The end of Americans for Prosperity?

Well, at least one observer thinks the TEA Party will be awful mad about a recent statement by the group’s president.

Writing at the Green Hell Blog (h/t Blue Ridge Forum), Steve Milloy posits that a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Rep. Fred Upton, incoming head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Americans for Prosperity head Tim Phillips charts a course toward capitulation to the Democrats and Obama Administration through a “sensible bipartisan compromise” on delaying the EPA regulations until the courts can determine their fate.

Obviously each individual chapter of AFP need not follow the dictates of the group’s president, but at a time where the group has been criticized locally (by a onetime AFP head) and around the state for being too co-opted by “establishment” Republicans who wanted to take advantage of the TEA Party and its energy, this is probably not the way for the organization to go.

Conservatives and TEA Partiers were already upset that it was Upton’s turn to be head of that committee, preferring instead that Rep. Joe Barton reassume the job he lost when Republicans were ousted from the majority in 2006. He would have needed a waiver of a six-year term limit on the chairmanship, but argued that his term effectively was wasted for four of those years by being simply the ranking member.

The problem with “sensible bipartisan compromise” is that one man’s ‘sensible’ is another man’s ‘surrender’ and it seems to me we have the mandate on our side. (Never mind that one side also has the tendency to lie through its teeth when it comes to cutting spending or the size of government. Their idea of government cuts? How about the ‘peace dividend’ and other ways of gutting the military?)

Furthermore, we’ve just come out of a ‘lame duck’ Congressional session where bipartisan compromise in the Senate gave us gays serving openly in the military, a bad nuclear treaty, another round of unemployment benefit extensions, and restoration of the death tax in exchange for a puny two-year extension of current income tax rates. Perhaps some of these shortcomings can be addressed in the upcoming 112th Congress (which will, among other things, replace our local ‘Blue Dog’ Democrat Frank Kratovil with conservative Andy Harris) but if this piece by Upton reflects the tenor of House leadership toward Democrats the TEA Party will be sorely disappointed.

At risk is a group which already has a serious strike against it by being, as they state on their website, “a section 501(c)(4) organization under the Internal Revenue Code… AFP can advocate for and against specific legislation at the state and federal levels.” But they can’t advocate for or against particular candidates, which becomes a problem in the cases where a conservative squares off against an “establishment” party member in the primary. While other TEA Party organizations scored successes in that area (like electing Marco Rubio in Florida) AFP had to remain silent and watch as other TEA Party conservatives like Joe Miller in Alaska or Sharron Angle in Nevada lost close races, in part because of the reluctance of ‘establishment’ Republicans to back the upstarts.

On a more local scale, imagine if AFP could have openly backed Michael James for a Maryland Senate seat or Joe Ollinger for County Executive. It could have made the difference, particularly in the Senate race where Democrat Jim Mathias all but portrayed himself as Ronald Reagan reincarnated.

Locally, the AFP chapter has waned since one co-founder left after her ill-fated run for office and the other, ironically enough, vacated to take an elected position in the local Republican Party. The former has shifted her involvement into the Wicomico Society of Patriots, an offshoot of the state group.

And she’ll be the one who might be saying “I told you so.”

Obviously, unless they decide to seek office and win, the amount of fealty an officeholder has to someone’s set of principles will almost never be 100 percent. (Witness the results of the ongoing monoblogue Accountability Project, which will return next summer.) But in the political arena, where making law is akin to making sausage, compromising the broad set of principles most in the TEA Party stand for should be a last resort and not an opening parlay. That’s a gambit which will never pay off in dividends for freedom-loving Americans like those in the TEA Party and may lead to a damaging third-party effort come 2012.

Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t stop it

A couple things up front regarding the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ (DADT for short) policy which softened the ban on gays in the military:

  1. I’ve never served in the military, being fortunate enough to spend my draft-eligible age during a time where the extent of military action was to kick a tinpot dictator out in Grenada and capture a pineapple-faced one in Panama, in part by bombarding him with hard rock music at all hours. Oh yeah, we bombed Libya too. With my asthma and bad eyes I’d likely be 4-F anyway.
  2. I truly don’t care what consenting adults do in their bedrooms.

Over the weekend I got an e-mail from Barack Obama, excited about the demise of DADT. In part, he wrote:

When that (repeal) bill reaches my desk, I will sign it, and this discriminatory law will be repealed.

Gay and lesbian service members — brave Americans who enable our freedoms — will no longer have to hide who they are.

The fight for civil rights, a struggle that continues, will no longer include this one.


As Commander in Chief, I fought to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” because it weakens our national security and military readiness. It violates the fundamental American principles of equality and fairness.

But this victory is also personal.

I will never know what it feels like to be discriminated against because of my sexual orientation.

But I know my story would not be possible without the sacrifice and struggle of those who came before me — many I will never meet, and can never thank.

I know this repeal is a crucial step for civil rights, and that it strengthens our military and national security. I know it is the right thing to do.

Supposedly, the impetus behind the repeal of DADT was a survey that strengthened the hand of those plotting for repeal. (Oddly enough, when the survey first came out gay and lesbian advocates were unhappy with it, but I suppose it’s served their purposes.)

But perhaps what bothers me most about President Obama and the various advocacy groups calling for DADT repeal is couching the issue as a civil rights one, much like the integration of the military after World War II. In that case, discrimination was based on skin color alone whereas sexual preference seems to be primarily behavior-based. And unike many other behaviors not deemed appropriate for a military environment such as being insubordinate or out of fighting shape, I’m not sure being attracted to the same sex can be addressed during basic training. (For that matter, neither can attraction to the opposite sex.)

And whether it’s desirable in all cases or not, the Millennial Generation seems to be much more tolerant of homosexuality than previous ones. Ask someone under 30 and its highly likely they know someone who is gay or lesbian. It’s almost the ‘in’ thing these days to at least present an image of being ambiguous about sexuality.

Yet the precautionary tale about those who are gay or lesbian (I would think this more likely among gay males since they actually do the preponderence of combat roles) is that, if you thought bullying against gay men was bad in schools, try surviving it in an environment where people carry automatic weapons. Why do I get the feeling that a larger-than-normal share of gay soldiers will be the victim of ‘friendly fire’ incidents? You can’t prove intent in the heat of battle.

It seems to me that the best course of action is the one they are abandoning. Yes, we have professional soldiers and the bad apples who would actually consider wiping out their homosexual brethren in a fragging incident is but a tiny percentage. But why take the chance by allowing openly gay and lesbian soldiers to serve in the name of ‘civil rights’?

We have only made this a controversy as a society by bringing what should be kept behind closed doors and between consenting adults out in the open, claiming the choice to sleep with someone of the same gender is a ‘right.’

But in order to promote discipline, soldiers in the field need to remain focused on the twin goals of victory and survival. While the repeal of DADT may not be a distraction to that effort, common sense seems to dictate that we shouldn’t mess with success.

Kratovil joins bid to overturn ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

While it wasn’t a strictly party-line vote outside of the Maryland delegation, Frank Kratovil joined his other six Democratic colleagues from the Free State in voting for an amendment to the defense appropriations bill to overturn the Clinton-era ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy for gays in the military, with certain conditions.

(continued on my page…)