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Surly Scribblers

Re: W. James Antle III’s Out of Keyes:

What happened at the Constitution Party Convention was not accurately depicted/reported by Antle.

You really should contact Keyes and/or his staff, get the correct information, and re-write this article.
Chet Stanger
Waddy, Kentucky

Wow. What biased and harmful “reporting.” I watched most of the live stream on the Internet of the Constitution Party Convention. Apparently your author hadn’t, and only picked up quotes from other journalists. The piece is so full of oft-repeated misinformation, unchecked facts and outright character assassination that it’s shameful. Your publication has lost all credibility in my eyes.

Dr. Keyes is an honest man and an American patriot to the core. The American Spectator should have treated him fairly.
Christine Szczap
Wheaton, Illinois

I read your “Half Story” on the defeat of Alan Keyes at the Kansas City convention of the Constitution Party. I was not at the convention, however here’s the other half based on the reports I’ve read.

Howard Phillips, the founder of the Conservative Caucus and the Constitution Party, gave a speech on Friday afternoon which has split the party. In it he declared Alan Keyes, a candidate for the presidential nomination and friend (supposedly to both Phillips and the Constitution Party), to be an egotist, an opportunist, evil because he ran for president this year as a Republican, and a neo-con (in other words, pro-life, anti-tax, and anti-communist and willing to sell out on everything else). The part about evil because he ran this year as a Republican was amazing because both Phillips and the winning nominee, Chuck Baldwin, both supported Ron Paul for president who also ran this year as a Republican. In fact, in 1992, when the Constitution Party was known as the U.S. Taxpayers Party, Phillips offered Paul the presidential nomination AND gave him a speaking slot at the 1992 New Orleans convention.

Following the speech by Phillips, the party’s national chairman, Jim Clymer from Pennsylvania, took to the podium and repudiated Phillips’ speech, saying we should not be attacking one another. (A class act. If he’s running for anything this year, he’s getting a contribution from me.) Clymer then had to call an emergency meeting for setting ground rules and to try to repair the damage Phillips had caused. Many Keyes people left the room during the speech and some Baldwin people said they were caught off guard by the hostility of it. Keyes then gave his speech and with great willpower (more than I would have had!) did not attack Phillips. At the conclusion of his speech, Keyes got a standing ovation from the majority of the delegates, including those supporting Baldwin.

There have also been reports of “Keyes For President” signs being stolen and Keyes delegates being verbally harassed. It is believed those were done only by individuals, not by the Baldwin campaign.

The words given to describe the Phillips speech have included “character assassination”; “venomous”; “attacked because he is feared the most”; and “stabbed in the back by supposed friends.”

For the sake of disclosure, I worked for Howard Phillips, the Conservative Caucus, and the U.S. Taxpayers Party in 1992, as convention manager for the first national convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. I was also a delegate from the District of Columbia, where I lived at the time. Phillips did not tell me that as a requirement of my employment I had to vote for him at the convention. I was fired by Phillips the following Tuesday for the crime of casting my vote for president for Arizona Governor Evan Mecham, who was running as an independent against Senator John McCain. I filed a lawsuit against Phillips, et al., and there was a small out of court settlement. I now wish I had gone ahead and taken Phillips to a courtroom so that people could see the sort of person he is, which Alan Keyes and his backers now, sadly, know about.

From the way he has been treated, is it any wonder Alan Keyes is running as an Independent?
Michael Skaggs
Murray, Kentucky

W. James Antle III replies:
In my column, I link to a post-convention interview with Alan Keyes and an account of Howard Phillips’s speech from a Chuck Baldwin delegate who nevertheless thought Phillips’s remarks were inappropriate. I also blogged about Phillips’s fusillade and noted that Keyes’s speech to the convention was well received. One of my major sources of information was the streaming video on Keyes’s own website.

In the end, Keyes just didn’t have the votes on the convention floor because most delegates didn’t agree with him on issues that were important to them and also feared he would turn their party into his own personal vanity project. There is some disagreement as to whether the Phillips speech helped or hurt the campaign to deny Keyes the nomination but, either way, he lost. People are certainly entitled to be unhappy about that outcome or the criticism of Keyes at the convention, but that is the full story.

Re: Joel Miller’s Running Fool:

As one who had run for over 40 years, I believe I speak those who reflect upon Mr. Miller post half-marathon comments of “hobbling like an old man, my lower body hurts, My knees, hamstrings are all threatening a sit-in…they can’t manage a walkout any longer” and wish to say unequivocally — “SHUT UP!”

What a whiner. If he’s that sore after a 12 mile race, it’s obvious to anyone who has ever run in that he didn’t train correctly. To be more accurate, it is apparent he chose not to train correctly. Since he opted for that choice, try ice, try some Advil, try getting with a program. Better yet, next time you race, man up and then shut up.
Rick Osial
Montclair, Virginia

Re: William Tucker’s Goodbye to the New Deal:

The analysis is as pathetic as the presumptions are shallow. How about this article headline: “Yahoo Serves Up Tripe AGAIN!”
Dennis Garcia

I just wanted to say what a pleasure this article was to read. It was lucid and informative, articulate but not pedantic, and provided a wonderful historical context for the Democratic Party bloodbath we’ve been witnessing between Clinton and Obama. I loved the even-handed neutrality of the article; one senses that the author is interested in helping the reader understand the current situation rather than merely promoting his own biases. This refreshingly broad perspective is sadly lacking in the majority of news media, and how delightfully ironic to find it in an opinion-oriented publication.

The author’s appraisal of how the Democratic Party has narrowed its focus to two primary constituencies, and made the remainder of voters effectively Republicans-by-default is right on the money. The way Mr. Tucker stripped away all the partisan nonsense and exposed the core issue was truly impressive. It forcefully illustrates the point that ideological criticism of the Democratic Party does not constitute an endorsement of the GOP, or vice versa, any more than a criticism of Saddam Hussein constituted an endorsement of the policies of the Bush administration.

In a two-party system, though, people are conditioned to such polarized assumptions and the allegiances they represent. So ideology aside, the practical result at the polls is the same. The voter can only reject the Democratic Party by voting Republican, and vice versa. If only candidates of either party would display the kind of broad, long-term perspective implicit in this article we might actually have a candidate worth voting for this fall.

One can’t easily glean from this article where the author’s sentiments lie, and this is a good thing, because it forces the reader to consider the information based on its merits, and not on some perceived affinity with or aversion to the author’s political perspective. Personally, I think the New Deal was Socialism getting its foot in the door of American politics, and would be glad to see it go. It was always intended as an emergency measure in response to the Great Depression, not a permanent bureaucracy. Tucker’s estimation of its popularity among unhappy voters makes clear why it’s legacy is still around, but it is clearly no longer the populist Democratic trump card they once perceived it to be.

If the Democrats are getting spanked it isn’t because their rivals are so much more competent or appealing, but because they’ve isolated themselves, currently representing only the interests a pair of vociferous political minorities, whose welfare — they would have us believe — can only be promoted at the expense of others. They have effectively disowned much of the American public in order to cement their support among these groups (ie., African Americans and liberal intelligentsia), and they’re now reaping the rewards. The only thing that’s kept them alive so far is the miserable Republican alternative.

Incidentally, I fall squarely into the “blue collar” category, and count among my friends both “working poor” and college-educated liberals. But I am able to see beyond my own situation and the temptation to embrace counter-productive short-term benefits that may jeopardize better, long-term prospects for social and economic prosperity. I voted for Reagan in ’84, the first election in which I could legally vote, and for Dukakis in ’88. Since then I have voted Libertarian in every election, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I include this information in order to provide a context for these comments.

The best thing the Dems and GOP can do for us third-party advocates is to keep up the squabbling, the petty character-assassinations, the self-serving partisanship, and maybe people will finally wake up to the water around their ankles and abandon both those sinking ships before America the Beautiful disappears beneath the waves.
John Beaver
Lutz, Florida

Great article, let us hope you are right. The prospects for a Democrat takeover of government are truly frightening re: the effects of raising taxes on the economy, the poor, more victims needing the government to take care of them (and those of us who want less rather than more government).
Nancy Stone

William Tucker wrote: “But Republicans are team players — they know how to lose gracefully and close ranks.”

Evidently he wasn’t in Reno on Saturday to witness our GOP state convention, now recessed in total disarray.

Two other important points:

1) Hillary is every bit the “New Class” liberal Obama is. The Clintons are simply far better at concealing it than Obama is, and Hillary only looks like the direct heir to Hubert Humphrey and Scoop Jackson in relative terms.

2) All too many neo-conservatives (including myself sometimes) seriously underestimate the extent to which the ideology and the agenda of the New Class have spread to even the reddest locales. Even here in this solidly conservative slice of exurban and rural America I see quite a bit of evidence of it. I have come to believe that there is no idea too loony for “enlightened” and “broadminded” Americans to embrace: same sex marriage, partial birth abortions, “the right not to be offended,” you name it.

I still think McCain will win in November, but I fear what the future holds beyond.
Chairman, Lyon County Republican Central Committee
Dayton, Nevada

We have to be real isolated to not recognize that McCain has called for a new war on poverty. The new deal was at least the perennial liberal move toward a socialistic America. To have McCain, the lead GOP figure now and derailer of the conservative movement in America, enter the arena of big socialism (Kyoto II, open borders, war on poverty, McCain Feingold, McCain Kennedy, McCain Lieberman etc.) at this time, coupled with Bush’s big spending etc. and the GOP politicians move to the left, says the opposite — what really is dead in America is conservatism.
Donald LaCroix

William Tucker’s “Goodbye To The New Deal” is an astute assessment of what ails the Democratic Party. The hodgepodge of disparate factions could not hold together forever under the centrifugal force of contradictory tribal interests. Particularly satisfying is watching the Dems march into armed camps in the bitter culmination of 40 years of racial grievance and identity politics which they formerly used so adroitly against Republicans and conservatives. It was inevitable and is exceedingly fun watching them turn on each other. The battle preparations continue apace and I think it’ll go on to their convention.

There, I believe no matter how it’s done, should Hillary wrest the nomination from Barack it will be perceived as the Great Betrayal by the black base of the Democratic party who will rightly cry foul and be deeply, perhaps irreparably aggrieved. They will finally see that the party of slavery, Copperheads, Jim Crow, the KKK, segregation and Bull Connor are fine with their votes and cash so long as they remember their place. And it ain’t in the front of the bus. It isn’t important whether race is at the heart of Democratic primary voter’s opposition to Barack but rather how it’ll be perceived by Democratic blacks and Dems can thank themselves for fostering the identity worldview. Whether the Dems can sufficiently heal that breach in time for November, or ever, is an open question. Even if Barack holds on and is nominated the black base will not soon forget the flogging he took from his party masters and overseers. They will remember it was the Democratic Man (albeit in pantsuits) keepin’ him down. As a bonus, after this ugly domestic quarrel spilt onto the street for all the neighborhood to see, it’s going to be hard for them to point any fingers in the future.

The other good news for us, as Tucker points out, is Barack is now revealed as the shallow, elite-minded liberal he is. He is John Kerry in style without the experience. Imagine that, a Democrat shallower and of less substance than John Kerry! We can thank a ruthless Hillary and the Dem’s Byzantine nomination rules, another product of their factionalism, for taking the shine off him. His rhetoric was like a mirage at a distance but get just a step close enough and it evaporates. We have gotten close enough and we now see clearly that instead of a beautiful oasis there is no there, there. Just more of the unrelieved, barren wasteland of pure liberalism without even the proven survivor qualities of Hillary. And so six months ago I was worried how we would get a handle on him in the general election without eliciting the inevitable charges of bigotry and racism but now his claims to be the Great Thinker, Great Reconciliator and Great Hope are laughable given he cannot even bring his party together, his ideas and thinking are the same old and his personal story is being told by someone other than himself and media acolytes. From here on out his rhetoric will beguile fewer and fewer normal Americans.

Lastly, a little nit to pick. I believe it was Sen. Phil Gramm (R, TX), not Newt Gringrich, who with his characteristic impish grin, said on the morning after the election in 1994, “the civil war is over.” He was referring to the historic fact that the South had shifted en masse to the Republicans and if I remember also said, “the day of the southern ‘yellow dog Democrat’ was over.”
Mark Shepler
Jupiter, Florida

You might enjoy FDR’s Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression by Jim Powell. Far from being dry-as-dust economics and history, it makes fascinating reading. I highly recommend it to everyone.
Gretchen L. Chellson
Alexandria, Virginia

Only an establishment Republican figure could write an article about shifting voter patterns and not mention Latinos, who overwhelmingly vote Democrat and are the source of the cheap labor Republican business people so desperately crave. (“Goodbye to the New Deal,” April 28) Republicans threw their core constituency away with insults and insensitivity to the plight of taxpayers (their former core group) forced to expend billions of dollars annually in public aid, education, healthcare and imprisonment of the criminals among the illegal alien ranks. In response to this cultural and criminal catastrophe, Republican elected officials accuse Republican voters of “not wanting what’s right for America” and acting as “troublemakers” for raising the issue. The Republican Party sold out its base, which will not rally to pro-illegal alien advocate John McCain. The fracture in the Republican Party caused by Bush and Republican elites obsessed with allowing the disobedience of law based on ethnicity drove away Republicans who no longer will vote, while energizing Democrats salivating over the millions of potential new voters lured by the promise of continued government handouts.
Caroline Miranda
North Hollywood, California

Where were the Catholics when Kerry was running?
Sheldon Williams

Re: Peter Suderman’s Public Know Nothings:

The article by Peter Suderman conveniently misses a few truths —

He enshrines the concept of private property and the rights and responsibilities thereof. But he conveniently does not mention the fact that the very frequencies that permit Verizon Wireless to operate at all are public property licensed to them as defined by the Communications Act of 1934 and from which all subsequent modifications and orders ensue.

Thrown asunder in this article is the historical fact that the Verizon’s, AT&T’s, and Sprint’s of this country started out as regulated entities. Regulation was the devil’s bargain that made AT&T possible and all the sister companies to follow. The first large private network was the phone system and it was and is regulated at both the Federal and State levels. Nor can the current wireless carriers avoid some level of regulation. Without it they could not be guaranteed sole private use of given transmission frequencies for cell towers.

Regardless of the incompetence of the Steven’s of the House, it is the Congressional purview to regulate such activities as defined in the Constitution. That there maybe faults in the operation of the FCC in many matters are recorded [no bidders for ‘D’ block 700mhz band being one of many.] but again it is a creature of the Congress to which it answers.

Perversion of the what ‘Net Neutrality’ is about. It is certainly not about private vs public use directly as alluded to. Nor even about the Verizon text blockade. Net Neutrality was first and fore most a concern by what many in the internet community saw as the development of a two tier network infrastructure. One for access to what one could access. A second for those willing to pay a premium for the privilege of using Verizon’s network and resources and similar arrangements by like minded broadband carriers. The result being a walled garden reminiscent of the old AOL. I would remind Mr. Suderman that contrary to his opinion, all the legacy carriers were born of a period of net neutrality when traffic was only voice — the Fourth Amendment being the most neutral of all.

I would point out that as Comcast implemented their network management is was not a mere slowing of P2P traffic but outright blockage. They would discern the nature of the traffic and send back drop packet signatures to the originator that eventually would halt transmission. Absent from Mr. Suderman’s discourse is the fact that as a subscriber I had a contract with the carrier. They sold me a package that provided of 1.5mbps down / 768kbps up with no restrictions on the type of traffic I generated so long as it was non-interfering. Is it suggested that we ditch contract law to the deference of a single party to the contract? Or forget that the seller has never been able to deliver the level of services contracted for?

Also absent from this piece is the considered opinion of most of the carriers that ‘we have enough bandwidth already’ mindset. The solution is more bandwidth not rationing. The U.S. as of the last OCED census is now 15th in broadband penetration down from 4th just a few year previous. But bandwidth as a cheap commodity does not fit in with the business plans of the two largest carriers — AT&T and Verizon.

I am all for free enterprise. It beats the alternatives. But much is untold in this piece than meets the eye.
John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

Re: Mike Roush’s letter (under “Don’t Know No Joe”) in Reader Mail’s Ivy League Scolds:

“What was the point of bringing up Senator Obama in the dissertation? Anybody? Anybody?” –Mike Roush

Senator Obama WAS the occasion of the article. What kind of worldview is it that says “It’s not surprising they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.”? Mind you, this is Obama trying to explain people in small towns and why they behave the way they do to a group of wealthy contributors. This is Obama displaying “empathy” for these wayward voters. This is Obama describing these voters as gun nuts, Bible thumpers, and xenophobes. And somehow, this “bitterness toward Washington” explains their disposition.

It says something about Obama’s worldview that people tenuously their defend the right to bear firearms, let piety guide their actions, or object to uncontrolled illegal immigration for no other reason than Washington is in the hands of the wrong people.

There has always been a group throughout the history of the United States that maintained a studied distance from their country and beheld there fellow countrymen as unenlightened and misguided. In spite of their humble beginnings, both Hiss and Obama rose to prominent stations in life and acquired a refined elitism along the way. From the day Hiss was indicted for perjury, it was simply an article of faith among liberal elitists that Alger Hiss was completely innocent — a victim of the hysterical, early 1950’s “red scare.” Hiss was not guilty because he just couldn’t be. There are our people and there are those people. And Hiss was one of “ours.”

We have an elitist class in this country composed of those with a certain sensibility and refinement. The Hiss case exposed this underlying rift in American life. Obama’s statement accidentally did the same thing. There is a danger in this kind of elitism. It turns ugly when challenged. It understands those who differ with them as evil rather than opponents.

Look at those who defend Obama. Look at their websites. Their pure hatred is stunning. Look at Obama’s more moderate defenders. They display a visible disdain that they have to take the trouble to stick up for Obama on this score at all.

The danger we fear is a loss of our liberties as this elite strives for a more perfect society. A more powerful government will decide just what kind of firearms we may possess if any at all. A more powerful government will decide what kind of speech is permitted and what kind of speech is “offensive” and therefore in the name of civility criminalize it. A more powerful government will decide exactly what kind of medical care we will receive, when we will receive it, and where we will receive it. A more powerful government will extend quotas into every facet of community life. A more powerful government will tell you what kind of car you can drive and how many miles you can go. It will tell you what kind and what size of house you may have as well as by how much you can heat and cool it. All for our own good, of course. Think this is far fetched? You aren’t listening.

As far as Joe McCarthy goes, very few conservatives defend him. For most, ol’ Joe is a case study of “writing checks your bank account can’t cover.” You have no business destroying lives with unsubstantiated charges. Treason is a charge best withheld on the side of caution. Still, we’ve be beaten around the head with McCarthy for almost sixty years. Hiss only served five years in prison. You would think there would be some sort of statute of limitations on clobbering conservatives for things that happened before most of us were born.

On the other hand, liberals never apologize for anything. They were never mistaken. They never pressed for measures which were counter-productive. They never looked back and realized they hurt people. When it comes to their opponents, liberals never forgive and they never forget.

We don’t fear that liberal elites will come to power and fail. We fear that they will take that power and succeed in bringing about the world they want. God help us.
Mike Dooley

Invoking the Hon. Sen. Joseph McCarthy is, as usual, a tactic designed to remove all validity from the argument of anyone who disagrees with a liberal. The execrable Mr. Roush still waves the bloody shirt despite history; fact; Venona; etc. What is it with progressives anyway? They do not seem to be capable of progressing beyond the fairytales they recited in their salad days. Regardless, Sen. McCarthy was a true American hero in the mold of so many others who endured unspeakable scorn and lies despite the truth, honor and patriotism of their efforts. Mr. Roush seems not to have the character to shine the Senator’s boots, or clean the bugs from his gun-canopy.
George Engle

Re: George Neumayr’s Bitter Pill:

I’ve heard much of late about the Bradley Effect and the Wilder Effect on politics.

I wonder when the Pinocchio Effect will kick in on Obama.

Remember Carlo Collodis story about a wooden puppet who wanted to become a real boy?Every time he told a lie, his nose grew longer setting back his chances.
Jim Woodward
Midvale, Utah

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