenas, head of the American Conservative Union, says that Republican turmoil might lead to a brokered convention in which Jeb Bush would emerge as a “possible alternative” party nominee. It made Drudge this weekend.

I will concede that with the convention in Florida, Jeb Bush may actually seem a viable option in a brokered convention. While I would never vote for him, Jeb Bush would be a good candidate for president, and that is probably the only job that would draw him back to the public sector. But if he actually wants to be, you know, president, this would be a poor route to take.

So let's list the obvious problems here, starting with some Jeb-specific issues. Jeb's last name is Bush. If that name doesn't ring any bells to you, then the Republicans efforts in the last four years to erase anyone's memories of that name may actually be working. But for most people, the name Bush is a quick reminder of how we got into the greatest economic disaster in three generations. Jeb is much smarter and practical than his older brother, but I don't think he can convince America of that between late August, when the Republican National Convention will be held, and early November, when President Obama is scheduled right now to win reelection in a landslide. Jeb could probably win Florida, but there is nowhere else in the country where voters have a solid comfort with who Jeb Bush is and what style he might bring to the job. There may be no candidate who could communicate in just 10 weeks everything voters want to know about their next president. Jeb certainly cannot.

And that gets to the larger problems with a brokered convention. This whole process we are going through? Where we savage Mitt Romney as a wussy moderate, Rick Santorum as a gay-bating asshole who hates Google and Newt Gingrich as a womanizing friendless insider? For reasons known only to those sane enough to stay away from politics, Jeb Bush took a pass on that whole ordeal. But to step in after millions of Republican voters have sweat over which clown to vote for, people like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Sarah Palin were not on the ballot. I think that once Republican delegates start to think about it, they will get over the fact that they only have losing options to choose from this year and realize that pissing off every Republican rank-and-file voter who bothered showing up at the polls this year would do damage both in this election cycle and beyond.

Which is why I think a brokered convention is still unlikely.

But if Jeb Bush does usurp the will of voters (not that a history of such action can be brought up or anything), it will be good for Democrats now and in the future. Running as your party's nominee for president isn't something you get to do twice.

Be my guest, Jeb. Get it over with now.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Grab The Popcorn, Mica-Adams Fight Coming

Or at least that is what both parties say right now. Via the Sentinel:

After weeks of silence, U.S. Rep. John Mica of Winter Park said Wednesday that he plans to run for re-election in a redrawn congressional district centered on Seminole County — setting up a potentially bruising primary with fellow Republican Sandy Adams of Orlando... If neither budges, a Mica-Adams primary could be a rough-and-tumble affair. Mica chairs the House Transportation Committee and would bring to bear all the weapons of an old bull Republican – well-heeled connections groomed by two decades on Capitol Hill... Adams, though, can count on the backing of the Tea Party caucus and could cast the race as a battle for the soul of the Republican Party.

If you want to read all of the Republican inside baseball, I encourage you to check out the article.

It seems to me, though, that this is a fight that the Tea Party will lose. Mica is all the good things about the establishment when it comes to serving the interests of his own voters. Road projects are the type of pork everybody ultimately ends up calling a good thing.

As for Adams, I like people to take a moment and realize what she and her like really want when they talk about the soul of the Republican Party by reading here and here.

But the real thing that Democrats should be looking for is a good candidate in the 6th, where creepy Ruth Chris Steakhouse ex-CEO Craig Miller poses for now the best hope for the GOP. In a year where the 99 percent are especially angry at bastards who got rich doing a bad job in the private sector, I think the Republicans are cooking us a pick-up seat.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hyperbole, Lunacy and Marco Rubio

I like to think this is just the primary season rearing its head and that the divisiveness of elections is simply an element of democracy that unavoidably comes and goes, but the extraordinary hyperbole being employed by conservatives to describe one of the most lackluster presidential administrations of the last 50 years is starting to get under my skin.

Today seems a good day to discuss it, based on remarks made by Marco Rubio, the distinguished senator from Florida, at the CPAC spectacle. Via The Christian Science Monitor:

“Unlike any leader in modern American history, we are led today by a president that has decided to pit Americans against each other,” Rubio thundered. “The basic argument he is making to our nation is that the reason why some of us are worse off than we used to be is because other people are doing too well. That the only way for some of us to do better is for some people to do worse.”

Having heard Rubio's voice before, I can't help but wonder how exactly it "thundered," but that's beside the point. What really gets me more and more each day is the mischaracterization of Barack Obama as some type of radical president. If I may speak for everyone in America whose philosophy tilts even slightly to the left, I would say to that "Ha!"

Since Rubio has been as plagued by the real nutty band of his party as much as Obama, let's just assume he is making reference to those polite disagreements in policy which Newt Gingrich likes to call socialist.

One is that Barack Obama wants the rich to pay their fair share in taxes. This is horrifying to the very rich, who have suggested it would prevent them from creating jobs. Never mind that the Great Recession began during a period of unprecedented tax relief for the top 1 percent, this beef with Obama ignores a significant face. While Obama ran upon and has stumped for a more fair tax program, he hasn't done jack about it. Not when Democrats controlled the House, not when a filibuster-proof majority was in the Senate, never!

As someone who is utterly confused how such a simple move as returning tax rates to mid-1990s levels would set this country somewhere it can't come back from (unless we ever, you know, elect a Republican president for even a year), I find it somewhat laughable that Rubio and his GOP consorts even find this abominable aspect of Obama's as anything beyond an empty threat. To recap, everything the Republicans fear about Obama's fiscal policies is utter exaggeration, and it's all crap anyways beyond Obama has never followed through even a little bit.

The same can be said for most any part of that crazy leftist agenda which Obama supposedly crams down our throats against our will. ObamaCare? A watered-down series of reforms which doesn't even contain a public option. An appeasement foreign policy? Right, except that it has been nothing but a continuation of Bush's foreign policy, the exact policies which made us the bane of the entire rest of the world.

So why is it that the Republicans fight so hard against this paper dragon of a president? I would like to offer my own theory.

It's because they are losing.

I know that comment can come bite me in the ass, and even working on the presumption this election is Obama's to lose, it is entirely possible he will. But the truth is that those Republicans who have found electoral success can see clearly that the party is not on that path for 2012.

Rubio's remarks today were eaten up by CPAC goers like a Roman emperor's commands to his bloodthirsty forces. This type of speech is called "red meat" for a reason. But what is being sold to primary voters right now is a false reality, and one which independent voters won't buy so easily.

This president is not a communist. He isn't anti-Christian. He isn't anti-business. He isn't anti-freedom. How do we know this? Because nothing has come of any of having a man with such an agenda in the White House for four years. The folks on the right are selling a lie. The country is not falling apart, and the fact a Super Bowl ad saying nothing more than that America can weather a recession shows how nefarious the motives of the Republicans are.

But America is strong, and it is strong enough to stand up to these lies and smart enough to see through this crap.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cliff and Komen

I was more than stunned to learn that all of the recent controversy about the Susan G. Komen Search for the Cure's defunding of Planned Parenthood may all go back to the actions of one Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala. But that is exactly what reporting by the New York Times suggests. As the publication highlighted a Komen official giving contradicting stories about defunding, this paragraph was tossed into an NYT report:

Her comments directly contradicted those of John D. Raffaelli, a Komen board member and Washington lobbyist, who told The New York Times on Wednesday that Komen made the changes to its grant-making process specifically to end its relationship with Planned Parenthood. Mr. Raffaelli said that Komen had become increasingly worried that an investigation of Planned Parenthood by Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida, would damage Komen’s credibility with donors.

This is absurd, of course, as all of the Republican rhetoric in Washington about Planned Parenthood has been transparently political.

But what I am most interested in right now is the actions of Stearns, who I will note was my congressman for many years when I lived in Leesburg and remains the representative for my family. When I covered politics there, of course, I spoke to Stearns many times. He was ardently pro-life, so a distaste for Planned Parenthood isn't that surprising, but what disturbs me about this bit of information is that his actions may well be motivated to hurt the broader actions of Planned Parenthood far beyond just the abortion issue.

We now have seen as a direct result of Stearns opening up an investigation - if such an action by a politically-motivated member of Congress even deserves that label - that funding which for fundamental health services supported by Planned Parenthood could be at risk. The NYT piece notes the $700K donated by Komen is a tiny portion of the funding PP gets, but it seems to me the intent of Stearns investigation was to goad a number of organizations, not just Komen, into rethinking funding.

Since the Republicans retook the House, I have been extraordinarily disturbed by the way they have gone after organizations with broad missions because of disagreements over specific political issues. The attacks on NPR because of perceived bias. The assault on ACORN over unsubstantiated allegations of criminal sympathy. The broad-brushed attacks on Planned Parenthood because of abortion.

It is clear now that Stearns and his kin are willing to put any number of services provided by Planned Parenthood at risk just so they can smear a credible voice in pro-choice politics. For Stearns, who has always been a supporter of critical health research, this is especially hypocritical and disappointing.

I know a fair number of the people who read this blog live in or near Stearns district, and I think it is time they made their voice heard. Stearns is hurting access to mammograms, family planning and other critical services through his politicizes "investigation" of Planned Parenthood. This is wrong, and the congressman should not be able to do this and suffer no consequences whatsoever.

Update: The Susan G. Komen foundation has reversed course on the funding issue. From their statement today: "The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not."