Maybe a Woman Can’t Handle It

A review of What Sex is a Republican? Stories from the Front Lines in American Politics and How You Can Change the Way Things Are Terri McCormick, M.A., former Wisconsin state congresswoman.  Published by The Capital Press. 

Everybody knows that politics is broken and filled with corruption.  Everybody wants to change the way things are.  Terri McCormick entered the world of politics with the intent to do just that. 

Ms. McCormick started her political career by working to get a charter school law passed in Wisconsin, working against a great deal of opposition from teachers’ unions and other groups dedicated to the status quo.  She tells several harrowing tales about the resistance she faced from those who wanted to retain the status quo.  Particularly disturbing is a tale about her daughter, apparently because of her mother’s activism, had her desk moved to the back corner of the classroom and filled with boxes, presumably at the hands of a teacher who wanted to single her out.  On another occasion, an anonymous phone call warned her to check under her car before strapping the kids in.

Although these incidents are striking and legitimately disturbing, most of the rest of Ms. McCormick’s war stories fall flat.  Ms. McCormick presents virtually every case of opposition against her candidacy or her propositions as if it as well were a personal and unfair attack against her.  One incident, for example, involves her publically disagreeing with the Joint Finance Chair’s criticism of the governor.  Although she presents this issue as if she faced some sort of harsh and unfair retribution for daring to speak out, the story culminates with nothing more than a couple of her party members being critical of her.  Similarly, when describing her visit to Washington in an attempt to run for a national seat, Ms. McCormick spends a great deal of time decrying one sitting senator’s unethical behavior, which turns out to amount to nothing more than him telling her that he would be supporting her opponent.  Her outrage at the party and its treatment of her simply does not ring true, and is difficult to sympathize with, leaving me to wonder whether her lack of success was the result of her own weaknesses and thin skin, rather than any unfair outside forces. 

Throughout the book, Ms. McCormick presents herself as a populist, and asserts the values of grassroots-based populism.  However, in stark contrast to her expressed love of “the people,” Ms. McCormick makes numerous attacks on the credibility of bloggers, always speaking in broad generalities with no specific examples.  She ignores the extraordinary number of times that the “elite” media has mislead its viewers, and makes a case for us to trust the media based only on its alleged credibility.  In my mind, this reads as if Ms. McCormick has a chip on her shoulder about bloggers and is somewhat disingenuous about her love of populism. This, when combined with the stories above, lead the reader to question whether her biases are only based around those that have supported her verses those who have not. 

Indeed, the title of this book is perhaps most misleading.  Although she occasionally pays lip service to ideas involving sex and gender, and sometimes, when describing so failure of support, she throws out the question (without an answer) “Was it about sex?”, she never once gives a credible reason to believe that any of the actions against her were based on her gender.  In this way, her assertions appear no different from Obama supporters asserting that opposition to his policies are founded in racism.  From a description of the book provided by the publisher, some opponents of the GOP may hope that this book will reveal some hidden sexism that pervades its ranks.  They will be sorely disappointed. 

Approximately the first three quarters of the book are largely devoted to Ms. McCormick’s stories from the front lines of politics.  The remainder, however, is devoted to explanations and guidelines devoted to the second promise, how we can change the way things are.  Although many of the examples given are generalized and somewhat uninspired (“get involved!” “vote!”), she also provides a great deal of explanation as to how a political campaign is actually run. She encourages all who are interested to get involved and run for office at the local level.  She encourages people who want to make changes and solve problems to run for local office based on grassroots efforts.  Where all of that encouragement would be nice but somewhat banal, she separates this book by actually providing an action plan that describes, from start to finish, how such a campaign can be run and won.  Additionally, she provides examples and instructions involving how bills can be written and passed in order to allow her readers to take action.  These instructions and examples, things that I have always been curious about but do not believe to be widely available, could make this book unusually valuable to those who are interested in making a difference.  This may make up for the book’s other weaknesses.

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Notice a Pattern??

The U.S. Census Bureau has released a list of cities over 250K strong, ranked by poverty level.  Here are the top twenty-two, which are all of those with more than 20% in poverty:

  1. Detroit (Mayor: Dave Bling, Democrat, with Democratic mayors since 1962)*
  2. Cleveland (Mayor: Frank G. Jackson, Democrat, with Democratic mayors since 1990)
  3. Buffalo (Mayor: Byron Brown, Democrat, with Democratic mayors since 1966)
  4. Newark (Mayor: Cory Booker, Democrat, with Democratic mayors since at least 1962)
  5. Miami (Mayor: Manuel Alberto Diaz, Independent but former Democrat who endorsed Obama; history of mayors’ parties unknown)
  6. Fresno (Mayor: Ashley Swearengin, ran a “Republican-like campaign” history unknown)
  7. Cincinnati (Mayor: Mark Mallory, Democrat; Democratic mayors since 1984, but hasn’t had a Republican since 1971)
  8. Toledo (Mayor: Carleton S. “Carty” Finkbeiner (or Wikipedia’s just messing with me), Democrat, Democratic mayors since 1990)
  9. El Paso (Mayor: John Cook, mayoral races are non-partisan, but all signs say liberal; history unknown)
  10. Philadelphia (Mayor: Michael Nutter, Democrat, Democratic mayors since 1952)
  11. Milwaukee (Mayor: Tom Barret, Democrat, Democratic mayors since 1960, before that, 3 Socialists, a “non-party” (kind of like an independent?), a Democrat/Republican fusion, and Democrats since 1908)
  12. Memphis (Mayor: Myron Lowery, Democrat, Democratic mayors since at least 1992)
  13. St. Louis (Mayor: Francis G. Slay, Democrat, Democratic mayors since 1949)
  14. Dallas (Mayor: Tom Lepper, “considered a Republican;” mixed history)
  15. New Orleans (Mayor:C. Ray Nagin, Democrat, Democratic mayors since at least 1936)
  16. Atlanta (Mayor: Shirley Franklin, Democrat, Democratic mayors since at least 1942)
  17. Stockton, California (where?) (Mayor: Ann Johnston, party affiliation and history unknown)
  18. Minneapolis (Mayor: R.T. Rybak, Democrat, Democratic mayors since 1977, Democratic or Independent since 1974)
  19. Pittsburgh (Mayor: Luke Ravenstahl, Democrat, Democratic (or Independent/Democrat) mayors since 1934)
  20. Tucson (Mayor: Robert E. Walkup, Republican, Republican mayor since 1998, Democrats 1987-1999)
  21. Chicago (Mayor: Richard M. Daley, Democrat, Democratic mayors since 1931)
  22. Columbus, OH (Mayor: Michael B. Coleman, Democrat, since 2000, mixed history)

There are a few exceptions, but I think the pattern is clear. 

*BTW, the official mayoral residence for Detroit is called Manoogian Mansion.  Sheesh, they deserve to be poor just for that.

“Liberal politics always came first for the so-called women’s groups, which is why they are not really women’s groups at all.”

So says Ann Althouse, in a post about an article discussing why women’s groups are so quick to dismiss the sins of Teddy Kennedy (you can read the article if you want; I didn’t bother). 

You know, I can read these sorts of statements, and I don’t even think of having that knee jerk, “not all women, she doesn’t speak for me!” sort of reaction.  It doesn’t even cross my mind, although I clearly have just as much vag as the most militant NOW member.  Leftist groups are simply so far removed from anything even remotely representative to interests that affect me and people like, in a way related to my sex, that the idea of identifying with them is simply laughable.

I hope that he had the opportunity to apologize to Mary Jo Kopechne

I had the TV news on during breakfast, as I tend to do, and it was all Teddy’s funeral, all the time, even on Fox News (or Faux Noise, or whatever the cool kids are calling it these days).  I’ll admit that it was fascinating to watch the political elite, all in one place, talking to each other like they were normal people and their friends and neighbors.  I watched with great curiosity as Hillary leaned far over G.W. for several minutes to chat with Laura about something that was, quite clearly, riotously funny.  And God only knows what Joe Biden was saying to folks, but they all looked, well, like people look when someone like Joe Biden is talking to them, with that odd combination of amusement and annoyance. 

 But on to the man of the hour.  Now, I generally do not wish harm to people with whom I disagree politically, at least those who aren’t actively trying to cause great harm (I’ll admit that I smiled when Saddam swung, but for standard political opponents, there is no comparison).  And I think that, speaking in broad generalizations, this is a positive trait of conservatives.  When Kennedy’s tumor was announced, when Bill Clinton needed heart surgery, conservative commentators that I heard didn’t speak ill, they usually said something positive, that they hoped for the best for these people.  I can’t recall having heard similar empathy from the left for, for example, Reagan’s Alzheimer’s. 

 But, oh, Teddy Kennedy.  You really emphasized so much, so very much of what is wrong in American politics, and particularly what is wrong with the modern, and perhaps, given the length of your tenure, the not so modern, left. 

 Today, Mr. Kennedy is hailed as a great humanitarian.  Yet, his actions toward actual humans were all too inhumane. He claimed to be for the little guy, but he skated by with every advantage, from getting into and cheating in college, to reneging on his military service agreement, to literally getting away with killing a woman and possibly acting as an accomplice to rape, that was afforded by his obscenely powerful family.  He is praised for being remorseful for his wrongs, yet, according to author Ed Klein (who speaks of this as if of a loveable quirk), one of his favorite topics to hear and tell jokes about was that fateful day at Chappaquiddick, when he abandoned a young woman to slowly drown. 

 I’m not celebrating his death; I don’t wish death on anyone unless it is necessary to save another, but I am glad that he is out of the senate.  I wish that he had been out years ago, or that he had never gotten in. By all rights, he should not have.  I hope for the best for the remaining Kennedys, but I hope that their stranglehold on American politics is at an end.  I believe in forgiveness to one who asks for it and shows genuine contrition, but not in forgetting, not in turning a deliberately blind eye to something so obviously in front of one’s face.  Not in allowing the money, glamour, and power of a family name to excuse lying, cheating, abuse, and worse.  (“If his name was Edward Moore, with his qualifications . . .[his] candidacy would be a joke“).  I hope that, in his rare and underappreciated private life, Mr. Kennedy did find the time to seek forgiveness for his wrongs, but sincerely, not through “public service” that gave him almost unlimited power and prestige.  I hope that even he had the opportunity to make his peace with God, and that there is a place for all of us to make amends to those we harmed in this life.  But I don’t think that we should forget, as we say good-bye, that this man was no hero.

White House says that armed citizens at protests are A-OK

here:

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said people are entitled to carry weapons outside such events if local laws allow it. “There are laws that govern firearms that are done state or locally,” he said. “Those laws don’t change when the president comes to your state or locality.”

I have to say, I’m impressed.

Ten Questions Politicians Won’t Answer on Healthcare

A must read article by Senator Tom Colburn

Now that you’ve read it, I’d like to look harder at his proposed alternative, the Patient’s Choice Act.  Here’s what Sen. Colburn’s people have to say:

“The Patients’ Choice Act of 2009,” transforms health care in America by strengthening the relationship between the patient and the doctor; using choice and competition rather than rationing and restrictions to contain costs; and ensuring universal, affordable health care for all Americans. “The Patients’ Choice Act” promotes innovative, State-based solutions, along with fundamental reforms in the tax code, to give every American, regardless of employment status, age, or health condition, the ability and the resources to purchase health insurance. The comprehensive legislation includes concrete prevention and transparency initiatives, long overdue reforms to Medicare and Medicaid, investments in wellness programs and health IT, and more.

“As a practicing physician, I have seen first-hand how giving government more control over health care has failed to make health care more affordable and accessible. The American people deserve health care reform that will work, not another round of so-called reform that repeats the same failed policies of the past. Congress and the administration have the opportunity to pursue bold reform and a fresh start. The Patients’ Choice Act will provide every American with access to affordable health care without a tax increase, more debt and waiting lines,” Dr. Coburn said.

“The American health care system needs a complete transformation,” Senator Burr said. “The Patients’ Choice Act will finally enable Americans to own their health care instead of being trapped in the current system, which leaves people either uninsured, dependent on their employer, or forced into a government program. With a focus on prevention and wellness and covering those with pre-existing conditions, the Patients’ Choice Act will make health care affordable and accessible to all Americans.”

Pretty vague.  I am impressed that he’s a doctor, though.  As others have pointed out, there seem to be a dearth of doctors actually supporting the democratic plan(s). 

The “brief summary” (which isn’t very) discusses disease prevention (including nutrition and vaccinations), creating health insurance options (such as one stop comparisons, congress benefits, restrictions on pre-existing limitations, state auto-enrollment, state pools), HSAs and tax incentives, and some Medicare and tort changes. 

It’s worth looking into.

Evidence? Who needs it?

Once again, a prominent politician has made allegations against the protestors at town hall meetings:

Speaking to CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said: “We have these screaming groups on either side. That isn’t helpful. Let’s be honest about this. Town meetings are not bean bag. I’ve had hundreds of them, and sometimes folks get upset. And that’s part of America, part of our process.

“But this is clearly being orchestrated, and these folks have instructions. They come down from a Texas lobbyist in Washington.”

Durbin said that when “there’s a group of people honestly sitting in the middle trying to ask the important questions and get the right answers, and instead someone takes the microphone and screams and shouts to the point where the meeting comes to an end, that isn’t dialogue, that isn’t the democratic process.

“We need to respect free speech, but we need to respect one another’s rights to free speech, too. When these people come in just to disrupt the meetings, no, that isn’t right,” Durbin said.

Does Senator Durbin offer any evidence to support that these protests are “clearly orchestrated?”  Has anyone, in any form of the media, asked any of the people making these allegations to support them in any way?  If so, I haven’t seen or heard it.

It doesn’t even have to be a rude question.  At this point, I’d happily settle for a “Oh, why do you think that?”  But no one even asks for that.  “Clearly orchestrated,” well, that’s good enough for me!