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GOD To The GOP: “I Don’t Endorse”

Dear Politicians,

Permit me to explain my reluctance to endorse. As the All-Powerful, Benevolent Deity I have a certain responsibility to non-partisanship among my constituents. Of course, I do prefer those among you who are moral, kind, compassionate, good and gracious. I have, however, noticed a certain tendency for these qualities to be diminished upon entering office. Next time around I intend to tinker a bit with the mix, and see if I can make My creation a bit more consistent. The first batter is always lumpy.

The problem is that in times past I did intervene in elections. When Moses and Korach were, in a sense, running against each other, I took clear sides. So certain was I of the proper outcome that I resorted to the simple expedient of having the ground swallow Korach and his cohorts. That severely cut into their base. Some people thought this an extreme form of censorship, but I believed it was unworthy of the Ruler of the Universe to simply stuff ballots. If I am going to endorse, it will be in biblical measure. I don’t do leaflets. I do pronouncements. (For those of you who have not read My book in a while, check the 16th chapter of Numbers.)

There were times when I was sorely tempted to raise My right hand for a candidate for office. A parade of villainy has passed before My all seeing eye, but I left the choice up to you. Some of the people whom I most favored – dear old honest Abe comes to mind – had to win on their own. I could have delivered a key county or two. But Korach’s indignant plea as he caromed off the canyon wall reminded me that I tend to push a bit too hard. Moses had some electoral deficits – a speech impediment, a certain impatience, and an alien upbringing – but he probably could have carried the pivotal Sinai districts even without My help.

So please, I ask you in My Name – don’t use My Name. You haven’t any idea whom I endorse. I don’t tote up church attendance like a celestial accountant and award the election to the one with the best record. I see inside hearts, remember? Watch out. While I am very, very patient, sometimes I snap. When I do decide to turn My countenance to you, if you have been tossing My name around like a cheap ticket to the Oval Office, I could be very put out. You don’t want that, trust Me. Just ask Korach.



By: David Wolpe, Rabbi of Sinai Temple, Los Angeles; The Washington Post, June 6, 2011


June 1, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Exploratory Presidential Committees, GOP, Government, Lawmakers, Neo-Cons, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The GOP’s Apology Primary: Love Means Always Having To Say You’re Sorry

In the 2012 Republican presidential race, love apparently means always having to say you’re sorry.

On an array of issues, the field of GOP contenders is facing enormous pressure from an ascendant conservative base to renounce earlier positions that challenged orthodoxy on the right. Their response to those demands could cast a big shadow over not only next year’s Republican primary but also the general-election contest against President Obama.

The emergence of these pressures testifies to a decisive shift in the GOP’s balance of power. The ideas now drawing the most fire from conservative activists–including support for a cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse-gas emissions, a mandate on individuals to purchase health insurance, and a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants–all flowered in Republican circles during the middle years of George W. Bush’s presidency, especially among governors.

In different ways, each of these proposals embodied the common belief that Republicans had to broaden their message beyond a conventional conservative argument focused almost exclusively on reducing government spending, taxes, and regulation. Intellectually, these initiatives reflected an impulse to redefine conservatism in ways that accepted a role for government in empowering individuals or promoting market-based solutions. Politically, they reflected the belief that to build a lasting majority, Republicans needed to attract more minority voters, especially Hispanics, and to loosen the Democratic hold on blue states by reclaiming more suburban independents.

At varying points, this tendency operated under different names, including “compassionate conservatism” and “national greatness conservatism.” But the shared belief “was the sense that the Republican Party, in order to revitalize itself, needed to … show that it had modernized,” said Pete Wehner, who directed the Office of Strategic Initiatives in Bush’s White House.

Behind that conviction, Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress in 2003 created an entitlement by establishing the Medicare prescription drug benefit. In 2006, with Bush’s support, 23 GOP senators voted with 39 Democrats to provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

In the states, this instinct produced health care reform proposals from Govs. Mitt Romney in Massachusetts and Arnold Schwarzenegger in California that centered on an individual mandate, as well as initiatives from many GOP governors to promote alternative energy and to impose mandatory limits on the carbon emissions linked to global climate change. Republican governors played driving roles in creating regional multistate alliances to limit carbon emissions in the Midwest (Tim Pawlenty in Minnesota); the Northeast (George Pataki in New York); and the West (Jon Huntsman in Utah and Schwarzenegger). Huntsman joined then-Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona in 2006 to produce a bipartisan Western governors’ plan that favored legalization over deportation for illegal immigrants.

Many hard-core conservatives always bristled at these initiatives. But in those years, they lacked the leverage to entirely suppress them. Now, though, the party’s most conservative elements have clearly regained the upper hand. The tipping point was the election of Barack Obama and his pursuit of an agenda that significantly expanded Washington’s reach across many fronts. His initiatives produced a powerful back-to-basics reaction among Republicans.

The result has been to revert the party’s message toward one focused almost solely on shrinking government. “Obama, by the way he governed, shifted the debate into a much more traditional Democratic-Republican divide over the role of government,” notes Wehner, now a senior fellow at the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. “That’s pushed to the side or capsized these other issues.”

That dynamic has left the 2012 GOP contenders facing multiplying demands to abandon and apologize for positions they took in what now looks like a brief period of Republican glasnost.

Pawlenty has already apologized for imposing carbon limits in Minnesota but hasn’t yet renounced his parallel support for requiring utilities to generate more of their power from renewable sources, which some conservatives have also demanded. Huntsman, as he considers the race, has abandoned his previous climate policies but not yet walked back his tilt toward legalization for illegal immigrants. Romney renounced his favorable comments about legalizing undocumented immigrants (as well as his earlier backing of abortion rights) during his 2008 run, but he drew a surprisingly firm line this month by reaffirming his support for his health insurance mandate in Massachusetts. Newt Gingrich, who has faced similar complaints about his earlier support for an individual mandate and efforts to control carbon emissions, hasn’t fully tossed aside either.

These maelstroms leave the candidates without many good options. To dig in behind earlier positions promises unending collisions with conservatives (as Romney has now done on health care). But abandoning too many positions under pressure could open the eventual nominee to effective attacks from Democrats. “If these candidates are now sliding back on things they once believed, it raises questions about whether they can be a strong leader,” says Bill Burton, the former deputy White House press secretary who is heading an independent Democratic campaign effort for 2012. If voters agree, the 2012 Republicans may feel sorry later for saying sorry so often now.

By: Ronald Brownstein, Political Director, Atlantic Media, The Atlantic, May 20, 2011

May 23, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Climate Change, Conservatives, Democracy, Democrats, Elections, Exploratory Presidential Committees, GOP, Government, Governors, Health Reform, Ideologues, Ideology, Immigration, Individual Mandate, Medicare, Politics, President Obama, Regulations, Republicans, Right Wing, States, Taxes | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Year Of Living Adulterously: What Is It With Republicans Lately?

Nobody wants to run for the presidential nomination. Mike Huckabee said God told him to stay on Fox News. NBC told Donald Trump to stay on “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Whatever happened to putting your country first? Our forefathers would never have passed up the presidency for anything less than the Charlie Sheen role on “Two and a Half Men.”

The Republicans are terrified that they’ll wind up with Mitt Romney, who has been fund-raising like crazy and seems to be planning a campaign based on the slogan: “Money can’t buy love, but it can definitely purchase a grudging, defeatist acceptance.”

Some party leaders are looking hopefully at Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, who’s promised to make up his mind this month. If he runs, one thing you are not going to get from Mitch Daniels is the politics of joy. Have you ever seen “Game of Thrones” on HBO? It’s about a mythical kingdom that sends some of its young men to the remote tundra to live in perpetual celibacy and guard a 700-foot-tall wall of ice. Their reaction is very similar to the way Mitch Daniels looks when he talks about running for president.

Daniels is apparently worried that a presidential run might prove embarrassing to his wife, who ditched him and the kids and ran off to California to marry a doctor and then later recanted everything and came back. I think it is pretty safe to say that this topic might come up.

Which brings us to sex. What is it with Republicans lately? Is there something about being a leader of the family-values party that makes you want to go out and commit adultery?

They certainly don’t have a lock on the infidelity market, and heaven knows we all remember John Edwards. But, lately, the G.O.P. has shown a genius for putting a peculiar, newsworthy spin on illicit sex. A married congressman hunting for babes is bad. A married congressman hunting for babes by posting a half-naked photo of himself on the Internet is Republican.

A married governor who fathers an illegitimate child is awful. A married governor who fathers an illegitimate child by a staff member of the family home and then fails to mention it to his wife for more than 10 years is Republican.

A married senator who has an affair with an employee is a jerk. A married senator who has an affair with an employee who is the wife of his chief of staff, and whose adultery is the subject of ongoing discussion at his Congressional prayer group, is Republican.

We haven’t even gotten to Newt Gingrich yet!

Gingrich is the best-known of the second-string Republicans who are ready, willing and eager to take on Romney for the nomination. The question is whether social conservatives will resent the fact that he was having an adulterous relationship with his current wife while she was a House of Representatives staffer and he was trying to impeach Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky affair. Also, this week, Politico reported that in 2005 and 2006, Gingrich had an account with Tiffany’s that sometimes ran to $500,000 in debt.

Never have we had sex issues with so many layers. It shows you how far we have evolved as a nation. In the old days it was: Warren Harding making whoopee in the presidential coat closet: yes or no?

Really persistent sexual misbehavior says something about the character of the person involved. In Gingrich’s case, we have a failure-to-settle-down problem that extends way beyond matrimony. He can’t even hang onto a position on Medicare for an entire week. This man is a natural for an occupation that rewards attention deficit. Maybe God actually meant to tell Newt to stay on Fox News, but accidentally shipped the message to Huckabee.

As to Governor Daniels, the voters are unlikely to give a fig about the interesting past of his wife, Cheri. But if he wants to protect her from the embarrassment of being asked about it 24/7, perhaps he could just declare her off limits. The news media has generally respected those kinds of rules when it comes to presidential candidates’ children, as long as said offspring don’t show up on reality shows or as teen-abstinence ambassadors for a shoe store foundation.

Of course, a wife who is off limits would not be able to campaign for her husband. I think that would be terrific. Finally, we could end the tradition that a presidential candidate’s spouse is running for something, too. If we want a first family to obsess over, we should just hire a king and queen.

Don’t know how the social right would feel about this. But there’s always Mitt Romney.

By: Gail Collins, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, May 18, 2011

May 19, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Donald Trump, Exploratory Presidential Committees, GOP, Governors, Lawmakers, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Politics, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Even Without Donald Trump, Plenty Of Clowns In The 2012 GOP Field

Farewell Donald Trump. For a brief moment last month, his birther buffoonery powered him to the front of the Republican pack. What a difference a birth certificate, a death announcement, and serious treatment by the press make. Now The Donald has announced that as with his previous presidential flirtations he is not making this race. Suddenly he looks like one of the celebrity has-beens who gets fired on his television show—or worse, like a celebrity has-been who doesn’t actually get onto the show at all.

Trump peaked in mid-April when a survey from the Democratic group Public Policy Polling set him as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, with 26 percent of the vote. Then reality intruded. The press went from treating him like a celebrity making silly noises about running to treating him like a genuine would-be candidate, checking out who he contributed to and fact-checking his weird claims. Then Obama’s long form birth certificate put an end to birtherism while Osama bin Laden’s violent end reminded us that there are monsters in the real world and that the presidency is for serious people, not reality TV blowhards.

Public Policy Polling’s survey last week had Trump at 8 percent, in a fifth place tie with Ron Paul.

But with Trump-mentum ended, where can we hope to find entertainment value in the GOP primary field? The answer is, where can’t you? Donald Trump, entertainer-turned-pol was never going to be the second coming of Ronald Reagan. But neither will the other maybes and might-want-tos.

Take Newt Gingrich, whose announcement video last week said we should “look reality in the face, [and] tell the truth.” The truth and the reality are that Gingrich is an abrasive bomb thrower who resigned his speakership after his colleagues, and most voters, had enough of him, not the profile swing voters usually latch onto. His disapproval rating when he left office was 70 percent and was still as high as 38 percent as recently as last summer. And Gingrich, a self-styled historian, is fighting history. Only once has a former speaker of the house made the transition to the White House. That, NBC’s Chuck Todd notes, was James Polk in 1844. And not since James Garfield in 1880 has a politician achieved the White House having only served in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Newt is not alone with this problem, of course. Sitting Rep. Michele Bachmann seems happy to conflate her fanatical Tea Party following with actual broad-based support. But again her lack of experience in winning even a statewide office in Minnesota makes one wonder whether she’s drinking tea or Kool-Aid. For sheer “what is he thinking” chutzpah, however, it’s hard to beat Rick Santorum, whose last act in American politics ended when the voters of his home state of Pennsylvania fired him from the U.S. Senate. I can think of one modern politician who won the White House after losing his last previous election, and Richard Nixon is not a figure whose mantel many GOPers lay claim to these days.

Sure Newt, Bachmann, and Santorum are members of the GOP presidential B Team, but is the A Team much more impressive? You could have made an argument for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, before he announced this weekend that he would not run. The best that can be said of Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, is that he is inoffensive (read: bland), while the worst that can be said of 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is that she’s . . . Sarah Palin.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels commented last week that “the chances [of his beating Obama] would actually be quite good.” Apparently channeling some Trump-ian bombast, he added that, “The quality and the number of people who have said they’d like to be associated is really quite awesome to me.” Also awesome is the idea of someone running as a gimlet-eyed spending hawk whose previous job before governor was as George W. Bush’s budget chief. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes, “By themselves, in fact, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will account for almost half of the $20 trillion in debt that, under current policies, the nation will owe by 2019.”

Then there’s Mitt Romney, who Thursday made his highest profile attempt to explain why the healthcare law he passed while governor of Massachusetts, with an individual mandate, is good, but the national-level version of it, signed by Barack Obama, is bad. Romney’s dilemma: He can’t embrace the individual mandate because conservatives don’t like it any more at the state level than they do at the federal one. But he also can’t repudiate it lest he feed the political chameleon image that led the Democratic National Committee to tout “Mitt Romney, Version 5.0.”

The most damning illustration of the state of the GOP field may have come in a Politico report noting that virtually the only issue the contenders agree on is that “Sharia law is a continuing threat to the United States.”

One can’t help but look forward to the GOP nominee explaining that urgent threat in a general election debate while standing next to the president who got bin Laden.

By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, May 16, 2011

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Birthers, Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Exploratory Presidential Committees, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Independents, Journalists, Media, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Politics, President Obama, Press, Pundits, Racism, Republicans, Right Wing, Swing Voters, Tea Party, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pandering To The Extremists: Mitt Romney In A Time Warp

There was something almost quaint about Mitt Romney’s speech on health careThursday, as if we were watching early sound footage of Theodore Roosevelt.

Republicans no longer talk about the virtues of government social programs, especially if they intend to run for president in a party that now considers Medicare the first cousin of socialism. Yet there was Mr. Romney defending a mandate to buy health insurance as passionately as in any similar speech by President Obama.

When he was governor of Massachusetts, of course, Mr. Romney created a health care system very similar to the one championed by the president. He could have walked away from it, as he did in the 2008 presidential race, or fecklessly repudiated it, as Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, did in the Republican debate last week regarding his earlier support for a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gases.

This time, to his credit, Mr. Romney is standing by his record, perhaps hoping there might still be a few primary voters who appreciate candor — assuming he doesn’t pivot again in the heat of the right-dominated primaries.

Tearing it down might help him politically, he said, but “it wouldn’t be honest.” He said he did what he “thought would be right for the people of my state.” A mandate to buy insurance, he said, makes sense to prevent people from becoming free riders, getting emergency care at enormous cost to everyone else.

Where he went off the rails, however, was in not acknowledging that that same logic applies to the nation. Mr. Romney tried desperately to pivot from praising his handiwork in Massachusetts to trashing the very same idea as adapted by Mr. Obama. His was an efficient and effective state policy; Mr. Obama’s was “a power grab by the federal government.”

He tried to justify this with a history lesson on federalism and state experimentation, but, in fact, said nothing about what makes Massachusetts different from its neighbors or any other state. And why would he immediately repeal the Obama mandate if elected president? Because Mr. Obama wants a “government takeover of health care,” while all he wanted was to insure the uninsured.

That distinction makes no sense, and the disconnect undermines the foundation of Mr. Romney’s candidacy. At heart, he is still the kind of old-fashioned northeastern Republican who believes in government’s role while trying to conceal it under a thin, inauthentic coating of conservative outrage. But in its blind abhorrence of President Obama, the party has also left behind former centrists like Mr. Romney, and it is unlikely that any amount of frantic pandering about the free market will change that. He is trapped not only between the poles of his party but between eras, a candidate caught in an electoral time warp.

By: The New York Times, Editorial, May 12, 2011

May 12, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Conservatives, Exploratory Presidential Committees, GOP, Government, Health Care, Health Care Costs, Health Reform, Individual Mandate, Liberty, Medicare, Mitt Romney, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, States, Swing Voters, Tea Party, Uninsured, Voters | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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