Posted by Brad @ 3:55 pm on February 26th 2010

Paterson Out

Looks like we won’t have Governor Paterson to kick around anymore.

Posted by Brad @ 8:25 pm on February 25th 2010

Meanwhile, in Kwame Kilpatrick News…

TCP’s favorite corrupt mayor is, believe it or not, still drawing criminal charges from his time in office.

Posted by Brad @ 5:15 pm on February 25th 2010

Poison Pill

Good for the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Sylvester Reyes (D-TX) for putting up or shutting up. Even if it winds up being little more than a stunt, it’ll be an illuminating one.

Last night, Democrats added a manager’s amendment of their own to the 2010 intelligence authorization bill — one that’s left Republicans scrambling today. It’s called the “The Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Interrogation Act of 2010,” and it would authorize criminal prosecution of intelligence officers who commit specified acts of torture and degrading techniques on detainees in their custody.

The White House isn’t happy; they’ve already threatened to veto the bill because it […]

Safe to say, the White House does not support the amendment. In effect, the amendment, added by intel committee chair Sylvester Reyes, would codify the illegality of the enhanced interrogation techniques that Justice Department lawyers in the Bush Administration found a legal basis for.

The Republican line is that Dems are siding with the detainees over the intelligence officers who protect America.

Noting too that the 59-seat Democratic majority just reupped the Patriot Act today and decided not to include any of the privacy protections they’ve been promising to add, because it turns out the Republicans might object to them. I must have failed to hear that caveat during the campaign speeches of the last few cycles. So anyway, with a totally blue government, the Bush Patriot Act has been quietly re-upped, in full.

Anyway, back to the amendment Reyes covertly added, it…

lists several prohibited acts, including waterboarding, “forcing the individual to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner”, beatings, electric shocks, use of dogs, inducing hypothermia or heat injury, stress positions, deprivation of necessary “sleep, food or medical care” and conducting mock executions.

As this article reminds us, everything listed in the amendment has, presumably, always been illegal anyway by American law, is illegal under the Geneva Conventions, and, just in case there was some confusion, was AGAIN declared illegal in the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act (which Bush, with McCain’s support, declared “non binding”, somehow, by signing it, but appending a statement calling it opposite day, and that worked).

In any case, go ahead Obama. Veto it. That’ll be a nice moment of clarity for this voter.

Posted by Brad @ 5:02 pm on February 25th 2010

Reconcile This!

The great counterfactual of the day, as the Health Care Summit continues longer than expected.

President Obama and bipartisan leaders will be stuck in the meeting at Blair House for a while longer, and an interested reader has suggested:

“…Since the leaders of both parties are stuck in Blair House, can the rest hold session and actually pass some legislation while nobody is paying attention? I just wish this would happen!

An unlikely scenario, but the Blair House meeting does provide a window if the rank-and-file members want to give it a try… The reader was under the impression–which I have not confirmed–that there is no cell reception or Internet at Blair House, meaning Obama and the congressional leadership wouldn’t even get word of a vote happening.

Bottom line: it’s constitutional. Both the House and Senate only need a quorum of a simple majority of the full body to hold session. Then again, Obama would have to sign it…

Posted by Adam @ 2:02 pm on February 25th 2010

The first rule of cover-ups

Is to hide the cover-up. Alas, David Paterson’s operation hasn’t been doing a very good job. The NYT alleges that team Paterson have been bugging an alleged victim of sexual attacks by a senior Paterson aide to get her to drop it all and that the governor himself spoke to the woman.

This is going to screw Paterson. Ironically, the person who would be in charge of the investigation would presumably be Andrew Cuomo, his main (presumptive) rival for the Democratic Party nomination. Presumably Cuomo would have to at least appear to be staying out of it, given the obvious conflict of interest, but he will hardly be without influence.

It’s almost as if keeping a trusted team, personally assembled early in your career when no one wanted to know you, and bringing them with you as you rise to reward that loyalty, is a risky business. Who’d have thought it?

Posted by Rojas @ 11:35 am on February 25th 2010

thimbles was right

…about Blackwater, anyway. The latest revelations include the importation and payment of a Filipino prostitute on the taxpayers’ dime, as well as the theft of a buttload of weapons from the military we are allegedly training to secure Afghanistan. Eric Martin at Obsidian Wings is not immune to the irony:

Considering recent legislation to withold government funds from ACORN, I think I understand the standard applied here, and it makes perfect sense: if some low level employees are caught giving advice (using a doctored videotape that greatly distorts the actual conversation) to a would-be pimp (not actually in costume), then the entire organization should be cut off from government funds entirely and in perpetuity. Can’t have that.

However, if an organization on the government payroll actually pimps out a prostitute for employee “use,” well then, no harm, no foul, boys will be boys, etc. Get it?

Martin’s soft-peddling of the ACORN charges is foolish, but his overall point is sound. In point of fact, BOTH organizations should be weaned from the federal teat. Can someone explain to me how a nation with full-strength garrisons in Germany and Japan is simultaneously so short on military manpower that we have to contract with these dingbats?

Or, alternatively, maybe we could have them switch roles. Have Blackwater register African-American voters while ACORN keeps the peace in Afghanistan. It might not be any more effective, but it’d be a lot more entertaining.

Posted by Brad @ 8:53 pm on February 24th 2010

The Paulpocalypse

I realize we haven’t put up a Ronslaught post in like 12 hours. Sorry Adam! Here’s one!

Brian Doherty, who has been following Ron Paul for almost as long as Rojas, has what I think is the most reasonable take on the CPAC thing, and the one with the most perspective. Bonus: he is saying everything we are saying, including linking the same things we’re linking. Anyway, I think it’s a take worth reading for opponents and supporters alike, though it doesn’t really come to any conclusions (something Reason has been doing a lot of lately, but I digress). Still, the sense of almost numb shock at seeing a guy who was at one time a totally obscure curiosity possibly ushering in a normalization of really hardcore libertarian ideals is worth reading, and is something I and I know Rojas can relate to.

I predicted last September that Ron Paul could well be playing a Goldwater in 1960 role—the first stirrings of a strongly anti-government coalition whose electoral effectiveness won’t become manifest for a while—and the CPAC victory is an encouraging sign in that direction. The usual caveats apply about the unknowability of the future, and the generally predictable pusillanimity when it comes to liberty of both the voters and politicians who have tended to decide the Republican Party’s direction.

Still, it does feel like something is happening, and we don’t know what it is, do we Dr. Paul? I’ve been following Ron Paul’s career since 1988, when my buddies in the University of Florida College Libertarians brought him—then the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate—to our campus to speak. He drew 100 or so people, copped a front page story in the college paper, and fed into my and my comrade’s youthful sense of a subterranean liveliness in ideas and politics that it was still possible to dredge, at least for a moment, to the surface. Swaying masses in that libertarian direction seemed…well, I suppose it was the goal, but in the same sense that interstellar travel might be seen as the “goal” of reading and thinking about science fiction. Libertarian Party politics seemed at best an entertaining vehicle toward the semi-actualization of some wild, hopeful imaginings.

Posted by Rojas @ 8:26 pm on February 24th 2010

Now that we’ve passed the $15 billion jobs bill, Congress’s next urgent priority should, nay, MUST be to enact…

another jobs bill.

Posted by Liz @ 3:48 pm on February 24th 2010

Go Navy! (Beat Army!)

I guess once the Pentagon decides they are tackling sexual issues, they go all the way. In addition to the (slow) movement toward repealing DADT, Gates sent a letter to Congress on Friday expressing the intent to repeal the ban on women serving in submarines.

Women have been serving on US Navy ships since 1993, but close quarters and fear of pesky feminine wiles* prevented them from serving on subs. Now the navy is moving to retrofit the subs (boomers first because they are the biggest) to accommodate women as well. The plan is officers first and at least two women per crew in an integrated ship and it may take up to a year to allow for training.

So hey – Admiral Mullen for the repeal of DADT, SECNAV and CNO for women on subs – this is almost progressive of them. Congress can still potentially pass legislation to continue the sub ban, but there’s a political perception difference between passing exclusionary legislation and dithering on repealing exclusionary legislation.

And this leads right into a correlating point about integration: Women are not on submariens, yet the Navy can integrate, including platform retrofitting and training, in a year, but General Casey and company are worried about the integration of people who are already serving in every aspect of the armed services, who require no retrofitting and no extra training. I don’t want to cry homophobia, but I cannot for the life of me understand this thinking. Admittedly, the Navy is no where near as involved in Iraq and Afghanistan as the Army is and may have more of a luxury in time when it comes to implementing new policy, but, short of a serious lack of confidence in the members of the United States Army to act like professionals, what’s the problem? Gates is now talking about two years of studying the effects of a DADT repeal. This is mind boggling.

*I may have ad-libbed the feminine wiles part.

Posted by Liz @ 2:48 pm on February 24th 2010

Speaking of the Crazy Tea Party Types*. . .

Orly Taitz of Birther fame has appealed to the UN for protection from the United States under the “mandate for human rights defenders“.

As a side thought and exercise in perception versus, well, perception, Taitz has her audience at Tea Party Events, as does Ron Paul and Roy Moore - further emphasizing the point that this is not one analagous movement but a lot of different animals, minerals and vegetables united mostly by name and enthusiasm.

*Dear Brad and Rojas, I am not dissing your tea party, just remarking on some of its looser leaves.

h/t: Wonkette

Posted by Brad @ 2:21 pm on February 24th 2010

Repealing the Health Insurance Industry’s Anti-Trust Exemption

One of my favored reforms, it is being put forward as a stand-alone supplement to Obama’s health care package, and a procedural vote to allow the provision to move forward is happening now.

The name of the bill is H.R. 4626, the “Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act,” and it is put forward by two Democrats, Reps. Tom Perriello (D-VA-05) and Betsy Markey (D-CO-04). It is opposed vehemently by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the health insurance industry (obviously), and corporate interests, but it is unquestionably a thoroughly free market reform. It will be illuminating and enormously educational to see, if it gets to a final bill and gets an up or down vote, which Republicans that hate government sticking it nose in health care nevertheless refuse to have government stop sticking their nose in health care when it does so on behalf of big business. In The Nation, Darcy Bruner calls this a litmus test, seeing whether Republicans are actually in favor of health care reform AT ALL, or if they are just out to protect corporate interests even in cases where doing so requires the government to strike down competitive forces.

Want to know where my money is?

As Bruner puts it:

Since 1945, health insurance companies have been allowed to collude to fix prices. The McCarran-Ferguson Act exempted them from the anti-trust regulations that normally prohibit such behavior. And in a country in which more than 80 percent of markets have only one or two insurers, insurance companies just haven’t bothered to compete. Insurance is the only major industry in the United States, besides Major League Baseball, where such collusion and price-fixing is allowed.

Even the most basic understanding of economics makes it clear that without competition, markets won’t efficiently solve economic problems. As a result, for sixty-five years the American people have overpaid for insurance; the Consumer Federation of America estimates the anti-trust exemption for insurance companies is costing Americans an extra $50 billion in premiums per year.

Perriello’s bill is so clearly both pro-populist and pro-free market that previous versions have received accolades from Republicans–including current Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a conservative Republican, who said in 2007, “The insurance industry, as the result of an antiquated law, is currently one of the only consumer industries in the nation that is exempt from anti-trust laws. This leaves every American at risk to collusion and price fixing by the insurance industry, a practice that is unfair at best, and despicable at worst.”

What’s this bill makes all too clear is that whether you’re a free-market-loving Republican or a progressive populist Democrat, the only principled way to vote is in favor. With no loopholes, no complications and at two pages, the only reason to vote against it is to protect insurance company profits against fair competition. It’s a clear us versus them for populism–on either side of the political spectrum.

A golden opportunity for the GOP to win me over on health care. I have argued before that there ARE market-based mechanisms that would go a long way towards health care reform—this is one of them, perhaps THE biggest and single easiest one.

Which way will they go?

Posted by Jack @ 11:47 pm on February 23rd 2010

Three Questions About The Ron Paul Resurgence

As has been noted in several recent TCP posts and numerous comments, Ron Paul appears to be enjoying a significant popular resurgence within both traditionally conservative organizations and the latest version of a grass roots small government movement. At this year’s CPAC he dominated the straw poll and his supporters are credited with a pro “gay tolerance” message and push back against a social conservative provocateur. They are probably responsible for the results of an issues poll which found size and scope of government to be a far more important matter for attendees than social agendas or security and defense. Likewise, at Tea Party venues Ron Paul remains quite popular, and the movement shows signs of abandoning some of the most fringe elements while also pushing back at the neo-con or GOP co-option attempt, and generally maturing into a small government movement distinct from corporatist dominated GOP politics. And yet, I have significant doubts, nagging worries, and general skepticism. So here are my questions:

1. Is the success of Ron Paul and his messaging at CPAC indicative of actual growth in influence within conservative and GOP circles, or is it merely a youth dominated anomaly and an organizational coup that grossly exaggerates actual influence within these circles? The youth percentage at this CPAC, though consistent with last year’s attendance, is still a far cry from actual GOP voter demographics. The unrivaled capability of Ron Paul supporters to organize and thus descend on a CPAC-like event calls into question the actual nature and depth of his support among the general GOP electorate, as opposed to the small minority represented by activists. Given what I read in conservative media, his actual ideas in foreign policy are almost universally rejected, and his economic theories are granted a say only to the point of advocating a severe limit on certain government spending, notably excluding defense and medicare, and of course this loose embrace of Paulian economics occurs conveniently during a Democratic President’s term.

I would think a reasonable test of this question would be the stated foreign policy positions of the GOP contenders in the 2010 House and Senate races. How many of them endorse Ron Paul’s foreign policy non-interventionism, or even a far less controversial acknowledgment of blowback and the GWOT’s role in feeding the terrorism machine? How many of them will have true small government bonafides that exist outside of the convenient politics of obstruction during a period of Democratic Party ascendency? Looking farther down the road, in the 2012 GOP debates, will there be more than one in nine candidates that openly endorse a serious reconsideration of neo-con foreign policy, War on Terror policies, and the corrosive effect of both?

2. Is the Ron Paul influence within the Tea Party movement exaggerated, perhaps significantly so, due to the anecdotal evidence of recent events? Though it is fair to say the Ron Paul Revolution during the 2008 GOP primary was “the original” Tea Party movement, for purposes of discussion it is necessary to draw a distinct line of demarcation between the 2008 Paul candidacy and the growth of the 2009 Tea Party movement. Any examination of the early TP effort will reveal rather striking differences between the two, with the overwhelming majority of the early TP participants rejecting Paul’s foreign policy and national security positions, and seemingly motivated more by an across the board anti-Obama sentiment than anything else. One does not need to devolve into “they are all racist” nonsense to recognize the fundamental differences between the RP Revolution and the early TP movement.

What I grant the Tea Party defenders is that the movement has evolved, and that the mere presence of fringe elements does not at all suggest domination by them. I am reminded that in 1987 a few friends and I decided to visit D.C. on a beautiful Saturday, taking the short car ride and metro trip in from Annapolis. As we neared the mall, one of us happened to notice that the back of our Metro ticket was advertising a big gay pride rally on the mall. For that exact day. With some trepidation, and really with not much choice, we continued into the heart of Sodom. It was an enlightening day. Thousands upon thousands of demonstrators, crowded the mall. Marchers from every state. Continual speeches from ever corner. Gay bikers, twinks, veterans, cross dressers, young people, old guys, really every stripe of American you could think of. But what I really noticed were the hangers on, the leeches that latched on to this gay rights event: Every fringe element organization you could name had a booth or people handing out literature. I returned to the Academy that evening with a stack of wonderfully absurd pamphlets and hand outs, including several from communist workers parties. The point is that these organizations had NOTHING to do with gay rights, but everything to do with vaguely directed anger and dissatisfaction. Every movement will attract them. The key is to what extent they influence the actual movement.

In the case of the Tea Partiers, my sense is that fringe far right elements had significant influence in the early days, competing only with traditional neo-con voices. And today? I am informed it is better. And yet, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck remain the two most popular figures among Tea Partiers. Not a good sign, certainly not a sign that suggests Paulites and their policies are fully respected there.

3. Are Ron Paul supporters well out in front of Ron Paul’s actual positions, in effect projecting onto him a much more individual rights friendly set of beliefs in the social and culture war arenas than he actually possesses? Critics of Ron Paul, particularly self identified libertarians, will frequently point out his numerous and aggressive anti-libertarian positions. Usually these are either described as staunchly federalist “States Rights” positions, or just poorly disguised traditional social conservatism. His position on gay rights, abortion, and drug laws has come under particular scrutiny. The criticism usually follows the line that Paul seems to provide support for individual States to decide anything and everything, including the right to enact sodomy laws, abortion laws, and drug laws. Additionally, these critics are able to sight Ron Paul’s statements, literature, and proposed legislation that deeply contradicts the image of an individual liberty minded politician, and rather supports the image of a social conservative that supports 50 different flavors of government infringement on civil liberties. And even here, he will grant the Federal government supreme power if it fits his social conservative beliefs, as in his authoring of the Sanctity of Life Act, a federal provision that would define life as beginning at conception, effectively banning, at the federal level, all abortions.

The impression is that Ron Paul supporters, in particular the young enthusiasts, perceive Paul as far more libertarian, socially moderate, and supportive of individual rights at the expense of the power of the state (at any level) than his record actually suggests. This is bit of a double edged sword. On the good side: so what? This just means that a major influencing movement within the conservative arena is pushing an agenda that is roughly libertarian and socially liberal even if the figure head is not fully on board. The down side is that perhaps these supporters, projecting their beliefs onto a politician, are empowering not a libertarian civil liberties defender, but a man at times hostile to such notions, and positioning him to directly influence legislation and party politics along lines he, rather than they, support.

Even granted an accurate answer to all three of these question, I am at a loss as to what that would mean. I am left with the same intense inner conflict I have had with the Ron Paul movement since I posted my first comment to The Crossed Pond. I resolved that conflict along the following lines: While Ron Paul has any number of crucial positions that I find superior to the vast majority of politicians in general and Republicans in specific, he also has some significant negatives, including fringe beliefs and several thinly disguised anti-liberty tendencies. But ALL of the GOP candidates have some beliefs that I find now (and in other times I would hope that many more Americans would as well) to be deeply fringe and certainly anti-liberty, and these Republicans are frequently joined, with varying enthusiasm, by their Democratic Party colleagues. Furthermore, these mainstream GOP candidates are capable of, even likely to, implement these insane policies, whereas Paul’s unpalatable ideas are largely beyond feasible legislation. In other words: Ron Paul’s crazy is neutralized by the system, whereas the rest of the GOP’s insanity is reinforced by it. Given this, I am greatly pleased that he might have a growing influence on conservative and GOP affairs, but skeptical of the extent of this effect.

Incidentally: If it was not clear from my links, other than our own Brad and Rojas (for the defense), there are two bloggers that influenced me deeply on this issue, and you should read them if you want the highly critical libertarian analysis of the Ron Paul effect:

Kip Esquire. While he is mostly a twitter fiend now, his blogging days were pure libertarian delight. Man you need to blog at least occasionally, Kip. His Ron Paul collection.

Timothy Sandefur. Formerly one of the contributors to Positive Liberty, but as I understand it, his foreign policy views, particularly regarding Iraq and the War on Terror, lead to his decision to strike out on his own. He is one of those libertarians actually doing something other than blogging for the cause: he is an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, carving out a niche as the nation’s premier property rights legal coalition, and author of Property Rights in 21st Century America. His Ron Paul collection: One Two Three Four Five

It should probably come as no surprise that two of my favorite libertarian bloggers are also members of a socially unacceptable minority. No, not that one, far less acceptable than that.

Posted by Brad @ 4:46 pm on February 23rd 2010

Ron Paul in Scarborough Country

Sorry for the Ronslaught of late, but this was good.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

One thing I didn’t realize: this year, 54% of CPAC attendees were between the ages of 18-25, which everyone keeps mentioning, mostly in the context of it proving the vote was worthless.

Last year, 57% of CPAC attendees were between 18-25, and Mitt Romney won, and I can’t recall anybody ever mentioning that.

Posted by Rojas @ 3:57 pm on February 23rd 2010

HIRA: Obama’s health care constituency creator

Get used to the term HIRA. The acronym, which stands for Health Insurance Rate Authority, is the new federal agency which is springing into existence as part of the reconciliation of the House and Senate health care bills. How one can “reconcile” the contradictions between two pieces of legislation by adding something that is part of neither is an interesting question, but not one I wish to dwell upon at present.

The function of HIRA will be to block health insurance companies from charging what they wish for their services. No, really. The sole function of this agency is to impose direct price controls on the insurance industry whenever the government deems their premium increases to be “unreasonable”. Because it is, of course, the proper function of government to decide when private profits are excessive. And, where necessary, to require businesses to operate at a loss, rather than force consumers to have to actually pay the costs necessary to produce the services they consume.

Well…no, that’s not quite right, either. A straight up price control would be economically insane on its own terms. But HIRA’s mandate is not to impose industry-wide standards. It is to isolate individual insurers and block their rate increases when the government wills it to be so. Needless to say, the potential for politically motivated abuse here is endless. Effectively the government is giving itself a cudgel with which to put politically non-cooperative insurance providers out of business, thereby rewarding “team players” in the industry.

And people wonder why corporations want to influence elections.

Normally, of course, price controls of this short would result in shortages, as suppliers would be unable to meet the new demand. In health care this would mean that high-risk populations would lose coverage entirely as covering them became unaffordable. But of course, that can’t happen under the Obama plan, because insurers CAN’T deny coverage. So what is created is…a massive new constituency of syncophantic ensurers who will go out of business unless we add a public option to clean up the mess that HIRA creates. Which, I guess, is fine, if you thought we ought to have a public option or a single payer system to begin with.

So I guess what we’re increasingly faced with is a rather stark contrast in philosophy. The Democratic health care proposals at this point can no longer be described as a hybrid plan. It is inevitably a comprehensive state takeover by degrees, with the insurance companies serving as the equivalent of a utility. People who believe that the government ought to provide health care directly to its citizens ought to be supporting the Democratic proposal. Those who believe that health care ought to be a market good–to any extent–will be wanting to support an alternative.

Posted by Brad @ 2:33 pm on February 23rd 2010

The Politics of Giving

Nice interview between Reason and Adam Meyerson, the president of Philanthropy Roundtable, regarding the nonprofit sector’s constant fear of government getting ideas about looking to philanthropic giving as a way to raise revenue, something Obama has made noises about once or twice.

Besides working in it, I agree with Meyerson on the incredible strength of philanthropy in the American experience and economy, and if anything I think there ought to be more tax breaks for making nonprofit donations, not less. Anyway, worth a read, to see what keeps nonprofit managers up at night.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:09 pm on February 23rd 2010

Gay-friendly Conservatism

When gay conservative groups established a bold presence at CPAC, and when they came under fire from the usual bigots, guess whose supporters rallied to their defense?

Like you didn’t already know.

The Paul-inspired groups were responsible for one of the pivotal moments of the three-day conference. On Friday, Students for Liberty president Alexander McCobin used his speech in the rapid-fire “Two-Minute Activist” line-up to “commend CPAC for inviting GOProud,” a gay Republican group. That got a rise out of Ryan Sobra, an anti-gay activist who followed McCobin and condemned the conference for inviting the group. When he was booed, Sobra confusingly attacked Jeff Frazee — the head of Young Americans for Liberty. But he was onto something — it was the presence of Paul fans, who had crowded into the room for his upcoming speech, that meant Sobra would get more boos than cheers.

“I was thanking my lucky stars that the Ron Paul fans were there,” said Jimmy LaSalva, the executive director of GOProud, in a Saturday interview with TWI. “The Campaign for Liberty deserves a lot of credit for setting that tone.”

The more I read about CPAC, the more I think that the straw poll was only the tip of the iceberg. The performance of the young Paulites was simply sensational at every level–and their insistance on full respect for gay attendees is particularly inspiring. This has been way too long in coming, and there is clearly still a lot of work to be done. But for the first time, there seems to be a meaningful insurgency within party ranks on the issue.

I have never been prouder to be part of this movement.

Posted by Brad @ 8:13 pm on February 22nd 2010

Jobs Bill Passes First Cloture Vote, 62-30

Surprising. Reid lost Nelson, but gained Scott Brown (R-MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kit Bond (R-MO) and George Voinovich (R-OH).

Weirdly, it looks like straight-up whining actually worked.

“Work with us on this,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said moments before the vote. “Show us you’re serious about legislating.”

Reid also warned Republicans: Fail to support this bill, and the minority would “confirm their reputation as the ‘Party of No.'”

Whodathunkit.

The bill itself does seem pretty middle-of-the-road, and in any other political climate I’d have expected it wouldn’t even be an issue. But I’m sort of surprised any Republican is doing anything but voting no on everything through 2010.

Of course, Bond is in reelection trouble. And as for Brown, the irony is that he was put over the top by Tea Partiers, but my hunch is he becomes by far the most liberal member of the Republican caucus, as he knows he can’t go back to MA come reelection time looking like a right-wing obstructionist. If you’re Brown, the last thing you want is blue state buyer’s remorse taking hold. My guess is Brown becomes for the GOP sort of like Nelson is for the Dems.

Posted by Brad @ 2:41 pm on February 22nd 2010

Music Video of the White Girl Rap

I like Ingrid Michaelson, and tooling around to post something else as the Music Video of the Week, came across this gem. She’s a surprisingly good rapper (and she does get into the real song eventually, which I adore). I’m not sure why the “soft and sultry” style of spittin’ hot fire hasn’t taken off yet.

Ingrid Michaelson – The Way I Am (rap remix)

Posted by Rojas @ 1:48 pm on February 22nd 2010

The other CPAC poll

Posted by Cameron @ 12:30 pm on February 22nd 2010

Scalia, Chitown and Reconstruction

A fantastic primer on some of the remarkably long lived constitutional intricacies in play in the upcoming SCOTUS case is in today’s WSJ.

Posted by Brad @ 11:14 am on February 22nd 2010

“It’s a Trick. Get an axe.”

It looks like the White House has appointed a Senator to lead the push for repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. And that Senator will be Joe Lieberman.

Despite the Army of Darkness quote, I suppose Lieberman will do just fine on this (although why not Webb?). Still, if you’re a progressive watching how the White House chooses to interact with the Senate—bending over backwards to placate the dozen or so “centrists” and 41 or so Republicans while generally ignoring anybody to the left of Reid—you have to be gnashing your teeth a little.

Posted by Rojas @ 10:41 am on February 22nd 2010

Get the wedge!

Glenn Greenwald–as authentic a civil libertarian as you’ll find–points out that the Republican record of governance is incompatible with the small-government preferences of the Tea Party movement, and wonders why on earth Paulites in particular would consider an alliance of convenience with the neoconservative Republican establishment.

Two responses.

1. Greenwald makes the same mistake as a large portion of the media in considering the Tea Party movement as an ideological monolith. Of course, he makes the mistake in a different way; while the mainstream media sees them all as Palinites (and I suppose that from the ideological starting point of the media, everyone on the right might seem to be), Greenwald sees the movement as overwhelmingly Paulite. I only wish that were true. Ironically, it’s been observers on the right who’ve painted the most accurate picture of the internal divergences in the movement. Perhaps this is a function of the right-wing media having actually attempted to understand the story they’re reporting on instead of using it as a target for mockery. Which leads us to:

2. Greenwald forgets that, from its inception, the Tea Party movement has been the target of widespread mockery and resentment on the left. Its members have been accused of fanatacism and racism at every turn. To the extent that any effort has been made to understand the concerns of the Tea Partiers, it has been made by Republicans.

The truth be told, I strongly sympathize with Greenwald’s criticism; I’ve been outspoken in these pages about the need for the Tea Party (particularly the Paulite segment) to remain independent in their outlook and avoid being coopted by one party or the other. In point of fact I think that’s a necessary strategy for libertarians generally at this stage. But there isn’t much point in wondering why the Tea Party movement leans the way it does. As badly as Ron Paul and his sympathizers have been treated by the Republican mainstream–and at times they have been treated very, very badly indeed–it doesn’t hold a candle to the way the entire Tea Party movement has been ridiculed by the Obama faction and their media enablers.

No, most Tea Partiers don’t have an awful lot in common with the Republican establishment. No, they shouldn’t be signing up as that party’s footsoldiers. But the movement’s partisan lean didn’t drop into existence out of a clear blue sky, and civil libertarians like Greenwald ought to reflect upon its causes rather that gaze bewildered at its effects.

Posted by Brad @ 9:39 pm on February 20th 2010

Feel the Ronslaught; CPAC Victory Reax

First, The Corner, because I was most interested in seeing the partisan Republican take.

Aside from two VERY noticeable dissenters (John Derbyshire and David Freddoso), National Review has not, shall we say, been on board the Ronslaught. They invested themselves even more than most partisan organizations into the 2002-2006 neoconservative narrative, so Paul was seen as, at best, a lunatic, and at worst, a traitor not in the party sense, but in the American one.

So it’s nice to see the top post at The Corner about Ron’s victory in the CPAC straw poll giving the good doctor a tip of the hat and a healthy dose of respect (they’re also perhaps less inclined to dismiss CPAC straw polls, as they trumpeted Romney’s heavily).

I’ll quote it in full. From Robert Costa:

There may have been some boos, but Paul was by far one of the more popular speakers at CPAC this year. “End the Fed!” was one of most-heard chants and his “Campaign for Liberty” group was everywhere. Heck, a lot of the time, it seemed like they, not the American Conservative Union, was CPAC’s host. Even Ann Coulter, who drew a huge crowd herself, felt compelled to give a shout out to Paul-mania, saying she agreed with everything he stands for outside of foreign policy — a statement met with cheers.

Paul supporters were the most visible and vocal throughout CPAC — waving posters, signs, and passing out pamphlets. Unlike the 2012 wannabes, Paul doesn’t play coy: He has a manifesto and wants to broadcast it. Period. No worries about the media spin or whether the speech gets headlines (see Pawlenty, Tiger doctrine). And, instead of the usual anti-Obama talk, Paul framed a hefty chunk of his CPAC address upon a critique of Woodrow Wilson. And the crowd dug it.

Some older CPAC attendees don’t seem to care much for the Texas congressman, sure, but many young activists seem to regard him as a hero of sorts. When he talks about the debt, like he did on Friday, calling it a “monster” that will “eat up” our future, it was with a passion that you can’t fake in politics. He also didn’t mind challenging many of the room’s security hawks on foreign policy. “There is nothing wrong with being a conservative and having a conservative belief in foreign policy where we have a strong national defense and don’t go to war so carelessly,” Paul said. That line was met with a lot of silence, some nods, but, based on my conservations with activists afterward, strong respect from many for not simply pandering.

As Paul strolled through the lobby on Friday, slightly hunched and rail thin, cell phones galore lit up the Marriott Wardman Park. Students, a huge CPAC contingent, flocked. That should have been a sign to anyone looking to predict the straw poll. While Paul mingled with his acolytes, the big guns — Pawlenty, Romney — were often shrouded by aides or mingling backstage. Believe me: CPAC folks noticed. And now, thanks to the straw poll, for a moment, Paul’s opening line from his address is true: His “revolution is alive and well,” at least this weekend.

More below the jump.

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Posted by Adam @ 8:06 pm on February 20th 2010

Paul triumphant

All Hail Ron Paul, the successor to Mitt Romney as CPAC straw poll winner.

It makes sense, actually; I’d read a story a few days ago about how Paul supporters had been numerous at CPAC and Paul is certainly a lot more conservative than Romney. The boos weren’t very classy, but it’s CPAC and neither of those ‘C’s stands for “class”. Speaking of a lack of class, Anne Coulter isn’t done with John Edwards jibes yet.

Posted by Brad @ 5:22 pm on February 19th 2010

The Courageous Fight Against Libertarians and Small Government Nuts Trying to Coopt the Tea Party Movement from the Good Decent Republican Folks It Represents

Huh. I sort of understand where Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson is coming from in making the following point in the Washington Post today, but…huh.

The left has a political interest in defining the broad backlash against expanded government as identical to the worst elements of the Tea Party movement — birthers and Birchers, militias and nativists, racists and conspiracy theorists, acolytes of Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and Lyndon LaRouche.[…]

[T]here are others, new to political engagement, who have found paranoia and anger intoxicating. They watch Glenn Beck rail against the omnipresent threat of Saul Alinsky, read Ayn Rand’s elevation of egotism and contempt for the weak, listen to Ron Paul attacking the Federal Reserve cabal, and suddenly their resentments become ordered into a theory. Such theories, in politics, can act like a drug, causing addiction, euphoria and psychedelic departures from reality. […]

Eventually, these theories require repudiation or else they can taint a political movement — like a little red dye turns a container of water pink. This is precisely what William F. Buckley did in the 1950s and ’60s, repudiating Rand and Robert Welch of the John Birch Society, thereby creating a legitimate conservatism that could elect candidates such as Ronald Reagan.

A similar effort will be required today of conservative political and intellectual leaders. It will not be easy.

To prevent psychedelic departures from reality, we need a return to good honest Bush-era Republicanism. This tea party thing would be fine if it weren’t so radical!

Huh.

Maybe that brush he’s painting with is a liiiittle wide. Reminds me of Mike Huckabee’s out-of-left-field broadside attempt to write libertarianism out of the Republican party.

Posted by Brad @ 3:05 pm on February 19th 2010

Sarah Palin Smackdown

Family Guy aired an episode in which Chris goes on a date with a girl with Down’s Syndrome. One of the throwaway lines was in response to Chris asking “tell me about yourself,” and the girl, in describing her family, saying “…and my mom was the former Governor of Alaska.”

Since Sarah Palin has suddenly become the arbiter of special needs PCism, both she and Bristol (?) released statements calling the writers of Family Guy “heartless jerks”.

Well, the chick that did the voice for Chris’ date in that episode happens to be an actress with Down’s Syndrome, her name is Andrew Friedman, and she has a statement of her own.

My name is Andrea Fay Friedman. I was born with Down syndrome. I played the role of Ellen on the “Extra Large Medium” episode of Family Guy that was broadcast on Valentine’s day. I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor. I thought the line “I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska” was very funny. I think the word is “sarcasm”.

In my family we think laughing is good. My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life. My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes.

BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE!

Posted by Brad @ 1:29 pm on February 19th 2010

Mitt Romney vs. Sky Blu and Redfoo

You probably heard that Mitt Romney was in an air rage incident this week.

Well, you probably didn’t know that his altercation was with electro-hop star Sky Blu, of the Grammy-nominated musical group LMFAO. And he has his side of the story.

Awesome.

Posted by Brad @ 1:19 pm on February 19th 2010

The MA DOMA Challenge

That they filed in July is speeding along.

Posted by Brad @ 1:11 pm on February 19th 2010

The Last Words of Roger Ebert

If you haven’t read it (and why would you have?), Chris Jones’ Esquire portrait of Roger Ebert and his medical situations is really haunting and well done (and Ebert provides his take on the article here).

Posted by Brad @ 12:51 pm on February 19th 2010

In a Society Where Privacy is No Longer Held Inviolable…

Don’t be surprised if others take your cue. A school district here in PA disciplined a student for “inappropriate behavior in their home.” If that’s not weird enough, the evidence they had was a webcam picture of him…

…a webcam on his school-issued laptop which was remotely activated by the school to spy on him, something they freely admit they can and do do with all school-issued laptops.

Jumpin Jesus Jehosaphat.

Both Positive Liberty and Ed Brayton weigh in.

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