Posted by Brad @ 12:38 am on October 31st 2007

The Tonight Show Tonight

want

Two initial thoughts: I guess I haven’t watched a late night talk show in a long time, or Tom Cruise, because I forgot how lame the former is and what a douchebag the latter is.

Ron Paul:

It’s great that there were supporters there. I thought he handled himself excellent. Nothing fancy, good bio stuff in the beginning (even a monologue joke about him!). The social security tangent was a little unhelpful probably, given the older skew of the audience (versus, say, the Daily Show), and the question about taxes, though it got off some good lines, I don’t think really effectively explained itself. But he won it back by being himself. And he got in his great line “yeah, I think there’s a real risk of me winning” towards the end. All in all, a very nice introduction to a mainstream audience.

Also: that he was followed by the Sex Pistols, that they played “Anarchy in the UK”, and that Ron Paul stuck around for it and went and shook Johnny Rotten’s hand with Jay, was friggin’ awesome. My mind is a little bit blown at this point in time.

Thumbs up.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:22 pm on October 30th 2007

Alien nation

We are about to endure a news cycle in which each of the Presidential contenders is asked whether they believe that earth has been visited by aliens.

This is the outgrowth of a non-denial by Dennis Kucinich, responding to a debate question that should never, ever have been asked.

This is worth being angry about, but don’t bother. It’s just the way the media is.

Oh…and Dr. Paul? The correct answer to this question is: “No, I don’t believe in aliens. What’s with all these radicals and conspiracy theorists running for President, anyway?”

Posted by Rojas @ 11:15 pm on October 30th 2007

Hillary’s bad night

More is going to be made of Hillary’s flub tonight–on the issue of drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants–than ought to be. That’s understandable; the media is desperately seeking to have a story to cover in the Democratic primaries, and there’s no story until Hillary stumbles.

That having been said: Hillary did indeed have a bad night. A whole lot of flailing around on a wide variety of issues. Three things prevent this from being a serious problem:

1. Nobody was watching.

2. The Republicans are going to pile on her so heavily over the illegal immigration thing that any attempts by the other Dem nominees to leverage the issue is going to make them look like Republicans.

3. The really heavy blows landed on her were not landed by Obama or Edwards, but by Chris Dodd.

Oh…and for those who missed the debate, Richardson is now more or less openly campaigning for the VP slot on the Clinton ticket.

Posted by Adam @ 7:10 pm on October 30th 2007

It’s just water

Mukasey’s formerly safe-looking confirmation as the next Attorney-General doesn’t look so safe now. I remember listening to audio of Mukasey’s evasions on the subject of waterboarding and thinking ‘are they going to let him get away with this?’ Well, no (or, at least, ‘not yet’).

It seems to me, however, that the real solution here is for the President to make clear that waterboarding is torture. Mukasey is just trying to avoid taking a position contrary to that of the President, I think; as the President is the cause of the problem, so must the solution lie with the President.

Uncle Jay, incidentally, can explain torture:

Posted by Brad @ 6:22 pm on October 30th 2007

Poll of the Day

A majority of likely voters – 52% – would support a U.S. military strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, and 53% believe it is likely that the U.S. will be involved in a military strike against Iran before the next presidential election, a new Zogby America telephone poll shows.

Hillary Clinton, incidentally, is who respondents feel would be best able to deal with Iran.

Posted by Brad @ 6:14 pm on October 30th 2007

What’s So Offensive About 9-11 Truthers, Part II.

and why should it be so surprising that the people who are the most distrustful of our government (to an extreme, to say the least) want to vote for the candidate who is the most distrustful of government guy running?

Why does that “say something” about Ron Paul, beyond that?

Posted by Brad @ 4:59 pm on October 30th 2007

Slow News Day

Not much going on. What have I been reading? This article about a guy proving that Detroit could be doing a lot better if they wanted to. Good old fashioned motorhead ingenuity. Washington Post story about Rudy still working for the Firm that 9-11 Built, and maybe using his corporation to fund parts of his presidential run, which would be a decent FEC fine if true.

Tonight, the Democrats debate, which I may catch parts of. Also, Ron Paul on the Tonight Show, which I may have to slog through the World’s Worst Late Night Monologue Ever for, followed by Tom Cruise. Guh. But it’ll be worth it. I hope Dr. Paul tells Tom that he loved him in Independence Day.

What’s going on in your world?

Posted by Brad @ 1:44 am on October 30th 2007

Another Fire From California: FEMA’s Fake Press Conference Orchestrator

Due to his fake press conference—one of the most gob-smackingly hideous things I’ve ever seen from a federal agency in my lifetime—the FEMA chief that is purported to be responsible for the fake press conference has been passed over for a job at the DNI, as director of public affairs. A job he was supposed to start on Monday.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Bush administration official whose department had government workers pose as journalists in a news conference has been dropped from a planned new job as media chief for the top U.S. spy agency.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said on Monday that John Philbin, who until last week was external affairs director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, would not be taking up a similar job with the intelligence office.

“Mr. Philbin is not, nor is he scheduled to be, the director of public affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence,” the office said in a written statement.

Philbin accepted the intelligence job several weeks ago and had been due to start on Monday, office spokesman Ross Feinstein said. He declined to give additional details.

FEMA employees last Tuesday posed as reporters at a news conference in Washington about the Southern California wildfires. The briefing was called on short notice and no journalists were on hand when it started.

Instead, FEMA deputy director Harvey Johnson stood before a FEMA camera feeding live images to television networks and took questions from agency employees posing as reporters.

Another appointee has “temporarily taken over” for Philbin at FEMA. No word on if Philbin has actually been fired from that agency. Or, for that matter, if Johnson or anybody else will be.

Posted by Brad @ 1:36 am on October 30th 2007

Nobody Reads Retractions

So, the $1600 dollar payment that the Ron Paul campaign made to truther Alex Jones? The one that spurred this post on my part?

Turns out it was a refund of Alex Jones’ contribution to Ron Paul 2008, which the campaign didn’t want to take.

Oops.

That’s sort of the opposite of the campaign paying Alex Jones, innit?

Allahpundit, who broke the story, tries to salvage some anti-Ron Paul mileage from it. Though it sounds more like…hot air.

Posted by Brad @ 12:51 am on October 30th 2007

A Letter To Andrew Sullivan On Obama-Clinton

Hi Andrew,

I’m posting this at The Crossed Pond, because it’s a little long for your reader email stuff. But bear with me.

I was spurred to write by your last few letters on the Obama-Clinton question. In the interest of the most recent one, some full disclosure for me.

I’m an under-30 voter registered Republican, though these days I’d much rather describe myself as a conservative. I blog at www.thecrossedpond. In 1996, I voted for Bob Dole. In 2004, I was a Republican For Kerry (and voted straight ticket Democrat). So I’m definitely not a member of the Democratic base, but I could reasonably be described as a swing voter. I’m from Kansas originally, and tend to live in rural, red state places.

There’s something imminently frustrating about the Democratic character, as exemplified in that pro-Clinton email you posted. There’s this reflexive terror in the hearts of many members of the Democratic base (and leadership), that their ideas are just untenable with “middle America” (whatever that means); that most of the country are a bunch of conservative rednecks, and so to win, you have to capitulate, triangulate, and run a campaign that is the Democratic consultant’s idea of what “middle America” want to hear. It’s this knee-jerk thought that sure, I believe in liberalism, but the rest of the country doesn’t, so we have to hide it, dress it up, trick people into signing on to a watered-down version of our vision, or we won’t get anywhere. Essentially, we have to cater to Republicans to win elections.

Which is why Republicans have been winning so many damn elections in the last 30 years.

Democrats think they’re taking from the Republican playbook, or somehow pushing into Republican ground when they do this. But they’re not. At all. Two analogues. The Republican revolution in 1994, and the current conservative revolution in the making in England (these parallels are my blog’s forte, so allow me). In both these cases, what was the secret ingredient? It was NOT triangulation. It was NOT mealy-mouthed catering to some perceived majority that doesn’t like them. It was instead leadership, honestly, articulation of an actual vision. And it got people to sign on EVEN IF they didn’t agree with them. Because voters, conservative rednecks included, know real leadership when they see it, and respond to it.

A poker analogy: consistently laying down winning hands, over and over again, because you’re terrified that your opponent, over and over again, has pocket aces, is not an effective strategy. It’s not even a good strategy to KEEP a big stack, much less acquire one. It’s a good way to get abused, pushed around, to let your opponents get in your head, and to eventually get blinded out. Maybe you didn’t make any big mistakes but….well, you lost.

(more…)

Posted by Rojas @ 9:58 pm on October 29th 2007

Privatize the libraries!

Bob Weeks is my kind of libertarian. Seriously, the guy’s awesome, and he deserves a wider readership.

Posted by Brad @ 6:49 pm on October 29th 2007

Ron Paul: Good For Business

A weird agglomeration of my last two posts.

I showed the clip here that they’re referring to in this story, but what caught their eye was this bit:

Anne Kornblut from the Washington Post says internet traffic goes up when they write about Ron Paul. When interviewed as a guest on Tucker Carlson’s show Anne Kornblut said,


”This is the reason that you’re even putting him on your show it is to spike your ratings. We know that every time we write about him, hits to our website, it’s not a joke, its amazing, every time we write about him, the hits to the Washington Post website go up.

It was a startling statement considering that the Washington Post is ranked 755 on Alexa.com.

Here’s some personal irony:

When I was interviewed by the Washington Post for their first major Ron Paul story, one of the things I talked about with Jose Antonio Vargas, the reporter, and one of the things I came into it wanting to get across, was that it wasn’t just some few hundred folks spamming message boards and polls, and I told him “Look, EVERY TIME we post a Ron Paul piece, our hits spike right through the roof. We’re hardly even on google yet, but within a few hours of a good Ron Paul piece, we’ll have thousands and thousands of people streaming in. This isn’t just some tiny phenomenon; these people are out there, and they’re hungry, and there’s a lot more of them than you or I realize”.

The quotes on that front didn’t make it into the story (I think it did later show up in a different newspaper story, for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or something), but Mr. Vargas and I chatted about it for five minutes or so. It was a point I really wanted to drive home.

Anyway, so we finished the interview, and he posted the story. Which turned out to be their most-read article for a week or two solid. Pretty good for a Saturday’s Post story.

Interestingly, that reporter is back on the Ron Paul beat. And a week or so later, one of his colleagues is making the exact same point, on MSNBC, that I had to really impress upon Vargas in their first major Ron Paul story.

Guess they found out I wasn’t lying.

This just goes to show: the media should all bow down before me.

Posted by Brad @ 6:34 pm on October 29th 2007

Your Crappy Media

Nice piece by the Right’s Field about some analysis of media coverage of the primary races. They tend to focus, hugely, on horserace stuff, and do very little actual reporting on issues or “how this might affect you, the voter”. What’s more, most Americans want LESS of the former and much much more of the latter, though that falls on deaf ears.

I don’t entirely buy that, incidentally. I think most people SAY they want more policy, because it sounds like the right thing to say, but really they want more dogfight.

But it’s a good thing to take a look at.

Posted by Brad @ 6:14 pm on October 29th 2007

Club For Growth Finally Releases White Sheet On Dr. Paul

And it’s weirdly hedged negative.

The conclusion? Taxes: Ron Paul excellent. Spending: Ron Paul excellent, save some pork issues recently. Free Trade: Ron Paul no good. Entitlement spending: Ron Paul excellent, but he goes too far? Regulation: Ron Paul excellent. School choice: Ron Paul no good. Free speech: Ron Paul excellent. Tort reform: Ron Paul no good.

However, Ron Paul crazy. Also, like a Democrat in not-supporting our BAD bills.

Conclusion:

Summation

When it comes to limited government, there are few champions as steadfast and principled as Representative Ron Paul. In the House of Representatives, he plays a very useful role constantly challenging the status quo and reminding his colleagues, despite their frequent indifference, that our Constitution was meant to limit the power of government. On taxes, regulation, and political free speech his record is outstanding. While his recent pork votes are troubling, the vast majority of his anti-spending votes reflect a longstanding desire to cut government down to size.

But Ron Paul is a purist, too often at the cost of real accomplishments on free trade, school choice, entitlement reform, and tort reform. It is perfectly legitimate, and in fact vital, that think tanks, free-market groups, and individual members of congress develop and propose idealized solutions. But presidents have the responsibility of making progress, and often, Ron Paul opposes progress because, in his mind, the progress is not perfect. In these cases, although for very different reasons, Ron Paul is practically often aligned with the most left-wing Democrats, voting against important, albeit imperfect, pro-growth legislation.

Ron Paul is, undoubtedly, ideologically committed to pro-growth limited government policies. But his insistence on opposing all but the perfect means that under a Ron Paul presidency we might never get a chance to pursue the good too.

Title of the White Sheet: “Ron Paul: The Perfect as the Enemy of the Good”.

I’m a little weirded out that a pro-growth think tank slams him for being too pro-growth think tankey. The “Ron Paul is practically often aligned with the most left-wing Democrats” on issues of growth, a line that is repeated multiple times, is a bit uncalled of. It seems clear that they begrudgingly gave Ron Paul props for being the most consistent pro-growth politician on the planet, but wanted to make clear that “don’t worry though, we don’t like him either. He’s CRAZY!” Which is a damn shame.

The question for Club For Growth might be: would you rather have MORE people like Ron Paul in Congress and national politics, or less?

Which is a question they don’t seem like they want to answer in this particular case.

The White Sheet itself strikes me as mostly positive (how can it not be, when you’re talking about Ron Paul and pro-growth in the same document?), but Pat Toomey’s press release that goes with it is overwhelmingly negative, making it clear that while they give him some props for his support over the years, they don’t like him one bit, and want to in no way be associated with him.

Like I said, shame for them, shame for the cause, shame for the white elephant that has become fiscal conservatism.

When you’re a pro-growth think tank and you can’t support a guy explicitly BECAUSE he’s too pro-growth, maybe it’s time to get out of the business.

Posted by Brad @ 6:01 pm on October 29th 2007

Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO06) To Retire

From Congress, not from the Presidential race. He’ll finish out his term, then he’s out.

Even if he loses his long-shot bid for the White House, Rep. Tom Tancredo will be leaving the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of 2008.

Tancredo, 61 , waited until after the Colorado Rockies’ last out of the World Series on Sunday night before announcing that he plans to retire from Congress at the end of this, his fifth term.

“It’s the fact that I really believe I have done all I can do in the House, especially about the issue about which I care greatly (immigration),” Tancredo said in a phone interview from a motel in Iowa.

Of course, this is a classy move on his part. This way, when he gets the Republican nomination, the state GOP won’t have to scramble to find a last-minute replacement for him.

It’s thought that what he may do, by the way, is challenge Ken Salazar for his Senate seat in 2010.

His district probably isn’t winnable for the Democrats unless the GOP nominate somebody particularly heinous. Which is possible, given the meddling that goes on in Colorado during Republican primaries by groups like Club For Growth and Focus on the Family. Last go-around, Tancredo won his seat by 8 points. But, Colorado is trending blue, so the Dems will probably want to float a serious challenger, hoping that up-ticket momentum might be able to squeak this one through.

Tancredo, meanwhile, wants to retire to spend more time with his Minute Men.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:43 pm on October 29th 2007

Here Comes Huckabee III

My scenario for a Huckabee nomination suggested that he’d have his breakout with a strong second-place finish in Iowa. It’s starting to look like my scenario was wrong. The breakout is already underway.

I’m a fan of the Rasmussen polls for two major reasons. First, their methods of screening for likely voters seem to me to be a lot more realistic than those of Gallup, Strategic Vision, and other major pollsters. Second, their mechanism of conducting daily polling in order to average weekly figures gives a better overall sense of when an individual poll might be an outlier–or when, as in the case of Fox News, ALL the damn polls are outliers in support of the prevailing wisdom in the board room.

Take a good long look at the evolution of the Rasmussen numbers in October. Huckabee has doubled his daily numbers in the last two weeks, from six to thirteen percent. His growth has been steady, arithmetic, inexorable. There’s very little fluctuation from the growth line, which suggests that these numbers are not being driven by outlying data. He has now passed Romney and is tied for third with McCain, to whom a number of alienated Republicans seem to be coming home. Meanwhile, Giuliani continues to spin his wheels in search of traction, and the shine has pretty much all come off of Fred Thompson.

Most staggering of all: Huckabee has achieved this level of prominence in the polls despite FAR lower voter familiarity than any of the other four contenders. Over 20% of survey respondents expressed no opinion at all of Huckabee–which strongly suggests, given the miniscule figures for the other contenders, that they just aren’t familiar with him yet. Now that the media is covering Huckabee regularly, that is likely to change. And unlike Thompson, Giuliani, and Romney, people tend to like Huckabee more as they get to know him better.

There’s no longer any argument to be made that Huckabee’s a second-tier candidate. He’s up there with the leaders–and in almost every way that counts, he’s a better politician and a more desirable candidate to the Republican base.

Next, he can expect to be the target of some serious mudslinging, particularly from Romney. Brad’s already identified the most likely angle of attack. We’ll see what sticks.

Posted by Brad @ 5:16 am on October 29th 2007

Captain’s Quarters Comes Out For Marijuana Decriminalization

Knock me over with a feather. And the title of the post: “Is the Fight Against Marijuana Worth It?”.

He writes thoughtfully about it, and concludes:

The question for everyone is whether the price we pay to keep marijuana illegal is worth the benefits we receive. Any rational look at the costs and benefits demonstrate that it simply hasn’t come close.

And check out the comments, nearly 9 to 1 in favor of legalizing it. Many of them gorgeously thoughtful. On a flagship Republican blog.

What’s maddening is that somewhere, somebody decided that this debate just cannot happen in the political world. Is Ron Paul really the first serious Presidential candidate in history to be in favor of decriminalizing pot? How is that even possible, when the issue is SO huge (it infuses nearly every facet of criminal justice in America), the costs are SO high, and the benefit is so hard to measure, but probably not much, at least in terms of stopping Americans from smoking pot.

My guess is we decriminalize it in my lifetime, but only after years and years more pain, suffering, cost, deaths. And maybe the one good thing about baby boomers pushing out the old Greatest Generation seniors is that they’ll probably not be so hard on the brake pedal when it comes to this sort of stuff.

Posted by Brad @ 5:07 am on October 29th 2007

What’s So Offensive About 9-11 Truthers?

Some more insomniac blogging.

Bill Clinton was giving a speech somewhere and ended up getting heckled by some Truthers (being involved in the Ron Paul movement, that’s what we call them).

As Liveleak puts it:

Clinton’s 50-minute speech, which started about an hour behind schedule, was derailed briefly by several hecklers in the audience who shouted that the 2001 terrorist attacks were a fraud. Rather than ignoring them, Clinton seemed to relish a direct confrontation.

“A fraud? No, it wasn’t a fraud,” Clinton said, as the crowd cheered him on. “I’ll be glad to talk to you if you shut up and let me talk.”

When another heckler shouted that the attacks were an “inside job,” Clinton took even greater umbrage.

“An inside job? How dare you. How dare you. It was not an inside job,” Clinton said. “You guys have got to be careful, you’re going to give Minnesota a bad reputation.”

A video clip of it:

In a sort of related story, Captain’s Quarters reported on the story that the Ron Paul campaign, in an early stage, paid Alex Jones—radio hose and 9/11 Truth leader who has frequently had Dr. Paul on his program—$1300 in “services”. My guess is for banner ads on Jones’ websites, or Jones doing something for their website, or somesuch, but I’ve no idea. And, nobody knows if it’s the same Alex Jones or some other Alex Jones, which seems a key thing for this “story”. Regardless, Morrissey says:

This goes much closer to the heart of Paul’s direction. While anyone can contribute to a political campaign, the choice of where the money goes is directly and completely relevant to an analysis of the candidate. If Paul chooses to help fund a 9/11 Truther, voters can reasonably conclude that Paul has sympathy for the paranoid conspiracy theorists.

His source, which he quoted, goes farther:

Either way, I’m mighty curious to know what special service might have been provided such that Paul’s people couldn’t have gone elsewhere and gotten the same deal from someone who isn’t a degenerate conspiracy theorist.

My question: who cares?

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 7:51 pm on October 28th 2007

Ron Paul TV Ad #2

Much, much better. I like this one a lot, but then, I would.

As Rojas notes in our last thread, this is a pretty good compliment to TV Ad #1.

A little bit of a fiscal conservativey digression in the middle there, but it plays well. The beginning and end are the strongest points, which is as it should be.

I wonder if one of the remaining 3 is going to play up the “be a part of it” aspect to the Paul campaign. The crowds and enthusiasm. Talking to regular voters in New Hampshire, that seems to be the one thing, if anything, that they’ve noticed about Ron Paul. Be a good idea, I think, to touch on that in a NH ad.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:46 pm on October 28th 2007

Beowulf vs. the California wildfires

As Brad notes here, FEMA is backing away from its outrageous fake news conference earlier this week. A New York Times article suggests that they’re doing so as a result of pressure from within the DHS:

”I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I’ve seen since I’ve been in government,” Michael Chertoff said.

”I have made unambiguously clear, in Anglo-Saxon prose, that it is not to ever happen again and there will be appropriate disciplinary action taken against those people who exhibited what I regard as extraordinarily poor judgment,” he added.

As one of our readers rather snarkily notes, that in itself may be the problem:

Apparently, Homeland Security and FEMA are receiving communications from the top in a language that hasn’t been spoken anywhere on earth for 1200 years or so.

Posted by Brad @ 4:27 am on October 28th 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different

Uri from Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam has a nice post up about his experience for a class, as a seminary student, attending an AA meeting for the first time. Worth a read, from one of my favorite undiscovered blogs.

Just to be persnickety, I’ve also added Catholics For Ron Paul to the blogroll, at least for a little while. I know Rojas is a derdy Methodist, but Adam and I make a plurality (James, you count for half a vote). And they’ve got some interesting stuff there. Following on my last post, I really believe that there is a lot larger and more diverse a place in American politics for the voice of the religious than the old channels they’ve been shoehorned into for the last few decades. So, I’ll do my little part to expand the conversation.

In other news: I miss the monastery. :(

Posted by Brad @ 3:55 am on October 28th 2007

The Fragmentation of the Christcons

Or: Everybody Please Shed Another Tear for the Social Conservatives

Following on this post, today’s Times has a great and lengthy article up about the relative fragmentation of the social conservatives in the last couple of years, never more on display than it is in this Republican primary, where they are operating essentially as a total non-factor. Oh, they’re still an electoral force, but at present, they’re not unified, they’re not acting as a cohesive whole, and are instead being spread out and diffused along a variety of different paths. Which is, by the way, perhaps as it should be (there is, after all, no reason why the religious should be more unified in their opinions than the rest of us). However, a lot of us (myself included) have been conditioned to think of the Religious Right and the Moral Majority as an almost Papal-like unitary force that gives its blessing or kiss of death to campaigns and issues, when in reality, since 2004, they’ve become increasingly disparate, even, albeit unintentionally, effectively neutralized as a real force in American politics, or so goes my working hypothesis.

The Sunday Times article is worth a read, on this score (bonus for my fellow Kansans: it takes, as its centerpiece, shakeups in the Wichita evangelical landscape). The best I’ve seen yet written (of course I would say that, as I’ve been thumping this bible for the last month or two).

One of many money quotes:

Just three years ago, the leaders of the conservative Christian political movement could almost see the Promised Land. White evangelical Protestants looked like perhaps the most potent voting bloc in America. They turned out for President George W. Bush in record numbers, supporting him for re-election by a ratio of four to one. Republican strategists predicted that religious traditionalists would help bring about an era of dominance for their party. Spokesmen for the Christian conservative movement warned of the wrath of “values voters.” James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, was poised to play kingmaker in 2008, at least in the Republican primary. And thanks to President Bush, the Supreme Court appeared just one vote away from answering the prayers of evangelical activists by overturning Roe v. Wade.

Today the movement shows signs of coming apart beneath its leaders. It is not merely that none of the 2008 Republican front-runners come close to measuring up to President Bush in the eyes of the evangelical faithful, although it would be hard to find a cast of characters more ill fit for those shoes: a lapsed-Catholic big-city mayor; a Massachusetts Mormon; a church-skipping Hollywood character actor; and a political renegade known for crossing swords with the Rev. Pat Robertson and the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Nor is the problem simply that the Democratic presidential front-runners — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards — sound like a bunch of tent-revival Bible thumpers compared with the Republicans.

The 2008 election is just the latest stress on a system of fault lines that go much deeper. The phenomenon of theologically conservative Christians plunging into political activism on the right is, historically speaking, something of an anomaly. Most evangelicals shrugged off abortion as a Catholic issue until after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. But in the wake of the ban on public-school prayer, the sexual revolution and the exodus to the suburbs that filled the new megachurches, protecting the unborn became the rallying cry of a new movement to uphold the traditional family. Now another confluence of factors is threatening to tear the movement apart. The extraordinary evangelical love affair with Bush has ended, for many, in heartbreak over the Iraq war and what they see as his meager domestic accomplishments. That disappointment, in turn, has sharpened latent divisions within the evangelical world — over the evangelical alliance with the Republican Party, among approaches to ministry and theology, and between the generations.

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 3:04 am on October 28th 2007

Quote of the Day

Matt Yglesias

This is the basically fraudulent nature of the American enterprise in Iraq. We’re told we can’t leave because of the civil war that would break out or intensify or whatever if we do. But our troops aren’t really capable of meaningfully impacting the result of the sectarian conflict anyway. Instead, they’re just being plopped into the middle of it and exposed to harm, so that when the conflict eventually ends (as conflicts tend to) we can call the results ‘victory’ and stay in Iraq forever. If the violence waxes, that shows the war needs to continue. If it wanes, that shows that we’re winning and need to keep on keeping on. Meanwhile, in the real world, the civil war and ethnic cleansing we’re supposed to be preventing are things that have already happened.

Read his whole post (Adam).

Posted by Brad @ 2:09 am on October 28th 2007

Bad Excuse of the Day

There is accountability, and then there’s FEMA.

“We are reviewing our press procedures and will make the changes necessary to ensure that all of our communications are straight forward and transparent.”

—Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson Jr., FEMA’s deputy administrator, and the guy who led a friggin’ staged press conference

Really, I can do that review for you, FEMA.

If you are staging fake press conferences and lying, on behalf of the government, to the American people, your communications are not straight forward and transparent!!!!

I’m having a little problem understanding what the problem with the follow-up to this is, or why we even give a shit what Mr. Johnson has to say about the subject. The solution, it seems to me, is pretty simple. Fire every single person involved, right down to the cameramen. Every single one of them knew they were, on behalf of the federal government, actively staging a phony press conference in which they were posing as reporters, one that was going out live to a number of cable news networks, during a national emergency.

What’s the issue? Fire them. Every one of them. That’s the LEAST that can happen in this case. I’m willing to give the Bush administration, at the higher levels, the benefit of the doubt on this one, including Chertoff, but there’s no excuse for any employee who was actively involved and present.

Captain’s Quarters has a good post on the subject, making that same case.

DHS should review FEMA management from top to bottom. Congress should take a good, long look at this, and the White House should take action to remove the people who think that faking press conferences even exists as an option. This goes straight to the credibility of the entire administration. We deserve much better than what FEMA offered — and the people in the fire zone more so than anyone else. These people at FEMA should be ashamed of themselves.

Which is, again, why I still read Captain’s Quarters.

What’s sort of ironic about it is, by all accounts, FEMA worked pretty well in California this week, and some where saying that they were on the path to redeeming themselves after Katrina. And then this, which, justifiably, single-handedly destroys any good graces they might have been getting and then some.

Posted by Brad @ 10:50 pm on October 27th 2007

But While I’m Posting Ron Paul Videos

Here is his first New Hampshire TV ad.

I have to say, I’m pretty “meh” on it. I don’t like that it immediately begins with two people saying “I don’t agree with him on everything”. I understand why that’s in there, and it’s probably good to float that, but with the first TV introduction in New Hampshire, sending the implicit message right off the bat that there is stuff you WON’T agree with Ron Paul on is probably not a great idea, or at least it would take a great deal more savvy to pull off as a lead-in message.

The rest of it is pretty generic and hokey. The point of it, more than anything, is to get on the air and get the name ID up more than anything—the purpose of Ron Paul media spots is always going to have to be that, it can’t afford to be too cute or to try too hard to “turn” voters then and there. The point is just to get his name out there, and as that happens, people will find out more about him and voters will come from that.

But still, with all the creative energies swirling around the campaign, it’s a little disappointing that their first TV spot is so….bush league.

Come on guys, this is New Hampshire, the most saturated TV market for political advertising in America. You can do better.

Posted by Brad @ 10:42 pm on October 27th 2007

Ron Paul Video of the Week

We don’t post all that many Ron Paul videos here, mostly because I figure the great bulk of our readers will have seen them elsewhere. If you’re a video hound, you can always check out Laura at RedStateEclectic who does a pretty good job of cataloging them as they come her way.

But this one is worth a replay.

Posted by Brad @ 8:58 pm on October 27th 2007

Brownback Courting Giuliani

youhazvotz

What the heck is Sam Brownback up to these days?

I reported earlier that social conservatives are in a bind lately, not being able to settle on any one candidate to throw their collective weight behind, thus neutralizing their own influence and making it more and more likely that the least social conservative candidate in the race—Rudy Giuliani—takes the nomination.

Sam Brownback may have decided to further confound the process by…endorsing the man himself.

Senator Sam Brownback, the Kansas Republican who sought the Republican presidential nomination on a socially conservative platform, is considering supporting former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s candidacy. He met with the former mayor on Thursday to discuss his position on abortion.

“I’m going to meet with him and I’m going to talk to him and hear what he is specifically saying now because he’s changed on a number of the abortion issues,” Brownback said in an interview with The Hill. “He’s changed on partial-birth [abortion] and he … has said he would appoint strict constructionists” to the Supreme Court

Some political strategists consider a Brownback endorsement as a “back door” way for Giuliani to gain supporters from the conservative Brownback base. Before dropping out of the race, Brownback had over 45,000 registered supporters in the key election state of Iowa.

According to Jay Heine, Brownback’s political director in Iowa, an endorsement could happen because Brownback and many of his supporters believe Giuliani has the best chance of defeating Senator Hillary Clinton, the expected Democratic nominee.

Speaking of the potential Brownback endorsement, Ross K. Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University said, “It would be absolutely huge. It would mean that Giuliani is getting support from a part of the Republican Party that has been hostile to him.”

“Brownback is very well-respected,” he added. “It would give a lot of social conservatives and evangelicals cover if they want to support Giuliani.”

It’s expected that Sam makes an announcement sometime in November, throwing his weight behind somebody, and at this point, the only one he’s made any overtures to (that I’m aware of), is Rudy.

This is a potential goldmine for Rudy. It’s not that Sam is an electoral force (as we saw), but he is certainly a guy with a heckuva lot of social conservative cred, and I agree with the Baker quote in the article, an endorsement for Rudy, while not sealing the deal, gives cover to an awful lot of people who might consider themselves social conservatives but are really more concerned with the acquiring and maintaining of power—people who are willing to throw even abortion under the bus if a candidate comes along who spends all his time acting “tough” and “taking it to” the terrorists and Democrats. Perhaps more importantly, at a time when the socon coalition in the GOP is pretty fragile and grabass, as it has been so far in this race, Brownback throwing some cred Rudy’s way would continue to hamstring efforts for an anti-Rudy social conservative movement to get off the ground in any concerted way.

Of course, my question is: what’s in it for Brownback? Sam’s always been a pretty stand up guy when it comes to these issues, meaning he seems to be a guy who really believes what he says he believes. I know that and believe that about Brownback but even then, it’s hard to see a Giuliani endorsement, if it comes, in….well, in non-cynical terms. Yeah he argued that the government ought to be funding abortion, yeah he’s been married three times, yeah he’s spent his entire political career capitulating to or outright endorsing policies we believe to be against God himself….but…but he can beat Hillary!

Really, Sam? Is that the price of admission now?

What’s more, I’m not entirely sure what Sam hopes to get out of this. He could have a real effect hitching himself to somebody like Thompson, and could even tip the scales in Thompson’s favor (among socons) if he went that way (or Huckabee’s for that matter). He could do the honorable thing hitching himself to somebody like McCain and provide a real breath of credibility into that campaign (what good that would do is hard to say, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt). And I take it as a given that he wouldn’t endorse Romney. But Rudy? What does Sam hope to achieve with that?

Outright: I think it’s naked triangulation on Sam’s part, wanting to get himself a seat at the table before the price of admission goes sky high (should Rudy get the nomination). Of course, Sam may well be hitching his wagon to the wrong horse (I don’t necessarily believe that), but at the very least, it’s almost sort of depressing that Sam is apparently that cheap a date.

Is that really the trump card for Jesus? “Electability”?

Really?

Posted by Brad @ 8:02 pm on October 27th 2007

Ron Paul Co-option Watch

Today’s edition brought to you by Fred Thompson:

Thompson agreed that he didn’t share the views of Vice President Cheney when it comes to the supremacy of the executive branch.

“No, I think the constitution in times of war, especially, is very definitive about that,” he said. “The president is the commander in chief, but the Congress has the power of the budget. The power of the purse. So everything has to go through that prism. So it’s divided power in the constitution. Our founding fathers divided that up. Divided it up at the federal level, the idea being that things like Watergate should be made very difficult to happen. So no one branch of the government can misuse power.”

Thompson described checks and balances as “a constant tug and pull. Controversy and differences of opinion over legitimate national security concerns is not a bad thing. Every branch needs to stand up for itself. And I saw that as, in effect, an attorney for the executive branch, and then as a legislator.”

Fred’s always decent, rhetorically, on these kinds of questions, but still, this is a little more constitution-oriented in dissent of the current executive than he tends to get normally.

The Right’s Field contends that there’s less here than meets the eye (and I agree with them):

Later in the interview, he says he agrees with the Bush Administration on “issues of surveillance,” which after all was what Watergate was about. Plus, he tries hard to frame Congress’ power as solely through the funding mechanism, while saying vaguely that “All the executive authority rests in the president.” In Thompson’s view, if the Congress disagrees with something the executive does, they can refuse to fund it. Of course, this isn’t Congress’ only power, they write the laws and have the explicit power to declare war. But Thompson tries to elide that basic Constitutional reading.

What this does show is that, even in the case of a so-called “skeptic” of unitary executive theory, the next President is going to have a big toolbox of new powers and isn’t going to be too concerned about giving them away. That holds whether the President is a Republican or a Democrat.

Of course, that’s kind of the new reconceptualization of executive power. The executive has as much power as it can get away with. It isn’t proscribed by anything but the ability of Congress to push back. This is almost, bizarrely, sort of misapplied hierarchical free market thinking—that a CEO’s only responsibility is to his shareholders, and he ought to do all he can to maximize profits, and consumers then ought to do all they can to channel that profit drive in ways they prefer (with employees and the board of directors, I suppose, representing Congress here). And whatever the CEO does to expand the company in a way that doesn’t run afoul of consumers is a-okay.

The problem with that thinking is A. that the President is more insulated from his consumers than are CEOs. That’s the Bush “I’ve had one accountability moment in 8 years: the 2004 elections” attitude. He doesn’t give a shit how his stock is doing on a day to day basis. But also, B. even CEOs, in the course of chasing profits, are still accountable to not run afoul of the law. The President, largely, is not. Or at least there’s no power OVER or BEYOND him by which to enforce anything.

But, in a way, it does go back to Congress, and to voters. I think it goes well beyond just funding—Fred is, of course, one to scream bloody murder about Congress not rubber stamping appointments fast enough, and for that matter about “judicial activism”. And I think that the President is, or ought to be, inherently confined by the legal framework under which the executive branch is authorized in all its authority. But, it’s hard to disagree with the general thrust of what Fred’s saying, and I’d rather lip service to constitutionality than no service at all.

Posted by Brad @ 5:02 am on October 27th 2007

Okay, Honestly

How can you not love this movement?

Posted by Brad @ 4:55 am on October 27th 2007

Music Video of the Week

Been awhile.

This is one of my flat-out all-time favorite songs. Top Ten, probably. Also, one of the primary cornerstones of my banjo-cover set list. I happened to be singing it to myself all day today (I really belt this one out), and this is the best video I could find for it. It’s very good, but cuts off the intro (the opening 20 seconds or so). Which is sad. But still, hopefully you can get into it. One of the most beautifully haunting songs I know.

Michael Penn — Long Way Down (Look What the Cat Drug In)

And yes, for those that don’t know Michael Penn, he is indeed the third Penn brother, Sean and Chris being the other two.

Next Page »