Culpable and Capable

“Has the TEA Party become a GOP Liability?” -Washington Post headline, April 6th, 2012.

First of all, a big thanks to all who R&R’d (Read and recommended, and if that’s not slang on the sites where I post yet, it is now.) my last post. Like most conservatives, I wish the media would do its job, so I wouldn’t have to. I would like to apologize to my wife for the spit-take that occurred when I saw that headline on a friends’ facebook post. (Article here) For a little backstory, my wife diligently saved her money before we got married, and bought our couch and bed for us as a wedding present to me. I spat the coffee I was drinking all over the couch, upon which I am now sleeping until I get the aforementioned beverage out of it. If any of you have a little room in your budget for a radio show host/blogger, I am available. Please send help and prayers to iamjosephkurt@gmail.com. While that request enters the ether, we have other matters at hand.

As a member of the Charleston TEA Party, and a conservative in good standing, I was forced to wonder if there was any legitimacy to the charge. That lasted for all of a few seconds. We have an innate “distrust reflex” for most everything in media. When Fox News came along, it was a welcome relief just to watch someone try to show our side. Fox News rapidly became the Israel of broadcast journalism. Neighbors fired at it on a daily basis. The rest of its world tried to smear and demean it, and entire hate groups were built around it, like MSNBC and Current TV. In the spirit of Easter, I am going to try to be nice for a minute. Giving WaPo the benfit of the doubt, maybe they are just trying to explore another angle on the election. Maybe, just maybe, Pravda on the Potomac (Can’t take credit for that, Google search…-JK) is trying to give this election a fair shake.

Welcome back. I know you spent a little time doubled over laughing, and I don’t blame you. When I wrote that line, I nearly lost control of certain bodily functions that would have made the coffee spit-take debacle pale in comparison. But I digress, for the last time, I promise. Washington Post presents its standard evidence, which is polling data. Remember how polls are used to shape public opinion, not record it? Check this out:

“A recent Fox News poll showed just 30 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the tea party, compared to 51 percent who viewed it unfavorably.

A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll may be more illustrative, though. It showed Americans were more evenly split on the tea party, with 44 percent supporting it and 43 percent opposing it. But just 15 percent of Americans supported the tea party “strongly,” while many more – 26 percent – were “strongly” opposed to it.

That suggests opposition to the tea party is more strident than the tea party itself, which means the movement may be doing the GOP more harm than good.”

The article then goes on to quote a Democrat strategist who states that the TEA Party has become a dangerous group that no longer reflects the values of the American middle class. That’s a curious observation from the party of Occupy Wall Street, especially when the President has something like a 60-70% disapproval rating on how he’s handled the economy. And in my humble opinion, the President’s approval numbers factor into the whole scheme quite a bit. Follow me on this logical journey, if you will. The President is planning to run against Mitt Romney, the TEA Party, and the Republican Party as one cohesive unit whehter they are or not. We are going to be hit with the “do-nothing Congress”, “GOP Extremism”, and “Republican obstructionism” from all sides, whether the topic is relevant or not. Birth control, anyone? President Obama blamed Republican obtructionism in the pages of Rolling Stone before they even held the House! So in light of a -17% Presidential Approval Index among likely voters (See that here), President Obama’s team has thrown another dart at the Democrat re-election strategy board, hoping it resonates. The problem is, it only has one target: Run against a straw man. “It could have been worse”, “saved jobs”, and “profitable green industry” all spring from this political Narnia where President Obama has done a marvelous job, Obamacare is clearly constitutional, and a bunch of working-class voters in tricorn hats have ruined it all.

It just doesn’t jive. According to Rasmussen, the Tea Party’s approval rating as of November last year was 30%, and the Occupy movement was 37% unfavorable. Remember that Rasmussen polls likely voters. That poll should not exist, if the media is to be believed. Democrat Representatives marched with the Occupy movement, and it was supposed to revitalize the left. However, given the reality on the ground, and the grotesque images and video that turned up during the height of the movement, Occupy should have been called Communists Rallying for American Progressivism. Worse still, the polls on the TEA Party show Republicans view it favorably. And the worst yet? The numbers on the TEA Party bounce around like crazy. They are as nebulous as the group itself. In an attempt to pin it down and define it, the Democrat Party Media Relations Divsion has found itself herding politcal cats, or grasping at shadows. They vacillate from “it doesn’t exist”:

http://videos.mediaite.com/embed/player/?content=D3KZGG1MLH3H9XKX&content_type=content_item&layout=&playlist_cid=&media_type=video&widget_type_cid=svp&read_more=1

To, “It’s a dangerous, racist, anti-everything, economic terrorist organization that’s responsible for the failures of the Obama administration and Congress’ bad poll numbers”:

Stupidity like this is actually amusing as can be. This “comprimise” rhetoric leads me to another point, though. Ever since the GOP took over the House in 2010, we have been mercilessly pilloried with the notion of how willing Republicans once were to comprimise. According to left, even as seen in the clip above, we used to lay down our arms and negotiate. Paul Begala wrote a column in The Daily Beast/Newsweek that he longed for a time when Republicans knew their place, and were kept under close watch by strong leaders, who would force them to comprimse when necessary. His ideal Republican: Bob Dole. Then we get drivel about Ronald Reagan raising taxes, and working to comprimise with Democrats. Even the President has jumped in to say Reagan could not win today’s GOP nomination. You know what Mr. President? JFK could not have won a Democrat primary since 1976.  But since the Imperial Scribes, not the Emperor, are the ones we are going after in this segment, let’s see what they have to say. From Leonard Pitts Jr. of The Miami Herald, Imperial Idiot of the highest order:

No, it is the GOP that has abandoned the center and embraced ideological extremism as a virtue. It is telling to hear its candidates use “moderate” as an epithet and argue over who is the most “conservative,” as if the word contained some pixie dust of common sense and moral rectitude. It is sobering to realize that Ronald Reagan, patron saint of modern conservatism, would be unelectable by the standards thereof: He raised taxes and was known to compromise with political opponents — not “enemies” — to get things done.

That was then. His party has since engaged in a 30-year flight from the center that reaches its nadir — at least, let us hope it’s the nadir — in this era of tea party incoherence, faith-based policy, fear mongering and tax pledge tyranny. This era when compromise is both lost art and dirty word and some Americans see other Americans as enemies — an era in which there is something lonely and foregone about pleading with an angry nation that this is not how it is supposed to be.”

You want to see a clear and obvious difference between the character of Reagan and Obama? If Obama had just half the character of Reagan, we would have seen him sign cuts into law, real cuts, at least two times by now. Look at how Reagan handled not having congressional support compared with how Obama has handled it. To quote a famous comic book writer: ‘Nuff said.

And about this whole “too far to the right” business? Quick, name for me a social welfare program that has been cut. No? Name for me a year when we cut goverment spending. No again? OK, name for me a government agency that has exceeded its budget or risked insolvency. That one was too easy, you say? There’s a reason. When you look at government through that frame, its simple to see why the left says we are moving to the right. There’s a principle known as relative motion. If you walk past someone standing still, and you keep walking, and they keep standing still, the distance between you keeps growing, Only one side has to move to have “motion” between the two. The GOP of the years since Reagan has stood in place, mostly. If it has moved anywhere, it has moved to the left a little (Lindsey Graham). But when seen from the vantage point of a Democrat Party scrambling to introduce us to a National Health Care system, a more progressive tax system, and even seeking to take goverment control of private retirement accounts, it must look like we are moving to the right quite a bit. The notion that any powers not expressly granted to the Federal Goverment are granted to the States or the People (all capitalized on purpose) must seem like whacko Michigan Militia talk. That idea comes from the constitution, where our core position rests. How far has the Democrat Party gone when the heart of the American ethos is considered right wing extremism?

Finally, I have to add this: The TEA Party is starting to look more and more like they were hiding a crystal ball somewhere in their midst. The predictions made about the intrusion of government, the destruction of liberty, and the dire economic consequences of this President’s policies all seem like the eerie ramblings of a white-wigged soothsayer that somehow became true. The NDAA? Obamacare? Deficits? The list goes on. And the “do-nothing Congress” has tried to stop a President who does not respect his own constitutional limitations and responsibilities, much less theirs. They have had precious little succes. Liability, in legal terms, is synonymous with culpability and responsibility. The TEA Party sent the Congress to slow the machine, and they have somewhat, but when you are dealing with such an idealogue, culpability and capability do not always align. How do you stop a President that refuses to constrain himself or his signature legislation to the limits of the very document that grants him the Office? How do you stop a President that sees destroying the constitution as keeping the oath he took upon inauguration? It isn’t enough to vote a congressional counterbalance in. You must vote him out. That’s why the TEA Party is being framed like this. We are not the GOP’s responsibilty, we are not its liability, and we are not its culpability. We are the reason it has any capability. Time to put the tricorn hat back on and saddle up.

Wherever Joseph Kurt travels, a liberal on horseback rides out ahead of him screaming , “The Liars are coming!”. It never works.

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Rommunism! Dam-Mitt!

There are more Republican primaries today. I’m not exasperated, nor am I disappointed. I’m just surprised at how fast this is going by. Wisconsin, Maryland, and the District of Columbia will give their input as to who will be the nominee. Odds are we will ultimately wind up with Mitt Romney. As a Constitutional Conservative, I don’t like the way that sounds any more than I like being told I am not a “real” conservative by Ron Paul supporters. I don’t like it any more than I like being told I am not a “real” Christian by liberals because Jesus was clearly in favor of social justice. But here’s what I do like: Mitt Romney reciting the Oath of Office next year at his inauguration, when compared to Barack Obama’s second term.

Since I couldn’t find the reference, I will have to go on faith on this one, and I apologize for any inaccuracy. I do not mean to impugn Mitt Romney with this, but I cannot remember to whom this observation should be credited, but I believe it was George Will. Mitt Romney, he said, will have to be moved to the right by force. Not violence, but the force of the popular voice of the right. I concur, since I firmly believe Mitt Romney’s campaign is shaped by the victory of 2010 as much as it is the defeat of 2008. The Republican Establishment, who swears they don’t exist, was broadsided by the “Tea Party Revolution”  in 2010. They are paralyzed with fear that Rick Santorum might win the nomination, since he is a zealot. They fear Ron Paul, since he is a hard-line ideologue, and will cost them much of their “hard earned” power. And they fear Newt Gingrich, since he knows where their bones are buried, and they might not have leverage in the Oval Office with him behind the Resolute desk. So it’s to be Romney, and we Tea Party types will have to drag him to the right, as if we were a team of horses harnessed to pull a deeply-rooted stump out of the ground. So be it.

I can’t see this as an impossible challenge. I’m sorry, I know I should be a little more openly wary of Mitt Romney, and I have. (You can listen to my criticism here) Conservatives, however, are not just trying to pull a single candidate to the right, it is our life’s mission to pull an entire electorate to the right. Compared to that Sisyphean effort, pulling Romney to the right seems like no big deal. The current President, by the way, would have to move dramatically to the right to be classified as a liberal! The Romney pull team, thank God, would ideally not have to be focused on economics, right? A rich capitalist with a “couple of Cadillacs” in the driveway should be as capitalist as any of us, right? No, he’s not. I said I didn’t see pulling Mitt Romney to the right would not be impossible, but I am not so stupid as to believe it will be easy.

So I have my harness on, and I am ready to let the pulling begin. First up, it’s the flip-flops, and they are legion. I could never encompass them as well as an incredibly damning number of videos, compilations, and ads have, so check this out:

Damn it.

I mean, my God. Maybe this will be harder than I thought. But just when I want to give up hope that there is a rightward streak anywhere under Mitt Romney’s coif, along comes the liberal media. Yes, you read that right. Here is what TIME’s Joe Klein had to say about Mitt Romney flips and flops on social issues:

“He was probably far more conservative on social issues like abortion and gay marriage that he professed to be when he ran for U.S. Senator and then Governor in Massachusetts. Stories in both the New York Times and Washington Post this year have revealed that Romney took his role as a Mormon Bishop and President (the ultimate Mormon authority in the Boston area) very seriously–and that he tried to enforce the laws of his church on abortion, homosexuality and premarital sex firmly, although humanely. His flip back toward social conservatism when he decided to run for President was probably a move toward his natural predilections.”

Whew. That was close. Oh, there’s more? The next paragraph of the same article?”

“And he is probably more moderate on policy issues than he’s been pretending to be as a Republican presidential candidate in the past two campaigns. He is a product of the empowerment Republicanism of the 1990s, as is Gingrich–an attempt to achieve progressive ends through conservative means. Hence, his support for an individual mandate universal health care system, which would use a private market to lower the cost of health insurance–an idea that was developed by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Hence, his support for a cap-and-trade program to limit carbon emissions–an idea that George H.W. Bush included in the Clean Air Act of 1990, to (successfully) control Acid Rain. The radical turn of the Republican party has forced Romney to move right on those and a myriad of other issues.”

Damn it.

So here’s the hope: We are seeing, now, the real Mitt. Here’s the fear: In a few months, the polls will shake the etch-a-sketch. Somewhere, deep inside Mitt Romney, is a family man of character. We just don’t know if we are seeing that man, or the suit that man puts on. There’s something I do like about Mitt Romney, though, something I see in him that gives me a little more than just casual hope. It’s around the eyes when he is doing his Ken Doll act while trying not to get angry at the debates or the other candidates. It stems from an instinct that drives a man to success in  a (comparatively) free-market economy, a corporate CEO, or a talented athlete. Somewhere in that perfect exterior, there is a Mitt Romney who hates to lose. Call it a fear of not surpassing his father, call it a lust for power, or call it whatever you will. For every ounce of arrogance that Barack Obama has for thinking that he can’t lose, or conceit he has that he shouldn’t lose, Mitt Romney has a pound of resolve that he has to win. He feels this way because he knows he will never get this close to the office again. This is probably Romney’ s last ride. It angers me that he seems to move with the shifting winds of the polls, of course. And on some innate level, and maybe it’s the level where most politicians disappoint me in some fashion by not living up to their billing, I can see why Romney has done so much, well, let’s just call it “triangulating”. I get it, but I don’t like it, either.

I also keep forgetting the Proglodytes (Progressive + Troglodytes = Proglodytes) “know” they are going to run against this guy. So how do we do a Lazarus on Mitt Romney’s conservative streak? Many would argue that we already have, compared to his term as governer and his campaign for Senate in 1994 against Ted Kennedy. It’s possible, but if that is the case, I do not believe the reversion is permanent. What the hell do we do now? The answer is a little more complex than I want, and maybe a little too late. I want to say that we should vote for Rick or Newt, as we did here in South Carolina, and if that is what you believe, you should. But I think many in our party have fallen for the spell that Mitt Romney looks and sounds like the President out of central casting, and if an electorate is so uninformed as to annoint a novice with the highest political office in the world, then they believe we have to aim beyond “simple party politics”. The recipe is easy enough, give the electorate someone not too far off of their ideological spectrum, and make sure he looks good in a suit. Mitt looks like he was cooked up in a lab somewhere in the Hamptons, so he fits a lot of bills. So what do we do if he wins?

The same thing we do if he loses. We pretend the Romney administration is as bad as the Obama administration, and we unite the way we did during the last four years. Make them prove to us they are different, and don’t let off the gas. The Tea Party rallies continue. The 9/12 groups continue to meet and get results. We continue to publish social media and blogs (You’re welcome). We keep doing excellent radio shows (You’re welcome). Make no bones about it, President Romney needs the Tea Party more than he knows. This fire cannot be quenched by a moderate administration, or we will have taught the GOP the lesson we taught them with George H.W. Bush, and Gerald Ford, and they will place a permanent embargo on the names and ideals of Reagan and Goldwater from future elections in perpetuum. We are in a race to change the future of the country, and to my fellow conservatives, I implore you, do not let the status quo reign over us because we changed the letter in parentheses after the President’s name. If we do that, we might just save Mitt Romney as a President, and the United States as a nation. The stakes are that high, at least.

Damn it.

Joseph Kurt is the Unceremonious Master of Ceremonies, and the host of The Joseph Kurt Show Saturdays at 6pm on NewsRadio 94.3WSC FM, in the Holy City of Charleston, S.C. (Show archives here) He is also the host of the Charleston Tea Party Podcast. He will never, ever give in, not one inch, for this is a matter of honor. Twitter: @JosephKurt1

Remission, Not Recovery

I am often surprised that the Democratic Party is so openly hostile toward conservatives about their faith, since their beliefs require so much. This week’s bully pulpit (but not bull market) sermon comes courtesy of TIME magazine, specifically from Deacon Bill Saporito and Sister Rana Foroohar. (The 97-lb. Recovery, April 2, 2012) Foroohar’s normal column is printed under the title of The Curious Capitalist, which is snarky liberalism at its best and worst. To say she is a Keynesian is to say Glenn Beck is passionate and faithful, and Keith Olbermann is overbearing and arrogant.

In the very first paragraph of the article, the party line manages to slip out, and it is as follows: You are too stupid to notice there is a recovery going on around you. The exact quote is, “Given that…unemployment is still above 8%, you’d be forgiven for not noticing that there’s been a rebound-until, maybe, now”. That’s genius with a capital D. And they cite fantastic evidence to support their claims, such as the stock market hitting new highs, out-of-work claims at four year lows, and consumer-confidence figures ticking up. We’re back, baby, and badder than ever! The only thing missing now is a Joe Biden economic gaffe.


Yup.

But there are just a few problems with the logic. Now I understand there are more than a few problems with Keynesian logic, but I’m just talking about those statements and assertions she cites as evidence of a recovery. The first is the assessment of consumer confidence. As of this writing, which is the exact same date on the cover of the magazine, the Consumer Confidence Index is down by 1.4 points from February to March of this year. This reminds of two things: The first is the idea of liberal elitism and observation bias, and the second is the gravity the political left places on what “plays well” from President Obama’s speeches on the economy. Chuck Todd recently stated that media liberals suffer from a geographical, not ideological, bias. (You can read that here) Combined with the observations by your Keynesian Clergy, the implication is they think we’re stupid for not seeing the recovery. And they were smart enough to live in areas such as D.C. or New York that never saw the recession in the first place. Also, the notion of what “plays well” is absolutely critical to leftist ideology. This is an election year, and we have a professional campaigner as an incumbent, so everything is viewed through the prism of whether it helps or hinders that effort, and one of the “unbiased” media observations regarding the dip in President Obama’s polling numbers was the idea that telling Americans the economy had recovered was a no-no. (Article here) See, they still have buy gas and groceries, so it rings a little hollow to cheer your efforts in light of that inconvenient truth. So now, the administration has to convince Americans that we are in a soft recovery, or a jobless recovery, or that the recession has bottomed out, without sounding too optimistic. We’re a little back, Mr. President, but don’t tell us we’re back. Remember the caricature of Bush as the eternal optimist in spite of the truth? I’m no Hindu, but the concept of karma is really starting to make inroads into my beliefs.

As for the other numbers, jobless claims and the stock market, they are deceptive, at best. The administration’s tinkering with the unemployment figures is well-documented, but often left out of the conversation is this: Employment grows and declines in spurts, not in a straight line. It makes sense from a macro perspective. Good news for the national economic outlook is not compartmentalized into sectors of the economy, as the TIME piece suggests, and so growth occurs in short bursts. Without getting too wonkish, here’s what that means: One month’s data, or even a cluster of data, does not always a trend indicate. (You can read the source for that here) But there is TIME magazine, carrying the economic water for the administration in its half-full bucket of pure optimism. And as far as the stock market goes, wasn’t there a President who said we can’t look to the stock market’s gyrations as an indicator of economic health? And wasn’t he, like, really smart?

The piece is designed to ease America’s fears that the economy might actually have established a “new normal” of 8% unemployment and GDP propped up by government spending, rather than investment, trade, and consumption. But the idea and message, like the people who wrote it, have no basis in reality. The average American has seen a 9% drop in their spending power during the Obama administration, and that is real to them. The stock market is not. They have seen real inflation (factoring in food and gas prices) at 8%, even though Paul Krugman swears this is not happening. The political left is going to have to face reality, which is something they hate. They are going to have to admit to themselves that they are the only ones trying to force good news down the throat of a terminally ill patient. This is a sad analogy, I understand, but I did not put them in this situation. They built this house of cards themselves. Since Obamacare is on the political horizon these days, let’s look at it like this: We have not yet fully recovered from this malignant recession, and it is too soon to declare victory over it. At best, we are showing signs of remission, but here’s the problem: We have not stopped the behavior that gave us the tumor in the first place, and we are actually increasing its frequency and scale. The most bitter irony in all of this is that we are being forced to continue this fatal behavior by elected politicians (Obama, Reid) and unelected bureaucrats alike (Bernanke, Geithner). I guess those “death panels” aren’t just for healthcare anymore. -JK

Joseph Kurt is the Unceremonious Master of Ceremonies. He would first like to apologize for the inabililty to indent paragraphs in WordPress. He is the host of The Joseph Kurt Show on NewsRadio 94.3WSC on Saturdays at 6pm in the Holy City of Charleston, S.C. He is also the host of the Charleston Tea Party Podcast. He actually managed to scare himself while writing this.