Posted by Brad @ 7:49 pm on August 31st 2007

Lest we forget…

And finally,

Happy last day, Karl Rove!

Posted by Brad @ 7:49 pm on August 31st 2007

Oh yeah

Tony Snow retired today to spend more time with his cancer.

(too soon?)

Posted by Brad @ 7:35 pm on August 31st 2007

Lede of the Day

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-OK) says terrorists’ attempt to shoot down the C-130 military transport plane carrying him and other lawmakers in Iraq demonstrated the progress of the U.S. military campaign.

Immediately after telling that to reporters, Senator Inhofe pushed aside the podium, did a triple cartwheel somersault towards the reporters, ended up on his knees with his arms spread wide, and shouted “The Aristrocrats!”

Posted by Brad @ 7:28 pm on August 31st 2007

Senator Larry Craig (R-Idawhore) To Resign Tomorrow

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig will announce Saturday he will resign from the Senate amid a furor over his arrest and guilty plea in a police sex sting in an airport men’s room, Republican officials said Friday.

Craig will hold a news conference at 10:30 a.m. MT and say that he will resign effective Sept. 30, three state GOP officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The announcement follows by just five days the disclosure that he had pleaded guilty Aug. 1 to a reduced misdemeanor charge arising out of his arrest June 11 at the Minneapolis airport.

Because Craig’s resignation will be effective September 30th, Governor Butch Otter (no I am not making that up) gets to appoint somebody to fill his seat until the election. mcjoan at dailykos gives a quick rundown of the likeliest candidates. If it doesn’t turn out to be Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, apparently a very ambitious and not particularly well-liked man. Most people say even the Governor doesn’t like him much, and may appoint him half just to get rid of him. Risch’s statewide approval ratings are 26%, and he not only doesn’t have any campaign money, he’s actually a quarter million in debt. But the rest of the designated hitters in Idaho don’t look much better.

No surprise in Craig’s announcement, but in two days two safe Republican incumbents bail, both with seats up for reelection in 2008. Idaho may seem dead red, but given the nature of the sudden opening, given the weakness of the Republican candidates, given that the Democrats have already in place a perfectly respectable candidate in Larry LaRocco (and you can bet that money is already pouring in to his campaign), and given that fact that Idaho fielded a surprisingly strong and invigorated Democratic campaign for Governor and for one of Idaho’s two congressional seats in 2006, a race that they lost 50-45 (in a district that went Bush in 2004 by 68-30) but which, in the last weeks before the election, even I was writing about as a race that had the potential to be another KS-2 (a retrospective comparison, of course), this Senate seat will be competitive. Lean Republican, but when was the last time you heard of a Senate seat in Idaho being in the “lean” category? And if it’s a good Democratic year and a depressed Republican party from the top of the ticket to the bottom….

I’ve written a lot about Craig in the last few days, which you can catch up on here, here, here (don’t forget the dominatrix hooker!), and of course, I still don’t think he did anything wrong, except having had a significant, personal hand in making the laws and political/criminal atmosphere that eventually took him down. Like I said, he has no one to blame but himself, in more ways than one.

Posted by Brad @ 3:03 pm on August 31st 2007

Death of Neoconservatism Watch (Also–new!–The Post-American World Watch)

A twofer! Dovetailing an old Watch with a new one.

Good post at Sully’s joint by guest-blogger Steve Clemons.

…And the fact is that the neocon crowd that took far too easily the helm of the foreign policy establishment away from the realist and liberal internationalist players in this game are almost entirely responsible for the dramatic erosion of America’s national security portfolio.

There are so many levels of failure during what has largely been an alliance of pugnacious Jesse Helms-revering nationalists like Dick Cheney and John Bolton and ideological neoconservatives like Scooter Libby, Douglas Feith, and Paul Wolfowitz that it is hard to run through it all here.

But to sum up the disaster, the Bush/Cheney neocon gamble of showing all the world our limits in taking on a classic thug like Saddam Hussein punctured the mystique of American power. Superpowers achieve their goals by leveraging mystique and the possibility of what they might do or not do. Shorn of that mystique, America has become far weaker. Allies are now not counting on America as much as they once were — and enemies are moving their agendas.

The global equilibrium has been thrown off, and to fill the voids left by the collapse of confidence in America’s ability to achieve its objectives, other nations are rushing in to maximize their security or to try and restore balance. Whether its Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, or South Korea — all allies in one way or another — all are changing their behavior. And the neocons (or neocon-sympathizers) — who Jamie Kirchik thinks are somehow the ones who understand “grit” better than the rest of us — are responsible.

Can’t say it much better than that.

Posted by Brad @ 2:15 pm on August 31st 2007

Senator John Warner (R-VA) To Retire

In the middle of his press conference now. He won’t be seeking reelection, so this has now become an open seat. The race is officially first tier. As I noted elsewhere, this could very well, and very quickly, shape up into a marquee race of two former governors battling it out, Jim Gilmore and Mark Warner.

Virginia already gave at the office of anti-Republicanism by electing Webb over Allen, but Gilmore-Warner, should it happen that way, is going to be a monster race, and I’d have to consider Mark Warner the favorite. This just went from “lean Republican” to “toss-up” in a flash. And if the Democrats take it, they’ll have the governorship and both Senate seats in what is still a very red state.

Also hear rumors that Larry Craig (R-ID) may announce today that he’s not seeking reelection either.

Posted by Brad @ 1:55 pm on August 31st 2007

Democrats Set New Land-Speed Record In Waffling

If you were making a betting pool on “How Long Will it Take the Democrats To Cave On Iraq Come September?”, and your guess was “-2 Days”, contratulations!

You win!

Posted by Adam @ 12:24 pm on August 31st 2007

Fighting back against the bee menace

Enterprising spiders in Texas have spun a 650-foot long web.

In the eternal battle of bee and spider, there can be only one.

Posted by James @ 12:06 pm on August 31st 2007

Some John McCain awesomeness.

I thought this campaign video of his was really well done.

Posted by Brad @ 9:40 am on August 31st 2007

The Wall Street Journal on Ron Paul

So, Ron Paul gets a lot of press, but in most mainstream conservative journals he’s still either ignored or dismissively derided.

So I was surprised that one of the best pieces I’ve yet seen in a major newspaper on Ron Paul comes from, of all places, The Wall Street Journal.

Posted by Adam @ 9:27 am on August 31st 2007

When losing is better than winning

In 1992, Labour were favourites to win the United Kingdom general election, or at least drive the result to a hung parliament. Thatcher had been deposed by her own party following the “poll tax” debacle and the economy was in the toilet; Neil Kinnock’s Labour had purged the electorally damaging ‘Militant Tendency’ group from their midst and were on the rise. Margaret Thatcher’s successor, John Major, was a rather grey man to follow someone like Thatcher (Major’s accession was, I recall, the first significant political prediction I made, back when it was becoming obvious that Thatcher was in trouble).

There’s a lot of argument about why Labour lost that election (variously blamed have been Neil Kinnock and his confident predictions of victory, the Sun Newspaper, unusually high turnout headed towards 80%, etc) but the fact is that they did lose; 1992 was the first General Election in which I was able to vote and I stayed up all night to watch the results coming in. It became obvious over the course of the night (although it has been claimed that the result was clear once the results for Basildon* were announced).

Defeat was narrow; the Conservatives emerged with a 21 seat majority but, nevertheless, it was the fourth consecutive defeat for the Labour Party. A person I knew (and still know) confidently told me that ‘we have just seen the end of socialism’. For sure, the Labour Party was shocked at receiving another defeat and didn’t know exactly how they were going to win any General Election.

Anyhow, the moral of the story is that winning actually screwed the Conservative Party more than it did the Labour Party. Major’s government fell apart amidst divisions over Europe, sexual sleaze, arrogance and a sense of entitlement; by the time the next election came around, he was unable to command a majority based on his own party MPs. 1997 (the latest year Major could have called a general election) saw the Conservatives shellacked by Tony Blair’s “New Labour”; 10 years on, the Conservatives are still in the minority and have been through three Party Leaders and are placing great hopes in their fourth.

The rigours of running the country with such a narrow majority, particularly in light of significant divisions within the Tory party over Europe, meant that Major was never able to use the benefit of incumbency to build for the next election. His ministers appeared to be unable to restrain their bedroom activities to their own bedrooms (a slip of which, it later transpired, John Major had, himself, committed) and, combined with the other trappings of entitlement following such a long time in power, led to a hard fall. It can be argued, and I would so argue, that a narrow Labour victory, or a Labour-Liberal Democrat pact to preside over a hung parliament, would have been far better for the Conservatives and British conservatism.

It was in light of this that I claimed in 2004 (in another place) that conservatives should vote Democrat for the sake of the GOP and its future. Brad (although he wasn’t there for the 1992 UK General Election) felt similarly. I think that in 2006 it became pretty clear that 2004 was a pyrrhic victory for the GOP much as was 1992 for the Conservatives. The Democrats didn’t so much win (although there was some great work done by the Democrats, particularly on candidate selection) as the Republicans gave it away.

My question now is whether the GOP fall is not yet complete, or else whether the narrow Democrat majorities achieved in 2006 put them in the situation of winning a narrow victory to lose a war. I think that it could go either way, but I favour the GOP to keep falling, because Bush is still there as the ostensible face of ‘team Republican’ and, since almost the start of his second term, he’s a popularity vacuum. Furthermore, the GOP have yet to take a real decision on the war, with most of them shutting up but voting to support the President; as long as the Democrats can claim that they’re doing all that the rules allow them, within political reason, the silent GOP are providing them with cover. Additionally, it’s not as contentious as Europe was for the Tories, but immigration is going to burn the GOP if they are not careful — making it a marquee issue allows them to be portrayed as racist, particularly when it’s clear that the immigration many of them have a problem with is almost entirely Hispanic. Lastly, the GOP do appear to be ahead in the sleaze stakes, which hurts them when attacking the (now majority) Democrats on grounds that we might loosely describe as ‘ethical’. Finally, in the 1990s and on into this decade, Tory core support was ageing, which rather puts a shelf-life on electoral strategies utilising the base; as Brad pointed out earlier, things don’t look so good for the Republicans in that regard, either.

The problem with Congressional defeats is that they often tend to hit the most sensible members of either party, the individuals who have to straddle a relatively evenly divided electorate. A presidential hammering for the Republicans, however, will shake up all the Republicans. It should best have happened in 2004 (and I think that a fair number of Bush voters from then would now agree with that) but it didn’t. As a consequence, I think that a significant fraction of conservatives should hope for it in 2008, preferably happening to one of the candidates that exemplifies the worst of the current GOP, so as to make it clear that those stances have insufficient appeal on the national level. In that regard, my current favoured candidates to get selected and then get bashed are Giuliani and Romney; either of those being picked as nominee and then getting a good thrashing would communicate, one hopes, to the Republican party the message that they need to change.

*Basildon is a town in my home county, Essex (confusingly, aside from being my home county, Essex is also one of the counties called ‘The Home Counties’). Essex is to the UK as New Jersey is to the USA. Basildon is perhaps similar to Secaucus, NJ. Basildon is not considered to be a terribly charming place.

Posted by Brad @ 10:30 pm on August 30th 2007

Wrecking the Primary Calender

In primary news today, the Michigan legislature has voted to hold their primary on January 15th. Or maybe it’ll be a caucus instead. But who cares, they want it January 15th, despite assurances from both the Democratic and Republican parties that taking that date means they’ll be sanctioned.

State lawmakers approved the bill setting the earlier primary date this afternoon, and it could reach the desk of Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat, as early as tomorrow. Liz Boyd, a spokeswoman for Ms. Granholm, said that she will sign the bill.

“Governor Granholm supports a primary that will make Michigan relevant in the presidential selection process,” Ms. Boyd said.

Governor Granholm even sent a letter to each Democratic candidate personally inviting them, no matter what the DNC says, to campaign actively in Michigan.

She’s not the only one. The Wyoming Republicans have moved their date to January 5th, making it the first in the nation. And, at last, somebody is honest about it.

Even as they moved up their county conventions, Wyoming’s Republicans said they wanted a solution to the leapfrogging.

“Ultimately the goal here is to look beyond 2008 and fix the system, because the system is broken,” Sansonetti said. “All this jumping around is because the states feel disenfranchised by letting Iowa and New Hampshire call the shots.”

You know what? Good for Wyoming. It’s become pretty clear that the system is pretty much officially untenable now. As Adam spoke about last week, the DNC and RNC are (valiantly) trying to keep order, but the floodgates are now open. It’s become obvious that this is going to continue. You might be able to sanction one or two states, but when it becomes an arms race of early voting, at some point, a serious conversation is going to have to be joined about scrapping the whole thing and implementing a new system. Because this one isn’t working, and people aren’t going to take it anymore. I’m not even sure if the two parties are going to be able to hold it together for 2008.

I’m pretty vehement in opposition to Adam’s National Primary idea. I gave my own suggestion for a better alternative, keeping the primaries staggered (which I think is good), but finding a better way to determine who gets the coveted early slots. Iowa and New Hampshire have had a long reign of being king-makers. But the rest of the country is, by now, rightly, and justifiably, fed up.

Dean and Dole: it’s time to face this head-on. You’re not going to be able to make everybody happy. It might be that you have to come up with a new system, and implement it, and if it’s New Hampshire and Iowa you have to sanction and strip, so be it. They’ve held the whole process hostage long enough. Stop negotiating with terrorists.

Posted by Brad @ 10:05 pm on August 30th 2007

Endorsement News

Hometown angle.

So, the firefighters went for Dodd in what I agree is just a ploy to bide their time. But Edwards, who has a similar front-load strategy as Romney as his only shot at the nomination, has one strength that Romney doesn’t: he’s huge with unions. He’ll have the housekeepers union in Nevada, the Carpenters (the union, not the band) went for him the other day, and now, from jolly ‘ole Pittsburgh, a big one for the rust belt:

Former Sen. John Edwards will start his Labor Day in Pittsburgh to accept a presidential endorsement from the United Steelworkers.

Mr. Edwards is expected to appear with United Steelworkers president Leo Gerard at a 9 a.m. rally at the Mellon Arena, the kickoff site for the city’s annual Labor Day Parade. The former North Carolina senator will not stay for the parade, heading off immediately after the rally to another Labor Day event in Iowa.

Now, unions aren’t what they used to be (nor are endorsements, really), in any respect, and particularly in their capabilities as political machines. There was a time when, if you were a Democrat, bringing the unions into your fold gave you a huge, huge, almost insurmountable advantage. Now, it’s nice, and will push you up 5% maybe in places where it matters (PA, NV, OH), but won’t buy you a race. The guy that got all the early union endorsements in 2004 was Dick Gephardt. Didn’t do him much good (the guy that they jumped to after Dick was Edwards, which did do him some good).

But, Edwards is pretty consistently the favorite of organized labor of all stripes, and though their political power has faded considerably, it makes a difference. And the Steelworkers Union is a pretty good gateway union. Getting that endorsement will open the door to other unions to follow. So, a happy day in the Edwards HQ, I’m sure. Really, if Edwards has an opening for the nomination, this stuff is a big part of the strategy.

Posted by Brad @ 9:57 pm on August 30th 2007

Polling Mike Huckabee

New Iowa poll for the Republicans (PDF). Sadly, no good news for Ron Paul. He’s at 1%, behind even Brownback, in this poll. Iowa is going to remain the tough nut to crack (South Carolina might not be much better).

But, what is interesting is Mike Huckabee–whose numbers haven’t gone up more than two or three points nationwide–shoots up to 11% in this poll. And f’ing TOM TANCREDO is at 9.

Romney 35%
Giuliani 12%
Thompson 11%
Huckabee 11%
Tancredo 9%
McCain 7%
Brownback 2%
Paul 1%

It’s kind of a weird poll if you look at it–I’ve never heard of the outfit–but still, Iowa is going to be, for the Republicans, one that I predict nobody will be able to predict. I think whoever wins is going to be a big surprise, and my guess is it won’t be Romney or Giuliani. New Hampshire might play out similarly.

Posted by Brad @ 9:50 pm on August 30th 2007

Audio of Larry Craig’s Arrest

transcript here, audio here.

A snippet:

DK: All right. I, I know I can bring you to jail, but that’s not my goal here, okay? (inaudible)
LC: Don’t do that. You You
DK: I’m not going to bring you to jail
LC: You solicited me.
DK: Okay. We’re going to get, We’re going to get into that. (inaudible)
LC: Okay.
DK: But there’s the, there there’s two ways, yes. You can, you can, ah, you can go to court. You can plead guilty.
LC: Yep.
DK: There’ll be a fine. You won’t have to explain anything.

Two things it makes pretty clear:

1. The cop, as I suspected, from my own experience, might have been the case, was indeed pushing for Craig to plead guilty right there with promises that it would all just disappear if he signed the plea, versus if he didn’t he’d get hauled off to jail. Again, I’m sympathetic to that mistake on Craig’s part. It must have been a really gut-wrenching scary experience, and the promise of just sweeping it under the table, getting on his plane, and disappearing back to Idaho, would have been hard to stop and second guess. It’s a very hard situation in which to think straight. I’ve been there–and not with sex crimes, which I imagine are exponentially worse. Gay men–particularly married, closeted gay men–plead guilty to these kinds of things at a rate far, far higher than people do for, say, traffic tickets or drug charges, and the reason is pretty obvious, I think. But….

2. It’s pretty hard, given the transcript, for Craig to deny anything untoward was going on, or to deny that he’s gay. When your first defense is “You solicited me,” and later the best you can come up with is “I use a wide stance”, the “it was all a misunderstanding” picture doesn’t really come across. It’s pretty clear what was going on, and that Craig knew damn well what was going on.

Posted by Brad @ 9:43 pm on August 30th 2007

Speaking of Speaking of Fred…

There’s a pretty funny post at Dailykos about his announcement, which also contains some speculation about why Fred might have chosen the Sept. 6th date.

It’s an interesting date he’s chosen — one day after a big GOP debate in New Hampshire, so why, you might wonder, would he skip it?

Follow the math and the regulatory hopscotch:

* From the date of the formal announcement, Thompson has 15 days to declare his candidacy officially with the Federal Election Commision. Takes us to September 21, 2007.
* From that date, Thompson has 10 more days for his official campaign committee to register with the FEC. Takes us to October 1, 2007.
* And what’s so special about October 1? It’s the start of a new FEC reporting quarter.

By delaying the filing of his organizational papers until books have closed on the third quarter of 2007, Thompson arguably will not have to file any disclosure reports with the FEC until January 31, 2008, after the Republican primaries/caucuses in WY, IA, NH, NV, FL and Lord knows who else at this point.

Got that? Frederick of Hollywood’s shadow campaign can raise millions and spend millions without having to disclose to the public a single contribution raised or disbursement made over a six-month span — and while his opponents have been consistently doing so — delaying disclosure until after at least five Republican primaries have been held.

Posted by Brad @ 8:17 pm on August 30th 2007

Speaking of Fred…

A week from tomorrow, September 6th, is when he’ll officially announce his candidacy.

I cared about this back in June.

Posted by James @ 3:36 pm on August 30th 2007

Fred the Fed

I found the following article while snooping around about Fred Thompson and thought it was interesting enough to share here.

(more…)

Posted by Adam @ 3:12 pm on August 30th 2007

Cricket will tame Afghanistan!

Actually, that’s not true.

But it does appear that cricket is taking off in Afghanistan:

At this rate, cricket, say experts, is on its way to overtaking football and buzkashi – a sport in which competitors on horseback drag a dead calf over a scoreline – as the most popular sport in the country.

And quite right, too. It seems that we have communism to thank:

Afghan cricket’s long, strange journey began in the refugee camps of Peshawar where millions of Afghans had fled in the wake of the Soviet invasion and the civil war.

Young refugee boys began watching cricket on television in cricket-mad Pakistan, and began playing the game with soft balls in the sprawling camps of Kachagarhi and Shamhatoo.

After graduating to playing proper games, the refugees formed their own clubs, and participated in the thriving club cricket scene in Peshawar.

So, it the great gift of Empire to the world, cricket, is in fact the gift that keeps on giving.

Posted by Brad @ 3:11 pm on August 30th 2007

The Post-American World

I wanted to expand for a second on the comments going on in the The World For Ron Paul thread, specifically in relation to a great article in the New Yorker on Nicolas Sarkozy.

The article is a writeup about Sarkozy, and examining both his own emerging governance style (such as it is, at this early point), and, in an oblique way, the weird fact that, because he’s not virulently anti-American, he has become a figure in fashion with the American right, who seem to have fallen all over themselves claiming him to be “one of them” somehow. There are a lot of interesting wrinkles to that, which the article explores (I urge you to read it, if you’re interested in Sarkozy or America’s place in the world generally), but two that are apropos here.

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Posted by Brad @ 12:24 pm on August 30th 2007

U.S. Government Collectively Throws Its Hands In the Air on Iraq

Two interesting stories on Iraq today that tell you a lot more about how things are going with our new “strategy” than any Bush press flak spin will. Both are a bit of inside baseball, but like I said, when you can’t really trust the Official Lines, sometimes reading between them is what you have to do.

The White House is coming up on a push in September to make it look like real progress–enough to justify not just our continued occupation of Iraq, but our continued expansion of said occupation–is being made. I think it goes without saying that we already know what the conclusion is going to be. General Petraeus was heralded as being a guy who would be sure to make an independent assessment, not just press spin, which of course turns out to not be true at all. What the Petraeus/White House assessment is going to be is an exercise is admitting to just as much disappointment as simply can’t be avoided, and rosying up everything else to make it look like freedom is indeed on the march and any discussion saying otherwise undercuts our mission (of course, how serious they actually are at getting anything competently managed in Iraq remains an open question). Like Vietnam, we’re….almost….about….to…win, if only we don’t let the hippies and deadbeats pull us out right before the dawn of a Glorious American Victory is about to break. Because that’s exactly how it was with Vietnam, right?

But, in preparation for this White House PR push, a couple of other government agencies are doing what amounts to a press dump, getting themselves on the record.

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Posted by Rojas @ 6:10 pm on August 29th 2007

Richard Jewell dies

One of the all-time greatest recipients of a raw deal from the media. I am about as ironclad an opponent as can be found of punitive (as opposed to compensatory) damages for “pain and suffering.” That said, if there was ever a case to be made for such a claim, this guy would be the one to make it. RIP.

Posted by Brad @ 3:29 am on August 29th 2007

The Ron Paul Golden Rule

I’ve gone back and forth on the particular formulation that this article speaks of, but I thought it was worth reposting. Reprinted from my trusty Libertarian newsletter.

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Posted by Brad @ 3:15 am on August 29th 2007

The World For Ron Paul

Here’s a beautiful bit.

A website was started to ascertain what the global community thinks of the various American presidential candidates. It’s called “Who Would the World Elect?”. And it checks IPs and asks you to vote, as a member of your country, on which candidate you’d most like to be U.S. President.

Check out the results. I believe them to be representative, at least of people outside the U.S. who are familiar enough with our candidates to make a judgment (admittedly, not a huge sample, but then again it’s not a huge sample IN the U.S. either).

Barack Obama appears to be winning most countries. As I’ve argued before, he’s a strong global candidate.

But if you look country by country, what’s amazing is it appears to be pretty much a three-way race.

The United Kingdom, ostensibly our half-home country, is indicative:

550 votes for Barack Obama
269 votes for Ron Paul
132 votes for Hillary Clinton

That pattern is repeated country by country, all across the world.

In fact, the only countries where Ron Paul loses to or ties, with more than one vote, another Republican candidate is, ironically, Iran, Iraq, and Israel (Paul tied with Giuliani), and Swaziland (tied with Thompson).

Posted by Brad @ 1:32 am on August 29th 2007

In Defense of Larry Craig

I’m not above some good old-fashioned schadenfreude. And this Larry Craig thing is, on many levels, worthy of more than a bit of it. Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings gives the case against him:

But my sympathy vanishes when it comes to people who support amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage, as Craig did. There are limits to what you get to do to protect your own secrets, and being willing to permanently destroy gay men and lesbians’ chances to marry the people they love, and with whom they have found happiness, is way, way outside them….

Craig seems to have made a habit of voting against laws that would secure the rights of gay men and lesbians. In addition to supporting the Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, he voted against a bill that would have banned job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, against expanding the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation, and was rated zero by the Human Rights Campaign in each of the last three Congresses.

Let’s face it, this is a sitting U.S. Senator who has been hostile to any whiff of normalizing homosexuality in America; and to be actively fighting against the rights of an entire segment of the American population while being a closeted cruiser is nothing short of rank, disgusting, sad hypocrisy.

So, forgive me while I dance on his grave a bit.

But once you get past all that, there is another issue at play here. Was what Larry Craig arrested for a crime? Should it be?

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Posted by Brad @ 11:28 pm on August 28th 2007

!Ron Paul VP Derby – Polls Are Open!

So, this site, FreedomDemocrats.com, and RedStateEclectic.com — actually a pretty interesting core sample of Ron Paul’s early support — participated in some kooky scheme Laura cooked up, The Ron Paul VP Derby. I posted about it here. Just a bit of harmless parlour gaming, wherein each of our sites and our readers threw out some random people who might make good candidates for VP should Ron win the Republican nomination. The list ranges from the obscure to the out-there to the fantasy land (who suggested Barack Obama and Keith Olbermann for chrissakes?), but it’s kind of a fun exercise to see who all people dig up that might make a good match.

ANYWAY, via Clay, our Range Voting Guru, the nominations have now all been posted on a poll, and…

Voting is open!

It’s a range voting poll, so just give scores based on how much you like the VP candidate in question (I sort of voted more for how much I like them as Ron Paul’s VP), 1 being “No F’ing Way” to 5 being “Jawsome!”, or leave it blank if you don’t know enough about the person to rate them.

Weirdly, though the nominations were all over the place (as expected, given it’s sort of a strange question this early), the short list the the voting (thus far) is culling is actually sort of inspired, if you ask me. I mean it.

It’s got 150 votes at this point; spread it around. I’ll update results at some point.

Posted by Brad @ 10:57 pm on August 28th 2007

Huckabee Does Not Heart Smoking :(

Alright, so that joke got old pretty much before it even started.

But anyway, in addition to not being the first choice for pro-growth anti-tax crusaders, as well as now catching some scrutiny/flak for his Fair Tax support, I’ve personally found something else on Mike Huckabee’s agenda that makes me groan.

From a story about Huckabee and Brownback being the only two Republican participants in Lance Armstrong’s Anti-Cancer Presidential Forum

Huckabee committed to sign a nationwide smoking ban in public places, should such a measure win approval in Congress. Brownback said he would let anti-smoking efforts continue under the authority of states and local communities.

As a guy constantly on watch for nanny statism, this kind of thing annoys me greatly. As a smoker, doubly so.

-1 Huckabee, +1 Brownback.

Posted by Brad @ 9:45 pm on August 28th 2007

Larry Craig: Idawhore

Some more news from Idaho. Let’s call this a round-up.

Larry Craig is sticking with his “the only mistake I made was pleading guilty” defense. Still, it’s been floated that he’ll make an official announcement about his 2008 reelection race, and what was already presumed his retirement, within the next month, and if you’re betting

As I said in the comments to the first thread, I may be the only blogger around at least somewhat sympathetic to Craig’s defense here. Getting nabbed in an airport bathroom has got to be a pretty flustering experience for a United States Senator, so it’s not unreasonable for me to imagine Craig wasn’t exactly thinking well in that situation. But, regardless, the perception is the key, and Craig, I would say, is on the losing end of that fight. It’s hard to see the public rallying around him on the strength of “I didn’t do it, I swear, nevermind the guilty plea”.

The other news of the day is, now that the cat is out of the bag, the Idaho Statesman, as I mentioned, released their big spread (forgive me) on the sexual rumors that have long surrounded Craig. A little underwhelming, but with three sources who were clear and consistent in their stories, though everything is more or less impossible to verify. Still, the real damage is that he has to deny it. Whether or not any of it is verifiable, on the heels of the airport bathroom guilty plea, suddenly there’s a massive story out where Senator Craig denies being gay, Senator Craig denies propositioning for gay sex, Senator Craig denies hitting on frat mates, Senator Craig denies molesting pages, etc etc (it’s really quite extensive). The whole thing reminds me of the old Lyndon Johnson story. The fact that he’s now having to deny repeated accusations, from all angles, of his being a gay reprobate is probably enough to effectively terminate his political career.

So, what’s going to be the political impact? Besides a bit of more “Republican Congressman Caught Gay Cruising” egg on the face of the GOP, Idaho suddenly becomes an interesting battleground. The Idaho Dems ran a surprisingly ferocious race for a seat they never had a chance of winning in 2006 (ID-1), and already there is a credible Democratic challenger:

The Democratic field has cleared for Larry LaRocco, former staffer to Senator Church, and former U.S. Representative for ID-01. LaRocco is a credible, experienced, and energetic candidate. Having as solid a candidate in place in this race as LaRocco will encourage national fundraising.

Simon Rosenberg agrees on that last bit:

But Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg of the New Democrat Network said “the direct impact of this is that its going to mean a couple of million dollars early” for Democratic Senate contender Larry LaRocco.

Among Democratic donors nationwide, Rosenberg said, “There’s an enormous amount of money waiting to be deployed. This race goes to the front of the pack in Democratic Senate fundraising.”

The Democrats have the money to throw around for this kind of thing. The Republicans, probably not. And though I would put LaRocco as a 4 to 1 underdog in the race, and don’t really think the Republicans will fail to retain the seat, what is apropos is suddenly the seat pops up on the radar, and the Republicans are pretty much forced to play defense, to take it seriously or risk an upset.

Tom Curry of MSNBC:

The news Monday that Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct charges stemming from a restroom incident at the Minneapolis airport is significant in the context of what is shaping up as an abysmal year for GOP Senate hopes.

If Craig’s arrest makes the Idaho race competitive, Republicans will need to spend some money in Idaho that they’d counted on spending in what had until now been more pressing races for the GOP, such as those of Sen. Susan Collins in Maine and Sen. Norm Coleman in Minnesota.

Point being, the Republicans would have certainly much rather preferred to not have to devote resources to defending a seat in friggin’ Idaho. This mirrors the situation in 2006, when what the GOP really wanted to do was try to take out the few vulnerable Democratic seats, but instead they had to play whack-a-mole as seemingly every week a new competitive race would pop up on the radar, right up until election day. I view that fact as central to the Democratic landslide in 2006. The Democrats had the chops to send out offense all across the board, and it just spread the GOP too thin. Historically, when it was just a six seat Senate picture, they could compete with the best of them, on sheer will sometimes. When suddenly 20 seats are shifting in and out of the picture, it changes the game entirely.

To that end, finally, kos rightly gets in a dig at Dean-doubters. Rahm Emmanuel famously derided Dean’s 50-stage strategy as lunacy, saying “why should be bother spending money building in places like Mississippi and Idaho” (actually, I think he said Utah, but whatever). Well:

Craig in Idaho and all of the GOP in Alaska are juicy scandals and fun for Democrats, but they prove one important thing: Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy is very smart. Ground-shifting political events can happen anywhere, and while Alaska and Idaho are still long-shots for the Dems, we have a shot precisely because of the 50 state strategy–because there are now people on the ground to actually take advantage of any opening we get and run with it.

Posted by Brad @ 11:43 pm on August 27th 2007

Fish in a Barrel

At this point, pointing out the obvious has just become too…well, obvious. Here’s a quote from a Fox News story called “President Bush Blames Mud-Slinging for Gonzales Resignation”.

“It is sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons.”

Bu….wa…..yo……

Posted by Brad @ 10:26 pm on August 27th 2007

The Conservative Nanny State

In the “Old News But News To Me” category, the book The Conservative Nanny State; How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer is available for free online. I haven’t read it yet, but I mean to.

One of the frustrating things about being a conservative/libertarian in this country is so many of the arguments you face against liberals/socialists meant to tar the entire notion of free markets as good usually fall along the failures of so-called free markets to address issues, to not just rape consumers hand over fist, or other examples glaring incompetence/corruption. The liberals/socialists take that to mean “the free market is not a solution” or “free markets are bad, we need the government”, and oftentimes, Republicans get in a contradictory mode. Just defending the free markets because they’re called free markets.

Quite often, the liberals are right. There ARE glaring deficiencies in the market system in America (and not just the kind that we point out). Many of its oft-maligned faults are indeed faults, rightly maligned. And just knee-jerking to the defense of corporations or rich people is easy to do, but isn’t always right.

But the liberals are right for the wrong reasons. The truth is a lot of failures of so-called free markets aren’t due to their marketness or their freeness, but are due to the government stepping in and sticking their thumb on the scales. And government prejudicing the system towards corporations or the wealthy is just as disruptive as government prejudicing the system for the poor and downtrodden. When the government is in bed with business and is gaming things in their favor, that makes the market just as unfree as when they’re nanny stating and redistributing wealth for liberal reasons. It’s a disservice to the conservative/market/libertarian ideology that its advocates don’t spend as much time railing on that as they do defending CEOs and the wealthy, or haranguing about welfare queens and estate taxes.

We’d often do well to remember that.

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