Republicans and Democrats Both Patronize Young Voters

By 10.23.14

Midterm elections are all about turnout: empowering those random demographics who have little else to do all day besides take in '80s sitcom reruns and consult with telemarketers. Numbers count, and numbers don't show up to polls between presidential elections, when the most important decision on the ballot is whether the local library can repair its water fountains with public funds.

To add to the expected crowds of old people at the polling booths in two weeks, both the Republican and Democratic parties are attempting to "empower" the "disaffected youth," by which they seem to mean people my age who don't earn enough money to be day drunk and might be counted on to reliably vote. To no one's surprise, these efforts are laughably terrible. On the right, you have the noted arbiters of campus cool, College Republicans, with a "Say Yes to the Dress" ad that's insulting even for TLC, a cable channel that airs a show about nudists trying to find their dream home.


Sam Brownback Shows the Way

By 10.9.14

Four years ago, Sam Brownback was elected the governor of Kansas in a landslide. Within two years, he was able to elect a conservative majority in the state senate, a goal that had eluded GOP activists for decades. Then Brownback did what he said he would do — cut taxes, reformed education, and opposed Obamacare, earning the praise of many on the right, including Grover Norquist. 

So why is Brownback, facing re-election, now fighting for his political life?

First, it has become a truism that when a Republican governor aggressively takes on the left, he or she will be viciously attacked. Brownback has succeeded in enacting a solid conservative agenda. He eliminated income taxes on small businesses, and reduced income taxes on everyone else. He fought to keep coal as part of electricity generation feedstock. He refused the money and mandates of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Combine Brownback’s bold reforms with his longtime reputation as a culture warrior, and you get a tantalizing target for the left.


The Barbarians Inside the Gates

By 10.7.14

On the eve of Scotland’s vote on independence, News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch was on the phone from London to Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto. Said Mr. Murdoch, a man with a legendary political eye:

I think there’s meaning in this, and I think it goes beyond Scotland. There’s a great anti-establishment groundswell which is seen in this vote in Scotland. You’re seeing it here in Britain in the anti-European party, whose one single issue is to get out of Europe. And I think you’re seeing it in France with the polling for Le Pen — I don’t think she’d win, but you know.

And really, you can take the United States and go across to middle America. What do they think of Washington, and Wall Street for that matter? People are really looking for change.


A Death Panel By Any Other Name?

By 10.1.14

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is director of the Clinical Bioethics Department of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and heads the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been acknowledged as a prime mover and advocate for Obamacare. So his recent article in the Atlantic titled, “Why I Hope to Die at 75,” should scare the hell out of most of those still shy of that number. He is not kidding.


Maybe Holder Should Run the Secret Service

By 9.29.14

In the wake of the news of Eric Holder’s resignation, many voices are weighing in on the legacy he will leave behind. Newscasters have called him the president’s most trusted ally. He is noted to be the first black attorney general. But here’s the core: Holder will be remembered as a man who completely politicized the Department of Justice.

In recent days, some have questioned the ability of the Secret Service to protect the president. However, no one has questioned Eric Holder’s ability to use the Justice Department to protect the president.

Abandoning any precept of neutrality, Holder has served not as the nation’s top law enforcement officer, but instead as the president’s top policy-enforcement officer. Holder has used the Department of Justice to impose the president’s positions and protect his reputation — from stonewalling the investigation of the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal to dismissing voter intimidation by the Black Panthers.


RNC to Discuss Mississippi Radio Ads

By 7.29.14

The Republican National Committee will take up the explosive subject of the race-card playing radio ads in the Mississippi Senate GOP run-off election between Senator Thad Cochran and Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel. The RNC is scheduled to hold its summer meeting in Chicago August 6-9 at the Westin Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

The discussion, according to an RNC source, will occur on the morning of August 7 — behind closed doors — at the “Members Only” breakfast that runs between 8:00-9:30. There is no word whether RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, under pressure to investigate the ads, will then comment publicly on the discussion.


Showdown in Las Vegas

By 7.17.14

The letter was polite. A simple request for dialogue — a “productive conversation” — with the NAACP at its upcoming 105th convention in Las Vegas. Dialogue between black conservatives and representatives of the historic group that was once a beacon in the fight for civil rights.

The March letter went to Lorraine C. Miller, the interim president of the group, and was signed by Deneen Borelli, the prominent black conservative, on behalf of empower.org and FreedomWorks. Borelli cited the national black unemployment rate in February (12 percent) and noted it was double that for whites. The unemployment rate for black teens between ages 16 and 19 — a particularly mindboggling set of statistic, 32.4 percent — was cited. Last but not least was the drop in black homeownership from 50 percent to 43 percent, a sharp contrast to a rise of 73 percent in white homeownership.

The suggestion was made to have a panel on economic empowerment with representatives of the NAACP and a group of black conservatives including Borelli and the Reverend C.L. Bryant. Along with the inevitable booth, a staple of these kind of gatherings.


The IRS Oddities Add Up

By 7.11.14

Curiouser and curiouser. It's hard to see how the details of the ongoing IRS investigation could anything but mystify a fair-minded and careful observer.

Yesterday came news that employees at the tax-collecting agency use an internal instant messaging system called OCS, and that conversations held on it are not archived automatically. Further, Lois Lerner, the woman in charge of the department that targeted conservative non-profit groups, had specifically inquired about that very point. “I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails — so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails,” she wrote to IT support in 2013. “Someone asked if OCS conversations were also searchable — I don’t know.…Do you know?”


Donor Controversies Hit ‘Mississippi Conservatives’

By 7.8.14

The headline in the New York Times over the weekend was straightforward: “Unease in G.O.P. Over Mississippi Tea Party Anger”:

The stormy aftermath of Mississippi’s Republican Senate runoff has sent Tea Party conservatives around the country to the ramparts, raising the prospect of a prolonged battle that holds the potential to depress conservative turnout in November in Mississippi — and possibly beyond.


GOP Soul-Searching Over Thad Cochran

By 6.27.14

By now you've probably seen the reaction to Tuesday night’s Mississippi Republican Senate primary election, in which shaky incumbent Thad Cochran eked out a victory over Tea Party insurgent Chris McDaniel by making use of some rather unconventional electoral tactics.

Cochran dedicated most of his efforts to pursuing Democrats, and specifically the black community. He went so far as to threaten his new voting base by saying McDaniel would cut food stamps, and made conspicuous charges of racism against both McDaniel and the Tea Party. There were further allegations, substantiated in news reports, of “street money” paid to Democratic fixers to turn out the votes of, shall we say, “new” Republican voters crossing over to vote for Cochran on a one-time basis.