@SCOTUSBlog = #Awesome

We should hope for more controversial decisions in the future.  Here’s why…

@SCOTUSblog for the win.

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!

#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.

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.

Hooray!..I guess…

So, the government shutdown is over and the world can get back to running as normal.  Or, can get back to running as normal as it can considering we’re governed by the me and women we are.  Nonetheless, the sky isn’t falling and the late Senator Lautenberg’s wife gets the customary payout widows tend to receive.  I guess that’s all a good thing, except for the fact that Republicans have managed to screw up their messaging more than their governance during the profligate Bush years.

Both sides in this are guilty in this whole debacle.  Before going into exactly how they are guilty, I think it is important to discuss the two sides I am talking about here, neither of which is the Democratic Party.  It’s a given they wish to govern with a greater role for the central state and all that comes with that – wealth redistribution policies, higher tax burdens on the “wealthy” and more social assistance for those in “poverty.”  Generally speaking anyways, they are pretty consistent.  No, the problem is in the Republican Party itself from two sides that individually are quite craptastic.  Together, we could be amazing, but that bridge refuses to be built.  Instead of meeting in our own Promontory, Republicans on each side are demanding that the effort be made at the expense of the other.  For all the talk of game theory involved in this debacle, we seem to have poor players.

So, that said, who are those players?  Well, if you live here in Georgia like I do, it’s probably just convenient to label them “establishment” and “liberty,” regardless of how ridiculous those names are to begin with.  Names aside, the context in which both operate are pretty consistent.  “Establishment” = demande we play the politics game with all players involved, negotiate and compromise, assume the public notices the big things and not the details.  “Liberty” = play the drum loudly, decry compromisers, appeal to emotion and assume the public gets it.  To a degree, both sides have the answers.  Problem is, they want to have all the answers.  That’s just not possible, as demonstrated by the ridiculousness of this Obamacare fight.

First, I think it’s a bit ridiculous that Mitch McConnell negotiated a partial rollback of the sequester cuts that took place.  $19 billion is a drop in the bucket to be sure, but the fact that the cuts did not in any fashion lead to the end of the world – at least no more than the shutdown did – proved that the hard fought compromise they represented was worth retaining in the form they were developed.  It’s hard to explain to the conservative, anti-government base that you’re working on their side if something that small is unimportant to you.  Small things matter.  If nothing else, the rise of folks like Cruz should signal that.  After all, he took quite small differences with a very conservative Lt. Governor Dewhurst all the way to a U.S. Senate seat.  You’re not going to gut Obamacare right now, Mitch.  At least stand for the small victory that you’re able to have up to this point.  Oh yeah, don’t allow a $3 billion pork project either.  That’s kinda crappy.

Second, I think it’s a bit ridiculous that Ted Cruz feels the need to filibuster – wait, not filibuster – against a bill to defund Obamacare that he supports by comparing those that don’t want to defund Obamacare to Neville Chamberlin.  Yes, he filibustered a bill that he supported because the Democrats in the Senate would change it.  I think the hard cores “get it” Senator Cruz, but Republicans who aren’t activists probably don’t.  Not because they’re stupid, but because they see the obvious political theatre you’re engaging in.  Theatre isn’t reality, which explains why college students who major in it are working at Starbucks.  When Republicans are in the House and Senate trying to find solutions to a troubling situation, you stage a talk-a-thon devoid of any intellectual consistency.  After all, voting for the bill that you just filibustered that you initially supported is wildly inconsistent.

alien_vs_predator_ver3

The truth is that this is all just a microcosm of the schism we see here on the ground.  It’s just rather sickening, honestly.  I canno do anything but shake my head in disgust when I see someone point to the compromise and say “I wish our Senators could be more like Ted Cruz…”  Here’s a tip, principles are meaningless if you’re the only one that believes in them.  Then again, I don’t know that I can feel good about party elders bashing the “libertarians” in the party and ostracizing them in the process when the antics of McConnell are the result.  Really, it just make me feel like being a Republican ain’t worth it anymore.  It’s like the AVP poster says – “Whoever wins, we lose…” So, hooray!..we just let the Democrats retain their ability to govern horribly…