Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post's pet "conservative", is attacking Ted Cruz and twisting herself into a virtuoso gymnastic knot to do so. Here's her thesis:
It is a shopworn technique of hard-line conservatives to declare themselves men and women of principle in contrast to those other Republicans -- the ones, you know, who pass legislation and try to represent their constituents. It is both self-serving (presuming principles are of no matter to opponents) and lazy in that it is always easy to say no, ridicule compromise and remain pristine rather than trying to improve legislation or introduce an alternative.
It's interesting that Rubin characterizes Cruz's Republican Senate colleagues as his "opponents", but it's more important to note that Rubin criticizes Cruz for not "trying to improve legislation" or "introduc[ing] an alternative". There will be a test at the end of this post.
Let's see what prompted the Post's pet "conservative" to attack an up-and-coming Senator who is already demonstrating political skill and leadership, shall we? It seems Cruz gave a talk to his constituents in which he reports that "a bunch" of his Republican Senate colleagues were "yelling at the top of their lungs" at him over the gun filibuster vote:
We've had probably five or six lunches with a bunch of Republican senators standing up and looking at Rand and Mike and me and yelling at the top of their lungs -- I mean really . . . And they said: 'Why did you do this? As a result of what you did, when I go home, my constituents are yelling at me that I've got to stand on principle.' I'm not making that up. I don't even bother to argue with them. I just sort of let them yell. . . . They said: 'Listen, before you did this, the politics of it were great. The Democrats were the bad guys. The Republicans were the good guys. Now we all look like a bunch of squishes.' Well there is an alternative. You could just not be a bunch of squishes."
Frankly, Cruz's response to being yelled at by his colleagues seems rather mild to me. Yelling at someone is unprofessional and impolite at a minimum. It certainly qualifies as being a jerk, so at first glance, I was willing to follow along for this:
There is being principled, and then there is being a jerk. Putting down your colleagues to boost your own street cred with the base falls into the latter category.
But then I read the next paragraph...
There are many things wrong with Sen. Cruz's comments, whatever you think of the merits of the gun legislation.
Wait a minute, she's saying Cruz was a jerk? He was the one being repeatedly yelled AT, not the one doing the yelling.
For starters, it's just not smart to annoy colleagues whose cooperation and support you?ll need in the future. Second, as a conservative he should understand humility and grace are not incompatible with "standing on principle"; the absence of these qualities doesn't make him more principled or more effective. Third, for a guy who lacks manners (see his condescending questioning of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) he comes across as whiny. They yelled at me! Boo hoo, senator.
Yelling at Cruz, Lee, and Paul (the three Senators who have been shaking things up) isn't going to annoy them? How does yelling at the trio demonstrate humility and grace? Personally, I find his simple response ("Well, you could just not be a bunch of squishes") to be polite, humble, and graceful in comparison to being repeatedly yelled at.
The kicker, though, is Rubin's acceptance of the media meme that Cruz was "condescending" to Feinstein. He wasn't. I've seen the video.
He asked her to defend the constitutionality of her proposed assault weapons ban. She tried to duck the question. He pointed out that she didn't answer his question, and asked again. Polite and reasonable, without condescension at all -- well, without any from Cruz, Feinstein's answer was positively dripping with it.
The condescension talking point is the media take, but it bears no resemblance to the actual event.
There is a deeper problem, I think, with Cruz's approach to the Senate, which has nothing to do with ideology. The contrast between him and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is telling. Paul is no less conservative than Cruz, but he is polite to a fault, soft spoken and gracious. These qualities serve him well, indeed making some strident positions seem less so. Moreover, Rand Paul is trying to accomplish something. He's put forth a budget. He's offered suggestions to amend the Gang of Eight's immigration bill. He's suggested reforms to our drug laws.
It seems that the Cruz-Grassley gun bill
escaped Rubin's notice. He did
put together a constructive alternative to the Democratic position on gun control. It got 52 votes
But it gets better!
What exactly is Cruz doing affirmatively to aid the country, the conservative movement and the GOP? Yelling at people and voting no don't qualify.
Voting no is a good place to start, especially when it constitutes standing on principle and representing your constituents who are demanding you stand on principle. And if you remember, it wasn't Cruz doing the yelling
; he was the one being yelled at.
Cruz's actions suggest an immaturity and lack of sophistication about conservative governance. He might want to apologize to his colleagues for betraying their confidence and sit down and think what it is he wants to do in the Senate. Obstruction is easy; governance is hard. And if the answer is that only hackneyed gestures (e.g. push for repealing Obamacare with a Dem Senate majority, but offer no alternative) that interest him, then the people of Texas are being shortchanged. Worse, he's doing nothing to suggest he's a man of stature and future leader in the party.
His colleagues might want to apologize to him for "repeatedly yelling" at him. As far as I, one of his constituents, am concerned, standing on principle for the Second Amendment is
demonstrating his stature and leadership qualities. He has done more to lead the opposition on the gun control issue than any other Senator, and I completely approve of his performance.
... for 4% of Americans.
42% think jobs and the economy are the most important problems, so perhaps Obama can pivot to that, when he's done dealing with immigration policy (4%).
He's certainly not going to do anything about dissatisfaction with government (16%) while he remains in office. Or the spending problem (11%).
He already did something about healthcare (6%), which could be read as Obamacare successfully fixing the problems... or that there wasn't a problem in the first place. I suppose we might see that number rise as Obamacare takes effect, though the effects will probably show up in "jobs and the economy" too.
If you're wondering, she taught mathematics, which seems an odd combination with political propaganda.
On Saturday, Obama devoted his weekly radio
address to proposed new gun control laws, including background checks
(which would not have prevented the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.) and the
restoration of a demonstrably ineffective assault weapons ban that
expired in 2004 after failing to prevent several of America's saddest
and most memorable mass shootings. Given that nearly all gun violence
is perpetrated with handguns -- not long guns and not so-called
"assault weapons" -- it seems Obama's new focus on guns is designed not
so much to prevent gun deaths as to energize Democratic voters who look
down their noses at gun enthusiasts in flyover country.
They want to fight the culture war because they don't have the economy, jobs, civil liberties, war in Iraq, war in Afghanistan, or basically any real issues. They have guns, and they have gay marriage, and they have Free Stuff... and that's pretty much it.
Politico has a good article on the President's tendency to rule by executive fiat, and what it means when the leader of a representative democracy tires of the difficult but necessary work of building consensus.
Once the president's opponents have been defined in the American mind
as despotically inclined, unsusceptible to reason, and unwilling to
play by the normal rules of politics, it is only natural that extreme
measures are permitted in response.
This White House has already shown a propensity toward ruling by
executive fiat - whether by executive action that effectively enacts
rejected legislation, by refusing to enforce existing law, or by
crafting rules for legislation to grant vast new powers to bureaucrats.
Once it has de-legitimized the opposition, the White House can claim
it is left with no choice but to accelerate and expand its use of
executive power. What else can they do, the president and his operatives
will argue, when faced with the insanity of the Republicans?
I have only one complaint.
When was Obama ever
interested in building consensus?
Opposition: Obama has it.
If Democrats are serious about trying to turn Texas blue, they should
get a gander at a just-released poll of Lone Star State voters that
found 67 percent of Republican respondents support the impeachment of
Of greater concern for liberals: the poll was conducted by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling. As a whole, Texans opposed impeachment 50 percent to 39 percent.
But in the crosstabs, PPP broke this down by party affiliation with
Democrats opposed 83 percent to 12 percent, Republicans in favor 67
percent to 18 percent, and Independents opposed 54 percent to 32
In fairness, I don't know where I fall on that scale. I'm more of a Texas Libertarian than a Texas Republican, and I don't know that Obama has done anything literally impeachable. He's threatened to go outside the Constitution a few times, but has generally worked through the legislature rather than violating it personally. The big potentially impeachable moments are:
- Military intervention without Congressional authorization in Libya and possibly elsewhere
- Ordering the CDC to research firearms in defiance of the Congressional power of the purse
- Drone strikes deliberately targeting specific, individual US citizens not on a battlefield without trial
- Encouraging and even participating in international firearms smuggling to foreign criminals
- Ordering BATFE and the FBI to defy the laws concerning reporting of multiple long gun purchases and retention of background check data
I think most of those are technically impeachable, but it's hard to build a political case for it. With the Senate in Democratic hands, we would need something that outrages both parties, and the Democrats seem immune to outrage.
83% of Democrats, anyway. 12% of Texas Democrats support impeachment? Wow.
It's what the left has for dinner.
It's also important to remember this as we look at the media hoopla around guns. Obama has been telling the anti-gun folks that he was working under the radar on their behalf for basically his whole first term in office. And then, literally as soon as he gets re-elected, there's another mass shooting and a campaign to ban guns springs up out of nowhere.
Is it grass-roots or astroturf? I'm betting astroturf.
(Note: I'm not accusing anyone of deliberately provoking Sandy Hook or any other massacre. It's a matter of waiting for events to provide an opportunity and then leaping into action with a preexisting plan.)
Reid named in bribery investigation
Reid (D-Utah) denies involvement in the case
. Personally, I don't particularly like Reid, but I find the timing suspicious. Right when Obama is pushing hard on the gun issue, the Senate Majority Leader (who, despite being a democrat, has been pretty good about blocking gun control legislation) has this issue pop up onto the radar screen?
Seriously, if Obama ISN'T behind this, he's letting a crisis go to waste. I fully expect this issue to go away quietly as soon as Reid makes some sort of concession on the gun control push.
Is Obama a secret Muslim?
Over at redblueamerica, the question is asked
. Unfortunately they miss one of the more interesting angles on this question in their analysis. Obama has admitted attending a Muslim school in his childhood (he also attended a Catholic school), and that his father and stepfather are both Muslims. Currently Obama claims an association with the United Church of Christ, which is itself somewhat problematic on non-religious grounds. And, of course, Obama says he is a Christian, not a Muslim.
In the United States we treat religion as a matter of choice and conscience; it's not appropriate to impose religious tests on candidates for public office, and while voters may of course consider a candidate's religion in their decisions, it's usually more of a proxy for political beliefs than any true desire for theocracy.
But in Islam, renunciation is impossible. Once a Muslim, always a Muslim. According to doctrine, the only thing necessary to convert to Islam is the recitation of the sentence "There is no God except Allah;
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
" with understanding. It's entirely possible that Obama has said exactly those words in his lessons as a youth.
Yet conversion from Islam is considered impossible. In Eqypt, for example
"The state does not recognize conversions from Islam and refuses to
allow citizens to legally change their religious affiliation," the
report stated. It noted that because family law is governed by
religion, converts face difficulties in the areas of divorce, marriage,
inheritance, and their children's mandatory religious education.
So, whatever Obama may consider himself, it seems that at least some Muslims would consider him either a Muslim still or an apostate. That could produce some fairly extreme reactions from Islamic nations either way.
Is this a meaningful criteria on which to base a vote for or against Obama? Not really. But it could have some interesting consequences if he wins the general election.
Ron Paul needs your help...
It seems that Ron Paul survived a nasty primary battle against the Spawn of Sinatra, and now faces his Democratic challenger with a substantially depleted warchest. Read about the situation
, or just go straight to his website to donate
If you're wondering whether Ron Paul believes what you believe, here is what his primary opponent said about him:
- Known as Dr. No because he refuses to vote for anything unconstitutional;
- has never voted to raise taxes;
- has never voted to give himself a pay raise;
- wants to get the US out of the UN.
- voted against the $80 billion Katrina bailout
When you can use your opponent's description of yourself in your own campaign ads, and win, that's saying something about who is out of touch with the people.
It is disturbing to me that the Republican party would present a primary challenge to Ron Paul, who has long stood for everything a libertarian should.
... but I'm not sure that running fake political campaigns
to entice corrupt campaign workers into breaking the law is necessarily
going to help. The government needs to stay out of the electoral
process, because the risk of abuse is far, far too high. What if
the fake campaign had won
Those shifting away from the Democratic Party are not necessarily becoming Republicans. An overwhelming majority of blacks still vote Democratic. But an increasing number, especially those 18 to 35, are identifying themselves as independents. Some 24 percent of black adults now characterize themselves that way. Among those 35 and under, said David Bositis, a senior researcher at the Joint Center who conducted the survey, the figures are 30 percent to 35 percent, with men leaning more heavily independent than women.
I wonder how many of those "independents" are actually libertarians?
Arnold Schwarzenegger moved quickly Wednesday to prepare for governing, naming a prominent Republican congressman to run his transition and strongly suggesting that he would call on President Bush to provide federal aid to California, now in Republican hands.
This is Arnold's master plan, his ace-in-the-hole, his will-not-raise-taxes secret? Even though he wasn't my favorite to win the race, I am ashamed to have ever said anything positive about it.
It would not surprise me at all to find that federal aid was a pre-arranged condition of Arnold's run in the recall.
Candidates to replace Gov. Gray Davis held their third debate Wednesday without Arnold Schwarzenegger, while Davis campaigned to hold on to his job accompanied by presidential contender Sen. John Kerry.
Four of the major candidates sparred over gay rights and campaign finance while uniting in their criticism of Schwarzenegger for skipping the forum and for agreeing to appear in only one debate. In that debate, on Sept. 24 in Sacramento, candidates will receive questions in advance
While I started out feeling fairly positive about Schwarznegger as governor, on the grounds that as a socially-liberal Republican he might resemble the libertarian viewpoint, the way he has handled this campaign is embarassing. Candidates need to get out in front of the people and be willing to put their views up against those of the opposition in open debate; no matter how good an actor you are, there's more to governing than reciting the lines your political handlers feed you.
The disturbing "de-democratizing" patterns inside the country have profound consequences for the durability of the U.S. partnership with Russia. In the United States, our democratic society is built upon the rule of law and a set of core beliefs which are derived from our Bill of Rights. Among these are the freedom of religion, protection from unreasonable search and seizure of personal property, and freedom of speech.
What is troubling is that there are dark forces at work inside the Kremlin, many of which come from the FSB, the former KGB, who want to roll back freedoms within Russia, and in doing so, undo much of the democratic progress made since the fall of Communism.
These actions represent a dangerous turn of events, and many believe that these issues indicate that Russia is at a turning point -- one that can follow the path to a real democracy or return to a police state. At risk are no less than fundamental human rights in the country, the viability of Russia as an economic partner to the U.S. and the national security interests of the United States.
I haven't examined this in any detail, but any risk of Russia returning to the practices of its past is a serious matter deserving of attention and opposition.
The link is to the full ruling; Clayton Cramer summaries thusly:
As transparently political as their decision is (putting off voting on Prop. 54 until the primary election), so far, from my reading, it looks to be correct. I haven't checked their footnotes (always useful with the Ninth Circus), but the essential arguments are:
- Punch cards are very inaccurate compared to modern voting methods.
- Because some counties still use them, voters in those counties will be disenfranchised relative to voters in counties that don't use them, thus violating equal protection.
- The California Constitution does require a recall election within 60-80 days after the recall has been certiified, and this will be violated--but the California Constitution is clearly inferior to the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause in terms of authority. Therefore, with the choice of ignoring the California Constitution, or the 14th Amendment, the California Constitution's requirement goes by the wayside.
A News10/SurveyUSA poll found that 30 percent of California voters felt McClintock won the debate. Twenty-two percent of those questioned said Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante was number one, while 12 percent named Peter Ueberroth as the winner. Arianna Huffington was favored by nine percent of those surveyed, while three percent said Peter Camejo won.
Just so we are all on the same page, McClintock is generally considered the most pro-gun candidate available. The other leading Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger,
did not participate in the debate. Even so, simply not participating was viewed as a substantial negative by those polled. The question this should be raising for California's Republican voters is this: is Arnold's fame enough of an advantage to offset his apparantly anti-gun views?
For several years I've been listening to folks of the conservative persuasion going on about the liberal bias in the media, in Hollywood and among elites on the West and East coasts. There's no denying that liberals outnumber conservatives on the two coasts. It is also apparent if you work in certain fields like education, the arts, or high tech that liberals also greatly outnumber conservatives there, too.
I'm all for open and free discussions on the subject, but from all the anecdotal evidence around, one thing seems to be obvious: Liberals are where the brains are, and the brains are where liberals are.
Yup. A newspaper actually printed an opinion piece arguing that people who don't agree with the author are stupid. If this isn't evidence of liberal bias in the media, I don't know what is.
I suspect that this is wishful thinking, not a real poster, but damn.
Ganging up on the People
We have a two-party system. Fans of this system say it gives us the benefits of an antagonistic system without the relentless coalition-building that often seems to force foreign nations (with stronger minor parties) into crisis when conditions change. Opponents say that it denies third parties a significant voice in the government of their nation. Both are correct; the two party system acts to mute dissent and provides the illusion of broad consensus around the party positions. But increasingly, the two-party system is providing another illusion: an illusion of conflict.
As originally intended, our nation's government could be best characterized as obstructionist. For a law to be valid, it was required to pass through the House of Representatives, and thus gain the approval of the people; then it would pass through the Senate, and thus gain the approval of the state governments; then the President himself would be asked to sign the bill, and he also has the power to block it unilaterally, representing the interests of those who would be required to enforce the law. If a law is passed and signed following that procedure, it must still be enforced by the court system, which can declare it unConstitutional, and by the people individually in each case (in the form of a jury).
The two-party system is an unofficial echo of this theme. A functioning two-party democratic system ensures that the two parties remain approximately equal in strength; the parties themselves act as coalition builders. This approximate equality has consequences in the resulting government. Representative bodies (the House and the Senate) will tend to be closely matched between the parties; as elections are also spread out over time, it will be difficult for a single party to gain control of both legislative bodies. Changes are gradual, with ample time for a party that finds itself losing ground to change strategies and recover. The Presidential race drives the parties further to the center, as they need votes from more than just their own committed party activists.
In theory, the minority party will still be strong enough to put up effective resistance and threaten to take back control from the majority party. The majority is thus encouraged to pay attention to the views of the other side, as they risk strengthening the minority party should they abuse their present position.
In practice, the results have been somewhat different. Unusual situations, such as the Great Depression and the Civil War, have produced great change in our nation; invariably these changes have been in the direction of more and more powerful central government. Once the extraordinary situations have passed, the new balance of power is preserved as if it was the original. Thus, the great barriers to change set in place by the founding fathers to preserve liberty have been perverted to preserve oppression. And public opinion has shifted, too; no longer do we have angry mobs up in arms about taxation, despite the fact that the Stamp Act (which prompted the Boston Tea Party by imposing certain taxes) provided for far smaller levels of taxation than currently exist.
That's bad enough to be more than a little depressing for liberty advocates. But it gets worse.
Common wisdom says that the Democratic party advocates for the First Amendment and other civil liberties issues. The Republican party advocates for the Second Amendment and economic liberty issues. This neatly divides the liberty-oriented voters in half. The implicit assumption is that you can't support both free speech and free access to arms; you must pick one or the other when you vote. It's a false dichotomy, but it's a powerfully effective one,
and the major parties actively encourage it.
This strategy, when used militarily, is termed "divide and conquer"; if you can split your enemy into separate forces, then you can bring your own forces against the pieces separately rather than facing the entire, unified force. It's a little startling to see such a strategy being used by both the political parties, in unison, against the cause of liberty -- and it is enlightening, too.
Imagine a boxing match with three people in the ring: the two contenders, and the referee. The idea is for the two contenders to duke it out, and the referee decides who wins (in a political boxing match, the only analogies to a knockout are both rare and unpleasant). The referee is also supposed to enforce the rules of the game, so that the final result can be considered a fair one.
Now, anyone who's actually watched a boxing match knows that sometimes the referee has to get in between the boxers and separate them. Normally that happens when they are clinched, too close to punch, but sometimes they are still punching when the referee has to interpose himself. The boxers aren't supposed to hit the referee, but sometimes it happens. This is usually an accident and really isn't worth worrying about, but there are rules against it; those rules prevent the boxers from threatening the referee. When both boxers are relatively decent and honorable folk, it works well, and the only injuries are all in the name of the sport.
But what would you think if you watched a boxing match where the boxers displayed casual indifference to the referee's rules? Most of the time they pretended to follow the rules, but not very carefully or very closely. Maybe you rarely saw a boxing tournament without some serious violations of the rules, and you knew that the rules had been changed repeatedly to allow the boxers less and less freedom to hit each other, but more and more freedom to hit the referee? Maybe you wouldn't be surprised when you started to notice the referee getting much more of a pounding than you would attribute to chance.
If both boxers are attacking the referee, deliberately, than the referee can't put a stop to it by declaring a winner because his opponent broke the rules. Maybe a referee in a boxing match could disqualify both boxers, but if the boxing match is an election, the result would be anarchy. That's the problem the people of America are facing: we're trying to referee a boxing match that we can't win, since both boxers are giving our precious freedoms a legal pounding. What does it matter if the Republican party only slugs the left side of our body, and the Democratic party only slugs the right side? We're getting pounded by both sides, and our whole body hurts.
Maybe it's time the referee put on some gloves and started hitting back. That's what the Libertarian party is all about: putting liberty back into the fight. Putting forth candidates and viewpoints that make a difference, that reduce the amount of government interface in the lives of honest citizens. Providing a candidate who isn't attacking the people's liberties at all, and delivering a few punches in the other direction while he's at it.
That's something the two major parties can't do. They've neatly divided up the electorate while making a backroom deal to keep their hands off the other guy's programs. To any career politician, government must always be grown, never shrunk; and the two major parties feel that in their bones, however their lips might move when they want your vote. The established power structure will never vote to reduce the power of government while they control a large portion of it.
Instead, they trade off the role of boogeyman and savior.
They can play those roles until freedom is little more than a lost memory if we don't stop them. And the only way to stop them is to upset their false dichotomy: vote for a third party. Voting for a write-in won't ever add up to enough to matter, and not voting at all is as good as inviting both sides to abuse you; they don't even have to pretend to protect you then.
So when you go to the polls this November, vote Libertarian. Land some punches of your own. It's past time we stood up for ourselves.
To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.
Like Bowling for Columbine, this film is a win-win proposition for Moore; if the audience finds it convincing, he wins, and if the entire audience is there only to write an article trashing it on the internet, they still bought a ticket. The only way to see this movie is if you can find a way to do it for free. In that spirit, rather than debunk it myself, I'll just post this link to someone else's debunking.
Really, since everyone is blogging about Berger, there's not much more to be said. My take on it is mainly that someone who was formerly a National Security Advisor to the President surely knows better than to mishandle classified material. Inadvertent? Yeah, right. More likely he figured that his status would allow him special privileges. That's also something worthy of a 2 year old. My only question is why he hasn't been arrested yet.
And since you asked... they are trying to figure out if his status actually does allow him special privileges. "Like us, only better", remember?
Despite the continuing downturn in the economy, President Bush remains very popular. He has led us through a time of national crisis, and now through two successful wars. Yet his continuing support from conservatives surprises me.
Why? Bush campaigned as the candidate of smaller government, but his 2004 budget is 22% higher than Clinton's last budget. Conservatives generally favor reductions in government spending.
The press is suggesting
that Pataki, governor of NY, may run for
President in 2008. But before anyone gets too excited, let's
remember who he is:
While he has been a tax-cutter and death penalty
supporter, Pataki has also been a backer of abortion and gay rights,
and of tough gun-control legislation, positions that do not sit well
with conservatives who have controlled the GOP nominating process in
thanks. I don't need a Republican president who favors gun
control. Republicans who claim to oppose gun control are bad
The New York Times reports
on Hillary's fundraising speech:
Left unchallenged, especially if Democrats fail to pick up seats in
next year's Congressional elections, she said, Republican leaders could
ram through extremist conservative judges, wreck Social Security and
make unacceptable concessions to China, Saudi Arabia and other nations
that are needed to finance the United States budget deficit.
This would be the same Hillary Clinton whose husband presided over technology transfers of ballistic missile technology to China
(allegedly) in return for illegal campaign contributions, yes?
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