On the eve of the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare, I got to thinking a bit how we are even here. How have we gone from having an honest conversation about America’s health care system to deciding the fate of legislation solely given to the current President and how his legacy, or at least part of it, hinges on this decision and its aftermath? The more I thought about it, the more I got to thinking about the nature of our current system of government we have now. Congress has an approval rating of 9% and we have two presidential candidates carrying on that right now, largely resemble another Seinfeld election where it’s essentially about nothing. That is a condemnation of the Republican Party who turned away the reform, activist grassroots that brought us back to power in 2010 way faster than we had any right to be back for a billionaire one-term governor who’s never lived a hard day in his life. Then we have an incumbent president who was elected because he promised everything to everyone, knowing full well he could meet none of those promises. It is insidious what he pulled over us.
Then I got to think, whose fault is this? Is it Congress’s fault? We hear nothing but the infernal partisanship that mucks up the system. If only the Tea Party would “compromise.” If only the Progressive Left would “compromise.” Yet any student of history would understand today’s partisanship pales in comparison to the days of congressman beating senators half to death at their desks or men threatening duels on the floor of the House. In fact, our partisanship I would argue is less than in the past because of all the media transparency and the unprecedented access every-day citizens have into the inner-workings of government.
The problem is the Presidency itself. Never before had we have had such a sustained effort to hold one branch of government over all others. Both political parties use the presidency as their access to power. Neither party is truly for small government because of the way the presidency dominates our politics. All the efforts of activists and political parties become for one man, and that effort doesn’t stop after they are elected. So much power has become centralized in the executive branch that reelection becomes more important than executing the people’s business. Allow me to elaborate a bit more.
The biggest winner of the SCC decision to switch from primary to convention has got to be Mark Obenshain. Rob Bell has been working quite hard so far and has rasied a lot of money. I saw Bell at the Fairfax County convention a few months back standing at the exit shaking hands.
The difference in their messages also explain why one is more taylor-made than another. Obenshain is running for AG as, in essence, Ken Cuccinelli's heir. He plans on being a principled conservative willing to do things like challenge the federal government and use the office in a more philosophical and constitutional sense. Bell is a straight-out law and order candidate. His record on crime in the Assembly is quite extensive, and someone once told me Rob Bell hasn't met a crime he doesn't want to increase punishmnet for. The law-and-order message was the tried and true way Republicans became attorney general from Jim Gilmore to Bob McDonnell. It is a message that most Republicans support and is an easier sell. Obenshain's more constitutional view of the office, more in-line with Cuccinelli, is probably more popular with the grassroots and folks that would take the time to go to a convention. It is certainly closer to the liberty movement voters that are quickly getting into the process.
And what about John Frey? It is undoubtable to me that Frey will really cause Bell problems. A lot of folks don't know, but Bell has pretty strong ties to Fairfax County through his mother who is a local activist in the area. Frey's campaign is supported by a lot of the in-exile Tom Davis people and the Pat Herrity crowd (they overlap). Frey has been around Fairfax politics for a long time and is well known in courthouses across the commonwealth. These people would have been logical Bell supporters, as far as I can tell (though not to a man of course). Some are equating him to Dave Foster but I think that is selling Frey a bit short. He's in his third 8-year term as Fairfax County Clerk of the Court, and is active across the state in the courthouse community. He has a lot more statewide contacts than Foster. But Bell needs every single Northern Virginia vote he can get to off-set the strength Obenshain will have in the conservative enclaves down south.
The other thing Mark Obenshain has that Ken Cuccinelli didn't have in 2009 was a more broad-based likability across the state. Ken has never backed away from a fight, but hasn't always been popular with the establishment either in Northern Virginia or Richmond. He worked outside of the Davis Machine and earned their mockery early on ("Kookinelli") and made waves in Richmond when he endorsed state senate primary challengers in 2007. Obenshain has much more of a broad-based popularity among everyone in the party and has not stepped on as many toes as Cuccinelli did at the same points in their careers. Don't get me wrong, Obenshain's record is great but his style is a littler more accommodating. This is important because Obenshain won't motivate as many detractors as Cuccienlli did. His daddy taught him well.
This race will not breakdown in the same geographical way the governor's race will (or even the LG race) because of the three both Obenshain (Harrisonburg) and Bell (Charlottesville) are not from huge population centers and thus are much more of a blank slate for voters in NoVA, Richmond, and Hampton Roads and you will see people backing candidates you might not think makes sense. I suspect Frey might even do better than people think in the more rural parts of the state where offices like Clerk of the Court hold more sway.
Right now, I give the favorite status to Obenshain. I was told Obenshain stickers were all over the convention and I get the feeling the grassroots are more inclined to him, the kind of grassroots that show up at a convention. But this will be a wide-open race. It would be even closer if Frey were not in because Northern Virginia would be completely up for grabs. Frey should do very well in Arlington, Falls Church, and Alexandria as well and if you combin that with strength in Fairfax and perhaps picking up support here and there where is contacts as Clerk will help, he could push this into a second ballot and then who knows what.
Bottom line? Obenshain is the favorite, Bell is incredibly hard working, and Frey will be more of a factor than people think. A convention will help Obenshain mightily, however. But Frey is a true wild card and nothing can be taken for granted.
I just cannot understand why Bob McDonnell and the Commonwealth of Virginia are basically subsidising the Washington Redskins and giving them $6.4 million in subsidies ($4mil from VA, $2mil from Loudoun county, and $400k from city of Richmond) for some newfangled idea to upgrade the Loudoun Redskins facility and move training camp to Richmond.
It is a bizarre move that is hard to understand. First, let's understand this. The Redskins is one of the most profitable franchises in sports. The Skins and Dan Snyder are worth close to $1.6 billion. They have just upgraded the Loudoun-based Redskins Park by adding a practice bubble. They have a sh*tload of money and I don't understand why Virginia needs to be paying for things they can plainly afford.
Is there anything to be said on behalf of the Skins handout? Yes—and McDonnell said it in a recent interview. While conceding “it’s not the role of government to subsidize sports,” he argued that the Redskins generate more than $200 million in economic activity in Virginia, along with nearly $10 million in taxes. The Skins’ departure would be “a huge economic hit.”
Hmmmm. Spending tax money in order to collect more of it is the dubious rationale of those who have been in government too long. As for the economic benefits of sports subsidies, they are hugely overblown—as a library full of studies from sources as ideologically diverse as the Cato Institute and the Brookings Institution can attest.
Regarding lesser subsidies like the one going to the Skins, it is helpful to place them in the broader context of other handouts—such as the many given to Hollywood production companies (last year Virginia gave billionaire Steven Spielberg $4.6 million to film part of “Lincoln” here), corporate giants (e.g., the $6.9 million Virginia doled out for Microsoft), and smaller beneficiaries such as wine makers and beekeepers.
I get the rationale of trying to keep businesses in your state by giving them reasons to stay, and same goes for the new businesses. I actually don't have as much a problem with some of the handouts to the film industry, wineries, and major corporations that have moved here from other states. Its worthwhile for the state because they actually do bring jobs with them. Lets be real, it is the government redistributing our money (dare I say, "wealth"). But I also understand how the real world works with governments competing with each other for businesses, and I like that.
But the Redskins? Where are they going to go? Training camp? This different. This is not arguing for using state dollars to attract businesses to the commonwealth to bring tangible jobs. The free market works both ways and we should accept that. You can't on the one-hand argue for states competing with each other for businesses and then turnaround that throw millions of dollars at a sports franchise that is wetted to this area by its very name. The Skins, in the past, have had training camp both in Carlise PA and in Frostburg MD and I don't think it broke Virginia. Like Hinkle said, justifying tax subsidies to generate more tax revenue seems backwards in thinking.
This is probably an unpopular position but I am 1,000% against this. The Redskins don't need our money, they have plenty. The Washington Redskins would not break the economy of Virginia if training camp went somewhere else. And if they leave Redskins Park because citizens wouldn't fork over millions to an entity worth billions and growing, well that's how the market works. Virginia has been played by Dan Snyder, and played beautifully. Its hard to drive on the roads I drive on everyday and justify to myself the Governor sending millions to Daniel Snyder.
I hope someone, anyone, in the General Assembly stand up to this . . . I have to say it . . . crony capitalism.
I got the email that the Bolling campaign sent out about all of their endorsements. I've got them cut and pasted below the jump, but it was startling to me. There were a whole lot of "formers" on the list. I was trying to figure out a way to best describe it, but an activist sent me a message that sums it up better than I could:
The NoVa names read like a rogue's gallery of the most universally despised people in the entire region . . . except for Bruce. Bruce is the only person on that list that anyone likes or respects. Overall, though, its a list of people who have made careers out of burning so many bridges that they have few left to burn and nothing left to lose. It's probably harmful as an endorsement list.
Yikes. That isn't me talking, this is someone who is in deeper than me.
~George Allen is still what he has always been, the king of Virginia Republicans. He won this running away, artfully handled his opponents with alienating anyone, and rebuilt his old Virginia team that he abandoned until it was too late six years ago. This was a very VERY good win for him.
~EW Jackson comes out looking the best of all the on-Allens. A lot of Republicans really have come to like the guy a lot, and his voice adds a lot to our message. I think if you polled everyone who voted for George Allen and ask them who was their second choice, Jackson would win overwhelmingly. My idea? EW Jackson for Lieutenant Governor.
~Bob Marshall . . . this has to be a huge disappointment for him. He waited way too long to make his mind up, bizarrely insisted on a primary over trying to fight for a convention, and his harsh condemnation over the gay prosecutor turned a ton of voters off.
~Jamie Radtke shot too high too early. She proved she could put together a campaign but Allen was the wrong opponent. I know what she was trying to accomplish, I know the part she was trying to play, but it was the wrong time. She was running like it was 2010, and its not. That said, she was able to make a name for herself and if she truly wants to rid Virginia of RINOs, she should head home and take a good hard look at someone like Walter Stosch or Emmett Hanger and give them a run.
~The 11th will be a bloodbath. Is suspect we will see '08ish numbers in that race.
~This was not a good day for folks who support primaries. Turnout was embarrassingly low again, just like in March. All this talk about letting every Republican decide falls on def ears to me when so many Republicans don't care that much. Why not just leave the nomination up to the truly committed and go from there? Instead of wasting everybody's time with these statewide campaigns that cost a ton of money and don't do much to help prepare for November, why not use a convention system that allows candidates to cultivate activists and build grassroots campaigns? I have in the past liked primaries, and I still prefer open primaries to party registration b/c it gives too much power to the political parties, but its getting to just be flat out embarrassing now. It is also glorified incumbent protection.
As folks vote tomorrow in the 11th district primary, I want to reiterate my support for Ken Vaughn, a candidate who believes in true liberty. In encourage you to check out his final message posted on his campaign website.
Allow me again to explain my support for Ken in this race. In short, desperate times call for desperate measures and Vaughn seems to understand this more than Chris Perkins. Perkins is an honorable man who served his country, but as a politician I believe Perkins is unimaginative and vanilla, willing to go along and get along. He's a product of his surroundings . . . mentored by men like Jim Jeffords, hardly staunch conservatives who understand the magnitude of the problems we are in. The fact is, Perkins's a product of insider, establishment Republican politics. If elected to Congress he would be a face in the crowd, hardly fighting to change a system he's a product of.
Ken Vaughn offers a much clearer understand of the problem because he's never been apart of the problem. He gets that to solve this debt crisis we are in, we cannot make budget cuts simply partisan where our stuff is off the table and only the Democrats are. We cannot solve this problem just by eliminating the Department of Education. There is a big difference national security spending and defense spending. For Perkins to attack Vaughn is not only shameful, but an admission that Perkins isn't serious about solving this problem. To win this fight against spending and debt, the governmnet must be willing to sacrifice just like regular folks do, who put everything on the table.
I think that Vaughn's independence from Bushian Republican orthodoxy will ultimately help him in this race. Perkins believes that if you run as a moderate you can win, but this is now a Democratic district, Democrats who doesn't have to "settle" for a moderate Republican when they have a straight-out Democrat. We need someone who thinks outside the box, is willing to bring up tough issues and actually take a stand on them, like defense spending. We need someone to offer a different presentation to this district of what a Republican is. Bland and cookie-cutter will not get it done. That's not to say that I think Connolly can be defeated, but I'd rather go with someone with their own ideas rather than ones fed to them by consultants.
Is anyone else hearing the same thing? Is he out of his mind?
Quick additional thought: Bolling might sue the state party in a presidential year where he is the Chairman of the campaign of the Republican nominee, costing the party thousands upon thousands of dollars that would hurt (badly) the campaign of the candidate who's campaign he's chairman of.
So I've been thinking more and more, trying to figure out exactly why I need to vote for Mitt Romney. I mean, the argument that he's the lesser of two evils still admits the fact that he's bad. Just not as bad. Shouldn't my standards be higher than that? This week I've watched Obama take a beating, starting with Scott Walker and ending with "The private sector is fine." Clearly I could front-run now and jump on Romney like everyone else with their crafty Facebook widgets and RNC-made videos. But its not enough for me right now. I'm looking for more, for substance.
Now I realize asking for substance from anyone who makes it this high in politics is a lot to ask for, but with Romney it is especially weak. First off, I believe he is a good man, even an honorable man. He's worked hard his whole life, earned his money, and should be celebrated for it. But this standard Republican cant I see week in and week out on the news, blogs, and radio driven by RNC and RPV press releases emailed ot everyone is so vapid.
What is our philosophy as a party? I get we want to cut government and cut taxes. We are pretty good at cutting taxes, but when has a Republican last cut government? The Republican Party since 1980 has ultimately failed as a limited government party up to this date. We place conditions on our limited governmnet philosophy. We want less government, but don't mind using it to start wars and nation build overseas that costs trillions and we sure don't mind using it to keep gay people from being happy. But beside that, right now in 2012, what is our philosophy?
I know what Barack Obama's philosophy is. Heck, I even know what Gary Johnson's philosophy is. But is Romney? What does he want to do?
The problem begins with the political parties themselves. Professional Republicans and Democrats have metastasized into pseudo-government agencies themselves. The parties battle each other just so they control the levers of power. Neither wants to restrain any of it. Anti-war Democrats start more wars, anti-government Republicans grow government. And they both spend and spend. To fix it, Democrats want to raise taxes and Republicans want to cut taxes. Neither party wants to deal with the real problems.
American elections are no longer about philosophies, despite what professional hacks might say, but rather fights just to beat the other side. I've been thinking about this, and I think the rubicon was crossed when the Republicans impeached Bill Clinton in 1998. We haven't looked back since in terms of hyper-partisanship that leads to nothing. But winning for the sake of winning isn't really winning at all. If we defeat Barack Obama in 2012, what exactly will change in the bigger picture? Don't get me wrong, he needs to go. But in partisan politics these days, its personal. I hate George W. Bush, the left says; I hate Barack Obama, the right says. We have allowed our politics to degenerate into high school popularity contests for president.
My main problem is Mitt Romney. Everything a true constitutional conservative despises about what the Obama Administration has done, chiefly among them Obamacare, how can we believe that Romney will truly erase it? I mean, he did the exact same thing in Massachusetts. So far, all I know about what Mitt Romney will do is end EPA regulations, do something about Obamacare he hasn't really spelled out, and - oh yeah - he believes in America. Great.
We have a political system now where professional Democrats and Republicans agree to vote for each others corruption and spending and agree to keep principled conservatives and progressives marginalized, people who really do agree in taking power away from the powerful and back to the people (in different ways). This system need more progressives and liberty conservatives running for office because we have a bi-partisan machine that is now apart of the government itself taking this country off the cliff. The Republican and Democrats Parties are wards of the government, the motivation to win is as much to replace the other in power than do anything really different. Democrats have power now, and Republicans want that power.
Every step of this tortured road to the GOP nomination, Mitt Romney has been put in a corner. Michele Bachmann emerged, the Rick Perry, then Herman Cain, then Newt Gingrich (twice), then Rick Santorum. In each skirmish, Mitt had to use all of his money to take each of them down and he made few friends doing it.
Yet along the way, Ron Paul stuck to a strategy of delegate counting that ensured he would not be the nominee but that he would have an outsized influence on the nomination itself. State after state Paul underperformed (except for New Hampshire) on the surface but over-performed underground. It is as if he knew going in couldn't win, so he needed to figure out a strategy to ensure that his movement and voice does not die with him. It also was a strategy that put a gun to the head of the Republican Party. Close to 500 Ron Paul supporters will be delegates on the floor in Tampa, and we all know what shows these conventions are suppose to be. With Romney suddenly showing strength in race against Obama, a convention overrun with Paulbots booing to their hearts content is a serious problem. These conventions are suppose to come off like clockwork, showing how unified everyone is around the nominee. With the Paul 2012 strategy, it is a guarantee that will not happen.
Unlike any of the previous candidates from 2011/2012, Ron Paul actually has some leverage over Mitt Romney. Romney needs nothing from the Newts, Santorums, and Perrys of the world; they need him now. But Paul needs nothing from Romney at this moment and Romney desperately needs a smooth convention to build momentum into the fall. Paul could wreck that.
Simply getting Rand Paul's endorsement isn't enough. Check out Daily Paul or Rand's FB page . . . he's Judas to the hardcore Paulbots. Hell, it was hard for me to watch. I suspect they know their movement well enough to know this would happen. This simply cannot be all there is. Rand Paul wouldn't be doing this without his father's knowledge or blessing. A simple endorsement for a speaking slot can't be worth the beating Rand is taking now.
I'm beginning to wonder if the threat of chaos in Tampa is enough right now for Romney to essentially have his hand forced on who his running-mate will be. Most say its Rand, but I disagree. A less-than-two-year senator without any previous experience in leadership will be tougher to swallow than Sarah Palin because she at least had been a mayor and governor. Besides, Rand Paul needs to stay in the Senate where he is most useful to Liberty. I can't imagine Rand would not only sell out his movement but also his own Senate seat.
My own 1 am logic is telling me that the more obvious choice in this scenario is Ron Paul himself. He is a 76 year old man who has built a movement from Austrian economics seminars in the 1970s that is poised to take over the GOP. He will not be President of the United States, even he knows that. But his career is essentially over. He has something to offer Mitt Romney, the hopes that much of his movement will come out to vote in November. There is still the problem of those newsletters that have to be gotten over. Paul is at the end of his run in politics and might want the vice-presidency to preserve his legacy and legitimize his life's work.
Mind you, I'm not saying this is something Romney and his team would do out of want, but rather need. Paul's supporters could essentially hold that convention hostage and embarrass the entire party on national television. The only balm to that rash would be Ron Paul himself. This would be a candidate forced on the party. Paul's delegate counting campaign ensured he would have an out-sized presence at the Convention, could it be enough to make him Vice President?
What is even more disconcerting is the lack of a ground game by the Perkins campaign. Whether it is their voter identification program or the lack of signs in the median, the Perkins campaign has been unable to prove that they have the organization and campaign strategy necessary to win in November. The fact that there is a growing concern that Ken Vaughn might actually win on June 12th, shows how weak and inept the Perkins campaign strategy is and how the senior management of their campaign has failed to put a structure together that sufficiently demonstrates his operation has what it takes to succeed. "Team Perkins" has many failings chiefly among them is he has not hired a campaign manager, Chris has decided to give the keys to his campaign over to a corrupt consultant with a track record of running dirty campaigns. See this press report about his previous track record. This consultant named Tyler Harber has not only taken Chris a new comer to the political world to the proverbial woodshed and suckered him for all the money that he is worth they haven't developed a winning strategy. Looking at the FEC reports Prosper Group Tyler’s company and there contractors have been paid $97,850 from the Perkins Campaign. This is and unheard of amount to spend on Consulting in a primary! AND the best part is that’s only through April so since Tyler is averaging 11K a month from this candidate so I can’t wait to see what the next FEC reports show us.
There is a big problem in our local party about certain types entering party leadership who double as consultants and lobbyists. They use their positions inside the party to steer business to their friends, and often take advantage of newcomer candidates. These new-to-politics candidates generally don't know what they are getting into and end up getting ripped off. It is why the grassroots conservative activists must continue to fight and be vigilant in the local party and refuse to surrender it to the professional Republican apparatchiks out there.
I mean, seriously? He has a 70% job approval rating while Bolling is at 48% (and McDonnell is at 64% in another poll) among Republicans. Ken leans among men, women, Tea Party voters, moderates, evangelicals, and conservatives.
I'm wondering if Bolling might be hoping Mitt Romney wins the White House just so he can get a graceful way to exit this race.
Romney states: VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, MS, AL, LA, AR, OK, TX, AZ, NV, ID, MT, WY, ND, SD, NE, KS, MO, OH, KY, TN, IN, WV, AK
Obama states: ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, NY, PA NY, DE, MD, DC, MI, WI, IL, IA, MN, CO, NM, CA,OR, WA, HI
Fools gold states for Republicans: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan
Fools gold states for Democrats: North Carolina, Arizona, Indiana
True toss-up states: Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, and Florida
Periodically I'll keep doing this but honestly, I'm a conservative blogger so naturally I'm going to lean it in Romney's direction. I'm not going to pretend I'm some newsman. A couple thousand votes here and there in any of these states will swing this election.
This is just going to be razor-close if things hold to form and no monstrous events or scandals affect this race.
I was ready to bloviate on and on about the aparant recall victory tonight by Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch but instead I thought this fact was most telling and perhaps the biggest message out of this.
Over the years I've comprised a long list of pet peeves that many bloggers (including myself) have done. Here is a quick list.
Using the term "meme"
Prefacing names with the word "Shorter"
Referring to politicians too formally, like constantly calling Eric Cantor, "Leader" Cantor.
Putting up long posts about the UFC in a politics blog.
The term "jumping the shark."
Primary vs. convention.
Money bombs. It's gotten old, folks. The original money bombs were grassroots activists getting together and raising money all at the same time. Now its no different than regular fund-raising that astro-turfs "grassroots" support.
Posting press releases. Come on, we're better than that.
That's all I've got.
Wow. That felt good! Haha, if there is anything else feel free to vent!
I must say as someone who has never either supported, or even cared for, Romney all that much thus far his campaign has been very good. There doesn't seem to be any grudges or pushback against those of us who did not want to see him win and he has been very aggressive in his campaigning against President Obama.
Romney went nuclear over and over against his fellow Republicans and my hope was he would be willing to do the same against the President and so far so good. He's hammering on this issues and it has helped that Obama's campaign has completely bungled the Bain Capital attacks - exposed by Cory Booker, Deval Patrick, and President Clinton. What was exposed was the Obama campaigns complete and utter ignorance to what private equity companies do and that frankly everyone thinks we need them. Republican or Democrat. They are fighting, responding to every attack, and most importantly they are fighting back. I worried that Mitt's spine didn't have enough steel but so far so good.
We still have a ways to go, but I'm feeling much more comfortable day by day with Mitt Romney. A key moment for me is who he selects with his VP pick. I don't want him to shy away from being bold. Senator Tom Coburn was my top seed, but his rebuke by the Senate Ethics committee over the Ensign affair probably ends that. Senator Jim DeMint remains, to me, his best choice of ensuring that we are all included in his campaign. It will ruffle some feathers, especially among fellow senators who he worked to defeat in primaries. That gesture, however, would bring so many of the tea party and constitutional conservatives over to his side. DeMint even has his friends in the Ron Paul camp.
As Rush Limbaugh said the other day, "I'm telling you. This is not the McCain campaign."