Are Conservatives Losing?

The AJC commissioned a poll that details some numbers before the beginning of the legislative session.  You can see the fancy little reporting tool here, but it’s telling some of the to responses to questions asked.  As a consultant regularly conducting polls for my clients, I take a great deal of interest in the numbers.  They tell a story, and while polls are by their very nature imprecise at some level, they do provide very valuable and valid insight that we can use to infer voters’ thoughts.  Conservatives should do a very deep dive into these and their own if they want to provide relevant voices in shaping policy decisions at the state level.

Republicans in the statehouse are not going to set a radical agenda for governing, and by radical, I mean anything outside of vanilla.  This session in particular will be quick and to the point — case in point, the budgeting hearings that normally take a week (without either chamber convening for session) will take one.  The new election calendar partially drives this, but this reticence to act is also driven in large part by the fact there is an election calendar.  It’s a management mentality.  Republicans know the iceberg is ahead, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll only graze it if they keep a steady hand on the wheel.  All fine and dandy, but Georgia can do more with a strong conservative base to draw activists from.  Those activists need to do more to influence the people influencing legislators – the voters – and less trying to put the legislators through the ringer before, during, and after every session.  Not to say there isn’t a place for that, but elected officials don’t have a reason to care about a vocal minority when they know the silent majority is far more “moderate” and less interested in ideological solutions.

Activists have to make a real priority out of sounding and thinking rationally.  Too often, the rhetoric is pure dogmatism.  While these are frequently the folks calling for the removal of “big government Republicans” or labelling politicians as “RINOs,” the fact remains that the majority of people outside of their little established circles don’t much care for that.  Seth Millican wrote a fantastic piece on just this subject:

[Republicans] have therefore been fairly clear, and quite emphatic, about what they believe the government should not be doing. But if it is true, as they have argued, that the Democrats’ vision is a travesty of American government, then what is the proper and appropriate extent and purpose of that government?

Conservatives in recent years have not done enough to answer this question, and as a result have offered voters an oppositional view of government that, while perhaps stoking worry and resentment, is insufficient to build public trust in the prospect of a conservative government. And such a negative approach to the question of the role of government is not only electorally insufficient — it is unbecoming of conservatism and of the deep commitment that conservatives claim to the nation’s founding ideals.

He makes a very solid point.  Conservatives are failing in telling a story that they can use to persuade voters to ideologically align with them in greater numbers than is currently the case.  

Education reform remains a priority.  54% of respondents want more money to go to schools.  That falls to just under a majority of men at 49% but increases nearly ten points to 58% of women.  Reforms are desperately needed, and regardless of where you fall on the side of Common Core, a discussion has to be had about how more money reaches the classroom with the various forms of public education.  Real solutions with real positive consequences must be driven home.  More importantly, those efforts need to branch out beyond the usual suspects.  Otherwise, radical leftists, or worse center-left politicians, will figure out a way to tap into that sentiment about education.  Republicans (and by extension conservatives) will be frozen out.

Healthcare must also be dealt with.  53% of Georgians want either all (40%) or part (13%) of Obamacare repealed, but 57% want Medicaid expansion for poor Georgians despite the State’s insistence that the cost will be a burden.  That split also grows among women with only 45% calling for Obamacare repeal (33% full; 12% partial) but 61% desiring Medicaid expansion.  Those ratios are also consistent with Independents polled that matter in general elections.  Efforts by legislators to nullify Obamacare is a positive first step locally.  Karen Handel is also giving due attention to Tom Price’s solutions in the U.S. House, as well.  Both are good steps, and our state legislators can make that have an even bigger impact here at home.

Conservatives cry for loosening gun control laws (with which I agree), but posting a picture of a semiautomatic rifle and saying “the Founding Fathers wanted me to shoot this!” is a really, really poor way to convince voters of your ideology.  Only 20% of those polled support campus carry.  This is slightly higher for younger Georgians (25%) but markedly lower for women (8%).  82% support training requirements for open carry, which also received high support among the age (90%) and gender (85%) demographics.  Conservatives need to tell a better story first and the policy changes will follow.  Right now, though, they are losing the debate.

Now, let me make this perfectly clear – I don’t trust elected Republicans to set the agenda that an ideological base wants – an ideological base that, by and large, I find myself in.  However, there’s reason for that.  Republicans are going to read these results and understand the message – govern from the center.  If conservatives want legislators to govern from the right, then bringing people to the right is what’s necessary.  Conservatives need to influence these poll results and the ideology of the people answering them.  These folks don’t attend rallies when they can cheer on their kids’ soccer teams, and they certainly won’t spend a Thursday evening talking about the Constitution when their children are acting out a school play about the founding fathers.  Those on the right ideologically need to understand this or forever be a marginalized minority in the Republican Party.

So where do we go from here?

One of my favorite songs of all time is David Essex’s “Rock On.”  Love it, and this weekend got a chance to sing it to the ladyfriend as we drove down the road.  While it predates me by a few years, you should never be too young to appreciate a damn good song.  One of the common lines in the song is “where do we go from here, which is a way that’s clear?  Still lookin’ for that blue jean baby queen, prettiest girl I’ve ever seen…”  I don’t know why, but it brought me to a thought of the Congressional Republicans.  Truly, the next question for our caucus is “where do we go from here?”

To say that a budget needed passage is an understatement.  The Congress had not passed one since the early days of the Obama Administration.  Republicans in that time won back the House, but still didn’t have a real mission statement to our activities.  Largely, we’re defined by the campaign cycle and the need to capitulate a base of primary voters that are far more “conservative” in nature than the “conservative” voters that cast a ballot in the general election.  Truly, where do Republicans go from here?  Where is the blue jean baby queen that represents a coherent and consistent message between the various factions of the party?

Erick Erickson isn’t exactly apoplectic over at RedState, but he demonstrates the very real feeling among movement conservatives that Congressional leadership is failing and (correctly) points out that House Republicans have to take ownership of the veteran benefits debacle that couldn’t get changed in the Senate.  Nearly apoplectic, Boehner launched a tirade against the movement base that (somewhat correctly) painted their efforts as recruitment tactics rather than sound policy advocacy.  It’s almost as if our blue jean baby queen is that gorgeous sorority girl to one and the rough country girl to the other.  What Republicans, who control one half of one-third of the federal government, need is some consistency.  I cannot expect that we’ll maintain a consistent voting record if we can’t even get a consistent voting paradigm.

The fact is our federal government has no legitimacy.  Clearly, that’s not something the Obama Administration is really interested in, and by extension the Democratic left in either body.  So, again…where do Republicans go from here?  We need to win the next midterm election cycle and take back the Senate to have a stronger poker hand, but the conservative voters who cast a ballot in November alone aren’t activists by nature.  They don’t think about a battle between “liberty” and “establishment” Republicans (as if there ever was one, really).  That said, Republicans need the base to have any hope of winning in November when hours of phone banking and miles of neighborhood avenues require eager volunteers.  To spend hours volunteering for cold pizza and warm beer means you believe in the cause.  Republicans have not put themselves in a very comfortable corner here.

The budget deal sucks.  Erickson and the movement right are correct in their criticisms about what it’s brought us to.  However, Boehner’s right, too.  I don’t see much in the way of real solutions coming from the movement right that we can get more moderate members, those occupying swing districts, and leadership to buy into.  Frankly, Ted Cruz speaks to a base of folks that already love him.  Getting people to say “yes” when they would otherwise say “no” is the real tricky part of governing; neither side seems to really understand that.

So where do we go from here?  Well, I think a little willingness to admit mistakes would be the first step.  Republican leadership needs to say “Alright, ya know what…we’ve really screwed up and let you down.”  Movement Republicans need to admit they’ve been kinda douchey at times, too.  That might be a good idea, at least one that gives us some ability to negotiate with our own caucus before we present a message to the American voter, especially the voter that casts a ballot in the fall instead of the spring.  From there, we can sit down and develop a consistent improvement that meets everyone’s expectations on the budget, defense, civil rights, and most importantly Obamacare.

Essex’s line finishes up with “…see her shake on the movie screen…Jimmie Dean…” and then goes into this awesome instrumental with electric guitar, violins, horns…the whole shebang!  I think the Republicans can find that same rhythm, but having it means having a band that can make good music together.  We can know where to go from here.  We can see the way that’s clear.  We can score that blue jean baby queen.  We just have to be willing to play in a band that let’s us all Rock On!

Seriously, dude? Seriously?!

Now that I’m a Georgian, I try to write about things Georgian in nature.  Tonight, I’m going Yankee…

…I moved here from a city outside Chicago called Crystal Lake.  I still own a condo there (it’s where I summer, obvi) and have a good number of friends I stay in contact with.  Today, one such friend let me know an election board removed her from the ballot in the upcoming Republican Primary.  Losing sucks, and losing before you get to jump onto the field of play sucks even more, but I think she’ll be the first to admit it that it’s probably her fault and a great learning experience for the next time around.  Admittedly, it’s not a big deal.  See, in Illinois, you run as a candidate for the “elected” position of Republican Party precinct committeeman.  Since Illinois’ qualification rules require petition signatures, you have to go through the same rigmarole as the Gubernatorial candidates do.  That includes the challenging of petitions, which means lawyers, hearings, and procedures.  Yeah, it’s fun, and that’s where my friend screwed up.  By the end of her hearing, she did not have the required number of signatures to qualify as a candidate and therefore removed.

Untitled

You’d think that would be the end of it, but it isn’t.  Enter “RegimeOver” who apparently has killed the Leviathan with the slaying of Ms. Melissa Denker as precinct committeeman.  Cal Skinner, another old acquaintance from the Illinois stomping grounds, runs his McHenry County Blog and reported the story today where this comment appeared.  Naturally, with Melissa both being a friend and sheer stupidity being an enemy, I thought I had to engage.

I don’t know to what degree stupidity is a commendable quality, but Republicans generally don’t seem to be in short supply these days.  I really, really want to believe we Republicans have more substantive stuff to talk about than a 21-year old’s citizenship.  More importantly, I wish we could have some fruitful conversations where loaded questions like that were never asked.  After all, it’s a loaded question from the start and merely asking it says “Prove my suspicion wrong…”  We wonder why Republicans in Congress cannot find the legitimacy to govern effectively or even the legitimacy to get elected to the position in which they could govern.  At a very deep level, it only builds on the fear and foreboding I have that Republicans are driving down a path of unintellectual, overly emotional reactionism on everything.  We’re better than.  We need to be.

Democrats play the unintellectual, overly emotional reactionism game much better than we do.

Might a Washington-style overhaul happen in Cobb County?

In 2004, Major League Baseball entertained offers to relocate the Montreal Expos (who were actually a good team at one point) to a variety of locations.  Eventually, MLB settled on Washington, DC with the lure of a publicly financed ballpark that left little for the owners of the franchise to worry about – at least in terms of what they’d be on the hook for.  In the end, the prospect of public financing tanked three city council elections for incumbents and even gave the chance for Marion Barry to make a comeback politically.  The change in the city council makeup changed the dynamics of the stadium financing deal, and Washington almost lost the relocated franchise.

DC’s primary elections were held before any vote took place on the stadium deal.  Former Mayor Marion Barry won 57% of the vote in his primary, and Vincent Gray took 50%.  Political newcomer (at the time) Kwame Brown trounced a fourteen-year incumbent in the district’s at-large seat by 22 points.  They focused on a populist message, something fed significantly by the stadium controversy:

In each race, the challengers gained ground by contending that entrenched incumbents had failed to ensure that average families got their share of the city’s expanding economic pie. Barry, in particular, accused the council and Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) of focusing too much attention on rebuilding downtown and too little on helping the city’s downtrodden.

The victories of Barry, Brown and Gray could have enormous implications for the direction of economic development in the city. All three called for greater emphasis on affordable housing and new development for neighborhoods. And all three say they oppose raising taxes to build a Major League Baseball stadium, a priority for Williams and for baseball officials, who are on the verge of deciding whether to move the Montreal Expos to the Washington region.

Cobb County finds itself in similar circumstances if not identical.  Vocal opponents are upset about the financing arrangements, even though it is far more favorable than the DC stadium deal was.  The governing body is going ahead with plans to ensure the deal is secured despite opposition.  Most importantly, an election is looming where this issue will most certainly raise its head.  May isn’t too far off (assuming that’s where primary elections for state and local offices will be set) and the two commissioners facing reelection contests are likely to see even more opposition as a result.

The responses thus far haven’t exactly been endearing from the public officials.  From Helen Goreham’s response saying “I would think you’d be pleased…” to Commission Chairman Tim Lee’s response of “I need the .33 mills to make this happen…” (you read that correctly – I and not we need this park bond mill levy).  Sentiment like that on the part of public officials doesn’t build a positive relationship with constituents.  Yes, we elect them to make decisions on our behalf.  No, that doesn’t insulate them from criticism or complaint when those decisions are unacceptable or convoluted.

The political dynamic of this cannot be understated.  Recent polling shows Cobb residents support the move but oppose public financing options.  Tim Lee owes his seat more to bad opposition than good execution on his part during the last election cycle.  The conservative wing in Cobb is not a big fan of Helen Goreham and she will face serious opposition in this election cycle.  Should anyone mount a well-organized challenge, she will lose.  The aggressive (if somewhat uncouth) efforts of the Tea Party is showing their muscle in the fight and have a legitimate bone to pick with the plan.  Likely, the Tea Party will be unsuccessful in stopping the Memorandum of Understanding from passage; they’ll likely harbor resentment for those facing re-election come the May primary.

The Nationals and the Braves have a growing rivalry, and smart public officials would do well to call on the history of the rivals to find a better way forward.  I don’t imagine that is going to happen, though, as the “I’m the winner” mentality I previously wrote about will demonstrate.  Tim Lee will win this fight with five votes on the line, but his ally in Goreham will probably be off the board come this time next year…and he might face some renewed challenge to his position from a better organized candidate in the next cycle after.

What the Braves stadium shows about about “Atlanta”

Since last week when details emerged about the financing package for the new Braves stadium, the rhetorical battles of what was good and bad about it have begun in earnest and are likely to heat up significantly as we inch towards the 26th when the Cobb County Commission vote on the memorandum of understanding.  I think one thing is apparently clear as this debate goes forward.  Cobb County’s public financing scheme seems a little dubious.  However, had we a good understanding of Atlanta outside the City of Atlanta, we’d likely have better options to finance the park.  A bad solution is emerging from a great idea.

Public financing of stadiums are not always bad decisions to make.  I can remember how Coors Field and Mile High were financed via the Denver Metropolitan Major League Baseball Stadium District/Metropolitan Football Stadium District.  In the early 1990s, as Major League Baseball finished the process of awarding expansion franchises to two cities, Denver made a successful bid and won the franchise that became the Rockies.  Part of that success lay on the passage of the Denver Metropolitan Major League Baseball Stadium District Act by the Colorado legislature.  That created a special six county district which, upon voter approval, levied a 0.1% sales tax to finance bonds for a period of twenty years.  In other words, for every $1,000 you spent in taxable goods and services, you contributed $10 to the construction of the baseball stadium.  Here’s the benefit of it all – the authorities paid off bonds for two stadiums in the twenty year time frame; Mile High was rebuilt by a voter approved continuation of the tax when the original bonds were paid off ten years early.  One only need to visit LoDo (Lower Downtown Denver) to see the positive and lasting impacts the small sales tax had.

Now, why do I bring this up?  Well, Atlanta and Denver have a lot of similarities.  The sprawl of the cities is noticeable.  They are the major markets in their respective regions.  The airport’s are eerily similar in design and distances from the affluent passengers that are likely to use them.  That said, this stadium deal is exposing significant differences between the two.  Whereas the Denver Metro Area united in support given to building a new baseball stadium for the Rockies, and again in voting for the continuation of the tax to build a new football stadium, the Braves stadium deal is clearly exposing some very apparent divides.  Nowhere was this more noticeable in the comments by Cobb County GOP Chairman Joe Dendy in saying:

It is absolutely necessary the solution is all about moving cars in and around Cobb and surrounding counties from our north and east where most Braves fans travel from, and not moving people into Cobb by rail from Atlanta.

Most folks from the north and east of Cobb and the City of Atlanta, regardless if they’re wanted in Cobb County or not, weren’t too keen on the deal either.  I don’t think any of these comments or opinions are reflective of racism or outright hatred for folks that come from somewhere else.  The comments above by Dendy even recognize needed solutions to welcome fans from outside the county.  However, the opinion poll and comment demonstrate the outwardly anti-metro area bias that residents of one county have towards others.  Regardless if it’s accepted or not, the world recognize Atlanta as the metro area – not the city – and functionally that’s no different either. The Braves stadium will still be in a zip code labelled as Atlanta despite residing in Cobb County.

Why is all this important?  Well, it explains why such a convoluted and bad financing package has to be put together by Cobb County.  The State of Georgia could never agree enough in the legislature to pass something similar to what Colorado did.  Granted, the novelty of baseball in Denver united seemingly disparate factions to pass the law, but Georgia isn’t really different when it comes to the Braves.  It’s not as if the Marlins or Rays compete for a fan base.  However, Georgia is notorious for a mentality of “to the winner goes the spoils.”  It’s what underlies the bombastic rhetorical flourish of Vincent Fort when he gets a chance to oppose anything, and it’s more than apparent in this case, too.

Cobb County couldn’t have won the stadium without taking $8 million/year from the general fund, nor could it incorporate any entity outside of Cobb County to win this deal.  That’s why conceivably property owners in the Cumberland CID (which includes our home) could pay higher taxes.  It’s why outsiders visiting the hotels in Cobb County will pay a few bucks more each night to stay.  It’s why “95% of Cobb County” won’t see tax increases until the $8 million taken for the stadium is needed somewhere else and then taxes spent.  Furthermore, it’s also reflective of “to the winner goes the spoils” on the part of the Cobb County Commission who seemingly will stop at nothing to make sure this deal goes through without a hitch, meaningful public input, or even a dissenting vote.  However, it’s all a poor solution to a great opportunity.  Dissension in the ranks might be a good thing here.

Personally, I think the Braves moving to suburban Atlanta is the right move.  If done right, it can be an economic home run for Cobb County.  Logistically, I think it’s going to a better spot for traffickers to the games than just off the downtown connector.  That said, a little bit more cooperation would be welcome here to make sure the public financing is a little better.  As I’ve written more times than I care to count, though, philosophy matters.  So long as our philosophy of Atlanta is “us in Cobb County and the rest of y’all out there…” then we’ll have problems like this for years to come.

 

Best names for the new Braves stadium.

BravesLeadWhile everyone is arguing about who is going to pay for the new stadium, I’m worried about details that matter like what the new stadium will be called.  My good friend Charlie Harper talks about some of the monetary considerations involved in naming rights, but I wanna go a little deeper.  What’s really in a name.  It’s personality, it’s history, it’s a reflection of the spirit of where you come from…like Philips Arena…and the new stadium should reflect just that.  With the personality, history, and spirit of Cobb County in mind, here are my best suggestions for a name.

Rebel Coliseum

Georgia is the South.  Anyone here will tell you that, and has certainly told me that since you’re a “Yankee” if you’re not from here.  Regardless if transplants come from Wyoming where cities weren’t really settled until after the Civil…excuse me, War of Northern Agression…and the State didn’t even exist as a State until 1890.  Nonetheless, I’m here now where people still believe in state’s “rights” and the Stars and Bars are looked at with nostalgia.  Of course, there’s no better way to demonstrate that commitment to the past than ensuring certain folks can’t even come to the stadium.  Great idea!

The other factor I’m not mentioning here, of course, is how awesome would it be for a Braves-Yankees World Series to take place in Yankee Stadium and Rebel Coliseum.  Of course, the Braves can’t seem to beat the Yankees, though, so maybe that’s not such a good idea after all.  Might conjure up some bad memories…

Chamber Citizens Field

Am I the only one that thinks the Georgia Chamber might really be the impetus behind this madness?  Hear me out.  Chamber spends upwards of $8 million to get shelacked in the Atlanta region by 26 points for the TSPLOST.  They know that the conservative bastion of Cobb County hates taxes more than anything else…but wait, do they hate taxes more than they love the Braves?  Ahhhh ha!  Well, considering the fear that the 75/285 interchange is already a sticky subject for evening commuters trying to get home, this seems a perfect way to say “…hey, I know you guys don’t like this, but….well, maybe you wanna talk about it now?”

What way to better honor the potential partnership between the Chamber and the Citizens of Cobb County than to name a baseball stadium after their wonderful relationship.  Kinda like Brangelina…except uglier…

Outside the Perimeter Park

Already referenced are the comments by Cobb GOP Chairman Joe Dendy that were widely publicized today, but let’s see how they can actually reflect the passion that people OTP have about being OTP:

 It is absolutely necessary the solution is all about moving cars in and around Cobb and surrounding counties from our north and east where most Braves fans travel from, and not moving people into Cobb by rail from Atlanta.

The OTP v. ITP debate is never ending.  With ITP you get the hip, swank, metro environments of Midtown and Buckhead.  With OTP you get suburbia in all its grandeur.  It’s why MARTA doesn’t even come close to where people live in Cobb County and why North Fulton folks said “that’s far enough” to the line when it gets to Sandy Springs.  OTPers may be a bunch of squares, but it’s a lot cheaper to live and you don’t have to deal with those pesky taxes or Atlanta School Board folks.  Since the stadium will be built just outside the perimeter, clearly that’s a demonstration the Braves hated being ITP and made the move out with everyone else.  Creative Loafing doesn’t like SUVs?  Well, we hope you don’t like Braves baseball, either, cause you ain’t gettin’ there no other way…

…then again, it’s Creative Loafing.  The Braves are racist, and sports comes as far up the list of priorities as buying Sarah Palin’s new book.  Buy a car, hippies!

Lee Memorial Stadium

Tim Lee won re-election on the back of an ill conceived idea about incorporating East Cobb.  Nonetheless, the Republican base – ya know, the ones that send out press releases letting everyone know who they are – still don’t like him a whole lot which makes the stadium deal a risky bet.  If taxes end up being hiked to finance bonds, it’s inevitably going to end up on his head.

So, I’ll fully admit this name is as likely to be selected as not, but don’t bet against it yet.  Other public financing deals have resulted in the death (and resurrection of once dead) political careers.  Should this be an abysmal failure, we may be seeing a memorial procession in the Spring of 2016.

Now, inevitably I don’t think these names will be chosen, but only because I don’t have the money to splash for naming rights.  I’m going to start a change.org petition, though, to make sure the Braves are heard…cause that’s worked before in Cobb County.

Veterans Day Tidbits – November 11, 2013

Today is Veterans Day.  Of course, it all started with the guns falling silent on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  Woodrow Wilson had this to say about that solemn occasion:

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.

Here’s my thing about Veterans Day.  There is no inherent greatness for being a veteran.  Throughout our history, we’ve seen instances where active service personnel and veterans have hurt people.  However, veterans who honor the value the see in fighting for freedom throughout their life do something precious.  Free people fight to live every day, they fight to say “My life is mine, and I will do whatever I can to ensure that all the people I know – and even the people I don’t – can own their life, too.”  That is what makes Veterans Day – and every day – something great to celebrate.  It’s a celebration of life and the people that lived it as soldiers.

So, when you see a veteran today, say thank you…and make sure you say thank you for living, not for sacrificing.

The Atlanta Braves are still in Atlanta…sort of.  The Braves announced today that they will be relocating to Cobb County beginning in 2017 with the construction of a new baseball facility that was not previously used for the Olympics and therefore avoids the barren wasteland that is Turner Field.

Braves executives John Schuerholz, Mike Plant and Derek Schiller, in a meeting with a small group of reporters, said the new ballpark will be built at the northwest intersection of I-75 and I-285 in the Galleria/Cumberland Mall area. They said the team has “secured” approximately 60 acres of land for the project.

The Braves said the stadium is projected to cost $672 million, including parking, land and infrastructure, and will be built in partnership with Cobb County.

Technically, Atlanta remains in Atlanta, as the facility will rest comfortably in the 30339 zip code that I can confirm is Atlanta.  The biggest question in my mind is this – since the old stadium was already made into a parking lot, and there’s no new stadium to make Turner Field into a parking lot for, what happens to all that parking?  Eh, who cares…

Denver beat San Diego yesterday 28-20, which was closer than it should have been but enough to tease Philip Rivers into thinking “Hey, maybe there’s a shot…” until there wasn’t.  Why is it that we enjoy that?  Because Philip Rivers is the biggest douchebag in history (well, maybe not the biggest in history…but still…he’s up there).  Just to confirm his douchebaggery, you can refer to here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  Learn to throw, win a Super Bowl, and then you can somewhat justify existing, you ass.

#sorrynotsorry

I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me.”  There, he finally said it.  Whew, that must be a load off of the President’s shoulders.  Apologies don’t come easy to Democratic politicians in Illinois, where they pretty much control every piece of meaningful government property from the top down and Republicans can’t do anything to stop it.  Townhall reports the problem is that people aren’t buying it.  Frankly, I don’t either.  It’s saying you’re sorry that you were caught, not saying “Sorry, I really screwed up.”

As I mentioned the other day, owning up to the problems you’ve created is critical in improving the fortunes of any bad situation.  Frankly, the apology should read something along the lines of “Ya know, I made a big assumption here that we could easily provide a solution.  I know, it’s a big law, but I was so happy passing it that I never thought about what it would mean to implement it.”  Of course, that would be a mea culpa that people could believe in.

Frankly, this is the demosntration of why Obama’s such a piss poor president.  For all the talk about fairness and compassion for the downtrodden, there doesn’t appear to be any for the people that are being trampled on and suffering through this horrific policy.

Jason Carter is in so let’s take the chance to jump right in with him.

By now, the worst kept secret in Georgia is out.  Jason Carter, the grandson of former President and current peace-lover Jimmy Carter, is running for Governor against (presumably) Nathan Deal.  Last night, I had the chance to shine for a total of about 8 seconds on 11 Alive talking about Senator Carter and Georgia politics in general.  I shined so much I cannot find the video to embed, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.  I was magical..

…nevertheless, I tried to stress the point that Jason Carter represents the archetype of what we should expect from major Democratic candidates going forward in Georgia.  Young, vibrant, dynamic, Atlanta-based (at least for the time being), and able to carry themselves with some prestige in a difficult environment.  The reason we should expect this on the right is simple – Georgia is growing into fertile ground for Democrats.  With some good cultivation (organization) and a little of fertilizer (money) Georgia could prove a purple state in the mold of Virginia.  This election presents a perfect opportunity to build that foundation for winning, especially for candidates like Nunn and Carter the Youngers who are probably a bit more liberal and left-leaning than their preceding family members.

You don’t get to beat the best without running against the best.

I also had the chance to listen in on another conversation take place that talked about the Republican primary and some folks’ desire to see Pennington and Barge out of the race.  I disagree, but not because I think either candidate presents a great alternative to a very good governor.  Pennington’s appeal lies with the fringe of the party, and needed broad-based coalitions won’t line up behind him.  Barge is a burned candidate; campaigning against the GOP’s major school choice reform (after saying you supported the same concept if not exact policy) was not a good move to base a run for “govner” on.  Plus, I’m just a firm believer that Deal governs well.  Georgia has a healthy economic environment, companies are leaving their home states to open some new Georgia digs (e.g., Caterpillar), and generally speaking he isn’t an embarrassment to the party.  Deal wins the primary and governorship no matter what, but taking advantage of a good reason to use resources effectively and build those networks of volunteers, voter IDs, and coalitions can never be understated in importance.

Younger conservatives won’t have the same easy fights in coming election cycles as they do in this one.  It’s time we start to consider this one difficult, too.  Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn are well-moneyed, but they also are able to communicate a message.  If you’ve seen Carter on the Senate floor, you know he’s able to aggressively, but respectfully, present his liberal leanings in a chamber where his voice is drowned out as part of a super-minority.  Michelle Nunn’s campaign rollout was flawless in my opinion, utilizing the new digital media platforms to announce her candidacy.  The future is here.  It’s a good idea to make sure the younger generation of Georgia conservatives are part of that future.

Younger conservatives have a fantastic opportunity to prove that in this election cycle.  Without a viable opponent, the respective chairman and leaders of the Georgia Young Republicans and Georgia Association of College Republicans (both of whom I’m proud to call good friends, by the way) have done tremendous work in building for the future.  Now, we have the chance to build and test and a series of candidates which can help expose our flaws and entrench our strengths.

It’s exciting times.  Let’s take advantage of that.

Why Obamacare is demonstrating a very disturbing trend in American politics

Elie Wiesel penned the phrase “…the oppose of love is not hate, it’s indifference…” way back in 1986.  This is an undeniable truth, and although I’m sometimes very poor in recognizing this by demonstrating otherwise in my own behavior, I do try to remember it when I find people or things are beginning to bother me.  No more have I tried to follow this philosophy than in my political relationships.  Naturally, certain people aren’t going to like me.  I accept that.  Again, I’m not perfect but I do try.

This is why it’s also a bit bothersome to me what the Obama Administration is demonstrating in its response to the growing chorus of criticisms about its Obamacare rollout.  The things that Obama should be ambivalent about seem to be the rub while those that the administration should focus significantly on are what we don’t seem to find much care about.  Responding to criticisms of your person will never end well, as it does nothing but contribute to a tit-for-tat environment; taking customer complaints as opportunities for improvement are what successful organizations do across the world, regardless of how justifiable those complaints might be.

First, let’s take a look at the things he should be taking seriously.  Edie Littlefield Sundby by know is a well-known cancer survivor/patient from California.  One of the most oft quoted passages from her article in the Wall Street Journal reads:

My grievance is not political; all my energies are directed to enjoying life and staying alive, and I have no time for politics. For almost seven years I have fought and survived stage-4 gallbladder cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 2% after diagnosis. I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky. But this luck may have just run out: My affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31.

While Ms. Sundy’s story is anecdotal, there is a disturbing trend of evidence that real people are being hurt by the stream of cancellation notices taking place.  The response from the left and Obama Administration is frightening.  Think Progress took the approach of saying “No, Ms. Sundby, here’s why you don’t understand you’re wrong…” in an article posted earlier today.  This mirrors the Obama Administration’s public relations plan of blaming those greedy ol’ insurance companies that decided to cancel the policies after the individual mandates came into force.

Here’s why this is bothersome.  Obama’s routinely followed the tactic of “kill the messenger” in order to maintain the moral high ground in his communications.  While the commentary coming out against Sundby is a telling example, simply look at the budget debacle that recently concluded and how Obama’s entire series of arguments can be summed up in #GOPShutdown.  It’s always someone else’s fault, and I will do whatever I can to make sure people see it.

This is problematic in a very real way in that it necessarily draws attention away from the real conversation needed to address the problems at hand.  Attack the messenger, defenders will begin to fire, and now you have a battle of words over who is the bad guy.  Make no mistake, as the GOP and the right begins to engage in the tit-for-tat environment they only contribute to the problem.  That said, the type of arguments we should ambivalent towards are gaining far too much ground and have commanded our attention far, far too much.  Debate and rational policies suffer because of it.

Which is what Obama continues to maintain an ignorance of, and in my opinion, for very good reason – his policy is broken already and the rollout has done nothing but demonstrate that truth.  The tales of healthcare.gov failing are legendary by this point, but it is now coming to light the Administration knew of the potential impact to consumers.  Furthermore, it doesn’t appear that the alternate enrollment methods are not working quite as well as they should, either.  Even furthermore, significant portions of the bill have been demonstrated by actuary tables – the very instruments intended to make insurance plans and pools work – to be unsustainable.  Even even furthermore, Obama’s going as far to say he never made the promises he was videotaped making.

This, too, unfortunately demonstrates the disturbing trend among American political groups of their completely irrational devotion to their own stuff.  Another such example is Common Core.  When Republican states were leading the charge for a nationally based methods to make Springfield, IL the same as Springfield, TN the same as Springfield, MA in terms of education, we heard not a peep.  Now that a Democrat president has incorporated the standards into his own methods of improving education, the conservatives are willing to rise up and challenge the “federal takeover” without acknowledging the GOP’s role in creating that takeover.  Don’t get me wrong, Common Core is a bad idea and major liberalization of the education market must occur, but also don’t get the facts wrong.

Wiesel’s statement goes on to say “…the opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.  The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.  The opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”  There are things we should be indifferent to, at least in terms of the potential negative impacts they have on us.  Personalizing the attacks that may come our way, whether intended to cut us deeply or provide valuable criticism, is something we should be indifferent to.  There are things we should not take so lightly, such the ways in which such criticisms can demonstrate a path towards improvement.  That our politics is now driven so much by personality and cult like following around individual people should be bothersome.

After all, the opposite of a free society is not totalitarianism, it’s indifference.  Let’s not be indifferent to what’s happening and why.  As I’ve said before, and will continue to say again and again, it’s our personal philosophy that demands attention.  Obama will eventually go, but it’s the philosophy he holds and continues to proselytize that will inevitably be our biggest threat.