RobPortman: the Political Class

I received a fundraising letter from Rob Portman the other day, and am ethically prohibited from sending him any money.  One reason is that, like the median family in America, my net worth has dropped significantly over the last ten years.  This covers the Obama administration and certainly the Bush administration.  A pox on BOTH houses.

Even if I had expendable cash though, would I get my money’s worth from Rob Portman?  Well the NRSC certainly hasn’t gotten any of my money.  I made THAT decision years ago when they backed future Democrats Arlen Specter and Lincoln Chaffee.  And then again the NRSC implicitly supported future Democrat Charlie Crist and Democrat favorite Mike Castle.  (While they may not have explicitly supported them, their contributors and their supporters certainly did.)  Later, Karl Rove said he was staying out of the Texas Senate runoff because there was no difference between David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz.  So Dewhurst would have keynoted CPAC?

Lastly, and directly involving Rob Portman, is the support for Thad Cochran in Mississippi.  There is no reason that an honest Republican should support the less articulate conservative, the less energetic conservative, or the less mainstream conservative.  The only thing that Thad Cochran has in his favor is his connection to Washington DC.  For Rob Portman, this is all that counts.

The political class in Washington knows nothing about party – Democrats and Republicans are equally welcome.  They have the singular interest of self-preservation and they have the wherewithal to do it.  While median incomes of all US families has gone down, the incomes of Fairfax, Howard, and Loudon Counties have all gone up.  In fact, the median income in those counties is nearly DOUBLE that of the US median income!  So while Portman and Republicans and Democrats campaign for the middle class, it is simply an Alinsky tactic.  The political class is taking money from those of us trying to get ahead, and keeping it themselves.

For twenty years Rob Portman has been campaigning for fiscal sanity and for pro-growth policies.  Well if he is in fact trying to promote those things then he’s not doing a good job at it!  For over twenty years in the House, in the Bush administration, and now in the Senate, Portman has passed on opportunities to help the middle class IN FAVOR of helping the political class.  One of the principle checks that the legislative has over the executive is the expenditure of funds, and time and again Rob Portman sides with Chuck Schumer over Mike Lee.  That is not a role that an honest Republican should take.

Portman must keep the funds of the government flowing because the government is his priority.  His resume stinks of the establishment.  He is gaining a higher profile as this year has gone on, and with the GOP Convention coming to Ohio there is chatter as to whether he should run.  My mind is open and I might certainly think about supporting him over Hillary or Warren, but I promise you that he is Lucy with the football.  He is all talk.  He has talked for all of his twenty years in Washington, and the fiscal mess that he derides has only gotten worse.  He has neither the courage nor the capabilities, and most importantly he lacks the will to change course.

Senator Rob Portman and the Mike Lee Problem

What do you call a person who pays for something he is dead set against?  Senator!

And so it is with the GOP establishment.  The House has voted to repeal Obamacare almost 40 times, which we all understand to be a fool’s errand.  Where the real damage can and SHOULD be done is with the budget process.  The Congress, if it still has power, controls the money in Washington DC.  The weak-kneed Republican leadership has never drawn a battle line from which they wouldn’t retreat.  Continuing resolutions have given the federal government uncontrolled access to whatever money they ask for, and they’ve spent it on dance lessons, conventions, and daily air travel.  Forgive us GOP if we don’t say thank you.

Sen. Mike Lee has a letter that says he will continue to fund all the stupid portions of the federal government, but he won’t fund Obamacare.  Sounds overly-generous to me, but it is the last line in the sand we can draw when it comes to Obamacare.  Next year, everybody will need to look at exchanges, private insurance at whatever cost they offer, or pay a fine by April 2015.  And what comes after 2015?  The campaigns and elections of 2016, which includes Senator Rob Portman.

Our Republican Governor John Kasich has tried to get Ohio to partake in Obamacare’s Medicaid buy-in program and this has infuriated Ohio’s Tea Parties.  It is likely that they will challenge him in a primary or (worse) run a conservative third-party candidate.  There simply aren’t enough conservatives in Ohio that can survive two candidates on the right and we’ll be setting the carpet for Democrat Ed Fitzgerald.  Kasich’s poll numbers are up right now, but I forsee some problems in the months to come.

But Kasich’s problems won’t come close to Portman’s if he continues to support the funding of Obamacare.  The farm bill, internet sales tax, and his dance around the amnesty issue have made Portman a player for the establishment when we need people on the opposition.  Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul are showing people how it’s done.  If Rob Portman isn’t being helpful, then he’s likely to be shown the door in 2016.

Ohio Senator Letters on Immigration

I’ve been quite busy, but I felt a need to write my Senators about the Immigration bill.  I have the conservative Rob Portman with a tendency to use bi-partisan-speak, and the liberal Sherrod Brown with a tendency to use Marx-speak.  Here are the letters I quickly wrote over lunch.

Portman:

Please do not support the current immigration bill to be due for a vote this week.  I do not spend my time writing Congress, but I need to take time out of this day to do so.

The Democrat line is that conservatives and Republicans are inconsiderate of the real lives of illegal immigrants.  There seems to be a beltway line that Republicans need to “do something” to gain support of Latinos.  Both of these forces are pushing the wobbly GOP to support a bad bill.

As a person who considers himself more Tea Party than Republican, I promise you that there is a lot more compassion on our side for illegal immigrants than on the other.  The irlanguage seems to suggest that we need illegals to be codified as a second class citizen.  These immigrants will get perks for their labor (no Obamacare, preferred hiring), but there is nobody advocating to them for anything resembling liberty.

If you want to see how compassionate we can be with illegal immigrants, then just pass one bill.  BUILD A FENCE, SECURE THE BORDER.

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad that I need to remind you “The first priority of our immigration policy must be to enforce our immigration laws at the border and in the interior. ”  Of course Rubio, Flake, and even McCain made similar statements while campaigning only to flip after getting elected.  I don’t expect that from you.

You should be out in the open opposing this Immigration bill.  So should McConnell for that matter – I’m not sure what you guys are thinking.  Please listen to the voters and not K Street political consultants.

Brown:

Please vote against the Immigration bill that is due for a vote this week.  You did a good thing by opposing the previous bill a number of years ago because it would hurt the American worker.  I promise you that this will do the same.  It seems that the unions who are for this bill are doing so for political reasons, and sacrificing the short-term hurt for the long-term gain.

These individuals who will get provisional status will also get perks that appeal to business owners.  There will be an incentive to hire people that come with legal waivers and exceptions over native-born Americans who have no such luxury.   Additionally, I’m confused as to the criminal record exceptions where certain crimes are waived for provisional citizens.  This is another unfair segregation of native-born Americans.

If equality of opportunity means anything in this country, it is that people are not given special treatment for reasons that have nothing to do with the individual.  I expect to be treated in a way because of who I am and what I’ve done, and NOT because I fall into this class or that category.  Being a part of the “crony” class is all well and good as long as everything is going our way, but not when we are suddenly on the outside at the back of the line. 

The only solution is to reject special treatment for groups of people, in this case the non-citizen worker.  Let them go through the normal immigration process, and work to fix the process while you’re at it.

So, back to me now, I took a harsher tone with Portman because we don’t know for sure where he will land.  Ohio had Voinovich and DeWine for a number of years, two Republicans with 70% conservative ratings landing them in the middle-left of the caucus.  Portman has a reputation of being more conservative that those two, and apparently we need to keep reminding him of that.

Brown is a liberal, but he also voted against the Kennedy immigration bill because it hurt the worker.  Every once in a while, Brown, Sanders, and Kucinich might take the right position but for the wrong reason.  Nonetheless, the bill is unfair to Americans… or native-born citizens.

Next stop, the House.  We can’t trust Boehner to keep a bad bill from passing so it’s best to pass no bill whatsoever.

The Ohio GOP Leadership Choice

Being in the Tea Party is a lot like being one of the Spartans in Frank Miller’s “300.” We live, think, and breathe conservative principles while facing a massive establishment which see principles as secondary to political advantage. This lets Karl Rove throw himself on stage again with “the answer” which he can provide for a price.  This lets Reince Priebus be re-elected as National GOP chairman after leading Republicans to crushing national defeats in 2012. When the defeat was studied, the party chose the autopsy to be done by the same people who did the shooting! Nice line, huh?

I can’t take the credit – the line was said by Tom Zawistowski, Tea Party leader and candidate for the Ohio GOP Chairman. (http://www.wkyc.com/video/2316658322001/0/Between-the-Lines-April-21st).  At the risk of repeating myself, I think the Republican Party in Ohio is in trouble.  The 2010 elections were a very welcome and necessary exception to the rule.  George Voinovich was Ohio’s Governor in the 90’s, and the GOP was strong and had a very good bench.  Ohio’s next Governor, Bob Taft, was a double-A player thrust in the major leagues, and the bench grew old and ineffective.  The Democrats regained their strength in 2006 with the election of Ted Strickland, but they had a double-A player themselves as Attorney General Marc Dann treated the office like a frat house and left in disgrace.  Despite this Democrat scandal and Ohio’s crushing economy during his tenure, Strickland was a few counties short of being re-elected in the powerful GOP year of 2010.  If he had, it likely would have cost us a congressional seat or two in 2012 through redistricting.  It really is that close!

Bob Bennett was an agreeable Ohio GOP leader in the 90’s and he helped to usher in the Voinovich administration, but he couldn’t do much to keep the party’s strength.  He left in 2009 to be followed by Kevin DeWine, an insider who had battles with a more conservative John Kasich.  When DeWine left, Bennett was convinced to take the post again and now the mantle has fallen on Matt Borges.  Borges was quickly ordained as the next GOP leader with endorsements by Kasich, Portman, and other GOP leaders.

But things were unsettled in the grassroots.  There was a smell of establishment with the choice, and the stench of failed promises.  Kasich had strong conservative credentials, but then backed Medicaid expansion which takes from the empty federal Obamacare program to increase Ohio’s Medicaid rolls.  Portman is a credible Republican, but then tries to prove his compassion by leading the GOP charge to support gay marriage.  And now we’re supposed to trust them with this choice?

Many conservatives are supporting Tom Zawistowski (http://toledoteaparty.com/conservative-group-leaders-message-to-ohio-gop/), and it is up to the 66 members of the GOP Central Committee to make its decision by Friday, April 26.  Many of these members have loyalty or allegiance to the leaders like Kasich and Portman, as well as to the countless insiders who can choose which wheels get the grease.  But if we can learn from recent election failures, it is that poor handlers, inept campaign staff, and an apathetic grassroots effort can hurt an election as much as the candidate.  The elections of 2014 and 2016 will be much more important than this one, but the Ohio GOP will set that stage.  If we continue to play politics-as-usual, I’m afraid we will continue to lose.

The following are other articles I’ve gathered about Tom Z and the upcoming election.

http://www.portagecountyteaparty.com/
http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2013/04/22/ohio-republican-party-latest-update.html
http://www.examiner.com/article/borges-greased-for-ohio-gop-chief-post-despite-deters-gruttadauria-entanglement
http://www.nbc4i.com/story/22042671/gop-leaders-tax-liens-concern-ohio-officials
http://www.thebrennerbrief.com/2013/04/22/apr-22-the-brenner-brief-radio-show-latest-boston-bomber-news-ohio-medicaid-expansion-and-more/
http://cincinnati.com/blogs/politics/2013/03/21/conservatives-reject-gop-leadership/

Splitting the Homosexual Baby

Sorry for the ugly metaphor, but gay marriage looks more and more like the “lady parts” of 2014 and probably 2016.  It will be contraception coverage, out-of-the-country back-of-the line immigration policy, and elderly getting drugs from Canada all wrapped into one.  Three or four years ago, Book of Virtues author Bill Bennett was on the Daily Show and conceded that the left would likely win the argument on gay marriage.  Opposing it is obviously consistent with traditional values, however there is no conservative argument to persuade people who dismiss traditional values.  Marriage between a man and a woman is just another in a long list of Republican medieval social views, and these voters see no other valid choice but to vote Democrat.

Today, our Republican Senator Rob Portman came out in support of gay marriage (op-ed here) after reconsidering his position given that his son declared that he was gay.

In discussing this issue with some married friends, I asked to what degree the federal government rewarded them for their marriage.  The tax code, Social Security transfers, and that was about it.  Would you rather share these benefits with gay partners or give them up?  The one couple that had only one income-generator admitted that they needed to have the Social Security continue for the non-working spouse if necessary.  But the double-income couples quickly said they would give up federal marriage benefits instead of expanding the definition of marriage.

Despite my hardline economic Tea Party views, I am lukewarm to a few social issues and gay marriage is one.  If two men or two women want to commit to each other and call themselves married, then what does it matter to me?  The Bible that tells me that homosexuality is wrong is the same Bible that tells them that homosexuality is wrong.  Unfortunately, I just don’t feel that any unsolicited testimony from me is going to change their minds.

Gay marriage DOES matter when my tax dollars goes to support this lifestyle.  Our tax dollars are supporting a whole host of unhealthy activities including Planned Parenthood and the ever-growing food stamp dependency.  Conservatives have obviously lost that argument long ago and, with more converts like Portman, we will lose this argument as well.  Is there an argument to be made that doesn’t include the term “traditional family values?”

I think so, and so does Rand Paul.  (I am a growing fan of Rand Paul, but didn’t want to be too obvious so far before 2016 so I buried him here in the sixth paragraph.)  Here are some articles about his position from the Independent Journal and Slate.  It essentially states that the federal government should NOT be in the business of defining marriage, let alone redefining it now that progressive social norms are pushing a homosexual agenda so strongly.  By eliminating the marriage benefit, then you are equalizing heterosexual and homosexual couples in the eyes of the government.  If we consider marriage to be essentially a spiritual relationship, then the legal contract is secondary.

The legal contract, of course, is still important and it will take much work to satisfy all involved, but now the government is not talking about marriage but a contract.  I should be able to allow my Social Security benefits to be shared with Person X, and here’s our contract to back it up.  Insurance companies and private businesses will set their own rules (as they do now regarding gay marriage), but again we are talking about  a legal contract from a Justice-of-the-Peace and not a priest affirming their commitment before the eyes of God.

I agree with the Reagan analogy of the 3-legged stool: conservatism stands on the legs of economic freedom, strong foreign policy, and traditional values.  The media and now Generation Y think that promoting traditional values means enforcing traditional values.  I would listen, for instance, to Rick Santorum talk about family values and then he would throw out an aside that the government wouldn’t force itself into personal lives.  Well I heard that aside because I was listening for it!  Younger votes and certainly low information voters either missed it or ignored it and said, “There goes those medieval Republicans again.”  GOP candidates must learn to argue for traditional values without compromising those values.

Plain Dealer Turns Red

Cleveland’s Plain Dealer is usually in the business of endorsing Democrats.  Cuyahoga County is a heavily Democratic, and statewide Democrats usually need to win the county by 100,000 votes to balance losses in the more rural areas.  Yet even the traditional base recognizes an incompetence or failure to stop the bleeding – they have endorsed both John Kasich and Rob Portman.

Kasich (http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/10/the_plain_dealer_endorses_john_1.html) is running in the closer race, yet in some ways has the more forceful endorsement.  The PD endorsed Governor Strickland in 2006 on promises to moderate government, strengthen the “job-creating” Third Frontier plan, and reform education policies.  (On an historical note, Ohio’s education funding system was declared unconstitutional in 1979 and every governor for the last thirty years has made fixing it a top priority.)  The editorial board is more disappointed in Strickland’s performance and appears to endorse Kasich because, among other things, he’ll shake things up.  Kasich has the record of being House Budget Chairman during the balanced budgets of the Clinton administration which counts for a whole lot.  His Lehman Brothers career afterward is basically all that Strickland can lay on him.  The last four years have been tough on everybody, but Ohio has not kept up with other lower-tax, pro-growth states.

Rob Portman (http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/10/the_plain_dealer_endorses_rob.html) turns out to have the easier race.  He’s an attractive, traditional Republican candidate who should be more reliably conservative than either Voinovich or DeWine.  The Democrat Lee Fisher has run in statewide races over the last twenty years, and has given people little reason to vote for him.  He was able to beat the more progressive Jennifer Brunner last May with the money and support from the traditional “inside” Democrats, but it’s doubtful that she would have been able to run a more successful campaign – just a more entertaining one.

The PD has since endorsed Dennis Kucinich instead of Peter Corrigan (http://corriganforcongress.com/) and a slew of county and statewide Democrats, but the top of the ticket this year goes to the Republicans.