Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Specter the Defector

Arlen Specter has bailed on the Republican Party. I want to approach this news from three different directions:

1. Swine Flu made the man go crazy
2. Republican's are battling an increasingly conservative party structure that does not leave room for moderates like Specter.
3. Specter is just out to save his political life, this is just a pragmatic switch to stay a senator.

Ok, so the swine flu probably has nothing to do with this, but you cannot count it out, because apparently every news story in the country must include swine flu to be relevant and important. The real debate here is between the last two choices. The real problem for the republican party is that both are bad. In one case, as has been pointed out by many people smarter then me, they are on their way to becoming a regional party with a VERY conservative bent. In the other case, they are so despised at the moment that people feel they cannot get reelected if they have that (R) after their name.

Personally I think both of those answers are at work here. At the base of the matter is Arlen's desire to keep his job. Basic politics at work here. See next paragraph for me ripping him a new one on this front. Intertwined with that is the sad fact that the party that Sen Specter belongs to has been drifting ever more to the right. Arlen was never a uber-conservative, he was a moderate in the Reagan mold. Here is a quote from him regarding his switch: “Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan big tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.” Clearly he is seeing the winds blow more to the Dems favor and wants to keep his job, still the fact that over 200,000 people switched affiliation should indicate where the Republican party is at right now in Industrial Midwest states like PA.

So this is where I slap Sen. Specter around for switching parties. As a Democrat in a vacuum, I applaud this move; as an non-partisan political observer, this is shameful. People who switch parties just to remain elected are the worst kind of politician. The value their own job so far above any policy priorities that they are willing to sacrifice their values just to stay in Washington. At least with Lieberman, he went independent, Specter just wants the (D) after his name. If he was being true to his roots he would have gone independent. Even with the steady right march of the Republican Party, I am sure that Sen Specter's values are more closely aligned with his old party then his new one. Unfortunately for the Republicans, those values are now associated with not getting elected.

So Arlen....welcome aboard, and shame on you.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Apparently, Texas IS A Whole Other Country

So, I am reading my usual daily dose of Politico, and I come across a blog article by Glenn Thrush talking about how Ron Paul is backing up the Texas governor in saying that succeeding from the USA is an American thing to do. He talks about how the original 13 colonies succeeded from England and all that jazz. Here is the Paul's direct quote: "it is very American to talk about secession. That's how we came in being. Thirteen colonies seceded from the British and established a new country. So secession is a very much American principle.

While I am not going to go down the road of it being treasonous to talk about succeeding from the Union, I really think this is just political posturing. In the infamous words of George W. Bush, "That is the last time I will be out Texaned." In Texas there has always been a healthy independent spirit, and I don't think either the governor or Mr. Paul have anything to lose by bringing this topic up. Quite simply it scores serious points with the base of the party and everyone else just kind scratches their head and moves on.

What I am truly interested in is the results of Texas succeeding from the Union. It sounds cool and all, but has anyone thought through the actual ramifications of this? From the US side, you would lose a major chuck of your economy, and given that Texas is a donor state, giving more to the federal government then was returned, the US would also take a fiscal hit there. It is often stated that Austin, which is the capital of Texas, is a blue patch in a sea of red, would they just go along? Could the new Republic of Texas face an immediate internal threat from Austin?

From the Texas perspective, you have to think about what would be lost. First and foremost, all military protection would cease. All assets would be pulled out, so there goes Fort Hood, Fort Bliss and the 8 Air Force bases in TX. Several areas of TX would be economically devastated by the closing of these bases. Of course with little homegrown military and scant technology, Texas would make a big, fat, juicy target for Mexico. I imagine it would take them all of a few months to mount a serious attack. Other things that would be lost if Texas succeeded include: all NASA facilities, major funding for the public universities, ANY border protection, transportation funding, social security, medicare and any other government program support. My guess is that to get some semblance of military up and running, even for just basic defense, there would immediately have to be compulsory military service and about 50-60% tax rates. Sounds worth leaving the USA to me.

So, all stupid political rhetoric aside, good luck with that. I won't plan on seeing an independent Texas ANYTIME in my life.