Rantings

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Jon Huntsman

A look at Jon Huntsman’s candidacy from Big Tent Revue:

One of the biggest problems that John McCain faced in 2000 and again in 2008 is how people portrayed him.  Because he had chastised the far right on one occasion or another, people started to paint McCain as a centrist Republican, completely ignoring his record which was actually pretty conservative.  People wanted to see in John McCain what they wanted to see and when reality stared them in the face, they were shocked that this candidate that they lauded as a moderate or centrist was really a conservative.

Now it’s Jon Huntman’s turn.

Huntsman’s support for civil unions and responding to climate change has had him pegged as some sort of Rockefeller Republican. But his moderation is one more of tone than it is one of politics. While such moderation might not be attractive to die hard centrists, I do think it might be more appealing to those who want to be persuaded to vote GOP, but don’t feel they can’t with some of the current crop of candidates (think Michelle Bachmann)

And what the fuck would be wrong if Huntsman were a centrist or moderate Republican (other than the fact that he could never get the nomination because of the teabaggers who dominate the GOP primaries)? No one seems to have a problem with the blue dog “conservative” Democrats.

I probably would have voted for McCain in 2000 if he had gotten the nomination over Dubya. But by 2008 he had pandered to the far right so much, and named a moron, hypocrite, quitter as his running mate, that I couldn’t vote for him.

Hunstman is the only Republican in the field so far I might consider voting for. But not if he pulls a McCain.

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Republicans Defend Raising the Debt Ceiling

The difference between then and now? The party (and race) of the sitting President…

 

Hobbits

So what did the teahadist revolt on Boehner’s debt bill really do?

The main result of this pointless crusade has been to damage Mr. Boehner’s leverage and push the final debt-limit increase in Mr. Reid’s direction. The Speaker may now have to seek the tender mercies of Nancy Pelosi to get a final bill through the House, and who knows what her price will be.

The debt-limit hobbits should also realize that at this point the Washington fracas they are prolonging isn’t helping their cause. Republicans are not looking like adults to whom voters can entrust the government.

A Recap Of The Day’s Events

To recap:

  • Boehner’s bill narrowly passed the House of Representatives, thanks to a tweak demanding a Balanced Budget Amendment in order to bring a few more diehard teabaggers aboard.
  • Boehner’s bill then died a speedy death in the Senate, as everybody involved knew it would, rendering the whole exercise pointless.
  • McConnell demanded that Reid bring up his own bill tonight, right now, so that McConnell could get started on filibustering it. You know, for the good of the country and stuff. Reid declined and suggested McConnell bite him tell his party to allow the vote to proceed without getting filibustered. McConnell declined.
  • Tomorrow the House GOP will bring up their own version of the unamended “Reid bill” so they can vote it down and then point to it and say, “See, we voted it down!” Because the House GOP is made up of little children.
  • The Senate will be back in session at 1 PM ET tomorrow. Forecast calls for a blustery day with scattered tantrums.

So yeah, we’re screwed. We’re governed by children.

Perry’s First Flip Flop

Most of Mark Kleiman’s essay is about Perry’s flip flop and kowtowing to the teahadists, which is uninteresting since it’s to be expected. But this part is more telling as to the current state of the GOP:

This reflects the larger strategic challenge for the GOP: now that its fringe has become its base, it’s almost impossible for anyone to get the Republican nomination without saying things that make it impossible for him to win in November.

In the long run, it would be better to have two nationally competitive parties. But what the country needs right now is a series of punishing electoral defeats for the Republicans that will either force the party back toward sanity (though it’s hard to imagine the mechanism for such a transition) or send it the way of the Federalists and the Whigs and allow for the emergence of a new conservative party, one whose leadership wants to repeal the Great Society but not the New Deal, the Enlightenment, or the rules of logic and arithmetic.

While I disagree with the author about repealing much of the Great Society: programs such as the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, and Medicaid, have only made American society a better place to live, but these are things reasonable people can have disagreements over without being looked upon as “the enemy”.

Wow. Just…wow.

Wow.

I had an online conversation today with someone of the “tea” party persuasion (I refuse to capitalize the phrase any longer). I knew they considered all Democrats “soclialists” (“I do not think that word means that you think it means!”). But the full scope of the “tea” party’s delusional, paranoid world view didn’t hit me until just now, as I was told:

It’s the general socialist tendencies of both parties. They have both been infiltrated by progressives, aka socialist wannabes.

This person actually believes the Republican Party (!?!) has been infiltrated by socialists. No wonder they think actual liberals are akin to aliens and need to be “targeted”.

I feel sad.

Wow.

The Job-Killing-Republicans Strike Back!

So, if by some chance the Republicans are able to use Senate procedural tricks to force the House-passed Health Care Reform Repeal bill to the Senate floor, the Dems seem to have a response in place to force votes on the popular aspects of the HCR law, thus putting Republicans on record for voting against, oh I don’t know, ending pre-existing conditions for children perhaps? Or maybe voting to force seniors to return the $250 rebate they got to help pay for prescription drugs?

The Republican response to the response? Force those nasty Democrats to vote for things like an excise tax on medical device manufacturers. That’ll teach ’em!

Pit the excise tax on medical device manufacturers against ending pre-existing conditions for children? Or against the $250 prescription rebate for seniors? That’s a PR battle Dems should be happy to take on.

The Calls to Violence Must Stop

Image produced by SarahPAC tageting Gabrielle Giffords with a gunsight croshairs

Whether the Tucson shooter ends up being a left-wing nut, at right-wing nut, or just a general purpose nut is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the Right can no longer excuse the continuous violent rhetoric that it has been escalating for the past 10 years.

What we’re going to be saturated with for the next week or so are the inevitable false equivalencies. We’ll hear, for instance, how there are “nuts on both sides.” Undeniably true. But there is no ubiquitous liberal – much less, left-wing – network of talk-radio stations spouting Two Minutes’ Hate 24/7. The collective voice of the right wing on radio and the Internet with its coded and uncoded calls to violence, of “2nd Amendment remedies,” of cross hairs superimposed on states and on individuals simply has no visible counterpart on the left. When the right discusses the violent left, it must seek overseas examples or something from decades ago in America’s past.

Michael Savage bleating on Savage Nation radio, says: “Only vigilance and resistance to this baby dictator, Barack Hussein Obama, can prevent the Khmer Rouge from appearing in this country.” Erick Ericksson at Red State says: “At what point do the people … march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp?” No matter how it tries, the right cannot divorce itself from the pustulence of its violent rhetoric no matter how many times its practitioners say “not me, not me” after people are murdered for taking these vile imprecations to heart. A few crocodile tears from Glenn Beck won’t cut it.

Twitter post by Palin deleted on 8 January 2011

Twitter post by Palin deleted on 8 January 2011

Republicans’ Hypothetical Promises

So apparently the items in the Republicans “Pledge to America” were just hypothetical. Now things are starting to make sense.

When House Republican leaders unveiled their Pledge to America in September, it included a pretty striking promise to voters — if elected, the GOP majority would “roll back government spending” by “at least $100 billion in the first year alone.”

By all accounts, the figure was entirely arbitrary. It’s not as if Republicans identified $100 billion in unnecessary spending and vowed to eliminate it, or identified some specific policy benefit associated with these cuts. The capricious goal was chosen because it was a round number. They thought it sounded nice, and voters would be impressed.

Regardless, GOP leaders touted the figure incessantly throughout the campaign season, and kept pushing it in the lead up to the new Congress. Indeed, as recently as last week, party leaders were not only sticking to the $100 billion figure, they insisted that they would make the cuts without touching defense, Social Security, or Medicare.

Even after being confronted with evidence that such a goal would necessitate devastating cuts to education, health care, law enforcement, and transportation, House Republicans said they didn’t care. After all, they said, a promise is a promise, and this is a priority the GOP is willing to fight for.

Or rather, it was.

Monday, Republicans started slowly backing away from their $100 billion commitment. Yesterday, the pledge was effectively thrown out the window.

Many people knowledgeable about the federal budget said House Republicans could not keep their campaign promise to cut $100 billion from domestic spending in a single year. Now it appears that Republicans agree.

Now aides say that the $100 billion figure was hypothetical, and that the objective is to get annual spending for programs other than those for the military, veterans and domestic security back to the levels of 2008, before Democrats approved stimulus spending to end the recession.

Oh, I see. Republican pledges are “hypothetical” promises. The Pledge to America must have included asterisks and disclaimers in font so small, the country missed the caveats.

Are Tea Party Republicans Really Fiscal Conservatives?

I guess we’ll find out in the coming months, depending on whether in addition to going after the traditional GOP-hated-programs they also adhere to their supposed Constitutional mindset by taking their cost-cutting deficit-hacking ways to national security.

In modern times, conservative presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have tried to reconcile their efforts to rein in federal power with their support for a large military and an interventionist foreign policy. But both times, the latter has seriously trumped the former. Under both Reagan and Bush, aggressive, militaristic foreign policy produced more presidential power and larger deficits. Tea Partiers say their movement is a response to the way government power, and government debt, grew under both Bush and Obama. But if they looked seriously at the reasons for that growth under Bush, they would see that much of what they’re upset about is the military and homeland security spending justified by his expansive “war on terror.” Anyone genuinely worried about debt can’t ignore the fact that defense constitutes a majority of federal discretionary spending. And anyone devoted to a strict interpretation of the Constitution can’t ignore the fact that America is still fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention Pakistan, Yemen and lots of other places, without formal congressional declarations of war, although that is what the Constitution requires.

The Republican foreign-policy apparatus in Washington, which is in large measure funded by defense contractors, has declared preemptive war on the idea that military spending should be part of deficit-reduction discussion. But before going along, the Tea Partiers should think about how they’d like to be remembered by history. If they don’t extend their constitutional vision to foreign policy, they’ll be abandoning any serious chance of cutting the deficit and reducing the size of government. They’ll become indistinguishable from other conservative Republicans, just the latest in a long line on the right to put a globalist foreign policy over a minimalist state. If, on the other hand, they genuinely chart a foreign-policy course based upon their understanding of the Constitution—if they subordinate the “war on terror” to the demands of fiscal solvency—they will be a new and subversive force in American politics, and the Republican Party will be headed for a fascinating ideological showdown.