Friday, May 08, 2009

Specter, the GOP, and robocalling

(News-Herald, May 7) So last week I returned home from work to find a message waiting on my answering machine. It was from “Jack” (no last name) who recorded it on behalf of the Republican National Senatorial Committee.
That struck me as odd, because I am a registered Democrat. But robocaller Jack explained that he was calling to help me welcome “your newest Democrat Senator, Arlen Specter.”
Jack followed with old sound bites from George W. Bush. “Arlen Spector is the right man for the U. S. Senate… I can count on this man.” George also said, “He’s a firm ally…when it matters most.”
Jack also shared sound bites from Senator Spector on “important issues to labor and Democrat interest groups.” Spector is then quoted saying he wouldn’t be an automatic 60th vote and gives an example of a pro-labor bill he plans to oppose.
Jack invited me to a website created just for the purpose of “introducing” Spector ( It includes various quotes in which Spector says he likes Bush, Rick Santorum and Rush Limbaugh. There’s also an old quote in which he accused Anita Hill of perjury.
I can’t quite figure out what the Republicans are trying to tell me. They agree that these are all awful things and therefore everyone should vote against Specter? They assume I automatically vote for any yahoo with a D in front of his name, so they want me to think of Specter as still an R?
Just as Senate Republicans are slamming Specter for being a Republican, other Republicans are stepping up their castigation of Specter for not being Republican enough (I thought I’d google a good quote, but a search on “good riddance Arlen Specter” turned up 42,000 hits). “He’s a RINO (Republican in name only)” goes the refrain. He’s not pure enough, not on the right side of enough issues.
This emphasis on ideological purity is a new GOP initiative, borrowed from the Democrats. For decades the Dems have demanded that their candidates pass ideological litmus tests; this has been enormously effective in helping Dems lose election after election.
Had they followed their usual procedure, Dems would have nominated Senator Clinton (an outcome so completely predictable that for months the Clintons simply couldn’t believe it wasn’t happening) and Specter would be reminiscing with President McCain about their boyhood adventures back before the invention of dirt.
Instead, the Dems went off script while the GOP pulled Sarah Palin out of a hat, a woman whose only qualification was her ideological purity. After she sent voters running away in waves, the party decided that what it needed was more of that voter-alienating purity. So now Republicans are the new Democrats; they’d rather be Right than win.
Why build a big tent when you can make the old tent seem larger by throwing more people out of it.
Specter claims this is why he left the party. I suppose that’s sort of true. But if you don’t think he’s trying to save his Senate seat, you probably also believe that Barry Bonds bulked up just by lifting weights and eating twinkies.
I honestly can’t tell how Republicans want us to feel about this. Do they want him to win so the Democrats will have to put up a not-really-a-Dem on their side? Are they really seriously using their own party label as a slur? Whether D or R, I expect Spector will do whatever he wants as he always has. When you’ve beaten cancer and been in the Senate longer than the furniture, you probably get feisty that way. One of the odd features of this is that I doubt that party label will make that much difference in Spector’s vote, so in some ways this is just a flap just about the labels.
Never mind what he’s going to do—what will we label him. Will Dems overlook all the things he’s done that they hated just because he’s now wearing their team jersey? Will Reps reject his assistance to their causes because he took their jersey off? Will he now be Smilin’ Ed Rendell’s new best friend?
Political decisions aside, I have always found it sort of inspiring that a man at Specter’s stage in life would want to stay in the Senate. But this whole flap seems to reveal more of the basic hollowness at the heart of US politics.
My buddy Jack Robocall is still making regular postings about Specter on youtube. I hope he’s not too busy to keep in touch.

1 comment:

Danny Lucas said...

Is it Specter's independence that is loved, or his ability to make lobbyists smile til their teeth hurt?

When Clinton was impeached, the law required a Senate trial. I don't care about the merits of the case, or if you think it is ok for Presidents to mess around with girls in their early 20's, who work for them, while they are married to another woman. That is its own issue.

But here comes Specter, representing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and all states as a national vote is being taken on the impeachment of a President. His response after hearing the evidence?

The answer is one of two choices: Aye or Nay. Guilty or Innocent.

Specter made a Spectercle of himself as he proclaimed:

Not proven is NOT an option. And what's up with representing Scotland's take on the law instead of the USA take on the law? Um, you are from Philly sir....ever hear of the American Revolution?

PA is now a Dem state. All four corners go blue (Erie County, Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre-Scranton, and Philly and massive suburbs). The entire rest of the state is blood red Republican. We are schizo.

To carry PA, all you need is Philly and the suburbs in such outlandish quantity, that the rest of the state can not overcome that number. Street money and boss networks determine that amount of vote in Philly.

I saw it when I lived in the bedroom community 50 miles north of Philly, Bethlehem in LeHigh county (and Northampton). This is now number 3 area in PA encompassing Allentown, and Bethlehem would be a Millcreek to Erie over there.
Robocalls came in at 15 per hour every day, with gusts of 20 to 25.

No machine will change a mind.

Let's switch to the next election, a significant reason for Arlen's single bullet change in direction here (Yes, Arlen designed that Warren Report theory of the Kennedy Assassination as a young lawyer, making an early laughing stock of himself as time went by. No one believed it then or now).

Toomey is loved in LeHigh.
He will carry ALL of Philly in grand numbers, coupled with all the Red amidst our 4 corners. Pittsburgh, Erie, and Wilkes-Barre will be insignificant to the outcome.

Toomey ran for the House, promising 3 terms and out.
He kept his word and quit.
He served on the House Banking committee in those years.
He came with much banking information, since he performed derivatives for hedge fund makers before public service.

He was the leader in ending Glass-Steagall....known as "regulation" of finance markets, after the Roaring Twenties, that led to Depression.

Regulation followed that period of excess, and it was for all the money boys, in the form of Glass-Steagall Act. Outlandish stock market games were over and banking was now a staid, predictable occupation for decades.

Toomey spent his career in currency swaps, and fungames in money houses (Chemical Bank). Who better to know what the banks needed to be free have a free for all? (They no longer wanted to do banking only; they wanted in on know, housing bundles from games, and Enron-ish risk taking.

So in Congress, Toomey ended regulation from his podium in House Banking, and we are witnessing an economy gone bust as a result. This is the man who ended Glass-Steagall's hand over bankers behavior.

There is a flurry of notions to re-regulate after the world saw the effects of financial greed.
Please notice that the money boys are sending Pat Toomey back to Congress to make sure that never happens.

Toomey would wallop Specter in the primary, especially with our idiotic voting system in the Commonwealth.
And thanks to Philly and the suburbs loving Toomey, they can let go of their love affair with Arlen and Toomey will win.

Tom Ridge debated a run (he lives in Maryland, but has a house in Erie and voter registration here too). On one hand, he would be back in public service as a Senator, poised for the White House better that way than as a friend of Bush.
On the other hand, it would be "so long" to Ridge Global, a networking of anyone in the world with a checkbook and a need to get it done in Washington.

Left hand: public service.
Right hand: 400 gadzillion dollars a year income.
Tough call, but Tom was up to the task and said he will not run.

One more problem for Ridge is his work as Governor.
Under him, regulation of electric rates was ended, but not til he was long gone. It was set to end in 2010. He would be nowhere around for the fallout.

First Energy sent me a bill last month. They included an offer of paying me 7-1/2% interest on any extra money I sent now, above my bill. The money, plus interest would accumulate to pay for the increase I am going to get (50%) on my bill next year.

Current rates at your bank are 1 or 2%, but the electric company will give me 7.5%.

There is NO WAY Tom Ridge can be in PA when this crap hits the fan next year, and all businesses up and leave the state for good.

The Erie Times News may actually tell Erie folks of that decision some day.
They may tell locals Tom is NOT running some day too. Only the world knows, not Erie.

NONE of these three men are fit to be called Senator from Pennsylvania.

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