Disingenuous Distraction

And as the Greek Tragedy of Republican rule in Georgia enters yet another act, we have Senators whispering to their favorite media and bloggers that Senator Smith’s blow to their gut yesterday from the Senate well was self-serving and disingenuous. They, like usual, do not want to go on the record with these comments for the decorum of the Senate, they would just kindly like you to know that. …without their name attached to it, please.

So let’s just assume for a moment that Senator Smith’s remarks were 100% self-serving, that his motivation was only to make himself look good at the expense of his fellow Senators, and that his remarks were spiteful and designed to harm those who had just stripped him of a chairmanship of a very powerful Senate committee.

So. What.

Even if Senator Smith was in fact playing a disingenuous game, too many others on the Republican side are playing a game of distraction and denial. The “hey, look over there!” game has been played by John Oxendine, who was first to blame the Lib’ral AJC for making him illegally launder money through 10 Alabama based PACs into his campaign. Nathan Deal doubled down by coming up with 9 individuals or groups that have formed a grand conspiracy against him as a partisan witch hunt, and the Georgia General Assembly has a familiar refrain of “we’re not all like him….or him…or him…or him either.. or, well, no not like him at all.”

Questioning motive is nothing more than a ruse to change a casual observer’s mind from analyzing facts to questioning motive. It is obfuscation, and it is, at its root, the real act of disingenuousness.

And if we’re going to question who is disingenuous, should we start with Republicans who, while in the majority, pledged to shrink the size of Georgia’s state government before inflating it to an almost $21 Billion dollar behemoth? Should we question those same folks who were outraged at the insider dealings of Roy Barnes and Tom Murphy, but condone land and tax transactions of the Governor and the “common knowledge” of the actions of General Assembly leaders with lobbyists, with favorable outcomes on legislation exchanged as currency? How about the ones who railed against Charles Walker using his position of power for personal financial gain, but have now set up personal consulting contracts or even quasi-lobbying companies to sell the access entrusted to them by their voters to the highest bidder?

There is not money, no ability to fundraise behind being ethical. Quite the contrary. The payoff is in walking the fine gray line, and making sure that any ethics reform package doesn’t move that line which is, by all objective accounts, too far to the dark side. And so, when a player falls, he is quickly removed, and the chorus of the enablers, casual participants, and condoners sings to the fallen as being an isolated individual – and a praise that “we’re not all like that”.

There have been lone voices along the way who have spoken up against these abuses. Some have paid a price, and most have been ignored. One of the most frequent critics of the hypocrisy of state Republican governance has been Bobby Franklin. He has early and often quoted House Majority Leader Jerry Keen telling the Republican caucus that they cannot confuse the things they say when they campaign with the things they must do when they govern. Yet Franklin has never been an “insider”, and leadership has never felt threatened by him. Smith, on the other hand, has now made the same remarks in brutal, bitter detail. The words are real, they are public, and they can not be ignored.

So, at the end of the day, does it matter if Senator Smith was trying to pants his peers in the Senate, if the end result was him revealing that these emperors have no clothes? It is long past time to stop the practice of disingenuous distraction. There is precious little time left to right past wrongs before the voters get to speak again. The ethics bill that passed the house is a complete sham, turning the clock back and opening loopholes that didn’t previously exist.

In the limited time remaining this session, passing meaningful and true ethics reform is the most important tangible step to Republicans beginning to govern like Republicans.

38 comments

  1. Doug Deal says:

    An easy gauge in measuring credibility, which one had his name prominently stamp on his remarks, and who are dropping theirs into the hopper under the cover of night to never be challenged?

    The anonymous daggers in a fellow Senator’s back are indicative of the core problem in the Senate.

  2. I’m pretty sure Senator Smith would not have made the remarks he made without knowing what sort of backlash he would face.

    If someone had said what he said about me, I’d try to paint him as a liar too. But if Smith has ulterior motives, why not expose them? If these people are squeaky clean then they should be able to show that.

    A problem exists, I don’t care who exposes it – be a sincere individual or a man out to simply make himself look good. The problem exists either way and sometimes you have to use whatever channels are available to bring it to a head.

    I can’t speak to Senator Smith’s motives. I do not purport too. But the problems he is talking about need to be dished out now and not later. Has anyone else noticed Carol Porter is raising money quickly? Someone might want to send the Memo to the Senate Republicans.

  3. BuckheadConservative says:

    Have any of the parties called out released a statement yet in response?

    I wonder if Smith has just earned himself a primary opponent? Politicians generally lack capacity for mea culpas. They’re a lot better at retribution.

  4. AlanR says:

    I agree. So what. I don’t care what his motives are, I only care about what he said. Does the fact that it benefits Smith make what he said less true?

  5. I think Icarus nailed it. What’s confusing here for the “Statist” Quo GOP leadership is that Senator Smith’s ACTIONS (i.e. voting against a tax increase) matched his rhetoric.

    The GOP/Senate leadership further supports the need for our existence. We have the D-Party that say they believe in civil liberty. But most, when elected, don’t vote for it. We have the R-Party who says they’re for less spending, lower taxes and other fiscal libertarian positions. But again, most don’t vote that way (especially when they’re the controlling party).

    Those that pay attention to the Libertarian Party knows we’ll be the first in line to ridicule our own for not holding to their principled positions… which sometimes is seen as not being very “self serving”… or beneficial to the Party’s growth. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I commend those out there that are trying to “fix” their party. I’ll believe it possible when/if I see it. If you ever decide to join a party that doesn’t need fixing (just more members and more leaders), we’re here.

    • ByteMe says:

      Those that pay attention to the Libertarian Party knows we’ll be the first in line to ridicule our own for not holding to their principled positions…

      I mostly agree with your sentiments in the first two paragraphs… don’t be so shocked; your idea of civil liberty and mine are different, but the general sentiment is mostly correct.

      But I gotta ask about the statement I highlighted. Has your party ever had this happen in a situation where someone actually held elected public office and didn’t hold to their position? What happened?

      • Jeff says:

        Byte:

        I caught HELL from the LP in my run for Leesburg City Council last year over my suggestion that the locals be allowed to vote to raise their taxes to pay for a PARK. (A park that STILL needs quite a bit done to it, btw – including several bridges installed. Turns out, the park is basically built on swamp land.)

      • Chris says:

        The better question, Byte, is when has the LP been in a position of majority and have to answer to numerous constituencies.

        Its easy to sit there and vote no for several years (while raking in the pork like Ron Paul has done), but doing so doesn’t ever move the ball forward. Can anyone say Bobby Franklin couldn’t be replaced with a always-no-voting rubber chicken?

        • ByteMe says:

          In my own way, Chris and Tyler, this is exactly what I’m asking. It’s easy to say that in theory you would publicly chastise people in your own party, but it’s another to actually do it in fact when your party’s position in power could be at stake.

          • Tyler says:

            Political Catch 22: You don’t want to have to make the tough decisions because it could mean public backlash, but regardless you have to do it so the state can continue forward.

          • Byte,
            If your inquiry was sincere, I gave an example in the second part of that sentence about current members not being “self serving” even to the party’s own detriment. Plus, all the now L’s I know that came to us from the D and R parties, would call their leadership out way before they gave up on their previous party. I don’t see that behavior in them changing… the individuals haven’t changed… you’ve heard the average disenfranchised voter say it many times; they either believe their previous party changed or never was what they portrayed themselves to be… for Freedom and Liberty.

            btw, I do agree with you and Tyler on the point of the difficulty to make hard decisions… but isn’t that the kind of leaders we want…. especially if we know up front they believe, like the libertarians, in all the Bill of Rights, All the Time, for Everyone and would start the governing/decision making process from there.

      • Ramblinwreck says:

        Actually yes. I was elected County Executive/County Commission Chairman as a Libertarian. One of my issues was a promise to try and take seniors over age 65 off the tax rolls for school taxes. That was the first issue we took up and voted on, put it on the ballot and it passed with over 70% of the voters in favor. You would not believe the flack I took from some in the LP because I didn’t take EVERYONE off the tax rolls. I wasn’t ridiculed for not holding to LP principles, I was criticized by a few of my fellow LP members because I didn’t undo nearly 200 years of tax policy with one referendum. I can attest that the LP is the Party of Principle but they tend to be a tad more impatient than D’s and R’s. I’d love to see a Libertarian elected to some State Rep or Senate position and see what happens. It was “interesting” in a small county. I should be great fun in Atlanta.

        Good news is that now in Dade County if you are 65 or older you pay no school tax on your house and 5 acres regardless of your income. I should be eligible in a few years if I live that long. 🙂

        • ByteMe says:

          Thank you and congrats on your accomplishment. And when the howlers in your own party were biting at your butt for not going further, how’d you feel about them? Reason I ask is I’m trying to understand the dynamic.

          • Ramblinwreck says:

            It was a little frustrating but I understood it. The LP has the same stance on freedom, liberty and the role of government that the founding fathers had and members are frustrated that so few people in the GOP, and evidently none in the Democrat party that I can find, share those principles any more. They want their liberty back and they want it NOW. I agree.

            Most of the TEA party people would make good LP partners if the LP will focus on the areas where they agree and not try to pick a fight over issues on which they will probably always disagree. I’m reminded of the old axiom I heard Michael Cloud utter once, “a Libertarian would rather win an argument than an election.” It’s a hard habit to break. I know.

        • Rick Day says:

          Good news is that now in Dade County if you are 65 or older you pay no school tax on your…

          But the bad news is I understand when you ran for re-election, you left the LPGa and claimed to be a Republican.

          After doing what we could at the time to help you get elected, I will admit this bothered me. I think I even sent your campaign some $.

          I am sure you had very valid reasons, but at the time we were all ecstatic at LPGa that you won with a bit of our help and money. Frankly, when you dropped the (L) word, I left LPGa pretty disheartened in the libertarian movement in general, viewing them as a stepping stone to R-Ville, at best.

          Just sayin’….

  6. Donna Locke says:

    I’m sympathetic with Smith’s actions to some degree, but there has to be enforcement against fragmentation that would threaten what the group as a whole has achieved. I don’t know the answers to this situation. We are a free people.

    We have Republican leadership in the Tennessee Senate that needs a big dose of what Smith dished out in GA, though not necessarily on the hospital maneuverings brought to us by failed policies, which we are dealing with in TN, also. A number of us have pushed mandatory E-Verify to be enacted on all employers, but the business interests have their fixes in, and this effort went nowhere in TN and GA, though a number of other states have passed it. The Republican (and Democratic) lawmakers who know we need this, who know that, uh, the jobs thing is important, are bullied into submission to leadership that is owned by and in a stranglehold to certain big interests/employers who want to be free to hire illegal aliens. In the end the GOP is nailing up its own coffin with this.

    People are fed up. I’m glad to see some in the legislatures are as well. It’s a signal. Discontent is spreading. Resistance is spreading.

    But enforcement in and for the group, the caucus, is necessary, too, so I don’t know how to draw the line for balance in this situation.

  7. John Konop says:

    What party has even proposed balancing Medicare? What party has proposed funding statewide retirements for government workers? THE ANSWER NEITHER PARTY! The real question is why? It is because most of you want the entitlement without the cost!

    DO THE MATH THE ABOVE WILL WIPE US OUT IN LESS THAN 10 YEARS!

          • DMZDave says:

            I think John Konop raises reasonable questions that deserve answers and not ridicule. OK, he often makes the same point over and over but he’s absolutely right about the legislature failing to make the hard choices and there will be hell to pay. To some extent, the sky is falling and the state government needs to take a fiscal hair cut just like everyone in the private sector is taking in Georgia. This could be a good forum if people would actually discuss and debate and provide their reasoned views and I really wish those who refer to themselves with GOP or Reagan or Conservative in the screen names would lead the way in making those reasoned arguments. It’s what Republicans are supposed to do.

            • GOPGeorgia says:

              DMZ,

              His questions and points might be reasonable if he would spend less time tearing others down, trying to prove that he is right, and that he warned us all.

              Occasionally people do discuss real issues on here and it’s not just up to Republicans to make reasoned arguements, it’s up to all (sane) Georgians.

              The questions may not deserve ridicule, but because of the way he spins other peoples comments, twists and fabricates the truth, and occasionally tells a bold face lie (and when confronted with his lies, he is unapologetic and refuses to admit to them) he has earned ridicule from me.

              A blog is an OK place to discuss topics. Occasionally that can be done in a serious manor, and other times it can be done with a little bit of humor. The actual job of solving these problems is up to those we have entrusted to represent us, not to people who have GOP, Reagan, or conservative in their screen name. Goldwater conservative is not a conservative, nor is he entrusted by voters to solve problems. If someone has a serious suggestion on how to solve a serious problem facing our state or federal government, that suggestion should just not be put on peach pundit, but that suggestion should be discussed in detail with someone who has the power to do something about it. (I do that in person and not on PP, that is just how I choose to address issues with my government officials.) Also, many problems that await to be solved do not have to be solved by the government or elected officials. We need to try to solve problems in spite of them and regulations, not because of them.

              JK has not earned respect because he ran for office. He ran for office so he could tell everyone else how much smarter he is than then and how they are wrong and setting us up for the I WARNED YOU stories.

              I can tell you with about an 80% chance of accuracy of what he will say in his next posts over the next month.. He will talk about Nathan Deal and his support of Medicare part D. He will talk about Math 123. He will call me a name(s) and tell everyone what I think or how I feel (in other words, lie.) He will warn us of something he told us about. He will say how so and so in unethical. He will attempt to thread jack a topic, pull in some random quote or statistic, and dare anyone to disagree with him. Oh and odds are good that we will say “you said” followed by “the truth.” (regardless of it is true or if it applies to the topic at hand.)

              WHEN HE QUITS TYPING IN ALL CAPS FOR NO REASON, I WILL BE A HAPPY CAMPER!

              Now if someone wants to have a serious conversation about Medicare or the debt, let’s do that. JUST DON”T START THE CONVESATION BY YELLING THE SKY IS FALLING AND NO ONE CAN STOP IT!!!!! NO PARTY WILL FIX IT!!!!! AAAARRRRGGGG!!!!!! (ala Howard Dean.)

            • John Konop says:

              DMZDave,

              You are right I have for years repeated the same warning about out of control future liabilities by the government federal and state. People who know me on a private level would tell you that that is the main reason I started speaking out. I am guilty at times at throwing the issue on the blog like a pail of cold water.

              The reason I started speaking out is really a concern for future generations. I do think on a moral level leaving this mess to our kids is completely unacceptable. Also we must hold office holders regardless to parties accountable for their votes. And I appreciate your willingness to have a serious conversation about this issue. In no way have I stated I have all the answers, my main point has been asking all sides to seat down like adults and deal with the issue. And GOP can make his jokes about the issue and play lets pretend, but as way say in business it is what it is!

            • GOPGeorgia says:

              I asked if he’s stop yelling in 10 years….blogging has been around longer than that, but it has evolved a bit since when it first started.

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