Politics

History

Was Washington a Better Place When Politicians Dueled?

By 9.12.14

What we now call “Washington, D.C.” or “the District of Columbia” was for much of its history known simply as “Washington” or “Washington City.” It was also for many years little more than a swamp, the home of pimps, corrupt cops, thugs, and many ugly buildings. In the following excerpt from Empire of Mud, his new book, J.D. Dickey explains the finer points of old Washington’s dueling culture:

The gentlemen of  Washington City did more than just attend balls, feast with abandon, raise funds for charity, and live in their elite cocoons. They had other concerns too—such as trying to kill each other. The code duello, an elaborate honor code, enabled a gentleman whose pride or dignity was impugned to murder his adversary freely, as long as he did so with the proper etiquette and ceremony.

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Political Hay

2014: A Wave Election or an Earthquake?

By 9.11.14

Will the 2014 election be a wave election? Or an earthquake election? And what’s the difference?

It was November, 1922. And the Republican Party had just gotten clobbered in that year’s congressional elections. The Harding-Coolidge administration, elected only two years earlier in a landslide, lost seventy-seven seats in the House and seven in the Senate. In short, the election was a disaster, the GOP the victim of what is frequently called today a “wave” election.

But it was a wave, not an earthquake. Waves can hit the beach with tremendous force — but they quickly recede without doing much damage. Not so with earthquakes, which tumble people out of bed, collapse buildings, bridges, highways, and leave an immutable trail of wreckage in their wake. What follows is a massive rebuilding and replacement of what once seemed solid as a rock.

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The Trumped-Up Charges Spectator

Rosemary Lehmberg On the Warpath: First Rick Perry, Now Wallace Hall

By 9.10.14

The Travis County District Attorney’s office is doubling down on the widely mocked legal theories used to indict Governor Rick Perry.

Rosemary Lehmberg’s office is now trying to get a grand jury to indict another prominent Texas conservative on the exact same charge—abuse of official capacity. The cases have nothing in common, other than a shameless and blackhearted prosecutor who has discovered a vague paragraph in state law that lets her bring charges against any Republican she wants for just about any reason.

There is a slight check on that power—a grand jury—but the juries in heavily Democratic Travis County have shown little inclination to check her abuses. Instead, they end up offering her insulation from the lawsuits and disbarment she deserves for her malicious prosecutions.

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The War on Terror Spectator

If Obama Had Been FDR

By 9.9.14

The words still resonate today, seventy-three years later. On December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, his polio-stricken legs encased in iron braces enabling him to stand at the podium, asked Congress for a declaration of war against “the Empire of Japan.” FDR’s famous speech came immediately after the perfunctory acknowledgement of the vice president and speaker of the House. The speech described the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and opened like this:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The speech, delivered at 12:30 p.m., was short and to the point.

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The Nation's Pulse

Andrew Tahmooressi’s Imprisonment Is Something We Should Be Ashamed Of

By 9.8.14

What to make of the peculiar situation unfolding just across the border in Tijuana, where U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi languishes in solitary confinement for the crime of mistakenly crossing the border with his personal weapons in his truck on March 31?

Nothing to inspire confidence, for certain. In fact, Tahmooressi’s ordeal might just confirm many of our worst fears about the Obama administration.

The Tahmooressi story sounds more like a schlocky Hollywood script than a real-life tale. Its protagonist is a decorated Marine veteran of two tours of duty in Afghanistan, honorably discharged in 2012 and diagnosed with a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); he was moving to the San Diego area specifically for treatment of his PTSD. And Tahmooressi’s ordeal is mind-bogglingly unjust; he mistakenly crossed the border from San Ysidro, California, into Mexico because he missed an interstate exit that would have taken him to dinner with friends. Instead, the twenty-five-year old war hero wound up at a Mexican border station driving a pickup truck full of his possessions, which included two rifles and a pistol, plus ammunition.

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Hoover Institution Hits Rand Paul on Pacifism

By on 9.4.14 | 5:58PM

Last night Senator Rand Paul appeared on Sean Hannity’s TV show, to make it clear he believes ISIS has declared war on America. The Senator was clearly irritated at being portrayed as an “isolationist.” He made plain that he believes the President should seek constitutional authority before dealing with ISIS. 

I’ve been critical of the Senator for what I termed his “Obama-Lite” approach to U.S. foreign policy. He is right — he is not an isolationist. And certainly saying presidents should get — as did George W. Bush in Iraq — the support of Congress before an intervention is correct.

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Freedom Watch

We Need Conferences Like AFP’s Defending the American Dream

By 9.4.14

“It’s time for leadership,” said a steely-eyed Carly Fiorina to a standing ovation from over 3,000 conservative activists in a packed ballroom at Dallas’s Omni Hotel last Saturday. But for Fiorina and the attendees at Americans For Prosperity’s Defending The American Dream Summit, as for far too many Americans, that leadership is nowhere to be found in Washington.

Leadership, or the lack of it, was the overwhelming theme at Defending The American Dream, an annual event AFP first took on the road in 2013 (Orlando) after six years in Washington. The summit presents its attendees with two days of high-profile stump speeches and copious breakout sessions with titles like “Outsmarting The Left On The Phones,” “#Hacking The Marketplace—Innovation In A Tough Economy” and “It’s About The Children: The Future Of School Choice,” but mostly it serves as a weekend of fellowship and comparing of notes for the hard core of Americans For Prosperity’s employees and 2.3 million members.

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Another Perspective

Don’t You Wish Voting Didn’t Feel Like a Placebo?

By 9.4.14

They don’t really do anything, these buttons we press to close elevator doors or cross the street, but we press them anyway. They’re called placebo buttons, and they exist only to give us the illusion of control. In cynical moods, I’d add that dial in the voting booth to the category. Pick red or pick blue—now we’ve got your consent to take your money, throw you in jail, or require your children to brush their teeth in day care. And it goes without saying, if you sell Whoppers to Sri Lankans, we get a third of that action, too.

Only I haven’t consented to any of these practices—not explicitly. I think the federal government ought to stick to raising armies, punishing piracy, and erecting Forts, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings in the District of Columbia. I suppose I consent to the rest of Congress’ enumerated powers under the Constitution, but that’s it.

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A Further Perspective

Republicans Can Learn a Lot From Burger King’s Move to Canada

By 9.3.14

 

The merger of U.S. hamburger giant Burger King with Tim Horton’s, Canada’s favorite coffee shop, will create the world’s third largest “fast food” company with a total of 18,000 restaurants in over 100 countries. It is also a piercing wake-up call for the U.S. because the new company will make its global headquarters in Canada’s province of Ontario. That underscores what savvy business everywhere have learned, namely, that the United States is an increasingly less attractive place to do business. “Canada has quietly and politely become, well, more AMERICAN than America,” says columnist Stephen Green.
 
Since 2003, more than thirty-five major American companies have moved their headquarters and reincorporated overseas.
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The Charlie Watch

Is Charlie Crist the Only Dem Who Wants Obama’s Help?

By 9.3.14

Democrats have become quite good at turning out their voters on Election Day in presidential years. But not so good in off years. Which may help explain the peculiar approach to the governor’s race taken by rookie Democrat Charlie Crist. 

You may well ask, what’s a Charlie Crist race without a peculiar approach? Point well taken. But with President Obama’s popularity in Florida tanking, and Obamacare never having been popular in the Sunshine State, you might wonder why Crist—who was Florida’s Republican governor from 2007 to 2011 and wishes now to be governor again, this time as a Democrat—has been taking every opportunity to praise Obamacare and its namesake. He has chided real Democrats for trying to put some distance between themselves and Obama. Unlike other Democrats running in tight races where Obama is unpopular, Crist says nothing would tickle him pinker than to have Obama come to Florida and campaign for him. (This may well happen. There are places in Florida where you can walk from the west coast of the peninsula to the east without ever stepping off of a golf course.)

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