Wimpy Texas Politicians

It’s really weird to me that these rabidly Republican politicians can’t seem to be consistent about their protection of the Constitution. Now my Senator (Ted Cruz if anyone is wondering) is giving me the same line my Representative did about having to strike a balance between fighting terrorism and protecting civil liberties. Here’s my response:

Senator,
Thank-you for your response, but I was really taken aback by this statement: “It is imperative, however, that we strike an appropriate balance between remaining vigilant against terrorism and protecting the civil liberties guaranteed to the American people by the Constitution.”

I understand that you won’t have to stand for election for another five years but do you really want to have such a moderate position tied to your record? To paraphrase Barry Goldwater, moderation in the Texas primary is no virtue. Either the Bill of Rights is there to protect us from an overreaching government or it is not. We don’t “strike a balance” with terrorists and we shouldn’t “strike a balance” with those forces within the US who work to provide the tools necessary for tyranny to take hold. Step up, man. We’re counting on you to protect us and we need a true conservative to do so.

I also took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the US from all enemies foreign and domestic, sir, and I take my oath seriously.

I’m hoping that calling them “moderate” will have the desired effect. In Texas politics these days “moderate” is one of the worst things you can call a Republican. I didn’t even take into account the possibility that Sen. Cruz might run for President next go ’round but the same argument would apply. You don’t win Iowa and South Carolina by being “moderate.”

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A dumb party

“We need to stop being a dumb party, and that means more than stop making dumb comments” Gov. Jindal on the future of the GOP

I can’t promise that the Governor of Louisiana and I agree on why, but we do agree that the GOP needs to quit being dumb. Here’s what I mean when I say things like this.

1. Writing off urban areas is dumb. Take a look at a map of the electoral vote and it looks like the Republicans control a huge portion of the country, and if we elected people by acreage, that would be right. But actually, we elect people by numbers of people. The states the Republicans can count on are big, but empty. The only one with more than 20 electoral votes is Texas. Reaching out to urban America is smart.

2. “Energizing the base” is dumb. The base is too small. Imagine a pyramid. If you build the walls too steep, it wont’ stand, it’ll fall on you. So the height of your pyramid is limited by the size of the base. Unfortunately, “energizing the base” means alienating people (women, hispanics, blacks, poor people, all of the growing demographic groups) so that you can’t grow the base. Worse, “energizing the base” has also meant “shrinking the base.” As evidence, I point you to the last Republican primary cycle in Texas. On all sides, Republicans were calling each other “moderate” the way Gingrich-era Republicans used to throw around “liberal” and McCarthy-era Republicans would throw around “commie.” I think we’ve already reached the point where the base is too small to reach all the way to the White House. Growing the base is smart.

3. Shutting the government down is dumb. Much to the dismay of the GOP, we actually need the government to do things. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) doesn’t seem to understand this. Was he visiting his great white north homeland the last time the GOP shut the government down? Has he not been paying attention to the results of the Sequester? Government does important things and pitching a fit over Obamacare by threatening to shut it all down is equivalent to a child threatening to hold his breath until he turns blue. It’s called a tantrum and any good Republican will tell you the correct response is discipline. Accepting the things you can not change is smart.

4. Threatening the credit of the USA is dumb. All these fiscal hawks are plenty happy, ecstatic even, to point out the massive size of our Federal debt. The Federal government pays just shy of $200 billion in interest every year for an effective rate of about 1.5% (there’s some rounding error there). Now, ask any one with a credit card what happens when you miss too many payments. Yes, that’s right, besides the late fees, you jack up your interest rate. So what’s 20% of $16 trillion? Okay, there’s no reason to think that the Feds would ever have to worry about that kind of interest rate, and so far, we’ve been able to maintain good interest rates even after losing our AAA rating, but when you are talking about debt that size, any increase in the cost of borrowing is significant. Each additional percentage point on the effective interest rate would be an extra $160 billion in interest every year, or enough money to pay all the military’s personnel costs. Defaulting on the national debt is irresponsible. Paying your debts on time with interest–i.e. meeting your obligations, a classic Conservative value–is smart.


Again with my congressman

Last July I got the following in an e-newsletter from my Congressman:

[My congressman], a long-time gun owner and avid supporter of the 2nd Amendment, is once again fighting against increased regulations on gun owners.

Rep. [Blah] introduced an amendment to the FY2014 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Bill that would prohibit the use of any funds to require reporting of multiple rifle or shotgun sales to an individual. The amendment was passed by the full House Appropriations Committee and included in the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill Wednesday morning, July 17, by a voice vote.

Chairman [Blah]’s amendment is in response to a program that was implemented two years ago by the Department of Justice that requires gun dealers in Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico to report all sales of multiple rifles or shotguns to the same buyer to the federal government.

“The government has no business tracking the gun purchases of law-abiding citizens. American’s should not be placed on a watch list for simply exercising their constitutional rights,” said Chairman [Blah]. “President Obama should focus his attention on criminals rather than honest citizens exercising their rights.”

Well, okay, I don’t agree with that position, but it is kind of reasonable. I have to say that because it’s basically my argument against the NSA surveillance programs if you just substitute “gun purchases” with “internet usage” or “phone calls.”

So I wrote him a note, which I failed to save (dangit!) in which I pointed out that similarity. So here’s the response I got:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding NSA surveillance programs.  I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

The House recently defeated an amendment to restrict the NSA phone surveillance program during floor consideration of the FY14 Defense Appropriations bill.  I recognize that many are disappointed, this issue merits thoughtful and thorough consideration NOT simply fifteen minutes of debate on the House floor.  Dismantling one of our most critical counterterrorism tools in such a manner could have troubling national security consequences.
We must provide our intelligence community the capabilities necessary to defend America and its citizens while ensuring fourth amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure are secure.  I am pleased that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers has pledged to add privacy protections on the program into the forthcoming intelligence authorization bill this fall.  You can be sure I will keep your strong views in mind as Congress crafts national security policy options in the months ahead.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me.  I appreciate the opportunity to represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Please feel free to visit my website or contact me with any future concerns.

The man is wimping out. No sir, not on my watch. Maybe if I come at him from the tea-party side:

Dear sir,
In response to a previous letter, you said the following:
“We must provide our intelligence community the capabilities necessary to defend America and its citizens while ensuring fourth amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure are secure.”

I don’t know, balancing our God-given Constitutional rights against security needs sounds pretty moderate to me. As the Lt. Gov learned last time around (and to paraphrase Barry Goldwater) Moderation in the Republican Primary is no virtue. Even the Bible has guidance for you, Rev 3:16 “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (King James Version).

I know you wouldn’t ever equivocate on the 2nd Amendment so what makes the 4th (and 5th and 3rd) of lesser importance than the 2nd that we can afford to compromise on them? Isn’t the entire Bill of Rights there specifically to protect us from an overreaching Federal Government? Or are you a part-time Patriot?

I should note that in the last round of statewide elections, “moderate” was the dirty name-calling name of choice. I suppose no one would buy calling these guys “liberal” since liberals are extinct hereabouts. Calling his patriotism into question was probably over the line, but he made me mad.