Monthly Archives: May 2011

Sarah Palin’s Media Plan Is A Lost Opportunity

Let me say up front, I don’t think Palin is a particularly appealing candidate or even spokesperson for conservatism. We can save all the reasons for that for a later date.

If however you are a fan of Palin and think she’s a strong voice for conservatism, you should be disappointed in her approach to the media.

Yes, I know everyone hates the media and to see them making fools of themselves chasing her around is emotionally satisfying but…is that really all Palin is good for? Needling a bunch of people none of us really like or care about? It’s tasty but in the end it is as unsubstantial as cotton candy.

Were I a fan of Palin’s and thought she was a leading light of conservatism, I’d want her slugging it out with any and every MFM figure around. I’d want to see Palin use their platforms against them and not just promote herself or gain a bit of revenge for the outrageous treatment she received in 2008. Shouldn’t she use her talents to reach beyond the Fox News audience and her cadre of loyal supporters?

If Palin is the superstar conservative spokesperson so many say she is, wouldn’t she easily best the likes of Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, Wolf Blitzer and hell even Rachel Maddow? Aren’t the people who watch those people the one’s most in need of Palin’s conservative evangelizing?

Ask yourself, what would be more satisfying and effective in promoting conservative causes…making the media look like fools by chasing her around or Palin beating MFMers head to head in front of their adoring viewers? Think of the damage she could do by destroying them at their own game, one after another! Certainly she’s capable of that, right?

Yes, yes, I know. Palin plays by her own rules and we mere mortals can’t always divine the method behind the surface madness. Still, if you think Palin is the cure to a lot of problems facing conservatives and the country, shouldn’t you want to see her doing more than nibble around the edges? In a war, you don’t take your best weapon and deploy it away from the main field of battle.

So yeah, it’s fun and funny to watch the MFM chase Palin around in her game of hide the ball. But Palin fans should ask themselves, is this really  advancing conservatism?


Some Rules Only Apply To Israel

I know I’m a little late to it but this post by Hussein Ibish at Foreign Policy magazine’s website is an excellent example of the double standards to which Israel is held.

Ibish’s point is basically that Netanyahu is setting back the “peace process” (Definition- Noun, mythical being much like a unicorn) by insisting that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the “Jewish state”.

The idea that a state — or in this case a potential state — should participate in defining the national character of another is highly unusual, if not unique, in international relations. The Palestinian position, stated many times by President Mahmoud Abbas, is that the PLO recognizes Israel, and that Israel is free to define itself however it chooses.

There are several crucial concerns that make Palestinian acceptance of this new demand, particularly as a prerequisite to further negotiations, extremely difficult.

But what’s wrong with a party to a negotiation adding demands to get a better deal in the end? Why should Israel’s negotiating points be frozen in amber while the Palestinians are free to ignore their agreements, all the while trying to find new ways to force concessions from Israel?

Ibish calls Netanyahu’s call for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state,
an additional and quite recent complication to an already tangled knot

The Palestinians have never, until recently, threatened to go to the UN to seek recognition as a state outside the negotiating frame work with Israel (a step even the Obama administration rejects).  Is that effort, which is doomed to failure, not, “an additional and quite recent complication to an already tangled knot”?

It seems a more honest question would be, why should the Israelis negotiate at all with people who are proven liars who will not live up to their commitments.

Remember the Wye River agreements in 1998?

The agreement allowed for the building of an international airport in the Gaza Strip. Israel agreed to pull back from an additional 13 percent of the West Bank and to release 750 Palestinian security prisoners. (Ultimately, only half of the pull-back is done and only 250 prisoners are released.) The Palestinian Authority agreed to combat terrorist organizations, arrest those involved in terrorism, and to collect all illegal weapons and explosives. (Little or none of this is ever done.)

That’s from the well known neo-cons at PBS.
The Israelis are always told they must trade “land for peace”. The Palestinians took the land and then simply failed to live up to their security agreements which would have provided for the peace.
And yet like Charlie Brown and the football, the Israelis came back again in 2000 at Camp David offering more than they ever had before. The Palestinian response?  the Second Intifada.
But yes, it’s those darn hardline Israelis forever throwing up last minute roadblocks to peace.
Ibish then argues recognizing a Jewish state might lead to discrimination against non-Jewish Israelis.

Moreover, Palestinians are concerned that recognizing Israel as a Jewish state might be seen as endorsing discrimination against the Palestinian minority in Israel, which is approximately 20 percent of the population. They point out that Jewish Israelis do not agree at all on what the Jewish character of Israel means. Important sections of Israeli law, life, and society are structured in a discriminatory manner based on “nationality” (i.e., “Jewish,” “Arab,” and scores of other classifications made by the state) as opposed to citizenship. This discrimination applies to housing, education, military service and its many benefits, access to publicly owned lands and other important aspects of social and economic life. Palestinians are understandably uncomfortable with anything that might smack of acquiescence to these structures of discrimination that permeate Israeli society in favor of those classified by the state as “Jewish.”

This is weak tea for a number of reasons.

First, Netanyahu himself made hash of this in his speech to Congress.

Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights. I want you to stop for a second and think about that. Of those 300 million Arabs, less than one-half of one-percent are truly free, and they’re all citizens of Israel!

This is an irony people never seem to want to talk about.

And let’s be realistic, most Jews have been run out of Muslim, er, Arab countries in the Mideast. Why for example does Gaza have to be Judenfei?

More to the point, for all the supposed talk of Apartheid in Israel, I’ll take it a lot more seriously when this changes.

If tolerance is the most important virtue to modern day liberals, their beloved Palestinians fail to exhibit it on nearly every level.

Palestinian apologists who attack Netanyahu may want to consider this is a problem of their own making. Since the 2000 Camp David Summit with the rejection by the Palestinians of Ehud Barack’s offer and the Clinton “parameters”, successive Israeli governments have been increasingly conservative. Israelis are are free people and they regularly hold their elected government to task for failed policy initiatives (though they clearly like what Bibi is doing now). The Israeli people have given land but have yet to see any peace. This is the bitter fruit of the Palestinian miscalculation that Barack’s terms were a starting point from which they could force greater concessions. Ten years later we see that it was exactly the opposite.

The world now expects Israel to make good of the misjudgements of its enemies. There’s nothing new in that either. After all, Israel would still be living within the Palestinians precious ’67 borders if forces from nearly a dozen Arab states hadn’t lost a war they launched. No other country in history has ever been expected to give back land it won on the battlefield.

But as we know, some rules only apply to Israel.

Congressman Thad McCotter Is Thinking Of Running For President?

Apparently so.

This brings up something I wrote a week or so ago in response to Adam Baldwin about Congressman McCotter (R-MI) and the challenge  his pro-auto bailout stance would present in a Presidential run:

Last month the National Labor Relations Board announced it would seek to prevent Boeing from opening a non-union production line in South Carolina because it would harm union workers in Washington state.

Now a Boeing lawyer is arguing that if the NLRB wins it will cost jobs in union and right to work states. It’s a short but important post by Philip Klein and I don’t want to steal it so click over to see the logic of Boeing’s position and the potential consequences.

Somewhat related (though it’s going to take a bit to get there): As people search for their savior candidates, some folks are looking to Thad McCotter of Michigan.

Conservative Republican donors and grassroots activists, who have raised concerns that there is not yet a true Reagan conservative in the GOP presidential primary are privately encouraging Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Michigan Republican, to look at a potential entry.

McCotter, who led the Republican fight against the Bush/Obama TARP bank bailout and stimulus and is acknowledged as one of the party’s foreign policy leaders,

When I saw this being pushed my reaction on twitter was to point out that while McCotter may have opposed TARP he was pretty sweet on bailing out the auto industry and the UAW.

This prompted some to wonder if McCotter should get a pass since he represents a district heavily tied to the auto industry. Adam Baldwin, yeah that guy, sent me two videos to look at of McCotter arguing for the auto bailout.

I felt I owed Adam a response and that’s what this will be since it will be too long for Twitter. Before I get into my response please note, I’m not saying he supports McCotter or thinks the Congressman should get a pass for supporting the bailouts. I don’t know either way. I took his passing on of the links as a conversation starter that was neither an endorsement or condemnation.

My reaction to the speeches is that McCotter is a great speaker. I mean absolutely fantastic. What little I knew of him before was based on some appearances on Red Eye where he was usually very funny in a dry, deadpan way. That sort of quiet, low key delivery works well. He puts it to great use in an eloquent defense of an industry and a group people he obviously knows, respects and loves. The people of his district are fortunate to have such a vigorous and intelligent advocate.

I just wish in this case he’d used his power for good and not evil.

Both speeches are wholly at odds with the notion of limited government and free markets. I could easily imagine John Edwards giving both of these speeches in defense of say, the textile industry.

McCotter rails against the “whiz kids” on Wall Street who brought about the economic downturn. Sure there’s some truth to that but that’s an easy out (and I suspect the Congressman knows this). The “whiz kids” wouldn’t have had the opportunity to develop their exotic packaging of mortgages if conditions hadn’t been put in place to create so many toxic loans that should never have been made in the first place. Does the Community Reinvestment Act ring a bell? The implied (and subsequent actual) backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the federal government which are still sucking up cash.  There’s plenty of blame to go around.

But put aside the cause of the economic downturn for a moment. The reality is nearly every industry has been hard hit by the recession that bordered on a depression. Why should the auto industry have been bailed out and not newspapers or retailers or handymen or any group you care to name?

McCotter also talks of ‘equities’, the idea that Wall St is getting bailed out so why shouldn’t hard working auto workers who pay taxes to cover that bailout get a little something something too?

There’s so much wrong with that idea from a conservative standpoint it’s hard to know where to start. First, the bailout money was borrowed, money added right to the deficit and debt. Second, the idea that we should be bribing or paying off certain segments of the public with money we borrowed and will all have to chip in to pay back is exactly what got us into such a mess…hey, we’ll just spread it around and everyone will become hooked on government largess! What could go wrong?

To his credit McCotter also places some of the blame for the auto industry’s problems on ever increasing CAFE standards. Okay, lower them. And again, what industry hasn’t been hit hard by the cost of government regulations? Why this special exception for the auto industry?

But here’s where McCotter really has a problem on this issue and ties in with the NLRB/Boeing issue that started this post (Remember that? You were much younger then). The auto industry is flourishing in parts of this country but it’s places where the UAW can’t get a foothold. McCotter sees neighbors who have played by the rules and would have been in trouble without a bailout. Personally, I see people who used their collective might to wrangle economically unsound contracts from their employers and unions who used their money to support politicians who would insulate them from the entirely foreseeable consequences of their deals. When economic reality caught up with them, they simply used their political muscle to buy more time and shift the burden from them to the public at large. The gains were theirs, the costs were socialized.

It’s not that Americans can’t produce quality cars that are economically competitive and that people want to buy. It’s that Americans who work under economically unsupportable UAW rules can’t (even that’s not entirely true. Ford didn’t take the bailout and they are flourishing).  Had Chrysler and GM been forced into bankruptcy, the companies would have had the opportunity to break free of business and job killing union rules.

McCotter sets this fight up as between Main Street and Wall Street. I think it’s between right to work and closed shop states. The auto bailout, like the NLRB with Boeing, is simply the federal government privileging the later over the former. I think that’s bad economics, policy and politics.

Now, this is a long, long take-down of McCotter’s auto bailout stance, which is water that went over the dam two years ago. Even with all of that said, he’s a Congressman from an auto manufacturing district. He had to take that position (though David Stockman, Regan’s Director of OMB opposed the Chrysler bailout while in Congress). All politicians have imperfect voting records. If you want to have a perfect ideological trail, don’t run for office. It’s impossible to reconcile the two. More to the point, I don’t even know if McCotter is running or would be more than a niche candidate if he did.

But yes, I hold this as a strike against McCotter should he ever run for  President. I want candidates who believe in the same principles I do (in  as far as that’s possible) and fight for them. If these core principles  are abandoned out of political expediency, then what’s the point of  having them?  If every deviation (and let’s be honest, this isn’t a  minor one) can be excused by saying, “I needed the votes”, what’s the  point of electing conservatives? There will always be a sizable  constituency for federal dollars and government interference in the market place.

I’m sure he can defend himself if it comes to that, but I think it’s misleading for people like the writer of that Washington Times blurb to laud McCotter for his opposition to TARP while ignoring McCotter’s auto bailout advocacy.

The Real Danger Of The Daily Caller Story

In case you missed it last night, check out Ace’s post on the internet flap du jour. It’s also quite the thing on Twitter. I chimed in before seeing Ace’s story and mostly what I learned is angry tweeting before Nyquil wears off is a bad idea.

But I do think there’s something more here than internet gossip and low news standards.

One of the great things about blogs and social media like Twitter is that you get to connect with people you wouldn’t normally have direct access to. For a political junkie like me (and I suspect many, if not most, of you) this ability to connect with people that years ago you would only have seen on TV or read in the paper has been a lot of fun and very rewarding.

While people like political professionals, journalists and even candidates are more accessible than ever, this breach of trust may make them more leery to engage with people they only “know” through various online forums. In the end, we may all pay to one degree or another for one site’s desire to pump up traffic for a day.

Thanks guys!