Tag Archives: Politics

Jeb…That was your 47% moment.

Sorry Jeb. I’m not sure if your advisers didn’t prepare you correctly or you flubbed this one yourself, but you stepped it in it.  Big time.  We are not the overreact to the 24 hour news cycle types here either.  But we seriously believe you may have lost your shot at this thing, or at the very least did substantial damage to it.

Jeb Bush’s number one liability is his brother.  Everyone knows this.  George Bush himself has said it.  Thus, any question about anything that happened during the George Bush years has to be prepped, rehearsed, and nailed down.  Especially on Iraq.

It is nearly universal Iraq is perceived as a mistake. (By 75% of the public in a June 2014 CBS News/New York Times poll).  Any defending of the decision to go into Iraq or even how the war was conducted will lean right into Jeb’s number one liability, the thought that he would follow the same path again.

A gaffe isn’t catastrophic if it doesn’t hit square in the eye of your largest liability.  This did.  It may be terminal without some quick fixing.

Jeb is trying to walk back the comment with the classic “misheard” maneuver and “clarify” his position.   Probably the best he can do at the moment, but he better get right on a substantive fix.  We would suggest a few more things.

  • First, lay out a foreign policy that is clear, succinct, and differs from George Bush.  It doesn’t need to completely repudiate his brother, but it needs to come darn near close.  People want concrete assurance we aren’t going to get the act first think later method of the Iraq war again.  Take some shots at the NeoCons drumming up war against Iran.  It’s a bit hard to say you’ll create another Iraq when you hit hard against the NeoCons looking for a war with Iran.
  • Second, dump the NeoCon advisers. More Baker, less Wolfowitz.  Putting aside the fact anyone who got us into the war in Iraq should never be qualified to lead a presidential foreign policy again, it’s a huge liability.  Imagine Hillary Clinton saying:

I’ve learned from my mistakes, has Jeb Bush?  Just a few months ago he said he still would have gone into Iraq knowing what we know now….and then he misheard the question.  Why hasn’t he fired all the same advisers who lead his brother into the war in Iraq who now make up his team?  Sorry Jeb,  we heard you loud and clear, you are not different than your brother, if you want four more years of a Bush president, vote for George Bush 2.0.

That’s sticking a shiv straight into the heart of his campaign.  We just wonder if it’s going to already be off life support by then.  He better get moving to fix this mess.

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What is a “good” deal with Iran?

It’s a simple question.  If Obama is negotiating a “bad” deal, what is the goal post for “good deal”?  The NeoCons either do not answer the question or state “no enrichment.” In essence, the only “good” deal is where Iran folds and gives up in negotiations.  Something the Bush administration concluded would never happen:

In public, Israeli officials complain about what Yuval Steinitz, the minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, called the United States’ general approach to the negotiations, which is to give up on the idea of dismantling all of Iran’s nuclear enrichment capability. In fact, even the George W. Bush administration had given up on that idea, conceding that there was no way to reach a deal without Iran retaining at least a face-saving amount of enrichment capability.


The NeoCons need to be pushed to define their definition of a “good” deal.  Odds are, they won’t answer because their fundamental criticism is they want no deal.  If they respond with no “enrichment”, they need to be confront with the assessment from prior administrations that Iran would never agree, hence their deal is no deal.  The press still is failing to push back on this point and letting them peanut chuck at a possible deal we have yet to even learn of the terms.

On another note, James Baker is striking back at the NeoCons:  http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/james-baker-blasts-benjamin-netanyahu-116338.html

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The NeoCons are back – What’s old is not what’s new.

The NeoCons are back.  Whether it’s the GOP’s push against the Iranian deal or the battle cry to put “some” boots on the ground against ISIS, they are back. Back in droves.   And they are following the same “strong on defense” mantra that has been “conventional wisdom” in American politics for some time.  It’s a bad play and political opponents (on both sides of the aisle) are foolish for being fearful of exploiting the bad play.  Let me explain.

After the war in Afghanistan, two wars in Iraq (and dealing with the subsequent aftermath), Americans are leery about what the NeoCon’s are selling.  It’s the same script.  Vague references of needing to be “strong”, which almost always involves rejection of any diplomacy and upping military commitments.  No actual plan is ever proposed.  No exit strategy.  No strategy whatsoever.  Here lies the weakness of the NeoCons, and how they can be refuted.

  • Step One  –  Press for the plan

All questioning should lead to the exact alternative plan.  NeoCon fervor lives within the grey area of criticism that obscures a clear alternative.  Expose it.   For example, we should walk away from Iranian negotiations, and then do what?  (Waiting for them to fold isn’t a plan, what’s the plan if they don’t fold?).  You want ground troops to fight ISIS in Iraq, what is your plan for those troops to fight, win ground, and hold such ground among a Sunni/Shiite conflict?  Conventional media and politicians let the NeoCons get away from specific plans, because they do not want to admit the end result of their strategy.

  • Step Two  –   Call out the Consequences and True Motive

War.  Call a spade a spade.  The end result of these NeoCon positions is war.  The goal in Iran is regime change.  The goal with ISIS is Iraq 3.0.  Call it out specifically, stating their “plan” is not a plan.  For example, the end result of a conclusion that Iran can never be dealt with diplomatically, is war.  Calling out the plan would result in an honest answer of, the NeoCons are banking on regime change before the time strikes are necessary, or strikes and then regime change is fundamentally a call for war.    Say it.  It is the plain logical conclusion from a no negotiation strategy, yet they are not being called on it.   Same with ridiculous demands, such as no enrichment.  Call them out for demanding things they know the Iranians will reject to scrap a deal.  Similarly, calls for “some troops” in ISIS without any plan to hold ground and solve the Sunni/Shiite conflict is a call for endless occupation and war.  Say it.

  • Step Three  –  Marry the NeoCons to their Past Poor Decisions

This should be the easiest part.  Link them to their decision with Iraq.  Remind the American public these people called for us to get involved in Iraq 2.0, spent American lives and treasure on a blunder we are still paying for.  Ask if these people should be trusted to give advice on Iran and ISIS.   Say they want Iraq 3.0 and to slay dragons around the world again without even attempting a diplomatic alternative.

  • Step Four  –   A reasonable path forward – Insulation from the Counter-Attack

This is the thing most conventional politicians are worried about.  It is why you aren’t hearing enough push back against the NeoCons.  The thought of being “soft” on defense.  This isn’t 1980, heck it isn’t 2001 anymore.  This is old thinking, and the public will support rejection of it.

Sample:  I know those who beat the drumbeat of war will try to paint criticism of their position as weakness, as lack of resolve.  They are wrong.  The same voices that led us into the war in Iraq are beating the drums of war again.  They are wrong again.   Military action is not something I would hesitate to vote for if it is our last and only option.  We must exhaust all chances for a peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue, which includes diplomacy with all the major players in the world.  Right now the world is united with the us in seeking resolution of this issue. Even those countries we have profound disagreements with on other issues, such as the Russians, are united in a coalition to obtain a verifiable solution to the Iranian issue that prevents a path to a bomb.

We are working hard to see if an agreement is possible.  A fair, strong agreement with the world community on board.  Yet, there are those in Congress who seek to reject the chance of even trying to reach a deal.  They want to throw away the years spend building a coalition that brought the Iranians to the table in the first place.  Diplomacy is never an option they say.  We should never try to talk with the Iranians.  We should make demands we know they will not accept.  We know where their path leads.  America is stronger when we act with the world in efforts to solve things through diplomacy, and if we are unable to, use force only after no other alternative is presented.  It is often said, when sending our brave men and women into military action, how do I explain to a mother in Kansas, Texas, or California the reason I am sending your son or daughter into harms way.   Should that ever become necessary, the explanation will be because we had to in order to protect the United States and there was no choice.  I refuse be forced into action where war was the first choice.

So I support the diplomacy with full force.  It may not be successful.  It may not bear fruit.  But the notion that we should not try and those who seek to torpedo it for pure political gain is a game too dangerous to play.  I won’t play it.

It’s not the most articulate, but I think it gets the point across.  Pressure to speak out against the NeoCons is supported by the public http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/17/politics/iran-negotiations-gop-letter-poll/ so, opposition to this tactic must be a typical in the beltway thinking.  Even Rand Paul is damaging his brand by failing to take this opportunity.  The Neocons would be put back on their heels a bit and explaining why they aren’t trying to lead us to war.  Yet their alternatives can be exposed time and time again as seeking just that.  Let’s home someone is smart enough to hit back.

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The Immigration Trolling of the GOP

The art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off…using dialogue…The most essential part of trolling is convincing your victim that either a) truly believe in what you are saying, no matter how outrageous, or b) give your victim malicious instructions, under the guise of help.


A lot of ink is being spilled about Obama’s forthcoming immigration plan and who it will include, will it go far enough, etc.  This, in my opinion, is academic in a political — obviously not in a real life — sense.   The greater issue is what this is setting up for 2016 and how it brilliantly is making sure 2016 is more like 2012 than 2014.  Let me explain.

The greatest threat to Hillary is a moderate GOP candidate who can appeal to both the base and the middle.  Democrats know this.  The GOP knows this.  It was unlikely such a unifying candidate would emerge from the GOP, but the Democrats are not taking any chances.  Especially after the drubbing in the midterms.

The question becomes, how do you marry the GOP candidates to the extreme base?   The Democrats have calculated this in three steps.

  • Outrage the GOP Base to Extreme Levels
  • Force all the GOP Candidates to Adopt Base Positions on the Subject
  • Make Sure the Subject Damages the GOP in the General Election

Obama’s Immigration order nails all three.  It is not just red meat for the GOP base, it’s the entire cow.  Executive action and immigration.  The GOP base will be whipped up into a frenzy.  Next, all the candidates will have to take a position, and appease the base.

This is where the third factor comes into play.  How does the GOP condemn the action without alienating the middle and Latinos?  If the action is what I expect it to be, cleverly not deporting family members of citizens, the criticism will be difficult and have to be nuanced.   The base won’t take nuanced answers.  They want hard condemnation.  The incentives to give in, issue broad condemnations, an fund raise on the issue with be overwhelming for the GOP.  Silly comments will slip out and be tagged to the entire GOP.

It has been only a day and you see Rick Santorim getting this danger, trying the frame the issue differently:

Rick Santorum, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2012 and is likely to run again in 2016, said the GOP should focus on the economic implications for blue-collar workers, emphasizing that Obama is trying to legalize 5 million new workers as the economy and wages are stagnant.


Yet, Michelle is biting hard on the trolling:

“The social cost will be profound on the U.S. taxpayer — millions of unskilled, illiterate, foreign nationals coming into the United States who can’t speak the English language,” Bachmann told reporters at the Capitol. “Even though the president says they won’t be able to vote, we all know that many, in all likelihood, will vote.”


Can the GOP keep the crazies under control for this one?  I doubt it.  While I personally disagree with what Obama is doing here, it’s brillant politically.  Expect the Hillary commercials highlighting all the top GOP candidates saying how they will reverse the order and deport immigrant children mom and dads to run on a continuous loop.

2016 is really starting to look like 2012.


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