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February 27, 2015 / 8 Adar , 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘GOP’

Why Ted Cruz Speaks for Me

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Ted Cruz and his allies get it.  They get that Americans can’t afford to have Obamacare implemented against our groaning, near-collapse finances.  They get that we are disgusted (and alarmed) at the idea of being the GOP’s economic attrition strategy for the 2014 election: the strategy that says, “Let things get as bad as they’re going to with Obamacare, and then people will finally blame the Democrats.”  The problem with that strategy is that someone has to pay the price for it – has to accept the financial losses, which for many people could be disastrous, even permanently life-changing – and that someone is us.

Cruz – and Mike Lee in the Senate, along with Matt Salmon (AZ) and others in the House – show that they get what the stakes are, by being willing to take a big risk on a deliberate strategy.  They’re making an attempt they could actually be defeated in:  to galvanize the rest of the GOP and get it to take a risk.

Contrast that with the bet-hedging and consultation-begging we see from the GOP leadership.  Here’s where my confession of populism comes in:  I don’t recall ever having such a sense of revulsion against the air of protecting privileged insularity that hangs over Beltway insiders, both politicians and pundits.  As we understand it, GOP leaders sent unsolicited “opposition research” to Fox News on Sunday, in order to undermine Cruz in his appearance with Chris Wallace.  Karl Rove excoriated Cruz on the Sunday show for failing to properly “consult” with his colleagues.  Tucker Carlson, Charles Krauthammer, and even Brit Hume took up the cry on Monday’s Special Report, accusing Cruz of grandstanding, and personalizing their criticisms of him to a startlingly petty degree.

Meanwhile, as the GOP impugns Ted Cruz’s motives with slam-book-quality allegations, it quietly accepts Obamacare exemptions and special subsidies for Congress.  The whole scenario seems like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington come to life.  All that’s missing is misleading photos of Cruz making bird calls.

But the truth is, this isn’t Mr. Smith Goes to Washington – because the plot of Mr. Smith turned on a relatively small matter, one that might have had symbolism for the operation of the whole government, but that in a literal sense affected only a small number of citizens.  The implementation of Obamacare is the biggest issue America has dealt with since how to get rid of the atrocious institution of slavery, and what “union” and “states’ rights” mean.  It profoundly affects everyone who will ever be an American from this day forward.  Issues don’t come any bigger.   Obamacare is about government’s relation to the citizen; about what government can dictate and control in our lives; and about what our economic liberties will mean, not in a decade, not a year from now, but tomorrow — and for the rest of our life as a nation.

From where I sit, it looks like Ted Cruz gets that.  He gets that we can’t just sit still, paralyzed by bad press and Democratic talking points, and let these questions be decided through the back door by the implementation of brain-deadening regulations.  He gets that that’s what’s happening.  He recognizes that a time comes when risk must be taken: when it just isn’t good enough for the well-worn remedies of consultation and deferral to produce the same unsatisfactory outcomes that they always do.  This time, the cost of taking that risk-averse route is too high.

Cruz did what he had to do on Fox on Sunday, remaining on message with admirable rhetorical discipline.  What he said was an accurate and succinct representation of the alternative he and his allies are offering:  fund the government without Obamacare in fiscal year 2014, as the alternative to funding it with Obamacare.  Delay implementation of the individual mandate, if that’s the best deal we can get, but go for the most we can get while still funding the government.  Don’t shut it down.  I found him to be effective in getting his point across.

But the old-school GOP leaders won’t get onboard with that message, apparently preferring to emphasize that they haven’t been consulted with.  They might as well just concede the terms of the fight to the Democrats and have done with it.

There are an awful lot of Americans out here who don’t know when the next shoe is going to drop, as the predator in the dark stalks their jobs, insurance, and finances.  Despising these people and their worries about Obamacare and the trend of big government – in the manner of Harry Reid – is as much bad karma as it is bad politics.  Yet senior Republicans seem to join Reid in being annoyed with the people for not wanting to play the role of the sacrifice in an electoral-politics ritual.

Instead of deferring an Obamacare fight to a future point we can’t guarantee we’ll even reach – i.e., after a Senate victory in 2014 – Cruz and his allies propose to fight today, on ground we can at least define clearly and prepare for in the present.  Are they right?  There are arguments pro and con.  But I don’t hear GOP leaders making any of those arguments in a forthright or convincing manner – or in any other way, for that matter.

One thing we can guarantee: we, Republican leaders and voters, won’t come to a unified position on that by refusing to address the question on the terms proposed by Cruz and his allies.  Cruz is trying to force the issue, which accords it the weight and immediacy that I give it.  He’s carrying my water.  If GOP leaders want to lead, they need to get out in front of this issue.  Go in strong with Cruz to make the strategy theirs – give the people something to applaud or reject – instead of merely sniping from the shadows.

GOP Choice: Dirty Suit with Full Pockets v. Reliable Republican

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

GOP voters have a tough choice to make of which candidate they’d put up as a against the eventual Democratic nominee for Mayor of New York City. On the one hand, Joe Lhota has the experience and the temperament to serve as mayor on day one, but in a City whose Republican voters are outnumbered by a 6-1 ratio, the Republican needs a chest full of coins to at the very least get out his message to voters.

On the other hand, John Catsimatidis has the money to wage a campaign against the Democratic nominee for mayor and has brilliant ideas on how to keep the city safe and move it forward. There’s one hurdle though, voters don’t seem to take him seriously.

In an interview with the WSJ, Dan Isaacs, chairman of the New York Republican County Committee, admitted that Mr. Catsimatidis is “not your conventional candidate” in terms of his “mannerisms and appearance.”

As an example, the WSJ reporter points out an appearance by Mr. Catsimatidis last Monday, where the candidate wore a dark suit with a large, eye-catching stain.

“Yeah, he’s got a dirty suit and maybe he’s got a stain on his tie or his shirt. But you know what? He’s real,” Mr. Isaacs said. “And I’d rather have a guy like that than someone who’s perfectly coiffed and is full of bull—. And that ain’t John. John calls it like he sees it. He’s honest.”

At his campaign launch on the steps of City Hall, Mr. Catsimatidis pointed to his suit as an example he’s not a Michael Bloomberg billionaire. “I’m not wearing $5,000 suits,” he said. He didn’t even shy away from showing it off, when Hunter Walker from Politicker (now TPM) came close to see what make the suit was.

“I think it was $99 at Joseph A. Banks,” he said. “So, I’m not wearing a $5,000 suit and this is what I wear every day.”

Mr. Catsimatidis is currently trailing Mr. Lhota in the GOP primary by a 6-11 point margin, but has managed to turn the race into a horse race.

Speaking to the WSJ, Mr. Catsimatidis said he’s willing to spend whatever it takes to win City Hall. “Money is not an object. It’s getting the message across to everybody,” he said, estimating he will ultimately spend about $8 million on the primary and, presuming he wins, as much as $19 million in the November general election.

As of early August, he’d spent about $4 million on his campaign, roughly 2.5 times the amount spent by Joe Lhota. Campaign finance records show Mr. Lhota with roughly $1.7 million cash on hand.

Bill Cunningham, a former communications director for billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg who helped steer Mr. Bloomberg to victory in 2001, told the WSJ that Mr. Catsimatidis faces an uphill battle in the primaries since primary voters tend to be more conservative.

“He’s running against a lifelong Republican,” Mr. Cunningham said. “On resume, and temperament and experience, [voters] may look at Catsimatidis and say, ‘He has wonderful experience in the business world but Lhota has much more experience in government and politics.’”

In order to counter that impression, Mr. Catsimatidis has argued on the campaign trail that Mr. Lhota is mean-spirited and has a bad record of raising taxes, by pointing out that as MTA head Mr. Lhota raised toll prices that ultimately hurt New Yorkers who struggle to make ends meet.

Cantor to Lead Tour of GOP Lawmakers to Israel

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives, will lead 26 GOP lawmakers next week  on a tour of Israel funded by AIPAC’s educational affiliate.

The visit follows on the heels of a similar one this week for 37 Democratic lawmakers led by Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the House Democratic whip. Such tours, funded by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, are held on off-election years and are geared to freshmen lawmakers.

Participants meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and tour congressionally funded facilities, including Israel’s anti-missile systems.

Hoyer Again to Lead House Democrats to Israel

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second-ranked Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, again will lead fellow Democrats on a tour of Israel funded by AIPAC’s educational affiliate.

Two freshmen, Reps. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), said they would be joining this week’s visit, which will include meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as well as tours of U.S.-funded defense systems, including the short-range Iron Dome anti-missile program.

Such tours, funded by the educational affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), routinely take place during the August recess of off-election years. Hoyer, the minority whip from Maryland, has led a number of the tours. A spokeswoman for Hoyer said that 31 of them are freshmen, out of 38 in this class of Democrats.

The Democrats’ tour, which lasts about a week, usually is followed by a similar tour for Republican freshmen. In past years the GOP visit has been led by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader and the highest-ranking Jewish member of Congress.

Netanyahu Names American Immigrant Ron Dermer Ambassador to US

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday he is appointing American-born Ron Dermer as Israel’s next Ambassador to the United States, the second American in a row to represent Jerusalem in Washington.

Dermer, who will replace Michael Oren, has served as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s senior adviser for the past four years and served as the economic attaché at the Israeli Embassy in Washington from 2005 to 2008.

He was born in Florida, is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business and holds a master’s degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford.

Dermer immigrated to Israel in 1997. He once wrote in the now defunct New York Sun that he “left America because I wanted to help another nation I love defend the freedoms that Americans have long taken for granted.”

Dermer has a background of political activism in the Republican party, having worked with the GOP in the 1994 mid-term elections before going to Oxford. While studying there, he shuttled to Israel to work on behalf of Natan Sharansky and his Yisrael B’Aliyah party.

His appointment gives Prime Minister Netanyahu a close ear in Washington, where Dermer is familiar with back channels, noted JTA’s Ben Sales last year, when Dermer’s name was being floated for the ambassadorial post.

“Netanyahu likes him, respects him and listens to him,” Netanyahu’s former national security adviser Uzi Arad told the JTA. “I often asked for his advice. In many ways he was a guy to listen to. When it came to knowledge and being cultured and erudite and intellectually inclined, that’s him.”

“He understands how Americans view Israelis and how Israelis view Americans,” Mitchell Barak, an Israeli pollster who met Dermer as an adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told Sales. “He knows how to work [in Washington] and has personal relations.”

Dermer’s views are strongly nationalist and indicate that Netanyahu is finished with any more “good will” concessions to the Palestinian Authority.

Dermer castigated The New York Times in 2011 with an open letter that attacked its news coverage and its Op-Ed page.

Times columnists “consistently distort the positions of our government and ignore the steps it has taken to advance peace,” Dermer wrote in the letter, which was published in The Jerusalem Post. “It would seem as if the surest way to get an op-ed published in The New York Times these days, no matter how obscure the writer or the viewpoint, is to attack Israel.”

Dermer wrote in 2003 that Israel would be giving up its sovereignty if it were to agree to the Bush “Roadmap” plan.

“It is one thing for Israel to take into consideration what America says,” he wrote. “In fact, Israel’s national interest demands that it do so. But it is quite another to cede to a third party, no matter how friendly, the right to determine Israel’s future.”

Dermer co-authored with Sharansky “The Case for Democracy,” a book that reportedly was a major influence on President George W. Bush..

GOP Jews Leave Meeting with Rand Paul with ‘Pleasant Surprises’

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul held a conciliatory meeting with the Republican Jewish Coalition in his latest bid to forge ties with the pro-Israel community and left the GOP Jews with some “pleasant surprises,” Matthew Brooks, the Republican Jewish Coalition’s director, told the Washington Post.

“While there may be areas of disagreement, he is very, very different — and certainly different with regard to his father,” Brooks said of last week’s meeting between Paul (R-Ky.) and the RJC board.

The RJC has sharply criticized Paul since his successful 2010 run for the Senate, particularly because of his opposition to defense assistance for Israel. Since then Paul, who is eyeing a 2016 presidential run, has visited Israel and taken pains to distinguish himself from his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a perennial presidential candidate who has cast his own opposition to aid for Israel in stinging criticism of the Jewish state.

Brooks told the newspaper that Paul spoke of “putting Israel in a different category” than other nations. Paul earned a standing ovation last month at a meeting of the Zionist Organization of America on Capitol Hill.

Staunch Israel Supporter Rep. Bachmann Calls It Quits

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, a staunch supporter of Israel, announced Wednesday she will not for a fifth term in Congress next year.

Like Alaska’s former Gov, Sarah Palin in 2008, Bachmann was a darling of the Tea Party. After she launched a campaign for the GOP presidential nomination last year, she quickly became a frequent target for media mockery for several statements that were full of historical and factual errors.

Bachmann, who is not Jewish but volunteered on a kibbutz in 1974, delivered speeches as a fundamentalist Christian who has said she “grew up with a love for Israel.” She has asserted that Israel and the United States “share the same exceptional mission – to be a light unto the nations. I was raised in a home full of love for Israel. We learned that our Christian faith is rooted in Judaism.”

She was one of the founders of the Tea Party movement but believed the support from a vocal minority was broader based than it was. After she topped initial polls and then fell to the bottom of the pack in the crowded contest for the nomination, she dropped out of the running.

The campaign is history, but recent federal investigations have targeted her for misusing campaign funds.

She denies any wrongdoing and said the probe has nothing to do with her decision not to run again. In an eight-minute video explaining her decision. Bachmann tried to persuade supporters, if not herself, that she was sure she would win if she were to run again, although Jim Graves, who almost defeated her last year.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/staunch-israel-supporter-rep-bachmann-calls-it-quits/2013/05/29/

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