Posted by Brad @ 3:42 pm on August 31st 2011

From the Annals of Childish and Transparent Campaign Tactics…

President Obama decides to request a special fully televised joint session of Congress to present his jobs plan, on the exact date and time of the long-scheduled Republican primary presidential debate. Thereby kind of hijacking the whole “frank and honest debate” part of a presidential race.

Meanwhile, if Ron Paul were looking for another way to distinguish himself with Republican voters

Posted by Brad @ 10:25 am on August 31st 2011

How’s That Obama Administration Working Out for You, Civil Libertarians?

Here is what John Yoo had to say in essentially fiating the legality of the warrantless wiretap program begun under Bush, and continued and expanded under Obama:

“Intelligence gathering in direct support of military operations does not trigger constitutional rights against illegal searches and seizures.”

What else does the federal government think in terms of illegal searches and seizures, and the executive branches ability to runaround them? We don’t know. That quote is from one of only 8 sentences not redacted in John Yoo’s 21-page memo giving what has been institutionalized as the federal government’s thinking on the matter.

The Obama administration has refused to declassify a secret memo from the George W. Bush presidency that justified the warrantless spying conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Matthew Aid, a writer who’s covered the NSA and surveillance policy, requested a copy of a 2001 Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion by John Yoo that discussed the legal grounds for electronic spying without permission from a special federal court. The Department of Justice mostly denied Aid’s Freedom of Information Act request, saying the redacted information in the OLC opinion was “classified, covered by non-disclosure provisions contained in other federal statutes, and is protected by the deliberative process privilege.”

Not only do we have no right to know whether the government is spying on us, we don’t even have the right to know why they think they can spy on us.

Really, the only daylight between an Obama administration on this question, and a McCain 2008 or Romney/Perry one in 2012, is that at least the Republicans are relatively upfront about their position. In terms of practice? No difference at all that I can see.

Posted by Brad @ 2:30 pm on August 30th 2011

Social Security: Still a Ponzi Scheme, Ctd

In debating this question, Mother Jones and The Examiner trade Venn Diagrams.

Nick Baumann:

Tim Carney:

Posted by Brad @ 1:14 pm on August 30th 2011

“White House issues guidelines for commemorating Sept. 11”

That’s the New York Times headline for this story

WASHINGTON — The White House has issued detailed guidelines to government officials on how to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, with instructions to honor the memory of those who died on American soil but also to recall that Al Qaeda and other extremist groups have since carried out attacks elsewhere in the world, from Mumbai to Manila.

…which I should not have read literally immediately following reading this (although Glenn had his own takeaway from the same NYT story).

Posted by Brad @ 3:22 pm on August 29th 2011

The Foreign Policy of Rick Perry

“We must renew our commitment to taking the fight to the enemy wherever they are, before they strike at home. I do not believe that America should fall subject to a foreign policy of military adventurism.”

Got it?

Posted by Adam @ 2:56 pm on August 29th 2011

The naked truth about breaching the peace

Late last week, “naked rambler” Stephen Gough — a former Royal Marine who became famous for walking from one end of the UK to the other, unclothed all the way — was freed from Perth Prison, in Scotland, half-way through a three year prison sentence for Breach of the Peace and Contempt of Court. As is his wont, he left the prison naked and was promptly re-arrested and will do the extra year and a half of his sentence.

Gough is clearly a rather odd man who is determined not to wear clothing even if the result is lengthy prison terms, but I am bemused that they keep arresting the guy anyhow. This is why have a police force and courts and the might and majesty* of the judicial system? Once you make a law you effectively have to enforce it like this against people who refuse to obey, but Gough’s illustrating, to my mind, that it’s a godamned dumb law. Public nudity isn’t illegal in the UK, but the Breach of the Peace laws are fairly broad (and Contempt of Court is somewhat broad, too), but I’m just not convinced that this is a sensible use of those laws. If the nation doesn’t want a public nudity law — and he’d wandered around naked for a fair amount of time before it was decided he should get arrested, but since then he’s been in and out of prison for it — which the UK doesn’t have, is a catch-all like Breach of the Peace supposed to be used to keep sending a guy to prison for, effectively, offending people?

*Literally, in the case of the UK, it’s Her Majesty’s Prison Service, etc.

Posted by Rojas @ 1:46 pm on August 27th 2011

A hurricane question for our east coast bloggers and readers

To what extent would you say your experience so far has been similar to being rocked by 80s metal band The Scorpions?

Posted by Jack @ 9:58 pm on August 26th 2011

Reading NRO: Hard.

I take a small measure of pride in my political and social policy reading habits, methodically forcing exposure to a wide range of viewpoints by including in my daily reading list blogs representing a range of conservative, libertarian, and liberal thought. I make sure to read both atheists and evangelicals as well. But I find it hard, so very hard, to read the doctrinaire, hopelessly partisan echo chambers. NRO’s The Corner is particularly difficult. Consider the 26 articles on their front page as of this writing of which only 16 are content, the remainder being non-political self-reference, light snark, inside blog-baseball, round ups of the NRO front page links, or “how my vacation is going” commentary. So, 16 items with some political content, and they include:
Michael Walsh’s myopic reflection of how some asshat vandalization in Wisconsin is broadly representative of The Left’s “snarling viciousness.” Yet another self-victimization incapable of separating individual action from a broader ideology, while also blinkered to the equivalent actions emanating from elements of the right. Not one word of balance.
Jay Nordlinger’s explanation of his personal alternate universe in which “For 25 years, liberals have thrown something in my face: My beloved Reagan’s raid on Libya in 1986 killed Qaddafi’s daughter.” Setting aside the possibly non-ironic use of “my beloved Reagan”: seriously, this is what liberals have been throwing in your face? I truly want to meet the liberals that are doing this. Perhaps you can introduce me to them during the next faerie circle gathering. Almost beyond parody.
Rich Lowry’s condemnation of effete elitist liberals who dismiss Perry because of his speech pattern and accent (a worthy point, no person’s ideas should be dismissed because of a regional speech pattern or dialect), which he then transitions into a purposeful condemnation of Obama’s speech pattern and dialect.
Yet another “conservatives as victims” pearl clutching article, this time by Peter Kirsanow, in which he selectively contrasts appeals for civility in the aftermath of Rep Gifford’s shooting with Obama’s 2008 use of the word “unpatriotic” in his descriptor of Bush II’s deficit spending. Ignoring the legitimate critique of Obama’s inconsistency on the national debt in the subsequent three years, Kirsanow prefers to champion the put upon white man in the Midwest, who now has his speech regulated while the blacks and “Hispanic Rastafarian females” can say what they want.
Mark Krikorian’s expose of an immigrant’s drunk driving incident, when said immigrant is named Obama. In talented hands this would be an amusing anecdote. In Krikorian’s it is merely another entry in the conservative genre of “document all crimes committed by potentially illegal immigrants with great zeal, while leaving out the context of overall criminality rates.”
Andrew Stiles’ carefully worded summary of Speaker Boehner’s latest letter of concern to President Obama, in which Andrew uncritically repeats the Speaker’s assertion that new EPA regulations will cost upwards of $90 Billion. Left out of the post is any mention of what this regulation is about (ground level Ozone maximum level reduction from 75 ppm to between 60 to 70), the careful change of wording from Boehner letter (as much as $90 billion) to the more alarming “upwards of $90 billion”, the actual range of the estimated costs, or any mention of the estimated savings (hint: as much as $100 billion, or upwards of $100 billion if you prefer). Concern for expanding EPA regulations is legitimate, uncritical and conveniently inaccurate repetition of your ideologically preferred politician’s talking points: not so much.
A set aside column for Congresswoman Nan Hayworth’s emotionally charged, inaccurate, and pandering report, or perhaps hagiographic peon, to Israel in the wake of her recent visit (as apparently 20% of our Congress chose to do during this summer break!) Possibly ghost written by the Shas Party, Rep Hayworth’s post alleges that Israel welcomes citizens of all faiths (Palestinians, 1967, and Right of Return excepted?), and in contrast to Hezbollah will not “rain fire on innocents” (Operation Case Lead excepted?). She includes a “think of the children” style argument, but exclusively focused on only Israeli children, endorses the mad mullah theory of middle east and Iranian foreign policy. While making he mandatory invocation of the Holocaust, she drives it all home with an almost cult like reference to a transcendent relationship between Israelis and Americans, bound as we are like brother and sister in an incestuous celestial marriage. OK, made the last three words up, but only those three.
– And best of all, a nearly indescribably piece by Stanley Kurtz continuing his extraordinary campaign of cherry picked, out of context, carefully elided, magnificently distorted, tenuously linked psycho analysis of Obama as a radical Marxist socialist liberation theologist Alynskyite. His hook is that he is merely providing a reasonable set of questions to Obama that serve as a counterpoint to the open letter “explain your faith” questions posed by Bill Keller of the New York Times to the GOP candidates. Whereas Keller’s questions are fairly open ended, only mildly loaded, brief, and easily answered by a frank conservative (as John Derbyshire has demonstrated), Kurtz’ are perhaps the greatest examples of rigged and loaded questions I have ever read. A full paragraph intro proceeds actual query, during the course of reading them I lost track of how many acquaintances and political contacts Kurtz identified as “mentors” to the younger Obama. Given the President’s actual track record in office, you would think these sort of Marxist radical cries might have given way before the legitimate critiques available Not for Kurtz. How is this man still taken seriously at William F Buckley’s house?

Posted by Jack @ 7:51 pm on August 26th 2011

Huntsman Liberal or Moderate Only In Most Categories. Therefore: Deeply Conservative!

TPM purports to demonstrate that presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is “moderate” only by relative comparison to the far right GOP field and the general Tea Party-ish national conservative sentiment. They support this hypothesis with four big picture points ostensibly revealing his deep ideological conservativeness:
Conservative on climate change: He acknowledges anthropogenic global warming but intends to “do nothing” about it as evidenced by his lack of support for cap and trade, which even McCain supported back in 2008.
Conservative on economics: While admitting that he supported raising the debt ceiling, TPM points out that he supported Speaker Boehner’s Balanced Budget Amendment, rejected the 10 to 1 spending vs revenue hypothetical presented during the last debate, and is a “big fan” of the Paul Ryan plan.
Conservative on gay rights: Publically supports civil unions, but since he is “to the right” of the majority of American’s on gay marriage, apparently this is not really a moderate position.
Moderate on the wars? TPM spots him this one, giving him reasonably, albeit reluctant credit, for what is in essence the liberal position on withdrawal from Afghanistan.
So to recap: Far from being a moderate, Huntsman is actually a deeply conservative candidate because he is to the left of Obama in only 1 of 4 of the designated criteria (wars), maintains the exact position of Obama in another (gay marriage), vocally endorses AWG but is unwilling to endorse the preferred liberal policy solutions, and has rejected the Grover Norquist no new tax pledge. Crack reporting.

Posted by Adam @ 9:25 am on August 26th 2011

When whining pricks attack

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson (who I once read should be addressed by his proper name of Alex Whinger, in order that it fit better into the football chant “One X Y-Z, there’s only one X Y-Z, one X Y-Zzzz, there’s only one X Y-Z”, sung to the tune of Guantanamera, ad nauseum, which requires for maximal mellifluous effect a name of which the first part has one syllable and the second has two) is unhappy. One might well agree that he should be unhappy, because he’s a miserable bastard and if one wasn’t unhappy already, that’d make surely make someone unhappy, but I detect a paradox, or a tautology, or something.

Anyhow. Alex feels that Manchester United get picked on because they get in trouble when he insults referees, or when cretinous players swear into TV cameras. That stuff would, you know, obviously happen to other clubs too, but it seems that because Manchester United provides lots of players for the England squad, they should get special treatment rather than the Football Association “…treating us like shit”. I think he’s onto something here and while we’re at it, I think that it’s unfair that United have to play games every season to try and win trophies when they should just be given them. I also propose that Christmas Day be renamed Alex Ferguson day, where we will all don make-up to make our faces attain the ruddy hue of a smacked arse while loudly and endlessly complaining about not getting treated with enough respect, before gifting everyone with photographs of ourselves (frame not included).

Posted by Brad @ 1:00 pm on August 25th 2011

RIP, Gary Johnson Campaign

In an alternate universe, Gary Johnson might be a good candidate.

In this one, he seems to be there with Jon Huntsman and Tim Pawlenty in the pantheon of candidates who look good on paper but who don’t even get a look in reality. In retrospect, the decision of Paul to run again was probably a mortal wound, as was the fact that the one issue he really distinguishes himself on – the drug war – just isn’t very live. It’s not even that it’s unpopular per se, just that it seems to be greeted with total ambivalence. Who’d have thought that, as far as pet issues goes, the War on Drugs would come off as more anachronistic and less able to stir emotions than conspiratorial-ish distrust of central banking and wonky counterfactuals on monetary policy in history.

In any case, the next Republican debate – and the first to feature Rick Perry – will be held September 6th, and Politico/NBC has set their arbitrary inclusion requirement as having polled 4% of more in any national poll.

So sharing the stage will be Rick Santorum (who snagged a 6% outlier in June) and Jon Huntsman (who once polled at 4%), but not Johnson, who can only broach 3, and will thus join the sad ranks of Thad McCotter and Buddy Roemer in the category of candidates who can’t even launch into also-ran territory.

Katrina Trinko implies that that cutoff probably isn’t accidental. She’s probably right, but at this point I’m not really sure I’d have any real good argument for his inclusion. At this point he just doesn’t have a constituency.

This is probably the death-knell for the Johnson campaign, such as it needed one. It’s too damn bad. Is it too late to get into the race for Bingaman’s Senate seat?

Posted by Brad @ 9:49 am on August 25th 2011

DHS Brings the Patriot Act to Bear on WikiLeaks

Specifically, to order their hosting company to provide any and all information they have on Assange and the organization, in what looks to me like a fishing expedition for the grand jury in Virginia.

Posted by Brad @ 6:41 pm on August 24th 2011

A Strange Thought

So, I haven’t considered much who I’m going to vote for in the Republican primary. I like both Gary Johnson and Jon Huntsman. But honestly, I gave it a thought today, and I think I might cast my vote for Ron Paul. For strategic reasons. On the grounds of electability.

I shall call it the Ron Paul rule. Vote for the most electable Ron Paulian candidate running. But kind of strange that that happens to be Ron Paul.

Posted by Brad @ 8:41 am on August 24th 2011

And the #1 Dumbest Earmark According to John McCain…

One of the many reasons I hate earmark battles is they invariably require some politico to pull out examples of particularly “outrageous” ones. And usually about 80% of them are actually pretty important things that are just not important in a way a lay person would understand without, you know, stopping and thinking about it for more than 11 seconds. If your garden variety Republican still can’t get past the “How can there be global warming – look outside, it’s a snowstorm!” level of scientific awareness, I don’t really trust them as judges of obscure scientific projects in a vacuum.

Anyway, from this article, H/T Weigel.

Posted by Brad @ 1:37 pm on August 23rd 2011


Sitting at my desk here in a converted warehouse when the floor started shaking underneath me. Not cool, earth.

Posted by Brad @ 11:58 am on August 23rd 2011

Ron Paul – What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

We have variants of this discussion a lot in 2008, about what people were afraid of it Ron Paul were somehow miraculously elected. For some reason I always felt that Paul was held to a different standard than anyone else – it was just generally assumed that Ron Paul, being elected President, would suddenly fiat into existence a libertarian utopia/distopia. Even with Paul himself assuring voters he would work towards ends, but incrementally – no first executive order being the abolishment of all government agencies – that was generally the standard to which he was held. That’s both fair and unfair depending on how you look at it.

Anyway, Conor Friedersdorf, a Paul-sympathetic, begins honestly reflecting on the question, and inviting readers to do the same. His setup:

So I got to thinking. What’s the worst thing that could plausibly happen if Ron Paul wins? And by that metric, how does he measure up to the folks he’s running against? Don’t ask why I chose him. It’s obvious. The idea of him in the White House makes a lot of the people reading this post uneasy. Despite my libertarian sympathies, there is even a part of me that has always felt, without ever having thought it through, that putting Paul in the White House would be the biggest gamble of all the possible candidates running in the GOP primary. His tenure might have tremendous upsides: zero imprudently launched wars, a resurgence of civil liberties, more transparency. But he’s also a radical who wants to see more fundamental change than any other candidate, he is least beholden to the political establishment, which constrains the behavior of conventional pols, and we’ve never seen him operate as an executive. […]

Even so, I am beginning to wonder whether my intuition that he represents the biggest gamble has led me astray: as I ponder the worst case scenarios that Paul might bring about, they don’t seem scarier than the alternatives.

It’s an interesting question, and go read the comment section, wherein the readers try to reasonably grapple with it too.

Posted by Brad @ 10:48 am on August 23rd 2011

Let the Iowa Poll-Watching Begin!

Now that the GOP field is more or less set, and most of the candidates have at least some state presences in the states where they’re likely to compete, polling is actually going to be sort-of worth watching – still so provisional as to not be predicative, but now not so provisional as to be completely useless. Plus, the pollsters have been polling generally the same slate of candidates for the last few rounds, meaning we can now start getting a sense of momentum.

To wit, Weigel flags the newest PPP poll (PDF). Here is their read of Iowa (without Sarah Palin):

Rick Perry – 22% (+22)
Mitt Romney – 19% (-2)
Michelle Bachmann – 18% (+7)
Ron Paul – 16% (+8)
Herman Cain – 7% (-8)
New Gingrich – 5% (-7)
Rick Santorum – 5% (+5)
Jon Hunstman – 3% (+3)

And here it is if Sarah Palin were to run:

Rick Perry – 21% (+21)
Mitt Romney – 18% (-3)
Michele Bachmann – 15% (+4)
Ron Paul – 12% (+4)
Sarah Palin – 10% (-5)
Newt Gingrich – 7% (-5)
Herman Cain – 6% (-9)
Rick Santorum – 5% (+5)
John Huntsman – 3% (+3)

Please note: Ron Paul is polling ahead of Sarah Palin in Iowa. I’m guessing you won’t hear that data point much.

In any case, don’t put too much stock in Perry’s numbers – although it’s clear he’ll be competitive, I wouldn’t hand him frontrunner status just yes. The Perry boomlet will maybe bring him back into the teens somewhere – although maybe not.

The Big Mo’, however, clearly belongs to Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul. The media didn’t take much notice of Paul at the Straw Poll, but Iowans clearly did. If one were an alien astronomer – well, pundit, I guess – examining these numbers, one would say that there was very clearly four members of the first tier all battling it out, and a huge dropoff after that. Being a human pundit, I think it would still be fair to say that the frontrunners are Perry/Romney/Bachmann, but at this point Paul is very clearly the only second tier candidate of note, and even if nobody wants to put him in the conversation as a possible winner, at the very least it has to be noted that, in a close race between three about equal candidates, the fact that Paul is sitting on a fifth of Iowa voters makes him matter. A lot.

And hell, it has to be noted especially if you’re one of those three frontrunners. If you’re looking to try to peel off softly aligned voters – which you are, because very like this race is going to come down to 2, 3% separating the first three finishers – are you going to make an appeal to, say, Rick Santorum’s 5%? Or the 16% currently represented by Ron Paul? In a rational world, it’s not even close. Be interesting to see if Bachmann/Romney/Perry’s advisers choose to play to rationality, or choose to play to conventional wisdom and pretend that those 16% don’t exist and that it would be lunacy to lean Paulward.

Posted by Adam @ 9:28 am on August 23rd 2011

Gillard in trouble?

Julia Gillard is Prime Minister of Australia with a paper-thin majority that’s actually a technical minority in the Australian Lower House but which is supported by some Independents. However, she can’t afford to lose a single vote from her caucus because the election last year was so close.

It sounds like an impossible task based on UK and US political party discipline, but as I understand it crossing the floor on votes is very rare in Australia and in the case of the Labour Labor* Party actually means expulsion from the party. However, there’s more than one way to lose an MP, and allegations against an MP of using a Union credit card to pay hookers isn’t very good; Prime Ministers having been ejected from NY strip clubs and not remembering what happened because they were too drunk a few years before becoming PM is one thing, but this is another level of naightiness. The allegations aren’t new, but seem to have blown up again in June when an opposition member of the Senate brought them back up under Parliamentary Privilege and now Gillard has to defend Thomson to stay in power.

I wonder if there’s ever been a government that could pick half-plus-one of the nation’s representatives and be sure that there’s no scandal underlying some of them.

*Actually spelt the American way despite Australia in general using British English spellings — by which I mean proper English spellings — including for the word “labour”.

Posted by Adam @ 9:15 am on August 23rd 2011

Best headline of the day

King Arthur Pendragon Loses Human Remains Legal Battle.

Sometimes it must be good to be a headline writer.

I like the fact that the guy signs his name as “Arthur Rex”, too. There appears, however, to be a lack of a promise of righteous smiting and a call to arms of the good and noble peoples of the isles.

Posted by Cameron @ 10:55 pm on August 18th 2011

A Thousand Words

Seen on a street light post and preserved here for posterity:

Eight Dollars

Posted by Rojas @ 9:44 pm on August 18th 2011

Eat your heart out, Sealand

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is committing an increasing proportion of his fortune to seasteading initiatives–honest-to-god attempts to create what amounts to floating libertarian republics at sea.

Posted by Brad @ 10:06 am on August 18th 2011

Worth Noting II

We had a nice debate in this thread, in which I noted that Rick Perry essentially punted when confronted with the issue of same sex marriage, and I argued that that was a huge sign of progress when even an ambitious right-leaning Republican with a huge vested interest in appealing to social conservatives feels the need to hedge on what was, only 8 years ago, a cut-and-dried issue for virtually any Republican.

Here’s another data point: Christine O’Donnell, promoting her book, walks off an interview with Piers Morgan rather than answer questions relating to her views on same sex marriage or DADT:

Ta-Nehisi Coates shares my enthusiasm, in a post simply titled “This Culture War is Over. We Win.

It fits in with a pattern among Republicans — even Michelle Bachmann — to try and downplay their bigoted views toward gays. This is a tacit acknowledgement that the electorate is changing. It was only eight years ago that the Republican Party was effectively running on anti-gay bigotry. Now — at least on the national stage — people are trying to avoid it.

Progress should not be conflated with “Utopia.” On the contrary, expect an uptick in accusations of heterophobia, pro-gay tyranny, and bigotry against straight people. Progress means complication. It’s a comparatively good problem to have.

That’s essentially my read as well.

When even the right-wing social conservative nutjobs are uncomfortable being solidly pegged as in opposition to same sex marriage, I think it’s fair to say the ground beneath the debate has fundamentally, and irrevocably, shifted.

Posted by Brad @ 8:43 am on August 18th 2011

Social Security: Still a Ponzi Scheme

Sully published one of my letters in regards to a blog conversation that began with these two quoted bloggers:

Zaid Jilani:

A Ponzi scheme is an economic arrangement where the money paid into the system by later entrants is paid right back out as benefits to earlier entrants. None of these social insurance programs that Perry mentioned fit this definition. They benefit those who pay into them with guaranteed benefits.

Daniel Indiviglio:

Wait — what? Social Security fits that precise definition.

Which garnered a big fat “heh” from me.

And readers have been going back and forth on the matter. And what amazes me are those readers who keep saying “No way – social security is solvent and already has a shit-ton of money in it.

Leading Sully to post two letters in response. The other one (which was better than mine, which was juts a rehash of this post), making a point I honestly didn’t know about:

Social Security is not guaranteed. Sorry to have to demolish a liberal shibboleth. Over 50 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that workers have no legally binding contractual rights to their Social Security benefits, and that those benefits can be cut or even eliminated at any time, regardless of how much the worker has paid in to the system. See Flemming v. Nestor, 363 U.S. 603 (1960).

How can that possibly be, you may ask, if we’ve been paying into the system our whole working lives? In truth, Social Security contributions are not insurance premiums. They are simply taxes, like any other taxes, and the benefits are just a form of appropriated spending, no different than farm price supports, for example, that can be eliminated at any time. In other words, if Congress decides to abolish Social Security tomorrow, workers have no legal recourse whatsoever. […]

I dare say that a private insurance company that sold a retirement product while nurturing the belief that customer benefits were guaranteed, when in fact they were not, would be guilty of fraud. Why does it cease to be fraud when the government is doing it?

Posted by Adam @ 1:28 pm on August 17th 2011

The Situation: Embarassing

Apparently, according to the Daily Heil, Abercrombie and Fitch have tried to bribe The Situation (Michael Sorrentino) not to wear their stuff because he’s an embarassment, or something.

This rather begs the question of why Rojas isn’t rich yet, but contractually obligated to wear only sackcloth.

Posted by Adam @ 12:47 pm on August 17th 2011

Cry victory and let slip the dogs of omission

After the final two recall elections resulted in the under-threat Democrats comfortably retaining their seats, Tea Party Express is sending out an email entitled “Tea Party Victorious in Wisconsin”:

Jobs return to Wisconsin; majority of voters oppose recall of Governor Walker

With the final recall elections yesterday, the Wisconsin state senate recalls have come to an end. The Tea Party Express ( put a coalition of conservative groups together to help fight the battles, and is pleased that the message of fiscal responsibility has won the war.

Tea Party Express Chair Amy Kremer said, “We did not pick this fight. Special interest groups and national public unions started pumping money into Wisconsin in an effort to punish elected officials who did the right thing and stood up for a balanced budget and sound economy. We came to their defense and through many battles, conservatives have won the war of ideas, preserving a Republican majority in the state senate, and stopping cold an attempted takeover of the state supreme court by the environmental activist JoAnne Kloppenburg.”

Leaders at Tea Party Express see the election results in Wisconsin as proof that the voters choose fiscal responsibility over union bullying and control. What’s more, Governor Walker’s plan appears to be working. So far this year, some 40,000 private sector jobs have been created in the state, and a projected budget shortfall of nearly three billion dollars has been closed.

Spokesman Levi Russell said, “What the people of Wisconsin have accomplished is an extraordinary success story. They have balanced their budget, added jobs, and brought greater economic prosperity to the state. Those results are something other states, not to mention the US federal government, would do well to duplicate.”

Wisconsinites have already noticed the positive changes. According to a recent PPP survey, a majority of voters oppose a recall of Governor Scott Walker. Voters are growing weary of the ongoing recalls and political theatre being stage by the left, and just want to see their politicians get back to work.

Notice absence of mention of Democrats retaining their seats yesterday, which is in somewhat stark contrast to the energy put into asking us for money on Sunday (in particular to get Simac — who would be “the first person to come from the Tea Party movement and be elected Senator in Wisconsin” — elected). The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama — like TPX, run by the Our Country Deserves Better PAC — was last week concerned that Republican State Senator Dale Schulz would switch over the Democrats and remove the Republican majority, making it super-important they took a Democrat scalp here, but failing that we apparently have victory. The email they’re sending out now would have made more sense last week, given that it doesn’t mention what happened yesterday.

I am not sure if things are changing in the UK, but this need to declare victory regardless of the result isn’t so common in UK politics (although it’s common enough in professional sports in the UK, generally disguised as looking on the bright side. MS Dhoni, Indian cricket campaign, has done plenty of it so far this tour, too).

I am thinking I can try something like this on my boss, claiming success regardless of outcome. What can possibly go wrong?

Posted by Brad @ 12:27 pm on August 17th 2011

Today in Republican Primary News

There has been a slight flash of scuttlebutt the last two days over possible entries into the race of Paul Ryan and the big kahuna Chris Christie. Hannity and Rove talked about this today, with Rove thinking either are still possible candidates. I’d be shocked if either ran, particularly Christie who really isn’t a “now or never” type candidate and thus has no reason to enter the race at an extreme organizational disadvantage.

Speaking of which, Rick Perry has managed to build up his pretty quick. He’s hired Crist advisers for his campaign in Florida and, in a big coup, poached a new campaign treasurer from…Stephen Colbert.

Posted by Brad @ 12:16 pm on August 16th 2011

When “Plain Meaning” No Longer Means “Plain Meaning”

So the newest flap is over comments from Rick Perry regarding Ben Bernake.

“If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.”

Now, I’m no fan of this kind of rhetoric – I’ve bemoaned it before plenty, mostly because it obfuscates without advancing. But come on

What Perry is now shown to have said has a plain meaning. He’d support lynching the Fed Chairman.

Would he now?

Question: Does anybody believe that Rick Perry would actually support the literal lynching (or trying for treason) of Ben Bernake? Does anybody actually, in the real world (not the world of “taking political offense”) really believe that? Really?

It was a stupid metaphor from a guy trying too hard to be homespun, and to my mind the treason invocation is far more alarming than the “treat him pretty ugly” thing, because it belies the binary “you either agree with my political views and are a good America or disagree with my views and thus hate freedom” bullshit that idiot partisans fall into. It’s also totally unnecessary: Perry brings up an interesting issue right out of the Ron Paul playbook, but note that Ron Paul, as ardent an anti-Fed guy as you can find, never started throwing around invective at Greenspan and Bernake personally. Perry just introduced a viable issue, and killed it in its crib (not literally!), while advancing a demonstrably destructive partisan paradigm. That sucks.

But let’s not meet hyperbole with hyperbole. Rick Perry, for anybody that might misunderstand, probably does not, in fact, support tying the Fed Chairman to a tree and hanging him.

Posted by Adam @ 9:20 pm on August 15th 2011

Pingback spam gone

I leave the blog in the hands of my co-bloggers for two short years and find that thousands of pingback spams have appeared on some of the old posts from before we disabled pingback site-wide.

All deleted now.

Spammers are the bees of the internet. And will die like dogs. Dogs that have been crossed with bees.

Posted by Brad @ 3:54 pm on August 15th 2011

The Derb on Ron Paul and Iranian Nukes

John Derbyshire asks a great question of his fellow Cornerites. Namely, according to him Paul was roundly decried for his debate answer on Thursday that amounted to “If Iran wants nukes, what do you want me to do about it?”

Derb’s question:

It seems clear to me that given Iran’s resources (and Chinese and Russian duplicity), any system of sanctions would leak like a sieve — as, in fact, pretty much all systems of sanctions against unpopular nations always have. The only way to prevent Iran from going nuclear if she wants to is therefore by military action. In fact, since one-off strikes would have uncertain effect, the only true way would be full-scale military invasion and long-term occupation.

Which Republican candidate advocates such a course of action?

If the answer is “None” (which of course it is), then what, in effect, is the difference between Dr. Paul’s Iran policy and that of Romney, Bachmann, Perry, and the rest?

Posted by Brad @ 12:30 pm on August 15th 2011

Your Unsettling Photo Series of the Day

Norway mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik is brought back to the scene of the crime, and walks police through the day’s events.

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