Well, that’s not exactly what Rasmussen Reports said. Technically, the poll showed that seven of ten Americans don’t believe Congress knows what it is doing when it legislates on economic issues. According to Rasmussen Reports:
Even as Congress puts the finishing touches on legislation asserting more government control over the U.S. financial industry, most U.S. voters continue to believe the legislators have little idea what they’re doing when it comes to the economy.
The latest national telephone survey of Likely Voters finds that just 27% are at least somewhat confident that Congress knows what it’s doing when it comes to addressing current economic problems. An overwhelming majority (72%) are not confident in Congress to address these problems. These figures include six percent (6%) who are Very Confident and 43% who are Not at All Confident.
Who are the other three of ten, and, more important, why are they allowed to vote? Especially the six percent who are very confident that Congress knows what it is doing. The latter folks desperately need professional help. And they shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a ballot box!
What do I think?
I think Drew Achillich is an American hero. A microcosm of America. And I’ll tell you why he deserves some space here.
But first…I do believe we call these moments “full disclosure.” Young Mr. Achillich is my favorite cousin Steve’s youngest son. Oh, and Mom Jan (aka “Sam”) was, I believe, involved in Drew’s production as well. (Steve is my favorite cousin, he thinks, because I never tell him about my favorite cousins Judy, Suzy, Jane, Beth, Bruce, Marnie, Schuyler, Dottie Ann, Mary, Theresa, Ken, Robin, Dan, Ruth, Janet…whew, I think they’re all listed, if not, this will be my last posting. Don’t forget spouses and Drew’s cousinly generation, The Spawn. You, dear readers, not only get the deal, you undoubtedly share the dilemma of making sure all are mentioned — in parental order — or, well, let’s not go there.)
So what has 16-year-old Drew done that earns him a spot here at the internationally famous AmSpecBlog that is filled with items on presidents and celebrities? What has he learned from his parents, his family, and a tour of Washington’s Mt. Vernon, where he and older brother Pearson seemed years ago to be…ahhhhh…challenging?
Take a look here at this video clip.
What you see is Drew — at the ripe old age of 16 — voluntarily taking it upon himself to help the victims of a recent and devastating local flood out there in the vicinity of the family homestead in Riverhead, Long Island. That would be Horton Avenue, by name, not far from the Long Island Sound-side family headquarters. Drew elected to do this by selling T-shirts. No profit for Drew, or Dad Steve who helped. Just your basic execution of the Second Commandment as expressed in Mark 12:31: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
There is no government program involved. Your taxes are not raised. Some would even call this an example of American Exceptionalism. There is no financial profit for Drew or Steve. Just a bit of hands-on work to help less-well-off neighbors unknown.
Take a good look again. From, literally, the Pilgrims to the astronauts, from Washington to Lincoln to Reagan, from Daniel Boone to Thomas Edison to Bill Gates, to you and your family, what Drew is doing here is an utterly American act that is replicated a thousand times every single day by American citizens unknown. What George H.W. Bush once called “a thousand points of light.” Understanding a need, rolling up sleeves, not waiting for permission from some government agency — just getting the job done. And doing it, more often than not, while being completely unknown.
Unknown except in this case…which gets some shameless PR from Drew’s favorite relative (that’s right, isn’t it Drew?) because Newsday…your basic MSM publication…unknowingly involved my own family in reporting on Drew’s good works. A family which, you can be sure, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals alike, is terribly proud of Drew.
One T-shirt order please, Drewie. Size Large (Hey, I like a little extra room, pal!). I’ll cough up when we share a lobster this summer.
Yesterday I wrote that I thought it unwise for Rand Paul to get baited into an abstract discussion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because the heat of a U.S. Senate campaign is not the best place for such a conversation. But a blog isn’t necessarily the wrong place for it and I’m not running for office.
As an abstract proposition, I think an employer or restaurant owner’s right to discriminate can be defended on the same grounds a racist’s right to engage in free speech. Free speech has to protect unpopular speech; freedom of association has to protect unpopular associations. As Thomas Woods notes, in this day and age any “segregated restaurant would be boycotted and picketed out of existence within ten seconds.” But that was not true when the 1964 Civil Rights Act was enacted. Discrimination against blacks was so pervasive and extensive during that time period that government action that might not be permissible under normal circumstances may well have been necessary in order to overturn the Jim Crow subculture.
Moreover, as Robert George points out, state Jim Crow laws infringed upon private property rights and free exchange by mandating racial discrimination, in the process contravening market forces. A principled libertarian or small-government conservative would have to object to such anti-freedom laws and in my view there is a persuasive constitutional case for federal action to overturn them.
Having said all that, federal legislation banning purely voluntary racial discrimination in wholly intrastate commerce is honestly difficult to square with either the plain text of the Constitution or what the Fourteenth Amendment meant to those who wrote and ratified it. And while the supporters of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were right on the broad questions of race and the inadequacy of gradual evolution toward greater equality, some of the opponents’ predictions panned out as well: the law did expand the scope of the federal government beyond what many of its authors had originally anticipated and it was ultimately used to mandate racial preferences that are themselves discriminatory.
So why, having conceded these points, do I still think Rand Paul should have kept his mouth shut? One reason is purely pragmatic: since this isn’t a live issue and Paul says he would not support repeal of the 1964 act, getting into the subject only distracts from the issues that actually are in play here. The other is more fundamental: race is the Achilles’ heel of constitutionalism. The original Constitution allowed slavery. Its federal structure was at least arguably inadequate for ending slavery and segregation; that structure was definitely used to justify the perpetuation and preservation of both racist institutions.
Any form of conservatism that gains popular acceptance is likely to be tarred as racist. A successful constitutional conservatism will particularly need to get beyond the baggage of race in American history. Allowing a constitutional conservative to govern in a responsible and non-racist manner will contribute far more to the success of this project than engaging in theoretical discussions that will only further entangle constitutionalism and race.
It’s unfortunate that Felipe Calderon used the opportunity of addressing the U.S. Congress to give the speech that Democrats wanted to hear, as opposed to the one that they very much needed to hear.
During his presidential campaign in 2006, Calderon told the Mexican people that they faced “a choice between the past and the future.” He said:
Moving toward the past would mean nationalization, expropriation, state control of the economy, and authoritarianism, while the future would represent the contrary: privatization, liberalization, market control of the economy, and political freedom.
Had he uttered those words to the U.S. Congress, he would perhaps have been shouted down as — horror of horrors — “a Mexican tea partier.”
Since signing and defending Arizona’s controversial immigration law, Gov. Jan Brewer has made big gains, according to the latest Rasmussen poll. In just one month, she has gained 19 points in the Republican primary and now leads her closest opponent by 27 (45 percent to 18 percent). Last month, Brewer led with an unimpressive 26 percent of the vote and in March she was in a three-way tie.
Brewer’s performance as governor is now approved by 85 percent of likely Republican primary voters, a 31-point gain in one month. She is now viewed very favorably by 30 percenet of primary voters and very unfavorably by just 5 percent. This is reminiscent of Pete Wilson’s strides after embracing Proposition 187 in 1994. About 87 percent of Republican voters approve of the Arizona law.
Given the events of this week, this Thirsty McWormwood column from the main site looks awfully prescient. Specter would have been wise to heed McWormwood’s advice.
So now, finally, the Spanish media are now admitting, even trumpeting, the case I made in “Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America”.
Specifically, as today’s headline in a full page article in La Gaceta states:
“Spain admits that the green economy as sold to Obama is a disaster”.
Obama told us to look to Spain as his model for a “green economy”, which means massive debt (meaning taxes and jobs lost) to pay for mandates and subsidies of temporary jobs, at the direct and indirect expense of real (e.g., manufacturing) jobs. As I laid out in specific analytical if humorous detail in “Power Grab” (just released last month).
Don’t rest assured that the Obama administration somehow thought this was anything other than full-blown statism, will see this, and change its plans. The clock to stop this is ticking.
How would the Washington Post, MSNBC, and other mainstream media outlets characterize a 500-person Tea Party protest at the home of some government official? What if the protesters were all bused in, clearly had their own interests at stake, made the official’s family feel threatened in their own home, and destroyed the neighborhood’s peace?
“Respectable” news organs would report such an event as just the latest and most violent in the latest of a string of increasingly out-of-control and threatening Tea Parties. Five hundred protesters is well above the threshold at which the biggest papers will cover a Tea Party and subject each and every one of its participants and placards to scrutiny. Anything that could possibly be construed as corporate backing would be duly highlighted, and there would probably be a note illustrating just how many of the participants receive Medicare or farm subsidies and are therefore towering hypocrites.
Somehow, though, when it’s not a Tea Party protesting government spending, but instead a union protesting on a bank executive’s doorstep, the press considers it an absolute non-story.
On Sunday, the SEIU sent 14 buses full of protesters to the Washington, D.C. home of Greg Baer, the deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America. The only reason this story got into the press at all (aside from a strategically planted Huffington Post blog post) is that Baer’s next door neighbor is Fortune’s Nina Easton, who was bothered by the rent-a-mob ruining her weekend.
Easton reports that as soon as the SEIU mob was done at Baer’s house, they got back into the buses to go to the next stop on their astroturf tour, the home of a J.P. Morgan government relations executive. Easton’s entire piece is worth reading, especially her explanation of what the SEIU stands to gain by intimidating bank executives.
Somehow when an protest doesn’t fit into a larger narrative about how Republicans and business are colluding to incite violence and stir up right-wing paranoia, it doesn’t become news at all.
Former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, now the Republican nominee to retake his seat this fall, held a bloggers conference call this afternoon. He touched on a few issues:
* He said he was strongly supportive of sanctions on Iran.
* He understood the concerns of Connecticut voters about the controversy surrounding Richard Blumenthal’s military service and mostly declined to comment on Rand Paul’s Civil Rights Act dust-up, saying he understood Paul had issued an unequivocal pro-Civil Rights Act statement but didn’t know the “background” of the story
* Coats said he felt the party was now unified behind him after his 39 percent showing in the primary
* Coats also described himself as “shocked” to hear the news of Mark Souder’s scandal and resignation. But he declined to endorse former primary opponent Marlin Stutzman or any other candidate for the seat, saying the “process will work itself out.
Coats closed by promising to run a “flat-out race between now and November.”
A lot of the handwringing over Rand Paul’s electability in November is overdone. A Rasmussen poll was released today that showed Paul leading Democratic nominee Jack Conway by 25 points, 59 percent to 34 percent. Kentucky Democrats nominated the more liberal candidate who supports Obamacare and will not be able to exploit Paul’s “heterodox” social views — which are also overblown — in the general election.
That said, Paul’s comments about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were an example of what not to do. Throughout the primary campaign, Trey Grayson tried to bait Paul into theoretical discussions of libertarianism and controversial theories with which many libertarians agree. Ron Paul relishes such discussions and sees his professorial role as an important part of why he is in politics. The younger Paul is trying to bring serious constitutionalism back into the mainstream and has wisely avoided etting the focus drift into things that are not live issues — until now.
Sen. Jon Kyl described the Paul-Maddow kerfuffle well: “I think the two of them were having a bit of good time having a debate like you had at 2 a.m. in the morning when you’re going to college, but it doesn’t have a lot to do with anything.” There is room for a discussion of topics like the role of blowback plays in terrorism, whether Jim Crow could have been dismantled with a less aggressive federal approach, and the conflict between the Constitution and a lot of settled 20th-century legislation. Most conservatives opposed the Civil Rights Act circa 1964. But these discussions are probably best had outside the heat of a political campaign.
For the record, Paul has said in a statement, “Even though this matter was settled when I was 2, and no serious people are seeking to revisit it except to score cheap political points, I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” But he would be better off returning to the rigorous message discipline that will keep him from having to make such statements in the future.
Playing off the assumption that Harry Reid is going to get his backside handed to him on a silver platter this November, The Washington Post devotes quite a few inches of column space to floating this nightmarish, disturbing, odious, and cringe-inducing suggestion for a replacement: Chuck “Chucky” Schumer.
During his three-decade legislative career, Schumer, 59, has developed a reputation as a razor-elbowed, shamelessly self-serving, media-addicted political monster. He is also arguably the single most effective lawmaker of his generation.
Now, with confidant Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) hanging on to his seat by a thread, the Brooklynite is nearing the goal line of his long game. Succeeding Reid would make Schumer the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in American history and, more important for the uber-competitive politician, the first among peers.
Schumer has thrust himself into the center of issues ranging from jobs to immigration to Supreme Court hearings, but as that momentum has carried him into a more intimate arena where popularity matters, the grating architect of the current Democratic majority has become noticeably more collegial. Perhaps not coincidentally, his colleagues see him as the front-runner to be their leader.
May God have mercy on our souls.
Political miscalculations on the part of global warming alarmists have opened the way for a renewed commitment to nuclear power that will find expression within the next few years, Joe Bast, president and CEO of the Heartland Institute observed just as his organization’s fourth International Conference on Climate Change concluded.
The growing “climategate” scandal that involves emails leaked to the Internet from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia in Great Britain has confirmed the skeptical view of man-made global warming theories and “put in a stake in the heart” of the pseudoscience that fuels alarmism, Bast said in an interview on the final day of the conference in Chicago, Illinois.
As an added benefit, he expects U.S. policymakers to divorce themselves from “cap and trade” schemes and to move more forcefully in the direction of sensible energy polices, especially after the November elections.
“I think one unintended consequence of this whole debate has been the re-examination and re-legitimization of nuclear energy,” Bast suggested. “I’m sure the left must be kicking itself for allowing this to happen. They should have thought ahead and asked themselves what would happen if they lost on global warming. As it turns out, they have helped to endorse and validate nuclear power. You are going to see a lot more nuke plants built over the next 20 to 30 years.”
Some of the key developments that occurred in the climate debate since last Heartland Conference in Washington D.C. are as follows:
Despite a growing body of scientific evidence that points to natural as opposed to man-made factors that fuel warming and cooling cycles, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced a repacked version of “cap and trade” bill earlier this month that would impose carbon reductions on industry. However, Bast does not expect the legislation to gain any traction in the U.S. Senate.
“Cap and trade is dead,” he said. “We are finally on the downhill here, we are victorious. Now is great time to be a skeptic, now is a great time to be a libertarian. The vibe at this conference was fantastic.”
According to Beisner, the belief that fighting global warming was a component of helping the poor was specifically used by the Evangelical Environmental Network and endorsed by others to make this case.
“They jump quickly from, ‘We need to help the poor,’ to ‘global warming is going to hurt the poor, therefore we need to fight global warming,’” Beisner said. “In 2006, a group - the Evangelical Environmental Network launched a new project called the Environmental Climate Initiative, which put out a statement, ‘Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.’ And that statement was endorsed by 86 different leading evangelicals - presidents of the evangelical colleges, admission organizations. And I went down the list of endorsers. There was no list of authors of that. I later found out the main author was an ethics professor named David Gushee. When I debated him over that at this university, he told me before the debate, ‘You know when I was preparing for this debate, I found out the science was a whole more nuanced than I realized when I wrote the paper.’ I thought, ‘David, you should have known that before you wrote.’”
A non-theologian (me) wrote about ECI for Spectator Online four years ago:
These “social Gospel” passages can hardly be construed as a legitimate case for the fight to reduce global warming. The first misinterpretation is the proper role of man in relation to the creation. Calls to “stewardship” in the Bible never have to do with caring for some pristine earth — for its own sake or for God’s. Instead God gave man “dominion” over the world and its creatures, for human consumption and use.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you pollute willy-nilly. Dumping oil or chemicals where they can seep in someone’s water supply certainly is unneighborly. But that has nothing to do with Biblical “earth” stewardship, and linking disputed negative global warming effects to proper social practices is misleading at best. If environmentally conscious Christians want to do something that will clearly and measurably help their poor neighbors, why don’t they invest in waste removal in places like Port-au-Prince and Bangladesh instead?
The Washington Times reports that scientists who cling to their models and their (big-government and/or earth-worshipping) religion have initiated their latest (repeat) effort to promote cap-and-trade:
Six months after “climategate” called into question the science underpinning claims of global warming, the National Academy of Sciences said Wednesday the science is sound, human-caused warming is already occurring, and the U.S. must take urgent action.
Trying to end the scientific debate and set the stage for action, the National Research Council, an arm of the Academy, took the unusual step of recommending specific political moves. The council called for lawmakers to set a price on carbon dioxide emissions through either a tax or a cap-and-trade system, and to adopt an emissions-reductions target similar to the one proposed by President Obama.
Times reporter Stephen Dinan should know better than to state that some government-grant dependent science association took an “unusual step” to recommend specific political action. There is nothing unusual about it. You’d think by now the alarmist scientists would have figured out their advocacy positions only serve to heighten public skepticism of their work, casting doubt upon whether they approach the issue objectively at all. But they probably will never learn:
Pamela A. Matson, who led the panel on climate science, said members were aware of “the publicity around doubts about climate change,” and that research is never finished.
But she said they have high confidence now that warming is occurring, and the panelists said research should now begin to focus not on whether warming is occurring but rather on questions of how to combat warming or adapt to its effects.
Even if we can’t understand where the heat is escaping, there is no escape from its “haunting” effects!
This is rich. E&E Daily reports that:
“A House panel [Thursday] will examine the persistent harassment and legal challenges climate scientists have faced in the wake of a leaked collection of letters late last year from the University of East Anglia.
Skeptics of the science underlying human-induced global warming have used selective quotations from those letters, stolen from the school’s Climatic Research Unit, in an attempt to undermine the robust consensus supporting climate change. Most recently, the limited-government group Freedom Action announced it would air ads questioning U.S. EPA’s upcoming greenhouse gas regulations by citing the letters.”
Poor dears. People are exposing what they’ve done and looking to see if all that smoke means there’s a fire, too. That’s mean.
I have an idea. Look in the freaking mirror.
Yesterday I returned home from the Heartland Institute’s 4th International Climate Conference, at the closing lunch for which I extended my hand to a scientist who is a hero for his courage, having been subjected to the most vile treatment for speaking out against the globaloney.
The green thuggery began with petty harassment and intimidation at his home and extended to attempts on his life. He informed me on Tuesday that it seems they have tried once again to engineer the wheels falling off of his car while he is driving, for a third time, since I wrote about it in “Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed.”
Yeah. Read that title. It’s a thick book. It could have been much thicker. And it is heavily sourced. There’s an entire industry of harassment and professional and physical threats underway against scientists who dare challenge what’s obviously a political and financial bandwagon. And RHL is replete with names that named pulling stunts I also detailed were affirmed, not “revealed”, by ClimateGate.
Now the greens are whining that some of their tamer nastiness, in writing, was, it seems — desperate and unsupported spin about “hacking” notwithstanding — leaked by an insider sick of the lies used to subvert transparency laws, and otherwise cover for their “tricks” with the data.
I would say to this crowd “grow up”, but with their track record, that makes even the grandest wishful thinking appear grounded in reality. Their tactics reveal a movement thoroughly aware that they cannot make their case, and the depths to which they stoop in the face of this fact. To whine about a request for accountability by the people whose money you live off without ever directly asking them for it or directly receiving their acquiescence, but instead have enormous sums of their taxes laundered through the state, while your supporters regularly engage in reprehensible behavior, is a disgusting spectacle.
But I want them to know that we are not going to cease our efforts seeking accountability. In fact, as you dear readers will see beginning very soon, that is far from the case.
So yesterday President Obama held a joint presentation (it was clearly not a press conference) with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon. Listening to the audio, it sure sounded like Obama was hailing Mexico under Calderon as “a leader in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and in helping developing countries do the same.” Read the transcript yourself, and you’ll see that it reads more ambiguously, and that possibly Obama’s intention was to say that the U.S. is a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and Calderon has shown leadership among those developing countries.
I admit a slight bias against the latter interpretation given Obama’s history of bemoaning U.S. irresponsibility and reckless performance in the days Before Obama. And because he is addicted not just to viscerally blaming the Bush administration for anything that occurs, but also to taking gratuitous and often inaccurate or at best wildly spinning shots. Including in this particular context. So it would be very odd that Obama would suddenly be hailing emission reductions under Bush.
Here are the most recent emission figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration for CO2 emissions from energy consumption, in millions of metric tons and ending in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available:
2000 2008 % change
U.S. 5863.809 5832.818 - 0.05
Mexico 383.326 444.565 + 11.6
And, as to more recent performance (last five years for which data are available):
2004 2008 % change
U.S. 5965.321 5832.818 - 2.2
Mexico 385.988 444.565 + 15.2
So let’s assume that Obama was not saying Calderon has cut emissions. To say that would be to offer yet another example of a man for whom facts do not matter, only rhetoric, and who rarely misses an opportunity, real or perceived, to use that rhetoric to speak ill of his own country — if generally as a way to criticize those with whom he disagrees and/or who the guy preceded him in office — while absurdly hailing others whom he sees as models for his “fundamental transformation”.
That would be unseemly. So let’s instead assume Obama was praising U.S. emissions performance under Bush. Yet, that would be truly aberrant. Unseemly would be far more likely.
But if we take the transcript, audio and Obama’s history together, it is equally likely that he is hailing (and taking credit for) emission reductions that came on his watch so far, which are as a result of the recession. Which is as bad as the first interpretation.
Last week, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) announced it would join the 20 states that are suing to have the new federal health care law overturned. “We didn’t enter into the decision to join this lawsuit lightly — we have been representing small business owners since 1943 and we take this responsibility extremely seriously,” said NFIB president and CEO Dan Danner in a statement. “But the outpouring of opposition to this new law was overwhelming and our members urged us to do everything in our power to stop this unconstitutional law.”
NFIB and the states are arguing in their lawsuit that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, although that is hardly the small business association’s only objection to the recently enacted law. NFIB also opposes the enhanced 1099 reporting requirements and the health insurance fee, while finding the small business tax credit — [o]ften cited as a cure-all for small business” — inadequate. But the legal challenge focuses on the constitutional issues surrounding the mandate.
While Danner emphasizes “NFIB has a long history of working on and supporting healthcare reform. We are not part of the ‘Just say no’ crowd,” he says his organization cannot support the individual mandate: “This law is the first time the federal government has required individuals to purchase something simply because they are alive. If Congress can regulate this type of inactivity, then there are essentially no limits to what they can mandate individuals to do.”
The Heartland Institute’s Peter Ferrara provides a good review of the proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Climate Change at the main site today. Meanwhile Heartland has videos up of the keynote speeches today, and PJTV also provided extensive coverage of the conference. As a sidenote, Heartland’s Sam Karnick has a book review today of Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America, whose author, Christopher Horner, was one of ICCC-4’s most entertaining and compelling speakers (and is also an AmSpecBlog contributor).
The latest Rasmussen poll shows that Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the likely Democratic nominee for Chris Dodd’s Senate seat, has lost ground to all three Republican candidates since the New York Times reported on his embellished military record. Oddly, former wrestling executive Linda McMahon seems to benefit more than veteran Rob Simmons. McMahon trails Blumenthal by just 48-45 while Simmons is down 50-39. Libertarian-leaning financial analyst Peter Schiff trails 53-37.
The fact that Republicans keep losing close House special elections like PA-12 is an argument against the most optimistic projections of GOP gains this fall, like Newt Gingrich’s prediction of 70 seats. But there are reasons to not get too carried away about these races no matter how they turn out.
When the focus is on one special election, both national parties and their supporters get to commit disproportionate resources to their respective campaigns. The Republicans’ biggest special election victory was in Massachusetts, where the Democrats were more or less taken by surprise. Nobody was asleep at the switch in PA-12. In such races, local factors also loom large. The Specter-Sestak Democratic primary was competitive, the Republican primary was not. Pat Toomey’s primary opponent, Peg Luksik, is past her prime and has enjoyed her greatest vote share successes against moderate-to-liberal Republicans. There wasn’t as much room to Toomey’s right.
Special elections give the party out of favor more opportunities to buck the national tide than they will have when all 435 seats are up in November. That is not to say that repeated losses shouldn’t temper Republican triumphalism — after all, they indicate that even in this tough environment there is a path to victory for Democrats in the kind of districts Republicans need to win to retake the majority. But it won’t be as easy to replicate these one-off successes when the entire House is up for re-election this fall unless the national political climate changes.
The incumbent Democratic senator from Arkansas managed to outpoll her liberal primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, but she did not break the 50 percent needed to avoid a June runoff. The first round was close, 44.5 percent to 42.5 percent with 98.9 percent of precincts showing.
CNN is projecting that Democrat Mark Critz has defeated Republican Tim Burns in the battle to replace John Murtha, and the returns thus far suggest it will be a comfortable win. Early indications are that the competitive Democratic Senate primary between Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter (and the lack of a competitive primary on the Republican side) boosted Democratic turnout to Critz’s benefit. But still, this represents the third straight Republican loss in a House special election, and it comes in the exact type of swing district that Republicans need to win if they are going to take over the House in November. Expect this result to trigger a “Are Republicans Overconfident?” narrative among the political class.
The Associated Press has just called the Pennsylvania Senate primary for Joe Sestak, putting an end to Sen. Arlen Specter’s political career. It’s good to see that Specter’s craven political maneuverings have finally caught up with him. Sestak will likely present a more difficult challenge for Republican Pat Toomey in the general election (by significantly weakening the anti-incumbent argument), but it will be refreshing to watch a race that will present a clear ideological contrast. If Toomey wins the race, it will be very hard to portray it as anything other than a rejection of Obama’s agenda in a state that has trended Democrat in recent election cycles.
The Kentucky GOP primary for Senate is being called for the younger Dr. Paul with 30 percent of precincts reporting. No winner has yet been projected in the Democratic primary.
UPDATE: Conceding the race, Trey Grayson has endorsed Rand Paul. “We must unite behind Dr. Paul,” Grayson said. “We have more things that unite us.”
UPDATE II: Attorney General Jack Conway won the Democratic primary, narrowly beating Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo by about 44 percent to 43 percent. Conway was the national party’s preferred nominee, but I actually think he is a weaker candidate against Paul in the general. He is more liberal and will be forced to focus on economics, while the more conservative Mongiardo could have employed a “horseshoe strategy” of hitting Paul from the left or right as needed.
After Democrat Richard Blumenthal was caught making false claims about serving in Vietnam, the Cook Political Report now lists the Connecticut Senate race — considered safely Democratic once Blumenthal took over for unpopular incumbent Chris Dodd — as a “toss up.” While I think this may be premature, there is something to the reasoning:
Blumenthal promised to stay in the race and Democrats think that the campaign will move quickly beyond this incident. We are not so sure. There is now a very long and deep scratch in Blumenthal’s Teflon, and the tougher the Teflon, the more damaging the scratch. Voters are now likely to see Blumenthal as more of a typical politician than he’s ever been….
Our early guess is that Blumenthal does survive, but that he is no longer the heavy favorite he was just 24 hours ago, and Republicans will now play on a more level playing field. As such, the race is moving to the Toss Up column.
My view is that the more people scrutinize Blumenthal, the more they will find things to dislike.
Apparently, according to Democrat Dick Blumenthal, it all depends on the meaning of the word “in.”
By Asher Embry
There was a Connecticut AG
Who was caught with inflated CV.
He asked: Would it trouble you
If he joined VFW
When he’d served out his “tour” in D.C.?
(You can read more of Asher Embry’s Political Verse at www.politicalverse.com.)
Indiana state Sen. Marlin Stutzman’s name is being batted around as a possible replacement for resigning Congressman Mark Souder in Indiana. Stutzman unexpectedly finished second in last month’s GOP primary for U.S. Senate against former Sen. Dan Coats.
More evidence has emerged of the graying of the pro-choice movement and the contrasting youth of the pro-life cause. A new Gallup Poll shows that Americans in the 18- to 29-year-old demographic are more likely than Baby Boomers to believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.
They also oppose abortion, across the board, in greater numbers than their elders.
A recent issue of Newsweek (of all publications) put an exclamation point on pro-choicers’ waning influence, courtesy of some feminist opining (emphasis mine):
This past January, when [NARAL president Nancy] Keenan’s train pulled into Washington’s Union Square, a few blocks from the Capitol, she was greeted by a swarm of anti-abortion-rights activists. It was the 37th March for Life, organized every year on Jan. 22, the anniversary of [Roe v. Wade]. “I just thought, my gosh, they are so young,” Keenan recalled. “There are so many of them, and they are so young.” March for Life estimates it drew 400,000 activists to the Capitol this year. An anti-Stupak rally two months earlier had about 1,300 attendees.
Later in the article, another NARAL’er complains that ultrasounds have “helped to define how people think about a fetus as a full, breathing human being.” Darn that youth and technology!
Two men scandalized. The married Republican Congressman admits to an affair with a female staffer. The Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, though outed for lying about his service in Vietnam, admits to nothing.
The difference, as per usual, is that the Republican resigns while the Democrat stays on, parsing words and spinning.
If past is prologue, Blumenthal will keep fighting, until resigning moves from a matter of honor to convenience.
I’m not willing to predict who will win today’s Democratic primary between Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak but I am confident in making this prediction: No matter what happens, Specter will begin voting less like a party-line Democrat after today.
If Specter wins the primary, it will be good for his general election chances to once again showcase his independence. In my column on Specter last week, I cited Nate Silver’s number-crunching that showed Specter’s support of the Democratic Party on contentious votes varied widely based on his political circumstances: he voted with Democrats 58 percent of the time when he was a moderate Republican trying to survive in a blue state after Obama’s election, voted with Republicans 84 percent of the time when he was fighting an uphill battle against Pat Toomey in the GOP primary, then voted with Democrats 69 percent of the time when he first switched, and finally became a 97 percent party-line voter once Sestak got into the race.
If Specter loses, the Democrats may face something even more formidable than Specter’s vaunted independence: Arlen Specter’s personal pique. Remember that a primary loss will have come after Barack Obama and Joe Biden reneged on their initial promises to back him fully, after national Democrats failed to clear the primary field of viable opponents, and after a failure by Pennsylvania Democrats to turn out the vote for him in sufficient numbers to put the incumbent over the top. You don’t think Specter will pay them back like the Club for Growth?
In one of the most shameless political performances since the days of Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal just gave a press conference in which he blamed “misplaced words” for the fact that he was caught lying about having served in Vietnam.
A New York Times report published today found that on numerous occasions, Blumenthal either directly said he served in Vietnam, or phrased things in such a way as to leave his audiences with that impression — even though he received at least five deferments.
This afternoon, a defiant Blumenthal appeared at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall to respond to the story. He was introduced by a friend who said he was a Marine Corps veteran and called the charges against Blumenthal “malicious” and “deceptive.” During his own remarks, Blumenthal emphasized that he served in the Marine reserves during the Vietnam War and said he “misspoke” about his service on a few occasions completely unintentionally.
“Unlike many of my peers, I chose to join the military and serve my country,” he said. “I am proud of my service in the United States Marine Corps.”
While he said that he usually described serving “during the Vietnam era,” he accidently misspoke in one quote when he substituted “in” for “during.”
“On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service, and I regret that, and I take full responsibility,” he said. “But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”
When asked directly by a reporter whether he would apologize, his supporters in the room shouted “Noooooo!” and he refused. Instead, he reiterated that he “regrets” misspeaking.
This sort of lawyerly posturing created a lot of fodder for late night comics during the Clinton era, but politically speaking, it worked, and he was able to survive numerous scandals. We’ll have to see if Connecticut voters are as forgiving of Blumenthal after this laughable performance.
From the Corner at National Review:
Make the case against liberal jurisprudence and vote against Kagan while knowing it won’t stop her confirmation. In my view, that’s what Republicans should do.
Ramesh Ponnuru has the right approach, generally, with one caveat — it might actually stop her confirmation.
We can’t give in and say that Kagan is a fait accompli or that Obama’s a liberal, he’ll appoint a liberal justice, we can’t stop it…
We should ask whether they’re suited for the court and whether they’re suited for the process.
Harriet Miers, who, in my opinion, was not suited for the Court or the process, could have been confirmed. She wasn’t. Her nomination imploded from the inside out. I’m glad for that. She’s probably a decent person and a bright legal mind. But for the SCOTUS it takes more than that. Besides, we got Samuel Alito as a result of her withdrawal. Not a bad consolation by any measure.
The Miers scenario illustrates exactly what can happen to subpar nominees. They’re not inanimate objects. While it might be difficult to objectively prove them unequal to the task, we might find that they realize the same themselves — and withdraw.
“Advise and consent” could just as easily have been “an up or down vote by the Senate” but it’s not; it’s advise and consent. And the role of Justices, especially as viewed by the left, is far too significant in 2010 to be anything resembling an automatic bid.
Moreover, liberal pundits and politicians alike think the Supreme Court is already too conservative. They think they’re owed one more flip just to balance the court. They won’t be willing to treat a Kennedy, Scalia, or a Thomas resignation, for instance, as an automatic bid for another moderate to Conservative nomination. So, it’s way too important not to throw everything legal and decent at these nominees. If they can’t take the process, they don’t belong.
And no, I’m not talking about the impertinence of questions like “are you a racist?” as was asked of Alito, because we’re not donkeys. We’ll leave that to the Democrats. But we should make them have to defend their existence on the Bench.
And in the process, we just never know what might happen.
It’s that time of year again when weather watchers — namely NOAA — start predicting how many storms the hurricane season will produce. There’s been a lot of talk here at Heartland’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change about the infancy of the science and about how much is still unknown about how the complex climate system works. Well, today my friends at the National Center for Public Policy Research announced the launch of their own hurricane forecast center led by Dr. James Hansimian, whose predictive methods they expect to at least match, if not improve upon, NOAA’s forecasting track record:
The intended point from NCPPR:
The video isn’t intended to needle NOAA for its erroneous forecasts, but to make a larger point about our current understanding of climate.
“NOAA’s forecasts have been wrong not because of a lack of dedication or competence of its forecast team, but because climate science is really still its infancy,” said Amy Ridenour, president of The National Center for Public Policy Research. “We should remember this as we consider whether to adopt economically-ruinous caps on energy. If we can’t rely on 6-month forecasts, how can rely on forecasts of what rising carbon concentrations will do to our climate 25, 50 or even 100 years out?”
I’m at the Heartland Institute’s 4th International Climate Conference in Chicago, and I see a stand of a couple of entrepreneurial brothers offering these amusing t-shirts, which jabs reminded me of something I have let sit during recent days of travel but will get to with a full piece hopefully later today.
For a hint, see the title of this post. Just when I think I can’t be amazed by the inanity of the global warming industry,I’m amazed. The “green” madness going on in Europe, and with which we are presently being threatened, simply sets in motion a perpetual motion madness machine. As I detail, here.
My reaction to Peter Beinart’s essay on the tension between American Jews’ Zionism and their liberalism, like Phil’s, is to observe that the problem is with the latter ideology. I think this is largely a function of misinformation; most American liberals, whatever their religion, seem not to understand the empirical truth about what’s going on in Israel.
Jonathan Chait picks out what most struck me about Beinart’s piece:
[T]he stridency and clarity of Peter’s argument comes at the cost of shaving off the rough edges of reality that would otherwise intrude. … Peter, for instance, twice writes that Palestinians “wanted peace, but had been ill-served by their leaders.” It’s an odd contrast with his description of the Israeli polity, every problem with which he portrays as reflective of a deep cancer on the Israeli soul. Moreover, if you examine the respective public opinion, it’s not actually true - most Palestinians want to undo the Jewish state altogether, while most Israelis accept the need for a two-state solution.
I suspect there is something about American liberals that makes this uncomfortable truth so hard to accept that they shunt it behind a blindspot (though Chait, at least, seems to have overcome this tendency). Somehow, Israel’s critics seem to have either not noticed that the Palestinians held an election in 2006 in which Hamas won, or not processed the implications of this fact. A sea change in Palestinian political culture is a prerequisite for a two-state solution; one cannot even begin to engage the debate on what Israel can do to encourage this sea change without assimilating the facts on the ground. Most American liberals, Jewish or not, simply haven’t done so. (The same goes, by the way, for the rump of the Israeli far-left, represented by Meretz and its American political export-import operation, J Street.)
Chait identifies other problems with Beinart’s essay, including his misstatement of Benjamin Netanyahu’s current views, his tendentious treatment of the controversies over anti-Israel bias at international human rights organizations, and his tendency to “over-react to the most recent political setback” and thus to assume that Israel is “falling almost inexorably into the grip of the far right.” Chait actually understates how overstated Beinart’s argument on this front is. Really, how horribly illiberal can a country where the right-wing Prime Minister personally intervenes to cut through red tape for a gay man and his sons possibly be?
The tendency to wildly overstate the illiberalism of the right, whether in Israel or in American, is hardly limited to Peter Beinart — witness roughly 98% of what liberal op-ed columnists have written about the Tea Party movement — and while the temptation toward hyperbole about the other side’s views is by no means limited to the left, it makes it difficult for liberals to get an unblinkered view of the rightward drift of Israeli politics.
One final point. “Conservatives wish to define Zionism as a conservative idea, so that any sympathizer of Israel must support the Republican Party,” Chait writes, by way of objecting to this idea and noting that Beinart no doubt also objects to it. Liberal Zionists who wish to neutralize this argument will have to find Democrats who treat the Jewish State a whole lot less shabbily than the current administration has.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal had been viewed as a virtual shoe-in to win the Senate seat of retiring Chris Dodd, but now the Democratic candidate finds himself on the ropes after a report in the New York Times that exposes him for lying about having served in Vietnam. What makes it more difficult for him to wiggle out of is that not just once, but on numerous occasions, Blumenthal either directly said he served in Vietnam, or phrased things in such a way as to leave the audience with that impression — even though he received at least five deferments. (I’ve posted a video of the appearance at which he explicitly claimed to have served.) It’s still early in the election cycle, so he’ll have plenty of time to dig himself out of this mess. And given that in most polls he leads all Republican candidates by 20 points or more in a very Democratic state, he has a large margin of error. My guess is that as damaging as this is, on its own, it won’t be enough to sink Blumenthal. But if Republicans are able to establish this sort of lying as being part of a larger pattern, then that’s when he’ll run into even bigger problems. Either way, it certainly reshuffled the deck in a race that was seen as a safe Democratic seat.
For more on Blumenthal, check out Jim Antle’s piece on his record as an overzealous prosecutor and shameless self-promoter.
UPDATE: Nate Silver makes the case that the Democrats should draft a new candidate.
Come Wednesday, one of the most forceful and articulate champions of skepticism toward the idea of man-made global warming could emerge as a Republican congressional candidate.
Arthur Robinson, who founded the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISD), addressed the Heartland Institute’s Fourth Annual Climate Change Conference in Chicago on Monday where he warned against intrusive, big government policies that invoke environmentalism.
Should he win tonight’s primary, Robinson would go on to challenge Rep. Peter DeFazio, a long-time incumbent Democrat representing Oregon’s 4th district. DeFazio has supported legislative schemes that are burdensome to business and to individual Americans, Robinson point out in his luncheon address delivered by way of video.
Robinson is perhaps best known for the Petition Project he organized that attracted the support and signatures of over 31,000 scientists who question the premise of man-made global warming.
“He [DeFazio] sold his vote to ObamaCare, he advocates higher taxes on energy, on electricity and on fuel,” Robinson said in his remarks. “We decided to put at least one scientists in Congress, and if we do we are going to rattle their cages.”
In the wake of “climategate,” and updated scientific observations, the debate over global warming alarmism is largely over, Robinson suggested. Even so, the political battle could still be lost, he warned.
A reloaded version of the “cap and trade” bill that passed the House last year was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate last week with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) leading the charge.
The battle over climate change legislation is part of a larger battle between the forces of big government and the advocates of economic freedom, Robinson said.
“This is a fight involving higher taxation and litigation that have been placed on backs of American worker and backs of industry and the backs of business to the point where they are unable to compete,” he observed. “But the political climate is changing and changing rapidly.”
In his talk, the scientist turned political candidate, also expressed concern over restrictive policies that have hampered the development of energy sources at home. Over the last 30 years, not a single nuclear power plant or oil refinery has been built, Robinson told audience members.
“The only way back to peace and prosperity is to roll back the taxation, regulation and litigation that the House of Representatives has placed on the backs of the American people,” he said.
Over 70 of the world’s leading climate scientists, economists and policy makers are taking part in the conference, which concludes today.
Lord Christopher Monckton, one of the most prominent skeptics in the public policy arena, is scheduled to deliver the final presentation, which is entitled: “Global Warming: The Trojan Horse that Menaces Global Freedom.”
“The risks of global warming need to be weighed against the risks of global warming policy,” Ben Lieberman, a senior policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation said. “Given what we are learning about both, cap and trade legislation would likely do far more economic harm than environmental good.”
As the science underpinning anthropogenic (man-made) global warming steadily erodes in light of new data and in the midst of scandal, the public policy rationale has also shifted. The proponents of Kyoto-type legislative proposals now claim that it is vital to invest in renewable energy sources and green technology to keep pace with international competitors.
Fortunately, for U.S. taxpayers, the political class is not going unchecked and unchallenged in its drive for greater government control, regardless of how their schemes are packaged.
Over 70 climate scientists, economists and policy experts are convening in Chicago this week for the fourth Annual Heartland Institute International Conference on Climate Change just as “cap and trade” has been reintroduced in the U.S. Senate. Chris Horner, a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) is among the many participants.
“The issue is never the issue,” he has observed. “This is not about the environment. It is about wealth transfers and lifestyle restrictions.”
In the aftermath of the “climategate” scandal, it is worth examining the motivations not only of public officials, but of the business interests and green groups that continue to lobby for anti-emissions regulations. A corporate spokesman who responded to criticism said that imposing a price carbon would create the right incentives for a more sensible approach to energy policy.
On this point, there is vociferous disagreement.
Corporate officers who continue to advance “cap and trade” schemes under the auspices of the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) are not just wrongheaded, they are unpatriotic, the CEO of a private coal company has argued.
While China and Russia snatch up oil and gas resources that have economic and military value, U.S. policy makers are limiting access to the most abundant and reliable sources of energy at the behest of USCAP and other green groups, Robert Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy, a mining company based in Ohio, has warned.
“I don’t consider them to be good Americans,” he said in an interview. “They have a responsibility to the country not just their companies and they have not told the truth. The electrical utilities are all jockeying for some kind of benefit for themselves but it has nothing to do with what’s good for America.”
Murray is particularly critical of Exelon Corporation and General Electric.
“These CEO’s have abrogated their responsibility to lead American in the right direction,” he argued. “Meanwhile, Russia and China are expanding their oil contracts.”
Paul Elsberg, a spokesman for Exelon disagrees.
“Exelon supports legislation that places a price on carbon, because it will result in cleaner energy, greater security and more jobs - all at the lowest cost,” he wrote in an email statement. “Nothing else will ensure we do the cheapest things first, including regulation of carbon emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”
But whatever the merits may be of renewable technology over the long term, there is no denying the strategic fallout to the U.S. that is now in motion. Unlike fossil fuels, so-called clean energy sources are expensive, intermittent and unavailable on a commercial scale. Even if corporations have laudable motives here, they should consider rebalancing their approach in light of some telling statistics that the Institute for Energy Research (IER) has circulated.
While the U.S. stands still, China has spent nearly $200 billion on oil deals that include 19 countries in the just the past few years, according to the IER. There’s more.
“Between 2004 and 2008 China added 346 gigawatts of generating capacity, of which 272 gigawatts were conventional thermal power (mostly coal) and 66 gigawatts were hydroelectric power. This compares to a total installed US hydroelectric capacity of 77 gigawatts,” IER reports.
Russia is also moving aggressively to secure its strategic interests. With its traditional sources of natural gas steadily eroding, the Kremlin has sought to make the most of substantial gas fields in Yamal Peninsula located in northwest Siberia. Russia has also claims ownership over a portion of the Arctic continental shelf that is equal in size to France, Germany and Italy combined.
Moscow is not standing still.
In fact, Russia has joined with Iran and Qatar to form what the Heritage Foundation describes as a “gas OPEC” that meets quarterly in an effort to exercise control over almost two-thirds of the word’s natural gas reserves.
The debate over energy policy and its relationship with environmental predilections must be viewed within a larger context.
Over the past few decades, green activists have worked with great effect to undermine America’s geopolitical standing, economic well being and national security interests. Even after 9/11, well-funded environmental groups persisted in recruiting teams of lawyers and waves of demonstrators to block weapons testing, halt naval exercises, short-circuit missile defense and undermine border security.
Remarkably, no less than the U.S. Defense Department now sees fit to resuscitate the cause of global warming alarmism as the idea loses traction with the public. Shrinking glaciers, extreme weather swings, rising sea levels, temperature change, food security and water scarcity are all identified as key factors that could fuel instability and conflict around the world, the Pentagon claims in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).
But the threat comes not so much from climate change per se as it does from costly, interventionist climate change policy proposals, Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow with (CEI) points out in a recent report.
“In the Afghan and Iraq wars, U.S. strategy plays to our comparative advantage in mobile forces,” he wrote. “Today’s U.S. Army is the most fuel-intensive in history and the Defense Department is the nation’s largest consumer of fossil fuels. Therefore it should interest DOD that cap-and-trade programs are designed to make fossil fuels more costly.”
The QDR misses the mark by fixating on ill-conceived policy prescriptions unattached from the actual risk of climate change, Lewis argues. Contrary to what is now being peddled in the Pentagon, new research actually shows that “cooperation rather than conflict” characterizes the international response to shared water resources, according to the CEI report.
“Human activity has nothing to do with global warming, it is a natural phenomenon,” said Murray, the mining CEO. “But efforts are still being made to destroy our global competitiveness and harm our economy. USCAP has done a tremendous disservice to America and to the American people.”
James Taylor, a senior fellow with Heartland who is overseeing the conference, did say that a concerted effort was made to include researchers who favored the theory of man-made global warming. Unfortunately, he did not receive a substantial response.
USCAP members who genuinely believe their approach will best serve the long-term geopolitical interests of the U.S. should consider some form out outreach to the experts gathered in Chicago this week who relish the on-going debate over energy policy.
The person who was most instrumental in debunking Climategate scientist Michael Mann’s hockey stick chart, Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit, said last night that he did not believe his scientific misrepresentations rose to the level of fraud. At the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change in Chicago, McIntyre delivered a compelling account of his adventures in trying to obtain temperature data and in successfully challenging Mann’s work, but then left much of the ballroom disappointed by letting Mann off the hook. My Heartland colleague Dan Miller recounts:
Citing a particularly controversial email in the Climategate emails that referred to hiding an unexpected but inconveniently inexplicable decline in global temperatures, McIntyre concluded, “To the extent that things like the ‘trick’ (to “hide the decline”) were common practice, the practices need to be disavowed. The scientists do not need to be drummed out, but there has to be some commitment to avoiding these sort of practices in the future.”
But the audience was having none of McIntyre’s forgiving rhetoric, and questioner after questioner pressed the Canadian to acknowledge legal, if not moral, culpability.
“I don’t even think in those terms,” McIntyre insisted.
As Miller and Heartland president Joe Bast noted, it was an extremely odd audience reaction: McIntyre received a standing ovation upon his introduction, thanks to his dogged research and unrelenting demand for information and accountability, but then his blase’ attitude about scientists’ behavior — particularly Mann’s — left most of the audience cold and some even angry. The applause for McIntyre was tepid upon the conclusion of his remarks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.
McIntyre said he believed expressing emotions and anger over the episode was counterproductive and even self-indulgent, and that simply proving Mann and others wrong was sufficient. Perhaps if McIntyre personally lent or gave a few million dollars for Mann to indulge in his deceptive research, instead of taxpayers footing the bill, then he might feel more self-indulgent himself.
Zeituni Onyango, Barack’s “Auntie Zeituni” from Dreams from My Father,” has just been granted asylum, reversing her 2004 deportation as an illegal alien (see Asher Embry’s “Dreams From My Father’s Sister” on the February 5, 2010 AmSpecBlog). In the immortal words of Gomer Pyle: “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”
Auntie Zeituni’s Amnesty
By Asher Embry
Surprise, surprise, as we now see
Obama’s aunt gets amnesty.
Get used to what’ll be the norm
When O’s amigos get “Reform.”
One down. It won’t be long before
O tries the same for millions more.
(You can read more of Asher Embry’s Political Verse at www.politicalverse.com.)
Burger chain White Castle says that one provision in the new national health care law could cut it’s earnings in half, causing it to curtail expansion plans and slow hiring.
At issue is a measure that would slap employers with a $3,000 penalty when a worker’s contribution to health insurance premiums exceeds 9.5 percent of household income. The problem for a fast food chain such as White Castle is that many of their workers are on the lower end of the pay scale, so insurance premium payments will tend to eat up a higher percentage of a worker’s earnings, slaming them with the penalty.
The chain crunched the numbers, and in a statement to House Minority Leader John Boehner’s office, says:
In present form, this provision alone would lead to approximate increased costs equal to over 55% of what we earn annually in net income (based on past 4-year average). Effectively cutting our net income in half would have [a] devastating impact on the business - cutting future expansion and more job creation at least in half. Sadly, it makes it difficult to justify growing where jobs are needed most - in lower income areas.
Via Jeffrey Anderson.
CBS News Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer is, according to the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, preparing for an Arlen Specter loss tomorrow and accordingly cutting him loose. “I have been told on background that the White House is preparing for a Specter loss here, and that the president doesn’t want to be associated with that,” Schieffer told a local CBS affiliate. Sargent has confirmed that Vice President Joe Biden has no appearances with Specter scheduled even though he is in Pennsylvania speak at his daughter’s graduation.
Bear in mind that Specter’s party switch was heavily based on assurances from President Obama and Vice President Biden that they would clear the primary field for him and go all out to support him. If these reports are accurate, then they have either gone back on their word or heard from leading Pennsylvania Democrats that Specter is a lost cause. We’ll soon find out.
Utah’s spoilsport loser Sen. Bob Bennett says that Tea Partiers are full of yelling and anger, and still says he may run as a write-in candidate, thus potentially splitting the vote and giving a Democrat at least a chance to win.
What part of “Get the hell out of here” does he not understand?
Here is a guy who ran on a pledge to limit himself to two terms — a stupid promise, but a promise IS a promise — and now, three full terms later, at age 76, having lost fair and square in a process he said he would abide by, he now threatens to upend the apple cart by trying a write-in campaign so he can try, ever so desperately, to cling to power like a John Edwards clinging to his own self-image in the mirror. How pathetic is this? And how selfish?
Meanwhile, he insults the people who, in an open process, pushed him down to third place in his own party’s contest for a new six-year Senate term. In doing so, he gives utterly false credence (can credence be utterly false??) to the outrageous media narrative that Tea Partiers are nothing more than a howling mob. So, to add to preening and overwheening self-regard, and to add to Beltway myopia, we now have proof that Bennett also is a calumniator of the first order.
I never wrote anything on his intra-party race while it was going on. I figured that the Republicans of Utah could figure out if he deserved another nomination or not, and that if he is as “good a man” as so many of the cognoscenti say he is, that I should not pile on him even if he had outlived his usefulness. Well, now the holds are off. Sometimes people should learn to accept defeat with grace. What IS it with all these so-called moderates who are pathetically sore losers? In New York, Scozzafava takes the GOP endorsement and tons of GOP cash and then endorses the Democrat. In Maryland, Wayne Gilchrest lost the GOP House nomination fair and square, and then endorsed the Democrat. In Pennsylvania, we see Arlen Specter switching parties because he saw he would lose. Same with Charlie Crist in Florida, after swearing up and down that he was a Reagan Republican. And now Bennett, slandering the Tea Partiers and threatening to run a write-in candidacy.
What a wealth of weasels.
In the past, I’ve remarked to friends that the difference between a Jewish liberal and a Jewish conservative is that when a Jewish liberal walks out of the Holocaust Museum, he feels, “This shows why we need to have more tolerance and multiculturalism.” The Jewish conservative feels, “We should have killed a lot more Nazis, and sooner.”
I thought of this as I read Peter Beinart’s new essay, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” which argues that “liberal Zionism” is in danger unless groups such as AIPAC start to take a more critical view of Israel’s actions. Beinart, using a Frank Luntz survey of young American Jews as a jumping off point, writes:
Particularly in the younger generations, fewer and fewer American Jewish liberals are Zionists; fewer and fewer American Jewish Zionists are liberal. One reason is that the leading institutions of American Jewry have refused to foster — indeed, have actively opposed — a Zionism that challenges Israel’s behavior in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and toward its own Arab citizens. For several decades, the Jewish establishment has asked American Jews to check their liberalism at Zionism’s door, and now, to their horror, they are finding that many young Jews have checked their Zionism instead.
The problem, however, isn’t with leading Jewish organizations that defend Israel, but with liberalism. As sickening as it sounds, Jewish liberals see their fellow Jews as noble when they are victims being led helplessly into the gas chambers, but recoil at the thought of Jews who refuse to be victims, and actually take actions to defend themselves. It isn’t too different from American liberal attitudes toward criminal justice or terrorism, where morality is turned upside down and the lines between criminals and victims become blurred, and in certain cases, even reversed.
In the case of Israel, what changed over time was that Israel went from a state that exemplified Jewish victimhood (a role that Jewish liberals are comfortable with) to one in which Jews were actually in a position of power, which liberals are not comfortable with. Meanwhile, Palestinians, aided by the media, effectively exploited Jewish liberals by portraying themselves as the real victims, and Israel as the oppressors. I experienced this first hand once when I went on a Birthright Israel trip (which is a paid trip for American Jews to travel to Israel). At one point, we went to the cemetery at Mount Herzl, which is sort of Israel’s equivalent of Arlington National Cemetery, and is located by Yad Vashem, Israel’s main Holocaust Museum. While stopping at the cemetery, we were asked to offer our feelings standing in a cemetery honoring fallen Israeli soldiers, and the first American Jew who commented was this liberal girl who reflected, “All I can think about is how many Palestinian graves there are.”
Israel, right now, is surrounded by terorrist groups dedicated to the nation’s destruction. Palestinian society teaches its children to aspire to slaughter Jews much in the same fashion as the Nazis indoctrinated their young. Suicide bombers who die in the act of killing Jewish civilians are celebrated as heroes. It’s a culture that glorifies death and uses women and children as human shields to gain sympathy from the international community — and especially liberal Jews. And the terrorists are receiving aid from Iran, a radical nation that vows to wipe Israel off the map within the context of seeking a nuclear weapon.
Yet against this backdrop, all liberal Jews want to do is to pin the blame on Israel’s efforts to defend itself, and engage in the magical thinking that more Jewish concessions will create peace and security. By doing so, they are helping the enemies of the Jews who are intent on finishing the job that Hitler started. While Israel has no shortage of critics, when Jewish liberals attack Israel, it’s that much more damaging, because Israel’s enemies can say, “See, even Jews admit that Israel is the oppressor.”
While I would never suggest that Jews who happen to be politically liberal would want a second Holocaust to happen, I do think that by participating in a campaign to defang Israel and prevent it from taking the actions necessary to defend itself, that Jewish liberals are making things significantly easier for those who do want to carry out a second Holocaust.
Luckily, though, there are a lot of Jews in Israel who are determined not to let that happen.
David Frum hits Rand Paul for opposing cuts to Medicare physician payments, based on a short item in the Wall Street Journal. Paul is an ophthalmologist who treats Medicare patients. Therefore, says Frum, “Rand Paul’s libertarianism stops where his pocketbook starts.” He calls this “Rand Paul’s personal special interest” and elsewhere describes it as a “small government for everybody except me personally” philosophy. Frum concludes, “I guess this is what the original Rand meant by the morality of selfishness.”
Clever. And it will indeed be an attractive line of attack for Paul’s Democratic opponent, assuming (as seems likely) that he wins the Republican primary tomorrow. Frum fails to mention something rather important, however: the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula Paul is quoted as criticizing is widely viewed as a disaster.
SGR has failed to control Medicare costs. Congress has had to tinker with and postpone the targets on an annual basis. Its basic requirement to keep doctor payment below the rate of economic growth has resulted in significant cost-shifting — a perspective that informed much of the conservative opposition to the public option and other Democratic health reform measures. To be sure, getting rid of SGR would be costly. So would a 40 percent cumulative cut in physician payments in 2016, reducing payments to below their 1980 value.
Underpayment for services isn’t necessarily the best way to get Medicare spending — or federal spending more generally — under control. By the way, “Rand” is short for “Randall.” Rand Paul was not named after Ayn Rand.
In what will likely be the last public poll before tomorrow’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, Public Policy Polling shows Rand Paul with a commanding lead over Trey Grayson. Paul beats Grayson by 52 percent to 34 percent among likely voters. Only 7 percent are still undecided and there are three minor candidates in the low single digits.
Paul trounces Grayson among the 41 percent who are dissatisifed with the state of the Republican Party, winning 59 percent to 28 percent. Voters who think the GOP is too liberal break for Paul by 71 percent to 21 percent. Republicans who are satisfied with the party’s direction only support Grayson by a narrow 47 percent to 45 percent. Paul actually beats Grayson among Republicans who don’t think the GOP is too liberal, albeit by the much narrower 45-41. Interestingly, Paul has reached far beyond his father’s base (only 8 percent support Ron Paul for president in 2012, putting him in fifth place) and isn’t affected by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s enduring popularity.
Grayson has only two slim hopes: One is the fact I’m reliably informed that both campaigns’ internals show the race closer than the public polling does. The second is that he, unlike Paul, has a proven ground game. But Grayson hasn’t led in any reputable poll in months and the race doesn’t look close enough for a smooth get-out-the-vote operation to influence.
“Rand Paul’s remarkable success is one of the biggest stories of the 2010 election cycleso far,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling, in a release accompanying the poll results. “It’s a clear sign ofunhappiness within the Republican Party and should have establishment candidate facing primaries nationwide a little nervous about their prospects.”
Last week, Rasmussen released a poll showing a sizeable gain for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the troubled Democratic incumbent. Patrick is at 45 percent, Republican Charlie Baker takes 31 percent, and independent Tim Cahill sinks to 14 percent. The last Rasmussen poll showed Patrick at 35 percent with Baker and Cahill bunched together at 27 percent and 23 percent, respectively. A Western New England College taken after the Republican State Convention showed Cahill ahead of Baker.
Patrick got some good publicity with his handling of the spring flooding problems in Massachusetts. It’s also the case that much of the governor’s race thus far has consisted of Baker and Cahill sniping at each other, as they are fighting for the same political oxygen. In particular, the Republican Governors Association spent $1 million going after Cahill on behalf of Baker — to the consternation of eight Republican National Committee members who view Baker as too liberal and have signed a letter asking that no RNC resources be spent on his behalf.
Things can obviously change, since it’s only May and the race has already proved remarkably fluid. But this poll does provide a data point for those worried that the Baker-Cahill split will allow Patrick to defy the odds and win re-election.
A one-point lead on the eve of Tuesday’s special election for Jack Murtha’s old seat in western Pennsylvania:
The special election to replace John Murtha looks to be headed for a photo finish, with Republican Tim Burns leading Democrat Mark Critz 48-47 in PPP’s final poll of the race… .
If Burns does pull out the victory on Tuesday night it will be more because of a continuing gap in interest between Democratic and Republican voters in the off year election than anything else. Critz is actually winning over more McCain voters (14%) than Burns is Obama voters (12%). This race is not an example of people who voted for Obama who are now unhappy with him and voting Republican. But those planning to vote on Tuesday report having voted for John McCain by 5 points in 2008, compared to his actual 1 point victory in the district. And among voters who say they’re ‘very excited’ to vote in this election, Burns has a 60-38 lead.
Republicans are pulling out all the stops in Pennsylvania’s 12th District, as Amy Crawford reports for the New Republic:
Twelve hours a day for several weeks now, supporters of Tim Burns, the GOP’s candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s Twelfth district, have staffed a call center in a mostly-vacant office building in downtown Washington, PA. Bundles of phone cables hang from the ceiling, and the walls are decorated with navy “Tim Burns for Congress” signs and an American flag. “If he wins, he’s going to go to Washington and slow down the massive spending,” avowed Chris Burdick, 21, who had driven up from West Virginia to make calls.
Like Burdick, volunteers have come from out of town after learning about Burns on conservative websites and from Fox News. Across the country, other Burns supporters are using the campaign’s call-from-home program, which allows them to reach voters in southwest Pennsylvania from kitchen tables and living room couches as far away as California. Burns strategist Kent Gates is unapologetic about the outsiders. “This is a national election,” he declares… .
Two weeks ago, I got these photos inside the GOP’s phone center in PA-12:
Douglas Cannon, 20, from Boca Raton, Fla., is a student at Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania. This kid’s so fast on the phone, the camera blurred!
This is enthusiastic Burns volunteer Margaret, an immigrant from Scotland who’s only been a U.S. citizen for four years. She says, “I love the Constitution, and I don’t want it changed!”
To give you an idea of how intense the PA-12 campaign has become: Last night, I got a message from a Republican volunteer from Georgia who had been sent out Sunday to do a door-to-door canvass — and discovered she was knocking on doors of homes that had been canvassed as recently as Friday.
This is saturation-level campaigning. Friday, Scott Brown came in for a rally with Burns:
Yesterday, the Democrats brought in Bill Clinton for a Johnstown rally, but the faded Clinton magic may not be the best hope for Mark Critz, as John McCormack at the Weekly Standard points out:
[O]ne advantage for Critz: Democratic turnout in the western Pennsylvania district may be boosted by a competitive Democratic senatorial primary between Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter (Pat Toomey has no serious competition for the GOP nomination).
Europe once was a traditional continent filled with traditional countries. There were real nations to which real people gave allegiance. Perhaps too much allegiance, given the wars which afflicted modern Europe.
Nevertheless, politicians were nominally accountable to voters. Governments had responsibility for economic policy. International cooperation started with countries and moved upward and outward.
This world has virtually disappeared. Today when speaking of Europe most people think of the European Union, a collective bureaucracy run by a gaggle of unaccountable politicians. George Will gets it right when discussing the meaning of Greece:
the EU is neither a state nor sovereign enough to enforce its rules: No eurozone nation is complying with the EU requirement that deficits not exceed 3 percent of GDP.
The EU has a flag no one salutes, an anthem no one sings, a president no one can name, a parliament (in Strasbourg) no one other than its members wants to have power (which must subtract from the powers of national legislatures), a capital (Brussels) of coagulated bureaucracy no one admires or controls, a currency that presupposes what neither does nor should nor soon will exist (a European central government), and rules of fiscal behavior that no member has been penalized for ignoring. The euro currency both presupposes and promotes a fiction — that “Europe” has somehow become, against the wishes of most Europeans, a political rather than a merely geographic expression.
The designs of the paper euros, introduced in 2002, proclaim a utopian aspiration. Gone are the colorful bills of particular nations, featuring pictures of national heroes of statecraft, culture and the arts, pictures celebrating unique national narratives. With the euro, 16 nations have said goodbye to all that. The bills depict nonexistent windows, gateways and bridges. They are from … nowhere, which is what “utopia” means.
Since European integration began in 1951 with creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, the question has been: Will there be a Europe of states or a state of Europe? The euro is part of the attempt to create the latter, a Leviathan constructed from the surrendered sovereignties of Europe’s nations.
Unfortunately, the Leviathan seems likely to continue growing. That means the ultimate destruction of traditional Europe.
There’s only one important question for Americans: Can we avoid the same fate?
Ever since the MSNBC host’s denunciation of a Tim James TV ad catapulted James to superstar status in the Alabama GOP gubernatorial primary, the Rachel Maddow Threshold (RMT) has become the new gold standard in conservative campaign advertising.
In one of the delicious ironies of the Obama Age, Republican consultants are conspiring feverishly to produce TV commercials that exceed the RMT and get their candidates condemned on the Liberal Network No One Ever Watches.
All of which is to explain why Dale Peterson is now odds-on favorite to become the nation’s most famous candidate for state agriculture commissioner. At the gossip site Gawker, Adrien Chen says: “This spot … makes James look like a gay Commie terrorist.”
If Maddow doesn’t denounce this one by Thursday, I owe somebody in Huntsville a case of beer.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?