Monday, March 16, 2009

Missouri Plan creates headache for Palin in Alaska

Amanda Carpenter of the Washington Times reports that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is under fire from some social conservatives for appointing a pro-choice woman with ties to Planned Parenthood to the Supreme Court. However, Palin did so with her hands tied behind her back: under Alaska's version of the Missouri Plan, Palin was only given two nominees from which to choose, BOTH of whom were pro-choice. Palin's situation mirrors former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt's nomination of Patricia Breckenridge: in both cases, angry conservatives urged the governor to reject the panel's nominees, who were ideologically 180 degrees away from any judge the governor would've selected with a free hand.

Instead of giving the ultra-liberal Bar Association such an outsized role in the selection of judges, why not try the federal model of an executive nomination with Senate confirmation? It's so crazy, it just might work!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Reflections on the Tea Party

The rally was a great sight to behold, with many more people there than anyone anticipated. Kudos to Bill Hennessy and Dana Loesch for being the organizers and inspirational fuel behind the St. Louis Tea Party.

I was very honored to have the opportunity to speak at the rally, and ended up getting much more fired up than I expected. The crowd, like the whole Tea Party movement, was passionate, spontaneous and ready to take action. I look forward to helping keep the momentum going and holding our elected officials accountable for their misdeeds.

What I planned to say (I got the three basic ideas in but not many of the specifics--I had to make it quick and energetic!)

1. My parents and grandparents, like all Americans, struggled to leave a better world to their children
  • My grandparents were sharecroppers in the Missouri Bootheel and for the most part didn't control their own destiny in life
  • My parents were able to move to a great city like St. Louis and go to college, which was more than their parents were able to do; they sacrificed a lot for their kids, sending us to private school when they couldn't really afford it
2. We need to make the world a better place for our children than it is now; making them more dependent on government won't do that
  • Obama's campaign slogan was "Yes, we can!" but the premise behind big government is, "No, you can't!" It robs people of their independence
  • Not many people want to be working when they're 80 or 90 but that's what the debt we're putting on our children and grandchildren will require them to do
3. We are here to fight for a freer society; those who voted against freedom in the form of Porkulus need to be held accountable!
  • Washington politicians like Claire McCaskill love to bash Wall Street and say they need to live within their means, but what about THEM?
  • Obama was supposed to be all about reducing the power of lobbyists, but what do you think happens to the number of lobbyists when gov't is picking winners and losers in the economy? They scurry to DC like rats!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is Todd Akin is moving to the center?

I was so shocked that it took me two days to react to the news that my Congressman, Todd Akin, plans to introduce legislation mandating that Americans carry health insurance. This is surprising for two reasons:

1. Akin is known primarily for his outspokenness on social issues like abortion and the Pledge of Allegiance, and for his promotion of a muscular foreign policy, which is personally important to him because three of his sons have served in the military. It's unusual to see him shift his focus to a non-"base" issue such as health care.

2. To the extent that Akin has weighed in on economic matters, he has been a very consistent conservative: he was one of a small number of Republicans who voted no on the 2003 Medicare prescription drug expansion and he was the only Missouri legislator to vote against last year's farm bill. His legislation is explicitly patterned after Mitt Romney's Massachusetts plan, which Romney's Republican rivals attacked and many conservatives criticized for its individual mandate more than most other provisions.

Don't get me wrong: nobody's going to mistake Todd Akin for a liberal or even a moderate any time soon. But I believe his plan is yet another data point showing our country's leftward shift on health care over the past few years. Conservatives seem to be conceding to the idea of universal health care coverage and some have even agreed to the idea that health care is a fundamental right. We are moving closer and closer to the liberal dream of socialized medicine, and the prospects of stopping it grow dimmer every day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

GOP Must Diversify or Die--My First STL American Column

I'm no Eric Holder, but I think that Republicans avoid discussions of why they are perceived as racist at their own peril. In my St. Louis American column (adapted from last week's video commentary) I argue that the GOP needs to involve more minorities in the party both out of practical necessity and moral right. Check it out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

McCaskill the arrogant

Sen. Claire McCaskill sure is famous these days. She's one of Barack's best buds and gets access to uber-VIP events! She's on Meet the Press! Rachel Maddow loves her! I learned all these wonderful facts and more by following my Senator on Twitter. Unfortunately, all the fame seems to be really swelling her head and preventing her from "getting" how Twitter can be useful for enhancing democracy rather than simple navel-gazing.

I'm a relative newcomer to Twitter, as I've only been tweeting for the last two months. But I know that much of the power of Twitter is the ability for regular folks to have back-and-forth conversations with people we've never been able to access before: Karl Rove, Shaquille O'Neal and MC Hammer are three of my personal favorites. Several legislator/Twitterers have put this interactivity to good use, managing to attract and follow thousands of people and engage with them in a real way about the innards of government. Particularly acitve and astute Congressional Tweeters include Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. John Culberson, Rep. Bob Latta, and for bipartisanship's sake, Rep. Marcia Fudge.

Sen. McCaskill has unfortunately only used Twitter as a one-way communication tool, choosing to follow only one person: her press secretary. Having worked for a U.S. Senator, I certainly don't expect McCaskill to peer over her laptop for hours a day, reading thousands of tweets from random folks around the globe. But it's not unrealistic at all to expect her to interact with SOME of her constituents on Twitter. Her refusal to do so is both a display of arrogance and a missed opportunity to be held accountable by her constituents.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

GOPers against Lincoln: who are these people?

Missouri State Rep. Bryan Stevenson screwed up big time on Tuesday, calling the hideous "Freedom of Choice Act" the "greatest power grab by the federal government since the War of Northern Aggression." My friend Rep. Don Calloway and Rep. Martin Rucker prevailed upon him to apologize, which he did.

With his remarks, Stevenson joined a long line of Republicans who've landed in hot water for praising the nobility of the Confederacy. Worse, his remarks came during the week of the anniversary of Lincoln's 200th birthday, and a week before the Missouri Republican Party's annual Lincoln Days. Nice.

I'll avoid the history debate for now and focus on why this was such a politically obtuse move.

1. Americans have long viewed Lincoln as one of our greatest presidents. (according to Gallup, he ranks third behind Reagan and Kennedy in popularity) If you're going to attack him, go ahead and diss Mom and apple pie.

2. It demonstrates a shocking ignorance or apathy about black people ("I had no IDEA they felt that way!!") and makes it harder for Republicans to credibly appeal to them.

3. Like a violation of Godwin's Law, it diminishes your credibility in future debates. (Of course he's against our 12-cent bond issue. He probably thinks it's worse than slavery!!)

Many of those who praise the Confederacy offer the same rationale as Stevenson: Lincoln greatly expanded the powers of the federal government, helping lead to the growing Leviathan we see today. That's a legitimate academic argument, but trying to re-fight the Civil War makes it much harder for conservatives to win today's battle against not-so-creeping socialism. Enough already.