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Entries for September 2011

15
After the Tea Party debate this week, a Florida Tea Party leader put it bluntly: “The Republican Party isn’t going to pick the presidential nominee. We’re going to pick the presidential nominee.”
 
The candidates then fell all over each other to show their fealty to the crowd. A crowd that, when a moderator asked whether a critically ill young man without health insurance should be allowed to die, shouted “Yes!”
 
The animals seem to be running the Republican zoo in North Carolina, too.
 
A knowledgeable Republican told me that several GOP legislators didn’t want to vote for the gay marriage amendment. But, if they didn’t, they feared a caucus challenge to their leadership positions – and even a primary opponent.
 
They rationalized, as politicians will, that the bad they did will be outweighed by the good they can do by staying in power.
 
So they went along with a measure that insures North Carolina eight months of publicity as a state that demonizes gay people. That will certainly help attract new jobs and businesses!
 
Even Dick Cheney is OK with gay marriage: "I think freedom means freedom for everybody, and you ought to have the right to make whatever choice you want to make with respect to your own personal situation." 
 
We should get to know the people who really run the Republican Party. The way things are going, they’ll be running the country soon.

 

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14
Given President Obama’s visit here today, this is a timely and well-put rant from a North Carolina Democrat:
 
“The head of the DNC - Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz - attributed last night's staggering loss in New Yorks' 9th CD to ‘a large number of people who went to the polls tonight who didn’t support the President to begin with and don’t support Democrats — and it’s nothing more than that.’
 
“Earth to Debbie - that ‘nothing’ you mentioned is called voter turnout and it is a big problem.
 
“I don't know what other sorry excuses the DNC or the White House will use to defend yesterday's loss, but I do know that Obama & Co. better get their dadgum act together.
 
“Yesterday's special election featured a Republican businessman who has never held office versus a Democratic state Assemblyman with high name recognition. The Democratic Party put a HALF-MILLION DOLLARS into the race. Yet the GOP candidate won handily by tying the D candidate to President Obama. New York's 9th CD has been held by Democrats since 1923. Yes, the 9th is more conservative than it used to be because of redistricting and there is the Weiner scandal, but the 9th remains a Democratic district. Al Gore carried the 9th with 67% of the vote in 2000, and Barack Obama carried the 9th with 55% of the vote in 2008. If this isn't a wakeup call to Obama & Co, I don't know what is.
 
“Debbie - If $500,000 can't get out the vote in a Democratic congressional district in New York City, do ya think Democratic base turnout might be a problem nationally in '12 for Obama & Co.? It's nothing more than that.”

 

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13
Democrats are high-fiving President Obama’s “American Jobs Act.” Progressive pundits and editorial/op-ed writers are applauding because he took their advice. He’s taking the fight to the Republicans, they all say: bearding the elephant in its own den.
 
For months, the pundits have been preaching that Americans don’t care about arcane things like deficits and debt ceilings; it’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs.
 
But what if that fundamental premise is all wrong?
 
Suppose, instead, that Americans see our economic problems as all wrapped up in one big ball: jobs, debt, deficits, government spending, bailouts, stimulus, Obamacare, on and on.
 
Suppose they see the American Jobs Act as the latest iteration of the same old, same old: taking money from “people who work hard and play by the rules” (as Bill Clinton once said) and giving it to people who don’t.
 
Suppose, more to the point, they don’t think government can do anything right, including – and especially – creating jobs.
 
If that’s the case, it doesn’t matter how eloquent, persuasive and aggressive Obama is. In fact, the harder he fights, the deeper he digs his political hole.
 
It’s always dangerous to take political advice from your base, the editorial pages and the op-ed pages. In this case, Team Obama may have outsmarted itself.

 

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12
At some point this weekend I reached 9/11 overload. It was wall-to-wall remembrances, reflections and recollections. No media outlet, no sporting event and no advertiser could miss the chance to milk as much heartfelt soulfulness as possible.
 
The focus, of course, was on the heroes, the fallen and the families: “Never forgotten.” “Never forget.” “We’ll remember always.”
 
But which was worse: the damage the 9/11 attacks did on our “homeland” (as we say), or the damage we’ve done to ourselves since?
 
Two bloody wars. Thousands of dead and wounded men and women. Trillions of dollars. A budget surplus turned into a chronic deficit. A healthy economy turned into a basket case. An aviation system turned into a police state. A politics more narrow-minded and base than ever.
 
Osama bin Laden knew that four suicide jets alone wouldn’t topple America, even if they toppled some buildings.
 
He hoped to lure us into a long, bloody, costly war in the Middle East that would wreck our nation, just as it wrecked the Soviet Union.
 
He hoped we would wreck ourselves. We seem determined to oblige him.
 
Let’s not forget that lesson.

 

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Posted in: General, Issues
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09
The Republican presidential candidates today remind me of Democrats in the 1980s: so in thrall to interest-groups within their own party they’re forced to undermine their chances to win a general election.
 
In 1984 and 1988, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis were crippled by their kowtowing to labor, liberals and Jesse Jackson. By the time they finished prostrating themselves at their respective national conventions, both candidates were dead meat.
 
For the Republicans this year, the pandering has begun more than a year before the general election. By the time the caucuses and primaries begin, they’ll be showing their tattoos pledging to vote against taxes, abortion, gay marriage, health care and who knows what else.
 
Exhibit One: The debate Wednesday night. Rick Perry went so far proving his Tea Party credentials he gave Democrats the perfect sword with which to slay his candidacy: Social Security. Even Mitt Romney took up that one!
 
Believe me, if there’s one thing Democrats know, it’s how to scare enough Social Security and Medicare recipients to win an election.

 

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08
Gay-rights supporters are fighting hard to keep the gay-marriage amendment off the state ballot. That’s understandable. Who wants to have prejudice against themselves enshrined in the Constitution?
 
But I hope the Republicans succeed in scheduling a statewide vote. Not just because Public Policy Polling predicts it will lose. But also because it will hurt Republicans in North Carolina for years to come.
 
The GOP will carve in stone its image as mean, narrow-minded and out of touch. A generation of younger voters – the voters who elected Obama in 2008 and stayed home in 2010 – will find a reason to vote and vote Democratic.
 
Young voters – and voters in metropolitan areas – hoot when they hear the anti-gay crowd’s ads: “Marriage is at risk.”
 
These voters think the risk to marriage is heterosexual couples breaking up, not gay couples wanting to get married.
 
Speaker Thom Tillis, I suspect, gets this. He has been noticeably MIA in this debate. He’s probably like a lot of Republicans who wish it would go away, but are afraid to stand up to the GOP’s Old Testament caucus.
 
Me, I’m pulling for Reps. Stam and Folwell to dig this hole deeper.
 

 

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07
This is the perfect opening for Michelle Bachmann. In tonight’s debate, she should say that the Texas wildfires are God’s judgment on Rick Perry for stealing her momentum.
 
That way, she can put all her opponents – and potential opponents – on notice.
 

 

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07
I’ve been critical of President Obama lately. His poll numbers keep dropping, and he looks like a 97-pound weakling being pushed around by (of all people) John Boehner.
 
I even called him “Jimmy Obama” in one blog, comparing him to a famous one-term Democratic President.
 
So now it’s time to predict a comeback.
 
There’s one thing you can always count on in politics: The story line will change.
 
All summer, the story line has been Obama’s weakness, his impotence with Congress and his fading hopes for reelection.
 
But all this is poised to pivot. The political media is back from summer vacation and looking for something new. We’ve got a series of Republican presidential debates ahead. Every time they open their mouths, they look worse – all of them.
 
Obama has a chance to turn this game around if and when he adopts a very simple strategy: Attack Congress.
 
Don’t differentiate between the parties. Just attack them all and attack the institution. Hark back to Harry Truman and the “do nothing Congress.”

Propose something BIG Thursday night, wait for the Republicans to block it and then blame them for continuing the country’s miseries.
 
Polls already show the public blames Bush more than Obama for the mess we’re in. And Congress’ ratings are lower than the President’s. The field is wide open.
 
Obama’s problem isn’t his policies. It’s his persona – the perception that he’s a weakling. He can fix that with a year-long sustained attack on Congress – and a string of creative-sounding ideas that show people he’s at least trying to do something.
 
The President is a basketball guy, but it’s football season. There’s a big hole opening up in the Republican line, and he can run right through it.

 

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06
Ted Vaden, Deputy Secretary, Internal and External Affairs N.C. Department of Transportation, responds to my criticism of DOT’s 511 line and website during Irene:
 
“We're big boys and girls at NCDOT, and we'll take our hits when deserved. Certainly our 511 system can be better, but keep in mind that 511 updates were being provided by people in the field who had their hands full surveying damage and providing relief. Throughout the weekend of the storm, our communications director fielded questions from the media as completely and timely as information was available. Most importantly, we generated (and continue to do so) a constant stream of information, updated in real time, via Twitter, Facebook and our Website. We fed information through five different Twitter accounts (NCDOT, ferry, NC 12, northern coast, southern coast), and we created a separate website (http://www.ncdot.org/travel/nc12recovery/ ) and Twitter feed devoted to NC 12 information.
 
“You opine: ‘It shouldn't be so hard for DOT to get good information and make it easily accessible to the public.’ I would submit that we have done so, and that's one big reason WRAL and the other media were able to report effectively about Irene and its aftermath.”

 

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05
Carter was mistaken when he wrote (“A Call From 60 Minutes,” below) that Bob Harris’ authorship of the “where do you stand, Jim” ads in 1984 “has been lost to history.” Actually, I wrote about that in my Hunt book, and Carter was my source.
 
But that’s not the reason for this post. Nor is that why I’m doing this blog’s third mention of Keep Conservatives United, the superPAC run by Harris and Luther Snyder, TAP’s webmaster. (I’m for anything that divides and disrupts Republicans! But you guys do owe me.)
 
Here’s the point: What Bob and Luther are doing shows you exactly how politics has changed since 1984.
 
In 1984, Bob had an idea for an ad. He had to take it to Carter. Carter had to sell the rest of the campaign on it. Only then did it go on the air.
 
Today – thanks to new media and new campaign-finance laws – Bob can have an idea and put it on the air himself. And have an immediate impact on the campaign: The New York Times has mentioned his anti-Rick Perry ad at least twice, Huffington Post had two posts on it and the Perry campaign attacked the ad, which gave Bob and Luther another fundraising opportunity.
 
This is democracy in action. Anybody with an idea and a computer can affect American politics.

 

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