Posted by Rojas @ 11:49 pm on September 30th 2007

Religious Right seeking new candidate?

An interesting article at Salon indicates that a gathering of rather prominent ChristCons is seeking to put the blackball on a Giuliani candidacy. Among the possibilities they’re considering are:

-1. Supporting a third-party run by an anti-abortion candidate in the event that Giuliani is nominated, or

-2. Recruiting a new Republican primary candidate to carry the anti-abortion flag.

I don’t know that there’s any reason that Ron Paul fans would want to get excited about this. Even if Paul were to run as a third-party candidate, I doubt this gang would back him. Were they able to muster any enthusiasm for his candidacy, they’d already be on his side. Paul’s pretty strongly pro-life; the fact that these people aren’t ALREADY backing him tells you that their opposition to abortion isn’t sufficiently strong to outweigh their opposition to human liberty more broadly. (more…)

Posted by Adam @ 2:47 pm on September 30th 2007

Sting stung

Sting has written a book of lyrics, with explanations. Mark Athitakis thinks that the songs were better unexplained:

I guess I’m not entirely surprised that your book reveals you as a pretentious ass, but I confess I’m disappointed at how much your commentaries ruin your few good songs. “Message in a Bottle,” I learn, was helped to fruition by your dog. “He [the dog] would stare at me with that look of hopeless resignation dogs can have when they’re waiting for their walk in the park. Was it that hopeless look that provoked the idea of the island castaway and his bottle? I don’t know, but the song sounded like a hit the first time we played it.”

If you must continue writing songs, could please at least stop writing about how you wrote them? Thanks.

So far, 3 of the 4 comments are from whining Sting fanboys. God knows, I’m a fan of the Police, myself, but reading those comments makes me cringe. Godamnit. Role-playing games, being a conservative and, now, being a fan of The Police. Please accept my resignation.

With thanks to our eagle-eyed commenter Vacuous.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:32 pm on September 29th 2007

Anti-Mormon Democrats?

Now, here’s an interesting internal in the new Newsweek Iowa poll.

Much has been made in the media of the unwillingness of “Conservative Christians” to support Mitt Romney, due to his Mormon beliefs. But how many Republicans, and how many Democrats, indicated that they would NOT vote for an otherwise qualified Mormon for President?

Republicans: 21%

Democrats: 27%

And, on perhaps the more indicative question, “Do you think America is ready for a Mormon President,” here are the negatives:

Republicans: 35%

Democrats: 51%

I won’t hesitate to say it: the argument that a person’s beliefs in the Church of Latter Day Saints disqualifies them from public office is bigotry. Nothing else but. And, at least in one state and with regard to this one faith, there seem to be more bigots among Democrats than Republicans.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:16 pm on September 29th 2007

Obama surge?

Yes, I know, opinions at this stage are lightly held, and aren’t indicative of what will happen in the actual primaries. Still…polls do at least point to surface-level changes in the electorate’s mood, don’t they? And by the numbers, it’s been a good couple of weeks for Obama.

Rasmussen, earlier in the week, showed a dramatic narrowing of the race, with Obama nearly halving his gap nationwide. And now, today, we have Newsweek, which puts Obama up four points in Iowa–his first lead there in some time, and his largest to date.

Anyone think that Hillary’s support nationwide would hold strong if she were to drop Iowa by four points? Yeah, me neither. The very least you can say of these numbers is that the race is far from over. And, of course, that it’s a good week to hold stock in Obama on the RCP exchange, which, of course, I do. A lot of it.

An intriguing internal: the preferences of Republican Iowa caucusgoers are MUCH more lightly held than those of Democrats. Each of the three Dem candidates has fifty percent of their supporters willing to say they support their candidate “strongly”; none of the three leading Republicans clears thirty-five percent. By that standard, even the new Iowa leader, Fred Thompson, doesn’t have much of a lead over…Ron Paul, at 5%.

Posted by Rojas @ 8:16 pm on September 29th 2007

Um…

OK. $942,000 as of 7 pm CST.

Great news, obviously, and great work by the campaign staff. Still, a couple of things about this are bothering me.

-1. That number in the cents column keeps changing, over and over again. I mentioned in an earlier post that it struck me as odd that anybody would write a check that included an extra couple of nickels and pennies. Now, though, it seems like almost ALL the donations include figures in the cents column–check the moment-to-moment updates and see if I’m not right.

Is this an exact figure, or some sort of approximation? Because, if it’s the latter, that’s fine; I’d just hope they’d make that clear. Hell, maybe there’s some guy doing laps around the campaign office on a segway, throwing change in the basket like some motorist on an Illinois toll road. I dunno. But it’s weird.

-2. That $10,000 an hour thing that several sites have been mentioning? It’s gotten to be…well, sorta scary-regular. Like…at all hours of the night, $10,000 an hour. Never a whole lot more, never a whole lot less, never much variation.

Again, um, ya know…

-3. At some point in the last 24 hours, we lost a day on the “end of the quarter” counter. As of this morning, we had most of two days; now, we have a few scant hours. The reality, contrary to what’s on the counter at present, is that we still have a day and a few extra hours. Surely they’re not trying to deliberately mislead their supporters in order to mount TWO last-minute pushes, one tonight and one tomorrow?

I’m just saying, is all.

And now, time to don my flame-retardant apparel…

Posted by Brad @ 8:08 pm on September 29th 2007

Greetings From New Hampshire

Hi folks. I’m writing this from a hotel room in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Me and my Pittsburgh companion drove for hours and hours (it ended up being like 12 and a half, accounting for traffic in New York), and mostly didn’t sleep last night, but we weren’t the only ones arriving in the wee hours (we checked in at 2).

The rally this morning was scheduled for 9:30. My purpose there was a bit different; we had talked to the New Hampshire folks (who are, by the way, really really impressive as a volunteer organization) and organized beforehand that we were to set up shop selling T-shirts near the back of the crowd, the finances of which is ultimately going to underwrite us bussing in Pennsylvanians (and whoever we pick up along the way) to New Hampshire the week of the primary, which has sort of been the long-term plan of our own local Meetups (we do PA work too, obviously, but our brass ring is getting a few hundred foot soldiers for New Hampshire). So, we set up our little table next to a very nice New Hampshire family selling shirts and schwag for the local group specifically at about 8.

The rally was in Veteran’s Park in Manchester (I’m staying in a hotel across the street), which is a very nice place. It was only a rally in the strictest sense; the actual event (which I linked in my last post, scroll down), was to walk New Hampshire with Paul and his family (a whole slew of grandkids and nieces and nephews were there). It was a speech at 9:30 followed by an extremely well organized system wherein all the rally-goers were registered, given instructions and training, and sent to the three major cities in New Hampshire (which contain 70% of the population) in small groups. It was, in essence, a working rally.

So, the point of the rally wasn’t just to get as many people as possible to hear Dr. Paul speak, but to get several hundred people to come out, get pumped, and hit the pavement, knocking on doors across New Hampshire.

By 9, the park was still pretty spare. Only a few dozen hardcore supporters. But by the time Ron got up to the stage at 10, there were several hundred people there (if you want more specific coverage, over at Lew Rockwell he’s posted some dispatches and a link to a Boston Globe online story that ridiculously guesstimates “250”, a figure I can’t even understand how the reporter arrived at unless he left at 9:15. By 930, there were several hundred people, and Rand Paul (oldest grandson), took the stage and killed (bonus: we actually have three GENERATIONS of Pauls, and I’ve personally met and spoken with a dozen of them, and they are to a person excellent human beings; clean cut, all-American, sharp, dedicated, the exact opposite of wild-eyed crazy Libertarians (not that there’s anything wrong with that)).

I only got to hear bits and pieces of Dr. Paul’s speech, as I was selling T-shirts. But, go read my funhogs post. It was the same thing. The park just seemed to sprout, at 930 on the dot, a crowd of several hundred people, of all kinds. Homemade shirts, young and old, crazy and knock-you-on-your-ass sane, people waving “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, a guy dressed up as a Founding Father with a billboard popping out of his back, some guys with a liberty bell, families, free staters, the whole shebang. If you’ve been to a Ron Paul rally, you know the drill. If not, what are you waiting for?

The speech was vintage Paul.

My favorite part: at one point Ron said “Listen, there are a lot of people out there who think ‘if you can’t convince 51% of people, this election, that you’re right, what’s the point?” But that’s not what Ron’s interested in. He said that during the times in American history that have mattered, everything started at 4%. During the founding of our republic, there were only 4% or so of Americans who really understood what was going on, who really grasped everything. “You guys, you’re that 4%”. He essentially said “look, I don’t care if I can win. That’d be great, but I’m not in this for 51% or nothing. What we’re here for is to POPULARIZE this message. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. And I’ve been a skeptic, in spite of myself, for many years, that it was just too uphill a battle, that I was swinging at windmills. But I’m a skeptic no longer.” It was both a moving story, an inspiring message, and a perfect answer to the “you’re throwing your vote away on a fringe candidate!” folks. He talked about how, at this moment in history, we’re doing something. It may be limited by circumstances beyond our control, it may not ultimately win (it can, of course), but it’s important, and we’re doing it. We’re already doing it. And if it ended tomorrow, we should be immeasurably proud of what we’ve accomplished already. Sometimes, it’s the other way around. Sometimes they really are giants, disguised as windmills. Sometimes, they need to be swung at.

When the rally broke up, several hundred people hit the registration table, and were disseminated across New Hampshire.

But, I want to share a little story.

During the rally, our work had tapered off as people listened to Ron’s speech. The crowd had mostly all massed together tightly in front of the stage (it was a big park, which we covered about half of). The density was tighter the closer to the stage you got, of course, and around the outer perimeter where curious people who had wandered in off the street, people with very young children, us, that sort of thing.

There was this one guy, very unassuming, not wearing any campaign gear, just kind of hanging back and listening and scanning the crowd. My partner thought he was kind of sketchy; I just thought he was taking in the scene. But, he was only half-listening to the speech (as was I, being otherwise occupied).

A lot of people had brought their entire families to the rally, so there were a lot of young kids running through the crowd here and there, small packs of them playing off to the side, or hanging on their parents in the knot of people. There were a fair few of them, scattered around. It was a very family-friendly event.

So, this guy sort of moseys over to our table, asks how much our shirts are. We tell him, chat briefly, he kind of nods and moseys off, checks out the crowd some more.

He comes back and starts counting out a shitload of money. Quietly, he says simply “Listen, how about I buy as many T-shirts as I can, and you get a couple of these guys (there were a few milling around near our table) to pass them out to every kid they can.”

He had no interest in this being anything more than anonymous, but he essentially bought every kid in the crowd (50 or so) free T-shirts, to be handed out anonymously while Dr. Paul as speaking. He laid out the cash, we gave him as good a deal as we could (obviously; essentially 10 free), and a couple of 10-year-old boys took the smallest sizes we had, and saw that every single child in the park got one, refusing money from the parents.

I was fairly moved by that, and I talked to the guy. He obviously wasn’t interested in having it be anything but anonymous, but he said he had already maxed out his campaign donations to the Paul campaign, so he saw this as sort of a way to keep giving. He gave us the money, and sort of moseyed off. After 15 minutes, when the kids in the crowd were almost all wearing Paul shirts, he kind of disappeared into the morning.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about that all day, and thought I’d share. This campaign is really restoring a lot of my faith in humanity. As I said, the rally broke up, we made a good chunk of change with which to help New Hampshire in the week leading up to their actual primary, and hundreds and hundreds of Paul supporters walked the state. Now, I’m cleaning myself up, and my partner and I are going to go barhop with the New York City group (who brought up 22 or so). Back to Pittsburgh tomorrow.

It’s been a fun day. Even not being a part of the core throng, it was hard not being a little inspired and moved, in spite of myself.

Ron’s at 940,000 in his pledge campaign, which ends tomorrow at Midnight.

I’ll be back at around the same time.

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

Happy Tree Friends Halloween

Everyone’s favorite adorable lil’ critters, channelling Bruce Campbell. Be sure to share this special moment with your young children.

Posted by Rojas @ 6:03 pm on September 29th 2007

Iran Paul?

The Hill, a prominent DC newsletter, offers a link to a video interview in which Dr. Ron Paul explains his opposition to the latest sanctions proposal against Iran. His rationale: the sanctions proposal is mere window-dressing for an impending propaganda campaign supporting invasion.

Sorry, Doc. I can’t come with you on this one. If the US is going to be serious about making an effort to restrain global WMD proliferation–and I think that we should be, as a matter of our own self-protection–then we have to have a mechanism by which we dissuade states from attempting such actions. In the absence of sanctions, the case for war against Iran is intensified, not diffused–the executive will argue that the Congress’s lack of action on sanctions has left them no other mechanism.

Want to oppose war with Iran? Fine; oppose war with Iran. But don’t dress up every single effort to restrain Iran as inevitably a prequel to war; by that standard, there’s effectively NO action that our government can justifiably take against rogue states. Our government needs some room to maneuver.

Posted by James @ 2:52 pm on September 29th 2007

Nay of Newt

Well, it seems the wildly popular former Speaker of the House, the esteemed Newt Gingrich, has opted out of a 2008 Presidential bid.

Newt Gingrich

He was such a shoo-in too.

Posted by Brad @ 5:15 pm on September 27th 2007

He’s Done It! Ron Paul Hauls Half a Mil!

Ron Paul asked supporters to help him raise an extra half a million dollars before the end of the quarter.

With three days to spare, they hit the mark about an hour ago.

They’re now shooting for a million, just to see if they can do it.

That’s incredible. Think of it, that’s nearly 20% of their TOTAL for last quarter, raised in three days, all online, with almost four days to go. That’s more money than Tancredo, Brownback, Hunter, probably have on hand. What a show of strength. And now they’ve got a shot at a cool million.

Fuck it. I’ve been tight this quarter, but I’m plopping down another 100. Match me, starting now (James already dug deep, so he’s exempt). Can you imagine the press of a guy everybody wants to dismiss raising a friggin’ million dollars online in a week? The shockwave of that is absolutely worth it to me.

Who’s with me?

Edit: Message from the campaign:

September 27th, 2007,

Frankly, I’m floored. And very, very grateful. Our $500,000 online fundraising goal for the end of the quarter was reached so fast it took my breath away. But we can’t stop now. So I am raising the bar to $1 million by midnight, September 30th. I am so grateful for all you have done. Would you help me with this?

Whenever I face a hit piece on tv, or a smear in a newspaper column, I remember my secret weapon: you. In establishment politics, people make campaign contributions because they want something: a contract, a subsidy, a special-interest deal. But the thousands of people who contribute to this campaign want no favors from big government — which must come at the expense of their fellow citizens, and sometimes our soldiers’ lives. They want only what is their God-given, natural, and constitutional right: their freedom.

What a difference from the other campaigns. What a refreshing change from politics as usual. What a sign of the reborn American freedom that can be ours, and our children’s, and our grandchildren’s.

Aggressive wars, income taxes, national IDs, domestic spying, torture regimes, secret prisons, Federal Reserve manipulation — we don’t have to take it any more.

And the next step to not taking it is that $1 million goal. Please give www.ronpaul2008.com/donate/ as much as you can, before midnight on Sunday, September 30th.

There are two reasons: 1) We need the money. As we move into the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, then South Carolina, California, Texas, and all the rest, we need your support. We can’t duplicate the spending of the big boys, and we don’t have to, thanks to the internet and our magnificent army of volunteers.

But we need constant website improvements, phone banks, voter registration and get out the vote efforts, mailings, travel, printings, many small offices, targeted TV and radio ads, legal and accounting help, and 101 other things. And without donors like you, we can’t do a darn thing.

2) I want to make the mainstream media sit up and take notice. They did when we beat John McCain for cash-on-hand in the last quarter. This quarter, we can really shock them — if you help. Our total can show the sort of enthusiasm, organization, and grassroots support that will chill every big-government backer, and warm the heart of every lover of freedom — and open the eyes of the media.

Please, help me win a victory for liberty with your most generous gift. You and I are engaged in an historic enterprise. It is growing in power and influence by the day and by the hour. But it will stutter to a stop without people like you. I need your help. Our cause needs your help. We can make $1 million. We can win this thing. Please help me do it. See our progress and donate today: www.ronpaul2008.com .

Sincerely,

Ron

Posted by Brad @ 4:39 pm on September 27th 2007

Weekend Note

It may get very slow around here this weekend, unless James and Rojas put themselves in overdrive. Adam is leaving for the Socialist Republic of Canadia, and I’m being sent by my local group to New Hampshire to take part in the Ron Paul rally slash canvassing effort there this weekend.

On Saturday, September 29th, we will be holding a large rally at Veteran’s Park in Manchester, NH. The rally runs from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM and will feature a speech by Dr. Paul, as well as live music.

Immediately following the rally, the campaign will distribute literature and canvassing packets and teams will proceed to canvass the cities of Manchester, Concord, and Nashua. Dr. Paul and more than thirty members of his family will be in attendance and we expect to have a lot of fun spreading the message of freedom.

Our goal is to have 1,000 volunteers from all around New Hampshire, and the surrounding states. If you live in a nearby state, please meet us in Manchester. If you are part of a Meetup group in a nearby state please organize a group to attend this event and link to this page.

It should be a good time, though the 10 hour drive is going to suck ass (I’ll have company at least). But, although I think my companion will be bringing a laptop, I probably won’t have much time to blog. I may pop in though. I’m going up to Our Local Dear Leader’s House this evening to watch the Republican debate and pick up a bunch of campaign schwag, and then heading out tomorrow morning. Back Sunday night.

So, slow weekend at The Pond perhaps, but for a good cause (though I have no idea what Adam’s cause might be; probably prescription drug-smuggling).

Posted by Brad @ 4:23 pm on September 27th 2007

The 2004 Primary Lesson

This is the last post I’m going to make explicitly about this. From now on, I’ll just hyperlink this one.

So, I’m a bit of a latent megalomaniac, hence I can’t help but feel personally credited by Tom Bevan’s latest post on the “inevitability” of Hillary Clinton, in which he liberally infuses his case that Hillary can be stopped with the lessons of the LAST Democratic primary, 2004. I take credit because I think I’m the one that drilled it into his head, having sent him a few letters that I know he read where I took great pains to point out that same parallel. Indeed, I’ve been pushing the case that Hillary’s lead (or Rudy’s) is no more a lock than Lieberman’s was at this time in 2003 all over the place, on this blog (also here, here, and a number of other places in comments and cattle calls), and elsewhere, at the top of my lungs, for awhile. So it’s nice to see some of what I’ve decided to call de facto recognition.

However, Bevan does beat me by making a graph, which I will now steal. I’m not sure why he didn’t include Lieberman.

Dems04

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 2:14 pm on September 27th 2007

Saddam Offered to Go Into Exile; Bush Turned Him Down

Here’s a gob-smacker, if true. The sourcing on this is sketchy—it comes by way of the President of Spain. But the details are knock-me-over-with-a-trout shocking, all throughout. Not the least of which is the notion that at some point Saddam was offering to go into exile.

MADRID (Reuters) – Saddam Hussein was prepared to take $1 billion and go into exile before the Iraq war, according to a transcript of talks between U.S. President George W. Bush and an ally, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on Wednesday.

During a meeting at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, on February 22, 2003, Bush told former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar that Saddam could also be assassinated, according to the transcript published in El Pais in Spanish.

“The Egyptians are speaking to Saddam Hussein. It seems he’s indicated he would be prepared to go into exile if he’s allowed to take $1 billion and all the information he wants about weapons of mass destruction,” Bush was quoted as saying at the meeting one month before the U.S.-led invasion.

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 1:54 pm on September 27th 2007

The Democrats and Republicans on Torture; a Matter of Contrast

So, we at The Pond have made it something of a campaign to nail down where the various candidates stand on torture, habeas corpus, detainee treatment, extraordinary rendition, and the like—and how that reflects on the party. I believe the tally, last I remember it, is all the Democrats are on the wrong side of all those issues—pro-torture, anti-habeas corpus, pro-extraordinary rendition, pro-any detainee protections—save Ron Paul and John McCain. All the Democrats are on the right side of those issues, save Hillary Clinton, who has not given very clear answers but who has, on a few occasions, even seemingly agreed that torture in some instances should be legal. Last night, she changed her tune. It’s a flip-flop I’ll happily accept.

It’s not quite fair to say that all the Democrats are better than all the Republicans–McCain and Dr. Paul are among the best of either party, and Clinton’s waffling on the issue puts her as about the best Republican besides them but easily the worst Democrat. Still, judging between the leading candidates the two parties are offering, the vision of America that is being sold by each party, is stark.

I want to offer a study of contrasts. Two parties. Two different slates of candidates. Same basic question. And I’ll let the transcripts speak for themselves (the Democrat one is fun to read also for a little “gotchya” Russert threw in for HRC).

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 12:33 pm on September 27th 2007

Tax Free Tips

Via Lew Rockwell, here’s an interesting policy proposal from Ron Paul that wouldn’t have occurred to me.

“Madam Speaker, I rise to help millions of working Americans by introducing the Tax Free Tips Act. As the title suggests, this legislation makes tips exempt from federal income and payroll taxes. Tips often compose a substantial portion of the earnings of waiters, waitresses, and other service-sector employees. However, unlike regular wages, a service-sector employee usually has no guarantee of, or legal right to, a tip. Instead, the amount of a tip usually depends on how well an employee satisfies a client. Since the amount of taxes one pays increases along with the size of tip, taxing tips punishes workers for doing a superior job!

“Many service-sector employers are young people trying to make money to pay for their education, or single parents struggling to provide for their children. Oftentimes, these workers work two jobs in hopes of making a better life for themselves and their families. The Tax Free Tips Act gives these hard-working Americans an immediate pay raise. People may use this pay raise to devote more resources to their children’s, or their own, education, or to save for a home, retirement, or to start their own businesses.

“Helping Americans improve themselves by reducing their taxes will make our country stronger. I, therefore, hope all my colleagues will join me in cosponsoring the Tax Free Tips Act.”

Non-Americans, probably rightly, may find our tipping culture strange, but be that as it may it’s more or less codified into our culture, and our service industry. Quite often, people like cab drivers, waitresses, hairdressers, and the like, make much less than minimum wage (say, $2.50 an hour at a decent restaurant), with the expectation being that you make up the rest in tips. And, quite often, you do, but of course tips aren’t guaranteed, and the amount of them will vary pretty wildly, and even then the tips—which are a social custom which, even today, most patrons assume (at least unconsciously) to be a private show of under-the-radar appreciation for good service, and not a codified wage-extension)—must be reported, split up, taxed, etc.

I don’t know that the argument should be that tippage becomes essentially free income, though in Ron Paul’s case this is just one in a long line of assaults on an over-reaching tax code. But it is an interesting proposal, and, at least by my hunch, would provide more of a positive impact in the daily lives of working class folks than all of John Edwards’ “I’m a mill worker and we must save the poor” policy proposals combined.

Posted by Brad @ 9:30 pm on September 26th 2007

Music Video of the Midweek

I’ve had this song in my head all day. I don’t know why. Sorry for the poor sound quality of this clip—it’s much better in HiFi.

When I get good enough at my banjo to start covering pop songs, this one’s going in the set list for sure.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:40 pm on September 25th 2007

Gerrymandering is fun!

Once upon a time, only the rich and powerful had the ability to redraw the electoral map to their advantage. Now, with The Redistricting Game, you too can eliminate minority representation in Congress and carve out your own labyrinthine fiefdom.

The game’s got a clear and specific political agenda, but I got a kick out of it nonetheless.

Posted by Brad @ 11:38 pm on September 25th 2007

Warren Jeffs Guilty; Two Counts, Accomplice to Rape

ST. GEORGE — Polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs has been found guilty of two counts of being an accomplice to rape.

Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, blinked when the verdicts were read, but showed no emotion. None of his followers in the courtroom reacted.

Read the whole story, and really a pretty hugely comprehensive spread, at the Salt Lake Tribune.

I’ve been kind of quietly following this story for awhile now, since over the summer I did some casual reading on Mormonism (thanks Cruise, for a few suggestions). The rapes happened between a 14-year-old and her husband, who was 19.

It’s an interesting case. It sounds like, given the charges, Jeffs may be sent up the river for the rest of his days. He’s now facing sentencing on these two counts, and then he’ll be shipped off to Arizona, most likely, to face another eight. Be interesting to see how the FLDS reacts.

Posted by Brad @ 10:06 pm on September 25th 2007

Ron Paul in Chicago

Here’s the first five minutes of the Ron Paul rally in Chicago.

If you look at this and the first thing that comes to mind for you is “Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich”, you’ve got issues, that’s all I’m saying.

Posted by Brad @ 7:54 pm on September 25th 2007

The Unimportance of Ahmadinejad

I still believe strongly that we should have welcomed the opportunity to take Ahmadinejad to visit Ground Zero, but one thing that keeps getting lost and that seems to need to be reiterated over and over again is really what a small-time pissant Ahmadinejad is.

We’re not talking about some kind of criminal mastermind iron-fisted dictator. We’re talking about a mostly paper tiger guy with little actual power and whose only claim to fame is that the United States pumps him up so much.

The New York Times, in a good piece all-around:

Political analysts [in Iran] say they are surprised at the degree to which the West focuses on their president, saying that it reflects a general misunderstanding of their system.

Unlike in the United States, in Iran the president is not the head of state nor the commander in chief. That status is held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, whose role combines civil and religious authority. At the moment, this president’s power comes from two sources, they say: the unqualified support of the supreme leader, and the international condemnation he manages to generate when he speaks up.

“The United States pays too much attention to Ahmadinejad,” said an Iranian political scientist who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “He is not that consequential.”

That’s just Ahmadinejad, of course. I’d go further and point out that Iran as a whole is a pretty pissant threat to global stability and certainly our national security. We seem to build them up as something close to a Global Power of Evil who may be the Other in the Next World War (take that, caps). They’re not. They certainly create trouble, but mostly because we’ve created near-perfect conditions for them to exert far more influence than they ever would be able to in normal circumstance.

Six months ago, I was pretty dismissive of the thought that we would go to war with Iran while Bush was President. Even I didn’t think the President and his people were that nutty. Hell, I’m not even sure it’s physically POSSIBLE to do anything but lob missiles. But I’m beginning to revise that assessment, as more and more I’m getting the uneasy but undeniable impression that we’re being pushed into a last ditch effort to save the Global War on Terror legacy, full speed ahead.

For instance, Exhibit F: The Kyl-Lieberman amendment, being debated in Congress this very day, which is essentially a backdoor Use of Force resolution against Iran. Learn about it here and here. That’s not the only indicator, of course, but it’s a particularly pernicious one.

Scary times.

Posted by Brad @ 3:16 pm on September 25th 2007

Morrissey on the Race Debate

Here’s another case where the oft-frustrating Ed Morrissey proves why he’s still worth reading.

Over the last couple of days, JC Watts and Newt Gingrich, among others, have scolded the Republican candidates for passing on a PBS debate at a historically black college in Baltimore. The invitations were sent out in March, and all the frontrunners passed.

Now, it’s easy to overstate candidates skipping on debates. If it were up to all the interest groups and media outlets, they’d be debating four times a week. They have to say no, and one can understand why a PBS debate at a black college might be one that they wouldn’t be jumping at attending. I don’t believe it’s a function of racism so much as a recognition of the futility of speaking to an audience and on issues that are fairly hostile to the GOP brand.

But still, on a very important level, the Republican refusal to engage with constituencies like the African American community represents a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Anyway, Morrissey gets it exactly right:

We have scolded the African-American community for its lock-step support for Democrats. However, as the avoidance of this debate demonstrates, Republicans haven’t exactly beaten down doors in an attempt to engage these voters, either. Given that these invitations went out in March, the campaigns had plenty of time to schedule one debate to address one of the largest voting blocs in the country, and one whose loyalties could help the GOP turn national elections.

Some will say that the African-American community doesn’t turn out for Republican primaries, and that’s mostly true. They focus on Democrats. However, the entire point of outreach is to change that voting behavior, and leading Republicans have to give them a reason to do so. Ignoring them in the primaries will not gain the Republican nominee any votes in the general election.

Others may object to the special-interest nature of ethnic politics. That didn’t keep all of the front-runners from attending the NRA event last week. It’s a good event to attend for Republicans in the primaries, but it doesn’t advance the brand beyond the choir. While primary candidates have to focus on the short-term goal of winning in the various states, they should also look to build the party’s reach — and so far, they haven’t shown much range.

Posted by Brad @ 2:50 pm on September 25th 2007

Global Obama

A point I’ve made before, but it came up again in a few places, so I thought I’d quote it.

Marc Ambinder:

In private, Obama likens himself to Reagan, according to some of his friends. He believes that the very act of Americans choosing to elect him would amount to the biggest foreign policy advance of the past 20 years, would immediately change the way, say, a young boy in Lahore views this country, would crush the propaganda gains of radical Islam since the end of the first Gulf War, would heal the scar that serves as a reminder of America’s original sin (slavery), would directly engage the mass Muslim world in a way that no one who voted for oil or empire could, and … you get the idea.

Ross Douthat’s reaction:

Okay, so this is ridiculous and overblown and self-serving, but … it isn’t totally wrong. To the extent that the President isn’t just the leader of our country, but the face of America and our chief overseas PR man – a role that Reagan and Bill Clinton both played well, and that Bush has displayed little facility for – Obama is probably the most attractive candidate in either party’s field. (So long as he stops talking about bombing Pakistan, of course.) This is not the sort of consideration on which elections should turn, but neither is it worth dismissing out of hand.

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 1:26 pm on September 25th 2007

Libertarian UK

So, since we got sort of inadvertently wrapped up in the Tim Ireland/Craig Murray/Alisher Usmanov scandal (our blog mentioned it early, and since then has gotten on a list of “supportive bloggers” which has spread all around the internet—if you don’t believe me, check out how many places we’ve popped up with that list in the last week and a half), and then with the Iain Dale list, I’ve been surfing a lot of UK blogs the last few days that I might not normally have ever seen, and lo and behold I’ve found a UK Libertarian blog.

A Very British Dude is the name of it, the Very British Dude in question being Jackart. His is, incidentally, the #45 blog on Dale’s list, and having spent some of the afternoon reading through it, it’s quite good. Irreverent and off-colour, which is probably necessary if you’re a Libertarian in the UK, but sharp.

A good sampler of a few of his posts:

“Extraordinary Rendition”.
“Britain is Dying”.
“Gordon Brown, Financial Genius, Part V”.
“Anyone Who Reads the Guardian is a Twat”.

I like the cut of his jib.

Posted by Brad @ 12:45 pm on September 25th 2007

Most Bizarro Ron Paul Hit Piece Yet

Via Freedom Democrats, here’s a piece reporting on a Ron Paul rally that is among the most bizarre and naked pot shots at a candidate I think I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something.

The author is Thomas F. Roeser, chairman of the editorial board of The Chicago Daily Observer. The piece is called “Ron Paul’s Rally: Appalling and Appealing.”

The thrust of the piece is that a very old and curmudgeonly “conservative activist”—Mr. Roeser—is horrified by the candidate for reasons that are not entirely clear to me but seem to be based in what Mr. Roeser sees as an alignment between Ron Paul Republicans and DailyKos-style Democrats. Like Dr. Paul, he pines longingly for the days of Robert A. Taft, but his message seems to be “I knew Mr. Taft, and you, sir, are no Taft”. He also recoils in horror when Dr. Paul compares the pissant threat of Islamofascism with the nuclear brinkmanship of the Cold War days, Mr. Roeser’s point apparently being that Islamofascists are more dangerous?

All in all, his breakdown on the issues seems to just be a primae facie shock at Dr. Paul not toeing the Republican line, and to Mr. Roeser that equates to conservative treason. “If you’re not with us, you’re with DailyKos,” being the, again bizarre, message.

But what he can’t quite wrap his head around is how a candidate like this is so wildly popular, a subject he can’t avoid since he’s reporting on a rally he attended that was, by his own admission (and any account of anybody that’s ever been to a Ron Paul rally), packed to the hilt with enthusiastic, boisterous, diverse people. That Mr. Roeser is horrified with the message but a great mass of people seem to be electrified by it is what Mr. Roeser spends the bulk of the piece trying to reconcile.

He first attempts to do so by writing off Ron Paul supporters as a great throng of unwashed and uncivilized barbarians flush in an orgy of decadence and self-indulgence.

Ron Paul whose demagogic phraseology appeals not to conservatives—but, apparently if Saturday’s meeting was any indication—to a sweaty group of boisterous, screaming, jumping up and down in place, obese youth (obviously from hours spent huddled before computers), shaggy, unkempt, hirsute, noisy, obstreperous, rambunctious and raucous. And that’s before we consider the male contingent….

The message that this candidate brings in one of self-indulgence, ideally suited for the mob he addressed. …It is the promise of self-indulgence and rather than a conservative campaign is a sop to decadence.

Allriiiiiight…..

That’s all filed under the “Appalling” section of the article.

Under the “Appealing” section, Mr. Roeser then decides to try a different tact, and in what must be the most nakedly backhanded compliment in the history of American political editorial, decides to chalk up the Ron Paul movement with…Nazi Germany? He then, in agonizing detail, decides that the closest analogue Ron Paul has is not Robert Taft, but is instead Adolph Hitler.

No joke.

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 10:52 am on September 25th 2007

Top Right-of-Centre Blogs

Iain Dale has compiled and this morning released his “Guide To Political Blogging In The UK”, a 288-page report on the state if bloggery in the United Kingdom. There’s nobody that’s sharper in this sort of thing than Dale, so it’s probably worth the time to pick through.

But, included in that report is a list of the 100 Top Right-of-Centre blogs, as decided by a panel of 12, and it turns out, unexpectedly, we’re on it. Check out the full list. Pay particular attention to #2, our friend Dizzy, and #89, us.

Huzzah!

I’m guessing Dizzy, who was a judge, might have had a hand in this, but we’ll take what we can get. It might also surprise some of our American fans that we’re considered a UK blog, but that we are. 2/3s of us are American, indeed (if we ever get around to adding a permanent 4th, not counting James, that person may well be non-American), and we write a lot about American politics, but it’s always been our intent to use this space to mind the gaps—be they ideological, partisan, or geographic—and, to just write about whatever strikes our fancy (and since all of us live in the U.S. at present, that’s often U.S.-centric). I like to think that that puts us straddling a number of lines. We could legitimately be considered, on any given week, a Libertarian blog, a UK blog, a conservative blog, a Ron Paul blog, and a number of things in between. Indeed, we’re listed on blogrolls as all of those things depending on where you see it. All those things, and none of those things. As Andrew Sullivan says “of no party or clique”. If I had to peg it, I’d call us just “a conservative blog”, conservative in the most general sense, and with all the pond-hopping and party-jumping that that entails.

Anyway, congratulations to Iain, Dizzy, and Guido Fawkes, the Top Three. And a good Top Three it is.

Posted by Brad @ 9:28 am on September 25th 2007

Fundraising Expectations

Q3 comes to a close on the 30th, and already campaigns are lowballing. A sign that this cycle, most every campaign is doing worse in the money game than in the cycle before.

The Obama camp continues to look good. I’ve blogged about it before (so have Adam and Rojas), but I don’t entirely understand the relative lack of respect that Obama gets for his fundraising prowess. Considering he’s running against what many people consider one of the biggest institutional money machines in the history of politics, the Clintons, the fact that he’s beaten Hillary in money in every quarter so far, and has spanked her in the last two (if this one holds up, which I expect it to), one would imagine that the talk of Obama being an empty suit or a flash candidate would have abided by now. Really, Obama’s fundraising acumen and financial strength makes him one of the best supported candidates in history. A far cry from the “Washington institution vs. inexperienced snot-nosed upstart” picture that one can often tend to get by listening to D.C. conventional wisdom.

Of course, whether money over a certain point translates into vote is another question, but when you’re running against somebody who has been at the forefront of American politics for 15 years, has among the highest name ID of any human being alive, and when you presumably have all the machinations in place from a successful and popular two-term presidency, and a first term Senator is trouncing you in fundraising, something is going on that’s worth raising some eyebrows over.

The Hillary camp are already trying to manage expectations, floating that they’re looking at 15-20 million (which probably will come in at 20-25 given the nature of these things), and that they expect Obama to beat them by 10, which nobody in the Obama camp seems to feel it necessary to deny. The Hillary camp’s excuse is that it’s the summer, when donors are historically less invigorated all around (which is true), but since it’s a relative game where talking about, not sure how much mileage that excuse gets. And, a bad sign for Hillary also, is Obama is only just now (as in, this week) starting to bring his money to bear. Two months of stepping on the gas with tens of millions of dollars behind you can dry up an opponent’s “inevitability” lead pretty damn quick.

On the Republican side, hard estimates are, as usual, difficult to come by. But here’s a good summary:

“It looks like Rudy Giuliani’s going to lead this quarter, Mitt Romney’s going to have to write another check to himself, John McCain is not going to break out like he was hoping he would, and Fred Thompson is going to be challenged, because he doesn’t have a finance structure in place yet,” predicted Scott Reed, a GOP consultant, who ran Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign.

Thompson is the big question mark. He’s mostly restricted his fundraising to Tennessee, which probably isn’t a good sign, but his figures, whatever they are, will likely be buoyed by the fact that he announced his candidacy this quarter. If he comes in a distant third , that’ll perhaps show that his isn’t seen as a savior campaign that it might be expected to be, at least not among the bigwigs. The question with McCain is simply “how bad?” Another big question mark is Mike Huckabee, who has been pretty dismal in money throughout the campaign, but who, if he does have a reasonable chance of breaking through, will have to start posting numbers that look like he can at least tokenly compete with the big dogs, or all his PR shine of late won’t amount to much. If he can’t at least top 5 million this quarter, that won’t be sending a very good signal. 7-8 million would what he would be hoping for if he wants to be able to make a real first-tier run in the early states at least. But he’s already signaling for people to not get their hopes up. 2-3 million might be more in the ballpark.

And of course, one has to wonder how Ron Paul is doing. All the rumblings I’ve heard say he’s on par to do better this quarter than he did the last, and the last quarter was already pretty remarkable. 5 million seems to be about the rough guesstimate. If HE can manage 6-7 million, in a race with a lower ceiling than on the Democratic side, he’s a first tier challenger, no two ways about it. And, his formal campaign structure is a lot of things, but money-burning is not one of them, so he can get a lot more bang for his buck than, say, a Hillary or Rudy. I’m very interested to see how he does, but that we’re even talking about 5 million plus for a campaign that, by most accounts, is a very long longshot, is good news for us Paul folks.

And, as always, we’ll see if any of the other longshots can post eye-raising numbers. Any other Democrats able to look at least viable? What about the Republican second-tier (Tancredo?).

What’ll be particularly interesting (to me) is to see where the small donors are going. Obama, Paul, and Thompson is going to be my guess. That, how retarded money progress among the various Republicans is, and the differential between Hillary and Obama, are the things to look for in the next week.

Posted by Brad @ 3:17 am on September 25th 2007

9.11

I can’t improve on the Fark headline for this.

“Guess which presidential candidate threw a fundraiser party and charged an entry fee of $9.11 per person. Go on, guess.”

Posted by Brad @ 12:44 am on September 25th 2007

Quote of the Day

“I’m a little worried about upcoming fights over funding for Iraq, inasmuch as they might distract us from discussing the Moveon ad.”

–Matt Stoller

Posted by Brad @ 12:34 am on September 25th 2007

The Money Race

So, if you want to know how the House picture is going to shape up in 2008, in terms of who has what to spend, reciepts for this quarter:

The DCCC:

Cash-on-hand, August 31: $22.1 million
Debts, August 31: $3.1 million

The NRCC:

Cash-on-hand, August 31: $1.6 million
Debts, August 31: $4 million

Giving the Democrats 18 million dollars for house races, and the Republicans negative 2.4 million.

Posted by James @ 6:54 pm on September 24th 2007

Columbian Gold

Ahmadinejad at his best.

Allllll-righty then.

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