A Constitutionalist in North Carolina

By 3.25.14

Senate candidate Greg Brannon will find a way to relate any subject back to the Constitution. Often he sounds just one step away from donning a powdered wig and dressing in colonial garb. Yet his passion to restore the federal government to its constitutional limits—abandoned by many Republicans after the 2010 elections—is the trademark of his campaign to represent the “sovereign state of North Carolina.”

“Looking at the Declaration of Independence and then the Bill of Rights,” Brannon told TAS in an interview, “we have to think, ‘How the heck did we become what we are today?’”

In a crowded field of eight Republicans targeting Democratic Senator Kay Hagan’s seat, there is no clear frontrunner for the May 6 primary, in which the leading candidate must seize 40 percent of the vote to prevent a July runoff. A March 20 poll conducted by SurveyUSA has Thom Tillis, North Carolina’s Speaker of the House, leading 28 percent to Brannon’s 15, and Heather Grant, running on a similar constitutional platform, with 11 percent. A March 9 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling has Tillis and Brannon tied.


Facts and Factions

By 3.18.14

At a time when polls show public opinion turning against the Democrats, some Republicans seem to be turning against each other. Even with the prospect of being able to win control of the Senate in this fall’s elections, some Republicans are busy manufacturing ammunition for their own circular firing squad.

A Republican faction’s demonization of their own Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, is a classic example. If you listen to some of those who consider themselves the only true conservatives, you would never guess that Senator McConnell received a lifetime 90 percent ranking by the American Conservative Union — and in one recent year had a 100 percent ranking.

Ann Coulter — whose conservative credentials nobody has ever challenged — points out in her column that Mitch McConnell has not only led the fight for conservative principles repeatedly, but has been to the right of Ted Cruz on immigration issues.

Someone once said that, in a war, truth is the first casualty. That seems to be the case for some in this internal war among Republicans. As the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.”


Brave New Moral World

By From the January-February 2014 issue

It had to come. And, oh, boy, did it. The new president of the Southern Baptists’ social policy unit has dipped his oar into those troubled waters, seeming to signal a Baptist pullback from the culture wars. Or maybe not so much a pullback as a truce. Or if not a truce, then maybe a nicer way of talking about social questions. Or…whatever. 

The full-time prognosticators of political trends—a numerous bunch, based mostly on the East Coast, with jobs in, or constant access to, the media—never tire of asking how long before “social issues” and other out-of-date connections with 20th-century America strand Republicans in desuetude and despair. Can’t be much longer, can it? Abortion, gay rights, “the war on women”—how much of this cargo can a political vessel take on without heeling to starboard, then capsizing? 


The Invulnerability of Government Spending

By 2.13.14

The latest budget battle in Washington has Democrats and Republicans once again at loggerheads. Democrats think Republicans should get nothing in return for another debt ceiling increase. Republicans think they should get less than nothing.

The House GOP leadership has longed to stop the gory budget showdowns of the past few years. That means giving up on further cuts and passing a clean debt ceiling increase; a cringeworthy proposal, but one that should have attained enough Democrat and establishment Republican support to pass the House. Instead, the GOP found a creative way to make it worse. Republicans attached a provision to the debt ceiling increase that would cancel $6 billion worth of savings from military pension reforms in the Ryan-Murray budget. This would be offset by an extension of sequestration on Medicare spending 10 years from now.

Senate Democrats initially balked, and introduced another bill that would have stricken the pension reforms without any offsets whatsoever. But as another snowstorm bore down on Washington, the Senate caved yesterday and approved the original House legislation.


Andrew Cuomo’s Soviet America

By 1.23.14

You could call him the governor of a sovereign state.

A sovereign state of Soviet America.

Andrew Cuomo is not the governor of New York.

Andrew Cuomo is the governor of a state of Soviet America.

An America that is the land of a government-created Privileged Class. A land where political correctness rules — and people like, say, Sean Hannity or the Robertsons of Duck Dynasty or South Carolina U.S. Senator Tim Scott are not wanted.

It is the American version of the late Soviet Union.


For the GOP: Why Victory?

By 1.14.14

Chris Christie and his bridge. Sean Hannity and his Conservative Solutions Caucus 2014. Mark Levin under attack by the Senate GOP Establishment. Three different events — and exactly the same point.

By now the entire world political and beyond knows the tale (thus far revealed) of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate.” The closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge that resulted in days of traffic jams, all as the result of a political vendetta carried out by Christie aides against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee. In a lengthy press conference, Governor Christie, the Great Moderate GOP Establishment Hope for 2016, announced he had fired his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, and cut his ties to his campaign manager Bill Stepien, the latter described as “Christie’s Karl Rove” who not only was set to become chairman of the New Jersey Republican Party but apparently had a considerable consulting contract with the Christie-chaired Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) as well. Also resigning: David Wildstein, described by CNN thusly: 


Forgetting What Got Them Here

By 1.7.14

To old-timers who have lived through New York City’s recent history, the election of Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio must have seemed odd. Here was a city that, even into the 1990s, was getting national press for its crime, business flight, and general “rotting” amidst years of left-wing rule. It wasn’t until after the pro-market reforms of mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg that New York reclaimed its role as America’s glistening metropolis. Yet this November residents, in a bout of amnesia, elected someone whose talk of government expansion resembled that made back when the city was broke and burning.


Messaging Versus Reality

By 1.3.14

I hope “messaging” dies in 2014. It is rotting the country from the inside out like an ambrosia beetle whose name is so sweet but ultimately kills the trees it invades. It is a main reason Detroit could not change its ways before bankruptcy and the reason Chicago’s public pensions are $27 billion in the hole. (Public employees “deserve” higher salaries and better pensions, and we must “invest” in public schools regardless of outcome.) It is the reason people believed “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” It is the reason no one can discuss race relations unless he or she espouses the politically correct viewpoint and why science matters less than philosophy from matters ranging from climate change to sexuality to single parenting. It is the reason President Barack Obama increasingly only lets the public view images of him and his family pre-approved by his administration.

It is about winning regardless of reality. It disguises and controls, mocks language and has turned national political figures into mere vehicles for a script written by someone else for a cause higher than themselves. And it is so boring — and bizarre.


Bloomberg Ends Tenure With a Spree of Bans

By 12.21.13

Michael Bloomberg’s 12 year tenure as New York City’s mayor ends this month, and he’s going out with a ban. Last week, in the City Council’s final legislative session of the year, the council passed a Bloomberg-advocated ban on plastic-foam food containers, such Styrofoam cups and takeout boxes. The ban comes with a one-year period of “investigation” during which packaging manufacturers try to prove the material can be collected and recycled. (Read: a year in which politicians can solicit additional lobbying money from the industry.)

Council also decided to ban the use of e-cigarettes, which produce completely harmless puffs of water vapor, at any location covered by the city’s smoking ban. The ban means that e-cigarette users will have to join their real-cigarette-smoking cousins on the streets outside of bars and restaurants. The irony of subjecting e-cigarette users—many of whom use the product in an attempt to quit smoking—to second-hand smoke was lost on the city council.