A common refrain I heard from friends this last week or so was “if you are taking flack, you know you are over the target.”
In this case, “flack” was a 7,000 word hit piece on me (along with my company and 501c4 organizations with which I’m associated) by a liberal non-profit called ProPublica. ProPublica was founded by Herbert Sandler, a left-wing banker at the center of the housing crisis, as described by the New York Times:
At the center of the controversy is an exotic but popular mortgage the Sandlers pioneered that helped generate billions of dollars of revenue at their bank. Known as an option ARM — and named “Pick-A-Pay” by World Savings — it is now seen by an array of housing analysts and regulators as the Typhoid Mary of the mortgage industry.
He made billions selling his bank to Wachovia before the housing meltdown, making him the very definition of “evil billionaire.” (Other liberal billionaires like George Soros and Tom Steyer have also supported ProPublica).
Inexplicably, five days after the ProPublica piece was posted on their website, The Arizona Republic ran it as a front page, tabloid-style story. It was a complete “cut and paste” job from ProPublica, and even though the Republic is my hometown paper, they never called me for comment.
There is something a bit surreal about walking out to your driveway and seeing yourself staring you in the eye. The nearly life-size photo on the front page caused one colleague to remark, “That’s a head shot size usually reserved for Presidents or terrorist leaders.” I’m clearly not the President.
The Republic did allow me to publish a response. However, after publishing 7,000 words attacking me, they only allowed 550 for my response. That’s ok – you can read a more full response here.
Here are a few highlights from my response in the Republic:
I firmly believe that anonymous political speech is not a danger to our nation — it has played an important role throughout our history. Anonymity in political speech protects the speaker from retribution, but it also serves a greater good: It allows the public to listen to ideas without any bias toward the messenger.
ProPublica hopes to bully CPPR and other conservative groups out of existence because we’ve been effective. Thanks to President Barack Obama’s mismanagement of the country, particularly the failure of “Obamacare,” liberals know they can’t win against us in a fair fight of issues and ideas.
Instead, the left must resort to intimidation. Their tactics include boycotts, threatening businesses, digging through divorce records to personally embarrass and hurt the families of those with whom they disagree, etc. But, before they can employ these methods, they need to know who to target. This is why they demand the disclosure of donors to conservative causes.
The Republic is my hometown paper; I’ve interacted with its staff regularly and always held them and the publication in high esteem. I was extremely disappointed by The Arizona Republic’s complete lack of journalistic integrity in this instance. The Republic made itself a willing tool of the left. That is a shame and a real disappointment to this lifelong reader.
The Founders would be appalled at this organized attack on political speech by the media (and the government). Consider this: the Federalist Papers were not only anonymously written, they were anonymously funded! Today, Madison, Jay and Hamilton would be castigated as “dark money.” Good grief!
Fundamentally, the Left’s attack on conservative speech is driven by fear. The Left knows it can’t win the hearts and minds of the American public with their nanny-state mentality, so they have to change the subject away from the content of the speech and who is doing the speaking. Therefore, they attack.
I haven’t and won’t let attacks from the Left stop me from advancing the cause. It is disappointing that they have stooped to a level that includes airing personal issues related to my divorce. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a political operative (that is, a non-public official or non-candidate for office) having their divorce records exposed in the news media.
At the end of the day, I remain resolved to continue to fight for the freedoms endowed to us by our Creator, first and foremost among those being our First Amendment freedoms.
(picture courtesy of Dr. Fred Vidal)
Last year, I posted what is below. It’s even more relevant today:
On this day, 102 years ago, God made Ronald Reagan – ok, so He made him before that, but you get the point. Reagan was a blessing to America, becoming President at the very time that his country needed him. If there was ever a time we needed another Reagan, it is now.
Reagan embodied a concept of America very different than our current President. In his final address to the nation from the Oval office he spoke of the success of America as an example of freedom.
“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”
Happy birthday President Reagan. We miss you, we need you.
The State of the Union has evolved into a national conversation on social media. Twitter and Facebook light up for a couple hours in ways rarely seen in politics. I did my duty by tweeting out snarky comments and posting on Facebook.
The best post-speech commentary came from National Review’s Jim Geraghty:
My Fellow Americans, the State of Our Union Is . . . Interminable
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. The only part of the president’s State of the Union address that you need to read:
“I first met Cory Remsburg, a proud Army Ranger, at Omaha Beach on the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Along with some of his fellow Rangers, he walked me through the program — a strong, impressive young man, with an easy manner, sharp as a tack. We joked around, and took pictures, and I told him to stay in touch.
A few months later, on his tenth deployment, Cory was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan. His comrades found him in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain.
For months, he lay in a coma. The next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak; he could barely move. Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, and hours of grueling rehab every day.
Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again — and he’s working toward the day when he can serve his country again.
“My recovery has not been easy,” he says. “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”
Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit.”
Cory Remsburg is a Dagwood sandwich of courage, determination, inspiration, and all-around bad-assery.
The rest of the speech was interminable, meandering, shifting in tone, unfocused, and at least twice as long as it needed to be. In a development that surprises no one, his fans liked it, his critics largely hated it, and millions upon millions of Americans wondered what happened to their favorite shows that usually air at 9 p.m. Eastern.
The only thing worse than a boring State of the Union? Having three GOP responses. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers did a fine job, but I don’t understand why Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Rand Paul gave responses other than feeding their own egos.
The thing that mystifies me is why the response is not done with a live audience. One of the best GOP responses in recent years was Gov. Bob McDonnell when he delivered his response from the state capital of Virginia with a live audience. It made a world of difference on how the response played to viewers across the country. But no one has replicated that model since, and the responses have been mostly yawns.
I’m just glad it’s over.
If you only read the mainstream media, you probably know it’s cold and snowy in Washington, D.C., today. But you probably don’t know that thousands of pro-life Americans braved the tundra to march for life on Washington – unless you caught the Washington Post article labeling the 41st Annual March for Life as a bunch of “abortion foes.”
That’s right. While the media is busy covering up abortion-loving Wendy Davis’s past – including abandoning her daughters and leaving her husband the day after he finished paying off her law school bills – they’re working hard not to cover the March for Life.
Are Bridgegate and Richard Sherman’s rant making today such a busy news day that there’s just no room for the March for Life? Or does the media, desperate to make you think being pro-life is an “extreme” position that will “die off” with the elderly, just want to hide the fact that the young now lead the pro-life movement? Twenty-something March for Lifer and president of Students for Life America, Kristan Hawkins, labeled her generation the “pro-life generation.”
She’s right. In a recent study, 44% of 18-24 year olds identified themselves as “pro-life” and 45% identified as “pro-choice.” Twice as many viewed abortion as a “bad thing” as those who viewed it as a “good thing.” Additionally, a plurality selected “abortion should only be legal in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother” as the position they agreed with most. This is hardly the “abortion on demand” position the media touts as “mainstream.”
But, even if the media took no notice of the march, that didn’t stop their favorite Pope from tweeting his support.
When Donald Rumsfeld said, “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time,” he was roundly criticized. But it was true.
In war, life, and good governance, you must recognize reality and act within those conditions. You can’t sit around, twiddling your thumbs and wishing it were different.
An even larger mistake is the current liberal method of governance: reject reality and take action with the assumption that conditions will change because you reeeeaaally want them to and think they should.
Like, for example, launching a massive new entitlement that restructures almost 20% of the US economy based entirely on the premise that young, healthy, “invincibles” who chose not to buy health insurance in the past will buy it now…because you’ve launched a massive new program that depends on them to buy health insurance.
In the wisdom of Maya Angelou, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” These young invincibles showed us they wouldn’t buy insurance before and they’re not buying it now (though the White House assures us, the young are just procrastinating—they do that you know, silly young people).
The White House seems surprised by this fact. Are they, really?? If so, Barack Obama’s Administration is even more incompetent than we thought, actually believing Obama’s alternate reality on healthcare. Good grief, didn’t think that was possible!
If it turns out that Chris Christie lied yesterday during his nearly two-hour press conference, he’s screwed. I hope he was honest, (and I’m guessing he was) we’ll find out if he wasn’t. You can’t scandalously cause a major traffic jam in the center of the mainstream media’s universe and expect the story to die anytime soon.
In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal says, “compared to using the IRS against political opponents during an election campaign, closing traffic lanes for four days is jaywalking.” True, and the media should be admonished for its lethargy in hunting down the truth when it comes to Obama’s cover-ups, but both acts would demonstrate an inability to be trusted with power. Should the investigation uncover that Christie had even the slightest inkling that this “traffic study” was a petty political play, I don’t want him in the White House.
Christie’s performance yesterday however, provided a great service to the American people that cannot be undone—no matter the eventual outcome of this scandal. He reminded us all what leadership is supposed to look like: something goes wrong, a leader acknowledges it, determines who is responsible, and fires the person before any further harm can be done to the people the leader serves.
Christie’s immediate candor and what appears to be heartfelt embarrassment was completely opposite from Obama’s response to numerous scandals: Fast & Furious, Benghazi, the IRS, the Obamacare rollout…I’m sure I’m missing at least one more, but you get the picture. Christie offered the perfect foil to Obama.
Whether Christie is honest or not, Americans clearly saw that such a leader could exist, such a leader is what our country deserves, such a leader Obama is not. So, thank you Governor Christie, for that.
Over the last few months there has been an undercurrent of murmuring, mostly within the beltway, that Rubio’s presidential hopes had been dashed on the rocks of immigration reform and that the shiny objects of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz had eclipsed the former tea-party darling.
But we’re a long, long way from the next presidential nominating contest in the GOP and Rubio is proving that he is still a relevant voice for the party, particularly when calling folks to the higher visions of American Exceptionalism in a way that would make Ronald Reagan proud.
To mark the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s speech on the “War on Poverty,” Rubio gave a stem-winder that demonstrates that he has a compelling story to tell and that he understands, in his bones, the kind of things that do and don’t work when striving for the American Dream.
I have excerpted some of my favorite portions below, but it’s well worth the time to read the whole thing.
My parents, like most people that have ever lived, were raised in a country where they were trapped by the circumstances of their birth. But just ninety miles away there was a country where, through hard work and perseverance, anyone could get ahead. And so they came here with virtually nothing.
Their first years in America were difficult. They worked long hours for little pay. But they kept on, and in time, their lives improved. They never became rich or famous and yet they lived the American Dream. Because like most people, for them happiness wasn’t about becoming wealthy. It was about finding work that paid a livable wage. It was about a happy family life, retiring with security, and one day giving their children the chance to be anything they wanted.
My parents’ story, of two everyday people who were given the chance to work their way into a better life, is a common one here in America. A defining national characteristic rooted in a principle that was at the core of our nation’s birth: that everyone has a God given right to live freely and pursue happiness.
This conviction has proven to be far more than just a line on a founding document. It has become the shared and defining value of a nation. It has set America apart and attracted people from every corner of the world.
The visionaries, the ambitious, the people who refused to accept the stagnant ways of the old world, they came here. They brought their ideas and their dreams. And finally, free from the restraints placed upon them in the nations of their birth, they helped build the most prosperous nation in human history.
Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson sought to address the plight of poverty by waging a war against it. On that day, he stood before a joint session of Congress and vowed, “It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won.”
His very next sentence served as a small window into his big-government vision for this war, and into its future failures. He said of the War on Poverty, “The richest nation on earth can afford to win it.” And with those words, he foreshadowed the belief still held by liberals to this very day: that government spending is the central answer to healing the wounds of poverty.
Social factors also play a major role in denying equal opportunity. The truth is, the greatest tool to lift children and families from poverty is one that decreases the probability of child poverty by 82%. But it isn’t a government spending program. It’s called marriage.
Fifty years ago, today, when the War on Poverty was launched, 93% of children born in the United States were born to married parents. By 2010 that number had plummeted to 60%. It should not surprise us that 71% of poor families with children are not headed by a married couple.
The decline of marriage and the increase in the percentage of children born out of wedlock is driven by a complex set of cultural and societal factors. But there is another interesting impediment to marriage worth keeping in mind. A 2011 report by the Pew Research Center found that 64% of adults with college degrees are married, while only 47% of those with a high-school education or less are.
Real American free enterprise is about a broad and growing economy that creates opportunities for everyone to get ahead. It creates the opportunity to become wealthy. But it also creates good and stable middle class jobs like the ones my parents had.
But instead of fostering a vibrant job-producing economy, our federal government is a major impediment to the enterprise and ingenuity of our people. An expensive tax code, burdensome regulations, and an unsustainable national debt are suffocating our economy’s ability to create enough steady and good paying jobs. That is why poverty and inequality have only gotten worse under the current administration.
Instead we need policies that make our country the easiest and best place in the world to create jobs. This means removing the uncertainty created by a dangerous and growing national debt, enacting a simple and affordable tax code that incentivizes investment, and eliminating regulations that prevent employers from expanding and our energy sector from growing.
Therefore, what I am proposing today is the most fundamental change to how the federal government fights poverty and encourages income mobility since President Johnson first conceived of the War on Poverty fifty years ago. I am proposing that we turn Washington’s anti-poverty programs – and the trillions spent on them – over to the states.
Our anti-poverty programs should be replaced with a revenue neutral Flex Fund. We would streamline most of our existing federal anti-poverty funding into one single agency. Then each year, these Flex Funds would be transferred to the states so they can design and fund creative initiatives that address the factors behind inequality of opportunity.
This worked in the 1990s with welfare reform. In that case, Congress gave the states the ability to design their own programs, and in turn the states enacted policies that promoted work rather than dependence. In the years that followed, this led to a decline in poverty rates and welfare expenses.
I haven’t been in Washington long, but I’ve been here long enough to know that everything here gets analyzed through the lens of electoral politics. But upward mobility and equal opportunity is not a partisan issue, it is our unifying American principle.
And it has always been a focus of my public service going back to my days as a state representative. Because for me, this is personal.
I am but a generation removed from poverty and despair. Where would I be today if there had never been an America? What kind of lives or future would my children have if this was not a land of opportunity? What if my father had been stuck working as a bar boy his whole life instead of making it to head bartender.
What kind of life would I have right now? In all likelihood, I too would be among those on the outside looking in, forever frustrated that my parents had no power or privilege and that I was therefore unable to achieve my full potential.
Our status as a land of equal opportunity has made us a rich and powerful nation, but it has also transformed lives. It has given people like me the chance to grow up knowing that no dream was too big and no goal out of reach.
Arizona State Treasurer Doug Ducey dropped a money bomb yesterday announcing he had raised a whopping $1,050,000 in his exploratory bid for Governor. His campaign announced that he will report more than $900,000 cash on hand – showing a remarkably low burn rate.
Even more impressive is that the majority of the funds were raised under the lower contribution limits. Ducey’s campaign reported that 80% of the roughly 1,000 donors gave less than $1,000. If only half of those folks gave again to meet the new max contribution, that would garner Ducey another $1.2 million.
The depth and breadth of Ducey’s support is stunning and bound to send shivers down the spines of any potential opponents.
This will certainly throw a wrench in the thinking of Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, who has been coy about his plans. Rather than announcing that he is running, as he is expected to do in the next few days, look for him to announce an exploratory committee so he can continue to “think about it.” Sometime this spring, he will officially bow out. This will be his face-saving way of avoiding the buzzsaw that would be the Ducey campaign.
As for other potential opponents, Secretary of State of Ken Bennett, who has had an exploratory committee for the better part of a year, likely doesn’t even have 1,000 five-dollar contributions to count towards his receiving Clean Elections money. Christine Jones is expected to spend a lot of her own money, but money is only one part of the equation that makes a good candidate (exhibit 1: Jim Pedersen, Buzz Mills, Wil Cardon, and John Hurlburd).
Ducey is what we in the political hackery business call “the complete package.” He is a successful businessman, established leader, smart as a whip, willing to work his tail off, and has great people skills. He is a dream candidate and someone who will make a superb Governor for our great state.
*For the record, Doug Ducey is not a client of mine or my firm, nor do I play any role in his campaign for Governor.
A story in the New York Times last week about President Obama’s TV watching habits set off a buzz among conservative commentators about whether it was appropriate for the White House to release the President’s “must see TV” shows.
Peter Roff, at U.S. News and World Report, wrote a response that should be required reading for any conservative politician, commentator, operative, and activist.
To summarize, the complaints about the piece boiled down to the idea that such revelations – if you can call them that – are unpresidential. That somehow the president’s television preferences are not the business of the American people.
It’s one thing for Obama to appear in a commercial hawking a late-night television show. It’s another thing entirely for the White House to take steps to make it known to the American people what the nation’s chief executive likes to watch in his downtime. In fact, it’s a stroke of brilliance.
What the liberals understand and conservative fail to grasp is that in the age of information everything is media. By disclosing what the president’s favorite television shows are or what his picks for the NCAA brackets may be or what music he likes to listen to, his political team is giving him the opportunity to meet the people where they are, not where they might want them to be.
This is a critically important concept that many Republicans fail to grasp. The country is turned off to politics. Americans think Washington is dysfunctional, that both parties are seeking political advantage, that neither are wedded to principle, and that they are ignoring what is in the country’s best interests in order to position themselves for the next election.
Obama was sold to the American people like new and improved laundry soap, the latest model sports car coming out of Detroit or Hollywood’s newest teen idol. The American people met him in places that were essentially on the fringes of the political arena rather than in the middle of it. By talking about what he likes to watch on television, his political team is keeping that conversation going, even stepping it up because – as his approval numbers continue to drop – the ancillary conversations about seemingly extraneous subjects become all the more important. Rather than attack the communications strategy it represents, Republicans would do well to analyze it, understand it and adopt it.
Roff nails it on the head when he discusses the need for conservatives to “meet the people where they are” the way liberals have been doing for generations. It is why, as I pointed out in my last post, we have to embrace popular culture that makes our arguments for us like Hunger Games, Divergent, and to rip one off from Obama, Downton Abbey (see my previous thoughts on that show here and here).
We have to stop viewing this as a culture war, in which we must vanquish the enemy (liberal Hollywood), and start to treat this as a competition. Let’s embrace and make huge successes of the books, movies and TV shows that carry conservative messages. At the end of the day, while Hollywood may think they are engaged in a “higher cause” with some of the liberal tripe they serve up, it’s really all about the money.