Weekly Musing 12-21-14
Bobby Schostak NOT Running for Third Term
MI GOP Chairman Bobby Schostak announced he will not seek a third term. My thanks go out to Bobby and his family for a job well done. This is a grueling undertaking which few understand the time and energy it actually takes…let alone the sacrifice of one’s family.
Thanks for all you’ve done and I look forward to continuing to work with Bobby and our new Chairman in the years to come!
It’s official: GOP will have biggest House majority since before the New Deal
In the Senate, the GOP will be in an almost equally unparalleled position of power.
“Republicans will control 54 out of 100 seats,” The Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake noted. “That’s tied for their fourth-highest number of seats since that same 1929-30 Congress, but the larger three were majorities of 55 seats — i.e. only one more seat.”
Combined with the GOP’s dominance at the state legislative level (Republicans control 56 percent of seats in the legislatures, the highest number since 1920), and the party’s control of 31 of 50 gubernatorial mansions, the Republican Party will be in the strongest position it has seen since prior to the popularization of Democratic progressivism.
“The last time the GOP clearly had more power than today was in the early 1920s, when it controlled more than 70 percent of governorships, 69 percent of the House and more than 60 percent of Senate seats,” Blake observed.
That’s nothing to sneeze at, and it is all due to the ideological realignment of the Democratic Party.
A GOP Strategy Begins to Emerge
Congressional leaders will use coalitions to achieve small wins. Conservatives may not be satisfied
Democratic control of the Senate came to an end this week, and most of the press is already predicting the incoming Republican Congress will immediately implode. That’s a distinct possibility, though doomsayers might consider this caveat: Even Republicans are human. And humans evolve.
If there is a silver lining to the GOP’s six minority years under President Obama, it’s that the party has already made almost every mistake. John Boehner has learned the hard way that this White House isn’t interested in compromise. The conservative right (at least some of it) has learned the hard way that holding the government hostage won’t win victories. The GOP caucus has learned the hard way the perils of fracturing. The party has learned the hard way that it can’t run Washington from one branch of government.
One result of these unforced errors is the glimmer of the strategy that Republicans appear to be concocting for the next few years. It isn’t rooted in the fury that brought in the 2010 tea party wave, or shutdown politics or grand bargains. It isn’t about ObamaCare repeal, or Medicare overhaul. It is more measured, more aimed at incremental achievement. Slow as it has been to gel, we’re beginning to see the framework take shape:
Flood the zone : Six long years have given Republicans a decent feel for what this White House considers a priority. Their tactic in the recent omnibus was to inundate the administration with policy riders and force the White House to single out those it found most offensive. Republicans cut those few loose, but sent the rest to the president for his signature. The omnibus as a result contained more conservative policy progress—from blocking a sage grouse listing, to trucking rules, to EPA authority—than Republicans had gained in the previous four years.
This will be the model for most GOP policy victories. Every spending bill it creates will contain dozens of policy riders, and Mr. Obama will have to choose the ones over which he’ll threaten a veto. The rest, presumably, will pass. Mr. Boehner recently said that he may attach GOP border-security priorities to the Homeland Security funding bill that is due in February. Republicans may not be able to force the president to rescind his immigration executive order, but they might end up with a start to immigration reform.
Next Up in America: The Liberal Retreat
As the United States staggers toward the seventh year of Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House, a growing disquiet permeates the ranks of the American left. After six years of the most liberal president since Jimmy Carter, the nation doesn’t seem to be asking for a second helping. Even though the multiyear rollout of Obamacare was carefully crafted to put all the popular features up front, delaying less popular changes into the far future, the program remains unpopular. Trust in the fairness and competence of government is pushing toward new lows in the polls, even though the government is now in the hands of forward-looking, progressive Democrats rather than antediluvian Gopers.
For liberals, these are bleak times of hollow victories (Obamacare) and tipping points that don’t tip. For examples of the latter, think of Sandy Hook, the horrific massacre in Connecticut that Democrats and liberals everywhere believed would finally push the American public toward gun control. Two years later, polls [links] show more Americans than ever before think it’s more important to protect gun access than to promote gun control.
Sandy Hook isn’t the only example. There was the latest 2014 IPCC report on climate change that was going to end the debate once and for all. The chances for legislative action on climate change in the new Congress: zero or less. There was the Garner videotape showing the fatal chokehold that set off a wave of protests, but seems unlikely to change public attitudes about the police. There was the Senate Intelligence Committee “torture report” that was going to settle the issue of treatment of detainees. Again, the polls are rolling in suggesting that the public remains exactly where it was: supportive of “torture” under certain circumstances[links]. And of course there was the blockbuster Rolling Stone article on campus rape at UVA, the story that before it abruptly collapsed was going to cement public support for the Obama administration’s aggressive attempt to federalize the treatment of sexual harassment on campuses around the country.
In all of these cases, liberals got what, from a liberal perspective, appeared to be conclusive evidence that long cherished liberal policy ideas were as correct as liberals have always thought they were. In all of these cases the establishment media conformed to the liberal narrative, inundating the airwaves and flooding the cyberverse with the liberal line. Some of the stories, like the UVA rape story, collapsed. Some, like the Ferguson story, became so complex and nuanced that some of their initial political salience diminished. But even when, as with Ferguson, a later story (“I can’t breathe”) seems to reinforce the initial liberal take, the public doesn’t seem to accept the liberal line. in all of these cases, public opinion does not seem to be drawing the inferences that liberals want it to draw. It’s becoming hard to avoid the conclusion that many Americans will continue to disagree with many liberal policy prescriptions no matter what.
Shell shocked liberals are beginning to grasp some inconvenient truths. No gun massacre is horrible enough to change Americans’ ideas about gun control. No UN Climate Report will get a climate treaty through the US Senate. No combination of anecdotal and statistical evidence will persuade Americans to end their longtime practice of giving police officers extremely wide discretion in the use of force. No “name and shame” report, however graphic, from the Senate Intelligence Committee staff will change the minds of the consistent majority of Americans who tell pollsters that they believe that torture is justifiable under at least some circumstances. No feminist campaign will convince enough voters that the presumption of innocence should not apply to those accused of rape.
The GOP’s Resurging Public Image
The Washington Post‘s Dan Balz and Scott Clement write about a new Washington Post-ABC News poll:
Republican victories in the midterm elections have translated into an immediate boost in the party’s image, putting the GOP at its highest point in eight years, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The spike in the party’s standing comes after Republicans picked up nine seats to take control of the Senate, raised their numbers in the House to the highest level in more than half a century and added new governorships to its already clear majority.
In the new poll, 47 percent say they have a favorable impression of the Republican Party, compared with 33 percent in the month before the midterm elections. An equal percentage have an unfavorable view, which marks the first time in six years that fewer than half of Americans said they saw Republicans negatively.
Only ~700 Days to Go The Race for the White House — Nomination Phase
The Crystal Ball is, for now, in the middle. We feature 21 actual or potential contenders in our analysis, and we have divided them into seven tiers or categories.
The top tier is vacant — completely empty. If you think there’s a GOP frontrunner, then you are probably a staffer or family member of one of the candidates. Until one or more contenders can break a paltry 20% or 25% in the polls, this tier will be akin to the vacuum in outer space.
Few will dispute the quartet we’ve identified for our second tier, The Big Boys. Ex-Gov. Jeb Bush (FL), Sen. Rand Paul (KY), Gov. Scott Walker (WI), and Gov. Chris Christie (NJ) have the right stuff to compete in the nominating process, though the nominee will not necessarily be one of the four.
We’ve had Bush atop our list of GOP presidential contenders for months, and earlier this week he made a non-announcement announcement of a campaign, saying that he will “actively explore the possibility of running for president of the United States.” Bush has to be taken very seriously as a candidate, and we suspect that if he does in fact follow through on a campaign, other potential candidates such as Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, and perhaps many others from the mainstream of the party (more on them below) will defer to another member of the First Family of the Republican Party. That said, Bush may not be able to overcome his surname baggage and the aggressive dislike of much of the Tea Party.
In Michigan, an end to an incredible run in Congress
Officially, the curtain won’t come down on the 113th Congress until Jan. 6, but, with the U.S. House and Senate wrapping up work, it’s all but over now.
And with it ends a remarkable run for the Michigan delegation.
In recent Congresses, the state punched well above its weight class with six full committee chairs across the two chambers, two more legislators who are their party’s top-ranking members on their committees and the longest-serving member in congressional history.
“What a delegation when you think of it,” U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, said this week at a party for the delegation. “No state rivals us.”
But that’s all about to change.
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and U.S. Reps. John Dingell, Dave Camp and Mike Rogers depart with a combined 133 years of congressional experience among them. Three of them — Levin, Camp and Rogers — are current committee chairmen. Dingell, no longer a chairman, has been in Congress longer than anyone in history, and has the accomplishments, personal connections and friendships to prove it.
And Michigan is going to miss them.
This is why I love Frank Beckman! Lawmakers gutless on fixing Michigan roads
…legislature that had over two years to consider solutions, but frittered away that time until they reached the old 11th hour method of crisis decision making.
So now they’ve played Santa for road builders, for public transportation advocates, for teachers, and for local municipalities while rushing off for their own last-minute Christmas shopping and a long winter’s nap.
Only one group of people was asked to sacrifice for all this and that’s the group that always picks up the tab when the elected officials don’t show the intelligence or fortitude to make tough decisions to manage our money better.
That group is made up of the hard-working taxpayers.
They’ll now have five months to watch their hard earned money handed out by the millions to Hollywood and during that time they’ll get besieged by advertising that tells them this tax increase amounts to pennies — Gov. Snyder used the term, “less than a nickel” in his press conference
Thursday just like Jennifer Granholm once talked about “just two pennies” in seeking a tax hike.
Truth is, taxpayers are getting nickeled and dimed to death and they’ll either pay up or be blamed themselves for the bad roads if they vote no in May.
Sure the roads need to be fixed, but it’s the Legislature that should have figured out how to pay for it by cutting the existing budget, not leaning on the taxpayers for even more money.
How A Conservative Insurgent Can Win The 2016 GOP Presidential Nomination
Earlier this month, the Grand Poobah of the Republican establishment, Karl Rove, provided a clear view of how his wing of the party is keeping score entering the 2016 presidential race.
Rove argues that to win the “invisible” (pre-spotlight) primary, a candidate must enthusiastically support the GOP’s preferred candidates, generic message, and jobs program for veteran political hacks funded by the credulous and self-interested donor class. In other words, a 2016 candidate must tacitly give his unswerving loyalty to the rule that one’s candidacy will in no way threaten the political status quo or derail its well-orchestrated puppet show. Show yourself to be a company man and your time will come.
Establishment favorites Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie have all put in their time. Almost-ready-for-prime-time candidates (reading between Rove’s lines) Paul Ryan and Scott Walker, if willing to abide by the rules, appear to be first in line if the Big Three sit, quit, or implode. The rest of the field Rove politely dismisses, although more for the sin of spending too many days in Iowa or New Hampshire rather than for their ideological nonconformity.
We know, then, how the establishment measures the field, but how do they (so consistently) get their favorites through the primary process? Listen up, “stupid” bitter clingers in flyover America: they’ve got your number.
Jindal: The voters spoke, Republicans should listen
“Elections have consequences,” President Obama said, setting his new policy agenda just three days after taking office in 2009. Three elections later, the president’s party has lost 70 House seats and 14 Senate seats. The job of Republicans now is to govern with the confidence that elections do have consequences, promptly passing the conservative reform the voters have demanded.
Commentators and pundits are already suggesting that Republicans need to be careful about what they do now that they control Congress. So do I — I believe we need to be very careful to stand up for what we believe in, and for what the American people voted for.
The Republican-controlled Congress must pass conservative reforms on energy, healthcare, tax reform and education, and give the president the opportunity to do the will of the American people. Let him decide if he wants to be constructive, or if he wants to conclude his presidency as a liberal obstructionist ideologue who vetoes everything.
In the days since the voters handed the President a resounding defeat, he has been defiantly in denial. He issues executive orders to bypass the Congress chosen by the voters. He broods. He pouts. He shows no sign of course correction even though he admitted famously before the vote that his policies were, in fact, on the ballot.
As Republicans, we should be unfazed by the moodiness at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. The voters chose an overwhelming Republican majority at every level of government — 31 out of 50 governor’s offices, 59 out of 99 state legislative chambers and the largest Republican House majority since World War II. The mandate for governance requires that we methodically and deliberately roll back the top-down liberal policies the voters rejected and replace them with bottom-up conservative reform that works.
I like! John Kasich’s crusade – Behind the potential 2016 candidate’s long shot bid for a balanced budget amendment.
John Kasich watched the drama unfold in the Capitol last week with exasperation. The Republican governor of Ohio was upset with Democrats, but he was miffed at his own party, too — for engaging in the same old antics on government spending and the deficit, a matter with which Kasich became intimately familiar as a young congressman three decades ago.
“Republicans have a [national] convention, and all they do is have a debt clock up there and talk about how bad it is,” Kasich said in an interview. “You’ve got to do something about it!”
Now Kasich is trying to do something about it, something that’s never been done in American history and is all but certain to fail again: He’s launching a national campaign to pass an amendment to the Constitution through the states, in this case to require a balanced federal budget. Success, though, may be almost beside the point: Worst case, Kasich is out there fighting for his cause, and raising his profile, ahead of a potential 2016 presidential candidacy.
While his would-be rivals follow the traditional path of logging miles in Iowa and New Hampshire, Kasich is pursuing a more unorthodox approach. Fresh off a landslide reelection in the quintessential swing state of Ohio, the 62-year-old governor made the first stop of a planned multistate tour in Phoenix this past week. Next up are Idaho and Utah.
Could Compact For America’s Constitutional Amendment Stop The Federal Juggernaut?
Thomas Jefferson agreed that federal borrowing was dangerous. In a letter written to James Taylor in 1798, he stated, “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.”
Since the official debt of the U.S. government has recently gone over $18 trillion and is projected to increase dramatically over the next two decades, it is certainly time to think hard about the explosion of federal borrowing. If we can’t remove the borrowing power in the Constitution, as Jefferson suggested, couldn’t we at least put a limit on it?
There is one enormous obstacle to doing so: the political establishment in Washington. Politicians often pay lip service to returning to fiscal sobriety, but the safe thing for many of them to do is – nothing. Any votes they might take to rein in the government’s spending will mean barrages of attack ads from special interest groups and their political allies, decrying the heartlessness of Senator X or Congressman Y for voting to cut spending on some ostensibly compassionate program.
Viewing Russia From the Inside
I came away with two senses. One was that Putin was more secure than I thought. In the scheme of things, that does not mean much. Presidents come and go. But it is a reminder that things that would bring down a Western leader may leave a Russian leader untouched. Second, the Russians do not plan a campaign of aggression. Here I am more troubled — not because they want to invade anyone, but because nations frequently are not aware of what is about to happen, and they might react in ways that will surprise them. That is the most dangerous thing about the situation. It is not what is intended, which seems genuinely benign. What is dangerous is the action that is unanticipated, both by others and by Russia.
At the same time, my general analysis remains intact. Whatever Russia might do elsewhere, Ukraine is of fundamental strategic importance to Russia. Even if the east received a degree of autonomy, Russia would remain deeply concerned about the relationship of the rest of Ukraine to the West. As difficult as this is for Westerners to fathom, Russian history is a tale of buffers. Buffer states save Russia from Western invaders. Russia wants an arrangement that leaves Ukraine at least neutral.
For the United States, any rising power in Eurasia triggers an automatic response born of a century of history. As difficult as it is for Russians to understand, nearly half a century of a Cold War left the United States hypersensitive to the possible re-emergence of Russia. The United States spent the past century blocking the unification of Europe under a single, hostile power. What Russia intends and what America fears are very different things.
The United States and Europe have trouble understanding Russia’s fears. Russia has trouble understanding particularly American fears. The fears of both are real and legitimate. This is not a matter of misunderstanding between countries but of incompatible imperatives. All of the good will in the world — and there is precious little of that — cannot solve the problem of two major countries that are compelled to protect their interests and in doing so must make the other feel threatened. I learned much in my visit. I did not learn how to solve this problem, save that at the very least each must understand the fears of the other, even if they can’t calm them.
America’s Uneasy Path Abroad in 2015
The U.S. is still the world’s leading economy, but its geopolitical clout isn’t what it used to be.
America is not in decline. The U.S. will have the world’s most formidable military for the foreseeable future. Its economy remains the world’s largest, and its recovery will probably gather more steam in 2015. Its workforce is not aging nearly as quickly as that of Europe, Japan or China. No country has a greater capacity for technological innovation. Almost all the world’s biggest tech companies are based in the U.S. For next-generation cloud computing, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing and nanotechnology, bet on the U.S. America has an entrepreneurial culture that celebrates not simply what has been accomplished but also what’s next. There is every reason to be confident that America has a bright 21st century future.
But its foreign policy is a different story. American power is on the wane, a process that will accelerate in 2015. Power is a measure of one’s ability to force others to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do, and there are now more governments with enough resources and self-confidence to shrug off requests and demands from Washington. There was never a golden age of U.S. power when an American President could count on other governments to do as he asked. But there are several reasons the U.S. is now less able to build coalitions, forge trade agreements, win support for sanctions, broker international compromise or persuade others to follow its lead into conflict than at any other time since the end of World War II.
The Virtue of Amoral Foreign Policy
When we think seriously about foreign policy we think amorally. For foreign policy involves the battle of geographical space and power, played out over the millennia by states and empires in a world where there is no referee or night watchman in charge. The state is governed by law, but the world is anarchic – a realization made famous by the late academic theorist Kenneth N. Waltz of Columbia University.
In such a world, needs rather than wishes rule, and even a liberal power such as the United States is not exempt from the struggle for survival. Such a struggle means looking unsentimentally at the human condition, which, in turn, requires a good deal of unpleasantness. Boiled down to its essentials, here is the situation of the United States:
The United States dominates the Western Hemisphere and therefore has power to spare to affect the balance of power in the Eastern Hemisphere. It uses this power to secure the sea lines of communication and free access to hydrocarbons. In a word, the United States engages in the amoral struggle for power to defend a liberal international order. The end result is in a large sense moral, but the means, if not immoral, are often amoral – that is, they belong in a category separate from the one involving lofty principles.
Why Would the Saudis Deliberately Crash the Oil Markets?
Simple: to undermine Tehran.
Today, oil prices have again plummeted, from a high of $115 per barrel in August 2013 to under $60 per barrel in mid December 2014. Western experts, predictably, have seized the opportunity to ponder what cheaper oil might mean for the stock market. As for why prices have dropped, some analysts have suggested it has little to do with any manipulation of Saudi spigots: A December essay in Bloomberg Businessweek credited the American shale revolution with “breaking OPEC’s neck.”
There’s no doubt that shale has eroded Saudi Arabia’s “swing power” as the world’s largest oil producer. But thanks to their pumping capacity, reserves, and stockpiles, the Saudis are still more than capable of crashing the oil markets — and willing to do so. In September 2014, they did just that, boosting oil production by half a percent (to 9.6 million barrels per day) in markets already brimming with cheap crude and, a few days later, offering increased discounts to major Asian customers; global prices quickly fell nearly 30 percent.
As in 1977, the Saudis instigated this flood for political reasons: Whether foreign analysts believe it or not, oil markets remain important venues in the Saudi-Iranian struggle for supremacy over the Persian Gulf.
15 Overlay Maps That Will Change The Way You See The World Maps are all imperfect because they portray the globe in just two dimensions. Most maps, like the Mercator projection, distort the size or shape of land masses, which skews our perceptions of how big continents and countries are compared to one another.
When you consider square mileage though, a whole new world appears. Inspired by this map of Africa’s true size from German graphic designer Kai Krause, we created 15 map overlays to open your eyes to some real geography.
NEW Facebook Page…
I’m heading over to a new Facebook page…PLEASE join me there… I started a new Facebook page to get around my “friend” limit…and play more politics-:) I’m going to slowly move off the “personal” page and only engage on this new page. Join me & “like” here: https://www.facebook.com/SaulAnuzis
Stay In Touch…Feel Free to Share
My goal is for this to be a weekly political update…sharing political news and analysis that should be of interest to most activists.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook.
On Facebook at:
On Twitter at:
My blog “That’s Saul Folks” with Weekly Musings & more:
Thanks again for all you do!