politics


Democratic Donkey I went to a local Democratic Club fish fry this weekend and set up the sound system. Almost everyone there except me and the musicians was a candidate, married to a candidate or on the central committee. There may have been 40 people at the height of the event. The level of popular enthusiasm was underwhelming.

This is the problem with Democratic Party voters. They only come out during Presidential election years and don’t care otherwise. I predict big losses for the Dems in the house and Senate this year.

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Flag of NorwayA couple of weeks ago I read some posts on the internet complaining about the  Mexican flags that were in evidence in various parts of the U.S. on May 5th, in celebration of Cinquo de Mayo. I perceived these posts as a display of the kind of intolerance which has led to the new immigration law in Arizona. There are voices calling for similar actions in other states now, including Maryland, where I live.

Syttende mai is a celebration very similar to Cinquo de Mayo. Both days are celebrations of the independence of the respective countries following the Napoleonic Wars. On May 17th 1814 Norway’s constitution was signed and Norway was declared to be an independent state. For centuries Norway had shared a king and a government with Demnark. When Denmark chose the losing side in the Napolionic Wars, Norway was stripped from them and given to Sweden, at the treaty if Kiel in January of that same year. The last war, to date, that Sweden ever fought took place that year as Norweay fought to throw off the yoke of Swedish oppression. Well OK that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but we still resent the Swedes. In August the king of Sweden and the Norwegian Storting (Parliament) signed the Convention of Moss, which ended the war, allowing Norway self rule under it’s constitution but keeping Sweden’s nominally in office as King of Norway. This “personal union” between Norway and Sweden remained in force until 1905 when it was declared dissolved by the Storting. They then elected Prince Carl of Denmark to be the King of Norway. Somebody has to be available to give away the Nobel Peace Prize, you know.

Children in a Sytte mai parade

Syttende Mai is celebrated in Norway with children’s parades. In the U.S. it is often celebrated, by Norwegian Americans, with dinner parties where lutefisk is often in evidence. I’d rather go to a parade, myself. There are parades in the upper Midwest, particularly in Stoughton Wisconsin. Nobody seems to complain about all the Norwegian flags on display.

I have never heard anyone object to the flying of a Norwegian flag in this country. I’ve been asked what it was, though.

Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter’s announcement Tuesday that he is abandoning the Republican Party is the latest sign of a shift in the political wind. GOP spokesmen have been hard at work painting Specter as a political opportunist, switching to the Democratic Party in order to avoid losing the coming Republican Primary to a well funded, more “conservative” opponent, Pat Toomey, head of the Club for Growth. I would call it self defense.


The Club for Growth is, or has, a PAC, which supports Republican candidates for Congress. Here is a quote from the Club for Growth website “The primary tactic of the separate Club for Growth PAC is to provide financial support from Club members to viable pro-growth candidates to Congress, particularly in Republican primaries.” The most important part of that statement is “particularly in Republican primaries.” In fact what the Club for Growth does is to target Republicans in Congress that do not follow their hard line anti tax, anti regulation, leave the driving to us, pro big business posture. The Club for Growth is helping to destroy the Republican Party by driving out moderates.

Often, after a Club for Growth candidate wins a primary, the Democrat wins the general election. Case in point, my own Congressman, Wayne Gilchrest. After seventeen terms in office, as a very popular Congressman, he was beaten in the primary by a Club for Growth supported opponent, State Senator Andy Harris. My new Congressman is Democrat, Frank Kratovil. Andy Harris remains in the Maryland State Senate. It is fairly easy for a well funded candidate to torpedo a popular moderate Republican, when only Republican voters are involved, but much harder to sell a right wing agenda to the general public, which is not in tune with the Club for Growth’s extreme pro business political philosophy.

Removing moderate Republicans from office and replacing them with Democrats causes the Republican Party to become more narrow in it’s focus and obviously smaller. In the next couple of years I predict we will see more self defense defections like Specter’s. Maine’s Olympia Snow could well be next.

Photo from LIFE photo archive.

Photo from LIFE Magazine archive.

On Thursday, President Obama signed the long delayed Omnibus Spending Bill. He also said that he was going to do something to control earmarks in the future. Congress had attached some 8,000 earmarks in the bill. Each earmark an example of Congresspeople and Senators bringing home the bacon to their respective districts, or of the other guy’s pork barrel spending. John McCain was quite upset that the President signed this pork laden bill, which enables the Federal Government to continue operating, which the last Congress was unable to pass at all. I guess he should have just shut the Government down instead.

When is an earmark bacon and when is it pork? The total cost of the earmarks is less than 2% of the total spending bill. Each of them is for a project that a Congressperson or a Senator asked for in order to benefit that Congresspersons constituents. They go back to their districts and brag about the fine projects that will help the people of their districts, providing much needed jobs, infrastructure or whatever. Republicans do it. Democrats do it. They talk trash about their neighbor’s pork even while they are bragging on their own bacon. Hey, if it smells like bacon it came from a pig. Bacon and pork are indistinguishable.

We can make fun of studies of the sleeping habits of bears in Montana, overhead projectors in Illinois or fish waste processing plants in Mississippi but when you look at individual projects they do seem to be beneficial and not as outlandish as their critics pretend. Maybe the Federal Government should get out of the business of funding school construction, funding research, highway building and job creation. Arizona is doing without, since John McCain refuses to play the game . . . er, he does refuse to bring earmark money to Arizona right?

President Obama wants to bring more transparency to the earmark process but not to eliminate them. He would like to see all earmarks published on a website with the names of their Congressional sponsors attached. It will be interesting to see how that works for him. Congresspeople and Senators loves them some earmarks. They don’t care to have a lot of people looking over their shoulders, though.

Well I guess people didn’t like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s response to President Obama’s address last night to a joint session of Congress, at least that’s what I hear. People seemed to think that there was something lacking in his style or his presentation. Now I watched most of Gov. Jindal’s response last night, until I grew bored with the repetition of tired themes like walking to school in a Louisiana blizzard ten miles uphill both ways with a bucket of milk from the family farm in one hand and a basket of eggs in the other, to pay the tuition for his private education because his family refused to accept a handout from the public schools. I finally turned it off and went to bed, knowing that the liberal media would fill me in in the morning.

One person has stood by Bobby Jindal, though. Good old Rush, he knows a good Republican when he sees one. Bobby is colorful and young and has that je ne sais quoi about him that just might be the thing to bring the party Rushing back. I love a good logical argument, devoid of ad hominem attacks. You can always count on Rush to be precise, logical and factual. Give him a listen, you might learn something.

P.S. Another defender of the good Governor is my good conservative friend Jon Swift.


A brief announcement appeared on the White House Blog this evening, stating that Senator Gregg had “withdrawn his name” from consideration for the post as Commerce Secretary. Earlier today, in the Senate, Gregg had abstained from voting on the stimulus package. I guess that his lack of support for the President’s policies and programs didn’t sit so well.

Partisanship is rising quickly again in Washington. I predict that President Obama is going to start taking a much less conciliatory stance toward the Republican minority. Not too soon for me.

There had been a call for applications for “political appointment” jobs in the Obama administration on the blog. Maybe I’ll put in for commerce Secretary. I better get my resume in before Joe the Plumber scoops up the job.

Update: Republicans “Emboldened” by Gregg’s withdrawal. WTF? When are these guys going to stop digging the hole they’ve gotten themselves in?

You cant make this stuff up.

You can't make this stuff up.

Hot news! Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher is on Capitol Hill, advising Congressional Republicans on strategies for opposing the stimulus package. This is an indication of just how committed the loyal opposition is to bipartisanship, effective gorvenment and to solving the fiscal crisis. Amazing!

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