Archive for the ‘Theory’ Category

The Club Strikes Out Again


By John Feehery

club-for-growth-action-fund-is-the-conservative-movements-not-so-secret-weaponSo, the Club for Growth is up to its old tricks.

The group of bilious billionaires who gave us Christine O’Donnell, Sharon Angle, Joe Miller, and other losers is now trying to replace Mike Simpson with a trial lawyer named Bryan Smith to Congress.

As you know, I am not a fan of the Club.

I have accused them facetiously of being funded primarily by Democratic billionaire George Soros because they do such a good job of getting Republicans to waste money in pointless primaries.

Primaries are fine and an important part of the political process. Some members of Congress, especially dumb ones who say really stupid things and who basically just warm their seats, ought to primaried. But that’s not who the Club for Growth targets in their efforts.

Led by former Congressman Chris Chocola, or the Count as I like to call him, the Club is remarkably unsophisticated in how it picks its victims. The first criteria is that the person has to be a friend of John Boehner. The second is that the target has to be a fan of the legislative process and be willing to reach honorable compromise. Third, the person has to at some point have pissed off Chocola, who had an undistinguished career in Congress with a voting record that roughly paralleled Simpson’s record.

What is most frustrating in this particular case is that Idaho needs Mike Simpson now more than ever, especially in the face of an aggressive and unrelenting Obama Administration.

Idaho has a lot of federal land. The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service own about 64% of the land mass of the State of Idaho. The Federal government owns so much of the state that the Idaho legislators are considering legislation that would demand that the Feds give back a huge chunk of the land. That’s not going to happen, but you can appreciate how powerless many Idahoans must feel in the face of that.

Idaho also has a huge mining industry, which causes some environmental damage. That means that the Environmental Protection Agency has a huge presence in the state, and their directives can have a huge impact on job creation in the state.

Mike Simpson is the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and the Interior. In other words, he controls the purse strings of the federal agencies that have the biggest direct impact on jobs in his district and his state.

Chris Chocola talks about Simpson’s tenure on the Appropriations Committee as if it were a bad thing. He says that because Chris Chocola is an idiot.

What Simpson does, by controlling the purse strings, is act as a watchdog over the Obama Administration’s most active federal agencies in his state, the agencies most likely to screw with job creation back home.

Simpson has proven to be a tireless advocate on behalf of his constituents in the face of a out-of-control Obama Administration.

They listen to Simpson because they have no other choice. That is how the legislative process works. That is how the Founding Fathers designed it. They gave the power of the purse to the Congress so that they can represent the views of the people. And Mike Simpson tells the bureaucrats when to back off, and they have no choice but to listen.

Simpson doesn’t win them all, because it is a complicated process. But Mike Simpson has worked hard to rise steadily up the seniority list, using his ability to make powerful friends and his ability to make smart compromises to most effectively represent his constituents, and protect those constituents from the worst abuses of an out-of-control White House.

This isn’t about bringing home the bacon. It is about bringing the Obama Administration’s attack dogs to heel.

Chris Chocola doesn’t get that. How could he? He doesn’t know squat about Idaho. He spends most of his time playing golf in Florida. And Florida is a long way from Idaho.

And Chocola doesn’t really understand the legislative process. He was a largely ineffective member of the Congress who lost his bid for reelection because he ran a lackluster campaign.

I don’t know who this Bryan Smith is. I am sure he says all of the right things at all the right times to make guys like Chris Chocola like him. His main claim to fame is that he speaks Dutch. But he made his money as a personal injury lawyer. That’s what Congress really needs: A Dutch-speaking personal injury lawyer.

Do you really think that the Obama Administration is going to care what a Freshman Dutch-speaking personal injury lawyer it going to say to them in the last two years their Administration? Or will they care more about what the guy who controls their office budgets from the Appropriations Committee says?

For Idaho and for the people in Idaho who actually work for a living, it’s not really about where Smith and Simpson stand on the issues, because they probably agree on about 99% of the issues. What matters is who really has the power to stop the EPA and the BLM from doing really stupid things that will kill jobs.

Simpson has that power. Smith might get it in 18 years or so, but by that time, those jobs will be long gone.

Focus on the Underclass, Not the Upper Class


By John Feehery


Reflecting his political upbringing, Barack Obama spends an inordinate amount of his time worrying about how the rich are getting richer.

He practices envy politics.  The poor are poor not because of their own pathologies, but because the rich are getting richer.

It’s all bullshit.  The rich get rich, by and large, by making smart investments, by going to school and getting a good education, by keeping their families together, by not getting addicted to drugs or alcohol, or by having a parent who did all of those things and who passed the wealth down.

The poor stay poor because they make dumb investments (spending money they don’t have on things they don’t need), they drop out of school, they have kids out of wedlock, they get addicted to drugs or alcohol, and they usually have a parent who passes on all of those bad habits.

Barack Obama has focused almost exclusively on the rich getting richer.  He has ignored completely what often makes the poor poorer.

Obama spent his early political years as a community organizer, so he knows how poverty happens in the big city.   It is the same poverty that infects rural America.

People don’t get jobs if they can’t keep jobs.  They can’t seize opportunities if they don’t understand what they are.  They can’t get the most out of education if their parents are addicted to crack or meth or crank or pot or booze.

Single motherhood is probably the greatest predictor if a child is going to end up poor.  Single motherhood doesn’t work as a social experiment.   The government should figure out a way to discourage it from happening.

A kid can’t learn in school if he or she is worried about the gang-banger down the street.   The President has said nothing about fighting crime in crime-ridden neighborhoods.  He has said nothing about the killing spree that has infected his hometown.   Nothing.  It is stunning.

The President talks a lot about education reform and many of his ideas are good ones.  But the biggest problem facing our schools is not the teachers.  The biggest problem facing our worst schools is the students and what the students learn from their parents (or in most cases, parent).   This is not a resource problem.  This is a habits problem.

Obesity is not the biggest problem facing America.  It is a symptom of the biggest problem facing America, which is the passing down of bad habits.

Obama likes to talk about how the rich are screwing America, and how they need to be punished with higher taxes.  There are some bad actors in the upper classes, some rip-off artists, some scammers, some greedy S.O.B.’s.  But rich people, by and large, got rich because they did it the right way.

There are some poor people who have bad luck.  But most have bad habits.  And we need to teach them good habits if we want them to advance to the middle class.

Learning From Obama


By John Feehery


The President’s second inaugural brilliantly pushed forward his political agenda in ways that Republicans need to understand and learn from.

Republicans will never be able to outbid the President when it comes to coalition politics.  But they need to appreciate how coalition politics, as practiced by the Democrats in the Obama era, is played and they need to come up with a game plan to counter it.

The President’s message was aspirational for the country, inspirational for his coalition partners and infuriating for his opposition.  He was able to make the cause of his diverse coalition – gays, immigrants, anti-gun people, African-Americans, Hispanics, poor people – seemingly the most important cause of the nation.  And he dared the Republicans to oppose it.

He skillfully weaved the story of America into the story of these coalition partners, ignoring the arguments from the other side, and posited in unsubtle terms that to oppose his agenda was essentially un-patriotic.

Most importantly, the President set out a road-map to complete the mission.  His message was sharply positive, and he promised to give his partners something, not take something away from the people who elected him.

Republicans keep promising the American people, and these same coalition partners, that they are going to take things away, all in the name of fiscal restraint.  Republicans used to argue for growing the pie, in the name of economic growth.  Now, they argue that everything is too expensive and that benefits must be cut.  They are like the teetotalers who show up a Keg party and tell everybody that drinking beer is bad for you.

Mitt Romney’s campaign, for example promised to stop a tax break for wind energy in Iowa.  That may have given Mitt some fiscal credibility, but it also lost him Iowa.

Republicans don’t do coalition politics very well, which could probably explain why they don’t have a very big coalition any more.   But instead of outbidding Obama, they could try to talk about the universal benefits of their policies, tailored more specifically to each group.

But first, they have to stop hating people.  They have to stop hating gay people, Hispanic people, black people, single females, thesbians, etc. and they have to condemn their so-called allies who go out of their way to offend them.

They have to then start talking about economic growth.  And they can’t talk about economic growth only with their big donors or in their districts.  They have to talk about economic growth in the big cities, in areas beset by poverty, for immigrants, for Hispanics, for Asians, for blacks.

They need to ditch their anti-government message and develop an economic growth message.   They need to come up with politics where government can be transformed to help spur growth.  Getting rid of all government won’t work.  Making government work better will work.

They need to get onto a personal security message.   They need to think critically about how to change the war on drugs into a war on addiction.  They need to think less about throwing people into jail after a crime is committed and more about making sure the crime isn’t committed in the first place.  This message will work especially well in high crime areas.

Republicans need a political reform message.  They have got their heads handed to them on voter fraud in the last election.  That was seen as an effort to suppress the vote, a bad message for a party that has inherited a good portion of the Dixiecrat coalition.   Clean elections should include campaign finance reform, earmark reform and over-all making sure that more people who want to vote, can vote.   We should be pushing for a bigger political pie because we want more voters, not fewer voters, to vote for us.  We should drop cynicism as a political strategy.   If Republicans promise and then deliver cleaner, more honest elections, they will be promising the voters something they actually want.

Republicans also need to expand the pro-family message that the party thinks it has a lock on.  A two-parent family usually does better than a single-parent family, for obvious reasons.  Twice the resources (quite often), twice the parental involvement, twice the efficiency in spending.  But Republicans don’t need to get all preachy about it.  And a pro-family message doesn’t have to be anti-gay.   While marriage is important and I am big supporter of it, successful families don’t necessarily include marriage.   It can include the extended family that comes from many immigrant communities.  Republicans should be all for keeping these family together with common sense immigration policies.  The important things that come from a family are love, stability, teamwork, and the creation of good habits for the kids, which helps makes them better citizens for all of us.  The world is a complex place and it is changing rapidly.  The GOP shouldn’t be stuck pining for the past.  They should be promoting policies that make it easier for families (in all of their forms) to thrive in the future.

America wants a positive message from its political leaders.  It also wants to know what the politicians are going to do for them, not to them.  A e can trump Obama’s brand of goodies for every separate group.  But first the GOP has to try it.

Habits: Teaching Kids Good Habits Should be a Priority


By John Feehery

Old habits die hard.

Bad habits are hard to break.

Good habits can be life-savers.

If you learn to brush your teeth three times a day, the chances that your teeth fall out of your mouth decline precipitously.

If you get in the habit of having a beer before you go to school every morning, you probably aren’t going to be graduating from college.

Habits are contagious.

Studies show that if you are around a bunch of people who have the habit of working out and eating healthy, you are much more likely to do the same.

On the other hand, if you hang out with folks who think that a light lunch is two Big Macs, you are either hanging out with the football team or a bunch of really fat people.

Teaching good habits should be the focus of our public school system.

But good habits can’t be taught by teachers alone.

Most habits are taught by parents.

I bet you that if you have classroom of kids with good habits and a bad teacher and you pit them against a classroom of kids with bad habits and a good teacher, the kids with good habits would score higher on test scores.

Sure, kids learn from their teacher, but they learn a lot more from their classmates.

Kids who learn the value of reading from their parents are much more likely to succeed than kids who learn the value of turning on the television.

While I don’t think that parents should be mandated by the federal government to inspire their kids to read at night, brush their teeth, eat their vegetables, say please and thank you, make their bed and chew with their mouths closed, those kinds of good habits should be strongly encouraged.

We don’t teach good habits any more.  We should make it a priority.

Drink Responsibly


By John Feehery

I went back to my Alma Mater this weekend to watch my Marquette Warriors beat the Georgetown Hoyas (okay, so the team goes by the Golden Eagles, but they will always be the Warriors to me).

It was a fun game and I had a great time celebrating after the game.

But two things shocked me as I went back to the campus.

First, I am amazed how young the kids looked.  I was so much older than they were (or so I think, wink, wink).

Second, these kids need to learn how to drink better.

I know, back in the day, I would occasionally get myself over-served.

These kids weren’t over-served.  They were hammered, and hammered in a way that wasn’t funny.  It was frightening.

So, I have some tips for college kids as they drink their way through college:

First, don’t drink on an empty stomach.  You get drunker faster and you pass out quicker.

Second, do shots only in moderation, if at all.  Shots of alcohol might seem funny and it might seem macho, but it gets you drunk faster and you pass out quicker.

Third, drink some water in between the beers.

Fourth, pace yourself, especially if you plan on drinking for the long-term.  There will always be more beer.  Prohibition isn’t going to happen tomorrow.

Fifth, never involve a car when you are drinking.  It used to be the advice of drunk-drinkers to stay five miles above the speed limit and stay in-between the white lines, but that advice doesn’t work anymore.  The penalties are too high, and the evidence is too prevalent that kids can’t drink and drive at any level.

Sixth, stick to beer if you are a college kid.  You guys can’t handle the heavy stuff, so don’t try.

Seventh, a buzz is good, but drunk isn’t very attractive.  Know the difference.

Eighth, play a drinking game that involves coordination, if you are going to play a drinking game at all.  Beer pong yes.  Quarters maybe.   But don’t challenge each other to drink just for drinking sake. It gets you drunk faster and then you pass out.

I am pro-drinking.  I like to have a few beers every once in a while.

And I think college kids should be able to have some beers.  It is all an essential part of the college process.

But I am not pro-drinking until you pass out.  It isn’t safe.  It isn’t funny.  It isn’t cool.  It isn’t attractive.  It’s scary.

The kids these days need to learn how to drink responsibly if they are going to drink at all.


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