Free Markets, Free People

Georgia


Ted Cruz, Tea Party and TSPLOST

There’s a lot of press being given the so-called “Tea Party win” of a candidate for the Texas Senate seat – Ted Cruz.

He, with the Tea Party’s help, overcame some pretty negative polling  numbers to eventually win a Republican run-off convincingly last night.

Says the Washington Post:

Cruz, an emerging conservative star whose father emigrated to the United States from Cuba, has drawn comparisons to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and has been lauded by national conservative political pundits and groups for over a year. His victory is a major blow to the Republican establishment in Texas, which lined up squarely behind Dewhurst. It’s also a victory for the tea party and national conservatives who lined up behind Cruz even when a surprise win appeared unlikely.

What the WaPo doesn’t say is the demise of the Tea Party seems to have been quite exaggerated.  And that’s irritating to both Democrats and, “the Republican establishment”.  Or as the Tea Party likes to refer to that establishment – RINOs.

Regardless of where you come down on the Tea Party, it seems to be in anything but in decline.

Another example that, which will get little if any publicity, occurred here in Georgia.  It was a referendum on TSPLOST.  The TSPLOST referendum was a state-wide vote on funding transportation infrastructure improvements in the state. Boring but expensive stuff, right? Approval would add a penny to sales tax for a period of 10 years.  It was touted as an absolute necessity by all of the state’s political leaders, from the Republican governor to the Democratic mayor of Atlanta.  Jobs were promised, improved economy was cited, etc.

But why was it necessary?  Well let Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss explain why, after decades upon decades of sending GA taxpayer money to Washington DC for redistribution, we now have to self-fund maintaining our roads:

We just passed a highway bill two weeks ago. The president signed it last week. In that highway bill, we did not change the funding mechanism on how roads and bridges and infrastructure in this country are built and maintained.

“We don’t have the money in the highway trust fund now to build new roads. We don’t have the money in the highway trust fund to build rail lines that will take some of the pressure off the transportation issues that we have in this country. We’ve got to develop a different way of funding those projects. And until we do that, the mechanism that we have in place is it. It’s the only mechanism.

“So when folks go to the polls to decide whether or not they want to vote for TSPLOST, if they don’t have a better idea of how we’re going to fund the infrastructure and the transportation needs for Georgia, then this is the best route to go right now. Now that’s the general picture. I am looking at it from a Georgian standpoint. This is not a federal issue, this is a Georgia issue.

The hell it’s not a federal issue – where’s the money?  Why don’t you have the funds necessary to improve infrastructure after the taxpayers of GA have been forking it over to the Federal government for years?

Simple answer?  They overspent or spent it on other things.  That’s why we have trillion dollar deficits.

Anyway, as you might imagine, the state’s campaign for passage was relentless and well funded.  But the citizens of GA weren’t about to buy into these pie-in-the-sky promises without some careful examination.  Enter the Tea Party in a true David and Goliath match up.  It didn’t have the funding, but apparently it did have the will (and tons of volunteers) to take on the power structure and give it a run for our money.

The TSPLOST referendum’s one penny 10 year sales tax bid went down in flaming defeat.  Only 3 of 12 state regions passed it.  The point hasn’t been lost locally:

The tea party and other T-SPLOST opponents didn’t need much money, though, to defeat the one-penny sales tax. According to the most recent campaign finance reports, they had raised only about $15,000. That was a pittance compared to the $8 million in the hands of the proponents, which included Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

But the opponents made their punches count. As supporters hit the airwaves with TV commercials, opponents hit the roadways, relying on carloads of volunteers to plant yard signs, distribute fliers, make phone calls and, in the days leading up to the vote, stand on street corners hawking their message.

Grafstein said those local neighborhoods are where the tea party may see its greatest impact. Already, many members have been watchdogging city and county commissions and school boards.

"Officials on the local level are more likely to be more fearful of the threats the tea party can make," he said. "They have lower-turnout elections."

Tuesday night’s results, he said, "make [the tea party] look like people protecting the average citizen from the rapacious government."

Additionally, it should be noted that the Tea Party wasn’t tied to the traditional structure of politics (or, said another way,  those they’re accused of being tied too):

Tuesday’s outcome, Dooley said, also shot down many misconceptions about the group. Opposing Deal and the business establishment showed that the tea party is not just a wing of the Republican Party; forming alliances with the NAACP and Sierra Club showed a willingness to work across ideological lines; and winning showed that it’s not out on some fringe, she said.

And the Tea Party in GA scored a bonus victory as well:

In fact, the tea party scored a double victory Tuesday with the overwhelming popularity of a measure to restrict lobbyists’ gifts to state lawmakers. It was a cause the tea party championed during the last legislative session, and it positioned the group to push it with even greater vigor in the one to come.

Of course there are those who deny the Tea Party had any impact and in fact are claiming victory for something they had little impact upon.  But the results are the results aren’t they?

Here’s the point in all of this – the Tea Party movement is concentrating in areas and races that don’t get much national press or coverage, but as they amass victories, will have a profound effect later in national politics.  They’re winning at the state and local level.   Where do you suppose the next challenge to the likes of a Saxby Chambliss in GA will come from?  Certainly not a Democrat, not in red, red GA. 

Instead, look for a Ted Cruz like candidate to eventually emerge.

This is what keeps the Republican establishment up at night, and rightfully so.

It is also a reason to be somewhat optimistic about the future of politics, if we can survive our current crop of pols long enough to turn this all around.

Citizens are, in effect, revolting.   One of the things we’ve said on our podcasts that might happen is states will say ‘no’ to impositions and mandates by the federal government, and that may start a new revolution of sorts.  Well that’s something that’s possible but I can’t think of anything more likely to spark that than outcomes like this.  The citizenry of GA is saying “no”.  They’ve lost trust in their government to use their tax dollars wisely.  They’ve put their state (or are in the process of putting their state) in the position to say “no” to the Fed.

We live in interesting times.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


So how’s that “civil discourse” working out for you?

First up on the “thee but not me” list of being for “civil discourse” but not practicing it, is our old buddy from a show which should be called “Beanball”, Chris Matthews.

Chris is a great proponent of “civil discourse” unless you try to apply it to him.  He is apparently attempting to repeal Goodwin’s law or to so cheapen the term “Nazi” that it no longer carries the horror it should.   Mr. Moral Equivalence’s latest?  Here’s his intro:

Good evening. I’m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight: Glenn Beck shoots off his mouth. Today Jared Loughner pled not guilty. So has the right wing to the charge it promotes trouble with its endless rants about guns and hatred of government. Take Glenn Beck — please. He targets what he calls radicals in Washington who, quote, "believe in communism," and "you’re going to have to shoot them in the head." Gotcha!

We’ve got a Republican member of Congress out there going full bore on this stuff, saying he wants him and his fellow members of Congress to carry guns at the Capitol. Welcome to the State of the Union 2011. The violent rhetoric of the right won’t stop. It’s our top story tonight.

There’s your set up – the “violent rhetoric of the right won’t stop”, and it’s his top story.  Lead with a discredited Glenn Beck story.   Got it.

Commercial break and what do we see and hear?   A few vids of Obama, McConnell and Cantor – discussing each side’s take on Obama economic policy.

And Matthews next statement?  The next one after seeing the three vids noted?

MATTHEWS: Don’t you just love the new Republican Party? We have the Tea Party people with the placards and the Nazi stuff, and then you have these two Junior Chamber types representing them in Washington.

The irony bug hasn’t yet found Matthews apparently.  The guy (and much of the left) are walking, talking hypocrites.  Palin is lambasted for putting crosshairs on a campaign map months ago and 3 days ago, what does Matthews and company do?  Yeah, put crosshairs on the US Capitol with the title “Fire on the Right”.  Uh, the word “on” is significant when used in conjunction with a crosshairs graphic, wouldn’t you say – using the left’s standard for this sort of thing and all.  Notice it isn’t “fire from the right” or “fire of the right” or even “fire by the right.”

It is “Fire on the Right” which, one assumes, given their instant pop analysis of the Tucson shooting would mean that if any assassin of a left leaning persuasion should shoot at a politician (or anyone) on the right in the next, oh, 6 months or so, it’s Matthews fault.  Because his graphic and its title told them to do so.

Right? 

Oh, and how did Matthews use the graphic?  Hypocritically, of course:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Leading off tonight: Words and actions. Are people affected by what they hear? If not, why do people speak? If the messages people get day after day have no effect on their behavior, why do big corporations spend millions on advertising? Why do politicians? Does the daily climate of attack, the constant torrent of angry attack and questioning of loyalty, of legitimacy, of Americanness, stir people up? Does it trigger the zealots, the unstable, those who are a bit of both?

The politically correct judgment is that we can`t blame anyone for what we`ve seen recently, that words don`t matter in this discussion of people`s violent actions. But do we really believe words don`t matter, that they don`t incite, that they don`t cause trouble? Do we really believe you can say anything you want about someone and not expose them to the actions of a zealot or a nut?

Well we’ll see, won’t we Chris, now that using the left’s standards, you’ve done more than enough to incite “a zealot or a nut”.

Meanwhile down in GA, we have a different and appallingly ignorant revocation of Goodwin’s law and even more moral equivalence:

A Spanish-language newspaper in Georgia has drawn bipartisan criticism for publishing a doctored photograph depicting the state’s new governor as a Nazi.

Some whackado editor of a Spanish-language paper depicts a governor who has been in office all of a week as a Nazi.  Why?

But Navarro said the picture represents the fear immigrants in Georgia feel with the arrival of Deal to the state’s top office, because of Deal’s strong anti-immigrant rhetoric during the last campaign.

Well there you go.  He disagrees with Deal’s political approach to the issue – which is, btw, not “anti-immigration”, but against “illegal immigration” (I refuse to let the left conflate the two).  So what do you do?  Depict your political opponent as a Nazi obviously.

Nice. 

And here’s the irony – the boob depicts Deal as a Nazi (and everyone knows how they dealt with opposition press) and then says:

Navarro, who immigrated to the United States from Colombia, said he printed the picture knowing he didn’t have to fear retaliation from the governor because of the freedom of speech guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Yeah, that happened all the time in Nazi Germany Mr. Navarro, you ignorant jackwagon. 

Yeesh … you just can’t make some of this stuff up.

~McQ


Iran, Nukes and Anti-Missile Shields

The IAEA announced, almost simultaneously with the US unilateral withdrawal of its planned eastern European anti-missile shield, that Iran now has the capability and materials to build a nuclear weapon. Why did the IAEA come to that conclusion?

• The IAEA’s assessment that Iran worked on developing a chamber inside a ballistic missile capable of housing a warhead payload “that is quite likely to be nuclear.”

• That Iran engaged in “probable testing” of explosives commonly used to detonate a nuclear warhead — a method known as a “full-scale hemispherical explosively driven shock system.”

• An assessment that Iran worked on developing a system “for initiating a hemispherical high explosive charge” of the kind used to help spark a nuclear blast.

Additionally it noted, “The agency … assesses that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device (an atomic bomb) based on HEU (highly enriched uranium) as the fission fuel.”

And it has enriched enough uranium for fuel that it could be turned into enough weapons grade uranium for a single nuclear weapon.

So we have the capacity for a nuclear weapon and apparently proof, or at least some pretty heavy indications, that Iran has been working assiduously toward developing a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear payload as well as developing and testing an explosive trigger for such a device.

Obviously this didn’t come as a surprise to the US. Iran’s capability in both missiles and nuclear weapons technology continues to grow.

So excuse me if I don’t buy this “redefinition” of the threat the Obama administration is claiming is better addressed by its focus on short and medium range Iranian missiles. Any defense against missiles is a layered defense. That means you address all possible missile threats.

The fact remains that the only threat to Europe, for whom the Bush-era anti-missile shield was intended, is ballistic missiles. Iran (or Russia) must use them to reach that continent. Iranian short and medium range missiles are not a threat Europe.

The point, of course, is should Iran develop an ICBM, Europe would be defenseless because the systems which are designed for the short and medium range missiles aren’t designed to go after ICBMs.

Or said another way, the proper announcement would have been “the US is adding the missing two layers to the anti-missile defense system, thereby making the system complete.”

Instead we pulled the long-range system. Why?

Well that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? Most feel it was a capitulation in answer to Russia’s fears of the system. Russia had claimed that the small and supposed defensive system could be turned into offensive system aimed at them. Of course that would require a completely different sort of missile than would have been deployed there, and, probably, a different sort of radar system as well.

Speaking of the radar system, Russia objected to the sophisticated X-band radar saying it would be able to look in 360 degrees and would be monitoring Russian missiles much too closely. Seems a bit absurd to make that claim when Russia knows we have satellites that can read the bumper numbers off their mobile missile launchers at will.

Then there was the claim that the US and Russia had an agreement that US troops and weapons wouldn’t be stationed or deployed in the former Warsaw Pact nations. The US doesn’t seem to remember that, but Russia claims its the case. That certainly can’t be the concern since Obama has said that in the future the new anti-missile systems might be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Obama says his decision was driven by the “unanimous advice” of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Said the man who recommended the deployment of the missile shield to President Bush three years ago:

“Those who say we are scrapping missile defence in Europe are either misinformed or misrepresenting the reality of what we are doing in Europe,” said Robert Gates, US defence secretary.

In a word: nonsense!

Someone please explain the spurious claim that the best missile defense system for Europe – which can only be hit by an Iranian ICBM – is one which targets short and medium range Iranian missiles. It makes absolutely no sense.

It makes no sense until Russia is dragged into the equation. Then it starts to become somewhat clear. This is a risky bet meant to appease Russia while at the same time hoping Iran is unable to develop a long-range nuclear capable missile before its nuclear weapons program can be stopped. It is also clearly a bow to Russia and a part of the Obama administration’s unilateral attempt to “reset” relations with that country. And it is a display of weakness.

What about our allies? How do they feel about this? Well perhaps the best way to answer that is to understand why they were so interested in the anti-missile system promised by the Bush administration:

During negotiations with the Bush administration, Warsaw pushed hard for a missile defence agreement that would reward them with a Patriot short-range air defence unit supported by US troops. In the end, Poland agreed in principle to host the US base during last year’s war between Russia and Georgia, which sparked fears about Russian intentions towards central Europe.

Eastern Europe doesn’t trust Russia as far as they can throw them (a lesson we should have learned as well). The invasion and virtual annexation of two provinces of Georgia underscored Russia intent to dominate what it calls it’s “near abroad” (or Post-Soviet Space). Russia literally thumbed its nose at the US and the rest of the world with its military incursion there. Poland and other former Warsaw pact nations took the lesson for what it was – a declaration that Russia was back and intended to play hardball.

Max Boot reminds us of the last time this sort of thing happened:

That Obama has now bowed to Putin’s demands sends a dangerous signal of irresoluteness and weakness—similar to the signal another young president sent when he met with a Russian leader in Vienna in 1961. Nikita Khrushchev emerged from his summit with John F. Kennedy convinced that the president was “very inexperienced, even immature” and that he could be rolled. We all know the result: the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Except this time we’re playing in Russia’s backyard, not our own. Again, leadership is absent in a very critical area of national security.

~McQ


Russia’s New Found “Comrade”

A couple of paragraphs from a story about Obama and Russia’s Medvedev which seem pretty telling to me:

Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev hailed Barack Obama as “my new comrade” Thursday after their first face-to-face talks, saying the US president “can listen” — even if little progress was made on substance.

The Russian president contrasted Obama as “totally different” to his predecessor George W. Bush, whom he blamed for the “mistake” of US missile shield plans fiercely opposed by Moscow.

Of course many on the right are making a big, if sarcastic, deal about Medvedev calling Obama “comrade”. To many that seems more than appropriate. However, there’s a lot of diplospeak in this which seems key.

First, although not much of substance was accomplished, note the Medvedev says that unlike Bush, Obama “can listen”. In diplospeak, that means he thinks he can roll Obama, while Bush, not so much.

Note too that it appears that Obama has caved on the missile defense. In his desire to reduce nuclear stockpiles, he’s given up something which our allies such as Poland and the Czech Republic were keen for in order to see warheads dropped from 2,200 to 1,500. That’s a laughably cheap price for Russia to pay to kill the missile defense they opposed so adamantly.

Yup, after a capitulation like that, I’d be clapping Obama on the back and hailing him as my comrade too, if I were Medvedev.

Nothing, apparently was mentioned about Russia’s plan to rearm its military, its pending sale of the S-300 air defense missile system to Iran or it’s bluntly worded warning about Georgia:

Russia sent a strong warning to the United States Thursday about supporting Georgia in the U.S. ally’s efforts to rebuild its military following last year’s war.

The Foreign Ministry said helping arm Georgia would be “extremely dangerous” and would amount to “nothing but the encouragement of the aggressor.” 

Nope, apparently Obama just listened. That’s a comrade any Russian could love.

~McQ

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