Informally making it formal?

When you stop laughing, hear me out.

It’s only been two months since he left office, but I think we can all agree our somewhat esteemed former governor is all but an official announcement away from throwing his hat into the 2016 Presidential ring. And when you consider that Hillary Clinton is continually being tarred by scandal after scandal (Benghazi and her e-mail questions) and blunder after blunder (the Russian “reset” button and discussing the “fun deficit”), Martin O’Malley almost looks sane. Come on, what else do you have on the Democratic side – the gaffe-prone Joe Biden? “Fauxcahonotas” Elizabeth Warren? One-term Senator Jim Webb of Virginia is the one who has the exploratory committee going, but the far left considers him a “Reagan Democrat” who they can’t support.

So when you see the above photo on the O’Malley Facebook page (which is where I got it) you have to ask if the “taking on powerful and wealthy special interests” message is meant for Hillary? After all, look how much the Clintons’ foundation has raked in over the years. And his message today about the presidency “not (being) some crown to be passed between two families,” would resonate with a lot of people who believed the propaganda about how disastrous the George W. Bush tenure was and are already tired of the constant turmoil surrounding the Clinton family.

Perhaps Delegate Herb McMillan put this best, noting, “Raising taxes on the poor and middle classes 83 times isn’t the same as taking on powerful wealthy special interests.” But it’s more than that.

Obviously the laughter among many who read this website comes from knowing how rapidly O’Malley would genuflect to particular special interests when it suited his purposes. Environmentalists got a lot of goodies during MOM’s reign: California rules on emissions, punitive restrictions on development in rural areas (via the “tier maps”), an ill-advised and job-killing moratorium on fracking, and of course the “rain tax.” Illegal immigrants, too, had a friend in O’Malley, but productive taxpayers – not so much. He also decided to work on legalizing gay marriage only after his electoral coast was clear in the state – if he had tried to run for re-election on the issue he would have lost the black vote in 2010. (Remember, that was before Barack Obama’s flip-flop on the issue.)

Say what you will about Martin O’Malley, but he is the lone Democrat openly considering the race who has executive experience – on the other hand, there are a number of GOP candidates who can boast the same thing: in alphabetical order there’s Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rick Perry, and Scott Walker. Depending on who the GOP puts up, the “experience” tag could apply to the Democrat. We’re not saying the experience would be a good one, but it is what it is.

Don’t be too shocked if the O’Malley’s March national tour makes a lot of stops in Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s his way of pandering to the special interests he cherishes the most, and if people are fooled by this sudden bout of populism it’s their own fault. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Update: At Front Line State Jim Jamitis echoes these sentiments, with a great headline to boot.

The new “it” candidate

In each Presidential cycle, there always seems to be a candidate who breaks through against the conventional wisdom choices and becomes popular because he is a new face and excites the populace. Barack Obama was one of those in 2007, and he rode that early wave of popularity all the way through to the White House. They are usually from the opposition party to the one in the White House.

But aside from Obama, usually that particular politician flames out early in the process just as Howard “the Scream” Dean did in 2004 and Herman Cain did in 2011. So whether the cycle is going back in the other direction or we’ll hear the same old song is up to the voting public.

This cycle’s early “it” candidate has been through the electoral wringer quite a bit in the last four years, though, so he’s not exactly a completely unknown quantity. But over the last couple weeks, since the Iowa Freedom Summit, the star of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has rapidly ascended in the Republican ranks, putting him up into the top tier of candidates. Walker drew praise from no less than Rush Limbaugh, who believed the Wisconsin governor has clearly expressed a conservative manner of governance in his tenure over a previously staunchly Democratic state. “I believe Scott Walker is the blueprint for the Republican Party if they are serious about beating the left,” said Rush.

Walker, who recently formed an exploratory committee, comes into the race as one of several successful GOP governors. It’s a group that includes recent or current governors in Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, and Chris Christie, along with former governors Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush. This group with executive experience has served to push back many of the other contenders, such as Ben Carson and Ted Cruz, who don’t have as much time in the national spotlight. (One exception in that group is Rand Paul, who remains among the top dogs.)

Yet the argument for a candidate like Walker is simple in light of the last six-plus years of having a president who learned on the job: it’s time to put the adults back in charge. In fact, you have to reach all the way down the Democratic field to Martin O’Malley to find a person who’s actually run anything on a scale that several GOP aspirants have – and O’Malley’s legacy was so poor that he couldn’t even get his lieutenant governor to succeed him in a majority-Democratic state. Otherwise, their top half-dozen contenders got their political experience mainly from the Senate and despite the oversized ego required to be a Senator they really don’t have a lot of qualifications for the job. Good or bad, four of the preceding five Presidents before Obama served as governors of their state.

The question going forward will be how much scrutiny Walker will receive, although having survived both a recall effort and re-election should mean there’s not too many secrets we don’t know about him. Much will be made about Walker’s lack of a college degree (he attended Marquette University but did not graduate) but it hasn’t stopped him from running the ship of state in Wisconsin. Consider him a magna cum laude graduate of the School of Hard Knocks.

I can see why Walker would be popular, though. He has the record of success against Big Labor Chris Christie can only dream of and beaten them back at the polls in a way John Kasich of Ohio could not. And while he doesn’t have the job creation record of a Rick Perry in Texas, his state also doesn’t have the energy potential Texas has. Wisconsin did rank fourth last year in the number of new manufacturing jobs, as industry has traditionally been the state’s economic bread and butter.

So is Walker the outsider the GOP rank-and-file is looking for? Time will tell, but he’s the buzz on social media right now and for good reason.

A Palin problem?

As the 2016 Republican presidential field begins to expand rapidly, there is one name that evokes equal parts devotion and disgust: Sarah Palin. The question of whether or not she would run in 2012 sucked a lot of the oxygen out of the early days of that race, yet this time she’s not the slam-dunk favorite some thought she was in the wake of her 2008 candidacy – which I would argue revitalized a somnolent John McCain campaign – and the 2010 TEA Party wave election. Certainly others with longer gubernatorial records can boast more relevance.

On the other hand, there is a significant portion of the conservative electorate which loved her story and honest willingness to stand up for those principles in a humorous manner. I was there two years ago when at CPAC Palin mocked the effort to ban large-sized sodas by taking a few sips out of a Big Gulp during her speech. It’s an approach which is apparently off-putting to some in the Republican establishment – witness the acid tone of this recent National Review Online piece by Charles C. W. Cooke from which I excerpt:

For a long while now, Palin has not so much contributed arguments and ideas as she has thrown together a one-woman variety show for a band of traveling fans. One part free verse, one part Dada-laden ressentiment, and one part primal scream therapy, Palin’s appearances seem to be designed less to advance the ball for the Right and more to ensure that her name remains in the news, that her business opportunities are not entirely foreclosed, and that her hand remains strong enough to justify her role as kingmaker without portfolio. Ultimately, she isn’t really trying to change politics; she’s trying to be politics — the system and its complexities be damned. Want to find a figure to which Palin can be reasonably compared? It’s not Ronald Reagan. It’s Donald Trump.

That is an interesting comparison considering that Donald Trump is making news again about running for President – at least enough noise that Breitbart News took the time to speak with him about it.

Yet while it can be argued that Trump has plenty of both business acumen and self-promotional skills – qualities Palin also has, as evidenced by her frequent forays into series television and devoted fan following – Trump has never taken the helm of the ship of state. His one advantage, which would certainly be turned against his by class-warfare-exploiting liberals, is that he’s willing to self-finance his campaign. Donald is definitely part of the 1 percent, while Sarah Palin’s chief sin seems to be the aspiration to join him despite her modest upbringing.

I’ve noted before that eight years can sometimes be the period of political rehabilitation, with the pre-Watergate Richard Nixon being an example. Having lost the 1960 Presidential election as the sitting Vice-President, he then ran in 1962 to be governor of California and lost again. But Nixon stayed active in the political world and reclaimed the GOP nomination in 1968. Similarly, Sarah Palin set her political office aside in 2009 but has stayed active in that “kingmaker” role with some success, campaigning for Republicans around the country.

Yet Sarah will not be the only one with executive experience who can appeal to Republicans. Just a cursory glance at some in the possible field reveals that a number of recent or current governors may jump in: Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, and Scott Walker are among those mentioned, and all have more time in their governor’s office than Palin’s two-plus years.

Just as I would say to any of those I mentioned above, the more the merrier. The GOP field is perhaps the most wide open in memory, with a number of good candidates that a deep bench provides. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is the heavy favorite – but she was at this stage in the 2008 campaign as well, even with a fairly large initial field as the Democrats were the party out of power the previous eight years. But there are likely many rank-and-file Democrats who would like a break from the Clinton circus and may not be keen on the prospects of a President Biden, so their side is a little dispirited and less than enthusiastic.

There’s a school of thought out there which believes the political opposition will tell you who they are most afraid of by the amount of ridicule and criticism heaped their way. In that respect Sarah Palin is a leader because she gets flak from both the Left and the establishment Republicans, and it’s one aspect where the Reagan comparison is quite apt.

Who’s out may be as important as who’s in

Recently I’ve posted about three likely entrants into the 2016 Presidential race – Jeb Bush and Dr. Ben Carson on the Republican side and Jim Webb representing the Democrats. Naturally with an open seat the interest in the job increases, since there’s no incumbent with his built-in advantages to contend with. This opens the field to a lot of potential contenders who passed on the 2012 race for various reasons. Recall that many of those who ran in 2012 on the GOP side are still active in the political arena – Newt Gingrich with his production group, Rick Santorum with Patriot Voices, Mitt Romney with endorsements and help with financial support, and Rick Perry with his RickPAC, among others.

Obviously Democrats were silent in 2012, but it’s been known that grassroots movements have sprung up for Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren (who’s trying to tell her supporters “no”) while Martin O’Malley began his own PAC for 2014. Joe Biden claims he “honest to God hasn’t made up my mind” about running.

On the GOP side, these aforementioned contenders have one thing in common: except for Perry, who did not seek another term and leaves next month, they are not currently serving in office. (On the other hand, among the Democrats only Webb and Clinton are out of office, although O’Malley joins that group January 21.) Yet the GOP has an extremely deep bench of current governors, many of which are in their second term and have national name recognition: in alphabetical order, the group includes Chris Christie of New Jersey, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, John Kasich in Ohio, Mike Pence of Indiana, and Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

In recent years, our presidents have tended to be former governors: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter all came from that background. Obviously their tenures in the Oval Office were a mixed bag of success, but Americans tend to be more confident that those who ran a state can run a federal government. (The only recent exceptions to this were 2012 with Mitt Romney and 1988, where Vice-President Bush defeated Michael Dukakis. Maybe being governor of Massachusetts works as a disqualifier.)

With the large potential field of governors, it may be just as important to know who’s out. When you have a state to run for another four years, the excuses for trips to Iowa and New Hampshire are fewer. It’s not to say that governors who want the brass ring won’t try and make that effort, but as we’ve seen with Martin O’Malley and his frequent journeys to New Hampshire and Iowa in his second term, there is the potential for losing focus on your real job. It was enough to cost his anointed successor his election, for the dubious gain of polling at 1 percent or less in most 2016 Presidential polls.

There are perhaps 15 to 20 figures in national politics who could potentially run for President on the Republican side – far more than the Democrats boast. Of course, only one can win a party’s nomination, but beyond that there are only three or four who can be in the top tier and raise the money necessary to wage a national campaign. (It’s something that Martin O’Malley is finding out firsthand on the Democrat side, since he’s not one of those.) It’s been claimed on a grassroots level that the last two Republican campaigns were decided when the “establishment” settled on one candidate before the activists did – that group split their allegiances and votes several ways until it was too late. By the time Rick Santorum outlasted Gingrich, Perry, et. al. he was no more than the highest loser because at that point the nomination was just about sealed for Mitt Romney. Romney may have been the best candidate for 2012, but he wasn’t good enough to get the nearly 3.6 million who passed on voting for Barack Obama a second time to come on board.

People like to keep their options open, but since the announcements of who’s in seem to be receding farther and farther from the actual election, it may help those of us on the Right who would like to select a candidate to know who won’t be running. Obviously there will be a few ardent supporters who will pine for that candidate to reconsider – as far-left populist Democrats are finding with Elizabeth Warren – but we could save a lot of wasted money and effort by finding out who won’t make a half-hearted attempt at an early date.

The values voters speak

Obviously I’ve been concerned about the upcoming Maryland election, and we’re probably four to six months away from the formal beginnings of the 2016 Presidential campaign on both sides of the aisle. But over the weekend, while Allen West was speaking to us, a few of his former Congressional colleagues were addressing the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington in an attempt to gain support. Ted Cruz narrowly topped the field in their annual straw poll, drawing 25% of the vote and besting fellow contenders Ben Carson (20%), Mike Huckabee (12%), and Rick Santorum (10%). Leading a second tier were Bobby Jindal and Rand Paul, both with 7% of the 901 votes cast.

Also worth talking about were the issues this group was most concerned with: protecting religious liberty topped the list, with abortion a strong second. Interestingly enough, protecting natural marriage was the top vote-getter as the number 3 issue on people’s lists, but was seventh as a choice for number one contender and a distant third as a second place issue. Whether people are begrudgingly accepting same-sex unions due to isolated votes and ill-considered judicial decisions overturning the expressed will of the people or see it more as a religious liberty issue based on the experiences of those who object is an open question, though.

The other open question is just how much this voting bloc will take in terms of being ignored. There is a bloc of the Republican Party which says that social issues are to be avoided because it alienates another, supposedly larger group of moderate voters. Needless to say, Democrats exploit this as well – the Maryland gubernatorial race is a good example.

Even the Baltimore Sun concedes that “(p)ortraying Larry Hogan as a hard-core right-wing Republican is part of Brown’s strategy.” This despite Hogan’s insistence that Maryland settled the abortion issue 22 years ago in a referendum, just as they decided same-sex unions in 2012. To believe the other side, these votes were overwhelming mandates; in the 1992 case they have a point but not so much the same-sex unions one which passed by less than 5% on the strength of a heavy Montgomery County vote (just six counties voted yes, but it was enough.)

Yet I believe the abortion balloting is open to question because attitudes about abortion have changed. According to Gallup, the early 1990s were the nadir for the pro-life movement so perhaps the question isn’t the third rail political consultants seem to believe. To be perfectly honest, while there’s no question where I stood on the more recent Question 6 regarding same-sex unions I would have likely been more neutral on the 1992 version at the time because in my younger days I leaned more to the pro-choice side. I didn’t really become pro-life until I thought through the ramification of the right to life for the unborn and how it trumped the mother’s so-called right to privacy. Exceptions for rape and incest I could buy – although I would strongly prefer the child be carried to term and given to a loving adoptive family – but not unfettered baby murder just as a method of birth control. Now I’m firmly on the pro-life side.

So when Larry Hogan makes these statements about how certain items are off-limits because at some past point voters have spoken doesn’t make those who have faith-based core beliefs overly confident in a Hogan administration as an alternative to Anthony Brown. They may hold their nose and vote for Hogan, but they won’t be the people who are necessary cogs in a campaign as volunteers and financial contributors.

On the other hand, there is a better possibility we could see action on these fronts with the federal government, even if it’s only in terms of selecting a Supreme Court that overturns Roe v. Wade (placing the matter with the states where it belongs) and understands there is a legitimate religious objection to same-sex nuptials and funding abortions via health insurance as mandated by Obamacare.

We’ve been told for years that conservatives can’t win if they stress social issues. But on the federal level I’ve noticed that even when Republicans haven’t been addressing the social side we have lost, so why not motivate a set of voters which serves as the backbone of America?

Carson for 2016?

It’s become a rite of passage for presidential hopefuls on both sides – the formation of a political action committee to gauge fundraising prowess and begin to collect IOUs for later political favors. So after a long runup where his name has been floated as a possible Republican contender, Dr. Ben Carson has taken that PAC creation step, dubbing the new organization the One Nation PAC. It builds on an unofficial online draft effort which has gone on for about a year.

Terry Giles, a businessman who would be Carson’s campaign chairman if he runs, told the Washington Times Thursday that the PAC was to “explore and analyze and engage in homework to determine what the political landscape would look like and how it might materialize for a Carson for President campaign.”

So a guy who back in December said he “thought when I retired I was going to play golf and learn how to play an organ” may instead make a bid for the highest office in the land. Quite honestly, I think the minority outsider part of the dance card might still be filled by Herman Cain; however, Carson has even less political experience than Cain did because Herman at least ran for a Senate seat from Georgia in 2004 before trying for the brass ring in 2011.

Having Cain to blaze the trail could be to Ben’s advantage, though. As he told The Weekly Standard in May:

I know how vehemently the left will come after you, try to destroy you, try to destroy your family. But at the same time I recognize that people like Nathan Hale – he said, ‘My only regret is I have but one life to give to my country’ … And if everybody runs for the hills because they’re afraid that somebody is going to attack them or their family, then [the left] will have won.

As the 2016 campaign will be for an open seat, like 2008’s was, there will be no shortage of Republican hopefuls vying for a place on the ballot. Rumors abound about everyone from the familiar names of Romney and (Jeb) Bush, to TEA Party favorites like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, or Sarah Palin, to a list of governors which includes Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Mike Pence, and Chris Christie.

But with the exception of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, Carson beat all those others at the CPAC Straw Poll in March. So there are a number of voters out there looking for a true political outsider.

I believe this step is the prelude to setting up the exploratory committee, regardless of how the fall elections go. No one wants to get in the ring this soon because many of those who are considering a 2016 bid have to make it through this year’s election first. Once the election and holidays pass us by, I would expect Carson to make a go of it.

Reversing the process

I got an interesting e-mail the other day – not necessarily for the content, but who it was from and what it may represent.

After the 2012 Republican primary campaign wrapped up, a number of the also-rans decided to form political groups or super PACs to keep their names out there, continue compiling e-mail lists, and – most importantly – keep the money coming in. Two good examples are Rick Santorum’s Patriot Voices group he formed shortly after withdrawing and the American Legacy PAC Newt Gingrich is wrapped up in.

But as we begin to inch toward the 2016 campaign, the Republican field is (hopefully) looking beyond the retreads from past elections, and the potential first-time candidates are numerous. Sure, you have your share of governors like, for example, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Mike Pence, and Scott Walker, along with a number of those already in Washington like Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who has began the slog by winning a couple key straw polls.

Yet there’s always something about a campaign: the issues you may think will be the hot-button issues a couple years in advance rarely turn out to be; heck, even six months is a political lifetime. But Barack Obama’s foreign policy weaknesses, which were successfully swept under the rug for 2012, seem to be much more prominent of late. It’s interesting how the race to enroll people by the March 31 deadline for Obamacare and the entirety of the debacle itself still hasn’t quite been able to succeed in pushing the Russia/Crimea/Ukraine situation off the front pages, no matter how hard the Obama admnistration tries to mash that “reset” button.

So yesterday, thanks to the always-growing number of people who seem to have my e-mail address on file, I found out that former Ambassador John Bolton created a PAC last year. He was looking for donations, of course, but one has to ask whether the time has arrived for a foreign policy hawk to assume the Commander-in-Chief’s position? I can’t answer the question, of course, but it’s relevant to ask because Bolton drew 3% of the vote at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference. Granted, that’s not in the league of the aforementioned Paul, Christie, et. al. but it’s three times better than Martin O’Malley is doing in Iowa and everyone knows MOM’s gunning for the White House sooner or later. Like O’Malley, Bolton is even a Maryland native.

Maybe what got me to thinking Bolton may make a run is the PAC website. Its look and feel gives me the impression that it’s a couple little tweaks from being the John Bolton for President website. Instead of featuring candidates the PAC may be helping, it’s focused completely on Bolton himself – not a bad thing, but why have the pretense?

At the risk of being called a neocon, I don’t think it would be a bad thing for Bolton to make a run and create a referendum on our foreign policy. Obviously John was there during the George W. Bush years when we were hip-deep in Iraq and Afghanistan, but unfortunately it’s beginning to appear all that blood and treasure was for naught because we left before the job was (or will be) done. In both cases, we stopped short of annihilating the enemy with overwhelming force as we did in World War II. (Arguably, this is true of all our conflicts in the post-atomic era – well, maybe Grenada turned out pretty good.)

Unfortunately, those who have opposed us since the Vietnam era have learned that our resolve is only as good as the news cycle allows it to be. One would think after 9/11 we would see the Long War through but it doesn’t appear our current Commander-in-Chief is interested in victory or even rules of engagement which would allow the possibility because someone here may be offended. In the interim, much damage has been done to both our military and our national psyche, and Hillary Clinton won’t be the right person to fix it – for one thing, she wouldn’t hire John Bolton, PAC or no PAC.

Playing pundit

She’s not known for the op-ed, but Maryland GOP Chair Diana Waterman tried her hand at the art of the written world recently, penning a piece called “Free Markets, Free People Eliminate Poverty.”

In last week’s edition of The Economist, it was reported that capitalism and free markets are credited with helping pull over one billion people out of poverty in the last 20 years. The article also pointed out that the biggest obstacle to bringing another billion people out of destitution are governments that progressively take over more control of the individual and only “boost inequality.” It said, “the biggest poverty-reduction measure of all is liberalising  markets to let poor people get richer.”

This discussion is very important to the future of the United States because the real battle is occurring in state capitals across the county. Republican Governors like Rick Snyder in Michigan, Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, and Brian Sandoval in Nevada are working to balance state budgets, lower dependency on government, and create an environment that is more friendly for job creators. However, in states like Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley has continued a sense of hostility and rigidness that has only served to send businesses to nearby states where they are welcomed with open arms.

Prior to the release of that article, Governor O’Malley gave a speech to far-left Washington insiders at the Center for American Progress to discuss his policies here in Maryland, the same kind of policies that have limited the potential success of so many around the world. To highlight his delusion, at one point in the speech, he said, “We have cut, in Maryland, more spending than ever before in state history.” The facts say otherwise. Spending in Annapolis has skyrocketed nearly 30% from $28.8 billion in 2007 to $36.8 billion for 2014. This spending increase has been matched by sharply raising taxes 54 times for a total of $2.8 billion, or nearly $2,000 per family per year.

In his speech, Governor O’Malley attacked reform-minded Republicans like Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin for the broad expansion of jobs and opportunity to all Americans. Well Governor, your tired rhetoric is wrong, your attacks are backwards, and The Economist agrees.  As Republicans, we do not want to limit success. We want every person who has the desire to be successful, a willingness to work hard, and play by the rules to meet their maximum potential.

Martin O’Malley and Anthony Brown’s method of governing has tried and it has failed. Liberalism has failed the unemployed among us. Liberalism has failed the small businesses struggling to survive. Liberalism has failed college students who cannot find a job when they graduate. And catastrophes like the Baltimore City Jail have proven that liberalism has failed the trust of the people of Maryland.

Now is the time for a new direction and new leadership. We invite you, your family, and your friends to join the Republican Party where we believe it is our role to make government smarter, more effective, and more efficient. If you believe that your taxes are too high, your freedom is under assault, and your government is out of control, then we welcome you to join your 1,000,000 fellow voters in the Maryland Republican Party. On Thursday, June 20th, we invite all voters to hear Congressman Paul Ryan discuss his “Path to Prosperity” at the 23rd Annual Red, White, and Blue Dinner at the Renaissance Hotel in Baltimore City.

Republicans are ready to serve and we need your help. If you would like more information about running for office or the Maryland Republican Party, please visit www.MDGOP.org or call us at 410-263-2125.

Waterman’s op-ed has a nice length, and makes some great points. But the message I got out of the piece in The Economist was twofold: it would take a global push to eradicate poverty around the world, sponsored by government, and a social safety net was required. At one point in the Economist piece they remark:

The world now knows how to reduce poverty. A lot of targeted policies — basic social safety nets and cash-transfer schemes, such as Brazil’s Bolsa Família — help.

According to Wikipedia, 26 percent of the Brazilian population is covered under the Bolsa Familia program, which has in the past been propped up by loans from the World Bank. In essence, this is the same sort of governmental wealth redistribution scheme which Martin O’Malley has been trying for seven years to perfect and shore up a permanent underclass which will continually vote Democratic. Perhaps The Economist lauds capitalism for its effect in creating wealth for governments to redistribute as they see fit, so perhaps Waterman picked a weak analogy for her point. After all, it’s those who succeed in Maryland – despite the headwinds put in place by state government – which drive the state’s economy.

A stronger thought piece was put out on Tuesday by Dan Bongino, soon to be officially a candidate for Congress. In speaking about the NSA scandal, he packed a lot of wisdom into a short release called “Why the NSA Scandal Matters”:

As a former federal agent who has appropriately used the judicial review provisions of our Constitution to gather information while investigating criminality, I am tired of the “If you are doing nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide” argument concerning violations of privacy. You may continue to ignore the government’s relentless pursuit of expansive new powers but I assure you, it is not ignoring you.

As Americans, we value our liberty and its corresponding privacy. We have the right to choose which part of our lives should be public and which should remain private. The fact that we do not want our private lives monitored by government representatives who can use the information for malicious purposes (exhibit 1: IRS), does not mean we have something criminal to hide.

It is the reason we put shutters on our windows, passwords on our accounts and phones and keep the doors to our homes closed. We want to choose when the public self begins and the private self ends and we certainly do not want the government to make that choice for us.

The overwhelming majority of Americans are good people who make mistakes on a regular basis but very few of these mistakes involve criminality or deadly intent and I object to being monitored using the exact same tactics for both.

If an American’s private life does not include criminal behavior or infringe on the rights of others, why should government representatives be allowed an open door into our lives while using their expanding government bureaucracy to hide behind their own?

If you believe, like I do, that we should stand up against big government overreach, please join our campaign today and contribute to our cause.

Now it helps Bongino’s message when he has some personal experience with the subject, but he goes farther to personalize the situation for the intended audience using a number of simple real-life examples. Furthermore, he appeals to the good in all of us while realizing that many of us slip up on occasion – although I would be interested to know what he defines as “mistakes.”

I will make the point here that Dan Bongino has spent the last two years running for some office or other and in that time he’s had many opportunities for refining and honing his message for mass consumption. On the other hand, Diana’s been behind the scenes as an organizer who’s never really had to create a message which appeals to the masses. She did a reasonable job with this opinion piece, as on the surface it makes very good points. And while I have my interpretation of the underlying message of the Economist piece, quite frankly, 99 percent of the people who read this op-ed in their local paper (should it show up there) will never see it. The reference is truly there simply for gravitas.

On the whole I believe we can – and should – point out Martin O’Malley’s many foibles, although it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. But we also have to present a credible alternative, so hopefully Waterman (or whoever is writing these under her name) will continue to work on that side of the equation. Indeed, it’s likely we will be running against a continuation of the O’Malley-Brown regime here in Maryland, but Republicans need to make their intentions clear and defensible against the oncoming onslaught by the state and national media.

Bachmann’s turn is over (but Perry’s isn’t after all)

Well, it was fun while it lasted. The monoblogue kiss of death has claimed another victim, Michele Bachmann.

After gamely trying to convince herself and others the fight wasn’t over last night, apparently she slept on it and “decided to stand aside” this morning. This was the statement on her website:

I will be forever grateful to Iowa and its people for launching us on this path with our victory in the Iowa Straw Poll. While I will not be continuing in this race, my faith in the Lord God Almighty, this country, in our republic, has been strengthened. As I have traveled around Iowa, and the country, I have seen the very best in America, our people. And I will always believe in the greatness of them and the greatness of our God.

And, of course, I am deeply grateful to our entire campaign team, here in Iowa, in South Carolina and everywhere. I have no regrets. We never compromised our principles and we can leave this race knowing that we ran it with integrity and that we made an important contribution.

Thank you, God Bless you.

At this time, she hasn’t made an endorsement but presumably her decision was hastened in part by the necessity to begin her campaign to retain her Congressional seat – a campaign which has already drawn her GOP opposition and perhaps may place her in another Congressional district, as the DFL (their version of the Democratic Party) redistricting plan does. She also remains as the titular head of the TEA Party Caucus.

So the old adage that there are only three tickets out of Iowa may yet prove almost true, as the list of contenders gets whittled down to six: Newt Gingrich (4th in Iowa), Jon Huntsman (7th, but did not campaign there), Ron Paul (3rd in Iowa), Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. (The latter two essentially tied for first.) Fifth-place finisher Rick Perry was going to “reassess” his campaign, but perhaps Bachmann’s decision allowed him to stay in the hunt.

This hasn’t been much of a campaign for conservatives. Many would have liked to see Sarah Palin run, while others pined for a TEA Party favorite like Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana. Other names tossed around were Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Allen West of Florida, and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, all reliably conservative.

But many conservatives coalesced around the lesser-known Herman Cain until a series of unfounded allegations of marital misconduct and sexual harassment knocked him out of the race. Others have been in the Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann camps early on and stayed during the frequent ups and downs.

Now we have fewer but certainly not better choices: Mitt Romney will forever have the albatross of ushering in the precursor to Obamacare in Massachusetts and has the perception of being the “establishment” choice in an era of anti-establishmentism. (Come on, he’s been endorsed by John McCain – how much more of a milquetoast, reach across the aisle pander can one get?) Likewise, Newt Gingrich is the consummate Beltway insider who never really left Washington once he left the House.

Rick Santorum is the darling of the social conservative group – and that’s an integral part of our cause. But Rick won’t be the fiscal conservative we need and hasn’t always shown fealty to the cause of limited government – one can ask Pat Toomey about that. (Yet for everything Santorum has said he seems to have a manner of parsing his words later. I call it saying what he thinks will get him elected.)

Jon Huntsman started out turning his back to the TEA Party movement and his idea that anthropogenic climate change is real is a disqualifier. And then there’s Ron Paul. If being President didn’t involve a lick of foreign affairs he would be my guy, but the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

And while Perry is back in, will this post-Iowa misstep work the same as John McCain’s late suspension of 2008 campaign efforts in order to address the economic crisis? After that he never recovered in the polls.

That’s all folks. That’s what we now have to choose from, unless there’s somehow a brokered convention and some white knight rides in to save us from ourselves. Certainly any of the above would be an improvement over the current occupant of the Oval Office, but I somehow get the gnawing feeling that we’re leaving a huge missed opportunity here.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day, either, and to undo nearly 100 years of damage to the Republic will take more than four. The trick is just getting started on the task.

Friday night videos – episode 41

It’s back to the political for this edition of FNV, and I have plenty to choose from since I took the extra week.

You know, Americans aren’t happy with their government and its spending. So says the Senate Republicans.

 

Nice of them to use some video from my old hometown – the part about Senator Voinovich was taken from WNWO-TV, the NBC affiliate in Toledo.

As a matter of fact I find this next video pretty funny. The vain stumbling in search of a thought is the best part.

Sure Bob Ehrlich put it out, but when you’re caught you’re caught.

Even more funny is this spot for a phony product. Fortunately, I’m not in the market for it.

I still want the sticker I’ve seen which says: ‘You voted for Obama? Thanks a lot @$$hole!’

One group which still supports Obama and his agenda is the NAACP. While it smacks of ‘gotcha’ journalism, sometimes these guerrilla efforts are the best way to get the truth.

Human Events did the video, so consider the source before you demean the message.

Here’s another example of ‘gotcha’ journalism. But imagine if it were a pro-life group disseminating incorrect information – would you not see someone like Geraldo Rivera all over it?

I guess considering the fetus ‘medical waste’ makes it all better?

The next two videos are an impassioned plea from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal regarding the oil drilling moratorium and jobs. This was at the ‘Rally for Economic Survival.’

If Governor Jindal can continue being a leader, he may yet be a factor in 2012. Do you wonder if President Obama is trying to make him look bad as a potential opponent?

I’m saving the best for last. Americans for Limited Government took time to remind us that next February marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of an American who fought for limited government as much as he could.

Ronald Reagan’s message seems a good way to bring this edition to a close.

A ridiculous waste of time

If this doesn’t show you how government works, I don’t know what will. I was tipped off on this by a release from Americans for Limited Government, which noted in part:

Governor Jindal  was joined by local Louisiana officials in submitting the barrier island containment plan and discussing it directly with the President on May 2, gaining what seemed like Presidential approval for an expedited approval process to contain the oil.  One month later, President’s man on the ground is taking an Internet survey.

The question is whether to build a set of barrier islands off the coast to protect the more delicate areas from the effects of the continuing oil spill. Who knows, had this been done a couple weeks back there may have been containment already in place.

There’s no doubt we are swimming in uncharted waters regarding the entire Deepwater Horizon incident since the safety record of these rigs was previously exemplary.

In the government’s defense, comments are only being accepted until 7:00 p.m. our time so if you have something to say do so quickly. I say, “be like Nike and just do it!”

Has the time come for a real maverick?

A few election cycles ago Republicans ended up nominating a real, honest-to-goodness old warhorse for their presidential candidate, putting him up against a scandal-plagued incumbent Democrat. With the off-year elections two years before bringing a resounding GOP victory, Republican regulars shrugged off the 23-year age gap between the two nominees and presumed that the contrast between the incumbent’s lacking character and their nominee’s homespun charm could still score them an upset victory.

But thanks to a lackluster campaign and just enough of a third-party effort to deny the incumbent a majority of the vote, Republican stalwart Bob Dole lost the 1996 election to Bill Clinton. It was an era which placed the term “triangulation” into the political lexicon and Clinton executed that strategy masterfully in winning a second term.

In fact, recent history suggests Washington insiders don’t do well as Republican candidates. George W. Bush won because he cut his political teeth in Texas, far from the nation’s capital. Similarly, Ronald Reagan governed California before winning the White House on his second try and America expected more of the same when they elected a Beltway insider to succeed him in Vice-President George H.W. Bush. Conversely, Dole and John McCain were longtime Republican fixtures in Washington, perhaps alienating them from the party grassroots.

To that end, a number of names being bandied about for the GOP nod in 2012 come from the ranks of state governors. While Bobby Jindal of Louisiana declared last week he was not in the running, there’s still several current or former state chief executives in the mix – Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Texas’s Rick Perry, 2008 candidates Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, and of course former second banana Sarah Palin of Alaska.

Yet there is a Beltway insider who has enough appeal among the conservatives who attend events like CPAC or last week’s Southern Republican Leadership Conference to beat most of the above-mentioned names in their straw polls – he won the CPAC vote handily and just missed winning the SRLC balloting by one vote. If nominated, he would be 26 years older than the current incumbent Democratic president.

Somehow Ron Paul has escaped the wrath of being perceived as a Washington insider despite serving three stints in Congress totaling 20 years. Obviously he didn’t do particularly well in a crowded primary field in 2008 as far as gathering votes goes, but he proved a potent fundraiser and has become a darling among the portion of the Republican Party which preaches fiscal conservatism and limited government through his Campaign for Liberty organization. More importantly, he has an appeal among young conservatives which belies his age.

And with economic issues in the forefront this time around, one Achilles heel of Paul’s 2008 bid – his strident opposition to the war in Iraq – is off the table. His domestic policies generally follow a line which straddles conservatism and libertarianism, making him a definite friend of the TEA Party set.

It’s doubtful that many of the Presidential players for the 2012 cycle are going to make their intentions known before the 2010 election because of November’s potential for upending the Democrats’ stranglehold on our legislative branch. This wait-and-see approach serves to gauge the strength of TEA Party politics and the general anti-incumbent mood.

But don’t be surprised if the gentleman from Texas doesn’t toss his hat back into the presidential ring next year and is more successful this time around. Unlike Bob Dole, it’s not likely this elderly Washington insider will be uninspiring on the campaign trail.

Michael Swartz, an architect and writer who lives in rural Maryland, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer. This happened to be posted on April 12.