March 13th, 2013 3:00 ET
“I’m an old-fashioned traditionalist. I believe in the historic and religious definition of marriage,” he says. “That being said, I’m not for eliminating contracts between adults. I think there are ways to make the tax code more neutral, so it doesn’t mention marriage. Then we don’t have to redefine what marriage is; we just don’t have marriage in the tax code.”
"Personally, when I hear the term 'married,' I think of a man and a woman. That's what the term has meant historically and as a matter of religious definition. However, states need to recognize contracts whether they're between gay couples or straight couples, which many states do not currently do on 'public policy' grounds. We also need to reform the federal tax code so that it doesn't treat married people differently from single people. If we do both of those things, then you achieve equal rights without having a discussion about what 'marriage' is or is not and who is entitled to what from government and who is not."
He's basically right here. The big problem, on my read, is that this isn't something that would be politically popular enough to get it done. (Additional side issue: This doesn't deal with immigration questions). But it is important insofar as it indicates his thinking.
Remember, many constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriage also bar government recognition of anything between two dudes or two ladies that looks or acts like a marriage (i.e., civil unions, partnership agreements). (And remember, courts are part of government, too). We have states that have said "no" to the idea of partner visitation rights where one half of a couple of hospitalized. These policies amount to a non-recognition of contracts. And that is a huge problem for same-sex couples.
Paul's answer, unsurprisingly, is not the most practical one (I'm a libertarian and I think our ideas are awesome, but I certainly won't argue that they're easy or could be implemented in a straightforward, non-controversial manner). But it does give an important indication of how he thinks about this issue, which is very different from how a lot of Republican elected officials think about it. ...
March 8th, 2013 3:00 ET
I previously covered the effort by certain same-sex marriage opponents in Illinois to oust the pro-same sex marriage Chairman of the Illinois GOP, Pat Brady, here.
That effort will culminate tomorrow, with the meeting of the state central committee.
But on the eve of the vote, it appears that those behind the effort have attracted some fresh opposition, in the form of two former Republican governors of the Land of Lincoln:
Former Republican Govs. Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar urged the GOP State Central Committee to adopt a “big tent” approach as they head into a special meeting Saturday, when the panel could vote to oust Party Chairman Pat Brady.
“If they fire Pat Brady, it will further submerge the Republican Party in Illinois, which is at a pretty low point, anyway,” Thompson said Thursday in an interview with WBEZ.
Given the timing, Edgar said it would be unwise to fire Brady for his public support of same-sex marriage, as public sentiment is headed in the same direction.
“I think it’d be a mistake to use that as a reason to – to remove somebody who I think’s done a credible job,” Edgar said in an interview Thursday. “And it’s the wrong political decision as well as, I don’t think it’s the smartest thing to do.”
“If they vote Pat Brady out, they better have a damn fine candidate to replace him, rather than leave the party leaderless or rudderless or in the hands of somebody who can’t do the same good job that Pat does,” Thompson said. “That would be outrageous.”
Previously, it appeared that Brady's opponents were arguing for his ouster on grounds that extended beyond his support for same-sex marriage.
Illinois State Sen. Jim Oberweis, a state central committeeman behind the ouster move, has however conceded that Brady's stance on same-sex marriage is a, if not the, primary issue, telling WBEZ, “You cannot have the chair of an organization publicly going out and lobbying in opposition to the organization’s stated goals. Doesn’t matter what the goal is. It would have been exactly the same result if he had lobbied in favor of Obamacare."
Brady backers argue that opposition to same-sex marriage is not a majority position among Illinois Republicans, and further, that Brady has not pushed for same-sex marriage on behalf of the ILGOP, but rather in his personal capacity. Brady also notes that the principle of accepting a diversity of opinion is in the ILGOP's platform.
Brady views the attempt at his ouster as something that would "send a terrible signal to the people of the state of Illinois that we’re a close-minded party."
Meanwhile, state central committeeman Roger Claar told WBEZ that the move was reminiscent of a "kangaroo court."
In order to remove Brady, three-fifths of the state central committee will have to vote to do so.
As previously noted, my personal opinion is that Brady should remain in office, particularly given the importance of electing a Republican governor in 2014 and the significant challenge that installing a new Chairman now would present in achieving that.
This is of course setting aside that Brady's stance on same-sex marriage is in line with Illinois opinion on the issue, which is politically helpful. ...
February 27th, 2013 3:00 ET
Same-sex marriage opponents are reportedly seeking to oust the Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party at a meeting of the state central committee on March 9.
Pat Brady, who was elected Chairman in August 2009, became the target of same-sex marriage foes after publicly voicing support for same-sex marriage, which has been the focus of legislation in the Land of Lincoln this legislative session.
Committeemen Jim Oberweis (a state senator from Sugar Grove) and Jerry Clarke (of Urbana) are depicting the move as grounded in a broader set of concerns, ranging from fundraising to communication issues.
However, in an interview with radio station WBEZ earlier this month, Oberweis conceded that the move was “something to do with a CEO of an organization lobbying on behalf of something the organization opposes” (the “something” in question apparently being same-sex marriage).
The move to oust Brady is reportedly opposed by Sen. Mark Kirk, who won his Senate seat under Brady’s tenure. It is also opposed by Illinois House Republican leader Tom Cross, and grassroots conservatives within the state.
Supporters of Brady point to the Kirk Senate seat win, the pick-up of four congressional seats, and the win of various state-level offices which had previously been held by Democrats as evidence of Brady’s effectiveness.
In addition, they cite his work in bringing the party’s finances and operations into order (one supporter points to both fundraising and cost-cutting, as well as upgrading its data operations). Chris Robling, an Illinois GOP analyst and blogger calls Brady “the best chairman we have seen in 20 years.”
In the wake of the news, Brady has canceled a major fundraiser that was reportedly expected to bring in $250,000 to the party, and at which Exelon CEO John Rowe, himself a same sex marriage supporter and big donor to the IL GOP, was to be honored.
In a statement to WBEZ, Rowe said, “The party needs to work its way through this because it’s pretty clear that you can’t be too conservative on the so-called social issues and win in Illinois.”
That’s true enough, but as many of us conservative and libertarian same-sex marriage supporters have opined previously, it is inaccurate to suggest there is anything philosophically inconsistent with support for the freedom of same-sex couples to marry and support for free markets, the pro-life perspective, and a robust national defense.
Brady has had the good sense to support same sex marriage rights as many others in the GOP, ranging from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to Ted Olson, have publicly declared their support for government recognition of same-sex marriages.
That may not be popular with same-sex marriage opponents, but it is it is also hardly on a par, as substance goes, with a party Chairman running the organization’s finances into the ground, engaging in gaffe-a-minute interviews that wreck the party’s image, or failing to develop and then execute an appropriate GOTV program come election time (these are just some of the failings that have been evident on the part of other state party chairmen from around the country over the years).
The 2014 Illinois gubernatorial race is one for which both Illinois and national Republicans have high hopes. One concern about ousting Brady that should exist—separate to that of the reputational damage to the party that would be sustained by purging a Chairman over views that are within the mainstream of American political opinion, in a bluer state like Illinois where the Rick Santorums of the world are unlikely to compete under even the best circumstances—is to do with the prospect of having hard work needed to win the governorship halted as another Chairman takes over, acclimates to the office, and attempts then restart work that Brady has already begun.
Illinois Republicans should resist the temptation to clear house over a philosophical disagreement on one issue, and keep Brady in place.
Not only will his brand likely prove more of a help than a hindrance, but the mess of changing horses in midstream (which was too risky even during Michael Steele’s objectively rather shambolic tenure as RNC Chairman for RNC members to seriously pursue) will be avoided. ...
February 4th, 2013 3:00 ET
In the aftermath of last November’s rather crushing GOP loss, there’s been the usual process of soul-searching, auditing, and roundtable discussing to ascertain what went wrong and how the Republican party can avoid screwing up on a similar par in 2014 and 2016.
I’ve largely kept out of this process for two reasons. First, travel during December prevented me from partaking in certain efforts forming part of this overall endeavor. Second, I’m a cynic, and remain skeptical that the efforts that have been undertaken and which are, in some cases, continuing will result in the party really understanding the true nature and depth of its problems, let alone cause the party to get its, er, shiitake mushrooms together. The incentives just aren’t quite aligned in that direction yet, in my honest opinion (I may write more on that later).
But, people keep asking me where the problems lie and what do I think needs fixing. So, I’m publishing this post, which—full disclosure—I really feel like comprises a number of “Master of the Obvious” elements, but which some people seem to be missing despite all the chatter.
Here are the big five problems the GOP has faced and will probably continue to face, having regard to where opportunities were missed in 2010 and 2012. ...
January 2nd, 2013 3:00 ET
From the Daily Herald:
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady of St. Charles is calling GOP lawmakers asking them to support a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage, he said today.
Brady said he was making the calls as a citizen, outside of his official role with the Illinois Republican Party.
"I think it's time for people to support this," Brady said.
Well done to Chairman Brady for stepping up and not merely taking this stance, but being prepared to reach out to Republican lawmakers to urge them to do the same. More prominent Republicans should do the same. ...
November 4th, 2012 2:00 ET
Thanks for the suggestion, Matt de Luca. Read my original endorsement here.
November 4th, 2012 2:00 ET
It’s finally here, or about to be.
Yes, Election Day is the day after tomorrow. And after four years of watching the effort to remove President Obama from office play out (and periodically contributing to it in direct, professional ways), the time has come for me to make some firm decisions, and share them publicly.
Readers of this blog and my followers on Twitter will know that this election has proved a somewhat painful one for me, going back to 2009.
Having served on the RNC team in 2008, and having been a longtime fan of John McCain for years before then, while I was proud that America proved wrong the pundits who claimed our country was too racist to elect an African-American President, I was saddened that America made what was, in my view, the wrong choice as between Obama and McCain four years ago.
Like many Republicans, within weeks of President Obama being sworn into office, I began thinking about who I would like to succeed him as President—because it was apparent that his approach was not one with which I agreed.
Jon Huntsman, one of my top choices, took himself out of the running by agreeing to serve as Obama’s ambassador to China. Mark Sanford, my other top choice, took himself out of the running by virtue of his personal behavior and the excruciating press conference he gave explaining it.
Being a long-term critic of Mitt Romney, I was unwilling to jump aboard the Romney ship, especially given my deep-seated disagreements with Romney on health care policy.
My concerns about health care policy did, however, provoke me to take a closer look at a guy who I instinctively thought would be a good choice for me—Tim Pawlenty (whose record on health care is, incidentally, really good and worth a look for people who believe Republicans have nothing to offer on that front beyond free-market rhetoric or watered-down liberal “solutions”). I boarded the good ship Pawlenty, but exited it when it became unfeasible for various reasons to remain on it; subsequently, Jon Huntsman resigned and entered the race—intriguing to me, but (I felt) unlikely to pan out.
And then Rick Perry decided to enter the race, after it became clear to me that Pawlenty would be exiting it early and at a point where the practicalities of me being involved in a presidential race looked far better.
While there are certainly areas of disagreement between myself and Perry (basically, they come down to “gay issues”), I felt that on the majority of issues that I vote on—free trade, the size and role of the federal government (which ties in with spending), tax policy, health care and immigration— he was the best fit, and a far better choice than Romney. I also felt he had some interesting and worthwhile ideas where things like education reform (also something where Pawlenty has shown leadership within the GOP) were concerned, and by far the best jobs record.
So I boarded the good ship Perry, knowing it was in shaky territory when I did, but being willing to have a go at something even if the odds were decent that it would capsize (as it ultimately did).
From the middle of 2009, I believed it was overwhelmingly likely that Romney would be the GOP nominee. And that was an unsettling thing to me, because I do have deep disagreements with him and haven’t exactly loved his philosophical flexibility and willingness to pander to different audiences.
I tried, on behalf of two different clients, to stop Romney from running away with the nomination, something that speaks to the fact that I have had issues with him as a presidential candidate.
But he did win the nomination, as I expected. And now, Virginia appears to be coming down to the wire. So I am publicly stating my commitment to vote for Mitt Romney for President this Tuesday, despite the lingering concerns I have about him.
Here’s why I think you might wish to consider doing the same if you share my perspectives and live in a swing state also.
First of all, let’s start with a discussion about Barack Obama.
Let me be clear (pun intended): I do not think Obama is a bad guy. Among other things, I think he’s a great father and husband.
But I have been convinced, ever since I started scrutinizing his record, statements, and personal and professional history at the RNC in 2008—where I was privy to the vast majority of opposition research on Obama including tidbits that to my knowledge have never been covered and make him look even worse than he already does, in my opinion—that Obama simply doesn’t have the kind of motivations I want in a President. It is a problem that no matter how nice of a guy I may think he is in his private life, I simply cannot get over in order to think well of him in a political context.
I have inflamed liberal and conservative opinion by saying this before, and I will inflame both by saying it again, but it is my firm belief that Obama’s sole purpose in politics and his only genuine interest is self-aggrandizement. I do not believe that he believes in anything, except for self-aggrandizement. His liberalism is incidental, not the product of an actual belief in progressive policies, and to the extent he cares about particular policies, it is because he believes they will enable him to get ahead and benefit himself and his friends, not because he believes they are good, productive, or beneficial.
What Obama displays is not even the usual, predictable, basic power-seeking you get with politicians, or the typical ego trip. It’s far more emblematic of what you find in machine politics than what you find in politics more broadly. It is no surprise, given that Obama comes out of Chicago, where machine politics is the norm, and accruing power and prestige is an end in itself. But it is deeply saddening, given Obama’s posturing four years ago as representing some “new,” cleaner, shinier variety of politics—posturing that even I wanted to believe. And it is not a characteristic I particularly want in a president. Self-aggrandizement as the sole objective—indeed, the raison d’être— is not something that I think deserves to be rewarded, especially as, in Obama’s case, it has led the president in question into both policy inconsistency and instituting and pursuing policies that I believe are downright bad. It is an added annoyance and perhaps even a danger that the rise of Obama has also helped to generate a weird, cultish following that excuses all manner of behavior I consider obviously bad, and certainly hypocritical or inconsistent on Obama’s part.
This conveniently leads us to a discussion of the fundamental policy problems with Obama—the thing that far more voters have seized upon.
Let me start by saying that in 2008, when Obama won the Democratic nomination, I was happy about it, for two reasons. First, I never believed McCain would attack Hillary Clinton as hard as he did Obama, let alone as hard as he would have needed to in order to beat her. But second, and more importantly, Obama was far better on policy from where I sat.
Obama’s campaign rhetoric suggested he thought civil liberties needed better protection than they had received under the Bush administration. Obama was for a version of health care reform that wasn’t a nationalized version of Romneycare, which I have opposed since its inception and continue to oppose (sorry, Romney). In fact, Obama strongly opposed the individual mandate as a candidate (a big plus in my book). Obama appeared to be less at ease with protectionism than Clinton. Obama had sponsored the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. Clinton sounded a far more confiscatory-taxation friendly note than Obama did. And my gut had always told me that Hillary was far more big government-friendly than a guy who, for all the mockery of his community organizing days, at least seemed to think by virtue of his initial job choice that community, as opposed to government, might play some kind of an important role in society.
There was plenty that I opposed Obama on: As a candidate, he was already proposing massive new spending that was obviously unaffordable and unwise. Obviously, he was comfortable with tax increases. I thought his comments about sitting down with Ahmadinejad early in an administration were daft. I didn’t like that he was sounding any kind of protectionist note. I loathed his votes for poison pill initiatives that brought down comprehensive immigration reform. I thought his purported post-partisanship was complete BS given his deeply partisan record in the Senate. But would he have been better than Clinton? Yes, I believed he would, and actually, I still think I’d prefer him as president to Hillary, on policy.
However, Obama has flip-flopped on some things he campaigned on that actually really matter to me. His record on civil liberties is terrible, just like Bush’s was terrible, and no amount of strawman-construction or detraction from it by his fans can change that fact. Given how much I carped about Bush on civil liberties, Obama is definitely not getting a pass from me on this. Furthermore, Obamacare contains the individual mandate, on which Obama has himself flipped a full 180 degrees, and shamelessly, and over which I have been sounding alarms since 2006 in the context of Romneycare.
Add to that that he has, as expected, spent boatloads of money and exploded the deficit (just like Bush!), not delivered well enough on jobs, not done enough to advance free trade, and not done enough to advance immigration reform, and we have a problem.
He engaged us in Libya without congressional approval, which I do believe he should have obtained (knock Bush for Iraq all you want, but Bush did at least ask Congress to approve our engagement there), and he made some major foreign policy missteps like signaling “more flexibility” in a second term to Russia, and generally weakening our relationships with key allies like Israel and the United Kingdom (sometimes through silly oversights, assumptions, or careless words or behavior).
And yes, his behavior with regard to the drug war (cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries in California) also irks me a great deal.
Ultimately, what has happened in Benghazi scares the crap out of me, as someone with friends in the diplomatic corps, and my sense is that while it’s impossible to fully protect your civil servants abroad, especially in dangerous countries, intelligence is never perfect, and hindsight is always 20/20, the Obama administration dropped the ball there.
He’s the boss, and I feel the buck should stop with him.
I didn’t vote for Obama in 2008, obviously, and I certainly won’t be voting for him in 2012. But in my estimation, no one else should be voting for him in 2012, either, given this track record, and given my interpretation of his rationale for wanting a second term (it really is all about him; it’s really not about you, or me, or anyone else).
But not voting for Obama doesn’t mean voting for Mitt Romney, of course. There are other options on the ballot; there is the option of writing in; there is the option of not voting at all. I have considered all of these options, apart from not voting. But there are reasons why, if you think like I do, you should consider voting for Romney—and not just failing to vote for Obama.
First of all, I believe this will be a close election, but one in which it has from the get-go been more likely than not that Obama will win. If that is a problem for you on any level, then you owe it to yourself to take a look at Romney, and do it seriously, before Tuesday.
Let’s be candid: If you’re like me, you’re going to find there’s a lot not to like. I won’t rehash it all here; for me, the sticking point with Romney really always has been, and always will be, Romneycare, which has now evolved into Obamacare.
But with that being said, and with me throwing Romneycare out there first, let’s just agree on one thing: While I think it is highly unlikely that as President, Romney would repeal Obamacare (because he won’t have a sufficiently conservative Congress to do it, because he can’t do it all through executive actions, but most of all, because I believe he actually does like and believe in some of the cornerstones of Romneycare and Obamacare), there is zero chance of Obamacare being repealed with Obama, and some (albeit small) chance of it being repealed or tweaked in some major way under Romney.
Moreover, there is a strong chance that Obamacare will be tweaked in small, but meaningful ways under a President Romney, and that that will happen quickly. Whether you loathe Obamacare as is, or think it just can’t function as currently constructed, Romney is the only person capable of winning this election who even has a rhetorical commitment to repealing and/or overhauling Obamacare.
But that’s not really why I am voting for Romney. The real reasons I am are the following:
- Paul Ryan: Unfortunately, Romney hasn’t run on the Ryan plan or spending cuts that Paul Ryan has voted for (including in the area of defense, where I believe not-insignificant spending reductions can and should be made). But at least if Ryan becomes Vice President, there’s a chance he’ll badger Romney enough on a daily or weekly basis to get him to take entitlement reform, tax reform, and spending cuts more seriously than he currently does. Also, I like Paul Ryan, and if we can give someone like him, as opposed to one of the Huckabee-like big government social conservatives (who remain surprisingly dominant in a “Tea Party-infused” GOP), a leg up on becoming President someday, I say that’s a good thing on balance.
- Dodd-Frank: It sucks. In addition to entrenching too big to fail, it also imposes a bunch of new regulations that are problematic especially for community banks, who weren’t the bad guys who led to the financial crisis, and it risks regulatory muddle by making various entities responsible for the same oversight, threatening to create a situation where the left hand does nothing because it thinks the right hand is, while the right hand is effectively taking a nap or spending hours a day watching porn from its Washington, DC headquarters. Romney gets this, and more. It’s probably the area of policy where he has the most to say that conforms to my views.
- Taxes: I have a lot of issues with Romney on taxes, but at least he’s committed to attempting tax simplification for some proportion of the population. He also understands that double-taxing US companies is a bad idea and that what Obama has proposed would effectively do that, whereas Obama, the former law professor, doesn’t actually appear to understand our tax code (I find that worrying).
- The deficit: I don’t think Romney is nearly as committed to slashing spending as I would like him to be, but I do believe he’ll be better on the deficit than Obama, who I think has zero commitment to spending restraint and will, in practice, be forced into extending the Bush tax cuts he wants to end.
- Rand Paul: I always keep in the back of my head that Rand Paul endorsed Romney, because his belief is that Romney is in the generally right terrain with regard to things like auditing the Fed, protecting Internet freedom, and wanting Congress to vote on foreign military engagements. Rand Paul may be naïve (he wouldn’t be the first libertarian to be proved to be). But I also think it is likely that he has extracted some private commitments from Romney on these things, and the Romney people know the Paul forces can cause trouble for them if they don’t vaguely adhere to some of what was (presumably) discussed. This is at least marginally helpful.
On a whole range of things that matter to me personally, neither of these guys will be better than the other. But Romney scores better than Obama on at least a few of my top concerns as a voter. And there is a chance, albeit not an overwhelming one from my standpoint, that he can pull out a win this week—so I am prepared to back him.
If you live in any of Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Florida or Virginia, and can’t decide between Romney and Johnson or writing in, I’d urge you to have a think about the above. My rationale may not be enough to get you to push the Romney button. But it is enough for me—just.
And Mitt, if you happen to read this and if you do prevail on Tuesday, please know that I’ll be enthusiastically in the bag for a second term if you really do slash spending, bring down the deficit, reform entitlements, reform the immigration system, ditch the worst aspects of Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, govern like a free-trader, and hold to the general status quo on social issues. Oh, and have lunch with Paul Ryan weekly and take him seriously.
If you govern demonstrably more like a civil libertarian than Obama has, hell, I’ll even max out for a second term.
Onward to Tuesday. ...
October 18th, 2012 3:00 ET
I am giving serious thought to breaking up with you, and I want to put you on notice of that fact, clearly and explicitly, and in terms even you-- with your ADD and disconnect from other people's thoughts and emotions-- can understand.
You may have noticed me being grouchier than normal over the last couple of weeks, and rolling my eyes at things you do more frequently, and in a non-ironic kind of way.
I kind of thought you might have noticed why, all on your very own.
But you have been so tied up with stuff like dishwashing and binders, and so focused on supposed bias and skewed polls, and so willing to flit between these subjects and other trifles on a whim, that I guess paying attention to me and anything I care about has simply been beyond your capabilities.
I know you want to keep my interest, but you're getting very close to losing me for good.
When we first encountered each other, I was skeptical of you.
You told me you'd be the most important election of my lifetime thus far.
You told me that important debates would be had by the candidates and that they would outline their proposed solutions to the greatest challenges facing our nation and there would be stark differences.
You told me this would be so, even though I suspected I'd be asked to choose between President Obama and Mitt Romney, and I felt like that choice was not conducive to producing the situation you described.
But you said I should get involved with you, that you'd prove me wrong, and that our relationship would be worth me investing my attention and my emotions in.
So far, I've had little more to show for it than frustration, exasperation, and irritation.
I've lost sleep some nights thinking about whether this situation can be fixed.
No, it's not me. It really is you. No, really. You sold me a bad deal, and if you changed your ways, it might be worth it, but I'm close to concluding at this point that you don't give a shit and you're wasting my time.
You should know that I've found myself looking at other potential matches, too.
I've always had a very close, intimate even, friendship with the English Premiership (yeah, I know that's been a sore spot for you, and it's made you jealous, but I derive emotional satisfaction from spending time with him that I rarely derive from spending time with you).
I broke up with the world of big business and the financial industry long before we met, back in 2005, but I'll admit it here-- I've been watching CNBC a lot lately. I've even been finding Jim Cramer less annoying than most of the political cable news TV hosts.
I know sometimes I get really tired of running and working out, but lately, they're looking more like friends than my old frenemies, and I've been hanging out with them more as I've looked to get a break-- any break-- from you and the way you try to dominate my time and hoard my attention.
I know you're going to tell me that many more important things hinge on you and my relationship with you than, say, the outcome of any of this weekend's football matches. And to tell you the truth, that's the only reason I've hung around so far.
But it's increasingly clear that you're focused on trivialities, and yesterday's concerns, not about what's about to come across the horizon and doing things now not just to fix the current situation but also prevent problems that I can see coming, but which you dismiss every time I flag them with talk of who strapped a dog to a roof, or who ate a dog, or Olympic horses, or parties with Jay-Z and Beyonce.
You know what these are. We've discussed them before. They include things like:
- the bleak outlook that seems to exist not for women, but rather for non-college-educated, working-class, blue-collar males across the country;
- the rise of China and India and other future economic powerhouses, relative to our standing as a nation. (Yeah, sometimes you'll pay lip service on this one, by talking tax reform or education reform, but really, it's like a peck on the cheek when I want a good, solid 30-minute cuddle-- something else you suck at, by the way);
- the education bubble and what we do about it (I bitched about this one with my previous boyfriends, too, and he never did anything about it-- what is it with you guys?). No, I don't mean just "how do we make college more affordable." I also mean what do we do about the fact that as education has become pricier, students seem to act more and more like "I paid $100k for this education, so even if I'm an ignoramus, you'd better give me a good degree." It's a real problem, and no one seems to be doing or saying much of anything about it, let alone other problems in our educational system;
- what's happening in the Middle East. PLEASE don't give me that stuff about Israel and the Palestinians again. I've heard what you have to say about Iran, too, and yes, that's important, but what I'm talking about here, and you know it, is the increased political engagement of non-elites in the Middle East, whether we encourage that, tolerate and manage it, or supress it, and whatever the answer, how, and why;
- not just unemployment, but what appears to be a problem with wage stagnation that has persisted for many Americans for quite awhile now;
- relatedly, health care and insurance cost inflation-- this, inflation in the cost of college, plus the wage stagnation problem noted above seem to me likely to have contributed to the financial crisis as people took on a lot of debt to pay for things that were becoming more and more unaffordable, tapping out value in their (inflated) home values, and leaving them screwed when the bubble inevitably and eventually burst;
- whether we should allow more immigration and if so, what are we going to do to overhaul our system so it can be done with greater ease legally (you know I support this, but the most I ever seem to hear on the subject is a token mention of H1B visas, or DREAM, which isn't really much at all).
You don't want to talk about these things, but they're going to present real problems in the future. Maybe you can find the wherewithall to address at least a couple of them sometime in the next week?
Think about it over the weekend. England's Premiership and I will be hanging out then, so you'll have some time and space to think about how to get your act together, and see if you can keep my interest and any level of emotional engagement.
I don't even know how to end this note... but it's definitely not "love," as things stand.
Best (I guess?),
October 2nd, 2012 3:00 ET
I "go" it now and again. So do a lot of you. For me, it usually involves parking attendants at underground lots in Washington, DC, or incomptence or extreme laziness witnessed in the workplace. For my husband, it often involves Maryland drivers and dance music and Belgians (especially if combined together). For one of my best friends, it involves the health care system and patronizing doctors. For another best friend, it involves attitudes he encounters far too often in his chosen profession.
For many conservatives online, it involves media bias, and alleged instances of it.
It appears that yesterday, when I was working and not paying terribly much attention to what was going on on Twitter or out in the blogosphere (yeah, yeah, I don't actually spend all my time tweeting, I'm just good at multitasking), I apparently missed a major round of certain conservatives going apeshit over something that strikes me as pretty "meh" and largely failing to notice something that to me was positively rage-inducing, both of which involved coverage of the presidential campaign by the media.
So what else is new... the liberal RINO in the corner didn't get pissed about something a bunch of online conservatives got pissed over, and got pissed about something else they didn't notice.
Well, this time, I think it actually matters because the specific topic is media bias at MSNBC and an MSNBC presenter actually did something pretty egregious on camera yesterday that should have been called out, big time, by both the left and the right in my opinion-- but it's possible some people failed to notice because they were still fuming about this.
Why yes, readers. That is a post by my fellow candy-ass RINO and friend Jazz Shaw over at Hot Air. Yes, in it he does say he doesn't think Morning Joe displayed rampant media bias aimed at re-electing President Obama by focusing time and attention on a rather uninteresting nothingburger of a story. And why yes, I am going to defend him a bit while I prep up for attacking an MSNBC host who in my view actually did something that warrants an on-air apology-- with no doubt about it.
Here's the deal. I first saw this clip when my mother sent it to me. I watched it. It struck me as pretty uninteresting. A crowd appeared to be a bit more excited about a Vice Presidential nominee-- who had just finished speaking-- than the Presidential nominee. That's pretty standard stuff.
Perhaps you have met this guy:
who was generally deemed more exciting to the base in attendance at campaign events than this guy:
Maybe you recall this guy:
who was also a lot more popular with conservative voters and likely to get them cheering than this guy:
Hey, maybe you remember this lady:
You do, right?
You remember that pretty much every time she and John McCain showed up anywhere, ever, everyone was like 300 times more excited about her and vocally so than they were McCain, yes?
So setting aside that Ryan had just finished speaking and that this was a fast-moving story being covered on morning TV by people who probably wake up at 3AM and may have been rolled into coverage when someone hadn't had their triple shot espresso, there are reasons to think Joe Scarborough and Co might not have edited the tape in an effort to re-elect Obama, right?
Right. But apparently, there are people who are jumping on this as true evidence of a mainstream media conspiracy while overlooking... Martin Bashir during his show yesterday basically straight up suggesting that Mitt Romney might not be capable of serving because he has a secret mental illness his campaign is hiding or something but which he's cottoned onto because Ann Romney expressed concern about the toll the campaign might be taking on her husband on camera.
No, seriously. This happened. (I'm not posting the video because a) it doesn't appear to be on MSNBC's site and b) I refuse to give bullshit like this any direct play).
You want to see what mainstream media not-so-subtly pushing a conspiracy theory looks like?
Well, maybe that's not what Martin was trying to do, but what he did sure looks a hell of a lot like exactly that.
And he did it at a normal time of day, when everyone has had their coffee and is ready to rock and roll.
Admittedly, Martin Bashir does not have the same media heavyweight profile that Joe Scarborough does, particularly within the political realm. But let's be candid here: Hinting around (deliberately or not) at a conspiracy to cover up a mental illness that could be disqualifying from public office is pretty nasty, heavy stuff, even for a guy best known for interviewing celebrities, not dabbling in political coverage. It's heavy and nasty enough that a lot of liberals I spoke to about this agreed it was bad form, at a minimum.
That's partially so, by the way, because if Ann was suggesting that Mitt might be a bit depressed about the polls, or a bit anxious while trying to win a hard-fought election, or getting a bit obsessive about campaign perfection or imperfection, that actually is not disqualifying and as a society, it'd be lovely if we could quit treating people who suffer from depression, anxiety disorders and/or obsessive/compulsive behavior (of any type) as incapable and untrustworthy. (I say that as someone who suffers from all three illnesses).
But it's actually because the takeaway for your average viewer is more nefarious than that.
The takeaway, worst case, from watching the Morning Joe tape is "hey, Republicans like Paul Ryan better than Mitt Romney, who they don't seem to like very much." (This is actually true, by the way). Or alternately "Oh man, that Mitt Romney is a total dork." (This is pretty much true, too, and by the way, while I love Paul Ryan, he's kind of a dork, too). Or, most sympathetically, "God I feel sorry for Mitt Romney." (I'm by no means your stereotypical Republican voter, but I have that feeling roughly once a day).
Whereas the takeaway from the Bashir segment was: "Not only is Romney dishonest and lying to you (remember those tax returns!), he's also *going to have a freaking nervous breakdown on the job and become catatonic in the Oval Office and go around peeing in jars, Aviator-style* *while having the ability to nuke the world. NUKE THE WORLD* *DO NOT VOTE FOR HIM*."
Look, I'm not a big believer in mainstream media bias. (I am a big believer in mainstream media laziness, and mainstream media pack-of-sheep behavior, however). But even I was like "holy shit, Martin Bashir, that's about as big a 'let me see how I can artificially, out of nothing, make David Axelrod's day today' moment that I can imagine."
So yeah, some vigilance about media bias appears to be deserved. So does some going apeshit. But let's not worry about Joe Scarborough. Let's worry about the guy who interprets normal spousal concern for a husband who's working really, really hard as a sign that Mitt Romney is about to go all "Falling Down" on us.
Let's go apeshit on that guy. ...
September 23rd, 2012 3:00 ET
What's that saying? Even a broken clock is right twice a day?
Brown on Saturday also signed a bill that allows registered nurses to dispense birth control, making it easier for women to get contraceptives.
"At a time when some seek to turn back the clock and restrict women's health choices, California is expanding access to birth control and reaffirming every woman's basic constitutional rights," Brown said.
The bill, authored by Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, allows nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives to dispense the pill, patches and rings.
"With his signature, the governor also took action to address provider shortages statewide by allowing RNs to work to the full extent of their scope and training," said Julie Rabinovitz, head of the California Family Health Council. "This is especially important in our changing health care landscape."
Before I go further, let me specify that unlike some of my fellow Republicans, I actually think Jerry Brown is right more often than once in a blue moon (he was right about the flat tax back in the day, for one thing).
But with that out of the way, let's take a serious look at this and the general direction California has taken in putting the law on the books. Consider a couple points.
1) Indications are that just as the number of people carrying health insurance (and therefore, one presumes to some degree anyway, the number of people with a greater ability, in principle, to access the health care system for non-emergency care) is going to expand with Obamacare coming into full effect, we're looking at an effective doctor shortage. That would, you would expect, mean prices of care by doctors going up and timely access to doctors for individual patients becoming trickier. That creates some special difficulties where prescriptions can only be written by... doctors.
2) Whether a patient is paying out-of-pocket, or via insurance, it's not as cheap as you might think going to see the doctor for an exam which most of them require every year in order to be willing to dispense a prescription for birth control. Add to that the fact that a lot of doctors look to sell patients extras like various tests while there (which may or may not be useful, depending on your perspective, medical or sexual history, ability to pay, etc.) and you're looking at a potentially higher cost than even just that. Plus, these visits often take time out of the day that many women simply don't have, so you're looking at non-monetary costs, too, and all to get a prescription that (in the case of the birth control pill) could easily and safely be dispensed with a blood pressure check and a warning not to smoke while taking it-- for which one does not, I would argue, need to have attended medical school.
3) The ongoing debate about contraception is supposed to be about access, but access has been redefined by the national Democratic Party and groups like Planned Parenthood in the course of its "war on women" (IMO BS) rhetorical assault to mean "mandates." But as the saying goes, there are different ways to skin a cat, and this is true with regard to the contraception access debate, too.
4) Contraception access, while a touchy subject for some, actually does matter and there's a simple reason why: Proper use of contraception by those who want it means fewer unwanted pregnancies and-- surprise!-- fewer abortions. Now, I'm pro-choice, but I'm also of the firm belief that too many abortions take place in America every year, and that abortion (much like adoption, or carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term and keeping the baby) usually involves a combination of emotional and physical pain that is best avoided by diminishing the number of unwanted pregnanices in the first place: It's the humane and right thing to do, from both a pro-life and a pro-woman standpoint.
I think what Brown has done in signing this is smart, and the GOP across the country should take note.
As much as we may wish it, Obamacare is very unlikely to be repealed (it will, of course, be tinkered with, but many of the fundamental challenges with it will remain).
Health care is overregulated, and that contributes to cost and access issues.
Access is, however, important and the basic recognition of that, together with the redefinition of "access" to mean "mandates" by the Left is a reason why some of this "war on women" stuff has stuck (and for the record, it happens to be hurting the Romney-Ryan ticket in places like Virginia).
To the extent that access-- or perhaps more accurately, cheaper access without the subsidy of groups like Planned Parenthood who perform a lot of abortions every year being involved-- is less robust than it should be, that means that we're running the risk of many very, very, very easily avoided abortions taking place every year. That's not something that the more pro-life of the two parties should support, and what Brown has done here hints at an easy, more free-market (but not Rand Paul free market, which let's be honest, a lot of Republicans couldn't get on board with) solution to something that, I would argue, is both a substantive, real-life problem for many women (and their partners) and a political problem for the GOP.
Republicans would be smart to take a look at this, get behind implementation of similar deregulatory laws where nurses are currently barred from prescribing, and also look to go even further.
Why not allow over-the-counter sales where a blood pressure test is performed and where a pharmacist warns the patient not to smoke? Those are essentially the only services directly relevant to the contraception itself that doctors provide, yet the cost associated with them doing so, the need to go into the doctor's office and spend what can be too significant an amount of time there, is too high.
My suspicion is that the AMA wouldn't like this, but you know what? I bet many pharmaceutical companies would and hell, millions of American women (and their partners) would. So would insurance companies, I imagine.
It would be great for the GOP to be in a position where it can be better characterized as pursuing positive health care reforms that improve access, reduce cost, and expand freedom and flexibility, without undercutting the GOP's claim to be the more pro-life of the two parties. This is a worthwhile path to consider, and I hope individual Republicans will.
If they can agree with Brown on the flat tax, they can agree with him on other sensible policy moves like this one. ...