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Colley: Extremism in defense of liberty

I don’t need data to tell me flying a combat jet is tougher than hosting a radio show. When I was growing up we were also taught to respect people who put on a uniform and served their country. Especially in wartime. For many years I lived on a narrow piece of land wedged between multiple airbases, and flyovers were routine in my neighborhood. Every morning at 11 o’clock sharp a pair of A-10s would come from the west to the east. At 1 o’clock in the afternoon two (possibly the same) jets would fly north to south. The A-10 is old in terms of technology. It’s still in service because it works. It plays an important role on battlefields. Known affectionately as the “Warthog” it supports ground troops and eliminates enemy armor. The A-10 is a slow, lumbering beast and it takes courage to fly because the slower and closer to the ground means it’s an inviting target for the enemy.

A member of the Idaho Legislature has some experience with the ungainly beast. She had three overseas tours flying A-10s after graduating from the Air Force Academy. Major Priscilla Giddings spent nine years on active duty and now is with the Air Force Reserve. After working on the staff of U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo she decided herself to take the political plunge. She was elected as a state representative this past November, winning by a 42 percent cushion. Many of her constituents already knew her character. She graduated at the top of her high school class and was and remains a star athlete.

Rep. Giddings is a true American hero and success story. A shame many of her fellow Republicans in Boise, some of whom from what I gather are real estate salesmen and party clerks, have no respect for the woman.

Last week I read an online column from a Spokane newspaper. A day after Giddings had legally demanded a bill be read aloud before a vote. The GOP establishment, looking to embarrass or intimidate the newcomer, had her stand before her colleagues and read the measure for over an hour. Maybe she can next make a sandwich for Mike Moyle. Strange, from a public relations perspective, how Republican leadership out to punish its own, has primarily worked to shame women. Giddings doesn’t see herself as an extremist. Yesterday I had a long conversation with her mother. The family has a history of military service and fealty to constitutional ideals. It doesn’t appear the representative campaigned on a pledge to go to Boise and “build relationships” or to “go along and get along.” Come to think of it, I’m not sure anyone campaigns on such slogans, but it’s rare when someone actually keeps political promises.

In the comments section following the online story out of Spokane the former liberal party leader in the state Senate mocked Giddings. He lost his seat last year to another Air Force veteran. So much for having the pulse of the electorate. What’s not shocking is Democrats are in league with “moderate” Republicans. I’m telling you right now when it comes to God, constitutions and country I’m not in any form a moderate. “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice,” is an echo down the generations from the first great Western Republican (also a pilot). Unfortunately, the public at large has been fed Pablum instead of patriotism by squishes in the Republican Party, Democrats and liberal propagandists in mainstream media for so long that many are conditioned to view Giddings as dangerous. For making a legal request of her peers!

From what I can see, the representative, pilot and veteran generally votes with her party’s majority. The so-called Republican factions still have more in common with party regulars than with liberals. Mainstream media reports a very different narrative. A couple of weeks ago a publication I’d never heard of before reported some nasty accusations against Speaker of the House Scott Bedke. The allegations appear to have been made by a woman regrettably not very stable. Prior investigations turned up nothing. I also know the so-called radical Republicans in the House were also appalled by the accuser’s claims. And yet some newspaper editorialists tied the constitutionalists to the website reviving the allegations. Then an editorialist railed if that’s what conservatives are really like he wants nothing to do with conservatives. Is he making a tacit admission his paper is an appendage of the liberal party? I guess it must be. I make a statement linking the two on as much evidence as he has in making his wild assertion.

Democrats and fellow travelers in news media talk a good game about making government more accountable. Unless a conservative or conservatives make the effort. What the lefties really mean is they want everybody on the liberal bandwagon because they so much know liberalism is a self-evident truth! I’m not bashing all Republicans. There are some very good and well-meaning legislators of my acquaintance in southern Idaho. Most have accepted the blemishes in the House and Senate as acceptable losses. It doesn’t make it right, and what’s really wrong are the efforts to bring down the courageous who’ve already done far more for the people of Idaho than a lot of dead weight currently serving in office. In some cases quite sadly they’ve been in Boise far too long and grown too comfortable and really should consider retirement. But then they may not get a position in leadership! “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?” Mark 8:36

Voters will reward GOP if it keeps promises

Six weeks into a new administration, with unified Republican government for the first time in a decade, the GOP should be busy enacting a bold reform agenda. Instead, the party is wracked by internal divisions on key issues from health care to taxes.

After House Republicans released their long-awaited bill to repeal and replace Obamacare it was attacked from all sides of the GOP spectrum—with conservatives calling it “Obamacare lite” and moderates openly worrying it won’t do enough for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion population or those who will lose their Obamacare subsidies.

Democrats are refusing to cooperate with any GOP initiatives, which means all these reforms must be passed with Republican votes alone using an arcane process called “reconciliation.”

Sounds like a hopeless situation? Not to Scott Walker. For the Wisconsin governor, it seems like déjà vu all over again. In 2011, after winning the governorship and control to both houses of the Wisconsin legislature, Walker faced a divided Republican caucus and 100,000 protesters marching on and occupying his state capitol to protest his collective bargaining reform legislation. His polls were so low, he says, TIME magazine declared him “Dead Man Walker.” Yet he managed to unite his party and overcome Democratic obstruction (including 14 Democratic legislators who fled the state to prevent a quorum). (Disclosure: I have co-authored a book with Walker.)

Result? His legislation passed, and voters rewarded him at the polls. “We’ve now won three cycles in a row—‘12, ‘14 and ‘16—where Republicans have gained seats in the legislature and have moved the state so far that we not only got Ron Johnson reelected, but, obviously, we for the first time since Reagan carried the state for a Republican presidential candidate,” he says.

Walker recently met with the House Republicans to share the lessons of his experience in Wisconsin. And he gave them a clear message: ignore the protests and do what you promised. If you do, voters will reward you as well.

Some Republicans on Capitol Hill are urging their leaders to slow down, but Walker says that is a mistake. “On Obamacare and tax reform, it’s a mistake to push it off until later this year or next year,” he says. This is for two reasons. First, Walker says, “the longer you wait, the more excuses there will be.” Squeamish legislators begin complaining “that it’s too close to the next election. We can’t do these things.” Members of Congress don’t get more courageous with time.

Second, he says, “You need time to show that it works.” If Republicans act now, the positive effects of their legislation will be felt before voters go to the polls in 2018 and Democrats won’t be able to demagogue their reforms. “All the protests in the world don’t have the kind of effect that the protesters want if people see their lives getting better,” Walker says. Tax reform will be “like pouring jet fuel into our economic engine. And then, no matter what people think about some of these other issues—building the wall, the travel issues and other things—suddenly people start seeing things that are having a positive impact in their life. And even if they don’t care as much about the other issues, they see progress, and that’s what people want. They want progress.”

Once Republicans pass health care and tax reform legislation, they need to keep reforming. “You don’t get political capital by hoarding it. You get it by reinvesting it. So every time you have a political victory and you get one reform done, instead of sitting back, you need to reinvest that to the next one you’ve got teed up and keep ahead of the curve.” If they do so, voters will say “these guys are leading. They are actually getting things done. They’re pushing reforms. I may not agree with every one of them, but they’re doing the things they said they’re going to do.”

The left will protest, but ultimately those protests will backfire, Walker says. “The trend we saw in Wisconsin, which appears to be happening nationwide, is they overreact ... because they’re just blinded by their rage. If opposition is just rage, I think everyday citizens see that. People start to look at them and say, that’s not who we are.”

The worst possible outcome will be for Republicans to break their word and do nothing. “Voters are sick and tired of people who they think talk a lot, but they don’t get anything done,” Walker says. If Republicans don’t deliver, he warns, then the protests will only grow bigger—because they will be populated not just by angry liberals, but angry conservatives furious that Republicans failed to keep their promises.